A hike to the underrated Shengjergj waterfall of Albania

A hike to the underrated Shengjergj waterfall of Albania

6 Author standing in front of Shengjergj waterfall scaled

Posted October 21, 2023

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Shëngjergj waterfall is often overlooked

During my road-trip through the beautiful Balkan country of Albania, my primary goal was to visit Osum Canyon. However, I always like to see if there are nature spots to incorporate along the way. As I was browsing Google Maps I spotted the “Shengjergj waterfall” and that piqued my interest. During further research, I got super excited when I learned that this beautiful place was right along my route.

Shengjergj waterfall, which is locally called “Ujëvara e Shën Gjergjit”,offers an amazing 30-meters drop with breathtaking stratified rock formations surrounding the scenery. The water comes straight from the “Mali me Gropa Mountain” and is especially impressive during the fall-to-spring season, when rain increases and snow melts from the mountain tops.

Drone picture of Shengjergj waterfall during spring. Photo: Thomas Später
Drone picture of Shengjergj waterfall during spring. Photo: Thomas Später

The easy trek to Shengjergj waterfall

The probably best thing about the location of Shengjergj waterfall is its close distance to Albania’s capital Tirana and easy accessibility. Since I wanted to incorporate the stop into a bigger trip, I packed my car and left quite early that very morning. On average, the journey from Tirana to the parking if the waterfall takes only about one hour, which makes it a perfect destination for day trips. Although road conditions in Albania are generally quite bad, this particular stretch was in good conditions and easy to handle. It was after exactly 54 minutes when my phone told me that I had reached my destination. The problem was, there was nothing there. At least nothing obvious. I turned around and slowly got closer to the curve which marked my destination and stopped the car. Since the designated parking lot for this hike is not indicated or labeled in any way, park on the side of the road close to the curve between the river crossing and “Restorant Ujvara Shengjergj”, which lies about 300 meters before the stop.

The designated parking for Shengjergj waterfall lies unmarked on the side of the road. Photo: Thomas Später
The designated parking for Shengjergj waterfall lies unmarked on the side of the road. Photo: Thomas Später

Starting the hike to Shengjergj waterfall

Once I parked the car, I spotted a small signpost on the other side of the street, pointing towards the bushes/forest and saying “Ujevara” on it. When passing by with a car, this sign can easily be missed.

Blue UJEVARA sign pointing towards the hiking trail. Photo: Thomas Später
Blue UJEVARA sign pointing towards the hiking trail. Photo: Thomas Später

I followed the direction alongside a small creek and soaked in the impressions of the surrounding nature. Although it was fall and the leafless trees made the area look dull and dead, the overall impact was still amazing due to the adjacent mountains. Occasionally, I got really close to the water and was fascinated by its quality. Typical for mountain-filtered water, it sparkled in the sun with such a purity that I thought about drinking some of it.

Clear mountain-filtered water running alongside the hiking trail. Photo: Thomas Später
Clear mountain-filtered water running alongside the hiking trail. Photo: Thomas Später

Generally, I would not even consider this a real hike. The ground is pretty flat and not much, other than some roots or smaller rocks, is really in the way. This makes this trip suitable for all ages and fitness levels. After only 5 minutes f walking, I could already spot a huge stony wall in the distance.

Although I did not see the waterfall, I knew it had to be there. Extremely excited, I started walking faster and could not believe my eyes when I finally reached Shengjergj waterfall after only 15 minutes of walking.

Rocky but flat and easy hiking path towards the waterfall. Photo: Thomas Später
Rocky but flat and easy hiking path towards the waterfall. Photo: Thomas Später

Shengjergj waterfall made me speechless

It all happened really quickly. While climbing over a small boulder stuck between some large trees, I was looking down to make sure to get good grip to not injure myself. The next moment, when I looked up again, I stood right in front of it. Impressive. Majestic. Unbelievably beautiful. So many words and descriptions ran through my head. On top the obvious beauty, I was also the only person around, which made it feel even more special. Like on every of my trips, I first sat down. I like to not rush into the picture-taking too fast, since, in my opinion, it takes the joy and first impressions away. For about half hour, I just stared at it while eating a power bar. In fact, the waterfall is so high, that my neck started to hurt at some point just from looking at it for too long.

No signal

When I decided to launch my drone in order to get a higher perspective of the waterfall, I noticed that not only I had no phone service, but even the drone was unable to connect to a GPS signal, required for launching it. The fact that the location of the waterfalls bottom is super close to a large rocky cliff, which forms a semi-circle around the water pond, seems to make having phone service impossible. Sadly, I packed up the drone and started taking pictures of the natural beauty in front of me.

Author standing in front of Shengjergj waterfall
Author standing in front of Shengjergj waterfall

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Although leaving a place usually makes me feel really sad, I had mixed feelings that day. On one hand, I really wanted to spend more time but couldn’t, on the other hand, the discovery of such an underrated and obviously often overlooked waterfall got me excited about what was ahead of me on my journey. After all, this was only the first of 6 days in Albania, and I was already overwhelmed by this country’s nature. To make it even more beautiful, the way out was now facing the mountain range that I had overlooked until then since it was located behind me when walking towards the waterfall.

Once I reached the car, I decided to try launching the drone one more time. This time, I was successful in doing so after a few tries and adjustments. And oh, my goodness! I though the waterfall looked pretty from below, sure. But it looked even more impressive from a bird’s perspective! I took my pictures, landed the drone safely, and got back on the road. What a perfect way to start the day.

Beautiful view of adjacent mountains on the way out from the waterfall. Photo: Thomas Später
Beautiful view of adjacent mountains on the way out from the waterfall. Photo: Thomas Später

Shengjergj waterfall is a “must-see”

Visiting Shengjergj waterfall was definitely one of my personal highlights. It was unplanned, unexpected, and simply breathtaking. Especially its location close to Albania’s capital Tirana and its easy accessibility make Shengjergj waterfall a perfect destination for nature lovers, no matter the skill levels. Since the overall hike only takes 15 minutes (per way), time also does not represent an issue. My recommendation: When being in Tirana, take a rental car, drive out there, visit the waterfall, and eat some authentic and traditional food at one of the near-by restaurants. This is how you get to know Albania’s true colors.

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  • Thomas Später, PhD, is an experienced backpacking traveler that specializes in adventurous trips around the globe. He has traveled to remote and exotic places, such as Namibia or Mongolia and focuses on landscape and wildlife photography to share the beauty of our planet with others. In 2021, Thomas published a (German) book about Overpopulation and Over-consumption (Die Überbevölkerung). With his awareness of current global issues, he uses his travels to support particularly local hotels and restaurants to raise awareness for the nature and culture of his destinations. Follow Thomas´ adventures on Instagram as well as on his website, World In Frames.