Albania is a small, mountainous country stretched along the Mediterranean coast between Montenegro and Greece. For decades, Albania was Europe’s most isolated and repressive totalitarian state. Now, Albania is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s most welcoming new destinations. With stunning landscapes, historical towns, world-class excavations, and friendly locals, Albania has plenty to discover.
Between 1944 and 1985, Albania was ruled by Communist leader Enver Hoxha, who kept the country squarely independent of influence from others. Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Albania began to open up to the rest of the world. Tourism however, has barely taken hold, making this a pioneering trip into a corner of Europe few know.
After decades of neglect, the towns and cities of Albania are slowly being rejuvenated with renovated monuments, new and privately-owned hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes. The food is predominately Mediterranean, consisting of simple dishes bursting with fresh ingredients, delicious seafood, fresh bread, and wonderful salads.
Perhaps the most delightful aspect of travel in Albania is the contact with the locals. There are still few Western tourists and most Albanians are delighted to see foreign visitors and eager to strike up conversation--usually followed by offers of coffee or a glass of raki, the local liquor.
Dates for this tour are immediately following our Peaks of the Balkans hiking trip, making it easy to combine the two. The combination makes for a rich immersion into both Montenegro and Albania.
ROW Sea Kayak Adventures History in Albania
In 1974, ROW SKA owner Peter Grubb spent the summer living with a French family and during their summer holiday, visited mountainous Montenegro, then part of Yugoslavia. As they drove through the mountains Peter remembered gazing out to Albania, at the time strictly off limits to any foreign visitors. Some 14 years later, in 1988, ROW offered its first trip to Yugoslavia – a yachting trip along the Dalmatian Coast – that we still offer to this day, in Croatia. Albania was still closed to tourism, but when the Berlin wall fell in 1989 all that changed. Tourism started, but then internal events and the war in Kosovo brought it to a halt. Just recently Albania has become open and inviting. Peter was eager to visit and in the fall of 2012 spent over a week exploring the country, chalking up hundreds of miles and finding the best it has to offer.
Peter spent more than a week exploring Albania in the fall of 2012, covering hundreds of miles and vetting the best the country has to offer. We are partnering with local guides and are delighted to be bringing this new adventure to you.
We are proud that this tour has a significant and beneficial economic impact with the local communities and businesses we visit. We stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, hire local guides and buy all our trip provisions and food locally.
This trip includes interaction with local people on many levels, including special guests who join us to discuss regional and local issues. This provides an excellent opportunity for you to interact with locals, providing a strong cultural element to the trip.
People in Albania are eager to welcome travelers and we have no doubt you will be return with rich connections to this fascinating country.
Three days of kayaking on the Ionian Sea; Visits to the classical site of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Easy to intermediate hiking through stunningly beautiful countryside; Full immersion in the local culture and customs.