iRide Aibania office
Level of d1ffiulty: moderate to strenuous
Stay one night
A,i,Transfert to Pogradec
World heritage center
Border crossing point
Day 7 Sarandë Qeparo
Day 8 Qeparo Berat
Day 9 Tiran Departure
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.
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.
OK Cycle & Adventure Tours
Assisting people realizing their cycling dreams
is my passion.
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.
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
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.
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
Depending on the flight we have time to visit the capital and the Nation Museum. Transfer at Mother Teresa Airport.
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.
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.
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
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