Back at the shore, a fisher is bringing in the catch of the day.

Back at the shore, a fisher is bringing in the catch of the day.

Prespa region is situated on the Balkan Peninsula and it is shared between three countries: Albania, Greece and Macedonia. This region that includes two natural lakes and high mountains with great significance for biodiversity where endemic and globally threatened species can be found.

It has been already two years since I worked for development of the hiking trails in Prespa and sliding through the pictures today I decided to share them in this post.

I remember having a great time hiking on the mountains that most of the time offer great views towards the lakes. The mountains are not very high but the highest summit (Pllaja e Pusit) in the region makes it for a long full day hike. Both lakes can be seen in the same time, Ohrid and Prespa, from the summit of Pllaja e Pusit in Mali i Thate mountain, almost 2300 m. Furthermore Pelister Mountain in Macedonian side and the mountains on the Greek side are always very inviting for a climb or a cross border trek which is still forbidden unfortunately.

With the imitative of the National Park Prespa the trails are now marked and a hiking map is published. I will scan and add the map soon in this post.

Prespa National Park Hiking Trails is the first guide-map that will take you to the Albanian side of the region which is still very little know from hikers. This guide will take you from the shore of the lake to the summit of Mali i Thatë (2288m) through beautiful forest and summer pastures. The trails are designed for almost all fitness levels. One can enjoy the beauty of the nature and culture of the area starting with a taking hours stroll, taking a moderate hike in the picturesque villages or climbing higher and crossing the mountains. All of these trails have been known by locals for generations, and many of them are still used by shepherds for traveling to the summer huts.

Given that this region is on the border with Greece and FYROM Macedonia, it used to be a no-go zone in communism time and still a lot of remaining from military defense can be seen. The bunkers extend as high as the higher summit in the area where a military post used to be located nearby it.

Aside from its natural and scenic values, the park also possesses great cultural and historic values. Numerous archaeological sites and Byzantine and meta-Byzantine monuments bear witness to the area’s rich cultural and historic heritage. A hermitic church is found along the cliffs of Lake Macro Prespa, and the remains of ancient churches are found on Mali Grad Island.

The population of approximately 5,000 within the park lives in 12 small and scattered settlements that are still replete with traditional forms of housing. Locals are active in agriculture and fishing. Most of them live from subsistence agriculture. The small income that visitors provide is a welcome bonus. The area is designated for eco-tourism.

 

Pictures below are not in order, they are captures from different hikes around the region.

Green meadows along the trail from Liqenas and Diellas in spring.

Green meadows along the trail from Liqenas and Diellas in spring.

The back country trails afford panoramic mountain views.

The back country trails afford panoramic mountain views.

A farm shed just outside the settlment with traditional braided fences and walls.

A farm shed just outside the settlment with traditional braided fences and walls.

Great views at the last part of the trail before descending to Gorica e Vogel.

Great views at the last part of the trail before descending to Gorica e Vogel.

Farms along the Micro Prespa trail, mainly beans and lucerne.

Farms along the Micro Prespa trail, mainly beans and lucerne.

Bunkers and tunnels are dug into the rock as holes in Swiss cheese.

Bunkers and tunnels are dug into the rock as holes in Swiss cheese.

Ancient cobbled trail linking Gollomboc and Gorice e Vogel

Ancient cobbled trail linking Gollomboc and Gorice e Vogel

Descending to Alarup after the summit of Mali i Thate.

Descending to Alarup after the summit of Mali i Thate.

The ridge of Mali i Thate is criss-crossed by old military roads. The trail leads to the military barracks before reaching Korita. In the right side you can still see the rocks in raw, trying to open space for agriculture in communism time.

The ridge of Mali i Thate is criss-crossed by old military roads. The trail leads to the military barracks before reaching Korita. In the right side you can still see the rocks in raw, trying to open space for agriculture in communism time.

It would be a mistake to underestimat the weather that can quickly change and bring rain, fog and icy winds.

It would be a mistake to underestimat the weather that can quickly change and bring rain, fog and icy winds.

