Baks-Rrjoll: A Small Town Gifted With Great Natural Wonders
The village of Baks-Rrjoll is in the southeastern part of Velipoja town, 30 km (19 miles) away from Shkodra. It occupies a versatile coastal habitat filled with natural dunes, alluvial forests, temporary ponds, wetlands, agricultural lands, and a sandy beach.
The main natural highlights in the Baks-Rrjoll area are the lofty and low mountain of Rrenci and the Lagoon of Viluni. The sand formation covering the seaside slope of the Rrenci mount is particularly spectacular. Known by locals as Rana e Hedhun, the sandy slope that falls directly into the sea is a must-visit destination.
The Nature Of Baks-Rrjoll
The Baks-Rrjoll village offers a tasty, fresh, and versatile gastronomy. We suggest you try the local cheese, butter, jams of different fruits, wild fish (together with all kinds of other fresh seafood), honey from local beekeepers, and artisanal ice creams. For outdoor enthusiasts, the options are plenty: surfing and windsurfing, boat rides, kayaking, canoeing, cycling, underwater diving, as well as all kinds of ecotourism experiences.
One of the natural monuments of Baks-Rrjoll is indeed the Rrenci mount. The 505 meters (1,657 feet) high Rrenci screens the village along its eastern direction. Despite hosting the beautiful and one-of-a-kind “Rana e Hedhun” formation, the mount hides other surprises.
To best discover the beauties of both the Rrenci and the Baks-Rrjoll village, we suggest you take the mountain hike along the path Rrjoll-Maja e Zezë. This 5.2 kilometers (3.2 miles) mountain trail is clear and marked with signals all its length. It has medium climbing difficulty. The oak trees surround most of the hike, providing much-needed shady and relaxing spots. At the trails’ plateau, one can witness the beauty of Baks-Rrjoll and its lowlands as they stretch into the Adriatic Sea.
A Short Story
The origin story of Baks-Rrjoll remains obscure. The evidence from toponymy suggests that its name originated from the historic town of Ballëzë, just east of another Rrjoll northeast of Shkodër (below Maranaj peak). After 1479, the Ottomans conquered the Ballëzë area, forcing many inhabitants of both Ballëzë (then a fort) and Rrjoll to leave the place. The migrants likely found a haven in the current Baks-Rrjoll area, with immediate access to fleeing sea routes and protected by the jurisdiction of the Venetian Republic over this coast.
Before 1990, the town of Baks-Rrjoll was considered a border village. As such, it kept a heavy military profile that refuted any tourism. After 1991, the locals could finally and freely access the Baks-Rrjoll coastline. However, the lack of supporting infrastructure kept the town outside popular tourist guides.
Baks-Rrjoll attracted a substantial number of visitors only after 2009. The reconstruction of the Shkodër-Velipojë road helped fuel its rise. Also, since 2005, Baks-Rrjoll has been part of the Buna River-Velipoja Protected Landscape, classified by IUCN as a 5th category. This protected status comes thanks to its natural values, rich biodiversity, and recreational potential.
The Ecological Values Of Baks-Rrjoll
The lands and wetlands of Baks-Rrjoll represent a crucial habitat for waterfowl. The town stands on a rich European bird migration route. As such, it is also a RAMSAR zone with key regional bio centers and bio corridors.
Baks-Rrjoll ecosystem hosts at least 183 different bird species. Some of them include western jackdaw (Corvus monedula); common starling (Sturnus vulgaris); hooded crow (Corvus corone cornix); black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus); kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus); common tern (Sterna hirundo); little full (Hydrocoloeus minutus); sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis); western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus).
There are some endangered bird species in Baks-Rrjoll as well: the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus); ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca); Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope); great spotted eagle (Aquila clanga); and the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni). As such, the coastal village is a true haven for birdwatchers or natural scientists.
* Baks-Rrjoll features in our top 10 Albanian villages *