The Balkan Rivers Tour – finale on Vjosa

The Balkan Rivers Tour moved to its final destination in the Vjosa valley, to continue a journey launched on April 16th in Slovenia. Under the slogan of “Save the Balkan Rivers – Stop the Dam Tsunami”, the Balkan Rivers Tour aims to raise awareness about the values of the Balkan Rivers and the threats they are facing. Led by former Slovenian Olympic athlete and founder of Leeway Collective, Rok Rozman, kayakers from all over Europe will paddle 17 rivers in 6 Balkan countries, starting with the Sava in Slovenia. The first destination of the tour in Albania was Valbona, and then Osumi.


© Jan Pirnat

The grand final of The Balkan Rivers Tour will take place on dates 13-19 May in the Vjosa river valley now known as the wild jewel of Europe. Along its entire course of over 270 kilometers from the Pindos Mountains in Greece to the Adriatic Sea, Vjosa is untamed and free flowing and characterized by beautiful canyons, braided river sections, islands, oxbows and meandering stretches. In some areas the riverbed expands over more than 2 km in width. What makes this river really outstanding internationally is the fact, that almost all its tributaries such as the Bënça river are free flowing and intact as well, creating a living rivers network that is without par in Europe.

Vjosa is a unique river in Europe but unfortunately one of the most endangered. In all its catchment are planned 40 Hydropower plants. Only a few days ago the government approved the construction of Poçem Hydropower, the second major concession after Kalivaç dam. The construction of this hydropower will destroy the most dynamic and valuable part of the river.

This big tour of 36 days is organized in the frame of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign which aims to prevent the constriction of these HPP-s and instead to create a National Park in all valley. This would consist on the first Wild River National Park in a in all the continent.

All the inhabitants of the Vjosa valley strongly support the vision of the National Park and oppose the construction of the HPP projects.

In this grand final of The Balkan Rivers Tour, the kayakers from all Europe will submit to the Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana on May 20th a special petition with the request to protect the Vjosa.