In the spring, one of the places you may like visiting in Albania is the Karavasta Lagoon. If you want to experience the scent of pine trees for a day, see the flights of pelicans and flamingos, go to the Karavasta Lagoon.
The Karavasta Lagoon is the largest lagoon in Albania. It is located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and covers an area of 4,300 ha of the National Park Divjake -Karavasta. The park has a surface of 22,230 ha and contains forests with typical flowers, lagoons, agricultural land, and sand dunes, as well as unproductive land. The Karavasta Lagoon has been declared an Emerald Site under the Bern Convention in 2008, an Important Bird Area (IBA), and a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) since 1994.
The lagoon is the most important wetland system in Albania for migratory birds, providing them with suitable habitats for food, wintering, breeding and shelter. It is also the only habitat in Albania for the nesting and breeding of the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus). The natural islands in the lagoon are among of the most important features of the area for bird conservation. To avoid the disturbance elsewhere, the pelicans now only nest on these islands. The entire pelican reproduction process begins in January and ends in June each year.
According to a recent census of migratory and wintering birds and studies carried out in this ecosystem, 240 species of birds have been encountered throughout the year. It is worth mentioning that for the 2018 census there are about 50,000 individuals in total dominating the Passeriformes (e.g., sparrows). In addition to birds, the park is home to many types of species of insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and mollusks, some of which are at risk of extinction.
In the Karavasta Lagoon, we encounter some natural monuments as well, such as the famous four-century-old pine tree, the pelican island that is the only breeding site of Dalmatian Pelican in Albania, the Littoral Cordon, and the Divjaka Oasis Dunes, that offer a truly wondrous sight.
With its Byzantine style and ancient archaeological sites, the lagoon is of historical and cultural importance, too. It is also a potentially sustainable tourist attraction. All year round, bird watching activity takes place, counting more than 400,000 visitors per year, 42,000 of them foreign tourists.
The Karavasta lagoon provides a source of income for the local population living inside the traditional park. People, there, depend on the lagoon for their livelihoods by making handicrafts, building small restaurants, making guided tours for tourists, and fishing traditionally, while respecting the technicians and the fishing period.
The wooden tower, recently built in the middle of the forest, has increased the number of family visitors who like to go for a lunch break and to climb this 30 meter tower that allows them to look out over the high pines park.
The approach road along the forest towards the birdwatching point near the lagoon creates the impression that you are in a dry, barren, and dusty domain with very little to attract the visitor. However, once you climb the wooden staircase that serves as a point where you can see the birds around, you immediately see the beauty and sense the tranquillity of this most natural of habitats.
In the lagoon you can also organise a kayak or small boat trip on the water. As you paddle around the lagoon, you can almost imagine that you are in some different ethereal environment, as you immerse yourself in the silence and tranquillity of this area. Are you perhaps in some other world or is this reality?
The lake is also an attraction for newlyweds, who visit it to take photographs to commemorate one of the most important moments of their lives. These photos illustrate those memorable reminders of a day filled with romance and love, when two souls merge as one. What a tremendous start to another journey together through life itself!
Actions to preserve the lagoon
A hunting moratorium was launched in Albania intended to increase the number of wild animals and migratory birds in the country, even those at risk of extinction. As a result of the moratorium, the number of water birds in 2018 has reached over 47,000 in Karavasta National Park, and the number of flamingos in the park goes to over 4,000 of that specie. More information about the hunting moratorium here.
The Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPA, district Fier) is working national and international partners in order to implement the project of NaturAL, “Strengthening national capacity in nature protection – preparation for Natura 2000 network”.
The project aims to halt the loss of biodiversity in Albania through improved management of its protected areas and to set a basis for the future implementation of the European Natura 2000 network. More information about the project here.
RAPA Fier is also working on another project for the protection and management of Dalmatian Pelicans in the Mediterranean Sea, which is financed by Noe Conservation based in France.
Monitoring Specialist at Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPA Fier)