Escape into an enchanting winter adventure that encompasses four days of thrilling horse riding amid ever-changing landscapes, accompanied by two days immersed in the cultural richness of South Albania. Prepare for a captivating journey through valleys, hills, small forests, and rivers, including exhilarating uphill and downhill rides. Subsequently, explore the region's history, hospitality, thermal baths, archaeological sites, the Ionian coast, and the authentic lifestyle of shepherds. This unique program assures genuine moments on horseback, dynamic off-road explorations of untouched terrain, and the discovery of concealed hiking paths.
Culinary experiences, wine and Raki tastings, and interaction with the local community make this trail an extraordinary journey, integrating you into Albanian local life. Connecting with people and participating in their daily lives and activities is a fundamental and social aspect of this program.
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.
Ride the Local Breed
A mix of Tarpan and Arab horses - although small in size, they are perfectly adapted to the rocky terrain and accustomed to trekking long mountainous routes in all weather conditions
Feel the Local Vibe
Meeting people and connecting with their daily lives and activities is a social and integral part of this program
Visit USESCO Sites
Historical areas and protected workl heritage monuments
Plan your arrival at Tirana airport ideally in the morning, but no later than 13:00 pm to allow time for transfer and a visit to the town of Gjirokstra. The transfer from Tirana airport will take approximately 3-4 hours (250km). Your accommodation will be in a traditional hotel in the heart of the historical Gjirokastra. If there is daylight remaining, you can explore the new Bazaar, Enver Hoxha’s house, Gjirokastra castle, the church of the Old Bazaar, the Bazar mosque, and Skenduli house before dinner. During dinner, your guides will provide insights into the trail, address any requests or needs, offer advice, and share important information. We recommend purchasing a map of the area before dinner to gain a better understanding of the itinerary.
Ride to the village of Labova of the Cross
After breakfast at the hotel and allocation of horses, we will set off on our ride through the picturesque countryside towards the village of Labova of the Cross. This charming village is known for its beautiful landscapes and historical significance. The route to Labova of the Cross will be moderately challenging, featuring hilly terrains, valleys, small water streams, and opportunities for enjoyable canters.
Upon reaching Labova of the Cross, we will check into a local guest house, where you can experience the warm hospitality of the villagers. The guest house will provide a comfortable and authentic stay, allowing you to immerse yourself in the local culture.
After settling in, we will visit the Church of Labova of the Cross, a significant religious site in the area. The church is known for its unique architecture and historical importance, offering a glimpse into the village’s rich heritage. You will have the opportunity to explore the church and learn about its fascinating history.
In the evening, you can participate in various activities at the guest house, such as helping with farm chores or engaging in traditional cooking alongside the family. This will provide a hands-on experience of the village lifestyle and create memorable moments.
Overnight accommodation will be at the local guest house, where you can enjoy a delicious dinner consisting of traditional local cuisine. The guest house will offer a cosy and authentic atmosphere, ensuring a restful night’s sleep.
Riding hours: 4 hours.
Ride towards the Antigonea National Park
This morning, we will embark on a ride through rolling hills, the enchanting Drino Valley, and several water streams, followed by a steep climb to reach the captivating Antigonea National Park, where we will make a stop for a visit. Antigonea was built by King Pyrrhus in 295 BC and named after his first wife, Antigona, daughter of King Ptolemeus of Egypt. After the break, we will ride for another hour until we reach the stable, where you can enjoy the experience of letting your horses roam freely. Lunch will follow shortly after in a village near the stable. We will return to the same hotel in Gjirokastra for accommodation. After a brief respite, we plan to visit the Cold War tunnel in Gjirokastra—a relic of communist defense paranoia that holds intriguing stories to tell. Before dinner, we will visit a painter’s studio, where the artist will share insights into local art, special painting techniques, installations, and the incorporation of traditional elements in his works. Discussions may also touch upon ideological art during the communist era. Dinner will be held at a small local restaurant in the historical area, accompanied by the presence of a renowned iso-polyphonic group—a UNESCO-protected world heritage—offering performances, songs, and explanations about the complex role of its members.
Riding hours: 4 hours.
