In April/May 2022 I made a tour of the Balkans. The tour was organized by Zagreb Tours. It was originally planned for April 2020 but had to be postponed. They conducted the tour without extra cost in 2022. The organization was outstanding. I had two guides, each driving me for about half of the tour. Everything worked like clockwork. During the tour I wanted to put more emphasis on bird watching than originally planned. Both guides went out of their way to research bird watching sites during the tour and added visits to many bird watching sites.
Coming from Црна Гора, Crna Gora (Montenegro), we entered Albania south of Shkodra Lake. Border formalities were easy, no visa required for European Union citizens.
From the border we headed for a bird watching site on Shkodra Lake. There I saw Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmaeus, german: Zwergscharbe, french: Cormoran pygmée) for the first time. From there we went to Rozafa Castle and then into Shkodër for the first overnight.
The next day we drove south to Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park for more bird watching. It was nice, I especially liked the Eurasian Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster, german: Bienenfresser, french: Guêpier d'Europe).
On the way further south we visited Krujë Castle. It is not one of the more exciting castles.
From Kruja we drove further south to Durrës. Durrës has a nice Byzantine style fortress wall with watch towers and a Roman amphitheater.
From Durrës we drove to Tirana for the second overnight in Albania.
The next day, after a brief visit of the Tirana city center we continued east to Lake Ohrid. We drove about a quarter of the way around Lake Ohrid before getting to the border with Македонија (North Macedonia). Exit formalities were again fairly easy.
Like in the other Balkan countries, I concentrated on bird watching and visiting historic sites. Bird watching was pretty nice for such a short visit to a country that is not notable for its bird life.
People seemed friendly, like modern people anywhere in Europe.
Albania has some catching up to do to reach European standards. This shows in the fact that there is considerable garbage on the roads, and in the driving. Driving is chaotic, like it used to be in the 50's and 60's in Italy and France.
Food and drink are fairly inexpensive. Beer was very inexpensive at $1.50 for a 0.5 l (0.5 quarts) bottle.
One weird remnant from the dark times of Albania after World War II are the small bunkers. During the Cold War, everybody was forced to build a small bunker for their family. There were some 300,000 bunkers throughout Albania. I saw a few of these bunkers.
Following are links to various pages with pictures:
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
The total number of pictures online on my website from Albania is 69
Page last updated on Thu Dec 1 17:41:46 2022 (Mountain Standard Time)
Shqipëri (Albania) - Emerging from Years of Suppression on soaring.guenther-eichhorn.com