Albania rated on the 2018 to-do-list for adventure travelers

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 1, 2017 14:06

Albania rated on the 2018 to-do-list for adventure travelers

Story Highlights

  • "Albania is recently playing its adventure card. The latest initiative was last May when a hiking trail was launched at the Nature Reserve of the Karaburun peninsula, an ancient military base accessible only on foot or by boat,” says the magazine, adding that crossing the peninsula with a small boat, a small bay perfect for scuba-diving comes across close to a 600 m2 cave.

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TIRANA, Nov. 1 – Taking an adventure trip to Albania has been rated as one of the top tours on travelers’ to-do-list for 2018.

National Geographic France has rated Albania as the 11th most beautiful destination for adventure seekers along with trips to exotic places such as Papua New Guinea’s tribes, the Sudan temples, the Chinese Shangri-La and as well as Madrid street art, Macedonia’s melting pot, a weekend in Hamburg and Californian vineyards.

Featuring a picture of the Apollonia archaeological park, the country’s second largest cultural heritage destination aspiring to gain UNESCO World Heritage inscription, the National Geographic’s French publication recommends Albania for its ancient history, unexplored landscape, making it a perfect adventure travel destination.

“Under communist dictatorship for decades, Albania is slowly opening up. Discover its Ottoman cities of Berat and Gjirokastra, the Greco-Roman amphitheaters, the beaches and above all the country’s unexplored landscapes such as alpine summits, green valleys, wetlands and rich fauna,” writes the National Geographic.

Explaining the reasons why this trip should be taken now, the prestigious exploration and adventure magazine says Albania is a perfect adventure travel destination offering trekking, horseback riding, rafting and kayaking.

“Albania is recently playing its adventure card. The latest initiative was last May when a hiking trail was launched at the Nature Reserve of the Karaburun peninsula, an ancient military base accessible only on foot or by boat,” says the magazine, adding that crossing the peninsula with a small boat, a small bay perfect for scuba-diving comes across close to a 600 m2 cave.

Last May, as Albania geared up for the 2017 tourist season, authorities opened up the Sazan Island, a military base in southern Albania that was first used by the Italians until World War II before becoming the country’s most secretive base under communism when it was fortified with bunkers and tunnels designed to withstand a possible nuclear attack that the Albanian communist elite feared.

The tiny now uninhabited 5.7 km2 island and the Karaburun peninsula form the first and only national marine park of Albania, featuring ruins of sunken Greek, Roman and World War II ships, rich underwater fauna, steep cliffs and giant caves, ancient inscriptions of sailors on shore, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views of the coastline.

The National Geographic has also previously rated Albania as among the top ten places that deserve more travelers and recommended the Valbona Valley in northern Albania as one of the greatest outdoors globally.

Earlier this year, French public broadcaster France 2 dubbed Albania, an emerging European destination that is also attracting French tourists, as the “Pearl of the Balkans.”

What makes Albania a favourable destination for French tourists is also the direct flights to Paris and Brussels twice a week and the cheap prices and quality Albania offers.

Several outdoor tour operators in the country offer hiking, rafting, biking, horse riding and birds watching adventures in the country, while cross-border tourism is gaining an upper hand with the opening of some mountain hiking trails such as the ancient Via Egnatia linking Rome to Byzantium, the present-day Istanbul, crossing through Albania and Macedonia.

U.S.-based Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) placed Albania as one of the three destinations added to the top adventure travel destinations for 2017 along with Cuba and Portugal.

Closed to tourists for about five decades until the early 1990s, Albania offers a miscellaneous picture of coastal and mountain tourism and has been attracting more and more foreign tourists in the past decade being nicknamed as “A new Mediterranean love” and “Europe’s last secret.”

The tourism industry has been one of the country’s fastest growing in the past few years, attracting more than 4 million tourists and generating about €1.5 billion, about 14 percent of the country’s GDP, in 2016 alone.

The communist past is also what fascinates tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a Stalinist dictatorship.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 1, 2017 14:06