Southern Albania boasts a unique horse-riding center in the historical town of Gjirokastra. Caravan Travel started its professional tours 5 years ago; we have five experienced guides with more than 10 years of practice.
Our specialty is long riding tours involving the gamut of paces (mountain ascents, challenging trots in tricky terrains, etc.), our objective being to offer a harmonious sojourn between horses and humankind in memorable settings. We offer our guests a slice of the Albanian way of life, a glimpse of our traditions, an opportunity to share in the village families’ daily doings.
We carry the luggage by car, packing only the most necessary items in the saddle bags: it makes galloping much more comfortable.
Our best and longest trail is that of “the merchants” (Zagoria). This year, we are proud to invite you to “King Skerdilajd´s Army Route”, an excursion that has often been tested across the past 5 years. An additional choice for our first-time visitors, this tour lures satisfied riders to return.
Partly imitating the percorse of the Ilirian King Skerdilajd to conquer Kaonia 2,300 years ago, the ride combines splendid natural panoramas with culture heritage sites, mountain village with seaside town life. The trails offer the possibility of all paces, the landscapes comprising mountain paths with steep ascents and downhills, rivers, woods, seaside, ancient ruins and castles, handsome churches and monasteries.
Traces of Albania’s obscure recent history are visible in the preserved bunkers and military protection infrastructure designed for defense in case of attack from “enemies.”
Our forte is accommodation. Excepting the first and the last nights, our guests enjoy comfortable lodging with hospitable families and agree that the arrangement is ideal. Lively conversations are shared over savoury organic dishes; the fruits, vegetables, and meats are garden-grown and farm-fresh. The special rakis and wines, as well as the famed mountain teas, are all locally produced.
Both mountain delicacies and seafoods are tasty treats along the journey; traditionally extracted olive oil, regional citrus fruits, and fresh fish are in abundance.
From May to the end of September, there are two days to enjoy a dip in the sea.
Flora and Fauna : Among the wide variety of plants and woods, there are 420 species that contain fossils and up to 50 kinds of medicinal and curative herbs; of the 3,250 Albanian species, 13% are native to Gjirokastra´s territory. The most common animals are hares, deer, wild boars, martens, bears, wild cats, etc. Trout, eels and many more marine creatures lurk in the rivers.
Horses: Our mountain horses (133- 153 cm) are an ancient cross of the Tarpan and the Arab breeds and manifest the established characteristics of a safe horse. The rocky landscape of their natural environment has made these horses sure-footed and trustworthy in tense situations and at all paces. Even the stallions are easy to handle and each of them is a natural personality.
This local breed of horse served for centuries to pass the mountains and to transfer the inhabitants’ animals or bees from summer to winter pastures. Used to transport entire families and villages during periods of conflict or war, these horses served the army in medieval times and, according to the ancient writers, continued almost unchanged during the period of King Skerdilajd.
These tours and excursions offer unique and economic opportunities to support and sustain the small local businesses that are working to preserve and protect the Albanian natural treasures by sharing them with caring, respectful visitors.
After a family breakfast , prepare for another long and interesting day that follows the traces of King Skerdilajd’s army through the Pass of the Rock around 2,300 years ago. He is mentioned for the first time as the commander of the 5,000 troops sent by QueenTeuta in 230 BC against Epirus. Skerdilajdi was the youngest brother of King Agron ( who died in 230 BC) and one of the principal supporters of Queen Teuta when she assumed the royal responsibilities until Agron’s infant son Pinnes became an adult .He led the invasion army to the capital of Epirus, Phoinike (Finiq) and played a determining role in Teuta´s plans to create an Adriatic Front against Rome. This trail combines beautiful woods, mountain ascents, rocky landscapes and ruins of ancient civilizations. Basha Stones, Dhespina cave, the Rock of Kaze, The valley of Cheries , the Crooked Brook , Shameti Brook, Trullas Neck, Derrasa hole are some of the local toponims you will find along the ride. Lunch-break will be at an ancient spring in the middle of the platan woods.The ride continues through the mountains of Borsh to reach this village during the afternoon after a total of 9 hours of riding. The whole day´s landscape offers images of wild, untouched nature. Flowers, old trees, streams, shepherds, hundreds of goats, sheep and cows will be part of this riding experience. Be prepared to walk during the day on difficult paths and steep downhills. Good mountain shoes are reccommended. We will be joining the family house late in the afternoon and enjoying the traditional food rich in olive oil. Wine, raki and mountain tea will accompany your meal.