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King Skerdilajd Army Route

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From1,338 €
Price
From1,338 €
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9425
8 Days, 7 Nights, 6 Riding Days
Availability : May - Sep
Gjirokastra
Gjirokastra
Min Weight : 80 Kg
Max People : 10
Overview

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.

Embark on this mountainous trail ride, where you’ll spend approximately 5-6 hours on horseback each day, complemented by some walking. Our 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.

Programmes

This ride takes place from May to the beginning of October.

Price Includes

2024: 1338 Euro / Full board

Included:

All 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.

Note: The first meal is dinner of the arriving day, and the last meal is breakfast of the last morning.

Not included:

Flights.

Entrance tickets to monuments or parks.

Lunch on day 1.

Extra drinks.

Other services or expenses during free time.

Departure Dates

2024: 04.05 – 11.05, 18.05 – 25.05,  01.06 – 08.06, 15.06 – 22.06, 29.06 – 06.07, 13.07 – 20.07, 27.07 – 03.08, 10.08 – 17.08, 24.08 – 31.08, 07.09 – 14.09, 21.09 – 28.09

Single Supplement

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. The single supplement, if we provide a single room, is 25 Euros per night paid here.

Small Group Supplement.

This is applicable if only 2 riders are booked onto the ride. If, at the time of departure, more than 2 riders are booked, the small group supplement will be refunded. The small group supplement is 158 Euros/person.

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.

Beach Riding

Please note that although this trail includes some beach riding, any fast riding takes place along an old path 100m 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.

Note:  This ride takes place from May to the end of September.

Climate Summary: The best months to visit Albania are from April to October. Although precipitation is quite high in Albania, there is less rain during these months. Because of the continental air mass, most precipitation is over the central highlands. Albania has a high number of climatic regions relative to its landmass – the coastal lowlands have a typically Mediterranean climate, while the highlands have a Mediterranean continental 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.

Climate Char

Health: We strongly advise you to consult with your General Practitioner before traveling. The best medical advice regarding suitable immunizations and prophylaxis to enable you to travel safely requires knowledge of your medical history and therefore cannot be covered in this advice sheet. Recommendations are also subject to change, and it is important to obtain the most up-to-date information available.

Coronavirus Note: All policies regarding the Covid-19 situation are subject to change, and we will keep you updated about them in Albania in progress during 2024.

Health (ride-specific): Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

Film and Camera Equipment: Internet access will be difficult during the ride. Riders can buy an Albanian SIM card/phone number for around €13 and have free internet access and around 30 minutes of free calls with most European countries. Access to electricity is possible every evening, and the whole area is covered very well with a signal.

Packing List:

Normal riding clothes: riding hat, long-sleeved shirts (please avoid packing your favorite or expensive clothing due to the risk of damage), riding trousers and chaps, gloves.

Good mountain shoes – with a grip for walking but not too thick, as you will need to ride in them too. Normal riding boots with a smooth sole are not recommended as they can be slippery when walking on foot.

Waterproof raincoat.

Casual clothes for the evening.

Sun cream, sunglasses, hat, swimming clothes, shoes to walk on a rocky beach, towels for the beach.

Anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

Camera – please bring small cameras as large professional ones are very difficult to transport on horseback.

Copy of passport.

Personal saddlebags are welcome if riders would like to bring their own. Small saddlebags are provided by the ride but just for food and water.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Travel Summary

Meeting points:

Tirana airport (TIA) or Saranda Port – fly to Corfu and take the boat to Saranda (CFU).

Transfer:

Tirana airport to Gjirokastra (round trip): €90 per person (€45 one way), 225 km, 3 hours.

Saranda port to Gjirokastra (round trip): €50 per person, 64 km, 1 hour 15 minutes.

Note: We can organize transfers based on the ferry’s timetable for 2024, normally one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

 

Help the riding center: Albania doesn’t have any equestrian shops, so it is very difficult for us to reach the tack market. If possible, please bring with you an old pad, halter, rope, girth, bridles, or other equipment that you don’t need. We would be very thankful.

Please note that these terms are subject to change, and it is recommended to confirm all details with the organizing team before making any travel arrangements.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Gjirokastra, Albania

Upon your arrival at Tirana airport, ideally in the morning but no later than 14:30, our 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 our guides will discuss the trail, answer any questions, provide advice, and offer valuable insights. We recommend purchasing a map of the area before dinner to familiarize yourself with the itinerary.

Day 2First Riding Day

Begin your riding adventure from our 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 3Second Riding Day

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 4Third Riding Day

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 5Fourth Riding Day

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 6Fifth Riding Day

Today’s ride takes you through the valleys of Kalasa river and Prapanica. As you ride, you’ll have opportunities for exhilarating gallops, letting your horses stretch their legs. Throughout the journey, you will witness the remains of old roads and bunkers, reminding you of Albania’s history of isolation and militarization during the communist era.

One notable landmark you’ll encounter is an ex-phosphor mine, a relic of the country’s industrial past. The mine’s remnants offer a glimpse into the region’s mining history and the impact it had on the local communities.

In the afternoon, you will reach Fushbardha village, where you will be welcomed by a family who will provide a warm and hospitable atmosphere. You can expect a homemade dinner prepared with fresh local ingredients, allowing you to savor the authentic flavors of Albanian cuisine.

Riding hours: 6

Day 7Last Riding Day

On the final day of the ride, you will make your way back to the stables near Gjirokstra. The trail will take you through diverse landscapes, including pine woods, valleys, and the picturesque Drino’s valley. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy cantering and galloping through open fields, relishing the exhilaration of riding freely.

During the ride, you will stop in Asim Zeneli village for a lunch break. This village, like many others in the region, retains its traditional character, providing an authentic glimpse into rural life in Albania.

After lunch, you will resume your ride, gradually approaching Gjirokstra. By late afternoon, you will arrive back at the stables, marking the end of your equestrian adventure. You can take some time to bid farewell to the horses and express your gratitude to the riding team.

Riding hours: 5

Day 8End of Trail

After breakfast, from Gjirokstra, we 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.

Map

Photos

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