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Travel back in time following the medieval Zagoria caravan pathways into a land of myths, tales, and ballads. Your ride will pass through ancient ruins of the Illyrian civilization, medieval villages, and many remote churches and monasteries. See the mountain bridges built during the period of Ali Pasha, they are a wonder to see with their rare and unique design. The culmination of this extraordinary trail will be the climb on Swallow’s Rock.
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.
On this holiday, you will soak in rural Albanian traditions by staying with local people and riding through vibrant, unspoiled natural landscapes.
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, allowing riders to feel confident, relaxed, and free to enjoy the stunning views.
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. The guides are professional and good company. The main objective of this ride is to celebrate the harmony between humankind, horses, nature, and culture.
Plan your flight to arrive at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 15:00 - this leaves time for the transfer and to be able to visit the town of Gjirokstra. Driving to Gjirokastra will take around 3-4 hours.
Settle into your hotel, 10 minutes walking from the center of historical Gjirokastra. You can have a walk around the historical town and the old Bazaar before dinner. Riders can also visit Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, the mosque of the Bazar, and Skenduli house representing an ideal sample of Gjirokastra traditional life.
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. The Caravan Horse Riding Albania team recommends that you buy a map of the area before dinner in order to gain a good understanding of the itinerary.
After breakfast at the hotel and allocation of horses, you will start to ride through the countryside towards the medieval village of Karjan. This village is traditional, a rural stop of the passing caravans with its small churches and old roman bridge.
The road to reach this destination passes through a rural environment; small houses, gardens, traditional farming, and cultivation of the land. The route combines hilly landscapes, valleys, small water streams, and cliffs. This path also passes along the view of River Drino, “Tree of Life” river. It is the most important water basin in the area and part of ancient pagan beliefs.
Along the route, 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 issues. You will stop for a picnic lunch just near the village of Erind.
After around 4-5 hours of riding, you will reach Karjan village where a traditional dinner and accommodation will be hosted by a local family. In the afternoon you can be part of the family activities and also help to feed, clean and water the horses. Riding hours: 4-5
After breakfast, you will continue further north to the villages of Small Labova and the valley of Cajupi. You will follow the ancient merchant’s cobblestone 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 medieval 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.
You 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.
You will stay with a Vllah linguistic minority family and this 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, farm animals, and garden. Riding hours: 6.
This morning, you will wake up feeling the effect of the mountain air. Breakfast will be traditional mountain food; fresh homemade bread, cookies, butter, jam, eggs, cheese, honey, and milk. A cup of mountain tea is very typical for this region.
On your way to Lliar, Hoshteva, Koncka, and Nivan villages you will encounter various terrain combining hard cliffs, rivers, woods, and rolling hills. The beautiful scent of flowers, mountain fresh air, wild landscapes, shepherds, and animals will also be part of your day.
You will continue riding to the most important horse pathway of the XVII and XVIII century which used to connect the biggest commercial centers in Southern Albania. A very beautiful natural monument is the Rock of Zhej that can be seen along the way.
You will stop for a short break at the water spring of Lliar, reconstructed by Ali Pasha in the early XIX century. You will take a challenging downhill route to the ruins of a medieval stone bridge (the bridge collapsed in February 2018) where it is possible to take a refreshing swim during the summer months. Hoshteva, a unique church that was initially built in 999AC and last restored in 1866 has a very particular style with lots of pagan elements in the wall paintings.
You will also pass by the byzantine church of Lliar and the monastery of Nivan Saint Mehilli, built in 1702. You will ride over the medieval bridge built in the same period to connect the monastery with Nderan village, one of the famous centers of medieval livestock fairs and which again will be your overnight residence. You will spend the night at the same Vllah family house. Riding hours: 5-6
This morning will be a really exciting equestrian experience. After a fresh country breakfast, you will ride through a mountain valley, perfectly suited for gallops, passing small remote farms, wild cliffs, and many historical small routes off the tourist trail.
The route through Pogoni region is a true travel in time. You will be passing by ancient ruins and mythical natural wonders. Your picnic lunch will be near the most famous stone bridge of Hllomo or Kacarello’s, which is the most isolated construction of the merchant’s period and can only be reached by horse.
In the afternoon, after five hours of riding, you will reach the center of the Pogon region. The mountain village of Polican is populated by a Greek minority.
You will spend the night with a Greek minority family. In their accompany you have the chance to explore some very particular cult monuments of the medieval period. Later in the evening, you will enjoy local gastronomic delights. This village is one of the most important territories of mountain honey in South Albania and it offers nearly 10 different tastes of honey as per season and bee pasture. Riding hours 4-5.
This morning you will leave the Greek minority behind to reach the town of Libohova. The route will pass through demanding but beautiful mountain landscapes with a vast finish at the Swallow Rock, 500 meters over the river of Suha.
Your picnic lunch point will be either Suha river depending on the weather for swimming or the Church of Labova of the Cross. In both cases, you will visit this rare monument representing the oldest church in Albania, built by Justinian the Great in 554. Justinian married Teodora his wife at the small chapel of this village and the villagers inherited her wedding dress for centuries. This church is decorated with old wooden iconostasis full of floral and symbolic animal scenes.
Later in the afternoon, you will ride to Libohova, a small town nestled at the foot of the Bureto Mountain. The archaeological evidence indicates a very ancient settlement that reached its zenith in the 17th-century when it became an important commercial center. During the afternoon is possible to take a long walk and visit Libohova’s castle, a Bektashi cult object and to the tomb of Ali Pasha’s sister, Shanisha.
You will overnight in a local family house and will taste delicious local food. You can participate in farm life by helping, cooking, feeding the horses, enjoying local music, etc. Riding hours: 5.
This will be a short riding day of 3,5 hours. This morning you will ride through rolling hills, Drino’s valley, and few water streams before climbing a steep hill to reach Antigonea National Park where you will 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, you will ride one more hour to the stable where you can enjoy the experience of letting free your horses. A picnic lunch will follow in the village close to the stable. You will be accommodated at the same hotel in Gjirokastra.
The afternoon is free in order to prepare your leave, visit museums, or buy souvenirs. Your farewell dinner will take place in a small restaurant in the old Bazaar. Later in the evening, you. can have a drink in a popular bar. Riding hours: 3-4.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred back to the airport of Tirana or the port of Saranda.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and they may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organizing team.
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.
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.
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza
Transfer available for additional US$81 per person
Corfu International Airport (Ioannis Kapodistrias Int'l Airport)
Transfer not provided
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 70 EUR per person. The journey will be three - four hours long (225 kilometers).
Caravan Horse Riding Albania organizes two transfers from the Tirana Airport every Saturday, the first one at 12 o’clock and the second at 15.00 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:
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.
For this organizer you can guarantee your booking through BookHorseRidingHolidays.com. All major credit cards supported.
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