A fun-packed family adventure on the Albanian coast
Explore the coast of Albania on this fun-packed family adventure both on the water and off. From swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Ionian sea to wandering the streets of pretty UNESCO World Heritage towns, we get a taste of the subsistence culture and rich history of this wonderfully undiscovered country. Spend time with nature as we slowly walk in Llogara National Park, and gently kayak from one inviting beach to another. Visit the ancient ruined city of Butrint, where past civilisations have left their mark, and learn to dance at a traditional folklore evening. With a genuine subsistence culture, some say that visiting Albania is as close as you'll get to travelling back in time. For many, the real highlight is the warm hospitality received all over.
All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner 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 (the communist leader of Albania from 1944-1985), Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to the world. However, due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, it is still very much a subsistence culture and shows very little sign of changing. Expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate. 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.
The group flight usually arrives at lunch time. Those on the group flights will have a transfer to the city centre (approx. 30 minutes). Our trip starts with a guided walk of Albania's colourful capital, Tirana, visiting the new bazaar and the recently renovated Skanderbeg Square, named after the national hero who led Albania's independence of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th Century. We also take the Austrian-made cable car to Mount Dajti National Park (1611m), one of the longest cable cars in the Balkans. *Hotel Kruja or similar*
Today is spent surrounded by nature, as we make our way to the Divjaka region and visit the largest lagoon in Albania, spanning an area of 42km2. We'll take a boat to Pelican Island, home to hundreds of Europe's Dalmatian pelicans. We learn about the ecosystem of the lagoon and the birds that have made it their home. In the afternoon, we drive for approx. 2 hours to Llogara National Park, where we stay for the night. This area is known for its vibrant flora and fauna, with over 100 different types of animals and birds, including deer, wild cats and foxes. It's a beautiful region, with refreshing mountain air and close proximity to the sea. It's a popular spot for picnics and hiking. We'll enjoy a nice walk to Ceasar Pass, which is approx. 1-hour from the hotel. *Alpin Hotel - Llogara, or similar*
This morning we drive to Jali Beach, enjoying the amazing vistas as we wind along the stunning Ionian coastline and pass through small coastal towns. Upon reaching Jali Beach, we have the option to either paddle board or walk to the secluded beach of Gjipe. Hidden in picturesque coves and surrounded by the spectacular canyon, this is a fantastic spot to relax. There is plenty of time to swim and relax here with the family, and there is also the option to do a 1-hour walk inside the canyon. In the afternoon, we drive to the seaside village of Qeparo, where we stay for three nights. *Hotel Riviera or similar*
Today is a free day. The village of Qeparo is split into two parts, the old and new. The old part lies 450m (1480 ft) above sea level, on the western slope of Mount Gjivlash and has an almost abandoned feel to it. There is the option to walk to the old part of Qeparo to enjoy a coffee and the view of the bay. The family can also enjoy swimming in the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea at the small beach by the hotel. *Hotel Riviera or similar*
Today we head back to Jali Beach, where we can enjoy further water activities, such as kayaking to the caves and secluded beaches nearby. The afternoon is free for you to swim and relax with the family. There are cafes and restaurants here, which makes it an excellent spot to spend the day. We'll then return to Qeparo. *Hotel Riviera or similar*
After spending plenty of time on the beach, we now soak up the history and tradition of Albania. We drive for approx. 1.5 hrs to the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located very close to the Greek border. It's one of the country’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins back to the Greeks and the Romans. The children will learn about the history and gain a better understanding of this site through a visual reenactment of the city's life. From Butrint, we continue to Gjirokastra (city of 1000 steps). The well-preserved UNESCO town is perched on the steep side of the Drino Valley, overlooking snow-capped mountains. There is a lot to do here, such as exploring its narrow cobbled alleys and 18th Century Ottoman houses. There is a 13th Century castle where you can learn about the fascinating history of this town, which has seen many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists. Tonight we'll enjoy a folk music night, where we learn Albanian folk dancing. *Hotel Kalemi or Hotel Argjiro*
Today we'll drive to the old town of Berat, with its pretty white buildings perched on the hill amid pine forests. Berat is a lovely town, with narrow cobbled streets leading to Berat Castle on the slopes of Mount Tomorr. There are breathtaking views from the castle and within the castle walls are dwelling houses and the Onufri Museum (Museum of Iconography). We'll visit the Ethnographic Museum of Berat, where the children can dress up in folk costumes. The parents can get involved too! Other activities include drawing and painting, and in the meantime, parents can enjoy the local coffee (or raki, if you'd prefer something a little stronger). *Hotel Mangalemi or Hotel Belgrad Mangalem *
We finish our tour in Berat. Those on the group flights will have a transfer back to Tirana after breakfast, in time for their flight which usually departs around lunchtime.
* All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner * All accommodation * Transfers for group flights
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
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Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.
At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.
All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.
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