Experience Albania as Lord Byron did 200 years ago

by Hidden Trails 09/14/2011

 Author: Rudina Hoxha
Place: Albania
Date: 7 September 2011

Riding in Albania

Experiencing Albania as Lord Byron did 200 years ago.
When night fell, they would read Lord Byron’s poetry and excerpts from the diary of his friend, John Cam Hobhouse. When the sun rose, they would jump on their horses and rode the paths the British poet took in 1809 in southern Albania.

This was the premise of the 10-day horseback riding expedition, the first of its kind ever organised in the country by the Albanian historian, journalist and tourism promoter, A Tare. The expedition took place in mid-July 2011. Fourteen professional and amateur British riders participated. Among the participants was Alexandra Mommersteeg, who is known in the UK for organizing the Royal Ascot, a race opened by the Queen of England and attended by many British notables.
A passionate scholar of the relationship Lord Byron had with Albania, Tare recently came up with the idea to promote the cultural and historical tourism of a few Albanian areas not typically on the traditional tourist route.

Tare had long considered how to advance tourism in the southern town of Gjirokastra. “Tourists sightsee here for one day and then they leave.  So, I was thinking how to prolong this experience. And I thought of Drinos Valley in Gjirokastra and how it can be used for horseback riding tours in the search for Lord Byron. The idea thrilled me,”43-year-old Tare told Southeast Europe: People and Culture.

Tare has been organising unique tours and special events to promote tourism in Albania since 1994. He has been distinguished for finding the middle path between cultural heritage promotion and sustainable economic development. Now this experience is also offered via Hidden Trails, a unique equestrian holiday organizer all over the world - located in Vancouver, BC
A horseback tour of Albania offers amazing views of the mountains and plains.

As Lord Byron did 202 years ago, the expedition participants rode through the range of mountains of Lunxhëria to reach Tepelena, in southern Albania.  The process of finding ‘suitable’ horses for the expedition was not an easy task for Tare. “I spent time searching these horses from one village to the other. The British cannot ride just any horses. They have a deep respect for the animals,” he said. 
Tare had ridden through the Drinos Valley himself many times before. In 2007 Tare crossed the Drinos Valley with the renowned British horseman and writer, Robin Hanbury-Tenison. One year later, the actor Rupert Everett arrived in Albania to make a documentary on Lord Byron’s journey throughout the region for British Television’s “Channel Four.” “All in all, it was an extraordinary experience. Everything went perfectly. It was interesting to see that not much had changed in two centuries,” said Tare with a laugh.

Riding in Albania

The trips have proven to be an economic asset, as the expedition participants frequented local bars, restaurants and hotels. They participants had the opportunity to taste Albanian food and experience all that the local nature has to offer.

Tare has planned to turn this kind of expedition into a tradition. “Next year, we have planned to do the same but with four groups,” he said. Furthermore, his idea is to follow a different itinerary: “We will meet all in the Greek town of Ioannina and walk down to Tepelena, thereby invoking the feeling of travelling by caravans,” he said.
Tare has also played a key role in establishing the Butrint National Park, in southwest Albania, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, alongside with the cities of Gjirokastra and Berat. 

For more information, check out the Hidden Trails website for tour details with rates and dates of rides in Albania.

In the Footsteps of Lord Byron  - a Horse Trek with Hidden Trails

 

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