Guide from Caravan Travel riding holidays

Sea and Mountains of Albania

This horseback trail in Albania is a fast-paced ride for experienced riders. This is a perfect holiday for those eager to discover a preserved environment and ride across varied ecosystems during the week. Riding sure-footed local horses, you will go over exciting mountain paths before you reach the Ionian sea and its pathways lined with olive trees. This trail also follows the tracks of King Ilirian Skerdilajd, on his way to conquer Kaonia 2,300 years ago, and is a great historical and cultural experience!
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Trail Riding
8 days (6 riding)
From £880

From the horse’s mouth

  • Sea and Mountains of Albania
    May 2019 Marcos aged 47
    There is not enough time or space here to write about how wonderful this trip was and what a life changing experience it was for me. It was a true adventure with amazing ever changing scenery in a gem of a country with honest hard working people and incredible food. The riding was incredibly varied and second to none.... Read all
  • Horseback riders on a mountain trail ride in Albania
    This is a mountainous trail ride for riders with a good head for heights
  • Group of riders cantering Albania
    Although this is a mountainous ride, you will pick up the pace as often as you can
  • Riders walking down a ramp in Albania
    Discover the Albanian culture and heritage on horseback
  • Riders on a riding holiday in Albania, Europe
    Ride from the Albanian mountains to the coast
  • Group of riders arriving to the Ionian Sea
    Riding to the Ionian sea on this trail ride in Albania
  • Albania trail riding holiday
    Riding holiday in Albania with Equus Journeys
  • Rider giving water to her horse during a trail riding holiday
    The horses are local Tarpan and Arab crosses
  • Albania riding holiday, rider and sheep
    Trail riding in Albania
  • Two riders on a trail ride in Albania
    Exploring Albania in the saddle

Itinerary

Highlights

- A horseback vacation through history: you will find ancient ruins, castles, churches and monasteries sitting adjacent to the bunkers and military infrastructure from Albania's communist past.
- Experience true Albania with the best local cuisine, history and hospitality.
- Accommodation is in local or family guesthouses every night where your host families will provide a delicious local meal.
- From May to the end of September you can enjoy swimming in the sea (without horses) on two of the trail days.
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE - TIRANA - GJIROKASTRA

    Your flight to Tirana should ideally land in the morning, but no later than 14:30 to allow time for the transfer and a visit of Gjirokastra with your guides. From the airport the transfer will be by mini-van or off-road car and will take around 3-4 hours (250km).

    Flights are not included but can be booked upon request.

    Quick tip: you can also fly to Corfu and catch the ferry to Saranda, where you will be picked-up. The ferry times can be unpredictable due to local conditions and we advise you arrive a day early.

    Your hotel is a short walk from the historical centre of Gjirokastra: you will have the opportunity to visit the town and old Bazaar before dinner.You can also visit Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, the mosque of the Bazaar and Skenduli House: this is a good glimpse into the traditional life as it is in Gjirokastra!

    This evening dinner will be served at a traditional restaurant, and you will accompanied by your guides. This is a good time to discuss your riding ability and learn more about the trip before the start of your riding adventure begins in the morning.
  • Day 2 2 : VIROI PARK - PLESAT - FUSHBARDHA - 5-6 hours riding

    A short drive to the stables where you will meet the horses. You will start riding from the lake of Gjirokastra, Viroi Park at 220m above sea level. You will be surprised by how this mountainous ecosystem can change so suddenly, and will see you riding through hilly terrain, small rivers, pine woods, and steep hills. Lunch will be a home-made picnic at the monastery of Cepo - there will be the opportunity to visit the monastery, which has one of the most strategic views of the Drino Valley. Today, only two parts remain from the former monastery complex: the basilica with a dome and dozens of former guesthouses which have hosted travellers for centuries.

    After lunch, you ride down to the river of Kardhiq. Today’s ride finishes after around 5-6 hours at the village of Fushbardha, one of the most important centres of Laberia´s area. You will spend the evening and night in a village house enjoying homemade traditional food and drinks.

    Your guides will go back to Gjirokastra in the evening. It is your responsibility to ensure the horses are fed and watered in the evening, and again in the morning.
  • Day 3 3 : FUSHBARDHA - BORSH - 8 hours riding

    After a traditional breakfast at the family house, get ready for a very long day riding (8h - up to 9 hours). The ride will follow the tracks of the King Skerdilajd Army which passed through the "Neck of the Rock" around 2,300 years ago. He led the invasion army in 230 BC to the capital of Epirus Phoinike (Finiq). The path combines beautiful woods, mountain climbing, rocky landscapes and ruins of ancient civilizations. Basha Stones, Dhespina cave, the Rock of Kaze, The Valley of Cheries, the Crooked Brook, Shameti Brook, Trullas Neck and Derrasa Hole are some of the local sights en route today. Lunch break will be in a valley surrounded by a small oak forest.

