Horseback riding in Central, Albania

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Vjosa River Trail Ride

Itinerary for Vjosa River Trail Ride

Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Please note that this itinerary is given as guidance only and may be altered.

Day 1 (Wednesday): Arrival
Plan your flight to arrive at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 3:00pm - this leaves time for the transfer and to be able to visit the town of Gjirokstra. From the airport, the transfer will be by mini-van or off-road car and will take around 3-4 hours (250km). Settle into your hotel, 10 minutes walking from the centre of historical Gjirokastra. You can have a walk around the historical town of the old Bazaar: 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 which are good to know. We recommend that you buy a map of the area before dinner in order to gain a good understanding of the itinerary.
Meals included: Dinner
Overnight in hotel in Gjirokastra

Day 2 (Thursday): Ride to Karjan
After breakfast at the hotel and allocation of horses, we 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. On your way 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. We will stop for picnic lunch just near the village of Erind. We will reach Karjan village where a traditional dinner and accommodation will be hosted by a local family.
Riding: ~4.5 hour
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in family house in Karjan village

Day 3 (Friday): Karjan to Cajupi Valley
After breakfast we will ride down along Drino’s valley first to Andon Poci village, and then Hundkuq village. The ride will become challenging when entering a small forest before reaching Labova of Zhapa. This village is well known all over the south for its wonderful Church and the big houses belonging to the merchants which are now mostly in ruins. 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. Labova will be our lunch picnic stop. 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. This place will be our camping place for the night.  You will have the chance to taste the Brati famous spring water, a typical station of the old caravans and visit a small mediaeval tower of protection called “karakoll”. Riders can experience the sheep milking process and cooking with the shepherds.
Riding: ~5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight camping in Cajupi Valley

Day 4 (Saturday): Cajupi Valley to Hoshteva
After a nice traditional breakfast, 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. You will continue riding to the most important horse pathway of the XVII and XVIII century which used to connect the biggest commercial centres in Southern Albania. A very beautiful natural monument is the Rock of Zhej that can be seen along the way. We will stop for a short break at the water spring of Lliar, reconstructed by Ali Pasha in the early XIX century. We will then take a challenging downhill route to the ruins of a mediaeval stone bridge (the bridge collapsed on February 2018) where we will stop for lunch and for a long refreshing swim in the river. In the afternoon, we will climb Hoshteva village your destination for the night. In this village now live only 30 people. Hoshteva has a unique church which was initially built in 999AC and last restored in 1866. The monument has a very particular style with lots of pagan elements on the wall paintings You will spent the night by a small family hotel, the only one in Hoshteva village. You are having home cooked dinner in the family’s garden.
Riding: ~3.5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in hotel in Hoshteva village

Day 5 (Sunday): Hoshteva to Mbrezhdan
This day ride will start with mountain climbing to reach Gjurmemushka mountain pass. After that, you will ride mostly downhill. You will pass by Maleshova village to visit the church and by Limari antic castle ruins. You will stop for a picnic lunch next to a water stream and rest under the trees. River Vjosa view opens up to you from the top of the mountain along your afternoon ride. You will spend the night in a village house in Mbrezhdan. This is a poor and forgotten area very isolated due to the lack of roads but still very welcoming. You can experience the traditional way of cooking outside and the famous “petanik” a special pie of the mountains. Mbrezhdan is a Raki area and very well known for their “spoon” deserts. You will have dinner with the host family in their garden.
Riding: ~6 hours

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in family house in Mbrezhdan

Day 6 (Monday): Mbrezhdan to Piskova
After breakfast, you will start the ride downhill to reach river Vjosa. The rest of the ride for the day will take place on the right of the river bank. The landscape is amazing, very different from the other days with many chances for long gallops. We will camp in front of Piskova village on the dry part of the river bed and enjoy very good food cooked by a small restaurant. We will transfer the food by car to the camping place. You can swim the whole afternoon and enjoy a special dinner under the stars. Fishing is also possible if there is interest for it.
Riding: ~3.5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight spent camping near Piskova

Day 7 (Tuesday): Piskova to Permet
We start the ride from Piskova and keep following the right river bank. The riding landscape is mostly valley-hilly with many chances of gallops and canters. We will reach Permet town by lunch time. After accommodating the horses in the suburb of this small town, will move to a hotel in the center of Permet and will have lunch in a small restaurant close by. The afternoon is free to visit the town walk or climb famous Premti rock. Before the evening, we can visit by car Leusa village, only a few km away from the town. The beauty of the surrounding wood hides the real gem of Leusa village: the Orthodox Church of St. Mary well-known for its outstanding iconography mural paintings from the Byzantine era. Dinner will take place in a family run restaurant in the middle of the town. You can later enjoy the night life in different music bars of the town center.
Riding: ~3 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in hotel in Permet