Rare plants such as orchids are easy to find in the national park.

Rare plants such as orchids are easy to find in the national park.

The trailhead for the Mali i Thate ridge in Gorica e Madhe (Big Gorica), walks connect to Alarup and Korita on the Ohrid side.

The trailhead for the Mali i Thate ridge in Gorica e Madhe (Big Gorica), walks connect to Alarup and Korita on the Ohrid side.

A horse rider is passing the party on the higher altitude trail towards the plateua

A horse rider is passing the party on the higher altitude trail towards the plateua

The trail along the lake

In early April the plateua is still bare of flowers.

In early April the plateua is still bare of flowers.

The Orthodox church in Liqneas, the village is the center of the commune that is in Macedonian called Pustec.

The Orthodox church in Liqneas, the village is the center of the commune that is in Macedonian called Pustec.

Remaining warehouses of the Communist past with Maligrad (island) in the background.

Remaining warehouses of the Communist past with Maligrad (island) in the background.

All kind of farm animals are kept, especially goats and sheep on the high meadows and cows near the village.

All kind of farm animals are kept, especially goats and sheep on the high meadows and cows near the village.

A shephed watching her goats

A shephed watching her goats

They live during the summer on their meadows in shacks, riding to the village only to sell milk products.

They live during the summer on their meadows in shacks, riding to the village only to sell milk products.

The variety of walks between 2 and 10 hours holds something ready for everyone, the majority takes about 4-5h walking time.

The variety of walks between 2 and 10 hours holds something ready for everyone, the majority takes about 4-5h walking time.

The others side of the mountain affords grear views of Prespa, this is the Macedonian side and Golem Grad.

The others side of the mountain affords grear views of Prespa, this is the Macedonian side and Golem Grad.

The thickets and reeds are nesting place for aquatic birds, mainy stopover when the seasons change.

The thickets and reeds are nesting place for aquatic birds, mainy stopover when the seasons change.

Small Prespa as seen from the road.

Small Prespa as seen from the road.

View from the upper trail that connects Diellas and Gollomboc through the hills.

View from the upper trail that connects Diellas and Gollomboc through the hills.

The mountain offers great views towards Pogradec and over the Lake Ohrid.

The mountain offers great views towards Pogradec and over the Lake Ohrid.

Prespa is low-profile and very popular for bird watchers, especially the minor lake, as on a good day up 150 different species can be spotted.

Prespa is low-profile and very popular for bird watchers, especially the minor lake, as on a good day up 150 different species can be spotted.

The lake appears as open sea.

The lake appears as open sea.

Close-by Diellas

Close-by Diellas

The trail is in many parts steep but traverses mostly easy grassy terrain.

The trail is in many parts steep but traverses mostly easy grassy terrain.

Lake view from Diellas village

Lake view from Diellas village

A look-out point for walkers was errected in the outskirts, on the beach below the Dalmatian Pelican and varied comorants can be spotted.

A look-out point for walkers was errected in the outskirts, on the beach below the Dalmatian Pelican and varied comorants can be spotted.

The view to Korita and into the Korca high plain at the other of the trail.

The view to Korita and into the Korca high plain at the other of the trail.

Scrubs dominate the banks and lower areas but old grown forest can still be found on the slopes of Galicica.

Scrubs dominate the banks and lower areas but old grown forest can still be found on the slopes of Galicica.

It is possible to rent horses for the luggage transfer to the ridge where can also camp.

It is possible to rent horses for the luggage transfer to the ridge where can also camp.

The 14th cent  Hermitage Church build in a cave on the cliffs near Kallamas village.

The 14th cent Hermitage Church build in a cave on the cliffs near Kallamas village.

Cattle grazing betwen Diellas and Gollomboc, the villages are also connected by a good asphalt road.

Cattle grazing betwen Diellas and Gollomboc, the villages are also connected by a good asphalt road.

View over the bay to Gorica e Vogel (the small Gorica) surrounded by flood plains.

View over the bay to Gorica e Vogel (the small Gorica) surrounded by flood plains.

