Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and Southern Europe, covering an area of approximately 400 square kilometres – its western two thirds are part of Montenegro and its eastern third is in Albania. It’s approximately 44 kms long, 10 kms wide, and on average, 8 metres deep – its deepest part, some 60 metres. In 2011 it was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
It’s a Karst freshwater lake, with springs that bubble and feed it from underneath. Millions of years ago it adjoined the sea, as evidenced by fossilised remains, but shifting tectonic plate activity subsequently cut it off. The Montenegrin part has been a National Park since 1983; the Albanian part since 1996.The climate is hot summer mediterranean.
This is one of the world’s top wetlands, making it one of the best birding locations in Europe. There are 270 species of bird present, with some 50,000 birds choosing to winter here. It has one of the last remaining populations of European pelicans. There are also rare pygmy cormorants, and falcons and eagles soar above the rugged mountainsides, catching thermals. Floating meadows of water lilies occupy vast areas of the lakes coastline and are an added attraction to water birds, as well as being beautiful to look at.
The waters are clean and pure, fed by meltwater from the snow covered surrounding mountains, as well from underground. The lake is populated by a significant number of endemic species and is especially rich in rare snails and molluscs. The waters contain carp, bleak, eel, pike, perch, trout and saran (a local speciality, good for the table) with a total of over 30 species of fish in all. The countryside is also home to a variety of lizards and other amphibians, including a range of snakes.
This is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with wild hiking in rugged terrain, spectacular views, and the chance to get real solitude away from the crowds that plague modern day living. The area is a mecca for birdwatchers from all over the world, as well as for kayakers and water sports enthusiasts.
Mountain views shift, in constantly changing light conditions, giving lovely hues of blue and green. The surrounding countryside is dotted with vineyards, growing world class wines, notably the Vranac grape, making superb reds, and the Krstač grape, making excellent whites. The whole area is scattered with small holdings growing many different types of fruit and making excellent wild honey. It is wild, natural and unspoilt. Lake Skadar and its surrounds are nature at its very best.