King Skerdilajdi Trail

Central Albania: (IT-ALBCV02)

Central Albania
This ride follows in the tracks of King Ilirian Skerdilajd, on his way to conquer Kaonia 2,300 years ago. Experience unspoiled nature, colourful culture heritage, and welcoming people on the back of reliable, strong horses. Wind your way through a variety of landscapes combining mountain climbing, steep downhill and uphill rides, river crossings, woods, and the seaside. Here you will find ancient ruins, castles, churches, and monasteries sitting adjacent to the bunkers and military infrastructure from communist past. During this period of isolation and militarization, communist leaders built around 750,000 bunkers of defense in case of attack from western “enemies”.

This is a mountainous trail ride with around 6 hours riding and some walking every day. The horses are small but very robust and surefooted Arab and Tarpan cross. Participation in this trail will allow you to experience true Albania with the best local cuisine, history, and hospitality. You will be accommodated in local or family guesthouses every night where your host families will provide a delicious local meal and conversation is enjoyed by all over dinner. Most of the dishes are homemade with fruits, vegetables, and meat from local gardens and farms.

From May to the end of September you can enjoy swimming in the sea (without horses) on two of the trail  days.


This is a progressive ride so nights are spent in different locations.

We spend 5 nights in different village family houses and 2 nights (the first and the last) in a hotel in Gjirokaster. Bathrooms are shared during the whole trip.
Access to electricity is possible every evening and the whole area has a good phone coverage. Laundry can be done at various locations for a small fee.

Wi-Fi access is only available in Gjirokaster. Internet access is difficult during this ride so we recommend guests to buy an Albanian sim card (around 12 euros) to get free internet access and about 30 minutes of free calls. We have electricity and phone service available during the entire ride.

Personal necessary things are carried in saddlebags; all other luggage is transported by car every day from destination to destination

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Hotel in Gjirokaster
Night 2: Family house in Fushbardhe
Night 3: Family house in Borsh
Night 4: Family house in Piqeras
Night 5: Family house in Shen Vasil
Night 6: Family house in Fushbardhe
Night 7: Hotel in Gjirokaster

Room Occupancy
The single supplement does not apply if no one is found to share a room.
Most nights include shared accommodations so the single supplement fee only applies for the first and last night, in Gjirokaster.

All meals are included except for lunch of the first day. Dinner & breakfast are eaten at the hotel and family houses and lunches generally consist of a picnic, except for the first lunch at the hotel in Gjirokaster.

Breakfasts include eggs, butter, cheese, local pancakes, fruit jams, honey, milk and tea.
Lunch is a picnic that consist of bread, cheese, tomatoes, eggs, olive, pie fruit and a drink.
For dinner, we serve meat (chicken, calf  or pork meat, fish by the sea), salads, cheese, local yogurt sauce, olives, pickles, vegetables from the garden, fruits and Raki and wine (included in the trip cost).  

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to most dietary restrictions with prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.


Riding Experience

This trip has been designed for intermediate riders who are reasonably fit and in a decent state of health. You should also be happy to share facilities with others and live in basic conditions.

The horses used for this ride are locally bred and ideal for the terrain. They are small but very robust and surefooted Albanian horses (between 13 and 14.2 hands). The Albanian horse, a unique mountain breed that is s local mixture of the archaic Tarpan and medieval Arab horse. They are great climber, have a clear mind and are surefooted. Our breeding program aims to help saving this declining breed of horses.
Our stable include 38 horses and is situated amidst scenic hills, green valleys, surrounded by high mountains. Our horses are trained with natural horsemanship techniques that we are pleased to share with the guests.

The rides are at a moderate pace overall. Most of the time we are traveling through mountains so that must be taken into account in regards to your expectations of speed, however there are indeed occasions where you can have a good canter. We ride for 6 days, for about 5-6 hours per day.
The total distance covered on this trip is about 100 km.

Beach Riding
Please note that although this trail includes some beach riding, any fast riding takes place along an old path 200m 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 will not tend to want to paddle!

Kristina, Aurel and Ilir are all native from Albania and always happy to share their love for horses and their knowledge of Albania with guests.
If there are more than 4 riders, we will have two guides for this trip.