    You continue through the mountain of Borsh towards the next village. Today's landscape offers wild unspoiled views. Flowers, ancient trees, streams, hundreds of goats, sheep and cows will be part of this riding experience. Be prepared to walk for approx. 1h30 during the day on difficult paths and steep hills going down (good mountain hiking shoes are recommended).

    You will arrive at a family house late in the afternoon and enjoy traditional food, rich in olive oil. Wine, raki and mountain tea will be a welcome addition at the end of this long day in the saddle!
  • Day 4 4 : BORSH - PIGERAS Day 4 : Borsh - Pigerasy 4 : Borsh - Pigeras - 3 hours riding

    Today is a shorter but very pleasant riding day. First, you will visit the castle of Borsh (known in history as Castle of Sopot) located on a hill at 500m above sea level and dates back to about IV-III century B.C.

    After visiting the Castle ruins you will start a 3 hour ride from Borsh and take the old road along the seaside. Olive trees, oranges, lemons, citrus and grapefruit are planted everywhere on the upper part of the road. Many defence bunkers remained along the seaside of Piqeras, an old fishing village. You will finish your ride in the village and drive to the sea for a lunch break on the beach. After lunch you can enjoy a fairly long break - a siesta and a swim are on the cards! You will spend the night in a family house, and perhaps a lovely dinner of seafood, local cheese and salad. Home-made raki and wine will be offered with the meal.
  • Day 5 5 : BUNEC - SHPELLA - HUNDECOVA - SHEN VASIL - 4 hours riding

    This morning you will enjoy breakfast on the terrace with beautiful views over the Ionian Sea. You can enjoy traditional byrek (cheese pie) and cookies, butter, fresh milk and honey. Today's trail will take you to the sea through olive tree terraces to the beach of Bunec. You will ride up again to Lukove village and down to the sea again through some challenging landscapes, reaching Shpella beach for lunch.

    The lunch stop includes the chance to swim (without the horses) and relax for several hours. Later, continue by first entering a small jungle of trees, bushes and rocks, meeting the remains of an old road connecting the sea with the villages of the upper coast. In the afternoon you will visit the village of Shen Vasil, a very old medieval centre. The village suffered a long period of terror during the dictatorship being a labour camp for political prisoners.

    Overnight with a local family.
  • Day 6 6 : SHEN VASIL - PHOINIKE - FUSHEBADHA - 6 hours riding

    After breakfast you will reach the valley of Kalasa river and later the hilly valley of Prapanica, where a great gallop awaits. You will ride back along King Skerdilajd Army´s route. South of the river Kalasa valley you can see the Foinike Hill, where Skerdilajd’s army stopped to face the Epirot army in 229 B.C. Olive trees and nice canter tracks will make this day a great riding day in picturesque surroundings. You will continue to ride through the village of Fushe – Verri; you can see the bunkers of the cold war along the ride, representing the military ideology of the system. Picnic lunch under olive trees.

    You will reach the Skerfica mountain neck in the afternoon, where you can enjoy the cold mountain water and another short break. You will pass an old phosphor mine, an ex-labour camp for the political prisoners of the communist regime. Further on you will continue to the village of Fushbardha, that you will have encountered on your first riding day.

    In the evening, dinner served in the garden will let you enjoy homemade food, the fresh mountain air and the hospitality of another local family.
  • Day 7 7 : FUSHEBARDHA - SKERFICA - KARDHIQ - CEPO - GJIROKASTRA - 4-5 hours riding

    After a traditional breakfast you will start a 4-5 hour ride back to your starting point at Gjirokastra. Today is going to be a ride through diverse landscapes, first to the Valley of Kardhiq river and later you will retrace the steps of the first riding day. The ride will finish right where it started - near Viroilake. Pine forests, mountain valleys, water springs and flowered landscapes will be surrounding you today.
    Your accommodation will be the same hotel in Gjirokastra. A farewell dinner late in the afternoon will be enjoyed by all.
  • Day 8 8 : GJIROKASTRA - TIRANA - EUROPE

    After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred back to the airport of Tirana. Your flight should depart in the afternoon.

    If you are flying out of Corfu please allow for an extra day to ensure you have time to cross over with the ferry.

Dates & prices

Price details

• Rates do not include flights and are based in twin rooms, sharing. We can look into the best flight options for you upon request.

