SOUTH ALBANIA JEEP SAFARI
Our five-day south Albania Jeep tour is designed for keen drivers who enjoy getting off the beaten track at the wheel of a 4x4 vehicle.
jeep safari Tour
tirana / berat / gjirokastra / nivica / Riviera
When to go
January to October
February – Mon 18 to Fri 22
March – Mon 25 to Fri 29
April – Mon 15 to Fri 19 & Mon 22 to Fri 26
May – Mon 6 to Fri 10 & Mon 27 to Fri 31
June – Mon 3 to Fri 7 & Mon 24 to 28
September – Mon 16 to Fri 20 – GUARANTEED DEPARTURE
October – Mon 7 to Fri 11 & Mon 21 to Fri 25
Group Size 04-12
Our five-day south Albania Jeep tour is designed for keen drivers who enjoy getting off the beaten track at the wheel of a 4×4 vehicle.
A Drive Albania team member will lead the convoy, of up to five brand-new Lada Niva 4x4s, through the Albanian mountains from the capital Tirana down to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Gjirokastra, and then back north along the coast.
Although no previous experience of driving a 4×4 is necessary, you do need to be a confident, competent driver and not be afraid of heights – this tour travels along precipitous mountain roads, often with very little space to spare.
We are happy to accept younger drivers on this tour (18+) as long as they are accompanied by a reasonably responsible adult (28+) in the passenger seat.
TIRANA TO BERAT
DAY 1 / MONDAY
We’ll congregate in central Tirana at 09.00, and after a coffee and safety briefing we’ll hit the road. The first part of the day will be on good asphalt to allow you to get used to your Lada Niva – they’re compact and technology-free, so this won’t take long! Then we’ll leave the paved roads behind us and climb up and over a high mountain pass, stopping at the top for a relaxed picnic lunch. From here it’s a sometimes challenging descent, with deep ruts and usually a good dollop of mud, down to our overnight stop, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Berat. We should arrive around 16.00, giving us time for a stroll and a beer (or two) before we enjoy a feast of local dishes in our favourite restaurant, Koço’s, in the citadel that dominates the city. Koço himself is usually drunk (even on a Monday), but his wife and daughter hold things together in the kitchen and the food is fantastic.
Included: Coffees during safety briefing; picnic lunch; set menu evening meal.
BERAT TO GJIROKASTRA
DAY 2 / TUESDAY
After yesterday’s warm-up, a more challenging day! Again, we’ll spend the first hour or so on asphalt as drive south along the Osumi Canyon. Then the tarmac ends and we test our Ladas on a sometimes difficult dirt road (with precipitous drops at times). The scenery is stupendous, and again we’ll stop for a picnic lunch high up in the mountains. By around 16.00 we’ll rejoin the asphalt, a little to the west of Përmet, and then it’s an easy cruise on blissfully smooth roads to our second UNESCO World Heritage City, Gjirokastra. There’ll be time to explore tomorrow morning, so we’ll focus on sinking a beer and watching the sun go down over the city, before eating at another great restaurant, Kujtimi’s, which specialises in southern Albanian cuisine (including frog’s legs, if you’re so inclined).
Included: Picnic lunch; set menu evening meal.
GJIROKASTRA TO NIVICA CANYONS
DAY 3 / WEDNESDAY
We’ll leave Gjirokastra around 11.00, so there’s time enough to explore its winding cobbled streets – highlights are the impressive castle and military museum, and the remarkable Skenduli House, an original example of the huge stone mansions for which the city is famed. Then we hit the road again, heading high up into the mountains of Kurvelesh to the village of Nivica, perched on the edge of a huge canyon system. Here we’ll be staying in a charming guesthouse. After saying hello to our hosts we’ll take a walk right down into the canyon (expect loose surfaces, so shoes with good grip are recommended). In the evening our hosts will prepare an incredible meal for us, washed down with plenty of red wine (or raki…).
Included: Picnic lunch; set menu evening meal.
NIVICA CANYONS TO RIVIERA
DAY 4 / THURSDAY
A truly special day. We’ll say goodbye to our hosts at 09.00, then make our way westwards towards the sea following the path of a small river, which we’ll have to ford several times. Eventually we’ll emerge from the mountains high up above the Ionian, with views right across to Corfu. From here it’s an smooth descent down to the Riviera, and our overnight stop, the village of Dhërmi. If the weather’s good, the swimming is fantastic (though the water’s chilly into May). After so three days of mountain food, we’ll treat ourselves to some grilled octopus and seafood pasta this evening, at a restaurant sitting right over the water.
Included: Picnic lunch; set menu seafood evening meal.
RIVIERA TO TIRANA
DAY 5 / FRIDAY
Another 09.00 start. The day will begin with the dramatic ascent up Llogora Pass (sea level to 1,000m in just a few kilometres). Then we descend down to the Bay of Vlorë. Vlorë itself is a dump, but we’ll pick up a packed lunch, which we’ll eat on an empty beach after playing around in the sand with the Nivas. Then it’s a dull but straightforward run north to Tirana. It’s a Friday night, so the nightlife district of Blloku will be packed. We’ll reconvene around 19.00 and hit a bar or two, gorging on finger food around 20.00. There’s no driving tomorrow, so you can stay up as late as you like (and behave as badly as you like, too – the tour’s officially over!).
Included: Picnic lunch; finger food platters in Blokku bar.
