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Albania - Accursed Mountains (land only)

Albania - Accursed Mountains (land only)

3rd September 2021 - 17th September 2021 (15 days)

Please contact the Tour Managers before making a booking

In 2014 the New York Times rated Albania 4th among 50 recommended destinations and in 2011 Lonely Planet ranked it number 1. Visit Albania as it emerges from its political constraints. This will be a similar tour to our 2019 tour. We'll transfer from Tirana airport to Shkoder where we'll spend 2 nights before taking the scenic Koman ferry into the heart of the Accursed Mountains. Cycling south via Dardhe, Kukes and Peshkopi, 2 nights are spent at the UNESCO town of Ohrid in Macedonia. We continue cycling alongside Lake Ohrid, visiting the Bay of Bones museum and St Naum Monastery, before crossing back into Albania, to the lakeside resort of Tushemisht. We'll continue south to the buzzing town of Korce where we spend 2 nights. From there, we'll cycle a  mountainous road, following the river and through a spectacular gorge,  to the little visited town of Gramsh. After an easy ride, we will reach Berati, a World Heritage site and reputably the most beautiful town in Albania. There will be time to explore the castle, town and ottoman houses and an optional out and back ride to Polican before transferring by road to Tirana. Suitable for fit cyclists able to cycle up to 90km.

  • Holiday Type Guided
  • Tour Manager Pat and John Ashwell
  • Grade Challenging
  • Booking Status Places Available
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Board Basis Full Board
  • Travel Arrangements Air
  • Road / Off Road Road
  • Holiday Style Moving-on
  • Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
  • Holiday Ref 03671

Price
£1,450

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Albania - Accursed Mountains (land only)

Friday 3rd September

Meet at the hotel in Shkoder. Assemble bikes. Stay 2 nights. Meals: D

Saturday 4th September

Short ride along Virpazar lake, visiting Rozafa castle on the way. Return to Shkoder for lunch then ride to the Mesi Bridge (50kms – 460m). Meals: B L D 

Sunday 5th September

Depart the hotel at 0600 for a 1½ hour minibus transfer to Koman. Picnic breakfast on the way. Board the Koman/Fierze ferry for a spectacular 2½ hour ferry ride. Along the way you are surrounded by beautiful green mountains and clear green waters. Then cycle to Dardhe via a mountainous road with lovely views of the dam below. 41km (1,103m total ascent). Stay 1 night. Meals: B L D

Monday 6th September

A challenging ride to Kukes in a dramatic setting, surrounded by mountains and overlooking the vast Lake Fierza, one of three interconnecting lakes which generate most of Albania's electricity. The city was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in regard to hospitality and for embracing thousands of refugees during the Kosovo War. It was the first time a city was nominated for the prize. 82km (1,433m total ascent). Stay 1 night. Meals: B L D

Tuesday 7th September

Today is the hardest ride as we continue through the mountains of Northern Albania. We ride to Peshkopi, set amid spectacular scenery. Peshkopi lies east of the Black Drin river. Mineral ores such as chromium, sulphur and marble have been discovered in the district. It is also an important industrial centre in Albania, particularly in relation to the food industry. 73km (1,874m total ascent). Stay 1 night. Meals: B L D

Wednesday 8th September

Today is the longest ride as we cross the border into Northern Macedonia and cycle to the lovely town of Ohrid on the banks of Lake Ohrid. The town was made a UNESCO site in 1980. As well as its lovely setting, the town boasts architectural interest, open-air cafes and shops and the opportunity for boating on the lake. 92km (797m total ascent). Stay 2 nights. Meals: B L

Thursday 9th September

A day to relax in the buzzing UNESCO town of Ohrid to explore the castle, museum, churches, pedestrianised shopping and cafes.  Meals: B

Friday 10th September

In contrast to buzzing Ohrid, today we cycle to Tushemisht and a small quiet hotel on the shore of tranquil Ohrid Lake, visiting the Bay of Bones museum and St. Naum Monastery before crossing back into Albania (35kms  – 517m). Stay 1 night. Meals: B L D

Saturday 11th September

Cycle to Korce a buzzing town with beautiful cathedral, pedestrianised shopping and squares, pavement cafes and an interesting mixture of old and new architecture (56kms – 741m). Stay 2 nights. Meals: B L D  

Sunday 12th September

An optional out and back, scenic ride to Voskopoje,  a small mountain village and, along with a few other local settlements is considered a holy place by local Orthodox Christians (42kms – 600m). Meals: B D

Monday 13th September

Leaving Korce, we cycle an undulating road following the Drin river to the dam before entering a dramatic gorge near Gramsh. Some rough stretches. A challenging and scenic ride. Gramsh was one of the main military weaponry factories during the communist era but is now a quiet town set in a lovely location (84kms – 1171m). Stay 1 night. Meals: B L D

Tuesday 14th September

Continuing on an undulating but easier ride, we cycle to Berati via a scenic road overlooking the Drin river and dam. Berati is popular with tourists as it boasts a castle, many ottoman houses, mosques, cathedral, university of agriculture and cafes. It is reputably the most beautiful town in Albania. (66.3kms - 609m). Stay 2 nights. Meals: B L D

Wednesday 15th September

Berati is a lovely place to end our tour. If you want a little more cycling there is an optional out and back ride through hills and valleys to Polican. (46.6kms – 701m). There will be plenty of time in the afternoon for independent exploration of the town, to visit the castle and enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes in the pedestrianised area by the river. Meals: B D

Thursday 16th September

After a leisurely breakfast, we leave Berati by minibus and transfer to the hotel in Tirana (approximately 2½ hours). Pack bikes for the return journey to the UK. Afternoon at leisure for independent exploration of Tirana. Visit the Bunker museum, the attractive town square and shop for souvenirs. Our final dinner will be at a traditional Albanian restaurant in the old Communist quarter of the city. Stay 1 night. Meals: B D

Friday 17th September

Tour ends after breakfast. Meals: B 

Meals: B = Breakfast  L = Lunch  D = Dinner

The above itinerary should be treated as an indication of what is to be accomplished during the tour and not as a contractual obligation.

Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation will be in 2 - 4 star hotels of the Albanian Tourist Board grading system with en-suite facilities, based on two people sharing. Single occupancy may be available at an extra cost of £250.00 but please contact the Tour Manager before booking. 14 breakfasts and 12 dinners are included. A picnic or light lunch is included on all cycling days. Vegetarian/fish meals may be available if requested.

Vehicle Support

Transport will be provided for the transfer of the group and bikes from Shkoder to the ferry at Koman and from Berati to Tirana end of the tour. There will be a support vehicle for luggage, capable of carrying two riders and bikes if required, and a large trailer for carrying all bikes to the ferry at Koman.

Passports, Visa & Health

UK passport holders should ensure that their passport is valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Albania. Holders of non-UK passports are advised to check whether they require a visa. There are no compulsory health related requirements for UK residents, but you are strongly advised to check that your tetanus protection has not expired. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain the latest advice to travellers.

Travel Insurance

Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, Travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.

Price

The price of £1,450 is based on a minimum number of 14 people taking part in the holiday; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3. If there are insufficient bookings by 25th June 2021 we will contact you and return all monies paid.

Price Includes

  • 14 nights hotel, sharing room
  • 14 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 12 dinners
  • Vehicle transfers from Shkodër to Koman ferry and from Berati to Tirana
  • Support vehicle with English speaking driver/guide to carry luggage and 2 riders and bikes if required
  • CTC Cycling Holidays and Tours costs

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to Shkoder or from Tirana, Albania
  • Dinner on 2 nights
  • Lunches on non-cycling days or refreshments at morning/afternoon stops
  • Gratuities for support crew
  • Any other personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Single occupancy supplement (£250, subject to availability)

Payment Schedule

A deposit of £145 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £1,305 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 25th June 2021.

Cancellations

Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:

Written notice received:

Before 25th June 2021

From 25th June 2021 through to departure

 

Cancellation charge:

Deposit (£145)

100% (£1,450)

 

The Area Covered By The Holiday

The tour starts at Shkoder, 90km noth-west of Tirana, where we'll spend two nights  before taking a short vehicle transfer to Koman and one of the world's great boat trips to Fierze, a small town in the heart of the Accursed Mountains. Cycling south through Dardhe, Kukes and Peshkopi leads into Macedonia where two nights are spent in Ohrid, a UNESCO town, before cycling alongside Lake Ohrid and crossing back into Albania to Tushemisht, a small resort on the lake.
After spending 2 nights at the buzzing town of Korce, the route continues via a spectacular road of mountains, rivers, dams and gorges to the little visited town of Gramsh. From here, we cycle to Berati, reputably the most beautiful town in Albania with its castle, university, river and numerous Ottoman houses. There will be time for sightseeing and an optional last cycle ride into the hills and valleys to the south of Berati before transferring by vehicle to Tirana.

Rides & Rest Days

This tour is classified as challenging and suitable for experienced touring cyclists capable of riding up to 90km per day. Roads are sealed and generally in good condition, but there are some rough stretches. On several days there are demanding climbs, but the distances are generally modest, and a support vehicle will carry all luggage and provide assistance to tired riders if requested. It is not practical to ride as one group, and you are free to progress at your own speed, regrouping occasionally throughout the day. There will be rest days in Ohrid, Korce and Berati (with optional cycling).

Accommodation & Meals

Adequate breakfasts are provided and lunches on cycling days will be picnics or at local restaurants. Dinners in the north of Albania are mainly vegetarian with some fish or meat. Salads are usually served with cheese. Desserts are not normally served.

Travel

This tour is "land only" and starts at the hotel in Shkoder and ends at the hotel in Tirana. There are no flights included.

Group Information

The maximum number of participants will be 16 excluding the Tour Managers.

Weather & Clothing

At this time of year the weather should be sunny and hot, with cool early mornings and temperatures dropping rapidly at night in the mountains as the sun goes down. Rain or thunder storms are possible in the mountains. It is recommended you take a fleece and long trousers for evenings and a waterproof cycling jacket and gloves in case of rain. Sunscreen is essential, as is a covering for your head.

Cycles & Equipment

Touring bikes, lightweight mountain bikes or hybrid bikes will all be suitable if geared for long climbs. Ensure that your bike is well maintained and that you have tools and spares for simple roadside adjustments and puncture repairs. You will not need to carry luggage as this will be transferred, but a bar bag, rack pack or saddlebag will be needed for wet weather gear, camera and snacks etc. Mudguards are optional. Lights are not required.
Giant Rove, Giant Roam and Giant e-bikes are available for hire directly from the agent in Tirana. These bikes are well maintained and the gearing is suitable for the terrain.

Maps & Guides

Reise Know-How Veriag Map - ISBN-10: 3831772673 has been used when planning this tour. Detailed route sheets, daily profiles and gpx tracks for Garmins will be provided. Bradt Travel Guide (Albania – ISBN-13 978 1 84162 387 0) is a useful source of information.

Travel Insurance & Advice

Before booking you should check the latest travel advice, including security and local laws, passport and visa information, from the UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Other Information

In Albania the currency is the Lek (approximately 140 Lek = £1). Euros are accepted in some places. There are ATM's in Shkoder and towns on the route. Credit cards are not always accepted.
In Macedonia the official currency is the Denar (MKD) where credit cards are accepted in most hotels and shops, and ATMs increasingly accept international bank cards. You will not be able to exchange Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes.