Visiting the Albanian side of Lake Prespa

Prespa region is situated on the Balkan Peninsula and it is shared between three countries: Albania, Greece and Macedonia. This region that includes two natural lakes and high mountains with great significance for biodiversity where endemic and globally threatened species can be found.

I remember having a great time hiking on the mountains that most of the time offer great views towards the lakes. The mountains are not very high but the highest summit (Pllaja e Pusit) in the region makes it for a long full day hike. Both lakes can be seen in the same time, Ohrid and Prespa, from the summit of Pllaja e Pusit in Mali i Thate mountain, almost 2300 m. Furthermore Pelister Mountain in Macedonian side and the mountains on the Greek side are always very inviting for a climb or a cross border trek which is still forbidden unfortunately.

Prespa National Park Hiking Trails is the first guide-map that will take you to the Albanian side of the region which is still very little know from hikers. This guide will take you from the shore of the lake to the summit of Mali i Thatë (2288m) through beautiful forest and summer pastures. The trails are designed for almost all fitness levels. One can enjoy the beauty of the nature and culture of the area starting with a taking hours stroll, taking a moderate hike in the picturesque villages or climbing higher and crossing the mountains. All of these trails have been known by locals for generations, and many of them are still used by shepherds for traveling to the summer huts.

Given that this region is on the border with Greece and Macedonia, it used to be a no-go zone in communism time and still a lot of remaining from military defense can be seen. The bunkers extend as high as the higher summit in the area where a military post used to be located nearby it.

Aside from its natural and scenic values, the park also possesses great cultural and historic values. Numerous archaeological sites and Byzantine and meta-Byzantine monuments bear witness to the area’s rich cultural and historic heritage. A hermetic church is found along the cliffs of Lake Macro Prespa, and the remains of ancient churches are found on Mali Grad Island.

The population of approximately 5,000 within the park lives in 12 small and scattered settlements that are still replete with traditional forms of housing. Locals are active in agriculture and fishing. Most of them live from subsistence agriculture. The small income that visitors provide is a welcome bonus. The area is designated for Eco-tourism.

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Tags: Prespa,Lakes,Albania


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