Albania adventure tours & ok cycle


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Albania adventure tours & ok cycle

  1. 1. ALBANIA -EXCLUSIVE Distance: 425 kin Duration: TavelMethod:’ iRide Aibania office Level of d1ffiulty: moderate to strenuous Tour Start/Finnish Coffee break Intlnerary bay I Rest day Stay one night A,i,Transfert to Pogradec Day 2 Pógradec Korçë Korçë G&menjë Picknick World heritage center Day 4 Atraction site Day ‘5 Sightseeing 0 Day 3 - Day 6 Day number Border crossing point (0 70km - G&rnenj P&mct Përnwt Gjirökasti - - Gjirokastër Sarandë Day 7 Sarandë Qeparo Day 8 Qeparo Berat Day 9 Tiran Departure - 45km 46km 40km - U 4-, (0 Albania fra land to visit before the inevitable changes as it emerges from its political pris— on. This tour is a journey through time, from buzzing Tirana to Berati’s Ottoman villas, along the Jonian coast; over mountains and through gorges aiid villages whre friendly people struggle with a subsistence lifestyle. t3 Discover the highlights of this fascinating off the beaten track destination from the sad dle. Cycle uphill through the scenic Liogora Pass, where the Adriatic meets the lonian Sea. Enjoy an exhilirating downhill coastal ride along the turquoiseAlbanian Riveria and explore villages, gorges and canyons as well as Albania’s rich cultural heritage through its archaelogical ruins. This tour passes through the three UNESCO sites in Albania. (0 C (0 C 0 Cycling Parry Van — El OK Cycle & Adventure Tours Assisting people realizing their cycling dreams is my passion.
  2. 2. UNESCO Tour Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you’ll get to travel back in time. Until the dissolution of the People’s Republic of Albania, it was rare that foreigners had a chance to visit this mysteryshrouded country. Since the borders opened in 1991, anyone visiting Albania quickly reali2es that this is a very special place. Unlike Croatia, just a few hundred kilometers up the coast, Albania has remained undiscovered by mass tourism. We feel that this sets it apart among our destinations. People in many isolated areas are still filled with excitement and curiosity to see visitors in their villages, especially those travelling by bicycle. You will be welcomed with open arms and warm, sincere hospitality. The history of Albania is long and complex. This area has been populated for over 4000 years, and has been conquered by the Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgari, Normans, and Serbs. In 1468 Albanian came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, which remained the case until 1912, when they declared independence. The country’s economy has seen an upturn since 2002, resulting in significant upgrades in infrastructure, which you will surely appreciate. The roads are mostly paved, and although at times quite steep, you will be distracted from the climb by stunning views, and rewarded by adrenaline pumping descents.
  3. 3. Intinerary Day I Arrival in Tiraria Rendezvous at Tirana airport and transfer to hotel in Ohrid lake, national park in Pogradec. 140km /2 hr Day 2 Cycle to Korce 42 km A climb out from the lake into another high plateau bounded by mountains. Continue following the gorge for awhile until the hills open up leading to a vast plain, a patchwork of individual farms and colours. Day .3 Cycle to Germenje 78 km Leave behind the agricultural plateau of Korce, climbing stead ily into the border mountains through a landscape of barren rock interspersed with wild flowers. Numerous cols and valleys lie ahead, climbing into the heart of the Grammoz Mountains and over the Barmash Pass(1159m) to Germenj lying in its own tranquil valley. 1 )iy I Cycle to Permet 60 km A climb out from Germenj to a high grassy plateau surrounded by soaring peaks before reaching the source of the River Vjosa and descending through its spectacular gorge to Leskovik. Con tinue descending to Cashare and then follow the corniche route high above the river to Permet situated on a bluff above the river. Famed for its cuisine and its strong raki, Permet provides us with an opportunity this evening to enjoy some traditional Albanian delicacies in a local restaurant. Day S cycle to Gjirokaster 70 km Continue along the valley towards Kelcyra the distant shark’s tooth peaks, which guard a further gorge. Ride between them to the confluence of the Drinos following yet another gorge. This opens out into a wide plain with the town of Gjirokastra (city of 1000 steps) high above on the right. A chance to explore its nar row cobbled alleys and Ottoman houses. Day 6 Cycle to Saranda 65km The gateway to southern Albania, Saranda lies along the Ionian coast, sandwiched between the high mountains and the sea and close to the ancient remains of Butrint. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Butrint is one of the county’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins back to the Greeks and the Romans. We’ll cycle out to the site this afternoon to pay a visit, before returning to Saranda for the evening. Day 7 Cycle to Qeparo 70 km A roller coaster of a ride leaving as the mist is burnt off by the sun, climbing steeply out of Saranda to a rocky plateau. Then it’s over cols into bays and around headlands, always with the stunning mountain scenery to the right and sea to the left before descending to the long beach and the bay of Qeparo.
