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Albania Expedition


It may be an under-the-radar-travel destination, but when it comes to dazzling landscapes and fascinating culture, Albania is every bit as magnificent as its more popular neighbours. Spend nine days getting to know this Balkan gem with a local leader, travelling from bustling cities to remote reaches. Drink coffee with locals in Tirana, hike along off-grid rivers in the country’s north, stay in welcoming guesthouses and beachside hotels, and spend the night on a sustainable farm. You’ll learn about local crafts with artists, birdwatch as you eat breakfast in a spectacular national park, and learn about Albania’s culture and history from those who know it best.

9 days, from

$1,825

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: WBSL
Style: Original
Theme: Expedition

Details

Countries Visited:  Albania
Accommodation: Hotel (3 nights), Village Guesthouse (2 nights), Farmstay (1 night), Apartment (2 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , Ferry , Motorboat
Included Meals:

  • 8 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 3 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Venture into the wild and beautiful landscapes of northern Albania, explore spectacular lakes and rivers and experience a slice of rural life.

  • Spend the night on a sustainable farm, where you’ll enjoy dinner made from fresh ingredients grown on site and learn about local farming practices.

  • With the support of non-profit ecotourism organisation MEET, learn about conservation efforts at the Karavasta Lagoon in Divjake- Karavasta National Park, spend the night at a locally owned beach accommodation and rise for a sunrise breakfast atop a birdwatching tower.

  • Visit the village of Babunje, where you’ll take part in a hands-on craft experience with local artists and be introduced to polyphonic singing, homemade raki and Turkish coffee reading plus enjoy a home-cooked lunch with a family.

  • Get to know Albania’s capital as you explore Tirana with your local leader, and share a coffee in the garden of our local friends to learn about their culture and family history.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Tirana

Mire se vini – welcome to Tirana, Albania! Your expedition begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your local leader and the other travellers joining you on your journey. If you arrive with time to spare, you may like to head out for a walk and take in the mosque, citadels, Ottoman architecture and museums of Albania’s capital. This city is a lively, colourful place with plenty of public squares and inviting cafes to discover. After your welcome meeting, you may like to get to know your group over an optional dinner and sample some Albanian food.

Day 2: Lake Koman - River Shala

Leave the city behind after breakfast this morning and drive north to the stunning mountain and lakes region, where you'll have the chance to experience the true beauty and wildness of Albania. This region is a rare part of the Balkans that managed to maintain its independence and ancient traditions despite being surrounded by Ottoman armies. After a scenic drive along a winding road, you'll board a small boat for a one-hour journey across the brilliantly blue Lake Koman to Nanplep and the Shala River. Check in at a cosy family-owned guesthouse, where you'll have the opportunity to relax, refresh in the water and learn about local culture and history over a delicious meal filled with stories.

Day 3: Shala River

Today you’ll get to get your toes wet in the aquamarine waters of the Shala River on an easy hike. Depending on the time of year, you’ll need to trek through the brisk waters to cross from one side of the river to the other, so comfortable water shoes or sandals are a must. You’ll quickly discover its vibrant green mountainsides that drop steeply into the river’s bright and clear waters below.

You’ll also have the option of hiring a local guide to hike to the abandoned village of Molle. This approximately 5-kilometre round-trip hike involves about 600 metres of elevation gain into the mountains. Hiring a local guide for this hike will come at an additional cost, but can be shared among group members.

Day 4: Shala River - Farm Stay

Begin your day with a leisurely breakfast, then venture higher up the Shala River to experience the true wilderness of the valley. Hiking upstream against the river, you'll escape any signs of human activity and immerse yourself in the stunning scenery. After taking in the breathtaking views, you'll return to the Komani hydropower dam by boat. You’ll then travel to the western part of the region to visit the sustainable and unique agri-tourism destination at Mrizi I Zanave farm, also known as the "Shade of the Fairies." Sit down to a farm-to-table dinner made with fresh ingredients grown on site. Spend the evening at Mrizi I Zanave, where you can relax among the peaceful surroundings.

Day 5: Divjaka-Karavasta National Park

Hit the road this morning and drive south, stopping first in Durres to admire the sandy beaches of the Albanian Adriatic. Your next destination is the beautiful Karavasta Lagoon, where you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the local conservation efforts for species like the Dalmatian pelican and sea turtles. Then, check into a beach guesthouse. In the evening, you’re free to enjoy the dazzling sunset and sample some delicious locally-produced cuisine. To make the most of tomorrow's activities, it is recommended to get a good night's rest, so be sure to turn in early tonight.

Day 6: Divjaka-Karavasta National Park - Babunje - Bay of Vlora

Start your day early with a sunrise breakfast in one of the birdwatching towers on the western side of the Karavasta Lagoon, travelling either by bicycle or electric vehicle. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, you'll enjoy breakfast served on a large locally made carpet and prepared with a focus on reducing waste. You’ll have the opportunity to see various birds and possibly other wildlife while sipping on coffee and tea to start the day. After breakfast, visit the nearby village of Babunje, where you’ll have a chance to participate in a hands-on bamboo craft experience and enjoy a meal with a group of farmers and artists. Your hosts will introduce you to local polyphonic singing, homemade raki and Turkish coffee reading. After your visit, drive to the nearby Bay of Vlora, where you’ll check into your apartment for the night. The rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy the beach or explore your surroundings.

Day 7: Tragjas - Bay of Vlora

Start your day with a chilled morning at the beach. In the afternoon, take a hike to the old village of Tragjas, where time has stood still since the area was bombed during World War II. From the ruins of the old village, a family has created a farm that utilizes traditional and sustainable farming practices. Learn how they coexist alongside animals such as grey wolves, jackals, birds of prey and bee-eaters. After the hike, return to the coast for a slow and peaceful evening, where you can take a stroll along the beach, enjoy a sunset or try some local cuisine.

Day 8: Berat - Tirana

Begin your day with a morning drive to the small city of Berat, known as the 'town of a thousand windows'. Take a walk through the Old City and visit the castle, where you will be given a guided tour around the ancient walls of the 2400-year-old fortress. After the castle visit, drive to Tirana, back where your adventure began. Get to know the city's tumultuous past, including its Ottoman occupation, monarchy under King Zog I, fascist and Nazi occupation during World War II, and Communist rule. Visit Skanderbeg Square, the symbol of Albania's modernisation efforts, and the New Bazaar for a taste of local delicacies. End the day with a coffee and chat with our local friends, in a beautiful old garden and browse through their collection of historical family objects.

Day 9: Tirana

With no activities planned for today, your Albania Expedition comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to spend more time exploring Tirana, just get in touch ahead of time and we’d be happy to arrange additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).