Dear reader, come with me, if you have some free time, if you have a free spirit, and if you are looking for adventure: come with me to visit Gramsh, for a personal experience of an untold fairy tale.
Gramsh - small, loving, peaceful, generous, hospitable and full of culture - is not recognized as a tourist destination. No more than three hours from Tirana, the capital city of Albania, Gramsh is a place where you can view and adore a breathtaking view of the most beautiful mountain in Albania, that is Mount Tomorri. It is saintly and its holy shape enforce its power even more. It doesn’t take any effort to enjoy the most beautiful view of this mountain, as it accompanies your journey immediately after you get out of the Tirana-Elbasan Tunnel, at about 70 km distance from the town of Gramsh you are heading to. It is also known as the Albanian Olympus, at 2416 meters high, it resembles a king sitting on his throne. It is a popular religious pilgrimage destination and every August people from all areas of Albania and abroad reach its peak searching for a solution to their concerns or health problems. They pray to Baba Tomorri (Tomorri Father).
But Gramsh is full of hidden gems, which you need to strive a bit to reach and enjoy. It is the perfect place for nature, culture and adventure. Why did Gramsh impress me that much? Because there are stunning waterfalls, many wonderful lakes, breathtaking canyons and caves, beautiful mountains, ancient ruins, castles, bridges and traces of lost civilization.
For the adventure traveler, for the one who is eager to explore untouched nature, the following are some of the most beautiful attractions you may choose to visit in Gramsh:
The spectacular waterfalls of Sotira; you have been viewing Mount Tomorri for several hours now and probably might be wondering, or you imagination pushes you further, what might it be like to be very close to it? Ok, here we go, right at the bottom of the mountain, northeast of Mount Tomorri, nature has been so generous to Gramsh, two amazing waterfalls in one place, worth the effort. Side by side, and still not at all identical, but completely different from each other, still both special and unique. These waterfalls are accessible at any time of the year but the best time to visit is in the following months: April, May, June. They are fed with water from the mountain and their flow is connected to rainfall and snow melting. Very enigmatic is the waterfall which comes out from the middle of a rock as none can speak with certainty about the real underwater source of this water. In front of the waterfall lies a perfect lawn for a family picnic or outdoor games. You enjoy your food and also view and hear the roaring sounds of these powerful waterfalls, power which cannot be transmitted through pictures, it can only be felt while visiting them there, a real wild beauty.
Black Lake, located 4 km from the village of Lenie, at 1,634m above the sea level, occupies an area of about 3 ha. The lake is of glacial origin with very cold and deep blue water. The area has a mountain climate with a rare and natural beauty. It is surrounded by a green wreath of beech and Bosnian pine. Its waters are well known for their curative values, rich in minerals and with a pH level of between 7.5 and 8.39. If you happen to visit it in August, you will see that you are not alone. There are many tents and vehicles around resembling a camping site. The tourists have arrived there a few days ago to cure themselves of rheumatism and bone disease. The deep blue water surface of the lake offers a charming landscape with Mount Komjan in the distance.
Oak Lake is a beauty of rare coloration, something you hardly expect to see in this area, a shallow lake covered by water lilies. You can just sit and gaze and relax at the natural color saturation here. It gives a feeling as if you are in front of a painting where the golden, green, blue and velvet of Komjan Mountain blend perfectly together.
Sinec Canyon — 2km long, 200m deep, and 20-30m wide — is unexplored and hides many caves. Its view is very stunning; what nature wants to show us this time is its talent at carving stone and rocks. Numerous crystalline water tanks and rocks in white stripes create the impression that somebody has done the dressing of these canyons sites with modern decorative stones. Crystal water pools in perfect stone architecture, which you would love to visit, to dive into and take pictures to share.
Holtas Canyon, where you will find a lot of adventure, so much to see, experience and challenge. The canyon is 3 km long, 10 m wide, and as you cross through the natural gate-like steep rock entrance, and land on to the canyon’s ground floor, you will feel immediately that few might have stepped here before of you. The canyon’s walls are high and steep, full of unexplored caves. Within the canyon you will find an ecosystem of its own as the cold waters of the Holtas river mix with the light blue warm waters coming from the thermal spring at the bottom of the canyon’s walls. Within the canyon and in all of the area surrounding it, there is so much to see and explore.
Particularly outstanding is Kabashi Cave, where you will have to walk carefully on a steep mountain slope to find its modest entrance hidden among bushes and trees. What’s waiting for you inside is simply indescribable! The cave is huge, with many rooms and halls, and tunnels. It’s clean; strangely enough there are no bats here and therefore no need to worry about their droppings, something usual in most of caves.The most stunning are its long stalactites and stalagmites stretching from its ceiling and floor in wonderful dark orange or reddish colors, a rare beauty of national geographic interest.
On top of both sides of Holtas Canyon and in front of Kabashi cave, there are ruins of ancient Illyrian settlements, and many local myths and legends add to the mystery of this area.
Well, these are only a few of the places you can visit in Gramsh. While you are here you will learn and explore more and live your own unforgettable experience. Prepare for the spring and enjoy the trip of your dreams.