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Mountain Trail Horse Riding Holiday in Albania

Immerse yourself in the captivating journey of King Skerdilajd as you follow in his historic footsteps on his conquest of Kaonia 2,300 years ago. This extraordinary tour invites you to experience the untamed beauty of nature, vibrant cultural heritage, warm hospitality, and the thrill of riding reliable, sturdy horses. Traverse diverse landscapes, including mountain ranges, steep hillsides, river crossings, lush forests, and the stunning seaside. Along the way, encounter ancient ruins, majestic castles, picturesque churches, and monasteries that stand side by side with remnants of communist-era bunkers and military infrastructure.

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 198 pounds / 90 kilograms
  • Horse Breed: crossbreed of Arab and Tarpan

Highlights

  • 6 days of riding
  • Ride on reliable and strong horses
  • Discover unspoiled nature, colorful culture heritage, and welcoming people
  • Mountain climbing, steep downhill and uphill, river crossings, woods, and the seaside
  • Ancient ruins, castles, churches, and monasteries near bunkers and military infrastructure
  • Daily meals and drinks will be provided
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Greek, Italian
Group size: Maximum of 12 participants
Airport transfer available:
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (US$ 153 per person)
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Accommodation

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

You will be accommodated in local or family guesthouses every night. It may be possible to pay for a single supplement on the first and last night of the trail, but riders must be prepared to share accommodation on the other nights.

Program

Itinerary

Day 1

Upon your arrival at Tirana airport, ideally in the morning but no later than 14:30, the team will greet you and transport you to Gjirokstra, a journey of approximately three hours. Settle into your hotel, conveniently located a short walk from the historic center of Gjirokstra.

Before dinner, take a stroll through the town, exploring the old Bazaar, Gjirokstra Castle, the Church of the Old Bazaar, the Mosque of the Bazaar, and Skenduli House, offering a glimpse into traditional life in Gjirokstra. Enjoy a traditional dinner at a local restaurant, where the guides will discuss the trail, answer any questions, provide advice, and offer valuable insights. They recommend purchasing a map of the area before dinner to familiarize yourself with the itinerary.

Day 2

Begin your riding adventure from the stable, a 15-minute drive from Gjirokstra, at an elevation of 360 meters above sea level. Prepare to be amazed as the mountainous ecosystem rapidly transforms before your eyes. The ride starts with traversing valleys, allowing for exhilarating canters, before crossing the Drino River.

The rest of the day entails riding through hilly terrain, small rivers, pine forests, and steep ascents and descents. Enjoy a homemade picnic lunch at the Cepo Monastery, an essential Orthodox site boasting breathtaking views of the Drinos Valley.

Afterward, ride down to the Kardhiq River, where you'll encounter intriguing natural formations like the "Gods of the Light" pillar rocks. Conclude the day's ride after approximately 5-6 hours in the village of Fushbardha, a significant hub in the Laberia region. Experience the evening and night in a village house, relishing homemade traditional food and beverages.

  • Riding hours: 6

Day 3:

After enjoying a traditional breakfast at the family house, you will prepare for a long day of riding, which can last up to 8 hours. Today's ride follows the tracks of King Skerdilajd's army, which passed through the "Neck of the Rock" around 2,300 years ago. King Skerdilajd played a crucial role in Queen Teuta's plans to create an Adriatic Front against Rome.

The trail takes you through beautiful woods, mountain climbs, rocky landscapes, and ancient ruins. Along the way, you will encounter various landmarks such as the Basha Stones, Dhespina cave, the Rock of Kaze, The Valley of Cheries, the Crooked Brook, Shameti Brook, Trullas Neck, and Derrasa Hole. These sites offer glimpses into the rich history and ancient civilizations of the region.

During the day, you will have a lunch break in a mountain valley surrounded by a small oak wood. The picturesque landscape and serene atmosphere provide a perfect setting for a relaxing meal. Be prepared for some walking during the day, as you may need to lead the horses for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes through difficult paths and steep downhill sections. It is advisable to wear good mountain hiking shoes to ensure your comfort and safety.

By late afternoon, you will arrive at a family house where you will spend the evening and night. The hosts will treat you to homemade traditional food, often prepared with olive oil, which is abundant in the region. You can also enjoy local wine, raki (a traditional Albanian spirit), and mountain tea, which will help you unwind after a long day of riding.

  • Riding hours: 8 (including walking by leading the horses)

Day 4

After a hearty breakfast with the shepherd's family, you will embark on a shorter but pleasant riding day. The first stop is the castle of Borsh, also known as the Castle of Sopot, situated on a hill in Borsh village at an altitude of 500 meters. This ancient castle dates back to the 4th or 3rd century BC and has witnessed the influence of various civilizations, including the Byzantine Empire and the Republic of Venice.

After exploring the castle ruins, you will start a 3-hour ride along the old road that runs parallel to the seaside. Olive trees, citrus fruits, and grapefruits adorn the upper part of the road, while remnants of defense bunkers from the past can be seen along the coastline of Piqeras, an old fishing village. The ride concludes in a village where you will have lunch on the terrace of a hosting house.

Following lunch, you will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the afternoon by the sea. You can swim, sunbathe, and take leisurely walks along the beach. The day's ride continues as you enter a small "jungle" of trees, bushes, and rocks, encountering the remains of an old road that once connected the sea with the villages along the coast.

