Whilst on our amazing 11 day adventure through Albania and the ensuing love affair that resulted, we found ourselves in the charming town of Berat. This beautiful Ottoman city has clung to the side of mountains for centuries and we inevitably ended up extending our stay. We heard whispers amongst our fellow travellers of a secluded waterfall out in the rural wild lands that more resembled a tropical paradise, named Bogove…we had to investigate further! The resulting adventure was definitely one of our most memorable of the trip so far.
After just a quick browse on the internet to find some information on how to get to the waterfall, we knew we would be in for long day! Although we should have already known this with our previous experiences using Albanian transport!
The night before our trip out, we had been invited to dinner with a lovely Albanian family who certainly made us feel at home serving traditional Albanian dishes, and also plying us with homemade Rakia! They didn’t seem much the wiser about the location of these waterfalls but they tried their hardest to make some inquiries and even drew us a small map!
We left in the morning still pretty unsure of where we were actually going and even which buses to take. But with the spirit of adventure in our hearts we headed off to see what the day would bring! Following their vague instructions as closely as we could we made our way on the local bus to the “big gas station”…an averaged sized petrol station where the furgon should set off from!
When the furgon finally turned up a full 15 minutes late we were escorted on to the seats they selected for us, apparently over here you can’t pick your own place! We thought it was just us but pretty much everyone else was hauled into a specific seat, even to the point of splitting couples up and telling children to stand for their hour long journey! It just seems to be one of the many strange but inexplicable Albania ways!
The 2 hour journey took us through some really remote villages, men and women were still using hoes to farm by hand, horse and carts more prominent than motorised vehicles and donkeys were used to carry such heavy loads. The journey could have been so much quicker had the driver not ran several errands along the way as well as many winding detours to drop people off in the tiniest of villages and farms in the middle of nowhere!
Hiking to Bogove waterfall:
Upon arriving in Bogove an Aussie couple mentioned that the last bus was around 3pm, giving us 3 hours to enjoy the waterfall. We figured this would be plenty of time to get there and back. Once we had bought a few supplies for the trek we set off up the trail. The shop keeper had given us some rough instructions which helped set us on our way… we have a pretty bad track record of always walking in the opposite direction to our desired destination!
The hike up there was extremely hot, the searing dry heat and dry dusty track really took it out of us. The hour long hike felt never ending as we hadn’t really had chance to acclimatise to the sudden heat we found ourselves in (the first weeks we had been stuck with unseasonably cold weather, such as snow in Bled!!) As the sweat began to drip from every pore we took solace in the fact that we were surrounded by lush green mountains, the sound of the refreshing river rushed by below us and a chorus of wildlife sang from every corner. Bogove was just around the bend!
Finally once the climb up the winding dusty track was over we began our dangerous and treacherous descent to the river. The sound of the crashing water from the falls was now beginning to become almost deafeningly tempting as we followed the overgrown path. You could tell not many people have been down here given the unkept nature of the trail, in parts there were bridges over the steep canyon that had caved in and been partially washed away. It really made you feel the power of nature but also quite isolated. We were literally off the beaten track down here and having not seen a single other person since that lonely shopkeeper over an hour ago we expected that the Australians we spoke to on the bus to Bogove would surely be there.
As we made out the waterfall through the trees we were finally here. The Aussies were nowhere to be seen and we had the entire place to ourselves. It felt really quite special to be here alone, as though we were explorers laying eyes on such beautify for the first time. If this place was in Western Europe it would be on so many “must see” lists, but out here it hides in the mountains for only the bold to discover. It does deserve much more recognition, but somehow it does feel like that would spoil the magic somewhat.
Jumping into Bogove waterfall:
As we approached the water the temperature dropped rapidly and our eagerness to leap straight into the icy water after the dry hot hike suddenly went away! We knew we had come here to swim in the turquoise waters of the tropical Bogove waterfall but we needed some time to psyche ourselves up!
Spending a little too much time chilling out on a rock and just staring into the jaw dropping beautify that lay before us we finally decided to go for it. The colour of the water and the perfection of the surroundings was just too tempting not to!