After a freshly cooked breakfast, we will embark on an exceptional off-road journey from Gjirokastra to Butrint, a UNESCO-protected archaeological park. This challenging drive will take you through small remote villages, old houses, winding roads, off-road paths, small gardens, scarce animal sightings, old churches, and a palpable sense of time suspended in the past. We will pause to visit the ruins of Leshnica Church and have a coffee stop in the village of Cerkovica, where a local resident will provide a brief presentation on the area’s history and future aspirations. Continuing our drive, we will reach Butrint to explore the fascinating archaeological park. Dating back to the 7th century BC, Butrint has a legendary origin tied to the exiles who sought refuge after the fall of Troy. Having been occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians, Butrint boasts a plethora of remarkable archaeological structures, including a well-preserved theater, Roman public baths housing a paleo-Christian baptistery, and a 9th-century basilica. The sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of medicine, crowns the hilltop acropolis and dates back to the fourth century. Afterward, we will enjoy lunch in Saranda at a seaside restaurant, relishing an array of locally prepared seafood. On our return to Gjirokastra, we will visit the local art gallery, where the manager—an accomplished painter—will provide a presentation. Dinner will be served at a restaurant in the old bazaar.
Driving hours: Total of 6 hours.
Following breakfast at the hotel, we will depart for the Drinos Valley, tracing the path of the Vjosa River until we reach the thermal baths of Benja in Pwrmet. Along the river, you will discover splendid, warm-water, human-made pools—a hidden gem perfect for relaxation on a cool day. These baths have been believed to possess healing properties for centuries, and during the winter months, you can enjoy privacy and tranquility. As you journey, you will encounter the Kadiu Bridge, a cultural monument built in 1760 during the Ottoman period, offering a stunning view of the Langarica River—an entrance to the canyons. Throughout the day, you will have the opportunity to explore the canyons through hiking and swimming activities. Lunch will be served in the “City of Roses,” Pwrmet, where you will delight in the local raki and sweets. Later, we will drive to a remote area near Ballaban village to visit another unique farm that will serve as our accommodation for the evening and dinner. The owners will share their story of abandoning city life, pursuing their dreams, and living in harmony with nature. This will also be a special wine tasting experience.
Driving hours: Total of 3-4 hours.
Reaching the Karjan village
After breakfast, we will drive back to Gjirokastra to reach the horse stables for another day of horse riding. Today’s itinerary will take us through a rural landscape, featuring beautiful steep hills, small valleys, pastoral scenery, traditional farming practices, bush areas, small lakes, small water streams, cliffs, and remnants of defense infrastructure from the communist era. Throughout the morning ride, the captivating view of the River Drino—the “Tree of Life” river—will accompany you. The Drino River holds great significance in ancient pagan beliefs. Along the way, you will encounter the ruins of the Santa Triada Castle, reconstructed during 1809-1810 by Ali Pasha as a strategic point for controlling medieval caravan routes. These castle ruins were later repurposed for military use during the socialist era. We will pause for a picnic lunch near the village of Erind. After approximately 4-5 hours of riding, we will arrive at Karjan village, where a traditional dinner and accommodation await you at a local farm. In the afternoon, you can explore the village, partake in family activities, and assist in feeding, cleaning, and watering the horses.
Riding hours: 4-5.
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Ride back to Gjirokastra
After enjoying breakfast with the family and packing a picnic, we will commence our ride at 9 o’clock. Our route will take us first to Nokova village, where we will visit medieval churches. Continuing through the Lunxheria area, we will stop for a picnic in Dhoksat village. This village is renowned for its unique architecture and the use of black stone in construction, as well as its beautiful doors. A local expert will join us to provide insights into life, tradition, folklore, costumes, and ethnography of the area. After lunch, our ride will continue through cultivated lands, gardens, livestock areas, and wide meadows, offering captivating panoramic views. We will have another brief stop by Qestorati Lake to savor the scenery before returning to the stables from a different direction. The final leg of the ride in the afternoon will be the most picturesque, with several opportunities for canters and breathtaking hill climbs. After the ride, we will drive back to Gjirokastra, where you can take a stroll around the historical area before the farewell dinner. In the evening, we can enjoy a drink at a popular bar.
Riding hours: 5 hours.
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred back to Tirana Airport for your departure.
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.
Hotel or Village House
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 8;
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 (148 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) Warm jacket 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.
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.