Albania, bike and sea Tracking the southern coast and discovering history and stories in the inland valleys, by simonetta bike tours

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  • 1. Albania, bike and sea Tracking the southern coast and discovering history and stories in the inland valleys The tour is almost a circular path and runs through one of the most beautiful areas of Albania: the south of the country. The first part of the tour follows the coastline, from north to the very south, at the borderline of Greece, from where we will then head north again crossing some inland valleys. The starting point is Fier, a city close to the archeological site of Apollonia. We will then cross the countryside and the Narta’s lagoon to reach the city of Valona. From there we will go to the Llogorà pass, the center of the homonymous natural park with thick pinewoods. From the pass, with the sea on our side, we will follow the almost wild southern coast to the archeological site of Butrinti. The sea is very clear and there are only a few small villages to stain the landscape. They cultivate olive trees there, on a side of Aleppo pinewoods and oak-trees. We will cross very different landscapes: dry and steep mounts, forests and cultivated terraces, badlands with red or gray soil and canyon dug out by the rivers. We will see a lot of water: torrents, sources, lakes and rivers. Once we leave the coast, we will bike through some lovely inland valleys and stay in two stone towns, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Gjirokastër and Berat. We will then explore a wild valley, practicable only by SUV or mule, and close our day with a special experience: we will go down the Osumi River with rafting boats through a unique uncontaminated canyon with sheer cliffs and thin waterfalls. Albania, in its original language Shqipëria, fascinates and conquers us, not only because of its beautiful sea, the landscapes and the nature, but also for the smiling, respectful and hospitable people you can come across with. These people are proud of their simple life, which to us looks like a scene from 50 years ago. The oldest history of this country goes back to a great past of struggle against the Turks, and the most recent and known history talks about the 40 years of very strong oppression of the communist regime. The tradition, tied to a very strong morality, is very important for this people but it got knotted to a surprising open mind.In this country there are 3 different religions in community together: the Orthodox Christian, the Orthodox and the Muslim. In Albania there is no security problem and in almost every village, you can leave the bikes unlocked and walk around at any time. The tour has an additional value because our Albanian business partner Bashkim Hyka will come along and help us understand, appreciate and love his country. UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the archaeological site of Butrinti, the old cities of Gjirokastër and Berat. Duration: 10 days, 9 nights, 7 biking days. Difficulty: Intermediate Place: Albania Tour description: The tour is a 7 days bike route and one day travel with an off-road vehicle. The trail follows secondary roads with low or short distances medium car traffic. The road bank is mostly asphalt, with the exception of some short stretches of smooth dirt roads, with one more challenging. The path goes up and down, and there are some steep climbs. On the last day we will travel with the off-road vehicle up to a pass and than down to the other side of the valley, from there we will raft down the Osumi River in canoes, (provided that the conditions are good). Visits: the naturalistic site of ‘the Blue Eyes’; Guided visit of: Skanderberg museum in Krujë, archeological sites of Apollonia and Butrinti, the fortress of Alì Pascià Tepelene in Porto Palermo, the castle and the traditional house in Gjirokastër, and castle and the icon’s museum in Berat. 2014-Tour – Albania, bike and sea Pag 1 di 3
  • 2. PROGRAM Day 1 Independent travel with arrival at Tirana’s airport, transfer to Krujë to visit the Skanderberg Museum. Later transfer to Fier. Day 2 Apollonia > Vlorë/Valona – 60 km – about 100 meters height difference Day 3 Valona > Dhërmi – 40 km – about 700 meters height difference The agency van will bring us to the Lhogorà Pass. For those who want to undertake the whole venture, the full length to the Lhogorà Pass is 55 km with about 1150 meters height difference. Day 4 Dhërmi > Himarë – 25 km – about 400 meters height difference Day 5 Himarë > Sarande – 60 km – about 200 meters height difference Day 6 Sarande > Butrinti – 20 km – about 700 meters height difference Day 7 Butrinti > the Blue Eye – 50 km – about 300 meters height difference – The agency van will then take us to Gjirokastër. Day 8 Gjirokastër > Përmet – 45 km – 20 km transfer – about 200 meters height difference Day 9 Përmet > Berat With the agency van (all-terrain vehicle) + 2 hours of rafting along the canyon of Osumi River. Day 10 Berat > Tirana The agency van will take us to Tirana’s airport, according to flights departure times. The tour fee usually includes those services: - 9 night with breakfast in a three and four stars hotels. - 9 three-course-dinners (or more) with typical local recipes, one drink (1/4 liter wine or 300 cl beer), tap water and bread are included. Fish dinners with an alternative for those who don’t have fish. - 8 light lunches at small restaurants on the way (one main course or salad and water). - 2 tour guides, 1 by bike and one with the agency van. - Hotel city tax. - Visits (see the program). - River crossing on raft, transfers when needed. - Agency van, which follows the whole tour in order to guarantee: the luggage transport service and the assistance during the tour. - Insurance for medical matters covering up to 100.000€ - Tour cancelation insurance. - Color tour handbook with historical and artistic information and information about the tour itself. 2014-Tour – Albania, bike and sea Pag 2 di 3
  • 3. Extra services Bike renting: we can provide excellent mountain bikes for the entire duration of the tour. Bikes are given and handed in on the spot. Those taking their own bike may leave the case at our rental store. Rafting (optional): the price for 2/3 hours raft is 40€. Rafting is possible only if the weather conditions are good enough. This service is provided by Albania Rafting Group www.albrafting.com. Each canoe has 2 guides and carries 4 to 6 people; we provide: wetsuit, lifejacket, helmet. Those participating need to sign the dimiss Simonetta Bike Tours from any responsibility. How to book This trip has already been tested and can be adapted to small or bigger groups. We propose guided tours leaded by our guides who speak english, german, french, spanish and portuguese. We can provide this trip also without leaders as long as the group can follow the tracks using a gps since itineraries develop on broads that are not always easy to find. On demand we can also provide other services as, for instance, a bus following the group and much more. Big groups are kindly invited to book in advance. To contact us: Speaking english – spanish – french Anna Magrin – anna@simonettabiketours.it Speaking german – portuguese Elisa Zambelli – elisa@simonettabiketours.it Simonetta Bike Tours - Cicloavventure per turisti curiosi Vicoletto cieco San Carlo, 2 – 37129 Verona – Italy | fax +39 045 711 17 61 p.iva 03969700230 | Registro Imprese di Verona REA CCIAA n. 380687 Autorizzazione della Provincia di Verona n. 6382 del 13.12.2010 2014-Tour – Albania, bike and sea Pag 3 di 3