This thrilling trail provides an enchanting equestrian experience across a variety of landscapes, offering numerous opportunities for activities like swimming, hiking along rivers, exploring canyons, camping, and immersing yourself in local culture. Along the journey, you'll have the opportunity to explore unique cultural landmarks and see the Albania’s communist era heritage.
Enjoy the local traditional cuisine, try famous Permeti Raki and wine, witness traditional rituals, and even explore city nightlife, making this trail an extremely diverse and enriching adventure.
The main point of this trail is the magnificent Vjosa River, renowned as the last wild river in Europe. Riding alongside its unrestricted waters and camping in the riverbed provides a truly breathtaking experience.
Kristina, born in Albania, is a journalist with a unique background in history and archaeology,
adding depth to her perspective. Having worked in various national and international media outlets, she
has honed her skills in storytelling. However, her professional journey takes a distinctive turn as she
intertwines her passion for horses with her journalistic pursuits.
Kristina`s deep affinity for horses goes beyond a mere interest, it is a lifelong passion that has become a
driving force in her endeavors. Recognizing the potential of Albania`s cultural and natural treasures, she
has committed herself to building some of the finest horse holidays in the country. Her vision extends
beyond tourism, emphasizing the importance of partnerships with horses, the preservation of nature,
and support for local communities.
In Kristina`s philosophy, a horse represents more than a companion on the trails it symbolizes a
partnership rooted in mutual respect and understanding. Her commitment to nature protection
underscores a belief in sustainable practices, ensuring that the beauty of heritage, culture, and nature is
preserved for future generations.
Away from the bustling world of journalism and equestrian ventures, Kristina finds solace in her
hobbies—reading, travel, horse riding, and writing. These activities not only reflect her diverse interests
but also contribute to the well-rounded perspective she brings to her role as a journalist and an
advocate for responsible tourism.
Kristina Fidhi stands at the intersection of passion, profession, and purpose, weaving together a
narrative that celebrates the rich tapestry of Albania`s history, culture, and natural beauty while
championing the symbiotic relationship between humans and horses. Her story is one of dedication to
sustainable practices, community empowerment, and the enduring connection between people, horses,
and the environment.
See "The Blue Heart" of Europe
The Vjosa, also known as "the blue heart" of Europe - the last wild river in the area
Experience Diverse Landscapes
Stunning canyons, braided river sections, islands, oxbows, and meandering stretches
Immerse Yourself in Local Culture
Visit historical monuments, try authentic cuisine, see the local nightlife
Arrive at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 14.30. This allows time for the transfer and an opportunity to explore the town of Gjirokstra. The drive to Gjirokastra takes approximately 3 hours.
Settle into your hotel, which is conveniently located just a 10-minute walk from the historic center of Gjirokstra. Before dinner, take a stroll around the historical town, including the old Bazaar, and visit notable attractions such as Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, and Skenduli house, offering insights into traditional Gjirokastra life.
Enjoy a traditional dinner at a local restaurant, where your guides will provide information about the trail, address any inquiries, offer advice, and share useful details. We recommend purchasing a map of the area before dinner to familiarize yourself with the itinerary.
Ride towards the village of Karjan
After breakfast at the hotel and horse allocation, embark on your ride through the countryside towards the medieval village of Karjan. This village holds a traditional charm and once served as a rural stop for passing caravans. Admire its small churches and the old Roman bridge. The route traverses a rural landscape, passing by small houses, gardens, and traditional farming activities. Expect a mix of hilly landscapes, valleys, small water streams, and cliffs. Along the way, catch glimpses of the “Tree of Life” river, the important water basin in the area associated with ancient pagan beliefs. Encounter the ruins of the castle of Santa Triada, reconstructed by Ali Pasha in 1809-1810 as a strategic point for controlling caravan routes. The castle ruins were later utilized for military purposes during the socialist era. Pause for lunch in Shen Toder village, and after another 1.5 hours of riding, reach Karjan village where you’ll be hosted by a local family. Experience the local cuisine, prepared from their own garden produce, and indulge in raki and wine.
Riding hours: 4.5
After breakfast, we’ll start our ride through the picturesque Drino’s Valley. Our first stops will be Andon Poci village and later Hundkuq village, where the ride becomes more challenging as we enter a small forest. Emerging from the forest, we’ll reach the historic village of Labova of Zhapa, renowned for its magnificent Church and grand merchant houses, although most of them now lie in ruins. Labova is also the birthplace of Vangjel Zhapa, a famous businessman and philanthropist who lived around 200 years ago. We’ll enjoy a visit inside the unique medieval church, known for its distinctive style and pagan elements in the wall paintings. Afterward, we’ll start riding up the mountain, marvelling at the rare vegetation and endemic plants along the way. The path will lead us to the valley of Cajupi, where we’ll encounter a cattle of 1000 sheep. This scenic spot will be our camping place for the night, offering the chance to taste the famous Brati spring water, witness a small medieval protection tower called “karakoll,” and experience sheep milking and cooking with the shepherds. Please note that depending on the day’s temperatures, the guides may opt for a shorter path to Cajupi valley and plan an afternoon ride in the surrounding mountains.
