RCGS Albania with John Geiger

RCGS: Highlights of Albania with John Geiger

10 days
from
£1,199
Loading...
Culture
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
AVLS
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
9–16
Min age:
16

An adventure travel legends are made of…

Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you’ll get to traveling back in time. It wasn’t until the collapse of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within. You’ll get a firsthand look at this previously isolated country accompanied by internationally bestselling author, renowned lecturer, and CEO of the RCGS, John Geiger. John has been featured on countless television and radio programs and documentary films such as Nat Geo’s ‘The Angel Affect’, and PBS’ ‘Arctic Ghost Ship’, so you can be sure he has plenty of stories to share throughout your 10-day adventure.

Huge snow-capped mountains, inviting beaches, pretty rural villages, a genuine subsistence culture and an exceptionally friendly welcome is what awaits anyone who makes the journey to this much unknown gem. From the artist havens of Voskopoje, and the sweeping panoramic views of the Gramos Mountains to forgotten ancient Greek sites in Llogora National Park and the narrow cobbled streets of UNESCO-listed Berat, each day is packed with new adventures. See a different side of life at a local farm and taste local produce, taste your way through Permet which is famous for its food and wine, follow in the footsteps of Julius Caesar at the site where his battles against Pompeii were won, visit crumbling castles in Korce, and so much more.

Highlights

  • Visit Albania's UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Pogradec, Butrint, Berat and Gjirokaster.

  • Taste your way through Permet, situated in the heart of the white mountains and famous for its food and wine.

  • Follow in the footsteps of Julius Caeser at Llogora National Park, where his battles of Pompei were won.

  • Discover historical monuments including Durres Amphitheatre and Korce Museum Of Medieval Arts.

  • Discover Albania’s sites with bestselling author and CEO of the RCGS, John Geiger.

Key information

  • 9 nights hotels with en suite facilities
  • Group normally 9 to 16 including the RCGS guide. Plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned private bus
  • Countries visited: Albania

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch included
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • RCGS Guide & Local Tour leader throughout
  • Group Arrival & departure transfer (available for clients able to join and must be requested with Exodus at least 1 month before departure)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement (on request- subject to availability)
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce. This ensures that our money remains in the community by providing income for people in the area. When meals are not provided, our local guides strongly recommend and encourage clients to visit local cafés and restaurants to try local delicacies. On our way to the town of Gjirokastër, we stop by a traditional village to have a home-cooked lunch and foster friendship over a meal. Clients will also have a chance to witness the running of a working farm in Leskovik, to learn about how livestock are raised and sample some authentic organic produce.

Our local operator is always trying to operate with the locals and wider communities in mind. They have fundraised within their organisation and partners to help children with learning disabilities, providing school materials for a day care in the outskirts of the Tirana. They were also involved in the Albanian Paralympic activities where they provided vehicles for the event and helped people globally with different disabilities to participate in the activities.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Tirana
to
Kruje
  • Day 1

    Start Tirana

    The tour starts today at our hotel in Tirana, Albania’s capital. This afternoon we'll have an orientation tour of the colourful streets of Tirana, which was made the capital of Albania in just 1920. We’ll see the main sites, including the impressive façade of the National History Museum which is adorned with a gigantic mosaic known as ‘The Albanians’. This is one of the finest examples of late Albanian Socialist Realism in the country, depicting the resilience of the people in their fight against invasion and occupation throughout the centuries, and dominates Skanderbeg Square. The exhibits within the museum give great insight into Albania’s intriguing past and recent history up to the present day.


    We also visit Et'hem Bey Mosque, one of the oldest buildings in the city.  This monument has been under reconstruction for the last two years so we will be able only to view it from the outside in 2020 as well. Closed under communist rule, it reopened as a house of worship in 1991 despite opposition from communist authorities (Ethem bey Miosque is currently under restoration and is closed, so will be visited only if restoration work is finished). We also explore an area known as Blloku on foot, where villas were once occupied by members of The Politburo (a former leading sect of the Party of Labour of Albania) but which is now the lively centre of Tirana’s nightlife where trendy bars, cafés, and fashionable clubs can be found. 

    Hotel Opera or Similar

  • Day 2

    Visit Elbasan Fortress en route to Pogradec, offering views across Lake Ohrid

    After breakfast, we begin our drive to Pogradec (approx. 3 hrs. drive), but en route we make a short stop to visit the fortress of Elbasan. A city influenced by various cultures including Turks and more importantly Italians, the fortress here dates back to the 15th century. The fortifications originally incorporated twenty-six towers equidistantly spaced from each other along the length of a nine-metre high wall; today the ruins can be seen along the southern wall which remains more or less intact.

