In the footsteps of the shepherd

Albania

12 days

Tour reference: FA1-12-UK

Description:

Go on a journey with your family which will lead you in the off-the-beaten-path of the mountainous region of northeastern Albania. Dibërdistrict offers beautiful natural attractions and possesses a rich cultural heritage and an abundance of locally grown and made products.

This trip is specially designed for families with or without children, wishing to share a part of their leisure time with local families.For those who wishes to integrate a community in order to enrich their knowledges with the cultures, traditions and history of an unknown population and country but also to discover fantastic landscapes and places, many of which tell by themselves the myths and legends that have shaped them.

Live an unforgettable experience in company of 3 Albanian families. Share some of their moments of life. Discover the surrounding nature by following the shepherd’s paths. Taste traditional dishes – which you may have helped to prepare. Visit historical, sometimes unusual places and let your imagination guiding you in this adventure. Live your holidays.

Strengths:

  • Moments of life to share with 3 tremendous Albanian families
  • For families from 4 to 77+ years
  • Journey in 3 remote mountainous locations in Albania
  • Unforgettable moments
  • Private transport
Day 1

Tirana Airport – Ujmisht

Welcome at Tirana International Airport by an English-speaking member of Savatours Incoming. Delivery of the rental vehicle by a member of the EASY DRIVE ALBANIA team (English-speaking) and of the documents necessary for the entire trip. Departure to Ujmisht. This is an approximately 3 hours trip.
The road and then the highway head to the northeastern Albania to reach the city of Kukes. The city sprawls across the Luma Plain within the Albanian Alps between the banks of Lake Fierza and the hills of the northernmost Galiica Mountains and Sharr Mountains.
Kukës traces its history back over a thousand years. The region that nowadays corresponds to the city territory was inhabited by several ancient Illyrian tribes, as most of Albania. Numerous tombs from the Illyrians has been identified at Këneta and Kolsh nearby the city. The residential estate served as a stopping point on a branch road leading to the Via Egnatia, which connected Durrës on the Adriatic Sea in the west with Constantinople on the Marmara Sea in the east. In modern times and due to the close proximity to Kosovo, the city achieved worldwide recognition during the Kosovo War as thousands of Kosovo-Albanian refugees crossed the border and found security in the city.
The city was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in regard to hospitality and for embracing thousands of refugees during the Kosovo War. It was the first time a town was nominated for the prize. In 2017, the city applied for the 2018 European Green Capital Award to become Europe’s Green Capital.
However, due to the absence of investments, the city did not yet success to emerge as touristic place.
According to the arrival time at TIA, a lunch can be organized along the banks of the White Drin river in Kukes. Then full south to reach the hosting destination in Ujmisht village. The new road will twist and turn following the hills and ridges of the Gjalices, and Korab mountains, and the Black Drin valley. The itinerary offers breathless views on these wonderful natural attractions. The road will also cross or pass-by some typical Albanian villages which host many old farms dating from the Ottoman empire and usually named “kulla” (towers). Ujmisht is known in the history of Luma district for the local tradition, for its bravery in the battles for freedom and many renown nationalist are from this region.
The guesthouse is located at approximately 700 meters of altitude offering beautiful views on the Black Drin valley, the mountains surrounding the Gjalica mounts and the highest peak of Albania, the Korab mount. The guesthouse was built within the first half of the XX century by the son of Jemin Sul Gjana, known as one of the Luma’s leading leaders during the wars against the Ottoman Empire. The Gjana family arrived in Ujmisht, moving from Shkodra, approximately 300 years ago. Enjoy the hospitality, tradition and history of this wonderful family.
Installation in the guesthouse and sharing some moments of life with the host family while discovering the place.
Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse.

Day 2

Ujmisht


After the breakfast and eventually a participation in housework, departure to the Black Drin river to enjoy its clear and fresh water. Swimming, catching trouts with hands, building a watermill, etc. many activities can be done.
Picnic can be taken along the banks of the Black Drin in order to fully enjoy the scenery that offers this river. Walking alongside its banks will lead the visitors up to old bridges and an ancient water mill. As alternative for the afternoon, lunch at the guesthouse and after some good resting time, a walk in the surrounding hills to get beautiful views on the Gjallica mountains and its peak (2060 m) on the north, the Korabi mountains range with the Mt Korab (2764 m) on the southeast and the Black Drin valley on the western side.
Once back at the guesthouse, it will be time to prepare together the dinner for all the guesthouse’ guests and to share insights to each other culinary specialties and culture.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 3