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

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

Day 1 (Saturday): Arrival
Plan your flight to arrive at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 2:30 pm - this leaves time for the transfer and to be able to visit the town of Gjirokstra with your guides. 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 Bazzar 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 at Hotel in Gjirokastra

Day 2 (Sunday): Ride to Fushbardha
You will start riding from our stable located 15 minutes by car from Gjirokastra, at 360 m above sea level. You will be astonished by how the landscape changes so suddenly. The ride heads first through the valley, offering long canters, then crossing the Drino river. For the rest of the day, we ride through hilly terrain, small rivers, pine woods as well as steep down and up hills tracks. Lunch will be a picnic at the monastery of Cepo. We can visit the monastery which is an important orthodox cult object and has one of the most strategic views of the Drinos Valley. Located on a historical scale it cuts down a rocky slope on the north side of the “Wide Mountain”.  Today only two objects remain from the former monastery complex: the basilica with a dome and dozens of former guesthouses which have hosted travellers for centuries.
After lunch we ride down to the river of Kardhiq. There are some really interesting things to see in this area such as pillar rocks “Gods of the Light” and other natural monuments. Today’s ride finishes at the village of Fushbardha, one of the most important centres of Laberia´s area. Labëria Laws originate from ancient times and were reintroduced by Julie Pope, who lived in the XI century. During the Norman invasion in 1081 he was described as a priest and Mayor of Kurvelesh. You will spend the evening and night in a village house enjoying homemade traditional food and drinks.
Riding hours 6
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Family House in Fushbardha

Day 3 (Monday): Fushbardha to Borsh
After a traditional breakfast at the family house, we will get ready for a very long riding day. Our ride will follow the tracks of the King Skerdilajd Army which passed through the "Neck of the Rock" around 2,300 years ago. King Skerdilajdi was known as the commander of the 5,000 troops sent by Queen Teuta in 230 BC against Epirus. He was the youngest brother of King Agron and one of the main supporters of Queen Teuta. He led the invasion army in 230 BC to the capital of Epirus Phoinike (Finiq). King Skerdilajd played a determined role in Teuta´s plans to create an Adriatic Front against Rome. The path combines beautiful woods, mountain climbing, rocky landscapes and ruins of ancient civilizations. Basha Stones, Dhespina cave, the Rock of Kaze, The Valley of Cheries, the Crooked Brook, Shameti Brook, Trullas Neck and Derrasa Hole are some of the local sights en route today. Our lunchbreak will be at a mountain valley surrounded by a small oak wood. We continue  through the mountain of Borsh towards the next village. The whole day´s landscape offers images of wild unspoiled nature. Flowers, old trees, streams of water shepherds, hundreds of goats, sheep and cows will be part of this riding experience. Be prepared to walk around 1 hour 30 minutes during the day in difficult paths and steep downhills. Good mountain hiking shoes are recommended for today. We will arrive at a family house late in the afternoon and enjoy traditional food, rich in olive oil. Wine, raki and mountain tea will comfort you to sleep after the long day.
Riding hours 8-9 (including walking by leading the horses)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Family House in Borsh

Day 4 (Tuesday): Borsh to Piqeras
After a traditional breakfast with the shepherd's family, we will start a shorter but very pleasant riding day. First, we will visit the castle of Borsh (known in history as Castle of Sopot) located on a hill in Borsh´s village at 500m above sea level and dating back to about IV-III century B.C. Its surface is rocky. In the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Justinian put it on the list of fortifications in the years 527-565. Sopot is mentioned in 1192 in memory of Anna Komnenes, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexis I Komnenai. In 1266, Sopot was in the French power of Charles I of Azhuin and then under German jurisdiction, and later on, for a long time under the Republic of Venice. In the Middle Ages, it was adapted for military garrison and took full view of the fortification at the time of Ali Pasha. The mosque was built at the castle by Haxhi Bendo, one of the supporters of Ali Pasha.
After visiting the Castle ruins, we will start our ride from Borsh and take the old road along the seaside. Olive trees, oranges, lemons, citrus and grapefruits are planted everywhere on the upper part of the road. Many defence bunkers remained along the seaside of Piqeras, an old fishing village. We will stop the ride in the village for lunch.
After lunch we will drive to the sea to spend the afternoon swimming, sunbathing and walking.
You will return back for dinner and enjoy some seafood, the special local cheese and salad. Homemade raki and wine will be offered with the meal.
Riding hours : 3-4
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Family House in Piqeras

Day 5 (Wednesday): Piqeras to Shen Vasil
This morning, we enjoy breakfast on the terrace with the beautiful view of the Ionian Sea. You can enjoy traditional coast byrek (cheese pie) and cookies, butter, fresh milk and honey. Today, we head down to the sea through olive tree terraces to the beach of Bunec. We will ride up again to Lukove village and down to the sea again through some challenging landscapes. You will reach the Shpella beach for lunch. The lunch stop includes possibilities to swim and relax for several  hours. Later, we continue by first entering a small “jungle” of trees, bushes and rocks, meeting the remains of an old road connecting the sea with the villages of the upper coast. In the afternoon, you will visit the village of Shen Vasil, a very old mediaeval center. The village suffered a long period of terror during the dictatorship being a labour camp for political prisoners. Hundreds of intellectuals suffered and died in this camp during 4 decades. The family can share with you memories of a very dark period of Albania. Traces of the past are visible everywhere. Your accommodation place is in a typical house.   
Riding hours: 4
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Family House in Shen Vasil