Riding hours: 5
Towards the Nderan village
After enjoying a delicious traditional breakfast, our trail will follow the medieval Caravan pathway, passing by the infamous bandit hideout known as ‘Hija e Mallkuar’ or ‘The Cursed Shadow.’ This pathway was once used by medieval thieves to ambush caravans traveling through Zagoria. Continuing our ride, we’ll traverse the most important horse pathway of the 17th and 18th centuries, which connected the major commercial centers of Southern Albania. Along the way, we’ll be treated to the breath-taking view of the natural monument, the Rock of Zhej.
Prepare for a challenging downhill route that will lead us to the ruins of a medieval stone bridge, where we’ll enjoy a lunch break and a refreshing swim in the nearby river. In the afternoon, we’ll make our way to the Church of the Monastery of Nivan, constructed in 1702, and cross a symbolic bridge over the Zagoria River to conclude the day’s ride in Nderan, one of the region’s significant villages. We’ll spend the evening and night with a welcoming local family.
Total riding hours: 3,5
Gjurmemushka mountain ride
Today’s ride will begin with a return to Hoshteva and a mountain climb to reach the Gjurmemushka mountain pass. Once we reach the summit, we’ll mostly enjoy a downhill ride, passing through Maleshova village to visit its charming church and the ruins of the Limari antic castle. We’ll pause for a picnic lunch near a tranquil water stream, where we can rest under the shade of the trees. During the afternoon ride, we’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Vjosa River from the mountain top. Our overnight stay will be in a comfortable village guest house in Grabova village, a remote and isolated area known for its warm hospitality. Here, you can experience the traditional mountain cooking and savour the famous “petanik,” a special local pie. Grabova is renowned for its Raki production and delectable “spoon” desserts. In the evening, we’ll enjoy dinner on the guest house’s terrace, overlooking the magnificent flow of the Vjosa River just 200 meters away.
Riding hours: 6-7
Along the river bank
After a satisfying breakfast, we’ll embark on a downhill ride to reach the Vjosa River. The rest of the day’s ride will take place along the river bank, offering breath-taking and diverse landscapes. This leg of the journey will be particularly enjoyable, with ample opportunities for exhilarating gallops. We’ll pause for a swimming break near Piskova village, taking advantage of the dry part of the river bed. For lunch, we’ll relish in the delicious food prepared by a small restaurant in Permet, which will be conveniently transported to our riverside stop. If interested, you can also indulge in some fishing. Spend the entire afternoon swimming and relaxing before riding the final 1.5 hours to reach the small town of Permet. After settling the horses at the accommodation, we’ll spend the night in a nearby hotel, just a short 10-minute walk from the town center. Dinner will be served at a well-known traditional restaurant.
Riding hours: 3
Non riding activities
This day is a free riding day, allowing you to choose your own adventure. We suggest a visit to the Benja thermal waters in the Langarica canyons, a mere 30 minutes away from Permet. There, you can explore the canyons, swim, and for the more daring, engage in river hiking to discover the “Pigeons Cave” perched on a rock along the Langarica River. We have arranged lunch at a restaurant near the canyons, and we’ll return to Permeti town in the late afternoon. Dinner will be served at a small restaurant close to the hotel. Alternatively, if you prefer to rest and relax, you’re free to create your own plan for the day.
Riding hours: None (but taking care of the horses yes)
Climbing Dhembel Mountain
Prepare for one of the longest and most challenging days of our journey. Due to branches and foliage, it’s advisable to wear long sleeves. We’ll embark on a mostly uphill ride, climbing Dhembel Mountain. The panoramic view from the top will leave you awestruck. We’ll carry a picnic lunch in our saddles since the car cannot reach us until the final destination later in the day. Our rendezvous point will be in Hoshteva Zagoria, where logistic arrangements await us. We’ll camp beneath the trees near Hoshteva’s church, and as a group, we’ll collaborate to cook dinner and enjoy a memorable meal under the starlit sky. This camping experience will be truly enchanting.
Riding hours: 6
Ride to the heart of the Pogon region
Get ready for an exhilarating equestrian adventure this morning. After a fresh country-style breakfast, we’ll ride through a mountain valley that’s perfect for gallops. Along the way, we’ll pass small remote farms, awe-inspiring cliffs, and numerous historical paths off the beaten tourist trail. Our route through the Pogoni region will transport us through time, passing ancient ruins and mythical natural wonders. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch near the famous stone bridge of Hllomo or Kacarello’s, an isolated construction from the merchant period accessible only by horse. In the afternoon, we’ll reach the heart of the Pogon region, the mountain village of Polican, inhabited by a Greek minority. You’ll spend the night with a Greek minority family, who will accompany you to explore remarkable cult monuments from the medieval period. In the evening, you’ll indulge in local gastronomic delights, including a variety of honey flavors, as this village is renowned for its mountain honey production, offering up to 10 different seasonal tastes.
