Ever dreamed of that awesome experience of camping inside a canyon? Well, go upstream Osum River in Albania and you can do just that!
Why should I go to Osum Canyon?
Osum Canyon (Kanioni i Osumit) is one of the most spectacular natural attractions of Albania and the great thing is, you can walk on its valley floor. Usually, going into the canyon itself will get your feet wet but that’s pretty much it, unless you’re unfortunate enough to arrive in a particularly rainy season or in spring. There will be a point where you won’t trust your rock climbing skills enough to advance but don’t worry: it should be enough to marvel at this natural beauty and take some good shots.
How do I get there?
The easiest way to reach the canyon is from Berat (a UNESCO World Heritage we already covered in this post). Take a minibus to Corovoda, some 50km from Berat. Don’t be fooled by the relatively short distance between the two towns – it will well take 2-3h to reach Corvoda, as roads are bad and the topography mountainous. Once in Corovoda, follow SH72 onwards – best advice here is to hitch hike. There are no public/private buses or any railways. Corovoda is quite isolated in terms of infrastructure connections and the entrance to the canyon is some 10-15km from the town centre. However, hitch hiking really works, we didn’t have to wait for more than 20-30minutes to get a ride (actually two).
Where can I sleep overnight?
It’s worth staying overnight, though the only way is by tent. You can easily camp on the (left) bank of Osum before the river enters the spectacular gorges. Just make sure the terrain is high enough not to get in trouble if weather turns stormy. Once in the valley, pitch your tent, (eyes wide open for sandy spots) and grab some firewood for the night. If you’re not the adrenaline seeker type, try to get a ride back to Corovoda. The town doesn’t seem to be on the internet map that much but we did see quite a handful of hotels and guesthouses so you shouldn’t have a problem booking something overnight. You could also try to contact Osumi Hotel.
Where do I eat & drink?
Well, you’ll pretty much have to buy your food in a local store in Corovoda. There are local stores and a market 5min walk from where the minibus will leave you, in the town’s centre. On the road to the canyon entrance (from Corovoda), there is a lonely coffee/bar/terrace/camping site on the right hand side – make sure you grab a fresh drink and head to their belleview seats a bit downhill: you’ll immediately fall in love with the canyon!
What we liked/what we didn’t like
(+) spectacular views, the canyon is a natural wonder
(+) you can camp on the riverbanks
(+) you can enter the canyon itself if it’s not spring
(+) the people. they are amazing and they were more than helpful
(-) while there is a recently asphalted road going all the way to the bridge crossing the river (basically the beginning of the canyon), getting there requires patience, as there’s no public /regular transport
(-) the ride from Berat to Corovoda is a real headache; it’s just 50km but roads are so bad it takes 2-3h of car-hopping
Where should I go next?
If you’re the adventurous type, keep on walking (hitch hiking as well but pray that the car won’t fall into the pit, drivers tend to look anywhere but in front) after the asphalt is gone – that should be 300m from the bridge crossing Osum and the beginning of the canyon. Half hour of hiking should give you some pretty breathtaking panoramas over the fascinating Albanian mountain environment. Go in the right period of the year (March-May when snow from upstream mountains melts) and you can also do some promising rafting.