Raft, Kayak and Hike Albania

Explore Albania and help save the Vjosa; Europe’s last wild, free-flowing river, by rafting it with local activists. 2 days off work.

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REF: 09149

Raft, Kayak and Hike Albania

Explore Albania and help save the Vjosa; Europe’s last wild, free-flowing river, by rafting it with local activists. 2 days off work.

  • Albania
  • March, May—October
  • Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport, Kerkyra/corfu (CFU)

Albania is an undiscovered adventure destination that is steeped in history. Help to preserve its natural biodiversity by experiencing it first-hand, rafting on the Vjosa river.

The Vjosa River is under threat by plans to build hydroelectric dams, which could have a devastating impact on the livelihood of the river’s locals and endemic species. Your local hosts are also activists who are currently fighting against these plans.

Over 3 days you’ll kayak to breathtaking beaches, snorkel in crystal waters, take an adrenaline ride on the free-flowing Vjosa River and hike through Albania’s historic cities and villages.

This adventure includes:

  • Rafting on the Vjosa River
  • Guided hiking, kayaking and snorkelling
  • Guided cultural sightseeing
  • 2 nights accommodation
  • Rafting, kayaking and snorkelling equipment
  • Meals during the trip
  • Local professional certified English-speaking guides
  • All transfers in Albania, including pick-up from Saranda harbour
  • All taxes, insurances and licenses relative to the trip

Perfect for:
Those who are looking to explore this up-and-coming adventure hot-spot, and help support it’s growing tourism industry.

Recently featured as an ‘Adventure That Will Make an Impact in 2018’ by Adventure.com.

Check out our film highlighting the threats facing the ‘Blue Heart of Europe.’

What to Expect

Day 1: Kayaking from Butrint to Ali Pasha Castle

At 9:45 you’ll be met by your hosts at Saranda harbour. The action begins as you kayak along the Ionian coastline from the Butrint amphitheatre to the historic Ali Pasha Castle. Amidst visiting these UNESCO world heritage sites, you’ll be in awe of the magnificent views along the way.

After lunch, you’ll be taken to Lukove (1.5-hour drive), a small, traditional village with breathtaking beaches and characteristically clear waters.

When you arrive, you’ll embark on a relatively easy hike to one of the most beautiful beaches in this area, Krorez Bay. In the afternoon, it’s time to see what this unspoiled cove has to offer; get closer to those crystal waters and go for a swim among its inhabitants. Don’t forget your snorkel and underwater camera.

Heading back to Saranda for the evening, you’ll stop off at the Porto Palermo castle if time allows it; a historic site with a story almost as romantic as the views you’ve seen throughout your hike today.

1 hour kayaking, 3 hours hiking, 1 hour swimming, 3 hours driving

Day 2: Rafting on the Vjosa River

After breakfast, the minibus will pick you up and take you to the small town of Permet (3-hour drive).

After lunch, you’re in for an adrenaline-fueled afternoon as you go rafting on the Vjosa River, one of Europe’s last free-flowing rivers. Its entire 270km course is wild and untamed and adorned with beautiful canyons, braided river sections, islands and oxbows.

The Vjosa River is a class III rafting course. Prepare for waves up to four feet and narrow passages that send the boat shimmying and water gushing over the sides.

To wind you down into the evening, you’ll visit the Thermal Baths of Benja and hike to the Canyon of Lengarica where you can relax and enjoy a swim in their natural waters. You’ll then head to a local homestay for the evening in Permet, where you can enjoy a barbecue of local food to the sound of traditional music.

2,5 hours rafting, 3 hours hiking & swimming, 3 hours driving

Day 3: Hiking the historical sites of Gjirokastra

This morning, you’ll be collected from the hotel and taken to the beautiful city of Gjirokastra. Hiking around this ancient city there are plenty of pit stops that are sure to fulfil your appetite for history; including the archaeological park of Antigonea, Saraqinisht village, and the Spille Monastery.

After lunch, it’s time to say goodbye as you head back to the seaport for your forwarding journey to Corfu airport. You can decide whether you’re going to spend your last hours at the beach of Saranda or Corfu before flying back home. (Ferry departs at 16:00)

4.5 hours hiking

Please note that the itinerary is subject to change based on weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances.

Meet your hosts and let them explain their vision.

Accommodation

You’ll spend your first night in a comfortable twin room at the Star Hotel in Saranda. All rooms are air-conditioned with a TV and seating area. The hotel also offers free WiFi.

On your second night, you will stay at a homestay in Permet where you can exchange stories with the local residents.

Dates & Prices

Please note: Flights are NOT included and must be purchased separately.