  4. 4. Day 8 Cycle to Dhermi Transfert to Berat 40 km Down into the valley heading north before climbing over several cols through woodlands, wee gorges, forests and hairpin bends and on the descent to the most famous beach in Albania, Dhermi beach. After lunch transfert to Berat. Berati is perhaps the most beautiful town in Albania, being a ‘museum’ town. Explore the cobbled alleys between the white walled houses and visit the citadel high above. Day 9 Transfert to Tirana, Departure 160km /2.5hr Before we head back to Tirana this morning, we pay a visit to the Onufri Iconographic Museum, located in the sanctu ary of St Mary’s Church in the inhabited quarter of Berat Castle. Home to a remarkable collection of religious paintings, the museum is named after a famous 16th century icon painter whose works were characterised by post-Byzantine and Venetian influences. Depending on the flight we have time to visit the capital and the Nation Museum. Transfer at Mother Teresa Airport. Rides There are a couple of harder days on the tour but the support vehicle allows you to do as much cycling as you wish. Get a lift to the top of the col and cycle down the valley or choose which bits you want to ride on a daily basis. Your leader will suggest how you can get the most out of the trip with total enjoyment. Horror stories abound about the condition of the roads here. The ones the tour uses are all sealed and have a good surface, some being totally new. Drivers are patient in Albania and will wait behind until it’s safe to overtake and give verbal encouragement. We all ride at different speeds, and this varies depending upon how we feel on the day. The ascents, culture shock, heat, altitude and change of diet all affect the way we perform. The guides tend to ride through the group, but stop on the top of passes to regroup. It is not essential that you try and keep up with everyone. Just ride at your own speed and enjoy it. If you are having a bad day you will be supported. Remember the vehicle is there for you, driving always on the back of the group. Detailed route descriptions will be given with the final tour information on your arrival before the tour starts. Luggage carrying There will be a support vehicle for luggage, capable of carrying up to 8 riders and bikes if required. Space is restricted to either 2 panniers OR one airline bag OR one medium size rucksack (50 litres) per person. Accommodation and meals Accommodation will be in 3-4 star hotels of the Albanian Tourist Board grading system having en suite facili ties. Rooms are shared 2 people per room. Single occupancy supplement (15€ per night) is subject to availabil ity. Meals are full board (8 breakfasts, 7 lunch and 8 evening meals) throughout. Vegetarian meals are available. Lunch and dinner is served at the best restourants in the traveled area and not in the hotels. Breakfast is sort of European with bread jams coffee etc around 0730 am, and be on the road for 08° am. During the morning we’ll find a convenient place for coffee and then lunch around midday. Depending on the day we should arrive at the hotel in the late afternoon allowing time to explore. The evening meal is normally served around 1900 pm. Weather and clothing At this time of year it should be mostly warm, with cool early mornings and temperatures rising to around 25C mid-day and falling rapidly at night in the mountains as the sun goes down. A fleece and long trousers for the evening are fine. Rain is a possibility, therefore you will need waterproofs. Sun cream is a must, as is a covering for your head.
  5. 5. The area covcred by the Tour Albania, as with all Balkan countries, has changed hands through invasion by the Greeks, Romans and in the 15th century the Ottomans who held it until 1912. Independence was secured but the country broke into war ring factions to be consolidated in the 1920s by King Zog who saw co-operation with Italy as the mainstay of his power. Italy increased its influence there and gradually took over the running of the country with Mussolini ordering its occupationin 1939. In 1941 Enver Hoxha formed the Communist Party; which after WW2 consoli dated the various opposing factions into one party. Initially they followed Russian style communism, but follow ing disagreements in 1967 adopted a Chinese style cultural revolution, which basically lasted until the death of Hoxhain 1985. Communism still held sway until elections in 1992 when constraints were removed añ1 a free for all market developed producing further crises. The Balkan war brought in huge numbers of refugees, adding further to the problems. However, since 2002, economic revival has occurred, seen in construction of buildings and new roads,, a great help to us. It is still estimated that 20k% of the population live in poverty;. However, that hasn’t damp ened the traditional warm welcomes that come from the people. This tour takes in the part of the country south ofTirana. It is mountainous and therefore difficult to move across. The main roads follow the valleys, often following the rivers that have carved out huge gorges, particularly in the Vjosa gorge where huge rock walls and cirques dominate the horizon. Extensive plateaux around Lake Ohrid and Gjirokastra provide and patchwork landscape of fields, remnants of the collective farms. Farmers tend individual cows, some sheep, cut hay with scythes, stack it in mushroom-styled ricks and follow the rhythm of the seasons. All crops are bio friendly as chemicals are too expensive to use, although they are for sale. A feature of the landscape are ‘mushroom’ type blockhouses built for defence. History has it that the architect sat inside one, took a direct hit from a tank round and survived. He got the order for 38,000 of them!!! The lonian coast is heavily indented, the land being covered in pine forest offering some shade to the new road as it snakes its way up and down through fishing villages, which have realised tourism. Saranda is the largest town in the south. However, it’s still an Albanian tourist spot, as Western tour operators haven’t really found it yet. Inland the mountain ‘museum’ towns of Gjirokastra and Berati allow you to wander through their cobbled al leys, taking in their architectural beauties of white-washed Ottoman houses whose inner courtyards are covered in trailing vines shaded by trees. This sits in total contrast to Tirana where, like any other European city, you have access to everything. ‘ Price per person: Self guided minimum 2 people/travel anytiple 1280 Euros per person double includes 9 days. 8 nights, 8 breakfasts, transfers from and to the airport, luggage handling from hotel to hotel, local tourist taxes, bike rental with accessories including bike map, emergency phone, GPS, suggested eating places/sights and VAT Price per person: Guided September 22 only 1480 Euros per person double includes9 days, 8 nights, 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 8 dinners. All transfers, support vehicle with hi-lingual driver that carries luggage and up to 8 bikes and riders, professional English speaking guide riding with the group, Giant Roam hybrid bike and accessories, entry fees to all attractions and sites NOT included are drinks with meals Single occupancy available