• Groups are made up of 3-10 riders, with an English-speaking guide.

• Please note: the ride will also confirm for 2 riders on payment of a supplement of c. €132/£116 per person. Once the group has reached 3 people, we will remove this supplement from your invoice and refund you if you have already paid it.

• Return transfers are not included and will be invoiced:
Tirana airport to Gjirokastra: €70/£60 return per person, 225 km, 3-4 hours. Flights that fit the normal transfer’s schedule should be planned to arrive no later than 14:30 pm and departures not earlier than 12:00 noon. If your flight departs before 12:00 noon, a €50/£45 supplement may apply.
Private transfer from or to Tirana: €150/£132 (one way)
Saranda Port to Gjirokastra: €40/£35 return per person, 64km, 1 hour. Transfers departing from Saranda no later at 15:00. If flying in and out of Corfu, please allow one extra day as ferry schedules can be unpredictable due to local conditions.

• It is not possible to guarantee single rooms during the trail. However, you can guarantee a single room for your first and last nights, spent in hotels, for a £35/€40 supplement (payable locally).

• Younger riders are welcome on the trail, as long as they have reasonable levels of fitness and sufficient riding abilities.

• The euro is widely accepted in Albania, but please do not bring large sums of money as your holiday is fully inclusive.

• Rider weight limit: 80 kilos, 12st6lb. This is a strict limit as the horses are small and the terrain is demanding.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English-speaking horse guide

Logistics

1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
1 support vehicle

Accommodation

Double room in private home on D2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Double room in a standard hotel on D1 and D7

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8

Price doesn't include

Transport

Return airport transfers, invoiced before you go - see above for details
International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team
Entry fees to the museums and local attractions

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurance are not included in the above listed price. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked to cover you in case of cancellation
Visas and personal purchase

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement - only applicable on the first and last nights.
  • July - August 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    11/07/2020 18/07/2020 £880 Open Book now
    25/07/2020 01/08/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
    08/08/2020 15/08/2020 £880 Full
    22/08/2020 29/08/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
    29/08/2020 05/09/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • September - October 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    05/09/2020 12/09/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
    12/09/2020 19/09/2020 £880 Open Book now
    19/09/2020 26/09/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
    26/09/2020 03/10/2020 £880 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • May - June 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    01/05/2021 08/05/2021 £995
    £900
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    15/05/2021 22/05/2021 £995
    £900
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    22/05/2021 29/05/2021 £995
    £900
    Open Book now
    29/05/2021 05/06/2021 £995
    £900
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    05/06/2021 12/06/2021 £995
    £900
    Open Book now
    12/06/2021 19/06/2021 £995
    £900
    Open Book now
    19/06/2021 26/06/2021 £995
    £900
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    26/06/2021 03/07/2021 £995
    £900
    Guaranteed departure Book now
  • July - August 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    10/07/2021 17/07/2021 £995
    £900
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    17/07/2021 24/07/2021 £995
    £900
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    07/08/2021 14/08/2021 £995
    £900
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    21/08/2021 28/08/2021 £995
    £900
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  • September - October 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    04/09/2021 11/09/2021 £995
    £900
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    11/09/2021 18/09/2021 £995
    £900
    Open Book now
    18/09/2021 25/09/2021 £995
    £900
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    25/09/2021 02/10/2021 £995
    £900
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Equestrian info

Horses

The horses are a local breed of Tarpan and Arabian horses. They are small but robust, and perfectly suited to the rocky terrain. There are 23 horses in total, well used to long trail rides and the rocky grounds: steady, brave and sure-footed, they make ideal equine companions.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You need to be a confirmed rider, capable of riding at all paces in the outdoors, over steep and technical paths. A previous experience of a long trail ride is recommended.

Rider weight limit: 80kilos, 12.6st, 175lb. This is a strict limit as the horses are small and the terrain is demanding.

Pace

The pace is varied to include trots, canters and possible gallops in the valleys. Some of the riding is across varied terrain so you need to be secure in the saddle. There are some technical paths and steep hills where you will be asked to dismount and lead your horse on foot (please make sure to wear appropriate footwear). The horses are sure-footed, make sure to trust their judgement!

Tacking ability and participation

You will be asked to help look after the horses in the morning, at lunch time and dinner time. Please note that the horses stay in paddocks near your guesthouses while the guides go back to the stables for the night, wich means you will be asked to feed the horses in the evening and morning.

You can help groom and tack up although this is not mandatory.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

You should have experience riding outdoors on trails and be confident riding in open spaces. You need to be fit enough for this trail. On some occasions you will be asked to dismount and lead your horse on foot over steep hills and rocky terrain. Some paths are close to the cliffs, so this is not ideal to riders suffering from vertigo.