View from Gollomboc to snow-covered Baba Mountains in Macedonia, the peak of Pelister (left) stands at 2.601 m.

View from Gollomboc to snow-covered Baba Mountains in Macedonia, the peak of Pelister (left) stands at 2.601 m.

On the higher barren slopes goats scavange for food.

On the higher barren slopes goats scavange for food.

Forest sections are Intersected by meadows.

Forest sections are Intersected by meadows.

The views clear again as the old military track is reached.

The views clear again as the old military track is reached.

Military installations on the top of Mali i Thate.

Military installations on the top of Mali i Thate.

During the period from WW2 to 1990 Albania was isolated from the rest of the world and the border heavily guarded. Seen here old barracks.

During the period from WW2 to 1990 Albania was isolated from the rest of the world and the border heavily guarded. Seen here old barracks.

While the border is open again it still remains illegal to hike across to the Macedonian side. The fence is a remaining of communism regime.

While the border is open again it still remains illegal to hike across to the Macedonian side. The fence is a remaining of communism regime.

Beautiful flowers line the path.

Beautiful flowers line the path.

Later in spring, around May, one finds beautiful flowers.

Later in spring, around May, one finds beautiful flowers.

Plant life along the trail.

Plant life along the trail.

More plants along the way, the grass starts turning yellow towards July. High temperatures make for strenous hiking.

More plants along the way, the grass starts turning yellow towards July. High temperatures make for strenous hiking.

Back at the shore, a fisher is bringing in the catch of the day.

Visit of Micro / Minor / Small Prespa Lake, villagers in Shuec.

Visit of Micro / Minor / Small Prespa Lake, villagers in Shuec.

Visit of Micro / Minor / Small Prespa Lake, villagers in Shuec.

Visit of Micro / Minor / Small Prespa Lake, villagers in Shuec.

There's a simple hotel in the village and private accommodation in Gorica.

There’s a simple hotel in the village and private accommodation in Gorica.

Grapes for wine and raki on the slopes inland.

Grapes for wine and raki on the slopes inland.

The trail to Korita leads partly through dense forests that can provide shade in summer.

The trail to Korita leads partly through dense forests that can provide shade in summer.

Fishing boats carry up to five passengers and are used for the short ride to Mailgrad.

Fishing boats carry up to five passengers and are used for the short ride to Mailgrad.

It remains despite many new buildings a traditional fishing village.

It remains despite many new buildings a traditional fishing village.

Diellas is the trailhead for most of the inland walks away from the shore.

Diellas is the trailhead for most of the inland walks away from the shore.

Almost back to Kallams, descend to the village.

Almost back to Kallams, descend to the village.

Reptiles can be spotted along the lake.

Reptiles can be spotted along the lake.

One of the larger caverns and caves near Kallamas village that line the shore.

One of the larger caverns and caves near Kallamas village that line the shore.

The Prespa Lakes are of tectonic origin and among the oldest lakes in the world. Together with Ohrid they form a transboundary UNESCO listed park area.

The Prespa Lakes are of tectonic origin and among the oldest lakes in the world. Together with Ohrid they form a transboundary UNESCO listed park area.

Spring flowers enjoy the good weather, too.

Spring flowers enjoy the good weather, too.

Gaining ground for better views, some boulders need to be navigated along the route.

Gaining ground for better views, some boulders need to be navigated along the route.

The cirular trial leads around the shore and back over a hill.

The cirular trial leads around the shore and back over a hill.

Reflection of Mali i Thate in the calm surface of Prespa from Kallams, the last village before the Macedonian border.

Reflection of Mali i Thate in the calm surface of Prespa from Kallams, the last village before the Macedonian border.

The Dalmatian Pelican are among them, it is one of the largest birds in the world, growing to a weight of 15 kg and wing span of almost 3,5 m.

The Dalmatian Pelican are among them, it is one of the largest birds in the world, growing to a weight of 15 kg and wing span of almost 3,5 m.

A Dalmatian pelican up close the shore.

A Dalmatian pelican up close the shore.

