Great Prespa Lake with Maligrad Island
Llogara National Park
Image by Attila Terbócs via CC BY-SA 4.0
Divjaka-Karavasta National Park
Image by Nicolas Vollmer via CC BY 2.0
Uncover a little visited European gem, where snow-capped mountains plunge into bright blue seas, charming villages nestle amongst the forested landscape, and coastal lagoons teem with birdlife
Search for the rare Dalmatian pelican during a boat trip on Great Prespa Lake
Look out for wetland birdlife and migrating waders on the ‘Albanian Riviera’
“Kevin Hand was an outstanding leader in every respect”
- ACE customer on a 2023 tour led by Kevin Hand
The tectonic lakes of Ohrid and Prespa are some of the oldest lakes in the world, and form an area of extraordinary beauty and biodiversity. Surrounded by high mountain peaks and centuries-old juniper forests, the region is home to several species found nowhere else in the world, while the surrounding wetlands and reedbeds provide habitats for hundreds of thousands of wintering water birds.
Our tour includes a boat trip on Great Prespa Lake to Maligrad Island, keeping watch along the way for the lake’s most famous residents, the rare Dalmatian pelicans, as well as hundreds of pygmy cormorants.
We will spend three nights in the mountain village of Voskopojë, an important cultural centre during its mid 18th century heyday. At its zenith, the city was bigger than Athens and housed a university and a printing press – the second in the Ottoman Empire after that of Constantinople.
Voskopojë will be our base for local forest walks, looking out for varied birdlife including goshawk, red-backed shrike, and hawfinch amongst the pine, fir, beech and oak.
Our tour will then transfer to the coastal town of Vlorë, surrounded by mountains and overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The ‘Albanian Riviera’ is a patchwork of different habitats, from the forested mountains of Llogara National Park to the lagoons of Orikum, Narta and Karavasta. Here, we will look out for wetland birdlife including flamingos, great white egret, avocet and spoonbill, as well as numerous migrating waders from Russia and northeastern Europe.
The last night of the tour will be spent in the Divjaka-Karavasta National Park from where we will transfer to Tirana International Airport for the return flight. We will stay at comfortable hotels throughout, well situated for our daytime explorations.
This tour will be led by conservationist and ornithologist Kevin Hand, MSc, MCIEEM. An environmental consultant with a special interest in birds, mammals and ecotourism, Kevin has held the post of President of the Cambridge Natural History Society and has led a project on eagles, vultures and other wildlife in Albania.
Tour Director Kevin Hand writes:
"Albania has been one of my favourite destinations since I was able to set up the Saving Albania's Vultures project some years ago with my friends in the wildlife NGO, PPNEA, and with support from ACE. This focused on Egyptian vultures as an iconic species in the country, where it is known as the cuckoo horse! We always see amazing wildlife on our visits, along with fascinating history and culture, and some of the kindest people one could meet anywhere!”
Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, full board (some packed lunches) with water, wine or beer & coffee with dinner, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.
Not Included: travel insurance, single room supplement £165.