SHARE YOUR TRIP
- Overnight Hotel Cajupi
- Drive to starting point for next day.
Day 2 Begin horse trek towards Bektashi Monastery and Libohovë: Early morning start from Gjirokastër as will drive south towards the Greek border where we willmeet the horses, saddle up and head off on the trail. Byron and Hobhouse headed north, their journey taking them first via a small monastery on the outskirts of Zitza, where they sought accommodation and a meal of ‘grapes and pleasant warm wine’ from the resident prior. Mirroring their journey to some degree, we will take lunch at the Bektashi Monastery in Melan, close to the road they took across the low lying plains in 1809. A fascinating order, the Bektashi emerged as a ‘heretical’ Sufi sect that became associated with the imperialist ideals of the Ottoman Empire (in a similar way that Christianity did with Roman Imperialism). A celibate, antihierarchical and antidogmatic order, the Bektashi’s played an important military role throughout Ottoman history, as well as being at the forefront of the struggle for Albanian Independence. The monastic buildings today are set amongst a grove of tall Cyprus trees and, whilst the site can trace its ancestry back to the 5th century, the current buildings were erected at the beginning of the 19th century, dating them to around the time of Byron’s original journey.
- Guesthouse/Camp overnight (B,L,D)
Day 3 Ride to ancient site of Antigonea: Today’s ride takes us on towards the site of the ancient site of Antigonea, a city founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus in 295 BC and one that, before its destruction during the Macedon Wars 150 years later, was once one of the most important trading centres in southern Albania.. A pleasant conurbation,lying in the shadow of the Bureto Mountains, beneath the imposing presence of a hilltop fortress, Libohovë was once the home of Albanian nobility. Ali Pasha’s sister, Shanica, married into this noble family and the castle that still dominates the town was the dowry that her brother presented to her on her wedding day. We will take the opportunity of visiting the ruined castle, before continuing our journey north across the valley and back up into the hills to end the day at the spectacularly located ancient settlement of Antigonea.
- Horse Riding in South Albania
- Here we will have a picnic lunch before continuing the ride for another 2 hours than transport back to hotel for the evening.
- Overnight Hotel Cajupi (B,L,D)
- 35 min drive back to hotel
Day 4 Ride to the village of Erind Today we will continue on Byron’s trail to the village of Erind, on the eastern side of the Drinos Valley. Taking lunch on the way we will ride till mid afternoon. Dating back to the 12th or 13th centuries, the Byzantine building is dedicated to Saint Mary and it was once believed to contain a fragment of the true cross, before the relic was stolen during the civil unrest of the early 1990s. Today the building provides us with a classic example of Byzantine architecture, with a high central cupola, cruciform plan nave and aisles and interior walls that are covered in frescoes. Interestingly, this region is also home to a sizeable Greek minority and amongst some of the more notable personalities to emerge from the Dropull region was the businessman and philanthropist, Evangelos Zappas, the man who, along with his cousin Konstantinos, bankrolled the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. From here we will drive back to Gjirokastër for overnight stay in local B&B.
- Approx 6hrs riding.
- Overnight Camp (B,L,D)
Day 5 & 6 Ride through Zagoria Valley For the next two days we will head northeast, high up over the mountains on a different route to that taken by both Byron and the intrepid pioneers of this ride in 2011. By staying high,rather than following the valley, we will be able to avoid all asphalt roads and remain out in the wilderness, sharing our path only with the shepherds. On a trail known only to the drovers and ancient pilgrims we will explore local monasteries and churches . Picnic lunch and a continued ride for 2 more hours before heading back to the hotel for the evening affairs. Passing through the towns of NDERAN, SHEPER and POLICAN. Southern Albania’s most dramatic landscapes.
- Approx 5 – 6hrs riding each day.
- Overnight – Camp
Day 7 Ride into the Polican Gorge: Landscape of Polican region is undeniable breathtaking. With Mountain ranges and surrounding high ridges is a characteristic of a tract of land without homogeneous character or boundaries. Travelling through a small gorge provides a natural refreshment during the ride.
- Approx 6hrs riding
- Overnight – Hotel Cajupi
- Drive back to Hotel is 35 Mins
- (B, L ,D)
Day 8 Today you will leave the high hills and enter the Kelcyra Gorge, where King Philip of Macedonia was defatted by the Roman proconsul Paulus Emilius in 198 B.C. As we get back onto Byron’s trail, heading southest you will ride through the beautiful countryside of the Vjose Valley which runs along the Trebeshine, Dhembel and Nemercke Moutain chain. Enjoying a gently pace and the magnificent setting, we trek along the ancient mountain trail to our final overnight.
- Overnight – Hotel Permet
- Approx 5 hours riding
- (B, L, D)
Day 9 Tirana: – Travel to Tirana for Departure After an early breakfast we will drive back to Tirana (4.0 -4.5hrs), Albania’s largest city and its capital since the 1920s, Tirana was founded by Sulejman Pasha during the early years of the17th century. Established under Ottoman rule, its position along the caravan routes saw Tirana’s rise in importance culminate in its choice as the capital of the newly independent Albania. A mix of grandiose 1930s design and Communist inspired urbanization, the city is an interesting architectural mix of ideologies. We will enjoy lunch along the way and transfer directly to the airport for departure.
- Drive to Tirana 5.0 hours
Riders should be able to ride to an intermediate standard, be reasonably fit and in a decent state of health.
The horses used for this rides are locally bred and ideally suited to the terrain. They are a typical Eurasian breed, strong and sturdy, between 13 hands and 14.2 well natured and ‘bomb proof’.
Pace of the ride:
The rides are at a moderate pace overall as most of the time we are travelling through mountains, however, there are occasions where the more adventurous among you can have a good canter.
Season April-June & September-October.
Duration 8 nights/9 days
Difficulty Easy to moderate
Landscape The landscape is mountainous, many valley’s with uneven terrain alongside rivers and gorges.
Round trip Transfer Group Transfer Arrival/Departure
Transfer to Begin of Horse Ride:
Town of Gjirokastra
• Gjirokastra – Cajupi Hotel or B&B Kalemi Both are 3 star
(air conditioned rooms)
• 8 Breakfasts, 8 packed lunches, 8 Dinners
• coffee breaks, water
Tirana airport inbound/outbound
all meals includ non alcoholic beverages
• Hotel Cajupi or Kalemi B&B
• Tents provided
• Must bring sleeping bags, riding helmets
• Guest house are of the simplest form. These are village homes and guest should expectvery basic accommodations and style. They will have an toilets and shower available.
• Hot Water