Please note that although this trail includes some beach riding, any fast riding takes place along an old path 200m from the beach. The sand is rocky and therefore is only suitable for walking on. The mountain horses are also not too keen on the water so will not tend to want to paddle!

Equestrian equipment

English saddles and small saddlebags.

Helmets are mandatory and you should bring your own.

Travel info

Comfort

You will stay in homestay accommodation with locals, except for the first and last nights that are spent in hotels. This is a fantastic way to discover the local culture and learn about the country.

Hotel: double bedrooms, private WC and shared showers. Wifi.
Guesthouses: double bedrooms, shared bathrooms. Your hosts don't necessarily speak English but a little bit of raki and sign language go a long way!

Very limited internet access during the trail, with no guarantees for it at all.

Meals

The local gastronomy is delicious and varied. During the ride, you will enjoy freshly prepared meals that will give you a sample of the Albanian gastronomy.

Country breakfast with local dairy products, honey, pancakes; pies and cakes, eggs, milk, tea and coffee.
Picnic lunches. In the morning you prepare your own lunch according to your taste (bread, cheese, vegetables, eggs...). Sometimes you will bring this with you in your saddlebags, and sometimes it will be brought to you by the back up vehicle.
Dinner is a hot meal prepared by your hosts (veal, pork, chicken, goat or fish), with local wines and raki.

Vegetarian meals and allergies can be accommodated, please contact us with your requirements.

Climate

This ride takes place in southern Albania which is around 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the country. You will experience different types of weather on the trail; from cooler mountainous air to a warmer climate down on the coast.

The best time to visit Albania is the months of April, May, June and September, with lovely warm weather. July and August are dry and temperatures can be extremely hot, from 25 to 45°C! In October, November and March, there is a chance of rain and temperatures average 10-15°C, with April starting to get warmer.

Guide and local team

Ilir, Aurel and Kristina are specialised in mountainous trail rides. Their objective is to offer a trail combining culture, history, nature, and always in the respect of the horses. They love their country and its history. All trails are accompanied by a lead guide and a back up guide. They speak English, Italian and Greek.

Tips

Tips are left to your discretion and are not mandatory.
The local currency is the Lek, but Euro is widely accepted. Don't bring too much money as this trip is fully inclusive.

Packing list

Head
- Helmets are mandatory and you must bring your own helmet to ensure a correct fit. There are many lightweight options available nowadays.
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana

Upper body
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun or branches and are an extra layer
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper (and a spare in case one gets wet)
- Warm and waterproof jacket - it can rain outside July and August and the evenings can be cooler.

Legs
- 2 Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Casual trousers for the evenings, such as jeans or tracksuit bottoms
- Bathing suit and towel

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend good hiking boots with half chaps. There might be some walking over steep trails so we don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged, and for more comfort.
- Waterproof shoes/boots can be useful for abundant dew in the mornings or when it rains
- Trainers or equivalent light shoes for the evenings
- Several pairs of socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, cold or rain whilst riding. Waterproof gloves can be particularly useful

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (passport, camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!

Other useful items
- Camera and high capacity memory card.
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre) - plastic bottles are not provided but the team will provide water for you to refill your bottles every day.
- Swiss army knife (or equivalent)
- Small plastic bags for rubbish
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

In your hold luggage
- Take any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.

In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.

Medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Our Recommendations
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- You should also bring a copy of your passport/insurance in case you lose your documents. You can also save a copy into your mobile phone.
- You can bring small gifts or pictures from your country/family to show your hosts.

Visa & Health

Formalities

British citizens can enter and remain in Albania for a maximum of 90 days in every 6-month period without a visa. The Albanian authorities require anyone staying longer than 90 days to apply at a local police station for a residence permit.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Albania.

Please visit for entry requirement Albania - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/albania/entry-requirements

Health

Medical and dental facilities (including those for accident and emergency use) can be very poor, particularly outside Tirana. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation.

The tap water in Albania may cause illness - you should drink only bottled water. If you drink milk, make sure it is UHT (pasteurised).

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 127 or 04 2222 235 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Please visit Albania Health - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/albania/health

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Budget and money

The euro is widely accepted.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Marcos aged 47 Discovery Bay 3 trips
    May 2019
    There is not enough time or space here to write about how wonderful this trip was and what a life changing experience it was for me. It was a true adventure with amazing ever changing scenery in a gem of a country with honest hard working people and incredible food. The riding was incredibly varied and second to none.... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide