As featured in the Financial Times Embark on a remarkable adventure through the captivating Zagoria region, a mountainous paradise brimming with awe-inspiring landscapes, charming villages, and hidden treasures. Visit Gjirokaster the jewel of Albania.
Price: Euro 950
Dates 2024: April 20 – 27; May 18 – 25; October 19 – 26; November 2 – 9;
Along the way, you’ll encounter picturesque churches, monasteries, and enchanting waterfalls, adding a sense of wonder to your adventure. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals as you stay with host families in remote villages, relishing in their homemade culinary delights and engaging in delightful conversations.
The trails are well-maintained, offering comfortable walking conditions. Expect daily walks ranging from 10 to 15 kilometers, with elevation changes of 400 to 750 meters. An exception is the hike across the Dhembeli Pass, a more challenging endeavor that leads a thrilling 1,250- meter descent into Permet.
Upon your arrival at the airport, a private transfer will be arranged to pick you up and drive you to the charming village of Peshtan in the South of Albania. Peshtan, nestled on the mountainside, is a village steeped in history, as it witnessed a significant battle during the Greco-Italian war and holds remnants of World War II. We will be staying in a welcoming guesthouse and your local hosts, Mira and her husband, who are also teachers in the village, will provide you with a fascinating tour of the first battle and the axes lost in WWII.
Distance: 11 km
Uphill cumulative: 750m
Downhill cumulative: 425m
Duration: 5:00 hrs
Embarking on a shorter hike, you will start from Peshtan and walk 10 kilometers to Limara.
We will start the hike on a trail that ascends through open woodland to a pass that offers a panoramic view of the valley, which is flanked on both sides by mountains.
Along the trail, you will encounter the magnificent stone bridge over the Deshnica River, built by the renowned Albanian leader Ali Pashe Tepelena during the nineteenth century. As you hike, enjoy breathtaking views of the Deshnica River valley, with the majestic Strakavec peak towering above 2000 meters. After approximately 5 to 6 hours of hiking, including a final ascent, you will reach the welcoming village of Limara, where Nol, the village teacher, will host you in his guest house.
Limara offers a glimpse into the past, with its time-frozen atmosphere and picturesque surroundings. As you explore the village, you will be captivated by the three imposing peaks of Strakavec, Hormova, and Sheshi Malit, creating a stunning backdrop. The village is adorned with stone houses and an Orthodox Church. These buildings bear witness to the struggle for religious freedom during the early 20th century, marked by their transformation from places of worship to cattle farms under communist rule. Limara is also home to hundreds of sheep and goat that pasture these mountains and provide for the eco food in the village and the valley.
Your hike from Limara to Hoshteve will immerse you in the beauty of beech and oak forests, vibrant fields, and meadows adorned with colorful flowers. While progressing, you will leave Strakavec peak behind and witness the Dhembeli massive on your left, resembling a line of tooth-like peaks. Take a refreshing break by dipping your feet in a cool stream while enjoying a picnic. The trail will lead you through the nearly deserted village of Deshnice, often considered one of the most isolated villages in Europe. Your journey culminates in Hoshteve, a village renowned for its larger church and remarkable icons.
At Hoshteva you will take a transfer to the village of Sheper.
Distance: 10 km
Uphill cumulative: 625 m
Downhill cumulative: 1250 m
Duration: 7:30 hrs
Sheper is the largest village along the trail, situated at an altitude of 800 meters, making it the highest village in the region. The village features its own church and has recently undergone renovation, preserving its ancient exterior. This day’s hike presents what some consider to be the best trail in the region, connecting two valleys and passing through Dhembel, reaching an altitude of 1468 meters. As you climb at 660 meters altitude, you will encounter vast meadows filled with vegetation that has nourished sheeps and goats for centuries. Take a moment to sit and imagine how even before the time of Christ, Illyrian shepherds grazed their lambs here, perhaps playing a tune on their flutes.
Reaching the pass, you will be treated to a panoramic view of Permet, Vjosa River and the Zagori Valley. After savoring the view and the tranquil atmosphere, begin your descent towards Permet, which spans a significant altitude drop of 1200 meters. The rocky trail along the descent offers a spectacular panorama. On the way, the village of Leuse presents an ideal stop and boasts another orthodox church adorned with frescoes.
Distance: 13.6 km
Uphill cumulative: 670 m
Downhill cumulative: 620 m
Duration: 5:40 hrs
The day will start with a transfer along a scenic road from Permet, tracing the vibrant, emerald-hued Vjosa River, a natural park that has garnered the attention of superstars like Leonardo DiCaprio, who advocated for its preservation. Vjosa river is known as one of the last wild rivers of Europe.