Most of the population lives from subsistence agriculture. The small income that visitors provide is a welcome bonus. The are is designated for eco-tourism.

Most of the population lives from subsistence agriculture. The small income that visitors provide is a welcome bonus. The are is designated for eco-tourism.

Locals move between villages and to their fields by donkey. There's only few cars and the public bus runs infrequently.

Locals move between villages and to their fields by donkey. There’s only few cars and the public bus runs infrequently.

All kind of vegetables are planted here, mainly beans and potatoes but also grapes.

All kind of vegetables are planted here, mainly beans and potatoes but also grapes.

The villages are surrounded by fruit trees ranging from apple, plums and pear to cherries.

The villages are surrounded by fruit trees ranging from apple, plums and pear to cherries.

A shepherd watching his flock. All inhabitants are by ethnicity Macedonians and speak the language as well as often Greek.

A shepherd watching his flock. All inhabitants are by ethnicity Macedonians and speak the language as well as often Greek.

Meadow in fornt of the guesthouse with view of Pelister. There's both dormitory accommodation and private rooms.

Meadow in fornt of the guesthouse with view of Pelister. There’s both dormitory accommodation and private rooms.

Horses and donkeys are a common part of every day life and used mainly to transport goods.

Horses and donkeys are a common part of every day life and used mainly to transport goods.

Most of the younger population left the are in search of work, children and the old remain.

Most of the younger population left the are in search of work, children and the old remain.

A cave near Gorica e Vogël village. This is the first cave that I have visited many years ago with a Polish caving club. From that time I'm in love with caving.

A cave near Gorica e Vogël village. This is the first cave that I have visited many years ago with a Polish caving club. From that time I’m in love with caving.

Trail marking in progress, a map with route descriptions is available.

Trail marking in progress, a map with route descriptions is available.

Connections can be made along the lake side, a lower altitude trail and high up on a plateu just below Mali i Thate ("the dry mountain").

Connections can be made along the lake side, a lower altitude trail and high up on a plateu just below Mali i Thate (“the dry mountain”).

Gollomboc is locaed in a North facing bay with views of the Macedonian and Greek side of the lake.

Gollomboc is locaed in a North facing bay with views of the Macedonian and Greek side of the lake.

Mud brick walls at a stable at the outskirts.

Mud brick walls at a stable at the outskirts.

23 species of fish live in the Prespa Lakes, 12 of them are endemic and found nowhere else in the wolrd.

23 species of fish live in the Prespa Lakes, 12 of them are endemic and found nowhere else in the wolrd.

5 ha sized Maligrad draws few visitors. It is characterized by a circular cliff full of caves, home to diverse wildlife.

5 ha sized Maligrad draws few visitors. It is characterized by a circular cliff full of caves, home to diverse wildlife.

There's no industry in the villages, inhabitants live from farming, fishing and animal husbandry.

There’s no industry in the villages, inhabitants live from farming, fishing and animal husbandry.

The winters are surpringly cold, Prespa is situated on an altitude of 850 m above sea level, summers are considerably milder and more pleasant.

The winters are surpringly cold, Prespa is situated on an altitude of 850 m above sea level, summers are considerably milder and more pleasant.

The almost 2.300 meter high mountains of Mali i Thate (AL) and Galicia NP (MK) are snow-covered until well into May.

The almost 2.300 meter high mountains of Mali i Thate (AL) and Galicia NP (MK) are snow-covered until well into May.

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5 Responses to Walking in Albanian side of Lake Prespa

  1. Detlef says:

    Super pictures and descriptions! An area worth visiting!

  2. Endrit says:

    Thanks, Detlef! Yep, true, an area worth visiting but unfortunately still very little information. I hope some more information will come online soon.

  3. JAR says:

    Endrit, I am looking forward to visiting this area next month with my family!! Can you scan and post the hiking map? I would love to be able to look at it before I travel to see what is possible to walk with my children.

  4. Avisito says:

    Absolutely amazing place & photographs !!!!

  5. Julia says:

    Beautiful photos!

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