This beautiful UNESCO-protected village was closed off to the public during Communism but is now becoming one of the most coveted wild nature escapes in the country.
Almost at the border with northern Macedonia, Rrajca is part of the protected Shebenik-Jablanica National Park. Though swiftly rising in popularity, the immense green space is still relatively unknown due to its isolation during Communism. Yet, it was precisely the lack of human activity that has given the park a great advantage! The result is an impressive and entirely untouched expanse of ancient beech forests, valleys of vibrant flowers and glacial lakes.
Finally accessible to nature lovers, Rrajca is located along the national highway connecting Albania and northern Macedonia. The distance from the country’s main airport, Mother Teresa International Airport, to Rrajca is approximately 90 km, all along an itinerary which is very easy to follow. Though only a two-hour-drive separates Rrajca from the capital, the former could not be more different from the latter. Once you reach Rrajca, you may as well have entered into another universe!
Mountains surrounding Rrajca. Source: wikimedia, invest-in-albania.org
Located near Librazhd, Rrajca is part of the European Green Belt of beech forests and home to the Balkan Lynx, a rare and endangered mountain cat. Because of its abundance in ancient beech forests, the nature reserve became a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site in 2017. As such, it remains a strictly protected and monitored area. In order to preserve species like the wild boar, bear, deer and wolf, hunting is strictly prohibited in this area.
An oasis for outdoor lovers
The area is well-known for its numerous glacial lakes: more than 18 in total! Though, based on their size, only four are official tourist attractions, the countless lakes punctuate the landscape in the most gorgeous manner. The views are breathtaking! Rrajca and its lakes are ideal for visiting during the year’s milder seasons. In the winter, however, the low temperatures and harsh terrain require the presence of highly-qualified guides.
Including both mountains and plains, Rrajca is a conglomeration of interesting geographic shapes which render it suitable for various activities. These include hiking along the rivers, cave exploration for enthusiast, and wildlife researchers, mountain biking, or rock climbing. The closest urban center is Librazhd, only 19 km away from Rrajca’s heights.
Lakes of Rrajca. Source: invest-in-albania.org
The glacial lakes, at 1800 meters above sea level, rivers flowing into Shkumbin, and caves are not Rrajca’s only natural monuments. The area is also known for the very rare occurrence of a church built within a cave: the Church of Kosharisht. The cave also exhibits figures and inscriptions belonging to the 2ndcentury B.C. For a complete and comprehensive experience, we strongly recommend a guide.