In the afternoon, you will visit the village of Shen Vasil, a medieval center with a dark history during the dictatorship era, as it served as a labor camp for political prisoners. Traces of this tumultuous past can still be seen throughout the village. For accommodation, you will stay in a typical house of the coast, immersing yourself in the local atmosphere.

  • Riding hours: 4

Day 5

Start your day with a delightful breakfast on the terrace, overlooking the Ionian Sea. Traditional coastal delicacies such as byrek (cheese pie), cookies, butter, fresh milk, and honey will be served. The day's ride takes you through olive tree terraces, offering magnificent views of the sea. You will ride along the beach of Bunec, a pristine stretch of sand and pebbles, enjoying the refreshing breeze from the sea.

As you explore the challenging landscapes of the region, you will continue your journey towards the village of Shen Vasil, which you visited the previous day. Along the way, you may encounter herds of sheep and goats accompanied by local shepherds. This region has a strong rural tradition, and you might get a glimpse into the daily lives of the local population.

In the late afternoon, you will arrive at a typical coastal house where you will be accommodated for the night. The house provides a cozy and comfortable setting, allowing you to rest and recharge for the next day's adventures.

  • Riding hours: 5

Day 6

Today's ride embarks on a journey through the picturesque landscapes surrounding the Kalasa river, tracing the footsteps of ancient army led by King Skerdilajd. As you traverse alongside the remnants of the majestic hill of Foinike, you'll feel the echoes of history whispering through the valleys. The ride offers thrilling gallops, invigorating both you and your horses.

Ascending gentle hills towards Varfaj village, you'll be greeted by breathtaking vistas before reaching the summit of Mount Sopoti, where a delightful picnic lunch awaits. The descent provides a panoramic view of the Drinos valley, albeit with some sections requiring dismounting and gentle foot travel.

Arriving at Lazarat village, known for its storied past and recent transformations, you'll find yourself immersed in its rich culture. Once infamous for marijuana cultivation, Lazarat now proudly showcases its timeless traditions. Your accommodation in a local home offers an authentic experience, enhanced by your participation in a cooking class led by your hosts. Amidst the serene ambiance of the olive groves, dinner becomes an unforgettable feast, evoking a sense of tranquility and contentment.

  • Riding hours: 6 - 7 (including possible walking by leading the horses)

Day 7

On the final leg of your journey, you'll embark on a shorter riding day, beginning with a traverse through Lazarat village en route to Drinos Valley. Your path will lead you to a suitable crossing over the Drino River, where you'll navigate numerous exhilarating canters. As you approach the southern outskirts of “Asim Zeneli” village, you'll ascend the hills, eventually arriving at the stables. Here, you'll tenderly care for the horses, granting them a chance to roam freely and unwind.

After bidding farewell to your week companions, you'll pause for the lunch break. A picnic, thoughtfully prepared by a local family in Lazarat, awaits you, and you'll savor it alongside a refreshing beverage at the village café. This moment offers a fitting conclusion and reflection to your week equestrian escapade.

Riding hours: 3

Day 8

After breakfast, from Gjirokstra, they can arrange transportation back to Tirana or other destinations, reflecting on the remarkable journey you have experienced and the memories you have created along the way.

Please note

All itineraries are given for your guidance only and may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organizing team.

Weight limit: 90 kg

They have a weight limit of 90 kg for participants in the activities, with considerations for height-to-weight proportions. This is because the weight distribution directly impacts the safety and comfort of participants horses and equipment. Therefore, they reserve the right to refuse participation to individuals whose weight-to-height proportions significantly deviate, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved.

Trail difficulty

  • Level 4 riding outdoors (out of 5 levels)
  • High intermediate rider

Beach riding

Please note that although this trail includes some beach riding, any fast riding takes place along an old path 100 m 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 they will not tend to want to paddle.

Assisting the riding center

Since Albania lacks equestrian shops, procuring necessary horse equipment from the local market becomes a significant challenge for them. If it's feasible for you, they kindly request your assistance in bringing along any spare or unused items such as old pads, halters, ropes, girths, bridles, or any other equipment that you no longer use. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated by the center.

Location

Embark on this mountainous trail ride, where you'll spend approximately 5-6 hours on horseback each day, complemented by some walking. The horses, a crossbreed of Arab and Tarpan, may be small in stature but are incredibly resilient and surefooted. This trail allows you to truly immerse yourself in the authentic Albanian experience, indulging in the finest local cuisine, delving into the rich historical tapestry, and basking in the warm hospitality of the locals.

Each night, you'll be accommodated in local or family guesthouses, where your host families will treat you to delicious homemade meals, fostering engaging conversations over dinner. Expect the freshest ingredients sourced from local gardens and farms, providing a true taste of the region.

From May to end September, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy two days of swimming in the sea (without horses) during the trail.

Food

All meals from the dinner of day 1 till the breakfast of day 8, as well as water and drinks during the meals, are included in the package. Most of the dishes are homemade while fruits, vegetables, and meat come from local gardens and farms.

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 and meals from dinner of day 1 till breakfast of 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

  • Flights
  • Entrance tickets to 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 50 EUR (return) per person, the distance is 60 kilometers or one hour.

Caravan Horse Riding Albania can organize transfers based on the ferries’ timetable for 2025. 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$ 153 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 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 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 158 EUR per person.

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