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Winter Horse Riding Holiday in Albania

Escape into a captivating winter experience that combines four days of thrilling horse riding adventures amidst ever-changing landscapes, with two days immersed in the rich culture of South Albania. Prepare to be enchanted by valleys, hills, small forests, rivers, and exhilarating uphill and downhill rides, followed by a deep dive into the region's history, hospitality, thermal baths, archaeological sites, the Ionian coast, and the authentic lifestyle of shepherds. This unique program offers real moments on horseback, dynamic off-road explorations of unspoiled terrain, and the chance to discover hidden hiking paths.

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 198 pounds / 90 kilograms
  • Horse Breed: Local breed mix of Tarpan and Arab Horses

Highlights

  • Daily great adventures on horseback
  • Approximate daily riding time: 3 to 5 hours
  • Ride on very good, smart, and surefooted horses
  • Enjoy great food and culinary experience and real-life encounters
  • Experience the culture and heritage and nature and diverse landscape
  • Have fun exchanges with other international riders
  • Daily meals and drinks will be provided
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


4 days with instruction
Group size: Minimum of 4 participants
Airport transfer available:
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (US$98 per person)
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Accommodation

You will meet friendly locals and learn about their traditions while enjoying accommodation as guests in various hotels and houses.

  • First day in Gjirokastra, Praga Hotel or another similar hotel
  • Day 2 the accommodation will be in a local family Farm in Libohova
  • Day 3 in Gjirokastra, probably Praga Hotel or another similar hotel
  • Day 4 in Gjirokastra probably Praga Hotel or another similar hotel
  • Day 5 in a farm in Ballaban Village
  • Day 6 in a local family farm, in Karjan Village
  • Day 7 in Gjirokastra, Praga Hotel or another similar hotel

Program

The horses used on this ride (Albanian horses) are a local breed mix of Tarpan and Arab horses. They are small but perfectly suited to the rocky terrain being surefooted and accustomed to trekking long mountainous routes, in all kinds of weathers, allowing riders to feel confident, relaxed, and free to enjoy the stunning views.

The whole itinerary is designed as a dedication to a different season that has a lot to offer, in terms of adventure, fun, smaller groups, culture, history, monuments, local houses, music, art, and tradition. The riding itinerary is placed on the East side of river Drino close to Antigonea archaeological park and goes deep into the history of the valley, the antic, medieval, and modern one.

Food and cooking experiences, wine, and Raki tasting will be something really exceptional about this trail. Guests will have the possibility to interact, participate and live part of the Albanian local life.

Meeting people and introducing our guests to their life and activity is a very social part of this program. Many things experienced with this offer can’t be enjoyed with the fast rhythm of the high season that’s why this is a suggestion for slow life, dynamic ride, slow food, and slow adventure.

Itinerary

Day 1

Plan your flight to Tirana Airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 13:00 - this leaves time for the transfer and be able to visit the town of Gjirokstra. The transfer from the airport of Tirana will take around three to four hours (250 kilometers).

You will be accommodated in a traditional hotel, in the heart of the historical Gjirokastra. The new Bazaar, and if there is daylight left, Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, the mosque of the Bazar, and Skenduli house can all be visited before dinner.

Dinner will be served at a traditional restaurant. During dinner, your guides will be able to speak to you about the trail: possible requests or needs, advice, and things that are good to know. Caravan Horse Riding Albania recommends that you buy a map of the area before dinner in order to gain a good understanding of the itinerary.

Day 2 (horse riding day)

After breakfast at the hotel and allocation of horses, we will set off on our ride through the picturesque countryside towards the village of Labova of the Cross. This charming village is known for its beautiful landscapes and historical significance. The route to Labova of the Cross will be moderately challenging, featuring hilly terrains, valleys, small water streams, and opportunities for enjoyable canters.

Upon reaching Labova of the Cross, we will check into a local guest house, where you can experience the warm hospitality of the villagers. The guest house will provide a comfortable and authentic stay, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture.

After settling in, we will visit the Church of Labova of the Cross, a significant religious site in the area. The church is known for its unique architecture and historical importance, offering a glimpse into the village's rich heritage. You will have the opportunity to explore the church and learn about its fascinating history.

In the evening, you can participate in various activities at the guest house, such as helping with farm chores or engaging in traditional cooking alongside the family. This will provide a hands-on experience of the village lifestyle and create memorable moments.