For some reason it’s always been on my bucket list to skinny dip, it was exactly how I’d have pictured it and now was my chance! I was still slightly concerned that the Australian couple would make a sudden appearance, shouting “G’day” from around a rock as I stood there with my pants around my ankles…but I just thought what the hell, the water is that cold they aren’t going to see much anyway!
I stood on the rock stark bollock naked ready to jump…but I froze! Suddenly I was worried about cramping up and drowning in the most undignified manner imaginable. As half an hour passed Nic began egging me on even more. It was now or never, 3,2,1…I jumped! The water took my breath away and I began frantically paddling for the edge, water flying everywhere as I ungainly scrambled back on to the rock bashing both knees in the process! Not the graceful experience I had envisioned!
Now it was Nic’s turn, I was pleased with the fact I had managed to tick this one off and even more happy that only Nic was here to see how ungracefully I did it! As much as I encouraged Nic to get her kit off too she had none of it! Still worried about the Aussie couple she stuck with the bikini, but it wouldn’t provide much protection against the cold! Taking her time and complaining about the sun going in she eventually took the leap. It was definitely better watching someone else frantically splash around!
After all the adrenaline and excitement, we laid back just watching the power, beauty and serenity of these twin waterfalls. Totally losing track of time we suddenly realised that it was 2:30pm…Shit, that’s the last bus missed and we are in the middle of nowhere! We discovered from the same shopkeeper that in fact the only way home now was to “wait for the next car!”
Having never hitchhiked before we were kind of scared and excited. We had always wanted to and yet had made excuses not too…now we had none and were stuck in the middle of nowhere! After waiting for 40 minutes in the beating sun without a single car passing us we had all but given up…until in the distance along came a solitary vehicle. To our surprise they actually picked us up, this is pretty easy it seemed!
A lovely local couple took us half the way to a town called Polican. They mentioned tentatively that there “might” be a bus at either 6 or 6:30pm so we attempted to hitch the whole way home. This time we didn’t have the same luck, car after car sped passed us as the sun began to sit lower in the sky! As we turned back up to the makeshift bus stop a couple of local guys shouted us over, one had lived in London and spoke good English, the other, who had a scythe over his shoulder smiled a black toothed grin and shook our hands with what could only be described as a palm and two stumps…maybe he needed to be a bit more careful with the old Scythe!
We had had such amazing experiences with Albanian people that we wanted to trust them in their promise to help us. But as time went on the guy who had lived in London became rather pushy, telling us how badly the English had treated him and that suddenly his “free help” came with a £20 price tag. A car pulled up full of his “friends” with an offer to be taken to the nearest village for “help”. Now we felt quite uncomfortable and even as he repeatedly offered us his ID card as assurances that he was trust worthy we hurried back up to the centre of the town!
As 6:30pm came and went without sign of the bus we were starting to become a little concerned, the guys before had put us off Hitch hiking a little but we couldn’t stay here for the night. A lad who had been cleaning his car nearby had clearly been keeping his eye on us. It transpired that he was headed the same way and offered us a ride for just under 5 Euros for the two of us. At this point it was a godsend! Jumping in the car with his stony faced military pal we raced back around the tight dusty roads at almost brake neck speeds. In the end they were really nice and asked us in their limited English where we were from and what we were doing in Albania, they even dropped us right outside our guest house.
What a day full of amazing adventures and experiences, just one of the reasons why we fell in love with Albania so much. It’s just full of random twists and turns where you literally have no idea what is going to happen next. This is definitely the charm of travelling through this beautiful, diverse and friendly country. Bogove waterfall will be somewhere we always look back on with fond memories of a day of firsts!
How to get there:
Take the local bus from outside the main Mosque/ big church to the “big gas station” (An orange petrol station with a cafe attached!)
The catch the 8 or 9am Furgon to Bogove via Skrappar.
Once in Bogove take the dirt track by the side of the restaurant for around 30 mins before it forks off. Then take the grassy path and follow the steep trail down to the river. If you follow the river you will eventually come to the waterfall.
The last bus back to Berat is 3pm…then you have to hitchhike!
Have You Ever Been to Bogove or Berat?
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