Albania walking holiday
Optional single supplement from £145 - £150.
Minimum age 16.
Description of Albania walking holiday
Not as well known for hiking trips, but fascinating and fantastic in many ways, this week long Albania walking holiday takes you into parts of Mediterranean Europe that you never knew existed. It has almost been forgotten by the rest of Europe in many ways, not so much off the beaten track, this carefully crafted itinerary feels more like beating a track in the first place.
The focus of this walking holiday is the Albanian Alps, which lie to the north of the capital city, Tirana, and one of the gateways to which is the ancient city of Shkodër where we not only get chance to visit its impressive Rozafa Fortress but also stock up on hiking snacks, before hitting the very remote and stunning landscapes for the next few days.
Thankfully many of the elevated landscapes are protected by Theth National Park, a region packed not only with natural beauty such as spectacular waterfalls, glacial lakes and canyons, but also the famous ‘lock in’ towers, used during the country’s traditional blood feuds to protect those involved. Still a land of traditions, horse drawn style agricultural practices are still a common sight in these parts and so being a visitor on foot is one of the best ways to feel part of this natural ‘slow travel’ lifestyle here.
We experience some stunning alpine walks, particularly in the Valbonë and Theth Valleys with an option to push yourself a little more and complete the glorious heights known as the White Circle Trail, where we follow shepherds’ paths to the foot of Mount Jezerca, Albania’s highest peak,.
As well as magnificent mountains, Albania’s alpine terrain proffers lakes, rivers and waterfalls, and we enjoy a more relaxing day at one of its most famous, the glacial Komani Lake, by boat rather than on foot. Our final stops on this Albanian odyssey are cultural ones, exploring the medieval towns of Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and then, finally Krujë.
With five days of walking, with some full days of up to seven hours on foot, this holiday takes us through very remote villages where we are welcomed at small local guesthouses for two nights, but we also spend five nights at 3* hotels. Not, however, these are based on Albanian ratings which are still working on a traditional, non Western Europe basis. But this is what we also love about it, and we have chosen our routes and accommodations to reflect all of these unspoiled qualities that Albania has to offer.
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5 Reviews of Albania walking holiday
Reviewed on 16 Jul 2019 by Neil GrantAlbania proved to be a lovely place to visit, the scenery around Theth and Valbona was fantastic. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Sep 2019 by Margaret TraceyThe most memorable part of the holiday was visiting & walking in unspoilt areas, in a relatively unknown country. Eating local foods & dishes. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Sep 2017 by Rachel DixonThe stunning views at the Valbone pass and the boat trip was the most memorable. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Sep 2017 by Eleanor DunnSwimming in the Blue Eye and walking over the pass from Theth to Valbona. I loved the holiday, the only down side was that perhaps we tried to pack in too much for the short time we had available. Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Jun 2017 by Bob HandleyAn excellent introduction to Albania, a country that more should visit, with a very knowledgeable Albanian tour leader Read full review
Few holidays have such a low environmental impact as a walking trip. We are vigilant with litter disposal and avoid path erosion by sticking to routes which have been decided by guides. Although much of this trip is spent walking in very beautiful and isolated areas, we also make time for cultural activities. By visiting cultural sites like Berat’s Ethnographic Museum and the 17th century Sinan Pasha Mosque in Prizren, we are contributing to their upkeep. Our entrance fees go towards maintenance and often clients will buy souvenirs which benefit these establishments and local people.
Although we work in very remote areas, where there are not many charities set up, we always support a local organisation called PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania). They are based in Rilindja Campsite in Valbona valley and are currently working on several conservation activities including the ‘Balkan Lynx Recovery Program’. This involves allowing this threatened species to recuperate by setting up monitoring systems and protected areas.
Waste management is a big problem in Albania and so we are very careful not to exacerbate this issue, operating with a ‘leave no trace policy.’ We encourage our suppliers and guides to minimise plastic waste in the mountainous areas by distributing paper bags for waste disposal. In Northern Albania, we can drink water fresh from the streams or taps, so we also encourage our clients to re-fill a bottle or canister to drink from. This prevents the needless buying of several plastic bottles.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
We spend four nights in alpine guesthouses and four nights in hotels. By using local accommodation, restaurants and shops, we are supporting the community hugely by boosting businesses in low season. Where meals are supplied, we endeavour to use local produce. Otherwise, your guide will be able to recommend places which sell authentic and delicious meals such as baked rice, casseroles, stuffed aubergine and jani meat (beef or lamb sauteed with onions, garlic and spices). The mountainous regions particularly benefit from our commerce due to their remote location so we try to stop at coffee shops run by farmers from their huts.
A Fair Deal:
Our guides are all people who live and work in the areas in which we operate our tours. This gives extra support to the local economy and offers our clients a level of expertise which would be otherwise unattainable. For these trips we have also contracted part time farmers and horse owners to help with luggage transportation from one village to the next. We make sure to engage different farmers on a rota basis so that several individuals can benefit from additional income. These people are particularly skilled in that they have explored this terrain for many years and have extensive knowledge of the area.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.