Syri i kalter (Albanian: Syri i kaltër), which literally means Blue Eye, is a popular tourist destination of Southern Albania. A ground spring over 50 meters deep which continuously pumps crystal clear, drinkable water, to the surface of the earth at a rate of 18.4 l/s!
The map to the right shows the location of the Blue Eye Spring.
Lat: 39.919019 | Long: 20.186042
Transportation to the Blue Eye Spring
Unfortunately, there is no direct public transportation available to connect Blue Eye with the nearby towns. Buses plying between Saranda and Gjirokastra are the only means of reaching the tourist locale. You will reach this wonderful spot following a diversion from the Saranda – Gjirokastra route (just before Ghiorgnzzati). It takes around 30-50 minutes to reach Blue Eye from Saranda via bus, a little quicker in the car. You may also hire personal vehicle from the city to visit Syri i kalter.
(I) Blue Eye – The Spring
[adsense float=”left”]The Blue Eye Spring is one of those marvels of nature that continues to capture our imagination ever since its discovery. It is a Vauclusian spring which basically means it originates from a cave, the word originating from the Fontaine de Vaucluse in southern France. The spring water can be seen gushing forth under huge pressure. The darkness of the opening of the cave resembles the iris whilst the darker center looks like a pupil.
Syri i kalter is one of those places where time seems to slow down giving you ample opportunities of admiring the beauty of Mother Earth, the water here is so clear that you can see algae and other wildlife on the bottom of the surrounding area. Local people would tell you that the water changes colour throughout the day which may well be a part of its many legends. In 1984 the first dive of the spring was made. The pool is said to be 50 m deep though its actual depth is yet to be measured fully.
Photos Curtosy of http://www.adventurous-travels.com/
History of the Blue Eye
Back in the communist days of Albania the Blue Eye Spring was fenced off to the public and was reserved as a place of special interest for the communist elites. Learn more about the Legend of the Blue Eye here.
What to Expect?
[adsense float=right]During the summer months you can expect BIG crowds of people visiting the Blue Eye as it’s one of Saranda’s main tourist attractions and perfect for swimming on a hot summers day. I would advise that you arrive as early as possible to avoid the main crowds.
Whilst the Blue Eye is a great place to visit, I couldn’t imagine spending much more than a couple of hours here as there little else to do. Stopping off either going to or coming back from Gjirokastra would be perfect.
Entry to the Blue Eye is 50LEK per person.
(II) River Bistrice
The attractiveness of the place is accentuated by the crystal clear water of River Bistrice. Such is the clarity of its water that it is possible to survey the flora and fauna growing on the river bed from its surface. It is also possible to swim in the river. But the temperature of the water remains at around 10 degree Celsius year round, which puts off many people willing to take a dip. River Bistrice is not navigable though.
Extensive vegetation covers the river banks. Taking a stroll in the oak, chestnut and sycamore groves is a pleasurable experience itself. Tourists need to walk about 200 m in this dense forest to reach the viewpoint before having a look at the ‘Eye’. It is an enviable opportunity of spending tranquil few hours in close proximity of nature.
Syri i kalter
Those visiting Syri i kalter generally complete the trip in a day. There are few cheap hotels if overnight stay is intended. One of those is Syri Kalter Kompleksi Turistik which has a handful of cabins and basic facilities to serve the customers.
Saranda, on the other hand, is replete with quality hotels suiting all types of tastes and budgets. Some of these include,
Conti Monte Cristos Hotel
Situated right on the beach, Conti Monte Cristos Hotel promises great views of the Ionian Sea as well as cordial services. It is packed with state of the art facilities that includes plush suites, well stocked bar and restaurant serving mouth-watering dishes.
Vila Duraku Hotel
This is often considered one of the best places to stay in Saranda. It offers contemporary facilities in a traditional setting. The unique architecture of Hotel Vila Duraku is an attraction in itself. Those willing to avail luxury facilities at an affordable price would find the place perfectly suited for their need. 4/5 Stars, – More photos and prices here on booking.com.
Livia Hotel is situated in the Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is enclosed by forest from all sides and consequently offers uninterrupted peace and tranquillity. 5/5 Stars, – More Photos and price here on booking.com.
Visad Hotel assures you of an unhindered view of the blue waves of Ionian Sea crashing on the beach mixed with the courteous service of the hotel personnel. The multicuisine restaurant is an added attraction. Glimpses of the island of Corfu can also be caught from the hotel’s patio. More info here.
This is another hotel on the south coast that offers great views of the sea, airy rooms and professional service to its customers. All types of the modern amenities are available to make your stay as comfortable as possible. More info here.
Needless to say, there are other hotels in Saranda which you may book in advance once you plan a trip to Blue Eye. This allows you to visit other places of attraction lying close to Blue Eye.
There are a few restaurants in Syri i Kalter serving good food to the tourists visiting the place. One of them, attached with Syri Kalter Kompleksi Turistik, is quite large. But their services are at best erratic. Do not forget tasting delicious fish recipes in the local restaurants. Many people, on a day trip or picnic, carry their own food.
Nearby Saranda and Gjirokastra are another UNESCO World Heritage Towns, all full of prominent restaurants serving delectable Italian, Greek or Albanian dishes.
No trip can be complete without a visit to the local shops! Syri i Kalter itself may not boast of any prominent stores selling souvenirs, but there are plenty of other places only minutes away from Syri i Kalter which can be visited to indulge in your passion for shopping.
- Famous LLogara Honey, which can be collected from any trustable local vendor, is a must buy.
- The unique taste of Skenderbeu Cognac is applauded worldwide. Do not forget purchasing a bottle of this famed beverage for friends back home.
- Authentic Albanian jewelleries are a collector’s delight. The area is reputed for crafting beautiful silver ornaments in traditional motif.
However, the best thing you will collect while being in Syri i Kalter is pleasant memories.
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