Day 6 (Thursday): Shen Vasil to Fushbardha
After breakfast, you will reach the valley of Kalasa river and later the hilly valley of Prapanica, and use the chance for a very nice and long gallop. We will ride back along King Skerdilajd Army´s route. South of the river Kalasa valley you can see the Foinike Hill. Exactly there, Skerdilajd’s army stopped to face the Epirot army in 229 B.C. Olive trees and nice paths for gallops will make this day very interesting and picturesque. You will continue to ride through the village of Fushe – Verri . You can see the bunkers of the cold war along the ride, representing the military ideology of the system. You can stop for a picnic lunch under olive trees.
You will reach the Skerfica mountain neck named after the King Skerdilajd Army pass in the afternoon hours. Here you can enjoy the cold mountain water and another short break You will pass an old Phosphor Mine, an ex-labour camp for the political prisoners of the communist regime. Further on inside the village of Fushbardha, there still exist the old abandoned buildings of the ex-labour camp. Fushebadha, is a destination that you have already visited in your first riding day. Dinner served in the garden will let you enjoy the homemade food, the fresh mountain air and the hospitality of the local family.
Riding hours: 6
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Family House in Fushbardha

Day 7 (Friday): Ride back to Gjirokastra
After a traditional breakfast you will start ride back to our start point, Gjirokastra town. Today is going to be a diverse landscape ride. First we ride to the Valley of Kardhiq and later on we will meet the path of the first riding day. Pine woods, mountain valleys, water springs, fresh air and flowered landscapes will be the panorama of this day. We will canter again through Drino’s valley for several kilometres before climbing the hills to the stables. The stable is a good bye point with the horses.
After saying goodbye to the horses, we drive 5 minutes to the village “Asim Zeneli” for lunch. The accommodation for the evening will be the same hotel in Gjirokastra town. The afternoon is free to walk, visit monuments, have a coffee, bye souvenirs and prepare your luggage. We will share memories and impressions in a farewell dinner late in the afternoon.
Riding hours: 4-5
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hotel in Gjirokastra

Day 8 (Saturday): Departure
After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to Tirana airport.
Meals included: Breakfast

Please note that although this trail includes some beach riding, any fast riding takes place along an old path 100-200m 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 will not tend to want to paddle!

Rates and Dates for King Skerdilajdi Trail

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals, Water and drinks during meals, 6 riding days, English guide & Luggage transportation

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    20238 day tour€1275$1315
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.03

Rates Note:

Please, provide your passport information at time of booking

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Rates Note:

Please, provide your passport information at time of booking

Transfer and Other Charges:

2023 Single rooms (available only during the first and last night - subject to availability) price per night pp
- to be paid locally
20 $20
2023 Small group supplement (2 pax only), pp 150 $155
2023 Transfer between Saranda port and Gjirokastra (plan to fly to Corfu and then take the boat to Saranda), pp, round trip 110 $115
2023 Transfer from/to Tirana Airport (3+ pax), one way, per person 70 $75
2023 Transfer from/to Tirana Airport (2 pax only), one way, per person 90 $95
2023 Transfer from/to Tirana Airport (1 pax only), one way, per person 175 $180

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2023 04/29 - 05/06 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Expired
A 2023 05/13 - 05/20 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Expired
A 2023 05/27 - 06/03 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Expired
A 2023 06/10 - 06/17 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Sold Out
A 2023 07/15 - 07/22 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Reserve
A 2023 07/29 - 08/05 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Reserve
A 2023 08/12 - 08/19 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Sold Out
A 2023 08/26 - 09/02 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Sold Out
A 2023 09/09 - 09/16 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Sold Out
A 2023 09/23 - 09/30 8d / 7n 8 day tour 3 /10 Sold Out

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Entrance tickets in museums or parks, Extra drinks, Airport transfers & Gratuities

Other Info
Meeting: Gjirokaster
Airport: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA)
Transfer: Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA) or Saranda Port.

                                            Gjirokaster area














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Source: NOAA

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 and 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; 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.

What To Bring:
Your luggage is transported by vehicle to the accommodations each night.

What to Bring
Normal riding clothes: riding hat, long sleeved shirts (please avoid packing your favourite or expensive clothing due to 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
Swimming suit, river shoes and towels
Sleeping bag for camping
Sun cream, sunglasses, hat, water bottles.
Anti-allergy medicine for possible insects 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.