Ujmisht – Buzëmadhe - Ujmisht

After the breakfast, direction the hamlet of Buzëmadhe. The mountain village is in between the Gjallica mountains, the Sharr mountains and the Korab mountains. Its unspoiled location offers astonish views on the South Balkan European Green Belt. The European Green Belt initiative is a grassroots movement for nature conservation and sustainable development along the corridor of the former Iron Curtain. The European Green Belt route connects National Parks, Nature Parks, Biosphere Reserves and transboundary protected areas as well as non-protected valuable habitats along or across the (former) borders. It starts from the Barents Sea and ends in Bulgaria and north of Greece.
If Buzëmadhe is completely unknown by most of the Albanian inhabitants, it is not “that” isolated. Indeed, the hamlet hosts the Ismailit Dervish Tekke. According to the legends, the place has some health benefits and is still visited time to time by believers. Walk around the hamlet to discover and enjoy the pastures and views on surrounding sceneries.
After this walk in the open air, return to the hostel and participate with the host family in the farm activities, and possibly dinner.
Overnight in the guesthouse

Day 4

Ujmisht - Rabdishte


After the breakfast, it will be time to departure to Rabdishte. It is approximately a 1 hour drive. The road will wind its way, up and down, following the curves of the hills and mountains. The transfer will offer magnificent views, especially of Mount Korab and its surroundings, but also on the horizon, which will offer deep landscapes along the detours, revealing the beauty and curiosities of the nature, but also those created by man.
Rabdishte village is one of the most interesting villages in Albania. The mountain location, the traditional stonework, as well as the cobbled streets, give its appearance and its name, the “stone village”. Rabdishte is located at the top of the Healing Valley, which has taken its name from the curative properties of the thermal springs of Peshkopi and from the mountainous part of Rabdishte highland pasture, part of the Deshat-Korab mountain range. Agriculture is the main part of the village economy, specializing in potatoes, different types of nuts, apples, forest fruits and medicinal plants. Rabdishte is only 6 km from Peshkopi and offers a combination of natural beauty, thermal waters and fresh mountain air.
The guesthouse is located approximately 6 km from Peshkopi. The village is very well-known for its surrounding virgin nature and splendid mountains and forests. Much more than a Guesthouse, the place is an unique experience that offers traditional intertwined with modern. The family will treat the guests with royalty and within its traditional Albanian hospitality. Feel like being home. They will tell you the secrets of their virgin region. The friendly place offers great ambiance, areas to chill out and a great atmosphere. Enjoy the hospitality of the welcoming family.
Installation in the guesthouse and sharing some moments of life with the host family while discovering the place.
After the homemade lunch, visit of the village which hosts many traditional stone houses with great views of the surrounding nature and mountains. Many old footpaths and shepherds trails crossing the region are still used today, leading nature lovers through fields and meadows, past streams and waterfalls and through forested areas in the mountains. Visit of Rabdisht’ apple plantations and potato fields which surround the village.
While kids are playing inside the garden or watching the horses passing-by, it is time to put your hands inside the kitchen and experience the preparation of a traditional dinner with the hostess and taste authentic flavors.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 5

Rabdishte


After the breakfast direction Peshkopi for a city tour. Peshkopi is the center of Dibër Municipality. It is thought that the name of Peshkopi is related to the existence of the “Episcopate of Stefanika”, since 1020. Peshkopi was a secondary hub for the province of Dibër, following the town of Dibër e Madhe (Great Debar), in modern day North Macedonia. Debar was a renowned trade and craft center in the past and has played an important role in the history of the entire region. The role of this position faded by the imposition of arbitrary boundaries in 1913, where the Great Debar, which was the commercial center for the time, remained out of Albanian borders. After 1913 Peshkopi became the center of Dibër, where the administration, bazaar and several stores of various crafts were established. In July 1920, local administration was established at the prefecture and municipal levels. In 1920the postal service began, telephone lines were established and army barracks were built. After 1945 Peshkopi was the center of the district of Dibër and was built as a multifunctional city, according to the socialist model of the time, including all administrative, social, cultural, educational and economic aspects.
Visit of the old city of Peshkopi including the Saraçi water mill.
After the lunch at the guesthouse and some free time, a walk of approximately 1:30 to 2:00 hours is proposed inside the Lugu Arushës “the Bear valley”. The Lugu Arushes is one of the torrent canyons of Rabdishte. The beautiful woods of Boravik growing on the gypsum and rock composition offer an environment suitable for wild fauna. Due to the water ressources, legend says that the bears come from the mountain to drink water.
Free time and moments to share with the host family up to the dinner.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 6