Optional Extras

Make your life easy. Once you have reserved your space, your host can help you arrange the extras you’ll need. Here are some guide prices which can be confirmed with you during booking.

Additional Night Accommodation Payable Before Departure
Additional Night Accommodation £50.00
Single Occupancy Payable Before Departure
Single Occupancy £35.00

Trip Photos

Location

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Saranda is a city on the Albanian Riviera, southern Albania. Sandwiched between the Ionian Sea and hills of olive groves, the town is edged by beaches and a promenade. Close-by, Butrint is an ancient city, protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Vjosa River has a special and crucial place in the daily lives of the people that live along its banks. Many small-scale businesses and new emerging eco-tourism companies have based their existence on the free-flowing waters of the Vjosa. Moreover, the Vjosa and its crystal-clear water have had an impact on the hearts of Albanians and their cultural values. Naming newly-born girls after the Vjosa continues to be very popular among Albanian parents since the name stands for the beauty of the river. The more tourists that visit, the more support we’re able to provide the local community to protect it.

Start point?
You’ll be met by your guide on Friday at 9:45 at the seaport of Saranda, which matches the arrival time of the ferry coming from Corfu. Your host suggests booking one of the many flights to Corfu on Thursday to catch the ferry at 9:00 to Saranda.

Finish point?
You’ll head back to the seaport for the ferry departing on Sunday at 16:00, which provides plenty of time to get to Corfu Airport for your flight at 22:30.

Getting there and away?
There are direct flights from all over the UK to Corfu Airport from a number of different airlines. Choose any flight that suits you best. Your host will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans. Additional information about the ferry schedule can be found here.

For extra financial protection against unforeseen circumstances, we recommend you book your flights using a credit card.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights to Corfu
  • Ferry from/to Saranda
  • Dinner on the first day
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance

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This trip will run with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 16.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Public security is generally good. Crime and violence does occur in some areas, but is not typically targeted at foreigners.

You should be in good physical condition; the hikes are easy and fairly flat trails, and the rafting is class III.

Scientific knowledge of the Vjosa river is extremely limited. We know more about the eco-systems in the rivers of South America and Asia than the Vjosa. Many endangered species, like the European Eel and the Greater Flamingo, depend on the providence of the free-flowing waters of the Vjosa for their livelihood.

However, the Albanian government is planning on building a series of hydroelectric dams upstream, which would threaten the homes of the river’s species and the livelihood of the river-bank’s residents.

By supporting the Vjosa’s local businesses, we can empower them to continue their fight against the proposed plans to destroy this wild place.

The climate is decidedly Mediterranean throughout the whole of the coastal area with hot summers tending towards heat waves. The best times to visit Albania are the months of May, June and September.The average temperatures you’ll face in June would be between 16.5°C and 27.5°C, with exceptional possible peaks as low as 6°C and high as 37°C as observed in previous years.

The products in Albanian restaurants are mostly natural, and this is noticeable in their special taste. Restaurants serve traditional foods accompanied by grape wine produced from the local wineries. You can taste local specialities prepared skillfully, such as pies (byrek) with meat and leek, stuffed zucchini, pispili with corn flour and of course lamb/goat meat accompanied with vegetables and fresh dairy of the area. Fresh seafood is possible close to the coast.

Typical desserts are kabuni with raisins (a sweet rice dish), marmalade (gliko) of walnut, fig, plum, etc.

We can cater for any specific dietary requirements – just let us know before the trip.

  • Neoprene suits (rafting & kayaking)
  • Life jacket
  • Helmet
  • Kayaks
  • Breathable light-weight waterproof gear (Goretex, Sympatex, etc)
  • Wind-stopper jackets
  • Small backpack with rain coverage
  • Snorkelling equipment
  • Cap
  • Sunblock
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking poles
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock

Other recommendations are: - Camera - Mobile phone - Personal medicine if required (please inform your guide in case of emergency)

Start point?
You’ll be met by your guide on Friday at 9:45 at the seaport of Saranda, which matches the arrival time of the ferry coming from Corfu. Your host suggests booking one of the many flights to Corfu on Thursday to catch the ferry at 9:00 to Saranda.

Finish point?
You’ll head back to the seaport for the ferry departing on Sunday at 16:00, which provides plenty of time to get to Corfu Airport for your flight at 22:30.

Getting there and away?
There are direct flights from all over the UK to Corfu Airport from a number of different airlines. Choose any flight that suits you best. Your host will contact you before you leave to check your arrival and departure plans.

Additional information about the ferry schedule can be found here.

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