Activity/Tour

Day 1: Plan your flight to arrive at the Tirana airport no later than early afternoon. You will be transferred by car to Gjirokastra. This 220 km transfer takes approximately 3- 4 hours. In case you chose to fly to Corfu we will pick you up at Saranda port. This transfer takes approximately 1 hour. You will be accommodated at a traditional hotel situated in Gjirokastra historical center.After the welcoming lunch you are free to have a walk around the old Bazaar where you may as well visit Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the Metamorphosis church, the mosque of the Bazzar and Skenduli’s house representing an ideal sample of Gjirokastra traditional life. Dinner will be served at a traditional restaurant serving local recipes. During dinner our staff will inform you on the next day itinerary, possible requests or needs and provide you with necessary information. We recommend you to buy a map of the area before dinner in order to detail the itinerary.

Day 2: After breakfast at the hotel it is about time to start the journey. Depending on the group number, our cars will be waiting at the hotel. Once we leave Gjirokastra, on our way to Butrint, we will have our first stop at the ancient site of Hadrianopolis, at Sofratike. This antic town was built during the second century AD at the times of Emperor Hadrian. It was one of the most important towns of its time placed in the valley of Drino, where we will visit the necropolis, the amphitheater, traces of the Roman forum, Roman baths and a temple.
We leave Hadrianopolis and proceed South via national road to the Greek minority border village of Llongo. You will be introduced to intriguing real life stories during communist times by an old local witness of those times, accompanied by fresh ground coffee or famous Albanian mountain tea.
We leave Llongo and after 5 kilometers we drive off the beaten track through mountainous remote villages. We will be driving up steep hills, deep valleys, forest and rocky mountains. You will be enjoying an adventurous ride along a narrow panoramic mountainous track of medium difficulty. The rich variety of local flora such as Mediterranean bushes, pine, oak and fir trees is a welcoming part of the scenery. Time seems to have stopped in the first village in our way, Kerra. Next stop will be the lost village of Leshnica among high mountains, home to a small late mediaeval church, worth visiting for its original frescos. Fresh water creeks, small waterfalls and mountain springs will accompany us till our next stop in Cerkovica. Communist touches, slogans and remains are still vivid in its center. After 10 minutes drive we will reach Dhiver, on lunch time, where traditional dishes will be served by locals.
Than we drive further South to reach Butrint National Park on secondary roads amid small picturesque villages famous for cultivating a rare breed of mandarins. Once we cross the Vivari Channel we enter the Butrint National Park covering round 95 square kilometers of protected historic landscape and archeological sites.
The park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country containing different artefacts and structures which date from the Bronze Age till the 19th century. A number of major monuments are still extant including the city walls, late-antique baptistery, great basilica, the theatre and Venetian castles. In addition to archaeological remains, the site of the ancient city is situated within a natural woodland with a complex ecosystem which depends on the nearby freshwater Butrint Lake and Vivari Channel, which links the lake with the Ionian Sea.
According to the Roman writer Virgil, its legendary founder was Helenus, a son of king Priam of Troy, who had moved West after the fall of Troy with Neoptolemus and his concubine Andromache. Both Virgil and the Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus recorded that also Aeneas visited Bouthroton after his own escape from the destruction of Troy. The earliest archaeological evidence of settled occupation dates to between 10th and 8th centuries BC, although some claim that there is earlier evidence of habitation in the 12th century BC.
After the guided visit inside the Archaeological Park we will embark on boats to visit Ali Pasha’s castle where the Channel meets the Ionian Sea in the company of a well-known biologist. He will assist us in bird "watching and the observation of rare endemic species.
We leave Butrint to reach the hotel or weather permitting the camp site situated in Ksamil. Everybody participates in setting up the tents and other necessary equipment before dinner. Dinner will take place at a local restaurant with a sea view.

