We had seen pictures of Albania's Osum Canyon online, and it looked really cool. There are several viewpoints along the road, and we were looking forward to heading down there for day trip. There are also a few other things in the area we were also wanting to see.
Then we read that the only way to see the best parts of the canyon is river rafting! Coincidentally, April and May are the best time of year to do the river rafting in Albania, so we looked into it a little further.
The last time we went river rafting was in the 1990's on the Ottawa River near Pembroke, Ontario. And we still remember that as being an awfully lot of fun.
So it didn't take much convincing to sign up for the all day tour with Albania Rafting Group. The price was €60 ($89 CAD, $70.50 USD) per person and included lunch and transportation from Berat.
Saturday would have been a perfect day from a weather perspective, but I had my dentist appointment. So we ended up going on Sunday even though the forecast was for cooler temperatures and even some rain. But they dress you up in wetsuits and the proper gear, so it shouldn't matter.
The van picked us up at 9:20am right outside. There was the driver, five rafting employees, four guys together, and a single girl by herself. The rafting guys all spoke decent English, and the girl spoke perfect English with hardly any accent. So we got to talking to her, and it turned out she is married to a Canadian from Calgary! He was also coming rafting, but meeting us there on his motorcycle.
When we arrived, there were several other people already there who would also be rafting. They brought us all into a big new building (so new, it wasn't completely finished yet) and got everybody set up with their gear.
In the rafting gear room.
Ruth, getting her life jacket fitted.
Me with my brain bucket on, ready to go!
And there are the rafts, ready to go.
Heading down to the river.
And getting in the boats.
We weren't exactly sure just how adventurous this trip would be. Some rafting excursions are more leisurely than others. But when our guide said that he needed me in a certain position on the boat, and that I should let Ruth handle the camera, I figured that I would be doing some hard paddling at times, and I wasn't wrong. In fact, we were all doing hard paddling at times, and often we were too busy paddling to take photos!
We were put in a boat with a family... the mother, father, daughter (16), and son (12). They were from Tirana, and all spoke decent English.
Heading out on the river.
So, the photos are real... and not perfect. There is a lot of splashing water going on, and we had our waterproof camera with us, but that doesn't prevent water drops from getting on the lens... and the boat was moving around a lot, so some are blurry or not in focus. But you will get the idea...
The water is moving pretty fast here.
Look at those cliffs!
Some sections that you go through are really narrow.
In fact, the boat only just squeezed through!
A big waterfall!
There's a reason they put you in all this gear. You will get wet! And the water is cold! And I'm not a cold water person, but it's all part of the fun. And the temperature was only about 17C (63F) and there was no sunshine. But really, the only time I actually felt cold was when the trip was over.
That's a lot of water coming down!
Ruth, having fun.
These people don't mind the cold water. Too cold for me though!
Here's a calmer section.
The scenery was amazing.
Our guide Deni.
Our guide Deni was really good. Sometimes we thought he was getting mad at us for not paddling hard enough, but then we realized he was only kidding, and the next thing you know he's got us purposely paddling around in circles. It was too funny.
We were amazed by the number of waterfalls.
Another waterfall up ahead.
Deni sent us a few photos from his point of view.
This part looks pretty skinny!
Yet another waterfall!
Yes, Deni is guiding us right into that waterfall!
Everybody having a great time.
Lots of good fun.
And the scenery was nothing short of spectacular. The pictures really don't do it justice. There were at least ten different waterfalls. We were in the canyon for about an hour and forty minutes and to be honest that was enough. It was actually pretty hard work!
Totally glad we went though.
Only one screw up... they forgot about our lunch. We were supposed to stop somewhere after the rafting trip, but they had several groups each with different options, and we were the only ones scheduled for lunch. They simply forgot about us. When we got back to Berat, they brought us to the beautiful Castle Park Hotel
which is owned by the same group, and manager/owner Alma personally brought us into the hotel restaurant for our late lunch. We were hungry by this point, but the meal was more than we expected!
More local delicacies.
Roast lamb with potatoes.
Delicious meal. We were stuffed!
Us, with Alma.
What a fun day we had. And then, walking home from the Castle Park Hotel, we had a beautiful rainbow over the city!
Rainbow over Berat.
We are heading back to the canyon today on our own. There are a lot of different viewpoints and overlooks from the top of the canyon, and a few other things we want to see in the area.
And in Canada...