Client feedback for our recent Balkan tours, hosted by lead driver Ardi Zhugjeli
This was a fantastic experience and tour – gorgeous scenery and very few tourists to compete with. Ed put together a custom itinerary through four countries. Our guide – Ardi – was fantastic. We consider him our friend and have invited him to visit us in Florida. A very high service level.
We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe although it did help to have Ardi who spoke all the languages needed and knew the roads very well. We have a ton of pictures and very fond memories of our Balkan experience.
I would absolutely use Drive The Balkans again.
Ardi was an excellent guide – I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to roll on a repeat visit with him. His ability to speak so many languages made him a must for all the border crossings, plus he had a street smarts about him that made him great for dealing with virtually any personality type along the way. From back village good ol’ boys just wanting to throw back drinks and shoot the s**t to urbane waiters in restaurants, throughout our travels he was a man for all seasons. Ardi never got moody or flustered, and was willing to change plans to deal with my stupid flights of fancy. He was the rare guy you could easily drive around the Balkans with and not tire of. I highly recommend Ardi for anyone looking for a great partner in travel.
Our trip to the Balkans, beginning in Tirana, Albania, and ending in Zagreb, Croatia, has been a wonderful. Ed helped me plan the trip and our driver was Ardi. We cannot thank Ardi enough for taking us on this journey. We got to go high into the mountains of Albania and do some hiking, and visit many places throughout the Balkans.
Ardi is a remarkable young man. He is prompt, responsible, kind and patient. Very good company and an excellent driver. Ardi speaks several languages, which was a great asset, and his English is excellent.
We are fortunate to have travelled to lots of places and this trip (tailored for us) was simply fantastic and right up there with the best of what we have ever done. The tour took us from tops of mountains to beautiful lakes and on to stunning beaches – from villages to cities and everything else in-between. Here was a company who listened to their customers and delivered in every way.
Most of our trip was spent with Ardi, who is an unbelievably awesome guide and a fabulous driver. We had tons of fun and learnt so much about Albania. We loved the flexibility that a private tour afforded us and we were able to make decisions on the fly – if we wanted to go the long way, we could; skip a place, sure; go on a hike, you bet – the list goes on.
We will never forget Gračanica, Dečani and the Patriarchate of Peć. And of course we want to tell you – this time not less than last year – that Ardi was again not only a good driver and an important guide but also a very helpful and thoughtful friend. Without him the trip would not have been so tip-top. We gladly will recommend your agency.
The itinerary was very well-planned with plenty of contrasting experiences. It makes a huge difference travelling with a guide who has so much local knowledge. It’s those small details that make all the difference to a trip and Ardi could not have been more proactive in realising what was likely to be of interest to us and then tweaking the trip to accommodate it.
There were so many good points that it is hard to pick out the highlights. If pushed I think the visit to the abandoned village of Old Qeparo on the way to Saranda would be close to the top of the list. Lunch outside the village shop with the swallows nesting inside and nobody else around was wonderful. That is the kind of thing you can never get with a larger tour company or a bigger group. The Komani ferry and the communist-era prison camp at Spaç were both memorable in different ways. Also loved Dečani Monastery. From a wildlife point of view Lake Skadar was well worth the visit.
Everyone enjoyed the walks in Rugova and even came to like the somewhat decrepit log cabins. Can’t help thinking that that area is going to change very rapidly with all the building going on though – and probably not for the better.
We were surprised by the quality of the accommodation and you have certainly managed to find some wonderful hotels, particularly in Gjakova, Berat and Gjirokastra. Also the food – we never imagined it would be so good. Te Diella was a real highlight – none of us would probably have chosen grilled eel before going there but it was exceptional and the location is unbeatable. Mrizi i Zanave and Mullixhiu were also memorable. We enjoyed Briselda’s Italian restaurant, Vita99, as well. Great to get a gastronomic tour included in the package.
Once again, thanks for a great tour – and particular thanks to Ardi, for his unfailing good humour and determination go the extra mile to keep everyone happy.
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Private tours and road trips through the Western Balkans. You might also like to follow @drivealbania