Day 3
After breakfast at the hotel, we leave Ksamil to visit Saranda one the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. We will pay a visit to the local Art Gallery where a local artist will introduce us to a chronological history of art, including the ideological aspect of art during communism time.
We will drive along the coastal line through olive groves, plantations of citrus, and Mediterranean bushes among small picturesque villages situated on the slopes of imposing rock mountains diving into the sea. Piqeras village situated right above the pebble shore will be our first stop. We will start hiking uphill towards Kremensova’ s Monastery for 30 minutes. While enjoying the breath-taking view of the rugged coastline from the top of the mountain you will be introduced to the cultural aspects of the religious heritage of the area. Besides being religious objects these mountain monasteries were fortresses of resistance against Ottoman Empire assimilation policies.
In summer time we leave Piqeras to enjoy bathing, rest and lunch at Bunec Bay until early afternoon when it’s time to drive to Borsh. During the rest of the year Borsh will be our lunch stop destination. The visit of Borsh castle is a must.
Borsh´s Castle (known in history as Castle of Sopot) is located on a hill in Borsh´s village at 500 meters above sea level and dates about IV-III century B.C. It is built on top of a rock hanging above the village. Mid IV century BC, marks the biggest development. In the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Justinian puts it on the list of fortifications in the years 527-565. Sopot is mentioned in 1192 in memory of Anna Komnenes, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Komnenai. In 1266, Sopot lies in the French power of Charles I of Azhuin and then in German hands, and later on, for a long time falls in the hands of the Republic of Venice. In the Middle Ages, it was adapted as a military garrison and took the full shape of a fortification at the time of Ali Pasha. The mosque was built inside the castle by haxhi Bendo, one of the supporters of Ali Pasha.
The rest of the afternoon you will have an intense off road experience of medium to high difficulty. We will be driving among high epic craggy mountains and deep valleys. We drive carefully through sudden steps and steep slopes to climb again mountain peaks, above Shushica valley, which is one of the most beautiful off road routes that the country has to offer. Once we reach Kuc village we drive downhill to Kuc "Buronje to pass the White River, which in rainy seasons is quite a challenge as well as it is to climb to Gusmar. From Gusmar to Progonat you will enjoy driving along the Canyon which offers a fascinating view. Progonat will be our final destination for the day. You will be accommodated in a village house and enjoy traditional dishes including lamb, white cheese, home grown potatoes and vegetables accompanied by local Raki.

Day 4
After breakfast in Progonat we drive off road through mountain routes to Golem 1100 m above sea level. Than we drive downhill on a steep gritty, windy road along a deep valley leading us to Kolonje a typical pastoral area. It is a challenging route of varying difficulty which offers a panoramic view of Drino’s valley. After 30 minutes’ drive we reach the national road and proceed towards Permet which is going to be our next destination.
We will drive along the Vjosa’s valley which has carved a beautiful landscape among high mountains. We will stop for a short coffee break at Kelcyra’s Gorge.
Once in Permet you will meet the rafting team that will be waiting for us. After 15 minutes of briefing by professional guides the real rafting adventure in Vjosa starts. It lasts approximately 2 hours. Apart from the exiting experience you will enjoy the natural beauties offered by the surrounding landscape and the imposing Nemercka Mountain.
Right after the rafting experience you will have lunch in a traditional restaurant in Permet.

Benje thermal baths placed 14 km away from Permet will be our afternoon destination. Right from the rocks spring 6 natural baths of curative waters with Sulphur bases that have high curative effects on both sides of the Lengarice River. Under the famous mediaeval Kadiu Bridge are found 4 of the sources which are used for chronic rheumatism, one is especially used for stomach disorders and the last one for skin problems. The Benje Thermal Waters have got a temperature which ranges from 26ºC to 32ºC.
You may take a bath there and then walk on the river bed to reach the famous Lengarica canyons. River banks have got a rich flora and fauna including a variety of wild animals, migrating birds and endemic plants. We will return to Permet late afternoon. Time permitting we will visit the Church of Leusa famous for its iconography and probably one of the most spectacular churches in Albania.
You will taste the rich variety of local recipes and sweets in a family run cozy restaurant.

Day 5 : After breakfast we drive in the direction of Gjirokastra. Once we reach Subashi’s Bridge we take a left turn to follow a windy narrow track at the foot of Lunxheria Mountain. Once we reach The Big Labova we will stop to visit the ruins of the house of Vangjel Zhapa, a well-known philanthropic of 2 centuries ago who founded the modern Olympic Games in Greece, the builder of Zappeion in Athens and funder of round 200 schools all around Balkans. Zhapa Foundation continues to contribute in education, culture and heritage even nowadays. After 10 minutes’ drive we will visit the Church of Small Labova a monument of culture protected by the state. It is a typical example of mountainous style churches.

We start driving uphill to reach Cajupi’s Pass and the higher we get the wider the view of the valley.
You will be impressed by the mountains rich vegetation, such as mountain tea, oregano, wild rose, and other endemic plant like digitalis or Dig"Dag as it is known by locals.
Our track used to be an old caravan trail in mediaeval time and continued to be used even during communism by the army. It is mostly a challenging gravel road because we drive uphill in a very steep slope and there are certain segments that should be tackled with caution. We reach Cajupi’s Pass at the altitude of 1300 m and drive downhill along Cajupi’s Field to taste the Brati famous spring water, a typical station of the old caravans and also see the small tower of protection from the bandits called “karakoll”. The trail will follow the medieval Caravans pathway with the next station a famous bandits’ strategic dominion named Hija e Mallkuar or Accursed Shadow. From that area medieval thieves could rob the commercial caravans passing through Zagoria. This was a famous battle ground.
We will be driving along forgotten villages situated on both sides of Zagoria valley and a picturesque view will accompany us during all the journey. Before reaching Nderan village we will stop to walk down to Zagoria’s river to discover one of the most frequently used bridges of Ali Pasha time on merchant trails used by caravans.
We get back to the cars and proceed along the valley to enter the Greek minority area of Pogon, Polican our lunch destination. It used to be an old market center which has its own protector Saint Sofianos.
Lunch will be a delicious mixed meal of local products, raki and wine.
After lunch we will drive along Suha River valley, which offers us a fascinating landscape.
The vegetation and the river view will offer you special feelings of escape and freedom. At Selcka turn we will stop to cross the river on feet to scout around for a natural cave carved by the river. A lovely waterfall and its pond may be a refreshing experience and a charming view.
The last attraction of the journey will be the Church of Labova of the Cross. This rare monument representing the oldest church in Albania it is thought to have been built by emperor Justinian in 554. The church was home to relicts of the real cross till 1989 when the cross was stolen.
This church is decorated with an old wooden iconostasis full of floral and symbolic animal scenes.
We reach Gjirokastra through a nice off road track among Drino’s valley just for dinner.
You will be accommodated in a traditional hotel in the old historical center of the town.