    Our final destination for today is one of the most charming resorts in Albania, Pogradec, thanks to its position on beautiful Lake Ohrid with clear waters and mountain views. The Albanian side of the lake was included in the UNESCO protected monuments list in 2019. Keep your eyes peeled for Ohrid trout (known as ‘Koran’ in Albania), a species endemic to the lake. We go for a scenic walk at Drilon Park on the far side of the lake, to discover the waterways and ornamental plants and trees that make up this special ecosystem. 

    Elite Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Transfer to the artists' village of Voskopojë; continue to Korçë

    This morning we continue driving for about an hour to reach Voskopoja Village (formerly known as Moskopole) an important and well-known centre of art where many talented Albanian painters chose to practice their profession. The village has suffered over the years, as many of its treasures were stolen during the second half of the 18th century and this continued during the world wars. We take a 40 minute walk to visit one of the oldest churches representing Voskopoja religious art.

    Another short drive (approx. 30 mins.) takes us to the largest city of south-eastern Albania, Korçë, which sits at the foot of Moravia Mountain, 800m above sea level. This city became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th Century and has also been referred to as ‘the city of museums’, being home to the National Museum of Mediaeval Art and Archaeology, the Museum of Education (where the first Albanian School was opened in 1878), and the new museum of ‘Bratko Collections’ displaying antiquities from the Far East. Our visit to Korçë includes the National Museum of Mediaeval Art and Archaeology, Mirahori Mosque (one of the oldest in the Balkans) and the famous church 'The Resurrection'. Korçë has been an important religious centre for Orthodox Christians. It's also worth trying the famous local beer whilst in the city.

    British Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Drive via the mountain village of Ersekë to Përmet, famous for its food and wines

    Our drive through the mountains today is truly spectacular as we enjoy sweeping views across the Gramos and Nemercka Mountains. Along the winding route, we enjoy a short stop in Ersekë, which at 1050m is the highest town in Albania. This 17th century town is surrounded by beautiful green pastures of the Gramos Mountains. In the lush forests of Leskovik we stop at a working farm situated in the beautiful woodland. We will see how the different animals are raised here, as well as sample some authentic organic produce. Continuing onwards to beautiful Përmet, we make a quick stop at the old bridge of Benje village, and the hot springs, where we have time to relax and swim. After quite a long day (approx. 5 hrs. drive in total) we arrive in Përmet, situated in the heart of the white mountains on the Vjosë River. This evening you’re sure to be in for a treat as Përmet is famous for its food and wine, including 'gliko' sweets and raki.

    Hotel Villa Permet or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Gjirokastër via the characteristic village of Dhoksat

    Drive to the beautiful town of Gjirokastër (approx. 2 hrs. drive), calling in at the traditional village of Dhoksat en route for a home-cooked lunch. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided visit around the famous town of Gjirokastër. Set on a mountain slope, the cobbled streets wind their way between old houses with interesting architectural features including mediaeval towers. The castle is the main feature and stands like a balcony over the town offering wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. We visit the ethnographic museum which is the house of Albania's former dictator Enver Hoxha.

    Please note: Lunch with the local family can sometimes be changed to dinner dependent on their availability. 

    Argjiro Hotel or Similar 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Visit Butrint, continue to Llogora National Park

    After an early breakfast, we travel to Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated about 18km south of Saranda. Butrint owes its growth and early fame to a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, founded in the 4th century BC. The sanctuary was located on the south slope of the acropolis (hill) and was visited by worshippers to be healed. The Sanctuary was the making of Butrint and the sacred power of Butrint's water, was to be revered as long as the town lasted. The city developed during the Roman times however it fell into decline after an earthquake and was abandoned towards the end of the Middle Ages. From here we drive to Llogora National Park stopping along the coast on the way. Overnight in Llogora.

    Llogora Tourist Village Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Llogora National Park walk and visit Apollonia

    After breakfast, we take a walk in Llogora National Park, possibly reaching Caeser’s field. Yes, Julius Caeser crossed into today’s Albania in his battles against Pompei which was won in this territory.

    Next, we stop at the wonderful ruins of Apollonia (approx. 1.5 -2 hrs. drive). Originally occupied by the Illyrian tribes and then the Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth around 600BC, Apollonia flourished in the Roman period and was home to a renowned school of philosophy (Octavian studied here) but began to decline in the 3rd century AD when its harbour started silting up as a result of an earthquake. After Apollonia we transfer for just over an hour further inland to the UNESCO town of Berat where we spend the night.  

