It’s the most highly recommended excursion in Berat but how do you get there?
In our case, with a little bit of determination and a lucky meeting with the right person.
Getting from A to B in Albania famously has its challenges (although it’s clear that many locations are rapidly becoming more easily accessible) and finding any clear directions to either destination in my previous research was tricky.
The most common option by far is to visit on a guided tour – I’ll recommend a few options later if you aren’t planning to hire a car in Albania. However, with our little Skoda Fabia secured, we wanted to sightsee on our own schedule and save some money in the process!
In the end, it turns out it really wasn’t that tricky to find and well worth the initial anxiety.
How to find the Bogove Waterfall
From Berat to the village of Bovoga (or Bogove as it’s interchangeably called), the drive is one hour long through quaint farmland, hillside roads and small villages.
Tip: I purchased an Albanian Vodafone SIM card so we were able to use Google Maps, but you can also download the offline map if you’re travelling without signal – something I always do for backup, just in case!
I’d read that the trail from the village was an unpaved track but construction was well underway and there is actually a paved road running from the village to the local waterworks. Much of Berat and the surrounding area actually gets its water from this river as it’s super fresh and delicious, directly from the mountains.
To find the best parking spot, enter Roi Bogova into Google Maps: we’d parked in the village to protect our little car on the ‘rubble track’, but it actually would have been completely fine and saved us a 30 minute walk in July’s scorching heat.
From here, it got a little more tricky, as it wasn’t too obvious which way we were supposed to go from the waterworks. Unsure whether we needed to look for a bridge or continue along the road blocked by construction equipment (which then did turn into an unpaved, rocky path), we opted for the logical choice and followed the road. It runs along the river so we figured eventually we’d find the waterfall.
From here, you can’t really go wrong. It’s a fairly easy 20 – 30 minute walk from the waterworks if you don’t have any mobility issues (although relatively unshaded, something to bear in mind during the summer months), although you do need to cross three or four makeshift bridges along the way. These vary in quality – the most nerve wracking of the bunch was a couple of thin metal beams and wooden branches – but are easily manageable.
As you start getting more tree cover, you’ll know you’re close to the waterfall and soon, we heard voices indicating we’d made it!
Gorgeously blue and clear, the powerful waterfall gushes into a four-metre-deep pool – cliff jumpers, you’ll love this spot! With a maximum temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius, the water is quite literally breath-taking and as I’m the very opposite of an adrenaline junkie, I opted to dip in and out from the surrounding rocks.
Despite visiting in peak season, one of the most amazing things about this waterfall was how it still felt so tranquil.
We’d spent around two hours there, arriving around midday, and I’d estimate there were never more than 15 people there at one time. Given the area around the waterfall is fairly small and secluded, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to relax there without feeling crowded or pressured to move away quickly to allow others to capture ‘the shot’ for Instagram. Yes, it’s one of the most touristy activities in Berat, but it still feels like a hidden gem in 2022.
How much longer that’ll last for, it’s hard to say, as tourism is growing in the country once more post-pandemic.
How to find the Osum Canyon
If I’m honest, we were on the fence about whether it was worth visiting the canyon. In the summer, water level subside (it’s usually well known for white-water rafting) but this is where someone stepped in to help.
The night before, we’d eaten at Lili Homemade Food – blog post pending – and a few of our fellow diners were at the falls too. We’d got chatting and as we enjoyed the falls, a local guide from Tirana who was visiting for the day with his family introduced himself. When he was planning to leave, he offered to show us the way to the Osum (or Osumi) canyon.
This moment of putting our trust in the kindness of one man, passionate about helping visitors experience all of Albania’s highlights, really highlights one of the most things I find most beautiful about travelling. With a couple from Holland and two sisters from Spain, we headed back to our respective cars and set off in convoy for the next hour to the canyon entrance.
Writing this back in the UK, it’s taken hours to find the exact location we stopped at as I don’t think it’s signposted on the road. However, trusty Google Maps will come to the rescue again and if you put in Summer Bar & Restaurant (near the‘Ura E Vjeter E Zaberzanit – a footbridge with awesome views of the Osum canyon), it’ll take you to a cliffside spot where you can park just after the restaurant. If you’re driving a 4×4, you can head directly down the hill and park at the canyon’s edge, but we opted to stay up high and quickly walk down.
Although it was tempting to immediately head for the water, we stopped for a bite to eat at the restaurant and the food was far tastier than I expected: think grilled meats and vegetables like aubergine, salads and oregano-dusted fries. Plus, our dip in the canyon turned into a spontaneous two-hour expedition deep down the river, we returned to find the owner had kindly brought our bags close to watch them – although maybe that was because we hadn’t yet paid the bill!
While it may be different with winter’s crashing rapids, there was an incredible air of tranquillity about the canyon in summer with towering cliffs, birdsong and many banks and extremely shallow parts you can rest on. Depending on if you visit after rainfall, the water can be dazzlingly blue or milky from the clay-like mud. Side note: use this mud to give yourself a face mask or even a full body treatment – it’s the cheapest spa treatment you’ll ever get! Our self-appointed guide was heading to the canyon to collect the mud and dry it for use in his line of skincare products, so that’s all it took to convince me to give it a try.
If you’re planning to swim in the canyon, be aware that even in the hot weather there are a few deep pools with stronger currents. Being relatively strong swimmers, it felt safe to continue swimming for most of the way, but I’d be careful if the weather has been more rainy as I’m sure it could become wild pretty quickly!
I’ve not got a single photo or video of our journey up the canyon but somehow, that makes the memories even more special. The scenery around every bend was equally stunning and for much of it, we were entirely alone, making it feel like a mindfulness activity or visualisation I’d dream of during a stressful day at my desk back home.
After finally emerging from the canyon, we headed back to Berat via some of the beautiful viewpoints on that winding road – look out for the spot just after Gjurma e Abaz Aliut as it’s just perfect around sunset!
It was only our third day in Albania, but I already knew that I’d just experienced one of the highlights of the trip and if the rest of this article hasn’t been enough to convince you to visit, I hope that statement does.
Can you visit without a car?
Of course! If you don’t have a car, or would love the knowledge from a local guide, you can ask your hostel or guesthouse in Berat for a recommendation.
We stayed at Berat Backpackers Hostel who were offering tours for around €40-45.
If you’re keen to book in advance, this GetYourGuide tour looks like a great option.
Jac SchmittJanuary 8, 2023 at 9:57 pm
This is fantastic. You’ve provided all the basic information about the canyon that I’ve been struggling to find. I’m determined to go now – planning a trip this summer. Thank you!
LauraMarch 4, 2023 at 9:30 pm
I’m so happy it was helpful – I’d really struggled to find the right information beforehand too! Have an amazing trip, I loved every minute of Albania.