Most Inspirational Moment
Difficult to pin down any particular moment - walking in the completely unspoilt, non touristy (difficult to find these days!) Albanian mountains was certainly inspirational.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Arvil was an extremely pleasant and well informed leader who spoke English fluently. However there are 2 points I would like to raise regarding his decisions
1. For reasons which were never made clear the already scheduled long drive from Valbona (Day 6) to Berat was extended to go via Dourros on the coast (his home town I believe). There appeared no good reason for this. This made it an extremely tiring day of almost 12 hours arriving at Berat at 1900 where we were, after checking into our hotel, taken off for a guided tour of 2 of the oldest mosques in the country (on the itinerary for the following day). Most of the group including myself were too tired to either challenge this or declined this tour. 2. On Day 5 the option to do the full length of the White Circle was not given. Although I was perfectly happy to walk only as far as the ridge and back down the valley, I know that at least 2 of the group was very disappointed not be able to be given this choice. Again no reason for this was presented by Arvil.
Advice for Potential Travellers
If you are not fit and a seasoned walker this trip will find you out!!! The Exodus rating of 3 Moderate is a little understated I would say. The mountain walking in this programme is really wonderful but if you are not already a regular walker and unfit think twice about this. Having said all of the above I would highly recommend this programme if you like unspoilt untouristy places - go now before its too late!
I hesitated to give the programme the "excellent" rating which in many ways it deserves - the wonderful walking, excellent food and accommodation, and good guiding (despite my above comments on Arvil's handling of the programme in a couple of instances - mainly because the cultural part of the programme, in my view, could be improved greatly by adding an extra night at Berat (which everybody loved) instead of just the one night. In that way participants would have time to really appreciate this really fascinating city and recover from the long trip from the mountains. Most of the group were of the same opinion.