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Explore South Albania 8 Day Small Group Tour
Have you thought about an escape beyond the ordinary? Do you like exploring and slow-moving experiences? Do you need new friends? Or maybe you want to enjoy time with family and kids away from the daily routine?
This week-long trip is built for dreamers, optimists, explorers, those who want to go deep into the knowledge for travellers looking for emotions and wanting to create authentic memories.
Private transfer from or to Tirana: 1 person 100 Euro (one way), 2 Persons 120 Euro (one way for both), 3 persons or more 50 Euros per person one way.
Check-in time: 03:00 PM. Check-out time: 12:00 PM
Bring your favorite camera but consider humidity during the hikes. Heavy cameras aren’t very practical for this trip.
You are recommended to bring:
Good mountain shoes – with a grip for walking but not too thick as you will need to ride in them too. Proper shoes to walk in the river.
Waterproof raincoat, warm jacket
Casual clothes for the evening
Sun cream, sunglasses, hat, water bottles, swimming suit, towel
Slow Tours offers a range of Small Group Tours Europe
Plan your flight to Tirana airport so that your arrival is no later than 15:00 pm. This way you will have the opportunity to visit the city of Gjirokastra. The transfer from will take about 3 hours where about 250 km are covered. You will be accommodated in a traditional hotel, in the heart of the historic area. Gjirokastra has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. Depending on the season and time we will organize a city tour to get to know the bazaar, the castle, pieces from our early and new history, previously unwritten stories about the Cold War, or a tour inspired by Ismail Kadare, the greatest Albanian writer born and raised in Gjirokastra. During the dinner with typical city recipes served in the hotel’s restaurant you will get acquainted with the expert guides and details of the program.
After breakfast at the hotel we will travel by car for 15 minutes to the horse farm. After the introduction with the horses and first moments of contact with your horse you will get some basic ground guidance instructions and then a short itinerary of about 2 km will be traversed under the guidance of the guides and safety rules. The whole experience with horses will last about 3 hours. We will visit after a small farm to have lunch with local products. Grapes raki and roasted lamb are the pride of the area. We return to the city and after a short break we will introduce you to the experience of wood carving and the story behind it. You learn how wood carving has been part of Gjirokastra’s identity for several centuries. You will be guided to carve your favorite motif on a wooden frame to take with you as a souvenir. This is the frame where your work of art will find its place before the evening. An art therapy class accompanied by herbal tea and coffee will follow. The experience will be led by a painter focusing on the Doodles experience as the embodiment of free art, inside the lines, but at the same time outside the frames. Through repetition this technique stimulates concentration and hypnotizes you to another spiritual level, giving color to your emotions. The motifs will come from the centuries-old tradition of houses decoration, clothing, jewellery, objects of daily use, chimneys, ceilings, carpets, etc. Dinner will be served in a traditional restaurant where you will enjoy selected wines accompanied by cold food including different types of cheese, bacon, local fruits or chocolates as appropriate.
After breakfast at the hotel we will make a stop at the ruins of Adrianopolis, the city built by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century. The traces preserved to this day belong to the early imperial period. They consist of a small square temple and a circular structure on which the theater is built. We will continue the journey to Libohova. Under the guidance of Sedat the chef cook we will start collecting and harvesting the ingredients for lunch. You will get instructed to cook 3 of the area’s oldest recipes in a small traditional restaurant. Typical recipes are “lakrori me themer” a special meat pie, “sarma” filled with corn flour or rice and typical “hasude” cakes. After lunch you will have a short tour of the small town, to get introduced with the castle built by Ali Pasha as a wedding gift to his sister Shanishana. You see ancient, medieval and modern history traces and will hear previously unpublished stories. In the afternoon we will start the hike towards Labova of the Cross. It is a low difficulty activity of about 2 hours.It offers a wide view of the valley, pastoral landscape filled with rare plants and Mediterranean shrubs. After the reception in the guesthouse with glyco and raki of the area we will visit the Church of Labova of the Cross, one of the most unique monuments of Byzantine art in Albania. Built around the 10th century the church is covered with frescoes painted during various periods. Its iconostasis carved in wood is full of biblical symbols. The “Albanian evening” in the guesthouse will be accompanied by a traditional music group of the area. You will learn to dance the local rhythms, will get to know the 2000 years old costumes and the magic of the isopolyphony, also recognised as a masterpiece of UNESCO World Heritage.
