Travel back in time following the mediaeval Zagoria caravan pathways into a land of myths, tales and ballads. Your ride will pass through ancient ruins of the Ilirian civilization, medieval villages and many remote churches and monasteries. See the mountain bridges built during the period of Ali Pasha, they are a wonder to see with their rare and unique design. The culmination of this extraordinary trail will be the climb on Swallow’s Rock.

You will soak in rural Albanian traditions by staying with local people and riding through vibrant, unspoilt natural landscapes.
The horses used on this ride are local breed mix of Tarpan and Arab horses. They are small but perfectly suited to the rocky terrain being surefooted and accustomed to trekking long mountainous routes, allowing riders to feel confident, relaxed and free to enjoy the stunning views.

You will meet friendly locals and learn about their traditions while enjoying accommodation as guests in local homes. Your luggage will be transported by car with the most necessary things in saddle bags on your horse. The guides are professional and good company. The main objective of this ride is to celebrate the harmony between humankind, horses and nature.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from WR of Sidcup on 28/07/2018

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Wonderful scenery and riding over varied and challenging terrain. Our days were a very nice mix of enjoying the largely unspoilt natural environment and social interaction with genuine locals, all of whom were welcoming and eager to share their stories and local knowledge. Highlights included swimming in a river with snakes, frogs and fish that nibbled your toes, and being able to let your horse roam free in the valleys and on the mountainsides at lunchtimes because you were so far from the danger of busy roads. The food was amazing; fresh, authentic and portions were always overly generous! The guides put in so much effort to make sure everyone has a good time, and have planned the itinerary very well.
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify) Repeatedly getting my name wrong despite correction is getting annoying     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (X) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
The main negative I have is that when one member of our ride confessed on the 3rd day that she had lied about her riding ability (which we had guessed because she turned up with trainers and had to borrow boots, was slouched and clinging on to the saddle most of the time and wailed that she didn't know what to do the first time we galloped), our guides only praised her, commending her for managing so well. I understand that they did not want to be harsh or unkind to a guest, but their attitude made it seem as though she had done nothing wrong. Just a few polite yet firm words to say she shouldn't have lied due to the potential danger and negative effect on other guests, in conjunction with the praise, would have made us feel happier about the situation. It was lucky that in this instance the rider did cope ok and no accidents or injury occured - but she could easily have caused serious harm not only to herself, but to her horse or other riders. This would have spoiled the experience for everyone. As it is we were concerned that after her admission, the pace of the fast riding opportunities seemed to be slowed somewhat and the guides were fussing over her and asking if she was ok all the time.
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
I was very impressed by how well the guides knew the personality of each horse, their quirks and place in the herd hierarchy. They obviously care for them enormously and take time to observe each individual both under saddle and when turned loose. Their skill and knowledge of horsemanship and horse behaviour was clear.
I was slightly disappointed that having asked for a fun and forward going horse at the taller end of their range, the guide's first choice for me was one of their shortest. So much so that our guide said the pony was too short for me when we went to meet our mounts and changed me to the second choice, who was a lovely natured horse and an enjoyable, responsive ride, but less of a challenge for me. Perhaps it worked out for the best as it made for a more relaxing holiday, but that's not really the point; my specific request was ignored or not passed on.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Except for the fact that a famous stone bridge mentioned as a star attraction had actually fallen down in February due to neglect by the government! Very sad. But nice to get a real picture of issues in modern Albania rather than it be glossed over. I really liked the authenticity of the whole trip, particularly the frank and open discussions we had about development pressures and all sorts of things with our guides, nothing was 'prettied up' for us tourists.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
But the driver/guide who came to pick us up in Saranda for transfer to Gjirokaster had not been informed that we were told we would be collected from our hotel. He waited for ages in a car park a minute away while we waited at the front of the hotel! Better communication needed.
What could we do to improve this ride?
Encourage Ilir to ride as fast as Kristina! (where safe and with sufficient breaks for the horses, obviously). Both lovely people but I preferred the days with Kristina due to the faster, more frequent gallops and her talkative nature, telling us all about the areas we passed through, sharing information about everything from uses of plants to social history.
I felt our guide at the back (Oti? sorry if I spelt that wrong) was too quick to snatch tack and ropes out of our hands and do it all for us instead of teaching or letting us enjoy the experience of doing it for ourselves.
Similarly, a couple of the host families we stayed with insisted on feeding the horses themselves, one even to the point of commanding us to put down the feed buckets as they would do it (perhaps thinking they were being polite and saving us from doing a chore?). Feeding the horses at the beginning and end of the day added to the overall experience and was good bonding time, caring for the animals that had carried us all day. It was frustrating to be prevented from getting involved.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
5
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Terrain was sometimes very steep and stony, with unstable footing. The unwavering heat and sun added to the level of challenge during our July trip. The horses were all safe and well behaved, not 'fizzy' or unduly skittish. Riding was comfortable if you had a reasonably balanced seat up and downhill - we rode with long stirrups so it was easier to maintain a light seat for longer gallops and cope with extended periods of going steeply downhill. There was never a point where I felt pushed toward the limits of endurance or felt unsafe on my horse. Our two guides were always on hand and approachable during riding, and always did safety checks before setting off after each dismount. They were keen to help with tacking up and mounting if needed. Stops to refill water bottles were planned into the route and we did not have to carry our own lunch (except 1 day) or luggage with us. Horses were generally well matched to rider requests/ability and looked after their riders. Due to the calm, easy-going nature of the horses chosen, there was the option to gallop or canter more slowly at the back of the ride for those who did not want to keep up with the faster pace favoured by those at the front.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Ideal introduction to a really different, interesting and well thought out trail in an unspoilt part of a country that is not yet well known by British tourists. We would probably not have found the organisers' website direct, so would have missed out on this experience. Easy booking process with access to a helpful rep throughout (thank you, Sarah), and the detailed itinerary available to peruse before booking really helped us to feel confident this was the holiday we were looking for.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (X) NO     (   ) YES
Any other comments:
Overall this was a fantastic experience, and I hope you will understand that despite my constructive criticism I had an amazing time and am so grateful to everyone involved in making it happen! Thank you!
Unicorn comments: Hi Wren, Many thanks for your feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed your ride :) I checked back through all emails as since you corrected regarding your name, I did not address you by your second name. You initially entered your surname as your first name, hence why there was a mistake at first. I apologise once again for the mistake.

