Blerina Ago, Osumi's Canyon

Monday, February 18, 2013

I was fourteen when realized such an inspiring conclusion, for the first time I felt seized by fear and curiosity to discover what was hidden in the canyon of “Jinn and Monsters”, as the urban legend of Skrapar`s canyon mostly talked about. When I wore the rafting suit and went down to the Osumi`s canyon, I began to feel different…not because of my strange look, but just because the challenge I was facing….I had gotten prepared to start an exploration, in which there is no possibility to turn back…until the end, but after the first seconds in the raft, I didn`t think anymore…the river took hold of me, despite the huge muscle pain I was suffering. This kind of adventure made me look back…even now, after ten years of rafting experience, I always feel the same increase of my heartbeat, the fear of approaching a difficult wave, the adrenaline flowing in my whole body…all these definitely make the thrill of my lifetime 

The first ideas of developing  “rafting” as a sport in Albania blossomed closed to Hambull a village in Berat, Albania located on the edge of the Osumi River. A little adventure took off, and crossed The Osumi Canyons for the first time, a fairytale place of virgin nature and marvelous beauty. 

Osum Canyon is 26 km length, with an altitude of 450m from sea level. It is supposed they have been formed 2-3 million years ago from water erosion that dips in to the earth. Through its entire strait, it contains a lot of underground passages and unexplored caves. It is often thought that the canyons served a long time ago as passages over Corrovoda’s river, but through passing of time, the ceilings of passages have been destroyed creating another various shapes that today form the canyon. In the gulf of this canyon passes the Osum River. The canyon has a rich and diverse ecosystem. Mediterranean bushes like heath, briar etc, with a rich lively world and different categories of fish are preserved in river foundation. In the slopes of the canyon, erosive activity has created a rock chain, one of the rarest found in Albanian canyons.

Residents tell many legends about Osum valley, which came from far away… starting with Mulliri i Babait, Vrima e Nuses and Saint Abaz Ali. In Osum Canyon are 6 straits where the canyon width ranges from 1.5m wide in its riverbed up to 35m wide up in the slopes. Besides in Canyons one can find a Cathedral, The eye, Demon’s door… The digging through years has given to it the appearance of an edifice of a natural cult. Built to be a treasure of humanity through creative miracle of biggest master of all times – nature, Osum canyons give you a magic impression in the first second you see them. Often is hard enough or even impossible to describe those emotions that you experience seeing and touching, and perhaps is incredible but it’s true that experiencing these emotions will change your life.The view they offer when you see from high up is really breathtaking but the experience when you’re actually down and having a walk makes you think you are part of a fairytale, or perhaps dreaming.

 It was exactly the first adventure which created, after 13 years of work and commitment from rafting associations in Albania,: “Albanian Rafting Federation” which in accordance with its purposes implements its work in two main directions:

1. The development of rafting sport in Albania, under international standards and in respect to the protection of nature.

2. The promotion of different rafting trips, in the national and international tourism sphere. 

Albania Rafting Federation is now collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Environment and relative entities in protection and conservation of the rivers and canyons in Albania. USAID/Rritje Albania has gave to us our biggest support,  for year 2012, in sustainable development of rafting in Albania. We strongly insist on establishing the attitude of protecting the Albanian nature and also sincerely claim that we will fight against everyone who dares to ruin it. We also put great emphasis on the development of sustainable sportive activity and tourism. In the meantime, we are working continuously on the organization of the necessary bylaws regarding sport in Albania.

Albania Rafting Federation has been on the limelight of all national media, because of the arrangements of different activities. We have recently launched a campaign entitled: “The discovery of the Century”, aiming to set the ground for representing another Albania, following the streams of a new passion. We intend to develop the tourism of adventure in Albania. A country like ours, which still has a lot of unknown places, is a sheer curiosity for the world.  

Besides guiding and helping the visitors enjoy rafting, we contribute to the development of local tourism. The visitors enjoy the local food and go sightseeing. We have a lot to offer: Nature, good will and great quality!!! All these will absolutely make them stay longer in our cities. 

One of our associations, Albania Rafting Group acquired Albanian Tourism Award, December 2012/Ecology for the successful achievements in the development of sustainable rafting tourism and the following realizations: 

• professional training of tourist guides rafting by international standards , providing the rafting patent to specialized rafting guides operating in the Republic of Albania; 

• Establishment of the Albanian Rafting Center with camping equipment and rafting materials according to CE norms in respect of environmental protection; 

• Protection of Skrapari’s canyons near the highest state institutions in the case of threat to destroy them through illegal actions and the development of environmental protection activities; • Lobbying for the establishment of road infrastructure Corovoda - Hambull, the realization of which is conducted under the auspices of our Prime Minister; 

• Presentation of Albania as a stable country between Europe in the streams of a new passion in World Rafting Championship, Czech Republic August 2012. 

• Promoting continuous rafting itineraries, adventure in respect of nature, in national and international media. 

Our purpose is already apparent: We aim to represent Albania, a sustainable country in the middle of Europe, full of hidden beauties, into the streams of a new passion.

Rafting joins groups of people with different backgrounds, without recognizing differences of race, sex, age or religion, who all play to have a common achievement. Even if they fall, the division of this trip is an unforgettable experience. Rafting us some of the most basic and human values: Commitment, persistence, the willingness to work and teamwork. For many of us who struggle to find our identity; rafting gives us the first face of confidence. Rafting also teaches us how to deal with our success and how to face our failures. So perhaps the greatest glory of rafting is that it teaches us so much about our life!