After breakfast at the guesthouse we will head to Butrint following a medieval mountain road. The itinerary is a challenge with high difficulty but at a slow pace which allows to enjoy views of isolated rural life. This trip will give you a sense of going back in time. Communist-era bunkers, traces of slogans over the half-ruined buildings of the dictatorship-era give an image of the paranoia of the time. We will stop to visit the church of Leshnica that carries rare paintings of the XVII century, authentic images of mural painting that ignored at that time the Byzantine rules of painting. We will have a coffee stop in the village of Dhivër. Then will head to Butrint National Park. Legend has it that the exiles settled there after the fall of Troy. You will have a guided tour of Butrint through the theater, the Roman baths, the basilica, the temple of Asclepius and the unique natural habitat of laurel, eucalyptus, and rare birds. Depending on the season, in the summer we will continue with another adventure, the mussel tour through Butrint Lake. This is a meditative boat tour. You will clean and cook the mussels for lunch by the lake. The extra virgin olive oil and lemons of the area will add flavor alongside, fresh bread and a glass of wine from the Vurg vineyards. During the winter the mussel mug will not be possible but it will be exchanged for a rich seafood lunch at an area restaurant. We will travel to Saranda to be accommodated in a very good hotel. After a short break we will have a visit to the art gallery led by a well-known painter. The visit, in addition to a presentation with the gallery fund, will be a storytelling about ideological art in Albania during the dictatorship, a story illustrated by dozens of works realized in that period. The evening will be free to relax in the SPA, jacuzzi, swimming pool, etc. and after that we enjoy dinner in Bougainville Bay.
After breakfast at the hotel we will visit a local wine cellar, its vineyard and wine ageing cellar. This experience as well as the wine tasting will be led by the producer himself. We will next visit the Monastery of Mesopotam guided by an architect-restorer. The church of St. Nicholas built in the time of the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomaku has a very special Byzantine style architecture. It stands out for its floral motifs and mosaics as well as for its exterior wall decorations with dragon symbolism. We will continue the journey along the coast where according to the season we can organise an experience of picking citrus, olives, grapes or other fruits. The olive tradition is millennial, and the role of the tree is sacred in the lives of the inhabitants of the coast. One of the area’s best chefs will lead another cooking class this time with seafood brought from the area’s fishing boats. Lunch will be enjoyed by the sea while you take with you written recipes of the menu you cook. After lunch we will leave by off road vehicles towards the village Progonat, a road with a high level of difficulty but with a wonderful view. The Mercedes Benz company tested on this road its newest vehicle through the Shushice Valley, turning it into the dream of many off-road enthusiasts. After a journey of about 3 hours we will arrive in Progonat for a wonderful evening around the fire. The roasted meat of the area, the dairy and the dough products accompanied by the isopolyphony of Labëria will make this evening among the mountains very special. You will be accommodated in a newly built guesthouse.
After having breakfast we will walk for one hour to see the canyons of Nivica, a stop with a stunning natural view. On the way back will stop to taste the cheese produced in an artisanal way from one of the dairies in the area. After will leave for Permet, the city of roses where another chef cook will be waiting for us. Under the guidance of Urim you will cook 10 simple recipes of (salca e shakullit) buttermilk sauce, part of the Ark of Taste. This product (sauce produced by fermenting sheep’s milk inside a sheepskin for about two months) has hundreds years of tradition in the area and is among the threatened with extinction heritage of shepherds. We will enjoy lunch at the restaurant. In the afternoon will visit the thermal waters of Benja, where you can bathe or walk along the Lengarica canyon. The thermal baths of Bënjë are used by the inhabitants for the treatment of some diseases and are now one of the most important tourist attractions in the South. After returning to Përmet before the evening you can visit the workshop in the area to buy raki, honey, jam, tea, oregano, various spices, etc. Afterwards we will have dinner at Vila Permeti accompanied by the traditional instrumental music of Permet.
After breakfast at the hotel on the way to Gjirokastra we will visit the Bejko winery and the vineyard. The wine tasting experience will be led by the canteen manager himself. You will learn about the indigenous variety of white debina, and how the impact of natural habitat and climate have given white wine unique characteristics. Then we will start the hike towards the monastery of Spile. It is a low-difficulty walking activity that will last about 2 hours. We will visit the church of Spila, a cultural monument of the first category, painted around 1634 by the painter Mihali from the school of Linotop. The murals filled with biblical scenes are still impressive inside the church. We will also visit the cave of the Hermit monks perched on a vertical karst rock next to the monastery. The next stop is a house in the village of Saraqinishtë where we will enjoy, among other things, a 500-year-old recipe of the area, called “Jesus swaddling bands “, a dough product that is baked over a hot black stone. After lunch we will visit the archeological park of Antigone, the city that Pyrrhus of Epirus built for his wife Antigone in 295 BC. It will be a visit led by an archaeologist to one of the most modern ancient cities of the time. We will start the way back to the village “Asim Zeneli”. You can choose to walk or continue by car. The descent passes through a very diverse landscape, rich lawns and meadows full of pastoral life. The afternoon will be free to relax. The goodbye dinner together will be special.
After breakfast we will organize your transport to Tirana airport or Saranda port.
Tours marked with are special prices.
|Start||End||Max. No. Guests||Accommodation||Price p.p.|
|Sep 23 2023||Sep 30 2023||14||Single rooms||1,763€|
|Oct 14 2023||Oct 21 2023||14||Single rooms||1,763€|
|Nov 04 2023||Nov 11 2023||14||Single rooms||1,763€|
|Nov 25 2023||Dec 02 2023||14||Single rooms||1,763€|
|Dec 16 2023||Dec 23 2023||14||Single rooms||1,763€|
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