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Albania Horseback Riding Holiday

This listing has one of the 10 most popular offers available in in Albania

Embark on a captivating journey through time along the medieval Zagoria caravan pathways, immersing yourself in a realm of legends, folklore, and melodies. Traverse through the remnants of the ancient Ilirian civilization, meander through medieval villages, and discover hidden gems like remote churches and monasteries. Marvel at the remarkable mountain bridges constructed during the governance of Ali Pasha, boasting rare and exquisite designs. The pinnacle of this extraordinary trail awaits you at Swallow's Rock, a majestic ascent that will leave you awe-inspired.

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

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Greek, Italian
Group size: 2-10 participants
Airport transfer available:
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (US$76 per person)
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
15:00
Check-out Time:
10:00

You will meet friendly locals and learn about their traditions while enjoying accommodation as guests in local homes. Your luggage will be transported by car with the most necessary things in saddlebags on your horse.

Program

Indulge in the rich tapestry of rural Albanian traditions as you forge connections with the local populace and traverse vibrant, untouched natural landscapes. Our chosen steeds for this adventure are the Albanian horses, a blend of Tarpan and Arab breeds. Despite their compact size, these horses are perfectly adapted to the rugged terrain, boasting surefootedness and familiarity with arduous mountain paths. Their presence instils a sense of confidence, relaxation, and the freedom to revel in breath-taking vistas.

Interact with warm-hearted locals, gaining insights into their customs and way of life while experiencing the warm embrace of authentic homestay accommodations. Our knowledgeable guides not only ensure your safety but also make excellent companions, sharing their expertise and engaging in delightful conversation. Ultimately, this equestrian expedition seeks to celebrate the harmonious bond between humanity, horses, nature, and culture.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive at Tirana airport, aiming for a morning arrival but no later than 14:30 to allow time for transfer and a visit to Gjirokastra. The drive to Gjirokastra will take approximately 3 hours. Once you reach your hotel, conveniently located just a 10-minute walk from the historical center of Gjirokastra, settle in and get ready to explore. Before dinner, take a leisurely stroll through the captivating historical town and the old Bazaar. Along the way, you can visit various attractions such as Enver Hoxha' house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, the mosque of the Bazar, and the Skenduli house, which offers a glimpse into traditional life in Gjirokastra.

For dinner, enjoy a delicious meal at a traditional restaurant. During this time, your guides will be available to discuss the trail with you, addressing any questions or requests you may have and providing valuable advice and insights. We highly recommend purchasing a map of the area before dinner to familiarize yourself with the itinerary and enhance your understanding of the upcoming journey.

Day 2

After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we will proceed to the next part of our adventure - a horseback ride through the picturesque countryside towards the charming medieval village of Karjan. This village embodies tradition and serves as a rural haven for passing caravans, boasting quaint churches and an ancient Roman bridge. As we traverse the rural landscape, we will encounter small houses, gardens, and witness traditional farming and cultivation practices. The journey unfolds amidst a backdrop of rolling hills, serene valleys, babbling water streams, and majestic cliffs. Along the way, we will be treated to breathtaking views of the River Drino, also known as the "Tree of Life" river, a significant water source deeply rooted in ancient pagan beliefs.

En route, we will encounter the remnants of the Santa Triada castle, which was reconstructed by Ali Pasha between 1809 and 1810. This strategically positioned castle once served as a control point for caravan routes and later found utility in military affairs during the socialist era. We will pause for a well-deserved lunch break in the scenic Shen Toder village. Afterward, we will continue our journey, riding for approximately 1.5 hours, until we finally arrive at the enchanting village of Karjan.

Here, we will be warmly welcomed by a local family who will provide us with accommodation. For dinner, we will have the opportunity to savor delectable dishes made from locally grown ingredients sourced from their own garden, accompanied by raki and wine, offering a true taste of the region.

