TIRANA, September 29
Gramsh, a city located in the Valley of Devolli River is proving that proper management of water resources is a key element to economic growth and sustainable development. Gramsh district is located in southeastern Albania, some 84 km away from Tirana, and the administrative center can be reached from the capital city in less than two hours drive.
Gramsh is home to beautiful natural monuments, while manmade works complement these natural assets. But the area was not on the attention of tourists due to lack of infrastructure. However, the area got the attention of Norwegian investors that started the construction of two large renewable energy projects, the hydro power plants in Banja and Moglica. The first was put into service one year ago, in September 2017 and the second is expected to end in 2018. Besides the fact that the two HPPs along with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) are the major source of Foreign Direct Investments to Albania, they are also improving the lives of local communities and making Gramsh accessible to tourists and visitors. A new road from Banja to Gramsh and 13 bridges were also constructed as part of the project.
Air view of Banja Lake, Photo Credit Albert Vaja
This is the largest energy work since the construction of Koman HPP some 30-years-ago and like Koman, which is now one of Albania’s must-see attractions, it will turn into a tourist attraction. The reservoir has a total volume of 391 billion liters of water and it covers an area of 14 square km. Currently, there are only a few restaurants on the coast of the lake that offer local products from the small farms. Their menus include fresh artisan-made bread and cheese, fresh fish and meat that are incredibly cheap. Some also offer boat trips on the lake.
This canyon may be the reason why most of the people are visiting Gramsh area. Like Sotira Waterfall (see below) the Holta was mostly visited by local people from Gramsh and the surrounding areas. Now, there is a road that takes just at the canyon and numerous visitors come mostly during the weekend from Tirana on organized day trips. Before the road was built it took a two-hour walk from Driza village to the canyon. Holta is located northeastern of Gramsh near to Kabash and Bardha villages. The canyon is three km long, 150 m high and in some places, it narrows as little as ten meters wide. The canyon was formed by karst activity and Holta River erosion. Several unexplored karst caves are found on the canyon walls. The best time to visit from May to September depending on the river flow and level.
This was one of the first natural monuments that tourists begin to explore in Gramsh area. It is located some 16 km away from the city, near to Sotira village. The waterfall is 100 meters high and it formed by three water streams that originate from Tomorri Mountain. It takes a two hours walk to reach the waterfall from Sotira village. The best time to visit is from late spring to September but like Holta Canyon it depends on the water flow.
New Road Gramsh-Korca
Photo Credit, Eduard Pagria
The two cities will soon connect via a new road that runs along Devoll River valley. The road is part of Moglica HPP project. The power plant will have a 150 m high dam is an asphalt-core rock-filled structure and will be the highest of its kind in the world. The reservoir has a storage capacity of approximately 360 million m³.
The road will run through a mountainous terrain and it will connect some old villages with lots of history and tradition.
The road is expected to be one of the most beautiful in Albania due to the landscape, the river canyon and Moglica Lake. Prefect of Korca Ardit Konomi said for ATA that this will be a great option for bikers and cyclists that want to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The road will reduce the distance to Korca and Kapshtica cross-border point.
Photo Credit, Gramshi Online
The reason for visiting Valamara Mountain are three glacial lakes. They are located some 2,200 meters above the sea level near to Lenie village. The lakes have average sizes of 300 meters long and 200 meters wide. They have cold crystal-clear waters. During winter their surface freezes. Valamara lakes create an interesting ecosystem of alpine water bodies and they also have geological, ecological and cultural values. They can be visited following Gramsh-Lenie itinerary. The path from the villages continues to Mushaka Pass to the eastern slope of Valamara Mountain.
Gramsh is home to many other unexplored attraction such as the Black Lake, Grabova, Sineci Canyon, etc. The area is apt for hiking, trekking, camping, rock climbing, caving, off-road rally and other outdoor activities. Adventure tourism can trigger major economic, social, and cultural development in Gramsh area.
Invest in Albania
Photo Credit: Gramshi Online