Whilst staying in Vlora at the “Hotel Partner”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/accommodation/201321-review-hotel-partner, our itinerary included a half-day excursion to Narta Lagoon: one of a string of brackish lagoons off the Albanian coast. Being the second most important site for water birds in Albania, we were pleased to think at last we’d make good use of the binoculars we’d been carrying around for nearly a month.
After a journey of 15-minutes, we turned off the main road, onto a long straight bumpy track of land which separated Narta Lagoon from the Salinas of Skrofotina or salt pans – the area has been exploited for salt since Roman times. There were no birds to be seen on the lagoon and we thought it was going to be a disappointing experience.
However, having driven a little further, we saw numerous birds on the right-hand side salt pan area. As the birds appeared to be scared by the car engine, we set out to walk even though shutting the door as quietly as possible, scared the birds away for a time, although they quickly returned. Nearby were gulls and egrets, whilst in the distance, were pink flamingo and pelicans. In the opposite direction, we could see the Italian-operated salt factory, and what we thought was a building, turned out to be a huge mound of salt when viewed through binoculars.
Having watched and walked for a while, we returned to the car and continued driving past what had been a military base during the communist era and was now a pumping station. There appeared to be a small river on the left and eventually sand dunes as we headed towards the sea. Windows were kept up as midges abounded. Sazarni Island was in sight, and we’d been disappointed the previous day to find that our planned visit was cancelled as the boats had stopped due to it being early October.
We drove back a different way and saw the site of a new airport, designed for visitors onto the Albanian Riviera. This also took us past the salt factory, where lorries and tractors were moving huge volumes of white salt. We were told that in the winter, the salt is used for gritting roads and these salt mountains would soon be gone.
Whilst this is billed as a great spot for bird watching, it was slightly disappointing. There are no hides or any other amenities at present, but hopefully more developments will come soon.