If there is one notable destination of 2020, it is Puka! Its invigorating climate, fresh air and wonderous landscapes gives travelers a much-needed breath of fresh air.
With the rise of passionate local travel guides and hiking experts, Puka is becoming increasingly accessible to not only the seasoned adventurers but the general outdoorsy crowd. The region was historically associated with extreme winter climate and a rugged landscape that was loved only by the fearless. Three things have happened over the years, however, that have made Puka a new must-see. One is that the infrastructure has been greatly improved. The second, that the climate has gotten milder and, the third, is that travelers have become increasingly fearless, curious about adrenaline-filled destinations and nostalgic for wild nature.
Cherry’s Pod (Podi i Qershisë)
According to local guide Vullnet Kuçi from Discover Puka, below are the top sites to see in Puka. He begins with the adorable Cherry’s Pod (Podi i Qershisë), a part of the itinerary of some of the most characteristic guesthouse-farms in the region. The locals’ favorite bucolic meadow, Cherry’s Pod is also one of the most idyllic destinations for visitors.
Cherry’s Pod, Puka. Photo by Enklajd Zeneli.
Murga Peak (Maja e Murgës)
12 km away from the city of Puka, Murga Peak is located near Buzhalë village. It is located 680 m above sea level and stands at an altitude of 300 meters above Lake Koman. Climbing this peak is not very difficult and, once you reach your destination, you will have the opportunity to view Lake Koman from a new perspective. The stunning views of Lake Koman offered from Murga Peak will serve as the umpteenth confirmation of the Albanian landscape’s great natural beauty.
Murga Peak, Puka. Photo by Discover Puka.
Kryeziu Waterfall (Ujëvara e Kryeziut)
Kryeziu Waterfall, as the locals refer to it, is located in the eponymous village, in Fushë-Arrës. This village is one of the 100 villages that were reinvigorated and restores as part of the “100 Villages” project. Kryeziu offers many wonderful sights, the waterfall being one of most mesmerizing. Once you reach it, you can take advantage of the occasion by bathing in crystal-clear waters. This area also consists of several natural rocky caves which are visited by a large number of tourists, predominantly in the summer.
Kryeziu Waterfall, Puka. Phot by Nentor Oseku.
Kaurri’s Cave (Shpella e Kaurrit)
One of the most popular destinations among Puka’s best guides in Kaurri’s Cave on the spectacular Koman Lake. In addition to its evident beauty, what makes this particular site eve more appealing than others is its close ties to the history of the Koman culture and civilization. The cave is located on Mount Kollata of Lëvrushk Village. Legend has it that several monks selected this site in order to live in full isolation, detached from society. Yhis legend eplxains the name of the cave: “Kaurr” is how one refers to a devout Christian in the northern dialect of Albanian.
Kaurri’s Cave, Puka. Photo by Discover Puka.
Nymphs’ Cave (Shpella e Orëve)
Situated near Shkozë Village, the road that takes you to the Nymphs’ Cave is easy to follow. However, in order to properly explore the cave, you must be a bit experienced as well as equipped with a protective helmet, a flashlight and ropes. Otherwise called the “golden mushroom” by locals, the cave is surrounded by a golden landscape, punctuated with green. The surrounding panoramas and the thermal waters make this health-promoting retreat a requested destination among visitors.
Nymphs’ Cave. Puka. Photo by Ilir Shyti.
The highest peak in the region, at 1991 meters above sea level, Mount Munella is a wildly beautiful place made of steep slopes and valleys covered in refreshing flora. The landscape of this highly protected area is very much rugged and untouched, despite constant human intervention. Mount Munella’s claim to fame is that it is the natural habitat of the gorgeous but endangered Balkan Lynx. Off-road vehiclaes are recommended for the road towards Munella and for further exploration, of course, hiking. One of the most challenging climbs is that toward Topi Peak, with its steep cliffs and rocky terrain. Along the way, you also encounter many old stalls where locals come for summer pasture. The view from the top is stunning, as from here you can see all the northern peaks like that of Mount Korab, the Albanian Alps and Gjallica Peak.Mount Munella, Puma. Photo by Afrim Tahiraj.
Mount Munella, Puka. Photo by Discover Puka.
Last but definitely not least, Iballa Village, located 53 km from Puka, has it all – a rich history, natural beauty and welcoming people. Numerous renowned figures, Frang Bardhi, Edith Durham and Franc Nopça included, have written about this ancient village. It is thought that during the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., the area was inhabited by the Pyrissaei tribe known for its metal-working skills and considerable material wealth for the time. The village has served as an important economic, political, educational and religious center for the entire northern region of the country. It is one of the must-see’s!