Overnight accommodation will be at the local guest house, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner consisting of traditional local cuisine. The guest house will offer a cosy and authentic atmosphere, ensuring a restful night's sleep.

  • Riding hours: 4 hours.

Day 3 (horse riding day)

This morning, we will embark on a ride through rolling hills, the enchanting Drino Valley, and several water streams, followed by a steep climb to reach the captivating Antigonea National Park, where we will make a stop for a visit. Antigonea was built by King Pyrrhus in 295 BC and named after his first wife, Antigona, daughter of King Ptolemeus of Egypt.

After the break, we will ride for another hour until we reach the stable, where you can enjoy the experience of letting your horses roam freely. Lunch will follow shortly after in a village near the stable. We will return to the same hotel in Gjirokastra for accommodation.

After a brief respite, we plan to visit the Cold War tunnel in Gjirokastra—a relic of communist defense paranoia that holds intriguing stories to tell. Before dinner, we will visit a painter's studio, where the artist will share insights into local art, special painting techniques, installations, and the incorporation of traditional elements in his works.

Discussions may also touch upon ideological art during the communist era. Dinner will be held at a small local restaurant in the historical area, accompanied by the presence of a renowned iso-polyphonic group, a UNESCO-protected world heritage. offering performances, songs, and explanations about the complex role of its members.

  • Riding hours: 4 hours.

Day 4

After a freshly cooked breakfast, we will embark on an exceptional off-road journey from Gjirokastra to Butrint, a UNESCO-protected archaeological park. This challenging drive will take you through small remote villages, old houses, winding roads, off-road paths, small gardens, scarce animal sightings, old churches, and a palpable sense of time suspended in the past.

We will pause to visit the ruins of Leshnica Church and have a coffee stop in the village of Cerkovica, where a local resident will provide a brief presentation on the area's history and future aspirations.

Continuing our drive, we will reach Butrint to explore the fascinating archaeological park. Dating back to the 7th century BC, Butrint has a legendary origin tied to the exiles who sought refuge after the fall of Troy. Having been occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians, Butrint boasts a plethora of remarkable archaeological structures, including a well-preserved theater, Roman public baths housing a paleo-Christian baptistery, and a 9th-century basilica.

The sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of medicine, crowns the hilltop acropolis and dates back to the fourth century. Afterward, we will enjoy lunch in Saranda at a seaside restaurant, relishing an array of locally prepared seafood.

On our return to Gjirokastra, we will visit the local art gallery, where the manager—an accomplished painter—will provide a presentation. Dinner will be served at a restaurant in the old bazaar.

  • Driving hours: Total of 6 hours.

Day 5

Following breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the Drinos Valley, tracing the path of the Vjosa River until we reach the thermal baths of Benja in Pwrmet. Along the river, you will discover splendid, warm-water, human-made pools—a hidden gem perfect for relaxation on a cool day. These baths have been believed to possess healing properties for centuries, and during the winter months, you can enjoy privacy and tranquility.

As you journey, you will encounter the Kadiu Bridge, a cultural monument built in 1760 during the Ottoman period, offering a stunning view of the Langarica River—an entrance to the canyons. Throughout the day, you will have the opportunity to explore the canyons through hiking and swimming activities. Lunch will be served in the "City of Roses" Pwrmet, where you will delight in the local raki and sweets.

Later, we will drive to a remote area near Ballaban village to visit another unique farm that will serve as our accommodation for the evening and dinner. The owners will share their story of abandoning city life, pursuing their dreams, and living in harmony with nature. This will also be a special wine tasting experience.

  • Driving hours: Total of 3-4 hours.

Day 6 (Horse riding day)

After breakfast, we will drive back to Gjirokastra to reach the horse stables for another day of horse riding. Today's itinerary will take us through a rural landscape, featuring beautiful steep hills, small valleys, pastoral scenery, traditional farming practices, bush areas, small lakes, small water streams, cliffs, and remnants of defense infrastructure from the communist era.

Throughout the morning ride, the captivating view of the River Drino—the "Tree of Life" river—will accompany you. The Drino River holds great significance in ancient pagan beliefs. Along the way, you will encounter the ruins of the Santa Triada Castle, reconstructed during 1809-1810 by Ali Pasha as a strategic point for controlling medieval caravan routes. These castle ruins were later repurposed for military use during the socialist era. We will pause for a picnic lunch near the village of Erind.