  • Riding hours: 4-5

Day 3

After breakfast, we will continue further north to the villages of Small Labova and the valley of Cajupi. We will follow the ancient merchant’s coble stone road of Zhapa with its mountain panorama, wide view of the hills and valleys.

The first break will be in Small Labova, a village well known all over the south for its wonderful Church and the big houses belonging to the merchants which are now mostly ruined. Labova is the birthplace of Vangjel Zhapa, the organizer of the first Modern Olympic Games. Zhapa was a well-known businessman and philanthropist who lived around 200 years ago.

After visiting the church a very unique mediaeval building you will start riding up the mountain. You will be impressed by the mountain's rare vegetation such as mountain tea, oregano, wild rose and other endemic plants like digitalis or "Dig–Dag" as it's known locally. We follow the mountain path to the valley of Cajupi where we stop by a cattle of 1000 sheep to visit shepherds and spent lunch with them. You will have the chance to taste the Brati famous spring water, a typical station of the old caravans with its small tower “karakoll”. 

After a nice gallop through Cajupi valley, the trail will follow the medieval Caravan pathway with its famous bandit hideout "Hija e Mallkuar" or "The Cursed Shadow". From here, medieval thieves could rob the caravans passing through Zagoria.

The final destination of today will be the village of Nderan, placed in the heart of Zagoria region. This village will be our destination for two nights. Dinner will be a delicious mixture of local products, raki and wine. You can join the local life and accompany the family during the milking process, dinner preparation or have a look at the families, farming animals and garden. 

  • Riding hours: 6

Day 4

Wake up to the refreshing mountain air and savor a traditional breakfast of homemade bread, cookies, butter, jam, eggs, cheese, honey, and milk. Don't forget to enjoy a cup of mountain tea, a local specialty.

Embark on a captivating horseback ride through Lliar, Hoshteva, Koncka, and Nivan villages, encountering diverse landscapes of cliffs, rivers, woods, and hills. Take in the scents of wildflowers, the presence of shepherds, and the charm of roaming animals. Follow an ancient horsepathway that connected major commercial centers in Southern Albania, passing by the impressive Rock of Zhej.

Pause at the reconstructed Lliar water spring, commissioned by Ali Pasha. Experience a thrilling downhill ride to the ruins of a medieval stone bridge (now collapsed) and perhaps take a summer swim. Explore the unique church of Hoshteva, adorned with pagan-inspired wall paintings, and pass by the Byzantine church of Lliar and the 1702-built Nivan Saint Mehilli monastery.

Cross the medieval bridge to reach Nderan village, a historical center of medieval livestock fairs, where you'll spend the night in the welcoming embrace of a local family.

  • Riding hours: 5-6

Day 5

Prepare for an exhilarating morning as we embark on an unforgettable equestrian adventure. Following a delightful country breakfast, we will journey through a picturesque mountain valley, perfect for invigorating gallops.

Along the way, we'll pass by secluded farms, majestic cliffs, and hidden historical trails, veering away from the typical tourist paths. This route through the captivating Pogoni region offers a true journey through time, where ancient ruins and mythical natural wonders await our discovery.

Our midday picnic will be enjoyed near the renowned stone bridge of Hllomo or Kacarello's, a remarkable architectural gem from the merchant era. This isolated marvel can only be reached by horse, adding to its mystique and allure.

After a thrilling five-hour ride, we will arrive at the heart of the Pogoni region, the charming mountain village of Polican, predominantly inhabited by a Greek minority. You will have the opportunity to spend the night with a Greek minority family, immersing yourself in their rich cultural heritage. In their company, you can explore fascinating medieval cult monuments that hold a special place in the village's history.

As evening descends, prepare to indulge in the gastronomic delights of the region. Polican is renowned for being one of the foremost producers of mountain honey in South Albania. Here, you will have the pleasure of savouring an array of honey flavours, with nearly ten different varieties available throughout the seasons, each capturing the essence of the local bee pastures.

