Hiking vacation in rural Albania

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Hiking vacation in rural Albania


Until recently the Çermenika mountains were a hunters' paradise. In 2013 the Albanian government introduced a complete restriction on hunting, and although this is not strictly enforced it has had an appreciable impact on breeding populations of bears, wolves, boars and large raptors in the mountains around Orenjë. We're keen to help develop the Çermenika region for tourism, and feel that wild-camping and un-baited bear-spotting trips could be created due to the abundance of bears in the area. So just by visiting and expressing an interest in spotting wildlife you are helping teach the locals that the fauna has tourism value and the potential to bring income to the village in the future.


The whole point of this trip is to develop tourism in an area that has none. The Balla family have restored their old house in a traditional style with a view to bringing foreign tourists to Orenjë. When you stay, almost all your fruit and vegetables will be grown within a couple of hundred metres and any meat you eat will have been raised and killed in the village. We encourage you to "eat out" at the neighbours' houses at least one night of your stay, to give them a little bit of cash and the honour of having foreign guests (the prestige of hosting tourists is a big deal in Albanian villages) and build enthusiasm for developing tourism. If you require a translator, we'll endeavour to line up a child from the village who speaks English (though this might not be possible!) and will ask you to pay them directly. Tourism simply doesn't get more local than this, and your presence will help the locals refine their offer and learn to improve the experience for future visitors.

1 Reviews of Hiking vacation in rural Albania

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 07 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The beautiful wild flowers growing in the high level pastures, in among the rocky and tree-covered hills and mountains, were a great surprise. So peaceful with only the sounds of birds, occasional goats and some insects. It was also surprising that the rural areas were so underdeveloped (in western terms) but still it wasn't uncommon to see a teenage boy on a mule with an iPhone in his hand - there seems to be almost total mobile coverage in Albania. Our guide Dori knew the areas we went to really well - so we felt we were definitely experiencing real Albania not just tourist resorts. The food was very good and we felt safe everywhere. Everyone we met was very welcoming.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

As there were only the two of us plus Dori our wonderful guide we were able to tailor make the vacation to suit us - and even to make an alteration half way through. If you want more or less walking or a particular kind of sight-seeing just ask - the flexibility of the vacation company may make that possible. We flew to Ohrid in Macedonia - a very small airport with only a few planes a day - so a pleasant change from big British airports. But if you are flying Wizzair do follow the strict requirement of only one case of the size you have paid for (and no handbag as well) - and even if you have checked in on-line you have to do it again at the airport on the return trip - and have your case labelled there.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The vacation seemed to put some money directly into the hands of local B and Bs, restaurants, taxi drivers (next to no public transport where we were). We could see where it was going and that it was really needed as there is so little alternative employment. But it is a very poor country and not everything is up to the standard that would be expected in UK. The worst thing to me was the amount of rubbish that you come across - but there is no rubbish collection in most villages so no surprise that rubbish is just thrown along the edge of a river or field. Even the shores of Lake Ohrid - a UNESCO protected lake - were strewn with all kinds of rubbish.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

This was a really memorable vacation, well worth while. Edith Durham may have wandered alone through the Balkans at the beginning of the twentieth century but in the early twenty-first century our vacation was a much better way to experience the country in 12 days!

Read the operator's response here:

Thanks so much for the kind words, Geoff & Margaret!

We're really happy you enjoyed your time with Dori exploring the mountains and villages of eastern Albania! It's a unique area with incredible nature, and it's great for the locals to have foreign visitors.

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