After approximately 4-5 hours of riding, we will arrive at Karjan village, where a traditional dinner and accommodation await you at a local farm. In the afternoon, you can explore the village, partake in family activities, and assist in feeding, cleaning, and watering the horses.

  • Riding hours: 4-5.

Day 7 (horse riding day)

After enjoying breakfast with the family and packing a picnic, we will commence our ride at 9 a.m. Our route will take us first to Nokova village, where we will visit medieval churches. Continuing through the Lunxheria area, we will stop for a picnic in Dhoksat village.

This village is renowned for its unique architecture and the use of black stone in construction, as well as its beautiful doors. A local expert will join us to provide insights into life, tradition, folklore, costumes, and ethnography of the area.

After lunch, our ride will continue through cultivated lands, gardens, livestock areas, and wide meadows, offering captivating panoramic views. We will have another brief stop by Qestorati Lake to savor the scenery before returning to the stables from a different direction.

The final leg of the ride in the afternoon will be the most picturesque, with several opportunities for canters and breathtaking hill climbs. After the ride, we will drive back to Gjirokastra, where you can take a stroll around the historical area before the farewell dinner. In the evening, we can enjoy a drink at a popular bar.

  • Riding hours: 5 hours.

Day 8

Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred back to Tirana Airport for your departure.

Location

The stable is situated amidst scenic hills, green valleys, and surrounded by high mountains and rural life, a few kilometers away from Gjirokastra’s UNESCO protected city in the South of Albania. While much has changed since Caravan Horse Riding Albania's first year of operation, the motto remains the same: offering real moments in the saddle, which means enjoyable and professional riding holidays for international guests. The riding tours aim to keep harmony among humans, horses, and nature.

Distances

  • Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA) - 3 to 4 hours, 225 kilometers

Food

All meals are included in the price.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

What's included

  • All meals
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 4 horse riding days

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Extra drinks
  • Ticket entrances in museums, cultural sites, art galleries, etc.

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please arrange your flight to arrive at Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA). Roundtrip transfers from Tirana are not included in the price but are available at an additional cost of 90 EUR per person (45 EUR each way. The journey will be three to four hours long (225 kilometers).

Caravan Horse Riding Albania organizes two transfers from the Tirana Airport every Saturday, the first one at 12:30 p.m. and the second at 14:30 p.m. Flights that fit Caravan Horse Riding Albania normal transfer’s schedule should be planned to arrive no later than 15.00 p.m. and departures not earlier than 12 o’clock (midday)

Riders that arrive in Tirana one day in advance can plan to arrive at the airport for the transfer at 12 o’clock or 15 p.m. Caravan Horse Riding Albania can’t organize transfers from Tirana. It is very easy and cheap to reach Tirana Airport by bus. There is a bus every hour starting from the center of Tirana (behind the opera palace).

Private transfer from or to Tirana:

  • 1 person: 140 EUR (one way)
  • 2 persons: 70 EUR each (one way for both)
  • 3 persons or more: 55 EUR per person one way

Note: Riders can book a private transfer if it is impossible to book flights that fit Caravan Horse Riding Albania's normal transfers schedule.

The meeting point is also available at Saranda Port. From Corfu International Airport (CFU), you may take a boat to Saranda Port. Transfers are not included in the package. The cost from Saranda Port to Gjirokastra is 40 EUR (return) per person, the distance is 64 kilometers or one hour.

Caravan Horse Riding Albania can organize transfers based on the ferries’ timetable for 2022. Normally one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

You can also book a transfer from Saranda for 50 EUR roundtrip.

Airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza Airport transfer available: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (US$98 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Pricing information
  • Single Supplement

It may be possible to pay for a single supplement for the first, third, sixth, and last night of the trail but riders must be prepared to share accommodation on the other nights. Single supplement, if a single room is provided, is 25 EUR per night, paid on-site directly to Caravan Horse Riding Albania.

  • Small-Group Supplement

Please note that the prices below for the 1 and 2-rider packages may incur a small group supplement. This is applicable only if 3 riders are booked for the ride. If, at the time of departure, more than 3 riders are booked, the small group supplement will be deducted from the balance. The small-group supplement is 132 EUR per person.

Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 4 participants

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