Albania,  Whitewater tours & trainings

Albania 2023 - When the Osum turned to cocoa

June 2023, the Guide Messenger channel to the back office. Sebastian had just written about the onset of snowfall in Norway. Johannes from Albania replies with just this sentence: "There's a thunderstorm here and the osum has just turned to cocoa".

The beautiful and dangerous thing about nature is its unpredictability. And so the Whitewater Tour Albania 2023 once again had everything to offer that defines a genuine multi-day packrafting tour in whitewater and in distant countries.

Including a lot of water on all the streams. In other words, exactly the profession in which our whitewater crack Andi feels comfortable and in which he, with his decades of experience on the streams of this world, has guided his group safely through this rush at all water levels.

Visibly impressed by these days, one participant shared her impressions with us in great detail and so we want to let her have her say. You can find it below after the pictures.

She added some suggestions to her impressions, some of which we have already taken up for the execution in 2024 (luggage transport) and added further highlights of our own, so we will spend the night in the canyon itself in 2024. Safe of course, that's for sure, let us surprise you.

Dear Andi,
Dear Johannes,
Dear Sebastian,

"Impressed and overwhelmed by the people and nature" - that's the short version of my feedback. If you have time, here's the full version 😀 [...]

I'll start from the beginning and with the most important thing: the people.

You will remember that I thought long and hard about whether I was "advanced" enough for this whitewater expedition; in the end, the decision to take part was based on my confidence in myself and my abilities, your assessment of the tour for me and the knowledge that Andi would be leading the tour. This was reassuring and decisive for me beforehand; because I learned whitewater rafting through and with Andi and my experience was - you can rely on him [...].

And what can I say; my calculation worked out: I simply rode great (hi hi .... pride comes before capsizing) - and following Andi's line (also Johannes', when he rode ahead of me) was safe for me as always! Especially as we only had brown water and probably stronger currents and higher water levels than expected. "Super line" and "safe", on the other hand, don't quite do it properly or may sound too banal.

[...] Andi and Johannes have demonstrated leadership quality - on the water and on land; after all, there were several opportunities to prove this. I was impressed: calm, level-headed, precise, transparent and clear in their communication, capable of making decisions and thus providing orientation and security. Always with the well-being of all participants in mind and it seemed that no situation, no matter how bizarre, could not be solved somehow (or who would expect X paddle breakages that had to be compensated for - and they succeeded; unbelievable) :-D. I was no less impressed by the interaction between Johannes and Andi; the power of complementary qualities and characters should not be underestimated.

The other aspect that touched me on a human level was the cooperation of all participants, as I experienced it. Mindful, respectful, considerate, all for one and one for all (sounds a bit cheesy and over the top but it was exactly like that; and you know me: drama queen communication is not my style; I mean: it was exactly like that) and everything was always so calmly pleasant. "The swarm intelligence will sort it out", one of the participants once said to me; quite aptly, because that's exactly how we organized wonderful evenings together every evening - apart from the fun and good atmosphere we had during the day.

And even on the Saturday in Berat, we obviously couldn't leave each other behind, because even then most of us marched up the hill and through the city together, all in a nice line.

My concern before the adventure began was that I would (as usual) get cabin fever at some point due to the intensity of being together; the fact that this didn't happen is precisely due to the feeling described above. [...]

Once again, I'm left with the realization that the LWA Packrafters are simply lovely people. Complex diversity and that's exactly what makes it exciting to create shared experiences.

@Sebastian, I think at this point YOU can be proud of what you have achieved with the "community", because the framework you create for encounters and the shared values you exemplify certainly play a role here too. And as far as a team on tour is concerned (I felt the same way in the Hunsrück back then), I think the tour guide also makes a relevant contribution to the spirit here.

So, let's move on from people to water:

Other than booked 😀 . I had booked crystal clear, turquoise (the benchmark was Soca, after all) - after all, I want to see what I'm supposed to scrub past.

Mhh... what it was then: 2+3 days brown. So the topic of "water reading" was probably over for me. (but it wasn't my job to do that; it was Andi's/Johannes') Exciting experience, paddling exclusively in brown water. I found it a little unsettling at first, but that quickly resolved itself. I found it exciting because I found it more challenging, as I couldn't see where I might touch down. (On the Soca, I can at least see which rock I might hit). The flow speed and level of difficulty were well balanced for me/my level (even if it was more difficult than expected) and I found it exciting to develop my skills and push boundaries in a "panic-free" space. I also felt that I was in exactly the right place in my allocated space. With Moni and Erik in front of me and Johannes behind me - a dream.

Landscape: Awesome !!!!! Highlight: Canyon !!!! (why does it only exist once ???))

The hiking... was, as expected, tough.

@Johannes, THANK YOU for 2 wonderful days of hiking. You know what image is etched in my memory: How you symbolically approach the shepherd with a peace flag or outstretched hand to lead "your people" safely over the mountain and protect them from the attacks of the killer goats and dogs (ok... watched too many Indian movies as a child 😀 ). But come on`.... it was a bit like that...

I considered the pace, stages and breaks to be appropriate and perfect. No less perfect was the spontaneously created option of being able to have luggage transported on the descent - if you wanted to. (which all but one of us gratefully accepted to varying degrees). This lightening of my luggage enabled me to enjoy the hike even more - not because it was easier, but because hiking with light luggage allowed me to concentrate on the beautiful landscape. And it was: super beautiful, varied, sometimes boundless views, sometimes narrow winding paths and therefore appealingly varied.

The lunch stop and the food on site was certainly a highlight - would also be a very nice place to spend the night and chill out.

"Impressed and overwhelmed by the people and nature" - I have to correct this brief feedback:

"Impressed by Andi, Johannes, Moni, Erik, (me), Hilmar alias Fury, Elmar, Steffi, Jens, Ingolf and Frank !!!!!; by our local "guest parents", the rivers and the mountains and the sometimes boundless expanse...."

Feel hugged.


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