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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tamara and Selca: Two Remote Villages Worth Exploring

Tamara and Selca: Two Remote Villages Worth Exploring

Adventure finds itself at home in Albania. No matter which season or what sort of weather, you will always find a place and time to let your free spirit run wild. Having stayed home for some weeks, I was looking to find an exciting adventure this October. I decided to follow the least travelled road and take a trip to Tamara and Selca villages, Shkoder Region in North Albania. Apart from the location, I had no ideas what this trip would be like. I packed my bag, took my best travel companion aka my digital camera, and set off quite early as a member of an exploration team.
Departure from Tirana was early in the morning, around 6:00 am, and we travelled toward Shkoder city where we had our first stop for a coffee by Drini river. After a short break, we left behind Shkoder lowlands and started our trip among the rugged slopes and high steep mountains, deep inside the Albanian Alps. Very soon the horizon got closer as I was viewing mountain walls on both sides of the road, high peaks, deep abyss and mountains rising immediately from the valley. For a moment it seemed to me as if I was part of an Avatar movie. I wanted to capture these captivating scenes with my camera, or track with my lens the eagles and hawks flying high then down the abyss, but our final destination was  elsewhere, and there was just time to watch in awe.

At around 10:00 we had a short stop at “Leqet e Hotit” as the locals call this place. Here you can admire beautiful roads winding from the top to the bottom by the side of the mountain. Deep down is the valley of Cem river. Time to take pictures of this breathtaking landscape.
The sun shining over Tamara village

Next, we followed the road by the valley toward Tamara village. I knew very little about this unique village, but once we entered it all I could think was how beautiful it is. Traditional stone and wooden buildings, the stone cobbled pavements, the luscious greenery and grey mountains overlooking, and the deep blue sky would exceed the imagination of even the most creative mind. The sun was shining brightly over Tamara village and the beauty of the nature simply couldn’t be matched by words.  
Tamara village, The centre

But that’s not all. A few yards from the center, a stairway led us to the bed of Cem river. Its crystal clear waters made me regret not taking the bathing suit with me. Instead, I enjoyed watching others swim and dive while I took more pictures.
Tamara village, Cem river

After an hour travelling from Tamara we reached Selca village, where we got off the bus to hike toward our next destination, one of Selca waterfalls. Selca lies at 353-1100 m above the sea level and is home to some of the most beautiful nature treasures such as the Kelmend canyon, numerous caves, waterfalls, and breathtaking landscapes. For rafting lovers, Selca offers Cem river, which is best during April and May when you can also enjoy the Gerrli canyon. However, Selca waterfalls are a spectacular natural attraction worth visiting, so seeing one of them was simply icing on the cake for this trip.
Selca Waterfall

Selca Waterfall

The path toward a Selca (Sqapi) waterfall was by the side of the mountain, on a slippery rocky path where you have to be very careful and have experienced guides to have a safe hike. All members of my group were experienced climbers, which made the whole experience safe and fun. Along the way, the scenery of the mountains in early fall days was simply amazing. After about 90 minutes of hiking among rocks, leaves, and trees, we arrived to one of Selca waterfalls. What a spectacular beauty, hidden among the mountains, deep inside the forest, with its white face shining brightly. We sat in front of it, enjoyed our packed lunch and drank from the cold fresh water from the waterfall. After two hours of relaxing at this spectacular site, we started preparing for the trip back. I took more picture, a proof of how incredible the journey was and that Tamara and Selca are absolutely worth exploring.
The untouched nature around Selca Waterfall

Coming back from the waterfall

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