Day 6: After a traditional breakfast is served at the hotel we drive to the stable to meet the horses. Once we get on the saddles the ride through the countryside starts, to reach the final destination Karjan village, inhabited since the early mediaeval times. The village represents a typical stop for the caravans. The church of the village and an old bridge can be visited during the afternoon. We will ride through a rural environment; small houses, gardens, traditional farming and cultivated land. The route is a combination of hilly landscape, valleys, small water streams and cliffs. Different types of terrain render our ride quite challenging as we try to apply different paces to follow it. You are offered exiting chances of trots, canters and gallops. This path follows the flow of the River Drino, known in antiquity as “The Tree of Life” river. It is the most important water basin in the area and it held an important role in pagan beliefs. On your way you will meet the ruins of the castle of Santa Triada reconstructed during 1809-1810 by Ali Pasha, a strategic point to control all the caravan itineraries. The castle ruins were used later during the time of socialism for military purposes. Lunch will be a picnic just near the village of Erind. You will meet Karjan village after 4- 5 hours of riding. You will have a traditional family dinner at a local family house and a family accommodation place for the night.

Day 7: The tour of this morning is a really exciting equestrian experience. After a fresh country breakfast you will start your day adventure passing through a hilly valley landscape, very suitable for canters. Your ride will take place through small remote farms, hanging cliffs and many isolated monuments. The whole itinerary follows the footsteps of the old commercial caravans towards another once important center of local fairs. Your first stop will be the village of Nokova. We will stop there to visit both medieval Saint Gorge and Saint Nikolas churches of the village. The unique local wall painting technique, typical building style of the mountain churches next to the maple tree, which is also the natural meeting place of the village, gives this break a mediaeval atmosphere. You can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee under the tree close to the water spring of the village. Further along the ride you will be impressed by the mountains rich vegetation, such as mountain tea, oregano, wild rose, and other endemic plants used for centuries in culinary and curative tradition of the area. Forests and rivers will offer you special feelings of escape and real moments in the saddle.
You will stop to have picnic lunch in Dhoksat village one of the well-known producers of mountain honey in South Albania. This area offers nearly 10 different flavors of honey depending on season and bee pasture.
The one week adventure ends, after two hours of riding, at the horses stable. You will reach Gjirokastra town late afternoon. You will be accommodated at the same traditional hotel. Your farewell dinner will take place in a small restaurant of the old Bazaar. Later in the evening you can have a drink in a popular bar.




Day 8: After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to the airport of Tirana or Saranda port.

Typical Day

All the days of the tour are active. ( Detailed description above)
Technical information

Tour length 8 days/7 nights/ 6 active days

Length of the tour: About 500 km

Age range, type of group

Trail difficulty: Intermediate
Skills required:
Good outdoor experience
Good physical condition
Intermediate horse riding level
Busy hours: Average of 5 - 6 hours per day

Sleeping and meals

Accommodation:, 2 nights (the first and the last) in a traditional hotel in Gjirokastra, 1 night in tents for 2 (weather permitting), 2 nights village houses, 1 night in hotel in Permet.

All meals included from lunch of the first day till breakfast of the last day.

Policies & Restrictions

No restrictions.

Other Information

Included : All meals from the arrival day lunch till the leaving day breakfast
Not included: Flight fares, museums and monuments entrance tickets or donations, health insurance.
Luggage transport: Only for the horse riding days personal necessary stuff are carried in saddlebags; all other luggage is transported by car every day from destination to destination.
Saddles: English Saddles
Things to bring: Riding or bicycle helmet, riding chaps, raincoat, gloves, sun cream, trekking shoes, personal medicine.
Price: 920 Euro All Inclusive

Price if you drive your own off road car: 790 Euro

Group Number: 3-12 participants

Transfer cost: (From Tirana Airport and back) 70 Euro
(From Saranda port and back) 40 Euro
Note: in case you chose the second transfer plan to flight to Corfu and then take the boat to Saranda.

Accommodation: Single rooms are not available.

2017 dates: From the first Sunday of March till the last Sunday of November.
December, January and February are not active months.

Starting at:
USD $1,012.00 per week
Reservations & Information
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