An Automotive Legend: Lada Niva 4×4
The Lada 4×4 – better known as the Niva – is an iconic and instantly recognisable off road vehicle, produced in Russia by AutoVAZ since 1977.
The Niva’s simple design and strong construction, combined with permanent four-wheel drive, a low-range gearbox and locking centre differential, make it ideal for Albanian road conditions, and for off-roading in general. Please don’t expect modern standards of refinement – although the 1.7-litre petrol engine is surprisingly quiet, any noise it does make is drowned out by the whine from the transmission (which also shudders if you don’t get the revs right when you change gear at low speeds).
That being said, the Lada 4×4 excels on unpaved roads and is, we reckon, one of the most fun and charismatic cars you can drive – a wonderful throwback to the era before traction control and all the unecessary electronic driver aids 4×4 manufacturers insist on fitting to vehicles today.
South Albania Jeep Tour 2019 Prices
1 x Lada Niva 4×4 + 1 x Twin or Double Room = €890 per person
Lada Nivas are small 4x4s, but it is possible for one teenager or medium-sized adult to fit on the rear bench seat. If you’re prepared to take a hit on comfort, the prices for 3 clients per vehicle are –
1 x Lada Niva 4×4 + 1 x Double or Twin + 1 x Single Room = €790 per person
Car & Fuel
English-speaking tour leader
Standard en suite 3* hotel accommodation in Berat, Gjirokastra & Riviera + village homestay in Nivica (shared facilities)
Personal travel insurance
Prices in Albania are great! We’d estimate that a budget of around €50 per person for the 5 days will be more than enough, depending on your drinking abilities.
We’ve designed our Mountains to Sea Albania Cultural Tour to maximise flight options, as Tirana is not welll-served by low-cost airlines. By starting in Kotor / Tivat we open up the possibility of flying into Tirana, Podgorica, Tivat or even Dubrovnik. The tour ends in Saranda, which is a short ferry hop from Corfu. Below you’ll find more information on flight options.
If you fly into Dubrovnik a few days early, there are frequent buses to Tivat / Kotor – the distance is roughly 90km, and the journey takes around two hours, depending on traffic and the border crossing. We can also arrange private taxi transfers.
In 2016 two clients joined this tour by flying to Belgrade, Serbia, and then catching the train to Bar, Montenegro. You can read about this option at the excellent Man in Seat Sixty-One website.
Mountains to Sea Albania Cultural Tour – Direct Flights 2018
Our Mountains to Sea Albania Cultural Tour starts on Mondays from Kotor / Tivat Airport. However, the Drive Albania team will be driving from Tirana to Montenegro on the Sunday, so if you arrive into Tirana a few days early we can give you a lift to Kotor gratis, or pick you up from Podgorica Airport that morning. We’ll be staying in Budva on Sunday night, and you are of course welcome to join us in the evening for a drink and bite to eat.
From London Gatwick
easyJet to Tivat: Monday 06.45 / 10.40.
British Airways to Tirana: Friday 08.10 / 12.10; Saturday 19.10 / 23.05.
From London Stansted
Ryanair to Podgorica: Sunday 06.55 / 10.45.
easyJet to Tivat: Sunday 06.30 / 10.40.
From Paris Orly
Transavia to Tivat: Sunday 13.15 / 15.45.
Transavia to Tirana: Saturday 07.05 / 09.40.
From Amsterdam Schipol
Transavia to Tirana: Friday 05.30 / 08.05 (but 19.30 / 22.05 in August).
From Berlin Schoenfeld
Ryanair to Podgorica: Sunday 08.05 / 10.10.
Adria Airlines to Tirana: Friday & Saturday 16.20 / 17.55.
German Wings to Tivat: Sunday 07.00 / 09.15.
From Memmingen Allgäu
Wizz Air to Podgorica: Sunday 09.30 / 11.15.
Austrian Airlines: Friday & Saturday 12.45 / 14.20 & 22.20 / 23.55.
From Istanbul Ataturk
Turkish Airlines to Podgorica: Sunday & Monday 08.05 / 08.55.
Turkish Airlines to Tirana: Saturday 07.45 / 08.25 & 19.15 / 20.00; Sunday 07.45 / 08.25.
Aeroflot to Tivat: Saturday 09.45 / 12.10; Sunday & Monday 15.05 / 17.30.
flydubai to Tivat: Friday 12.50 / 16.45 (excluding May).
There are too many direct flights into Tirana to list here. Please check Skyscanner.net for options.
Getting Home – Mountains to Sea Albania Cultural Tour Direct Flights 2018
Our Mountains to Sea Albania Cultural Tour ends in Saranda, south Albania, on Fridays, and it is possible to fly back from Corfu on any flight departing after about 19.00 Friday evening. Corfu airport is just 3km from the ferry terminal. Most clients choose to spend a night or two in Corfu to slowly get used to EU prices.
There are countless destinations served by low-cost airlines from Corfu, including most regional UK airports. Far too many for us to list here, in fact. Please check Skyscanner.net.
Book With Confidence – We Offer Full Financial Protection
As a UK-registered company, we have to comply with tough consumer-protection legislation. That’s why we’re proud to be members of Protected Trust Services. When you pay for your holiday, your money will be held in a British HSBC trust account administered by the independent PTS trustees. We only receive payment once the tour is run, so in the unlikely event of our going bust or your not being satisfied with the tour, your money is safe. To read more about how the process works, please visit the PTS website
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