Rabdishte


After the breakfast, preparation of the picnic and lets go for a hike in the surrounding gorgeous mountains, where horse or mule will accompany the guests to offer some horse rides to the kids. It will be an early departure to avoid the heat of the summer period specially from 15 July to end of August.
For those who are not well-trained hikers and/or have little kids, direction the Highlands Pasture. The journey will take approximately 4 to 5 hours (without the lunch stop). The itinerary crosses the village and start climbing the hills up to a glacial lake. The place offers beautiful views on the surrounding nature and on the Zagradi’s Stone natural attraction. Then it continues on the Sheep Pens pastures where shepherds and herds can be seen. Adults and kids can share a moment with the farmers and their animals. A little further, the path passes-by an artificial lake built in stone centuries ago and used as drinking through for the animals. Later, the itinerary arrives at the legendary Old Nanny’s Fountain – let your guide telling you the story of that legend. The itinerary arrives at the old glacial lake named the Fish Meadow and further at the Hameku’s Pond where lunch will be taken. The place is surrounding by beautiful forests and virgin meadows. Horse will be free in the pasture to enjoy the flourishing green grass. After the lunch, it will be time to start descending towards Rabdishte. The path goes through the Argeshi forest to see the famous Serbs stone, or if you feel tired, a shorter way will be proposed.
For those who love to hike, direction the Fish’s meadow. The goal of this hike being to climb the Maja e Veshasve (2300 m.), the highest peak of this part of the region and to reach the border with North Macedonia. There one more step and the border is crossed. The top of the peak offers wonderful views on the surrounding Sharr Mountains (the colorful mountains) which touristic interest is raising through the High Scardus and Diber Trails and Tradition project.
Free time and moments to share with the host family up to the dinner.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 7

Rabdishte


After the breakfast and eventually a participation in housework, preparation of the picnic and direction Peshkopi to visit is museum. The museum is divided into three sections: history, archeology and ethnography, all of which reflect the material and spiritual culture and history of Diber from the early Neolithic to moderm day. Items include a variety of folk costumes, rugs and carpets, various weapons since the Illyrian period, coins, etc.
Then, direction the Zerja agritourism farm where guests can learn about agro-products such as jufka, a traditionally made pasta, fruit compotes, fruit jams, etc, and see how they are made and where certain ingredients are grown.
After the lunch at the Zerja agritourism farm, direction the canyon of the Black Drin river located between Gradec and Hostesh for a gorgeous walk alongside a natural beauty offering diverse landscape through rocky straits, wonderful canyons and low green forests and where the water has a deep dark color. It’s about a 3 hours walk and visitors will enjoy to cross the Black Drin on an old wired & wooden bridge. Opportunity for swimming into these black waters will be offered.
Free time and moments to share with the host family up to the dinner.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Note: According to the seasons or guests own will, visitors may participate to milk the cows, collect the eggs, go to the farm fields to collect apples, cherries, etc., mow the lawn and enjoy harvesting.
Day 8

Rabdishte – Arras


After the breakfast, it will be time to departure to Arras. It is approximately a 30 to 40’ drive. Short after Peshkopi, a stop shall be done to visit the Zunes Tower “Kulla e Zunës” in Sohodoll . It was built in 1827 and consists in a simple rectangular layout of 4 floors and 7 windows. The tower is made of stone and lime. Every doors, starting from the second floor has barrel turret bars that are numerous. The construction technique is unique in its own kind.
Arras is a very peaceful small village which dominate the Black Drin valley. It is surrounding by a succession of hills cross by a stream which found its spring at the southern part of the Lurë-Dejës Mountain National Park. Arras offers a multitude of possibilities for outdoor activities.
The guesthouse is situated in a farming community offering guests many opportunities to observe traditional farming practices and the chance to take part of any farming activities on the farm. The owner family runs the guesthouse with love and their kids will undoubtedly join the guests and lead them during the stay. If hospitality is a tradition in Diber region, here it is in the genes.
Installation in the guesthouse and sharing some moments of life with the host family while discovering the place.
After the lunch, direction the small village of Sinë e Epërme. It is approximately an hour walking before reaching the place of names, traditions and legends of the Kastriot family, from which George Kastriot Skanderbeg, the Albania’s National Hero found his origins. Skanderbeg was born in 1405 in Dibër and fought many battles against the ottomans. On 28 November 1443, with 300 knights, he went to Kruja and raised the Albanian National flag on the top of the fortress. Then, visit of the Ballaban’s tomb, Skanderbeg Cornel tree (Ulësa) – the place where the son of Skanderbeg jumped out.

Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse.

Day 9

Arras


After the breakfast and eventually a participation in the housework, preparation of the picnic. The daily hike will go up the river gorge to discover the fabulous beauty of the nature. Horse or mule will accompany the guests to offer some horse rides to the kids. The journey will take approximately 4 to 5 hours (without the lunch stop).
The path will pass-by the cap of Xhites “Kepi I Xhites” and will take the direction of the village of Spella e Kllogjeshës. This is a very cultivated area. Local farmers could be seen cultivating their lands in a traditional way. The itinerary will follow the stream up to the canyon of Setes “Gryka e Setes”. There, the river will be crossed to return to Arras from the opposite bank. On the way back, a stop is made to see the cold spring of Sphella e Sopanikes and the cave of Burim e Sopanikes and further a waterfall and finally the cap of Xhites “Kepi I Xhites”. Swimming and trying to catch the trouts will be part of the enjoyable moments that guests will live.
Return to the guesthouse and enjoy some free time before the dinner.
Overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 10

