Albania & Kosovo Easter Holiday
Sunday 9 April. Arrival in Ohrid. We'll be waiting for you at Ohrid's tiny airport, and will then make the short transfer into the city to our lakeside hotel. After checking in, we'll enjoy a welcome meal at a restaurant overlooking the water.
Monday 10 April. A day in Ohrid. This gorgeous little UNESCO-listed city packs a big punch for its size. As well as ticking off all the sites, we'll take a cruise on the lake - depending on weather either at lunchtime, with a picnic, or in the evening for sunset.
Tuesday 11 April. Ohrid to Prizren. Our only "big" drive of the tour. We'll strike north for Tetovo, close the border with Kosovo, where we'll break for lunch and a look at the city's famous "Painted Mosque". Then we cross over into Kosovo and drive a truly beautiful road through the Sharri mountains, descending down to Prizren in the early evening, hopefully around 16.30. After checking into our hotel we'll enjoy a relaxing beer by the river, and if you have energy walk up to the castle above the city to catch sunset and evening prayers.
Wednesday 12 April. Prizren to Bogë. We'll spend the morning exploring Prizren, and after a light lunch of meatballs in a very traditional grill, we'll hit the road. Kosovo is a tiny little place, so it shouldn't take us more than a couple of hours to reach Bogë, which during the winter is a cute ski resort. There's unlikely to be any snow left in the village, which sits at about 1,300m, but the high peaks surrounding it will certainly still be covered.
Thursday 13 April. Bogë. A relaxed day exploring the truly beautiful Prokletije mountains around Bogë. If you're a keen hiker, you'll be in your element.
Friday 14 April. Bogë to Gjakova. It's Good Friday today, so we'll head to the mixed Catholic-Muslim city of Gjakova, stopping along the way at the extraordinary Serbian Orthodox monastery at Decani (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We should arrive at our central Gjakova hotel around 15.30 to 16.00, so after checking in we'll take a walking tour of the Ottoman town centre. In the evening, after call to prayer, the atmospheric bazaar area will fill up with young Kosovas out to celebrate the Easter weekend.
Saturday 15 April. Gjakova to Radomire. A spectacular day. We'll cross into Albania and head south for Radomire, a small village in the shadow of Mt Korabi, Albania's highest peak at 2,764m. Our route takes us through little-visited Dibër, which is possibly our favourite area in Albania - expect extraordinary views and very traditional villages where life seems to have stood still for a century or more.
Sunday 16 April. Radomire to Fushë-Studë. Now things begin to get really wild... We'll take a picnic with us and carry on driving south into east-central Albania. During the Communist era the dictatorship built a huge network of military roads along the border with Macedonia, so we'll explore these, skirting the edge of the incredible Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park, where bears, wolves and Balkan lynx roam. The scenery is, in a word, gob-smacking. As night falls we'll find ourselves in the village of Fushë-Studë, where we'll stay in a very simple hotel, and enjoy an Easter supper of lamb slow-cooked in aluminium milk churns at a nearby restaurant.
Monday 17 April. Fushë-Studë to Orenjë. We'll make a relatively early start, and hit the road around 08.30. We haven't a long drive, but it will be a bit bumpy! Our destination is the village of Orenjë, which is quite literally at the end of the (dirt) road. We should arrive around 11.00, so we'll unpack, have a light lunch, then explore the virgin countryside. Depending on how fit you are, we can amble around the village, or make the steep climb up into the forests of the Çermenika mountains. Either way, we'll be back at our homestay by sunset, in time for a traditional meal cooked by the sister of the owner - and inevitably quite a lot of raki, made by the neighbour, Rushdi!
Tuesday 18 April. Orenjë to Lin. A very relaxed day. If it's sunny, we'll leave early to give us more time at Lin; if it's rainy there's no rush, and we'll make a detour via the Illyrian tombs at Selcë. Tonight we'll be staying in a very simple guesthouse right on Lake Ohrid (you can step into the lake from the back garden). As you'll discover, the Albanian side of the lake is very quiet and unsophisticated compared with the Macedonian side! Our host is a fisherman, so we'll arrange to borrow his boat and go for a leisurely row. If you're clinically insane, feel free to swim - the water will still be freezing cold!
Wednesday 19 April. Tour Ends. We've a relaxed day, so will circle around Lake Ohrid with a stop at the Monastery of St Naum and the Bay of Bones musuem, arriving at Ohrid airport around 17.00, well in time for the 19.05 return flight to London Luton.
Our tour kicks off in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid, Macedonia, then winds its way through Kosovo with nights in Prizren, Gjakova and Bogë. We then cut back into rarely visited eastern Albania, staying in a small village in the shade of Mt Korabi, and then Alpine Fushe-Studë, Orenjë and Lin. Never heard of most of the places? Well, you're probably not alone...
This tour is aimed at adventurous travellers who appreciate unconventional travel. Due to the the nature of the area and the lack of accommodation in eastern Albania, group size is capped at six.
One night will be spent in a simple homestay, and depending on numbers you might have to share a WC and shower.
Join this tour by flying with Wizz Air from London Luton to Ohrid on Sunday 9 April, departing Luton 14.20, arriving Ohrid 18.35. Return to the UK on Wednesday 19, again with Wizz Air, departing 19.05, arriving 21.25.
It will also be possible to join the tour by flying from London Gatwick to Tirana with British Airways, either on Friday 7 April, departing Gatwick 08.10, arriving Tirana 12.10, or on Saturday 8 April, departing 19.10, arriving 23.05. You could return on Wednesday 19 April, departing Tirana 21.40, arriving Gatwick 23.40, or on Friday 21 April, departing 13.10, arriving 15.10.
If there are two of you travelling it would also be possible to extend the tour to include Korça or Berat and Gjirokastra, with a flight back to the UK from Corfu.
Welcome meal in Ohrid.
Evening meal in Orenjë.