A small Orthodox Church in the mountains of Zagoria, south Albania

A Unique Albania Tour Operator

The story behind this unique Albania tour operator began way back in 2012, when British media halfwit Ed Reeves travelled to Albania on assignment for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. Ed’s mother, then a committed Communist socialist, had visited Albania twice in the 1980s when it was supposedly closed to foreign visitors, and a commissioning editor at the Telegraph thought it would be interesting to take her back. 

In 2012 Albania was still a forgotten backwater in terms of tourism, with a dilapidated infrastructure and bizarre hotels. However, it was certainly interesting, so the following year Ed drove down from London in his trusty Toyota RAV4, thinking that this little 4×4 would be able to cope with the worst village roads (it couldn’t).

During this solo adventure, Ed started to research a book about a secret WWII mission by Britain’s Special Operations Executive. The son of one of the officers involved decided to come out to follow in his father’s footsteps, and asked Ed to show him around. This was the spark for Drive Albania 4×4 Tours. 

Ed’s initial plan was to simply sell trips in the UK and use local tour companies in Albania, but in a bad case of mission creep he ended up setting up his own Albania tour operator in Tirana. 

By 2019 this off-beat Albania tour operator had a full-time team of four, an Office Dog (Bubi) and had upgraded from its original two ancient Land Rover Discoveries to a fleet of eight new (but very retro) Russian off-roaders. The original offer of 4×4 tours had expanded to encompass large groups of students, hiking adventures and private cultural tours running as far north as Zagreb, and as far south as Athens. 

Then arrived the mass hysteria of 2020-22. During this surreal, shameful time life continued pretty much as normal in Albania, with only a few minor restrictions to keep the EU quiet, but obviously the rest of the Western world lost its collective f***ing mind. Those adventurous folk who might normally have travelled to the Balkans with a quirky Albanian tour operator decided their time would be better spent hiding under their beds, so business tanked. 

Thankfully in February 2022 Russia’s Dr Putin devised a miracle cure for the unmentionable, and overnight social media profile pictures that had previously framed mad, frightened eyes peeking out over useless cloth muzzles were replaced with the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine. Business accordingly picked up again, as it turned out that for most people the threat of imminent nuclear armageddon was much less disturbing than the thought of contracting a mild illness for a few days.

Hopefully the next few years will bring neither World War Three nor the much anticipated alien invasion, and visitor numbers to Albania will continue to climb, ensuring a steady supply of Bubi Food for Drive Albania’s bewildered Office Dog.