Bird-watching, an increasingly popular activity that combines traveling with the exploration of the natural world, has made its way into Albania. Actually, local professionals have been historically touting Albania as an ideal bird-watching destinations but this news is reaching the general public only currently. Below, we suggest the five most perfect places to bird-watch in Albania.
1. Karavasta Lagoon
As the largest lagoon in the country, the best and most famous destination for bird-watching is the Karavasta Lagoon. The lagoon is located within the Divjakë National Park, a protected massive area of 22,000 hectares. Here, one can easily find a wide variety of species, ranging from various wild birds to the most spectacular one, the curly pelican. This endangered species’ presence in Albania accounts for 6.4% of the world’s population and Divjakë represents Europe’s only western nesting point for this bird.
According to the renowned American writer Jonathan Franzen, an impassioned fan of Albania’s bird diversity, this particular lagoon is the best bird habitat in the entire eastern Mediterranean region. In 2010, Franzen wrote a profound critique of hunting habits in the area in order to protect it, which resulted in a hunting ban to the great benefit of the lagoon’s biodiversity. Now, the wetlands of the Karavasta Lagoon have more than 7,000 additional winter birds. Bird-watching enthusiasts have the rare opportunity to see flamingos, storks, various ducks, seagulls, sea eagles and various diving birds, as well as herons, whose song echoes in the surrounding forests.
Click here for the map. The lagoon is located one hour away from the city of Fier.
2. Narta Lagoon
While this lagoon is primarily known for the Island of Zvërnec with its famous medieval monastery, bird-watching is another great reason to visit it. The Nartë Lagoon is the second largest one in the country with a great diversity of waterfowl, approximately 20,000 winter birds of over 40 species, and pelicans or flamingos as regular lagoon visitors. The proximity to the touristic city of Vlora has also helped make this lagoon one of the most visited in Albania.
The climate in Patok’s wetland complex has resulted in an impressive flora and fauna. 179 types of birds can be seen in the lagoon and over 358 species of tall plants decorate the landscape. The lagoon is also worth visiting for the hut-like restaurants on the water, which serve some of the most delicious, traditional seafood cuisine in the country. For our extended article click here.
Similar to the Patok lagoon, the Kune – Vain – Tale lagoon is located in the district of Lezhë, which means that they can be visited within the same day. There are dozens of migrating birds and up to 196 species can be found here. The area’s peacefulness, natural beauty and wild, unpeopled sea have put this place on the map by those wishing to become one with nature. For the map click here.
5. Lake of Shkodra
This lake, the largest in the Balkans, is a highly recommended destination for observing migratory birds. Bird-watching can be combined with visits to the numerous delicious restaurants located throughout the city. Thanks to its location in the area surrounding Shkodër, Albania’s largest northern city, bird-watching can be perfectly supplemented with some leisure time in cozy bars or restaurants. There are wonderful tours where you can discover the history, culture and nature of the city, all at once!