This day promises an exciting blend of adventure, cultural exploration, and culinary delights, as we delve into the hidden treasures of the Pogoni region.

  • Riding hours 4-5

Day 6

Today, we bid farewell to the Greek minority as we set our sights on the town of Libohova. The journey ahead will take us through challenging yet breath-taking mountain landscapes, culminating in a grand finale at Swallow Rock, perched 500 meters above the glistening Suha River.

Depending on the weather, our chosen picnic spot will either be alongside the Suha River, allowing for a refreshing swim, or at the historic Church of Labova of the Cross. In both instances, we will have the opportunity to explore this extraordinary monument, the oldest church in Albania, constructed by Justinian the Great in 554. It holds great significance as the site where Justinian married his wife, Teodora, with the villagers preserving her wedding dress for generations. Adorned with a captivating wooden iconostasis adorned with floral and symbolic animal scenes, the church exudes a timeless charm.

We will pause for lunch at a delightful local restaurant known for its exceptional regional cuisine. In the afternoon, our journey continues to Libohova, a charming town nestled at the base of the majestic Bureto Mountain. Archaeological evidence indicates its ancient roots, but it flourished in the 17th century, evolving into a bustling commercial hub. During the afternoon, you may opt to take a leisurely stroll, approximately one hour in duration, to visit the historic Libohova Castle, an esteemed Bektashi spiritual site, and the tomb of Shanisha, sister of Ali Pasha.

For the night, you will be warmly welcomed into a local family's home in Libohova, where you will have the pleasure of savouring delicious local cuisine. Immerse yourself in the farm life by engaging in activities such as assisting with chores, cooking, feeding the horses, or even enjoying local music. It's a chance to truly experience the local way of life and forge unforgettable memories.

  • Riding hours: 5

Day 7

Today's ride will be relatively short but filled with captivating scenery. We'll begin our morning by traversing rolling hills, passing through the picturesque Drino's Valley, and crossing a few charming water streams. As we ascend a steep hill, we will enter the magnificent Antigonea National Park, where we will pause for a visit.

This ancient site, constructed by King Pyrrhus in 295 BC, holds the name of his first wife, Antigona, who was the daughter of King Ptolemeus of Egypt. Take your time to explore the rich historical significance of this remarkable place before we continue our journey. After our visit, we will ride for an additional hour until we reach the stable, where you will have the unique opportunity to experience the joy of releasing your horses and witnessing their freedom.

Following this exhilarating experience, a delightful picnic lunch, prepared by your previous host family, awaits us in the village of "Asim Zeneli", just a short five-minute drive from the stable. Once we have satisfied our appetites, we will return to the same hotel in Gjirokastra for accommodation.

The entire afternoon will be at your leisure, providing time to make preparations for your departure, explore local museums, or indulge in some souvenir shopping. As the day draws to a close, we will gather for a memorable farewell dinner at a cosy restaurant in the old Bazaar, savouring the last tastes of the local cuisine. Later in the evening, you may choose to join us for a drink at a popular bar, reflecting on the incredible experiences shared throughout our journey.

  • Riding hours: 3-4

Day 8

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

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 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 from dinner of day 1 till breakfast of day 8, as well as water and drinks during the meals, are included in the package.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 7 nights accommodations
  • Meals from dinner of day 1 until breakfast on day 8
  • English speaking guide, second guide (if more than 4 riders)
  • Water and drinks during the meals
  • Luggage transport by car from destination to destination

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Entrance tickets in monuments or parks
  • Lunch on day 1
  • Extra drinks
  • Other services or expenses during free time

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 2023. Normally one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza Airport transfer available: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (US$76 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 on the first and last nights of the trail but riders must be prepared to share accommodation on the other nights. Single supplement, if a single room is provided, is 20 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 2 riders are booked for the ride. If, at the time of departure, more than 2 riders are booked, the small group supplement will be deducted from the balance. Small group supplement is 148 EUR per person.

Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

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