Day 1
Plan your flight to arrive at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 15:00 - 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 before dinner. Riders can also 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.

Day 2
After a traditional 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. After around 4-5 hours riding we will reach Karjan where a traditional dinner and accommodation will await at a local family house.

Day 3
After breakfast we will continue further north to the villages of Small Labova and the valley of Cajupi. We will follow the ancient merchants stone road of Zhapa with its mountain panorama, wide view of the hills and valleys and ruins of an old market along the road. The first break will be in Small Labova, a village well known all over the south for its wonderful Church and the big houses belonging to the merchants which are now mostly ruined. 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. After visiting the church 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 halt for a picnic under the trees. You will have the chance to taste the Brati famous spring water, a typical station of the old caravans with its small tower “karakoll”. After a nice gallop through Cajupi valley, 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. The final destination of today will be the village of Nderan, placed in the heart of Zagoria region. We will stay with Vllah linguistic minority family and this will be our destination for two nights. Dinner will be a delicious mix 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 other animals and garden. This village is one of the most important producers of mountain honey in South Albania and offers nearly 10 different tastes of honey depending on season and bee pasture.

Day 4
This morning you will wake up feeling the effect of the mountain air. Breakfast will be traditional mountain food; fresh homemade bread, cookies, butter, jam, eggs, cheese, honey and milk. A cup of mountain tea is very typical for this region. On your way to Lliar, Hoshteva, Koncka and Nivan villages you will encounter various terrain combining hard cliffs, rivers, woods and rolling hills. The beautiful scent of flowers, mountain fresh air, wild landscapes, shepherds and animals will also be part of your day. 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 take a challenging downhill route to the stone bridge where it is possible to take a refreshing swim during summer months. Hoshteva, a unique church which was built in 999AC, has a very particular style with lots of pagan elements in the wall paintings - the people of the village will be pleased to meet us and tell us all about this church. We will also pass by the byzantine church of Lliar and the monastery of Nivan Saint Mehilli, 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 again will be your overnight residence. We will spend the night at the farmers house again and a delicious dinner in the garden with await us.

