Arrive at our hotel located 300m from the city centre (30 minutes from Tirana Airport). The group flight arrives in the evening.
We make an early start and transfer just 2 hours to Shkoder, where we visit the castle and city centre of one of the oldest and most historic places in Albania. Our journey continues into the breathtaking Albanian Alps and Theth National Park, an area admired for its rich flora and fauna. From here, we stretch our legs and walk for 2-3 hours from T'thore Pass following the shepherd's trail to Theth, with wonderful views to the surrounding peaks.
Walk to Valbona through some of the wildest scenery into the Tropoje District, known as the home of Albanian folk culture. We walk for about 6 hours through forests and alpine pastures and from Valbona Pass (1950m), we take a few moments to enjoy the spectacularb views down Valbona and Theth Valley. As we pass Valbona River, some beautiful waterfalls and the quaint village of Rragam, our luggage is transported by horse to the next guesthouse.
Our route today takes us through beech and pine forests down Rosi Peak and leads us onto the 'White Circle', where we enjoy panoramic views across the peaks and valleys of the Albanian Alps (approx. 6 hours walk). Our evening is filled with music and dance as we gain true insight into the magical culture of this region that feels so different to the rest of Albania.
A short 2-hour walk this morning in Valbona National Park to takes us past a beautiful glacial lake to visit the neightbourhood of Quku i Dunish's. Then we start our long journey down to Kruje via Kosovo where we do a few short stops along the way, including the old bazaar in Gjakova and the 17th century mosque in Prizren. Prizren is one of the most preserved Ottoman cities in Kosovo and has a rich cultural, historical and religious heritage with Sinan Pasha Mosque and Our Lady of Ljevi, from the 12th century. After our longest drive (6 hours), we arrive into Kruje, known in Albania as the historical chief town of Scanderbeg who liberated Albania from Ottoman rule for 25 years during the 15th century. Kruja has a beautiful Ottoman bazaar, the only place in Albania to find handmade, traditional crafts in one alley of stalls.
After visits to the Scanderbeg museum and fortress this morning, we gain an incredible amount of knowledge about Albanian history. We then transfer down to Llogara National Park, which sits 1200m above sea level and is considered a sea of pine trees. From Llogara Pass, we enjoy breathtaking panorama of the Albanian Riviera and nearby Corfu Island. After a short visit to the bustling port of Vlore and more importantly Flag Square, where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in 1912, we finally arrive in Radhime for a relaxing evening.
We enjoy some more free time on the beach this morning before continuing to Apollonia Archeological Centre, an ancient Greek city in Illyria. Prominent during the Roman period, Apollonia was home to a renowned school of philosophy and excavations continue with what is considered the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans (13,000 people). We transfer to the Ardenica Monastery, built in 1282 and famous for being the place where the Albanian hero Scanderbeg was married in 1451. After absorbing the panoramic views from the monastery all the way to Kruje, we drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Berat.
Our morning is spent exploring Berat Castle and Onufri Icon's Museum before we return to Tirana. In the afternoon, we visit one of Albania's many great archeological treasures, the Pellumbas Cave, also known as the Black Cave to those who still believe it is endless. As we walk through this fascinating cave, it is incredible to see some of the latest discoveries they have unearthed including evidence of cave bears (Ursus Speleaus) that lived 10,000 to 400,000 years ago. After a short transfer to Tirana, there may be time to visit the National Historic Museum or Et'hem Bey Mosque in Tirana (all optional) or simply a wander around the city to see all the colourful communist blocks.
Trip ends after breakfast.