Riding hours: 6
Ride to Libohova
This riding day offers a blend of changing landscapes and varying riding paces. You’ll traverse wide valleys, navigate steep downhills, pass through verdant forests, and admire the beauty of the Suha River. We can take a refreshing swimming break in Suha River, explore the bridge, waterfalls, and caves along the river. Later, we’ll embark on a special equestrian climb up the Swallow Rock. Afterward, we’ll head to Labova of the Cross for a late lunch at a traditional guest house and restaurant. Before our afternoon ride, we’ll visit the Church of Labova of the Cross, one of the most significant churches in the country. Built by Justinian the Great in 554, this church served as the venue for his marriage to his wife, Teodora. The villagers have preserved her wedding dress for centuries. The monument was reconstructed in the 10th century and features an old wooden iconostasis adorned with floral and symbolic animal scenes. We’ll conclude the day with a two-hour ride to reach Libohova, a charming town nestled at the foot of the Bureto Mountain. The town boasts an ancient settlement that flourished in the 17th century, becoming a vital commercial center. During the afternoon, you’ll have the option to take a leisurely stroll, visit Libohova’s castle, explore a Bektashi cult object, or pay respects at the tomb of Ali Pasha’s sister, Shanisha. We’ll spend the night in a local family’s house and savor delicious local cuisine.
Riding hours : 5
Antigonea National Park
On this day, we’ll embark on a shorter riding adventure. In the morning, we’ll ride through rolling hills and the picturesque Drino’s valley, crossing a few water streams. Afterward, we’ll conquer a steep hill to reach Antigonea National Park, where we’ll stop for a visit. Antigonea, built by King Pyrrhus in 295 BC and named after his first wife Antigona, showcases ancient ruins steeped in history. After the break, we’ll continue riding for another hour to reach the stables, where you’ll experience the joy of releasing your horses and bidding them farewell. A picnic lunch prepared by our last hosting family awaits in the village of “Asim Zeneli,” a short 5-minute drive from the stable. Later, we’ll return to Gjirokastra and stay at the same hotel. For our farewell dinner, we’ll gather at a small restaurant in the old Bazaar. If you’d like, we can conclude the evening with a drink at a popular bar.
Riding hours: 3,5
After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be transferred back to the Tirana airport, marking the end of our equestrian adventure.
Tour organizer's comments
Horse riding is a risk sport and activity and it can be dangerous. We train our horses to be friendly, confident and with a good understanding about their environment, but they are given to the rider with the understanding to ride at own risk.
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. The single supplement, if we provide a single room, is 25 Euros per night paid here.
Group meeting place
all accommodations and meals from dinner of day 1 till breakfast of day 12;
English speaking guide (second guide if there are more than 4 riders);
water and drinks during the meals;
luggage transport by car from destination to destination.
entrance tickets to monuments or parks;
lunch on day 1;
other services or expenses during free time;
transfer from/to the airport;
the small group supplement (183 Euros/person). This is applicable if only 3 riders are booked onto the ride. If, at the time of departure, more than 3 riders are booked, the small group supplement will be refunded.
up to 10 tourists
It's important to know
Personal equipment you need for the tour
Riding hat Long-sleeved shirts (avoid expensive or favorite clothing) Riding trousers and chaps Gloves
Good mountain shoes with a grip (not too thick) Avoid smooth-soled riding boots
Sun cream Sunglasses Hat
Anti-allergy medicine for insect bites
Torch (flashlight) for walking to feed the horses in the evening
Small camera (avoid large professional cameras)
Copy of passport
Personal saddlebags welcome (provided by riders) Small saddlebags provided by the ride for food and water.
In addition to the other items, including a torch (flashlight) is recommended for walking to the horses to feed them in the evening. This will provide better visibility and ensure your safety during this activity.
May I assist the riding center somehow?
Since Albania lacks equestrian shops, procuring necessary horse equipment from the local market becomes a significant challenge for us. If it’s feasible for you, we kindly request your assistance in bringing along any spare or unused items such as old pads, halters, ropes, girths, bridles, or any other equipment that you no longer require. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated by our center.
Cancellation of booking
In case of early cancellation of the reservation, we will be forced to withhold from you a percentage of the price paid:
cancelling 90 days prior to starting your tour - The complete amount will be refundable
cancelling within 90 - 40 days prior to starting your tour - The deposit of 20 % is not refundable
cancelling within 40 - 30 days prior to starting your tour - 50 % of the total amount will be charged
cancelling within 30 - 20 days prior to starting your tour - 70 % of the total amount will be charged
cancelling within 20 - 7 days prior to starting your tour - 90 % of the total amount will be charged
100 % of the tour price will be charged - Cancelling within 7 days prior to starting your tour
If you want to postpone or change the dates you can do it free of charge 30 days prior to starting your tour. In case you do it less than 30 days prior to starting your tour your deposit of 20% isn’t refundable. Note Paying with a credit card at the place is not possible at the moment.