Positioned between Dhërmi and Himara, only 2 kilometers away from the pristine Jala beach, the village of Vuno remains an undiscovered gem of the Albanian Riviera. Aside from its proximity to the sea, Vuno is also home to a medieval church, castle ruins, and a monastery. The traditional stone villas and narrow, cobblestone streets, against the backdrop of olive groves stretching to the sea, make Vuno a picturesque Mediterranean village. Vuno has approximately 200 homes, but only a small number of inhabitants–around 40 families–live in the village year-round. The majority of the villagers have left Vuno to find work in cities or abroad. Its current economic situation is poor, yet Vuno’s prime location and Old World charm make it ripe for redevelopment.
A stunning view, but strewn with rubbish.
Due to the village’s depopulation, a big share of Vuno’s historic buildings, including its church and former school, were abandoned, ruined, or filled with garbage, while the cobblestone streets are susceptible to damage and need to be frequently cleaned. Both of these issues have been obstacles to the the village’s potential to profit from tourism.
Vuno is situated within walking distance of two of the most beautiful beaches of the Riviera, Jala and Gjipe, while Dhërmi, Himara, and other beautiful destinations are just a short drive away to the east or west. However, paths from the village to the beaches were only partially existing and entirely unmarked, while harsh vegetation made it difficult to use what paths there were. Meanwhile, the lack of accommodations for tourists in the village hindered locals from being able to profit from the business of tourists who came for the beaches.
With the help of volunteers, Outdoor Albania hosts two work camps each summer to develop and maintain Vuno’s resources for ecotoursim. In past years, Outdoor Albania has cleared and marked trails from Vuno to Jala and to the monastery, cleaned many green spaces of debris and garbage, partially restored a Medieval church, and created the area’s first backpacker hostel. Since Outdoor Albania first began its work in Vuno, residents have opened five guests houses, which bring reliable business to the village each year.
Our biggest accomplishment was the completion of Shkolla Hostel, known to locals as “the school”. As the result of our work, Shkolla has been transformed from an empty elementary school building into a welcoming homestead from which backpackers can explore all the Albanian coast has to offer. Since its opening in 2013, the hostel has become a welcoming and relaxing environment for all visitors and friends of Vuno, and the income brought by its guests has been a boon for the village’s businesses.
See the transformation of Shkolla here, or visit us at the hostel Facebook page to make a reservation and experience beautiful Vuno for yourself!