    Portik Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Day in Berat

    Today is dedicated to Berat the gem of Albania. This morning we enjoy a guided tour around the old district of Berat, with its pretty white buildings perched on the hill amid pine forests. We walk through the narrow cobbled streets and finally reach Berat Castle on the slopes of Mount Tomorr, where we are rewarded with breath-taking views (and begin to understand why it is known to Albanians as 'The City of a Thousand Windows'). Within the castle walls are dwelling houses and the Onufri Museum (Museum of Iconography), which we will visit. The rest of the day is free to explore the town. 

    Portik Hotel or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Drive to amphitheatre and port of Durrës; Continue to Krujë

    From Berat we drive to the port of Durrës (approx. 2 hrs. drive), the second largest city in Albania and famed for housing the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans. The amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd century AD, seats 15,000 people and contains an early Christian crypt with rare wall mosaics. The city was colonised by colonists from Corinth and Korkyra in 627 BC and was named Epidamnus, but later became Dyrrachium.

    We then drive to the famous mediaeval citadel of Krujë (approx. 45 mins. drive), where Albania's national hero, Skanderbeg, led the resistance against the Ottomans. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, earning the title "Champion of Christ". In the evening we take a walk to Kruja Hospitality a characteristic house in the castle where you will sample raki and local cheeses.

    Hotel Panorama or Similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Tour of Krujë; visit the ethnographic museum and wander through the bazaar

    After breakfast we’ll have a tour of Krujë. We will visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a rich ethnographic museum inside the castle, and enjoy inspirational views out to the Adriatic Coast. We have time to wander through the medieval bazaar full of souvenirs and handicrafts. A transfer is included to Tirana Airport (approx. 45 minutes drive), which will be scheduled for mid-afternoon for those who wish to join. It is also possible to extend your stay and request additional accommodation in Krujë after the tour or arrange a private transfer back to Tirana Airport or city.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Albania

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Vaccinations

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 1 lunch included.

Food in Albania is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country and particularly Mediterranean combining Turkish, Greek and Italian tastes. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation from the world. However the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, means it is still very much a subsistence culture and shows very little sign of changing. In the countryside expect your food to be very locally sourced. Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee. For lunch and dinner, meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form complimented with a variety of vegetables and salad, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and of course, raki. In the cities along the coast there are a number of restaurants to choose from with an array of Mediterranean cuisine and fresh seafood.

Although treated we recommend that you always drink bottled water including when consuming meals. The most environmentally friendly method is to share larger 750ml re-usable glass bottles served in most restaurants. 

Weather

Albania generally experiences a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures at 25-30ºC/ 77-86ºF on average in the day, and the warmest months are July and August where temperatures can rise to 35ºC/95ºF or above. It becomes cooler further inland towards Pogradec & Korçë during these months, especially in the evenings with high temperatures around 25ºC/77ºF . There is always the small chance of rain in the mountains yet we do not to travel in the coldest and wettest months, which are November to January. Berat also experiences a Mediterranean climate but thanks to its location in the shadow of Mt Tomorr, summers are much warmer than expected for the Mediterranean.

Is this trip for you?

This itinerary includes the main highlights of this fascinating country as well as some well-kept secrets that provide true insight into the Albanian culture. There will be some long drives (maximum 5 hours on day 4) on winding roads through the spectacular wild scenery of southern Albania. Most hotel stays are for one night only. All hotels are equivalent to 3 and 4-star accommodation with en suite rooms yet the standard may vary depending on location. Roads in Albania have improved drastically in the last decade, however many stretches (especially in the south) are winding and have poor signage, making for slower travelling times. Please be prepared for some bumpy journeys where roads have not been resurfaced.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

We spend each night in a different 3 or 4-star hotel or pension with good service, amenities and en suite rooms. Each night we will be situated within walking distance of local attractions and a variety of choice for restaurants to eat in the evening. The accommodation ranges from comfortable modern properties to older properties bursting with character. 

Please note: In the older properties we stay at the rooms vary in size, this is part of the charm of the buildings. Rooms are distributed at random.  

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Travel literature, whether it’s the fascinating memoirs of a life-changing trip into the mysterious Himalayan mountai

Have you been on this adventure? Tell others what it’s like by writing a review.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Trips you might also like

Discover the Baltics

39 reviews

Visit three countries in twelve days, through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Culture
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely
12 Days from £1,599
Guided (Incl. Flights)
View More Details

Walking in Albania

31 reviews

Trek in the Albanian Alps and soak up the culture as you visit historic landmarks

Walking & Trekking
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Moderate
8 Days from £1,249
Guided (Incl. Flights)
View More Details

Cycling in Albania

73 reviews

Discover the beauty of this previously isolated country by bike

Cycling
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Moderate / Challenging
8 Days from £1,299
Guided (Incl. Flights)
View More Details