Day 5
This morning will be a really exciting equestrian experience. After a fresh country breakfast we will ride through a mountain valley, perfectly suited for gallops, passing small remote farms, wild cliffs and many historical monuments off the tourist trail. The route through Pogoni region is a true travel in time. We will be passing many Byzantine cult monuments, ancient ruins and mythical natural wonders. Our picnic lunch will be near the most famous stone bridge of Hllomo or Kacarello’s, which is the most isolated construction of the merchant’s period and can only reached by horse. In the afternoon, after 6 hours of riding we will reach the centre of the Pogon region, the mountain village of Polican is populated by a Greek minority. In this village we have the chance to explore some very particular cult monuments of the medieval period. Later in the evening we will enjoy local gastronomic delights.

Day 6
This morning we will leave the Greek minority behind to reach the town of Libohova. The route will pass through demanding but beautiful mountain landscapes with a vast finish at the Swallow Rock, 500m over the river of Suha. Our picnic lunch point will be the Church of Labova of the Cross - a rare monument representing the oldest church in Albania, built by Justinian the Great in 554. Justinian married Teodora his wife 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. We will overnight in a local family house and will taste delicious local food.

Day 7
This morning will begin with breakfast in the garden whilst enjoying a wonderful view of the valley. Before we begin to ride we can enjoy a guided walk through the town to the Bektashi cult object and to the tomb of Ali Pasha’s sister, Shanisha. We will ride through rolling hills, forests and fortified villages to reach the Antigonea National Park where we will stop for a visit. We will reach the city of King Pyrrhus, built 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 free your horses. 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.

Day 8
After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred back to the airport of Tirana. Please book your flights to leave after 12 noon. 

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.

Small Group Supplement
Please see 'Detailed Prices' for the small group supplement price. 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.

 

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.

Horses & Riding

The horses are a mix of Arab and Tarpan cross horses. These breeds were mentioned in the ancient chronicles from the time of the King Skerdilajd. The horses are up to 14hh tall (145cm) and they can be ridden very easily by both English and Western riders. Although small, the horses are very strong and surefooted - they know their way round mountainous paths, this rocky landscape is their natural environment. A typical riding day of 5 hours will have a minimum of 2 stops, one of them will be for the picnic lunch delivered by car or in the saddlebags depending on the riding day. The first break will usually be for around 10 minutes and the lunch break is usually around 1 hour. The usual distance covered in 5 hours is around 30-35km km. The ride combines all paces of riding from walking, climbing steep hills and riding downhill to trotting over old stone routes and cantering in wide valleys. The trails are considered to be fast. The riders must be prepared for changing landscape and pace - trusting the horse and letting him decide is very important about riding in this area. Every riding trail has two guides, one in front and the other at the back. The guide at the back is responsible for everything technical; saddle fixing, noticing riding problems, looking after the weakest riders etc. The front guide is responsible to lead, explain, translate and choose the pace. Our guides are knowledgeable in terms of horsemanship, First Aid, history, archaeology and biology. They also speak English, Italian and Greek. Personalities : -Ilir a biology graduate is and calm and polite person. You won’t see him ever doing something that is not enough safe and protective. He likes to share thoughts but is very interested in listening too. -Aurel a history graduate is a funny energetic person who likes laughing and joking. He makes the trail interesting by motivating everyone in the group. -Kristina a History, Archeology and Finance graduate is a talkative person full of energy and fond of fast riding. You can learn a lot about many historical details and points of cultural interest if she is the guide of that week, sometimes more than necessary -Blendi is mostly shy and calm but very effective in helping and solving any kind of technical issues. He has a very good knowledge in local experience of first aid in nature. He is our guide for the Kings Army Route. Riders say that he is very serious and is very rare to see him smiling! -Eno is always smiling. He is our technical guide for Zagoria trail only. He knows many things regarding horses from childhood. A little bit childish attitude but all riders love him and comment that found him absolutely helpful.

Rider requirements

Riders must be able to walk, trot and canter and ready to spend 4-6 hours in the saddle everyday over varied terrain and landscape. Being generally fit and having an adventurous nature will also help on this trail! Help to mount or dismount can be provided by the guide.

