Curraj Epërm: Nestled between a chain of impressively high mountains, the Curraj i Epërm village is almost like an open-air amphitheater and it is often described as “the sleeping beauty” of the Albanian Alps. In the middle of the village are the ruins of the Kulla e Thepit, a traditional tower built to protect the villagers from possible attacks. Several tiny water streams pass through the village, contributing to its quaint energy. Curraj i Epërm’s landscape has inspired Albanian writers and singers throughout many generations. The Eposi i Kreshnikve is one of the most famous musical works that has its roots in the village. It is a compilation of folk songs that tell about lives and wars of several local heroes as well as of the mythological beings of the region. The focus of the songs is often on the way locals live in harmony with nature. These songs are also used to communicate and send messages between different villages. Eposi i Kreshnikve has been declared a part of UNESCO's cultural heritage.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the explorer, archaeologist, and ethnographer Baron Franz Nopcsa visited Curraj i Epërm and remained very impressed with the beauty, culture, and hospitality of the village. He described the village as unlike any place he had ever been to, and even wrote to the Austrian Parliament to ask that Curraj i Epërm be declared a cultural heritage site.
Vrana: Named after the river that runs through it, this village can be found in the northern part of the Regional Nature Park and it is surrounded by beech and walnut forests. The Zalli Ortegut glacier of the Nikaj-Mertur valley also gets its water from the Vrana River. You might notice the river “disappearing” underground and reappearing within the valley a few meters later.
Most of the mountains around Vrana village, such as Shtarza, Çeta e Volajve, Çetat e Gegës, Thepi Bizdogan, Gropa e Borës, Grada, Maja e Bardhë, Stolzi, Çardaku i Kakisë and Mrrethi have caves that visitors can explore with the help of a local guide. Watch closely for eagles flying above you and for the wild goats that typically graze around the village. You will also likely run into blackberry bushes— if so, enjoy!
Brisa: This village is known for the slate rock cliff that locals would use in the construction of their homes. You will find slate rock used as roofing or as the main material to mark local roads and paths. Visitors to Brisa can often hear folkloric songs being performed by locals wearing their traditional costumes. The women of the village are also known for their handicraft skills and creating woolen ornaments and decorations.
This village is home to the Brisa waterfall and the Kulla e Qendreses (“Tower of Resistance”). The latter is a three-story traditional tower built on top of a cliff, with small windows that were once used to protect its residents from attackers. The tower was attacked by Ottoman forces during one of the battles of resistance against the Ottoman Empire in 1910 (just two years before Albanian Independence was declared), and you can still see the spot where the cannonball perforated its wall.
Visitor who want to hike around Brisa can do so in the old Chestnut forest, and if they happen to visit in September or October they can enjoy some fresh chestnuts while out exploring.