The Dinaric Alps in Albania are some of the most natural landscapes in Europe, the human population is low and the human influence on the landscapes much less than elsewhere in the Balkans. The mostly limestone mountains have a tremendously intricate topography with karsts, caves, springs and waterfalls in almost equal profusion and thus a very rich variety of plantlife – Albania has for its size the highest plant biodiversity in Europe.
Valbonë National Park protects a superb area of high mountain, reaching 2694m in Maja Jezerce which dominates the western views from the lovely valley at Valbonë. This is both the southernmost part of the Dinaric Alps and the highest part of those mountains. Alpine areas have the beautiful Edraianthus montenegrinus with deep purple-blue bells forming mats in rocky crevices, and one of Albania’s most gorgeous flowers, the elegant Lilium albanicum, whose turk’s-caps blooms vary from clear yellow to bright orange-red. The cerise goblets of Paeonia arientina illuminate forests of Sweet Chestnut and Beech. We’ll see Helleborus odorus and stands of purple Iris pallida ssp cengialti, and in damp hay meadows by our hotel are clumps of yellow Hemorocallis lilioaspodelus and wands of purple-pink Gladiolus palustris. Valleys in the Shebenik-Jabllanicë-Rrajcë National Park are carpeted with a simply magnificent show of Narcissus poeticus, mixed with orchids and butter-yellow Pedicularis brachyodonta.
Mount Tomorri is a really special mountain. Its ancient Pinus heldreichii forests are home to no less than one-quarter of the country’s plant species. There are many rare endemics amid the superbly preserved forests, and there’s a brand new tarmac road that goes right to the top! By the last snows we’ll find vari-coloured Crocus novicii and another Crocus whose taxonomic status is yet to be decided! Blues are the realm of Muscari bourgaei,Scilla bifolia and Gentiana verna, yellows Ranunculus demissus and Ranunculus brevifolius. Rocky areas on Tomorri’s high ground host some real alpine gems such as Viola albanica, vibrant purplish Saxifraga federici-augusti, Daphne jasminea, and starry-blue Campanula aureliana.
In the far south of Albania we’ll visit the Albanian Riviera and the ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once one of the most beautiful cities in the Roman Empire, the beauty of the site is still captivating with the ruins nestling amid thermophilous Oak Forest and Maquis on the side of a hill rising above a lagoon and the surrounding wetland which itself is international important for birds and is protected as a Ramsar Site.
You’ll be entranced by the unique character of Albania, its character, and in particular its wonderful nature – long may it remain so unspoilt!
Dates and Prices
17th May - 27th May 2024 (11 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Flowers, Natural Habitats, Reptiles and Landscapes.
One leader for a group of up to 8, two leaders up to 15.
All flights. All transport and meals in Albania and Greece. Services of your leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
Butterfly flower and bird checklists are available.
For the first two nights of the holiday we’ll stay at the lovely Shkreli Resort beautifully situated in the Qafshtamë National Park just north of the country’s capital. The rooms are comfortable enough but it is really the setting of this hotel that impresses. Next are three nights in the lovely Vila Dini Hotel nestling in the upper part of the valley within the Valbonë National Park. This hotel has pleasant rooms with balconies to take in the full grandeur of the setting which is magnificent! After a single night in the brand-new Hotel Monopol in Peshkopi we’ll move to the Joen Village in Fushe Studen on the edge of the Shebenik-Jabllanicë-Rrajcë National Park for a one night stay. This is a chalet-style hotel with new comfortable rooms. We finish with three nights in the Hotel Onufri in the centre of picturesque Berat. The hotel has a great terrace from which to watch the comings and goings in the old town. The rooms are elegant and comfortable and the restaurant superb. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
Fairly easy. No more than three or four of miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace, ideally suited to photographers. Sometimes though we’ll be on steep paths, and on rocky ground.
UK flights are direct from Heathrow to Tirane, returning direct to a choice* of UK airports from Corfu.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Warm and sunny with blue skies for the most part, still pleasant in the mountains but even getting quite hot in the Riviera at the end of the tour. There may be some rain and cloud in the mountains.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.