Three magical itineraries in Shkrel

January 28, 2020 || 1048 views

Shkreli, the destination of each season; From the Chestnut of Reç, to unique itineraries not to be missed

Very often you may do the big mistake of considering not so important some destinations that dont make a big rumor but are as wonderful as the bigger ones do. Shkreli is of them. We`ve offered you three amazing itineraries in collaboration with VIS Albania

 

First itinerary: Reçi | Canyon of Rrjoll | Balleza Castle

1.During the trip from Koplik to Reç (about 15 minutes by car), the surrounding environment gradually changes: from the valley near the lake to a more pronounced mountainous relief, that offers beautiful landscapes and panoramas.
The visit starts from the charming fields of medicinal plants in Reç. Tourists can also witness the processing of these herbs at the incubator, which also serves as a collection center for local chestnuts (1), harvested in October and November.
Lunch will be served in a local restaurant, with traditional dishes: chicken with chestnuts, chestnut dessert and bread, “kaçimak” with chestnut flour, corn and wheat. Cost: 1000 – 2500 lekë.

 

2. The second visit is at the impressive Canyon of Rrjoll, that offers a spectacular scenery, fresh air, untouched greenery and rich biodiversity: many endemic plants find here the perfect habitat for their proliferation. The canyon can be reached in about one hour, partly by car and partly on foot.

 

3. Lastly, we move to the Balleza Castle, that goes back to the Albanian Middle-Age. The myth about this castle narrates that in 1448, Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeg visited Balleza Castle and entrusted his nephew Hamza Kastrioti to take care of its reconstruction. The church of Balleza, now completely destroyed, had three bells, one of which made of pure gold, and when it fell, the thunders were heard on the coastlines of Bari, in Italy. This part of the tour lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes and the height above the sea level is 440 meters. This trail from Reç to the Castle is characterised by average difficulty and some trees provide shadow along the way.
After the trek, dinner and accommodation overnight will be provided by the guest-house “Rruga e Mullirit”, surrounded by pastures, mountains and the Chestnut Forest. Rruga e Mullirit offers the typical Albanian hospitality, with tasty food, cooked with farm-to-table products and home-made rose juice.

Distances and travel times: 

Tirana-Reç: 130km – 2h35m
Shkodër-Reç: 30km – 40m
Podgorica-Reç: 44km – 1h
Koplik-Reç: 11km – 20m

What you need: Many roads on the trek are exposed to the sunlight at all times, therefore remember to bring:
– Hat; – Enough water; – Comfortable trekking shoes; – Comfortable clothes.

Curiosity: The incubator collects chestnuts in October and November; sage flowers in April, May and July; lavender in June and July; and Italian strawflower during the whole year.

Cave of Pigeons | Bzheta | Krenazhdol

1.On the way to Razem, the first stop is the Cave of Pigeons (Shpella e Pëllumbave) (1): it owns the name to the many wild pigeons that used to take shelter in here. The cave is 30m deep and 20m high, at its maximum. The access to the cave is facilitated by wooden stairs. Nowadays the cave is inhabited by night bats, a protected species in Albania, which are very sensitive to noises and movement (see the notes).

   
Another naturalistic monument to visit before reaching Razem, is the Linden Tree of Bzheta (Blinin e Bzhetës). It is over 200-years old and the color of its leaves varies from one side of the tree to the other, but this peculiarity is only noticeable from the distance. You may wonder why this is the only tree on the slope and it is said that the reason is that local inhabitants planted it to protect the slope from erosion.
2.By lunch, tourists will accomodate in one of the guesthouses in Razem and they will taste and enjoy some local dishes, for example roasted meat; homemade pickles; the local ‘petulla’, homemade pancakes with honey; and ‘skrop’ with corn flour.
3. After lunch, head to Krenazhdol, one of the most majestic mountain in Razem, where traditional activities are still ongoing: stalls and livestock are present and it is possible to find freshly made dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese and butter. Krenazhdol is a pasture from May to mid-October for all shepherds from Kastrat, Koplik, Bajza and Bratosh. Due to the fresh clean air and the low summer temperature (18-20 °C), it is also the perfect getaway for those who want to leave the hot climate of the valleys. The mountains is accessible on foot (30 minutes trek) or also by car (10 minutes drive).
After the stroll on Krenazhdol, it is time to return to Razem and it is possible to have dinner in one of the guesthouses, surrounded by the mountains of Shkrel.

Distances and travel times:

Tirana-Razem: 144km – 3h
Shkodër-Razem: 43km – 1h
Podgorica-Razem: 58km – 1h20m
Koplik-Razem: 25km – 40m

What you need: Many roads on the trek are exposed to the sunlight at all times, therefore remember to bring:
– Hat; – Enough water; – Comfortable trekking shoes; – Comfortable clothes.

In the Cave…

– Don’t catch bats, nor disturb them.
– Avoid loud noises in front and inside the cave.
– Avoid strong lights inside the cave.
– Enter the cave in small groups.
– If there are too many bats, avoid exploring the Cave!

The Big Cave | Boga’s fountain | The Trail of wild goats

1. Once in Bogë, take a walk and reach The Big Cave of Bogë (Shpella e Madhe – 10 minutes walk) (2): you will be amazed by its 40m entrance, the depth (15m) and the height (5m). Inside this cave, 300-years old objects have been discovered, hence the belief that the first inhabitants of this valley settled here. The panorama from the cave on the whole valley is simply breathtaking.

 

2. The next attraction is the Boga’s Fountain, the place where the story of the village begins. The legend has it that a shepherd could not find a source of water for his sheep, but one day he notices that a sheep wasn’t thirsty anymore. He thus decides to follow it and eventually the sheep leads the shepherd to the fountain. After sharing the good news with the other shepherds of the area, settlements started to grow around the fountain, until a whole new village was born.

For lunch, enjoy the traditional cuisine in one of the local guesthouses: pies with nettles, boiled cheese, potatoes with mazë, homemade pickles and the typical “kaçimak”.

2. After lunch, take “Shtegu i Dhenve”, literally The trail of wild goats, a 2.6 km trail to trek in about 1 hour and 20 minutes, of average difficulty. The end point is at 1,807m above the sea level. The peculiarity of this path is the endemic flower Wulfenia Baldacci (3): this flower got the name from the Italian botanist who discovered it. Special attention should be paid to this plant as it is a protected species: it is allowed to take pictures of it, but it can’t be touched.
At the end of Shtegu i Dhenve and before returning to the valley, make a last effort to reach Qafë Thore, a panoramic viewpoint located at 1,650m above the sea level, from which it is possible to see Theth and, on the other side, the valley of Bogë

Distances and travel times: 

Tirana-Razem: 150km – 3h
Shkodër-Razem: 47km – 1h
Podgorica-Razem: 63km – 1h20m
Koplik-Bogë: 30km – 40m

What you need: Many roads on the trek are exposed to the sunlight at all times, therefore remember to bring:
– Hat; – Enough water; – Comfortable trekking shoes; – Comfortable clothes.

Curiosity

During winter, the water running in the Boga’s fountain has a mild temperature, while in summer it becomes cold!