There is no age limit but there is a strict weight limit of 90 kg. On difficult paths every rider should be able to walk beside their horse but for no longer than 10 minutes and this is only most likely to be during the 3rd and 4th day. Riders participation with grooming and tacking up is not obligatory as help is provided all the time by the guides.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in twin bedded rooms in family guesthouses with a shared bathroom. Night 1: Babameto Guest House in Gjirokastra. This is a traditional hotel. Twin rooms with private en-suite toilet and communal showers, free Wi-Fi. Night 2: Family house in the village of Karjan. 2 beds per room, shared toilet, hot shower, TV. Night 3: Family house in the village of Nderan. 2 beds per room, 2 shared toilets, hot shower, TV. Night 4: Same family house in the village of Nderan. 2 beds per room, 2 shared toilets, hot shower, TV. Night 5: Family house in the village of Polican. 2 beds per room, shared toilet, hot shower, TV. Night 6: Family house and family hotel in the small town of Libohova. 2 beds per room, 2 shared toilets, hot shower, TV. If the riding group has more than 4 riders, the rest of the group will be accommodated in a small family hotel nearby. Night 7: Babameto Guest House in Gjirokastra, as on Night 1. Brief description of typical meals: Breakfast: Home cooked breakfast with pies, cookies, butter, jam, eggs, milk, mountain tea and coffee. Lunch: Picnic lunch can be packed by the riders themselves in the family houses (bread , chesse, vegetables, eggs , pies , water) except the first riding day in both trails (cooked traditional meal and drinks alcoholic or canned) Dinner: Rich traditional dinner with different meat ( calf, pig, chicken, goat and fish ), vegetables, pies, chesse, salads, wine and raki. Wine or raki (traditional alcoholic drink ) are included during dinners with the food. Tea , coffee or milk are also available with breakfast and dinner. Lunches represent picnic food prepared by the hosting families and packed by the riders themselves each morning.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Albania.

Most destinations, including Albania, require that you have adequate un-used pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure.

Climate Summary

The best months to visit Albania are from April to September. 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.

Climate Chart
Health

See your GP for information on any vaccines you may require before your trip.

Health (ride specific)

Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

Electricity

Sockets in Albania are of the two round pin varieties.
Electricity in Albania is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Albania with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.

Film and Camera Equipment

Internet access will be difficult during the ride. Riders can buy an Albanian sim card/phone number for less then €10 and have free internet access and around 30 minutes of free calls with most European countries, including England.
Access to electricity is possible every evening and the whole area is covered very well with signal.

Packing List

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
Sun cream, sunglasses, hat
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.

Programmes

This is an 8 days/7 nights programme with 6 riding days available on set dates

Departure Dates

2018: 4, 11, 18, 25 Mar; 1, 8, 15, 22 Apr; 6, 20 May; 3, 17 Jun; 1, 15, 29 Jul; 12, 26 Aug; 9, 23, 30 Sept; 7, 14, 21, 28 Oct; 4, 11, 18, 25 Nov.

Pricing
No single rooms available (on some or all nights). Riders must be prepared to share with someone of the same sex.

If available, €16 per night on Night 1 and 7, payable on-site.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20188d/7n6double pp919
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20188d/7n6double pp995
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20188d/7n6double pp1,169
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20188d/7n6double pp10,629
Wildlife

The riding area of this trail is also the natural habitat of wild goat, wild pig, deer and mountain bears (it is very rare to see a bear on the trail). You might also spot foxes, rabbits, eagles, turtles, lizards, snakes and a variety of birds.

Flora and Fauna: If we refer to the Albanian species, of which are 3250, 13% belong to Gjirokastra´s territory. There are lots of medicinal and curative plants. The number reaches up to 50 kinds of such plants. The most widely spread animals are hares, deer, wild boars, martens, bears, wild cats etc. Different kinds of fish like trout, eels and many more lurk in the rivers.

Other Information

The trail is not suitable for non-riding companions.

Gjirokastra, the first and last destination on this trail, is a wonderful town in south Albania and is recognised for its history, heritage, culture and cultural monuments. Known as “the city of one thousand steps”, Gjirokastra has been under the protection of UNESCO since 2005 and is nominated as a World Heritage Site. The castle, the traditional ottoman style buildings, Enver Hoxha’s house and the New Bazaar are the main objects to visit. The town itself is surrounded by charming villages, old byzantine churches, Sufi monasteries, ruins of antique towns, historical mountain paths, nature monuments, rivers and springs, woods, hospitable families and organic traditional foods.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Tirana airport (TIA) or Saranda Port - fly to Corfu (CFU).
Transfer:
2018: Tirana airport to Gjirokastra €70 return per person, 225 km, 3-4 hours Saranda Port to Gjirokastra €40 return per person, 64km, 1 hour. If flying to Corfu, get the ferry to Saranda (available 2 -4 times per day, fast one 30 minutes and slow one 1h.15 minutes. Own cost.)
Transfers payable on site.
Flight Guide:
London - Tirana (TIA) return ticket from around £140
London - Corfu (CFU) return ticket from around £50
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