Earth and Water

Hot springs, Thriving land and Water utilisation

The Vjosa River is one of the five main rivers of Albania, second in length behind Drini River and has five main tributaries, Dishnica, Lemnica, Langarica, Çarshova and Sarandaporos, in the Greek border. The River’s water resources has always provided the basis for the Vjosa’s valley agricultural production but also a place of a leisure, offering- especially in the upper part of the valley- the best fishing spots in the area, a favourite for recreational fishing.  It should be noted that in the Albanian part of the River. In its Albanian part, Vjosa flows uninterruptedly, free from human constructions such as dams, along its whole length (one of the few such cases in Europe); as such, it constitutes a continuous river ecosystem with rich biodiversity, which is home to many important species of fauna, like the European otter (Lutra Lutra), an endangered species whose priority for preservation has been recognised in several international conventions. However, in 2011, the Albanian Government approved the construction of two hydroelectric plants in Vjosa; the environmental, social and economic impacts of these infrastructures still need to be analysed.  

This thematic route is divided into three sections that reflect the natural value of the river and the services it offers to local communities. Thriving land follows the fertile lands of the area, which was and still is a primarily agricultural zone. All kinds of crops are being cultivated and produce numerous varieties of grapes, wheat, corn and vegetables as well as extensive livestock breeding, especially sheep and goat breeding. A large part of the agricultural products is being processed locally, in the numerous small dairy farms, breweries and workshops of the area. The traditional products of the area have an established reputation in Albania due to their high quality.

Amongst them, stand out the ‘glika’ (jams made of walnut, plum and apricot), the wine, the ‘raki’ and the white or goat cheese (‘kaçkavall’).

The hot springs will take you to the famous Baths of Bënja, known since the antiquity because of their therapeutic properties and hence, an object of various myths and stories. They are located 14 km outside the town of Permet. Flowing freely along both banks of the river for almost 1 km, from the bridge of Kati up to the canyon of Langarica, the thermal waters offer an excellent opportunity for relaxation and revitalisation in a unique natural setting. The landscape is amazing, offering a delight of views to the visitor: caves, canyons, grassland, trees and aromatic bushes, thermal waters with a slight smell of sulphur gently flowing into the river through caves at the foothills of the canyon.

Water utilization will give you a picture of the modern infrastructure which includes and extensive network of irrigation and drainage channels. There are 11 reservoirs, used to collect water for irrigation, and 9 pumping stations on Vjosa River. Since the 1990’s, the irrigation system has been seriously damaged and a significant part of the system is no longer operational. The water resources of the Vjosa Valley also provide significant potential to increase energy production in the area and six small hydroelectric plants are currently planned for construction. The plan that is most advanced is the Langarica hydroelectric plant, which is planned to be constructed at the lower part of the river basin, near Langarica Canyon, at an elevation of 410 m above sea level, about 7 km from the Vjosa River.

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2 municipalities, 4 communes
5 tributaries
5190 ha irrigated land
24-30°C thermal springs