November 17, 2019 || views

Albanian tourism has positively started to change, even though not everything within it is going great, and the best thing is to be happy and support the positive ways it’s undertaking. Let’s talk about Kruja for example, the wide panoramic beam continues to be saddened by the plagued landscape of Mount Kruja but once you drive through the beautiful snake road under the scent of the “Ahu” trees and you enter the town, the great ongoing change of the small town can be felt immediately, with a new footpath, beautiful cliffs, a major bus station for many tourists who are the breath of the city, not to mention ‘Pazari’,the city’s jewel, which looks even more glitzy since the restoration by the Albanian-American Foundation, or Museums up in Kala (Castle), which is seen as the “Mecca” of the tourist pilgrimage not only in Krujë but for entire Albania but let’s leave all of this for a moment and keep up with the benefits of Kruja’s tourism.

Can you remember the terrible road that led to Qafeshtama? Now it’s all in the past! A story that left in the shadows one of the most beautiful national parks in Albania. But today, the reconstructed road leads right in to the heart of the park, and we can say a lot of beautiful and cheerful things, especially for tourist frequentation. Tens of young Backpackers climb the Skanderbeg Mountain at the weekend or join the wonderful nature of Qafështamë, which seemed to be a destination visited by the elderly for the benefits on the respiratory system. Tens of foreign tourists who have discovered this treasure close to the Albanian capital can now fully enjoy the infrastructure, they come for camping and they can set-up the tents straight into the meadow to fill the lungs with fresh air. Hundreds of travellers have revived the centre of this park once very popular and then forgotten and now again essential on the weekend travel list. It is a great pleasure to see the Queen’s redecorated engraved Cascade who’s never empty. On the road up you will always see somebody drinking its healthy fresh magnesium water.

A deluxe resort like the in Swiss Alps
The reconstruction of the road brings expansion, the park has now restored the lost value over the years. Just a short distance from the main road, in the centre of the park, the newly built “Shkreli Hotel-Camp” can be found, it used to be a former governmental residence where no one except the hierarchy could enter. Now the residence has been transformed into a large and luxurious holiday complex, design to attract both national and international tourists, to experience unforgettable moments in a comfortable environment, with wonderful views of the nature, and the possibility to taste organic products, with traditional local recipes, but also the taste of a more modern kitchen. The increase in tourism in Qafetshtame shaped the idea to retrieve the full function of the former governmental residence but by offering modern standard services. Thanks to the hard and untiring work of its ambitious owner, Mr. Kujtim Shkreli, who purchased this mansion ten years ago, when not many people were aware of the area of Qafeshtama. Him and family designed and presented what we know today as a 4-Star Resort, a reconstruction above the old rocks of the previous residence and now a unique architectural design which combines the antique and modern in the best possible way. This resort is expected to become the most visited Mountain destination in Albania, and we are confident that every person would like to spend time under the shade of the wonderful pine trees, enjoy the fresh air and drink the health-giving water that only Qafeshtama can offers.

The royal family holidays
A very interesting fact that can be turned into an asset for the resort and pilgrimage place is finding traces of the royal family who used Qafeshatma Park as their ideal holiday destination, also the worldwide fact their daily use of the Qafeshatma Park water. These elements enrich the story of the resort; and who would not want to rest, walk and ski, on the same places where King Zog and the beautiful queen Geraldine went once upon a time.

But why choose the Shkreli Hotel-Camp today?
Because the completely reconstructed hotel in March 2018, offers highly European standard accommodation at reasonable and affordable prices for anyone, it has a well-prepared and pleasant staff available to the visitors at any time as well as, a restaurant which offers traditional and modern food. The food is cooked in a perfect way, so that everyone can taste the organic products that the surrounding areas of Kruja provide.
There is also a relaxation area (spa, sauna) for the guests in order for them to have the same standards that other similar Alpine Resorts outside of Albania offer. Those passionate about reading can find their daily press “corner” and a small library with a rich variety of books for all age groups, while for those who enthusiastically practice games like chess, cards, monopoly, and dominoes, have the opportunity to play in their own private corner. The camp is monitored by cameras and security guards in order to provide safety and serenity for the tourists during their stay. The best strength of this hotel is probably the fact that it gives those passionate about the ‘nightlife’ the opportunity to set up their tents and enjoy sleeping under the moonlight for one or more nights with a low cost. Is there anything more satisfying than enjoying the nature under the light of the stars?!

Active holidays
This resort is not only constructed for accommodation purposes but also to provide the tourists with a variety of activities to make their stay in Qafeshtame even better. On regular bases a variety of activities and festivals are organised based around culture, tradition, nature and so on. They also include tourist and historical guides, outdoor hiking, mountain climbing, activities related with fauna and flora of the area. It offers indoor and outdoor facilities on the camp for different sport activities at the sports centres (gym, volleyball, basketball, football, etc.). Children also have their own environment in the camp to play and have fun during their free time.
Thinking about all the guests which visit the camp on short or long term periods, for curative or leisure reasons, a “summer cinema” is organised in the camp, which consists of a large projector/screen where you can watch various sports, movies and documentaries every night.
These are the key themes of this new attractive and curative destination, which is expected to become the most popular and frequented Mountain tourist destinations in Albania. Because to have a developed tourism it definitely requires an increase of such standards for it to become popular and sustainable. We are not exaggerating when we say that Shkreli Hotel & Camp is an essential reason to visit Qafeshatma National Park.

Information about the Qafeshtama Park
The protected area of Qafeshtame Park has an area of about 20 km2, declared as such since 1966. It is located about 25 km northeast of the city of Kruja, passing through the borough of Cudhi. Qafeshtama (1230 m) serves as a linking bridge between the Kruja area and the Mat valley in the north. The area is bordered by the Boville Pond from the south, and is ecologically closely linked to it. The area is distinguished because of the natural values and its virgin forests. Also, its resources are well-known for the curative values more specifically for the ‘Mother Queen’ cascade as it is located near Qafeshtame, about 1100 m above the sea level, among the pine forests of the National Park. The cascade was named in the 1930s because the famous Royal family drunk the water from it; a truck would transport the water from Qafeshtame to Tirana every day. The water reserve of Qafeshatma is considered as lightweight, poor salt and very rich in magnesium. The Cascade is part of the Albanian monuments (hydroponics) (Qiriazi & Sala, 2006). Now that the road is constructed with qualitative parameters, the park attracts even more visitors. The Albanian government intends to extend this isolated area in the near future, including in the Skanderbeg Mountain (1724 m).
Travellers who come from almost the whole country and beyond can enjoy the freshness of the beautiful nature of the mountains during the winter season, but also during the summer, because of the high temperatures in the cities. The cold spring water, the place where long –pine trees that have been there for centuries mix with other alpine trees, well-maintained by the locals during transitional years, today also it contributes to the pleasure of the visitors who are amazed by the green breath-taking nature. Qafeshtama Mountain is well- known for curative water values from the surrounding springs and offers a fresh air with minimal carbon dioxide values, which is identified as to have cured people who have suffered or are suffering from chronic asthma, lung disease or from a weak immune system.