Day 8 (Wednesday): Sightseeing (no riding)
This is a rest day for the horses. We suggest to drive you to Benja termal waters in Langarica canyons, 30 minutes away from Permet. There are chances of exploring the canyons, swimming, and the “most brave” can go river hiking to explore the “Pigeons Cave” on a rock along Langarica river. We have planned having lunch in a restaurant close to the canyons and return back to Permeti town late in the afternoon. Dinner will be served in a small restaurant close to the hotel. During this day is possible that you make your own resting plan if you don’t want to join this program.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in hotel in Permet

Day 9 (Thursday): Permet to Nderan
This is going to be one of the longest and most difficult days in the saddle. Long sleeves are recommended because of high chances of scratching branches. The ride is mostly climbing Dhembel mountain. The view from the top is amazing. Picnic lunch will be carried in the saddle. The car can’t reach us before the final destination during this day. You will meet logistic In Nderan. Be prepared to lead your horse part of the uphill and downhill journey. During the afternoon ride, we will pass by the byzantine church and the monastery of Saint Mikhail of Nivan, built in 1702. We will ride over the mediaeval bridge built in the same period to connect the monastery with Nderan village, one of the famous centres of medieval livestock fairs and which will be your overnight residence. You will spend the night with a vllah family. Their community represent a rare linguistic minority in Albania. 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. This village is one of the most important producers of mountain honey in South Albania and it offers nearly 10 different tastes of honey as per season and bee pasture.
Riding: ~5.5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in family house in Nderan village

Day 10 (Friday): Nderan to Libohova
This riding day combines changing landscape and riding pace. Wide valleys, steep downhills, green forests, and the beauty of Suha River are part of your itinerary before lunch. The lunch break by the river is a good chance for refreshing in the water. Later, we climb the Swallow Rock and visit the church of Labova of the Cross of the most important in the country. The Church of Labova of the Cross is a rare monument representing the oldest church in Albania, built by Justinian the Great in 554. Justinian married Teodora at the small chapel of this village and the villagers inherited her wedding dress for centuries. This church is decorated with an old wooden iconostas full of floral and symbolic animal scenes.
Later in the afternoon we will ride to Libohova, a small town nestled at the foot of the Bureto Mountain. The archaeological evidence indicates a very ancient settlement which reached its zenith in the 17th-century when it became an important commercial centre. 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.
Riding: ~5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in family house in Libohova

Day 11 (Saturday): Libohova to Satbles
This will be a short riding day. 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 we 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 we will ride 1 more hour to the stable where you can enjoy the experience of letting your horses free. A picnic lunch will follow in the village close to the stable. You will be accommodated at the same hotel in Gjirokastra.  Your farewell dinner will take place in a small restaurant in the old Bazaar. Later in the evening we can have a drink in a popular bar.
Riding: ~3.5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in hotel in Gjirokastra

Day 12 (Monday): Departure
After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred back to the airport of Tirana.
Meals included: Breakfast,
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Vjosa River Trail Ride
Tour Code: IT-ALBCV03
12 days / 11 nights ~$1,585.00
Dates : July and October

Difficulty : Riding Level
Riding Level Explained
Beginner A rider who has limited experience, is unable to post the trot and does not canter.
Novice A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, capable of applying basic aids, comfortable and in control at the walk, moderate length posting trots, and short canters.
Intermediate A rider who has a firm seat, is confident and in control at all paces (including posting trots, two point canters and gallops), but does not ride regularly.
D Strong Intermediate
Strong Intermediate An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable in the saddle for at least 6 hours per day.
All of the above, plus an independent seat, soft hands, and capable of handlinga spirited horse in open country.
Lodging: Basic
Lodging Level Explained
= Facilities in lodges, estancias, haciendas, resorts, etc.
Basic lodging - some with shared bathroom facilities, usually no AC or room service.
Regular standard room - usually with private bath.
 Accommodations with superior comforts.
 = Trips with nights in tent camps. Sometimes the first and last night are in hotels.
Basic tent camping - everyone helps out with camp chores.
Regular standard with some camp amenities and camp cook.
Camping facilities with superior comforts like camp shower, bathroom facility..
 = Trips that combine nights in hotels and camping.
Basic accommodation and basic camping facilities can be expected.
Regular standard with some nicer amenities.
Only assigned to hotel and camping facilities with superior comforts.

Online Reservation

Check here for details and availability
Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 07/15 - 07/26 12d / 11n 12 day tour, AP 5 /10 Reserve
A 2020 10/07 - 10/18 12d / 11n 12 day tour, AP 5 /10 Reserve
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Tack: English Trekking
Horses: Albanian Local Breeds
Pace: 3.5-6 hours riding per day.
Walk, Trot, Canter,
Airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA)
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