Did you know that Albania has at least two “blue eyes”? The Blue Eye of Saranda in the southern part of the country is the most famous one, but the Blue Eye of Kapreja/Theth is rapidly gaining in popularity.
A few weeks ago we made a hiking tour to this breathtaking place with a group of Dutch tourists and I can assure you that it was a fantastic experience.
What is the “Blue Eye”?
“Syri i kaltër i Kaprresë”, as it is called in the Albanian language, is an emerald green pool on the Black River. It is situated in a jungle-like environment, not far from the village of Ndërlysa. Actually, it is a karst spring fed from an underground source, but also by a gushing mountain stream that enters from the valley of Upper Kapreja. The Blue Eye is not only picturesque, it is also a perfect swimming spot during the hot summer months.
Of course, you can stay in one of the guesthouses in Theth from where you can walk or drive by 4×4 to the trailhead (6.5 km), but we preferred the warm hospitality of Dede Nika’s Guest House in the authentic surroundings of Ndërlysa. The stay alone in this hardly accessible village is worth a visit – it is a great experience to eat the delicious food that is produced at the farm and to enjoy the silence of pure nature, watching the stars in the dark sky.
How to get there?
The hiking trail to the Blue Eye begins in the village of Ndërlysa, at the ruined school (400 m from Dede Nika’s house). If you want to buy a cool drink, pass the improvised plank bridge over the river, where two improvised cafés offer refreshments.
Pass over the narrow wooden bridge (don’t worry, it’s safe, the statue of the Virgin Mary watches over you!), from where you have beautiful views over the basins of the Black River and the glacial mills behind it (you can also avoid these two bridges and ascend to the trailhead along the other side of the river).
The glacial mills are a unique natural phenomenon. The water squeezes itself through a narrow gap that has been formed over the millennia, with rounded and sharp red rocks, gushing water and green vegetation all around. The natural rock pools with their transparent blue water are perfect for swimming and chilling out.
Climbing the stony trail you will arrive at a junction, where you can continue further uphill on this trail (turn right) or take a shortcut, a narrow path through the forest (turn left). We took the forest path and enjoyed the shade, as the day was very hot.
Finally, the trail descends once more, offering a picturesque view of the shimmering colors of Blue Eye. This last part is rather steep and can be slippery. But… getting to the Blue Eye itself is possible only by climbing some wooden ladders and passing narrow bridges made of twigs and branches. You will have to conquer them! And then … the aqua blue lake with its gushing waterfall and a wooden platform built on a big rock in the lake. Cold drinks, chilled in the lake water, are sold here and the terrace on the rock offers a great place for rest and relaxation.
The walk back to Ndërlysa is much easier; don’t miss the chance to take a swim in the transparent basins near the glacial mills!
Details on the trail
The hike is not heavy but requires a good physical shape, a sure foot and no fear of heights. By the way, we made the tour with a group of Dutch people around 70 years of age!
Take care: Temperatures can be quite high during the summer, you better start early or in the late afternoon.
The duration of the tour in both directions is around 2.5 hours and the difference in altitude is ca. 450 m.
Arriving at the Blue Eye
Finally you have arrived at your destination: the Blue Eye of Kapreja. You have taken a seat on the wooden platform on the rock and enjoy your cold drink. But what about the other steep wooden ladders and narrow trails leading to some nice viewpoints around the lake?
Well, obviously a few families from the hamlet of Karpeja try to earn some money by selling cold drinks to the tourists. Both properties we saw were reconstructed and offer picturesque terraces where you can rest and enjoy the view. What a pity that their properties are separated by a green plastic fence, so that you cannot pass from one property to the other without descending the ladder once more. Is it really necessary to complicate property relations at such a divine spot?
Syri i Kaltër: a dream spot for those who love the calm and quiet of pure nature, far away from the crowds….