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Essential Southern Balkans


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Day 1: Dubrovnik

Bok! Welcome to Dubrovnik in sun-kissed Croatia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time beforehand as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. If you do happen to arrive early, good for you! Head to the walled Old City through the Pile Gate drawbridge and explore the confines of this beautiful town. A great way to get a grasp of Dubrovnik is by walking the walls around the Old City. Take your time – as there’s some great vantage points on your walk, plus a bar on the wall to grab a drink and admire the view. In town, there’s a heap of cool eateries and bars, however if a swim is on the cards, head outside the walls to a cove and dive into the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea – our pick is Suluci or Banje Beach.

Day 2: Dubrovnik / Kotor / Stari Bar

This morning, take a local bus to Kotor in mighty Montenegro. Spend some free time exploring this terracotta-lined medieval town, perhaps walking up Kampana tower to see the surrounding turquoise waters and limestone cliffs or finding one of the many churches dotted around the relatively small town. Continue on to Stari Bar – the old town of Bar. Stepping inside the walls, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, so spend the night like a medieval ruler. Perhaps try the area's typical drink, beer or wine with pomegranate juice, before exploring the compact town and its surroundings.

Day 3: Tirana

Get your car games ready for a drive across the border into Albania. Once in Shkoder switch to a public bus to Tirana. Upon arrival, take a leader-led orientation walk around the city to get your bearings. Included for today is a visit to a history and contemporary art museum, Bunk’Art. This museum is quite the experience actually just to get to, as you’ll head through a long, dark tunnel in the hillside that leads you to the entrance, on the side of a still-active Albanian military base. From here, you’ll descend into 3000 square metres of underground space, which was originally meant as a bunker in the 1970s for Albania’s political elite. Now, it houses different exhibitions of Albanian modern history and contemporary art pieces. Afterwards you have time to explore this eclectic city. Perhaps head out to the Block for drinks.

Day 4: Pellumbas / Tirana

Time to get your hiking shoes on with a hike out of town to Pellumbas, Black Cave and Erzeni River. Firstly, drive out of Tirana to Pellumbas: a small village around 25 kilometres southeast of Tirana, where’ll you’ll pass through villages in the epicurean Erzeni Valley, passing the hilltop Petrela Castle. Once arrived, start hiking to the Black Cave and up Erzeni river canyon, where you’ll find that nature creeps up quickly – think tweeting birds, streaming rivers, and possibly the occasional turtle poking its head out. Continue into the huge entrance of Black Cave and explore the cavern with its spectacular stalactites. Afterwards, prepare for a descend to the rocky Erzeni River down a very steep forest trail. You’ll be rewarded with cool water pools flowing among giant boulders and trees. After a look around and a swim, head back to Tirana for the night.

Day 5: Tirana / Dhermi Beach

You’ll have a free morning in Tirana before taking our private minibus to Dhermi Beach: a stunning stretch of Albania’s coastline. You’ll have time to laze on the golden beaches and swim in the shimmering waters of the Adriatic. Spend some time at one of the beachside bars with your group – a night of good food and good company is definitely on the cards.

Day 6: Dhermi Beach

Wake up on the calming shores of Dhermi Beach, with your day being as clear as the blue waters of the surrounding seas. There’s a range of optional activities that might take your fancy: think hiking, sea kayaking, or even a boat excursion to the Karaburun Peninsula. The best thing is that there’s no need to rush – go as fast or as slow as you want! Today, you call the shots. If you want some more recommendations on what to do, hit up your group leader – they know the ropes.

Day 7: Blue Eye Spring / Gjirokaster

Leave the sparkling Adriatic shores behind and take private transport to Gjirokaster, stopping at Blue Eye Spring en route. This feat of nature has to be seen to be believed – a kaleidoscope of blues and greens pulsating from a natural river spring from a depth of more than 50 metres. Take the time to explore the surrounding parks and take in the different vantage points of the spring. Onwards to Gjirokaster: a well-preserved Ottoman town in Albania’s south. Once arrived, visit one of the traditional tower houses with a local guide and taste their traditional coffee 'on the stone', roasted on the fire right in front of you. If you are lucky you may even get your fortune read. You’ll spend the night here, so explore the quaint cobblestoned streets and perhaps find some speca me glize (stuffed peppers) to have for dinner.

Day 8: Corfu

Hop on a local bus south to Saranda – a coastal resort town near the Albania-Greece border. Then, take a hydrofoil ferry to Corfu, an island off Greece’s northwest coast in the Ionian Sea. Corfu is known for its mountainous landscapes that extend to the shores, and its cultural heritage, spent under rule from Venetian, French and British influence, before being united with Greece in 1864. Your group leader will take you on an orientation walk near where you’re staying to direct you to the best places, and afterwards, the afternoon is free for you to explore every corner of the island, or simply pull up a towel on one of the island’s many beaches.

Day 9: Corfu

With no activities planned and no accommodation organised for tonight, you’re free to leave at any time. But, if shorelines and souvlakis are still on the cards, you don’t have to leave just yet! If you would like to spend more time on Corfu, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

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Start date - End date Trip Status Price
30/MAY/2020 - 07/JUN/2020 FS DGAU$1650
(single supplement $470)
27/JUN/2020 - 05/JUL/2020 FS DGAU$1650
(single supplement $470)
25/JUL/2020 - 02/AUG/2020 FS DGAU$1650
(single supplement $470)
22/AUG/2020 - 30/AUG/2020 FS DGAU$1650
(single supplement $470)
19/SEP/2020 - 27/SEP/2020 FS DGAU$1485
(single supplement $470)