THE LURA LAKES – ALBANIA
The Lura National Park covers 1280 ha of mountainous terrain around the crown of Lura (Kurora e Lures) Massif, which rises at its peak to 2121 meters. The area was designated a as national park because of the beautiful lakes which lie within it, and a road into the park was constructed in order to give access to the seven largest lakes. These lie in cirques 1600 – 1720 meters above sea level, surrounded by pine trees and wild flowers, with the mountains rising high above them. Each of the seven main lakes has a subtly different atmosphere. Several of them are covered in white and yellow water lilies, and huge dragon flies dart around them. Others have no flowers in them, the stillness of their water is dapled with the reflection of the surrounding trees.
The Lura lakes were a popular destination for Albanian holiday makers during the communist period and visitor numbers are now starting to pick up again. They are still rather difficult to get to, over the past ten years or so, illegal logging within the park has reached calamitous levels and the logging company’s trucks have destroyed the roads. Even worse, the loggers have also destroyed large swathes of pine forest and their clear felling on the hillside is causing serious erosion.
Despite the logging company’s efforts however, there is still quite alot of forest left and the lakes are still lovely traquil places. The closest lakes to the village of Lura e Vjeter, about one and a half hours drive from it, are Liqeni i Rrasave (slate lake) and Liqeni i Lopeve (Cattle lake). Slate lake is a pretty little tarn, with water lilies and reeds in the water and beech trees growing around it. Cattle lake is larger and is overlooked by an impressivly craggy hill. Around it are the remains of concrete steps and patios, which must have been built when Lura was a holiday resort. There is a path leading off the road to the right, just before Slate lake, it used to lead to another lake, but this was exploited for irrigation during the communist era and is now dry.
The next lake in the chain is Liqeni i Madh (Great lake), which is divided into two sections by an artificial dyke. The main section is a large lake, surrounded by hills and trees, although these are marred by deforestation. Local children swim in this lake, less hardy adults might find the water abit too cold. Great lake is the highest of the main lakes, at 1720 meters above the sea level. Behind the dyke is a beautiful little lake, covered in water lilies, with a shady clearing under a couple of trees, which is an ideal spot for a picnic. Huge electric blue dragon flies live around this lake, which is considered as part of the Great lake.
The next two lakes along the road are Liqeni i Hotit (Hoti lake) and Liqeni i Zi (the Black lake), so called beacuse it is very deep. Black lake is also very steep, and its sides are thickly forested with pines, although there is some deforestation further up the slopes.
It is 8.8 kilometers from Slate lake to the last of the seven lakes, Liqeni i Lulevi i Vogel (The Little Flower lake) The two flower lakes (Liqeni i Luleve i Madh, Great flower lake, is the other) are in a part of the park where clear felling has caused especially ugly scarring on the hillside and around the lakes themselves. They are remarkably beautiful lakes, particularly little flower lake whose surface is carpeted with yellow and white water lilies, but it is hard not to feel depressed – or outraged – by the environmental damage which surrounds them.
Most of the trees which are being felled are mountain pines (Pinus mugo), although the national park is also recorded as having Macedonian pine (P.peuce), which is only found in this part of the Balkans. Its limited range gives it near-threatened status. at lower levels are beech (Fagus sylvatica) and silver fir (Abies alba). There are row deer, red squirrels, European brown hare, red foxes and pole cats in the National park. Wolves, lynx, wild cats and brown bears used to live in the forests though nowadays they have probably moved away to a quieter neighborhood with fewer chain saws. Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are readily spotted, from as low down as the hotel. Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) were formally reported as breeding in the park, although now recent data is available.
Getting around the Lura park
The road which runs roughly north-south through the Lura National Park is very bad-parts of it are more like a dry river bed with large stone and deeply rutted sections – and it is sometimes blocked completely with felled trees. A resilient and high axled 4×4 vehicle is essential unless you plan to move around on foot or on two wheels. A jeep with a driver can be hired in Rresheni (try asking at your accommodation there) but not in Lura itself. The road is not passable in winter or after heavy rain.
If you are walking, there are short cuts up through the trees, although it is easy to loose the path and end up battleing through the forest. You might consider hiring a local guide in the village- ask the hotel staff or the family you are staying with to find someone to show you the quickest way to the lakes.
However, the start of the route is straight forward. From the Turizmi Lure hotel, head roughly south west, straight up hill. The walking is considerably more pleasant tyhan along the stones and boulders of the road, over rough grass and past thickets of wild fruit – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. The track rejoins the road at a flat open area which will be a good place to camp over night. It takes 30-40 minutes to reach this point from the hotel.
It is best to follow the road for the next stretch, until you come to a waterfall which runs under the road. A few meters after the waterfall, a clear path leads the road to the right, and then rejoins it a couple of hundred meters before Cattle lake. There are also large pipes leading downhill, and where these meet the road, there line can be followed as short cuts.
Other possible camp sites are around the main section of Great lake and on the far side of little flower lake. Caution should be exercised when l;logging is underway, as the trees are simply rolled down to the road from wherever they are felled. They are big logs and would have no difficulty whatsoever in sweeping a tent downhill with them.
ACCOMMODATION IN THE LURA LAKES OF ALBANIA
It is usually easy to find accommodation in most areas of Albania, what we have tried to do is to give you the many many options but to also give our own personal advise of the goods and the bad, as well as the exact location and the facilities of each accommodation choice. We would appreciate it if you would reserve your accommodation via this website and we will be there either in person or with a representative of ours to personally assist you while you are on your holidays in Albania.
ACTIVITIES IN THE LURA LAKES OF ALBANIA
SIGHTSEEING IN THE LURA LAKES OF ALBANIA
HISTORY OF THE LURA LAKES IN ALBANIA
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT THE LURA LAKES OF ALBANIA
UNIQUE CULTURE OF ALBANIA
The Albanian culture is an exotic blend of traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. From the ancient Illyrians and Greeks to the Romans and the Ottomans, the language, music, arts, and cuisine of the Albanian people are a rich and vibrant mix of many civilizations. Once you discover our culture, you are bound to fall in love with this new destination on the Mediterranean.
Hospitality is in our nature. Welcoming guests and ensuring their comfort is a hallmark of Albanian heritage and is epitomized by our very own Nobel Peace Prize recipient: Mother Teresa. The spirit of cooperation and friendship thrives in Albania, and it is not uncommon for guests to be invited to eat and drink with curious locals wishing to learn more about you.
Besa is a concept related to the Albanian code of honor and is an idea that is very important to the Albanian people. In the Kanun (a set of traditional Albanian laws), Besa is described as the highest authority, so essential to personal and familial standing as to be virtually a cult. Besa has been the subject of some stories and novels by Albania’s foremost modern novelist, Ismail Kadare, a Nobel Prize Candidate for Literature and winner of several international prizes. Kadare’s work has been published in over forty countries and translated into more than thirty languages, making Kadare the best ambassador of Albanian literature worldwide.
If we are speaking about the food and drinks of Albania, then we must mention the country’s deliciously-unique cuisine. It has many similarities to Turkish and Greek dishes, but offers a healthier, Mediterranean twist. Come try our wide variety of phyllo dough delicacies, including a melt-in-your-mouth sensation called byrek, or the original sweet treat known regionally as baklava.
Albania also has a long tradition of wine craftsmanship, which is lately being revived to its former glory. While you’re here, taste a sampling of our wine, produced from a rich soil that has been under cultivation since the ancient Greeks and Romans. Regardless of your culinary inclinations, we guarantee that our rich history and culinary traditions have created a menu of mouth-watering specialties for you to try.
Each region of Albania likes to specialize in its own brand of music, thus giving the music aficionado an incentive to explore the entire country in search of each community’s sense of style. For example, UNESCO has classified a type of music from southern Albania, known as Iso Polyphony, to have tremendous cultural value to humankind. Our music has even given rise to a few prominent artists of global acclaim, including opera lyric soprano, Inva Mula, and the distinguished violinist, Tedi Papavrami.
In regards to style, when you arrive in Albania, you will notice that the men take great pride in their appearance and will often don a suit and tie when in public. Even if their errands only involve a short trip to the grocery store, the men will dress to impress.
Depending upon the type of festival or time of year, you might even catch a glimpse of Albanian men in traditional folk attire. The National Folk Festival held in Gjirokastra is a prime example. This special autumn event is held once every four years and attracts artists from around the world.
The women of Albania also share a flair for style, especially at traditional Albanian weddings. At these events, the families of both the bride and groom will gather together in their finest dress and celebrate with great fervor. Weddings are often the ideal opportunity to witness the best of Albanian culture all in one event, and if you’re invited to one, the experience will undoubtedly be extraordinary.
Albanian culture is unique in many ways and we hope you’ll visit us to see it firsthand. We say ‘yes’ by shaking our head from side to side, both men and women greet each other with a kiss on either cheek, and our conversations are loud and passionate in an effort to entice others to join in. Visit Albania and discover why our culture is a new Mediterranean love.
MAP OF ALBANIA
PHOTO GALLERY OF LURA LAKES
MAP OF LURA LAKES