We will start off our journey on a donkey path that is still frequented and as we ascend to an elevation of 800 meters, we are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Vjosa Valley and Mt. Nemercka’s northern face, towering an impressive 750 meters. Continuing onward from the summit, a fresh perspective unveils itself, granting us our first glimpse of Ogdunan, the Fir of Hotova National Park, and the distant Mt. Gramos, which proudly claims the title of the highest peak in Southern Albania. Descending from this point, we make our way towards the formidable Langarica Canyon, eventually arriving at a graceful Ottoman stone bridge and the renowned thermal springs of Benja.
Distance: 6 km
Uphill cumulative: 350 m
Downhill cumulative: 350 m
Duration: 3:00 hrs
The view alone is worth the 45-minute journey to today’s trailhead. The blue waters of the Vjosa have carved deep into the rock beneath us, while the craggy Nemercka Range stands above the river. As you return from your hike, another unique natural wonder awaits you at the neighboring entrance to the Langarica Canyon.
The warm thermal pools of Benje are believed to have curative properties for various ailments. They provide a delightful treat after the past few days of hiking, allowing you to soak and relax in their sulfuric waters or venture through the river canyon.
Gjirokaster – is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous as an Ottoman rocky town in Albania. You can see old houses that lean against raising and falling hills and enjoy their beautiful facades made by old wood and roofs covered by original stones. Gjirokastra is the place Ismail Kadare (internationally renowned Albanian writer) and Enver Hoxha (the infamous communist leader) were born. Since the city well preserves all history phases, sometimes can look controversial. The tourists describe the city view like “a view from a fairy-tail”. After the tour you will be transferred to Tirana for the night.
Please contact us if you are a group of friends or you prefer to have a private group we will organize everything for you.
Transfers during the tour will be private for the group. The private transfer is done by either regular car or 4×4, depending on the road conditions. On the trail, shortcut transfers can be arranged for the trails that are distant or to skip asphalt road segments.
Food & Water
The food in this part of the world will be something you will eagerly anticipate at the end of each day. Food is fresh cooked in a traditional manner and has a mix of Balkan, Turkish and European influence. At the guesthouses the breakfasts are simple, homemade bread with locally grown vegetables, dairy products and eggs. Dinners include traditional soups, meat dishes, vegetables, pies. Guesthouses also will provide you with a packed lunch – often including a sandwich with cheese and vegetables. Vegetarian and diets will not be a problem as the homestay families can provide alternatives. However, the choices are basic and limited. Consider bringing your water bottle to refill along the way. Water is provided from mountain streams or in guesthouses tap water is drinkable. However, if you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we recommend you take water treatment tablets with you.
The accommodation is in simple homestay/guesthouse/ with simple bathroom facilities. Rooms are likely to accommodate between two to five people per room and it may be necessary for male and female groups to share the room, unless noted otherwise on your request, but not guaranteed in each guesthouse. It always depends on availability of rooms. Sheets and blankets, towels, shampoo, warm water and other basic services are provided, but it’s recommended to pack a travel towel and sleep sack just in case. Private rooms at additional cost; limited availability.
It is recommended that clothes are made for hiking and are from synthetic breathable materials. It is recommended to have more thin layers rather than large jackets that take space and are heavy. When hiking it is better to have several layers of thin clothes, no thick jackets. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. The following list should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should try and pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag (unless luggage transfer is included). In the evenings some warmer clothing might be useful.
What to take
Make sure! You have your passport with you
You have proper equipment for hiking:
1 – Hiking Boots (light hiking shoes with a good tread are recommended)
1 – Water canisters 1 to 1.5 liters
1 – Mountain bag 20 to 25 liters (if luggage transfer is included)
1 – Headlight
1 – Rain jacket/poncho
2 – Hiking T-shirt synthetic (no cotton)
1 – Hiking pants
1 – Fleece – One pair of spare socks per hiking day (there is option of self-hand washing)
1 – Hat (sun protection in summer, warmth in winter)
1 – Sunglasses
1 – Sun cream
1 – Walking sticks
1 – Camera, telephone, GPS (optional)
Please budget for additional expenses like beverages, additional meals and entrance fee in the national parks for self-guided travelers.
Tipping is not obligatory, however if you are happy with the services provided, a tip is always appreciated.
We recommend you calculate €10-€15 per day to cover your tipping for the guide and €3-€5 for other service providers. But of course, you can tip more or less, depending on how you see it fit.
Lost and Found Policy
Our company is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen personal items. Should any guests lose personal belongings at the accommodation, if recovered, the item will be shipped back at the owner’s expense, if claimed within 14 days.
Hiking season in the Përmet region typically spans from early April through late October.
For an ideal visit, it is recommended to plan your trip to the area during either spring or autumn. Early in the year, you can witness the breathtaking beauty of snow-capped mountains, vibrant flora, and verdant valleys resembling the picturesque high-altitude valleys of Bhutan. Whilst September marks the beginning of the harvest season, where fruit-laden trees and the distillation of raki in villages add to the region’s charm. As autumn unfolds, the forest transforms with a kaleidoscope of colors, while the mountain peaks start receiving their first dusting of snow.
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