Arras


After the breakfast it will certainly be the occasion to try some traditional farming practices and to take part of any farming activities on the farm with the hosting family.
Then, it might be time to prepare the lunch after which, the owner will accompany the guests to a typical village, not very far from Arras. Welcome to Muhurr. Muhurr hosts the Drin River festival every 1st of July. it is the festive activity that marks the opening of the tourist season in the Muhurr administrative unit. Celebrations are numerous like: music playing, dancing and singing, various sports activities etc.
It is not the 1st of July… then enjoy the visit of the Dine Hoxha Tower. This a three storey tower that was built in 1929. Each floor represents a single environment. The servants lived on the first floor, the family on the second floor, while the third and fourth floors were for the numerous guests. The Dine Hoxha tower is built of stone, mortar and wood layers. The corners are decorated with carved stonework.

After, have a look at the Dobi’s Oak Tree. This is an 160 years old oak that has a height of 25 meters and a perimeter of 320 cm. its branches form a protective umbrella of 78 meters wide. Then, short walk up to the Red Cave. It’s a karstic cave formed in limestone measuring approximately 400 meters wide and 4 meters high. the cave has many concave and rare charms.
Return to the guesthouse and enjoy the visit of the local fish farm or it will certainly be the occasion to improve some traditional farming practices and to take part of any farming activities on the farm with the hosting family.
Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse.

Day 11

Arras - Kruja


After the breakfast, it will be time to departure to Kruja. It will take approximately 5 hours (without any stops) to reach Kruja. The itinerary will cross the Diber region before reaching the Mat and Kurbin districts and finally the Kruja district.
After the village of Maqellarë, visit in the village of Burin of the Allajbegi’s Mosque, which is a cultural monument since 1970. The mosque was built before 1585 using carved rectangular brown stones.
In the village of Klos, stop to see an old bridge. Have a look at the typic towers of Shulbatër village. Stop around Ulëz Regional Nature Park or the beautiful banks of the Lake Shkopeti to get your lunch. Just after the water dam of Shkopet, the road continues alongside the canyon of Shkopet and crosses the Shkopet natural gate.
Kruja will be reached within mid-of afternoon. Rich in history and tradition, Kruja is home of the patriots and the epicenter of Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. It was here that Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg, Albania’s greatest national hero, defended the country from the invasion of the Ottomans. The National Museum dedicated to the hero is housed in the famous Kruja Castle and shows both the legendary hero’s history and the traditional way of life of the city’s population. The city’s famous bazaar serves as a bridge between this glorious past and the present, offering a rich array of traditional products made from local artisans.
Check-in at the hotel and free time in Kruja.
Dinner and overnight in the hotel.
Day 12

Kruja – Tirana Airport


Transfer to Rinas airport and return of the vehicle to the rental agency.

 

INCLUDED
Accommodation in guesthouses and Hotel 4* (day 11): 11* Breakfasts, 9* lunches or picnics and 11* dinners
Transportation – Car rental (See Car Rental Tab) 1* horse or mule as specified under the program (children only – adults upon request and additional cost)
1* Roadbook in English language All visits and activities mentioned in this program. Free visit in Kruja (day 11)
1* 24/24 hrs mobile number in case of emergency All local taxes
A 0.5l bottle of water per person is served with meals
NOT INCLUDED
All personal expenses of participants All visits mentioned in this program
Lunches day 1 and day 11 Any expenses related to the car rental as per contract agreement between the hirer and the car rental company
Beverages not mentioned above, such as alcohols Tips and gratuities
Travel insurance Air transport
  • Category 2: Up to 4/5 persons: Vehicle type Skoda Rapid, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra or equivalent.
  • Category 3: Up to 4/5 persons: Vehicle type Skoda Octavia or equivalent.
  • Category SUV: Up to 4/5 persons: Vehicle type Skoda Yeti, Hyundai Tucson or equivalent.
  • Category minivan: Up to 6/9 persons: Minivan type Ford Transit, VW Transporter or equivalent.
  • Note: Vehicle models are given for information only. Another model can be proposed or given according to availability.

No credit card will be requested to finalize the location of the car. Insurance included. Does not include fuel or any other fees such as parking…

  • Tour based on arrival and departure times before 11:30 am.
  • Depending on the season and/or the availability of the restaurants, dinners may be taken in the hotels.
  • Local guiding services (city private local tour) can be proposed upon request.
  • Additional services (such as 2 horses or mules) can be provided upon request.
  • Child: is considered as child every child having an age between 4 to 11.99 years old
  • The above mentioned program is not adapted for kids below 3.99 years old

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