Albania. Steep canyons in Osum Canyon and gravel roads leading through breathtaking mountain landscapes. Relax in the warm thermal springs at Bënja and enjoy a spectacular river hike through Lengarica Canyon. Albania shows its best side on this stage. The trip from Osum Canyon to Lengarica Canyon was a stage during our road trip with the all-wheel camper through Albania. In my following article you will find out what to expect in the two canyons and also where to find the most beautiful pitches for the night. (Title photo: Dr. Till Pasquay)
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Here you can read my main article about our Road Trip Albania - 15 Highlights & Tips and Route.
The river Osum flows through several canyons with rock faces up to 80 metres high over a length of about 14 kilometres. With its yellow-grey cliffs and rugged rock formations it forms a breathtaking landscape.
The town of Çorovoda is the starting point for exploring the canyon. Directly behind Çorovoda the road starts and leads up the river on the left side of the Osum. You drive all the time directly at the edge of the gorge and there are many spectacular views.
About nine kilometres after Çorovoda, it is also worth stopping at a narrow bridge over the canyon. From here you have a great view into the canyon and it is also a perfect place for a break or the night (40°27'17.5″N 20°15'57.4″E). You can also continue up the gravel road behind the bridge. At the second bend you will reach a small river. In front of the concrete bridge there is a nice parking place next to the river (40°27'39.4″N 20°15'44.4″E). Here you also have water for cooking and washing.
After about 13 kilometres you will come to Lapanj. Up to here the road was asphalted. Now a bridge leads to the other side of the Osum and it continues on gravel roads. The road leaves the river and winds its way up the mountain flanks. A few settlements are scattered on the fertile plateaus. About halfway you reach an idyllically situated camping site. The doughnuts with the homemade honey and yoghurt offered here are absolutely recommendable.
After a total of 26 kilometres of gravel road you will reach the SH75 road and after another 21 kilometres the sulphur springs of Benje.
The road is easy to drive, but there are steep climbs and our tires often went crazy on the gravel. Four-wheel drive is an advantage. The road is narrow, but it is usually possible to avoid the few oncoming vehicles.
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Thermal Springs Banjat e Benjës
The warm thermal springs near Benje are the most water-rich thermal springs in Albania. The sulphurous water, warm up to 30°C, is contained in four natural stone pools of different sizes in the front section of the Lengarica Canyon. On weekends many Albanians from nearby towns come here to relax in nature. The water is said to have healing effects on skin, stomach and circulation diseases as well as rheumatism.
There are also guided day trips to the Osum Gorge from Berat.
The entrance fee to the thermal springs and the stream is 100 Lek per person. The use of the car park is included.
Also the attached, very simple camping site invites you to stay. However, it was a bit too crowded for us at the thermal springs. Therefore we walked further upstream into the Lengarica Canyon.
Near the thermal springs there is also a nice place for the night with a view (40°14'40.0″N 20°26'03.2″E). You don't drive left to the parking lot of the sulphur springs but straight ahead. The road rises and winds up the mountains. On the left side there is a nice parking place.
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River Hike in Lengarica Canyon Osum Canyon
The Lengarica Gorge is a narrow gorge, about four kilometres long and up to 100 metres deep. At its narrowest point, it is only about three metres wide. From the thermal springs you can walk about 2.5 kilometres upstream through the canyon during the summer months at low tide.
Right at the beginning you pass one of the most beautiful stone bridges from the Ottoman times - the Ura e Kadiut. The bridge is a great photo motif in any case. While we walk partly on the shore and partly through the water, warm and cold water alternate again and again. The river bed is still relatively wide. That's why many bathers have settled comfortably on the shallow banks.
After approximately 300 metres upstream, the walls of the gorge become higher and the watercourse narrower and narrower, until finally there is no bank at all anymore. The gorge is breathtakingly narrow here, rock washes and grottos are to the left and right of the stream. In some of the caves there are even said to be prehistoric murals. We wade through the river, partly on sand and partly on stone. Bathing shoes are of great advantage here, as the rocks are damn slippery and several times I almost involuntarily went for a swim. After a right turn the canyon widens again. Here there are many nice quiet places for a break or a bath. The water here is much colder and a pleasant refreshment. After a total of about 2.5 kilometres you finally reach the second bridge from the Ottoman period - the Ura e Dashit.
Book Recommendations for Albania
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Have you ever been on a road trip in Albania? How did you like it and what were your highlights? Do you have any questions about my article? If yes, then write me a comment!