Near the town of Pëllumbas, 27 km south-east of Tirana.
From Tirana follow the road to Elbasan (Rruga Elbasanit) through Mullet, Petrela, Bërzhitë to Itë.
At Iteë turn left at the Teater sign, after some 5 km turn left at the sign Pëllumbas.
From the northern end of the village 2.3 km/1 h hike to the cave.
|Karst Cave Gorge
|L=6,398 m, VR=225 m, A=350 m asl.
|L=360 m, VR=45 m. Main Passage: H=10-15 m, W=15-45 m.
Muzafer Korkuti (2004):
The Paleolithic and Mesolithic of Albania
Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 17. 1, 2004.
Outdoor Albania Association, Rruga Gjin Bue Shpata Nr. 9/1, Sh.2, Ap.4, Tirana, Albania, Tel: +355-683-133451, Tel: +355-693-295229.
Behar Duqi, local guide, Cell: +355-697-4632697.
Komuna Berzhite, Genci Drita, +355-682-009089.
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|cave discovered by the Commissione Grotte “Eugenio Boegan” (CGEB).
|declared a Natural Monument.
|collaboration by the Commissione Grotte “Eugenio Boegan” (CGEB) and the Jamarska Zveza Slovenije.
|trail to the cave modernized by Outdoor Albania Association, volunteers and the villagers.
Shpella e Pëllumbasit (Cave of Pëllumbas) is named after the town of Pëllumbas, from where it can be reached in a one-hour hike. The actual name of the cave is Shpella e Zezë (Black Cave), but Cave of Pëllumbas is commonly used. The town Pëllumbasit is named after the fact that there once were numerous pigeons in the village which lived in the walls of the gorge, pëllumb means pigeon in Albanian. As a result the name Shpella e Pëllumbasit is sometimes translated Cave of Pigeons. The path to the cave winds through the Gorge of Skorana, which was formed by the Erzeni river.
The cave has a huge entrance portal in the cliff face of the gorge. From here a huge passage 10 to 15 m wide and 15 to 45 m high leads almost straight into the mountain. It ends with a huge chamber called Sallë e Ari (Chamber of Bears). It was named so because of numerous cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) which were discovered here. The cave was surveyed by the Italian caving club Commissione Grotte “Eugenio Boegan” (CGEB). They explored and surveyed it in numerous excursions for the nest 24 years, form 2009 in cooperation with Jamarska Zveza Slovenije. In the end, this was the longest cave of Albania, with a total length of 6,398 m . The show cave, however, is only the 360 m long and quite huge horizontal entrance passage. The bear bones were examined by the Museum of Natural Sciences of the Florence University. The cave contained also human remains which originate from the Middle Palaeolithic era. The remains were excavated by Prof Dr. Muzafer Korkuti from the Archaeological Institute of Albania in Tirana.
The cave is located in the Parkut Kombëtar të Dajtit (Dajti National Park). It was recognized as a natural monument of national and international importance by the Ministry of Environment.
The cave was lately developed for tourists with a new trail from Pëllumbasit to the cave entrance. This was done in a program named 100 fshatrat (100 villages), because the country selected 100 villages where tourism was supported by financing the development of infrastructure. It is possible to hike to the cave in a pleasant one-hour walk. In summer, the temperature becomes rather hot, so it is advisable to start early in the morning. The trail is marked, and it is possible to visit the cave on your own. We recommend taking a guided tour with local guide Behar Duqi, who also provides a helmet and a headlamp for the cave. Day trips from Tirana to the cave including transport are organized by the Outdoor Albania Association.
The landscape of the Gryka e Skoranës (Skorana gorge) is rather impressive, and it is possible to go down into the gorge and walk along the riverbed upstream to the Ujevara Skoranës (Skorana waterfall). This is not a natural waterfall, but the overflow of a dam. Although this possibility is reported on several sites, we would like to add a word of caution. Especially if it is an artificial dam, there is a risk that the water will be released if the outlet is opened and a flood pours down the gorge. We have no idea if this is the case here, but it is quite common. Unfortunately, neither the websites nor the officials seem to realize this. It is your life you are risking, so we advise you to be very careful.
In general, we have to say that the information about this cave on the internet is pretty poor. There are numerous sites, but it seems that they have not only copied each other, but have also done a very poor job of it. On numerous pages, even on Wikipedia, we found the remark "this is one of only six karst caves in Europe". Since there are probably a quarter of a million karst caves in Europe and hundreds of them have Wikipedia pages, this claim is obviously pure nonsense. Another repeatedly quoted sentence is that "cave bear bones with an age between 400,000 and 10,00 years were found". This is a mixup of two facts, the first fact is that scientists from Florence University excavated and examined cave bear bones. The second fact is that cave bears lived between 400,000 and 10,00 years ago. The Institute of Archeology excavated in the cave and found human remains which dated to be from the Paleolithic to the Early Middle Ages. Actually, there should be several papers online about the palaeontological and archaeological research. Unfortunately, we could not find anything. We guess they published it "in the unlit basement, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard". This reference, by the way, is easy to find.
There are actually a few videos on YouTube, and while they mostly show the hike there are also some scenes from inside the cave. What we could see was not impressive. Like at any freely accessible cave, the speleothems are damaged. But the floor is absolutely level, and the cave is very easy to visit with normal hiking gear. Bring a good lamp, the helmet provided by the guides is nice but actually not necessary as the cave is never low, its main use is providing a basement for the headlamp. Please do not use open fire as a light source, as they showed in one of the videos. It is really bad for the cave and most likely forbidden by law.