Kosovo small group vacation

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2017: 13 May, 26 Aug
2018: 12 May, 25 Aug
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kosovo small group vacation

Environment

Much of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend time in the Sharri Mountains in the south west of the country, a stunning area of dramatic peaks and impressive landscapes. When exploring this area on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, which includes the drivers. Kosovo is a country where western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.

Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but as Kosovo is still really in the early stages of dealing with tourism we hope that they can become ingrained into the culture.

When visiting Gadime Cave travelers are briefed on how to avoid damaging the fragile ecosystem that exists here.

In Boge and the Sharri Mountains we stay in small guesthouses which use local produce for the meals they provide – local in the sense of being from the village and nearby area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Kosovo but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.

Community

On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend time in some of Kosovo’s more traditional areas, that do not see as much tourism as other parts of the country. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.

We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travelers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of Kosovo’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past; a legacy of it occupying a rather impoverished position under Yugoslavian and then Serbian rule. Through carefully supervised tourism, greater worth is placed upon Kosovo’s rich heritage and it is hoped that local authorities will not only have the funds but also recognise the value in restoring and preserving such places.

We visit the isolated Sharri Mountains in the south of the country on this tour. Traditionally this area has seen much migration among the younger generation, who leave their homes to look for what they perceive to be better opportunities in the cities. By staying here and spending money within this community we help in a small way to provide income and employment opportunities which in turn give people a reason to stay, thus helping to ensure the survival of such communities.

Where possible we encourage our travelers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.

Reviews of Kosovo small group vacation

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I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 17 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Being in such a new country, which is trying to survive in the modern world. We had several local guides 2 of which were amazingly knowledgeable,but all told their own story of the war (including a young husband being taken from the house and shot) which was a privilege to hear and made what happened less than 20yrs ago in Europe very real. International funding and help has restored much of the cultural sights and infrastructure but the people lived through an attempt to destroy their culture. Very moving examples of cultural survival and pride in a new country and a dogged determination to make it work.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Everything worked much better than we expected, accommodation varied from a genuine 4+ star hotel to a lovely stay in a mountain guesthouse with a friendly Kosovar family. Everywhere was clean and the food and wine (total surprise, Kosovan vineyards flourish and local wine quality is amazing and very cheap) was fabulous. We had to have local guides everywhere which was not very appropriate in the Serbian monasteries which are very strange enclaves of Serbia and protected by the UN with armed guards. Beautiful places but the local Kosovar people have no sense or understanding of them. The pace of the trip was perfect, not too hurried and plenty of time for self exploration and the guides were happy to take whatever time we wanted.
Kosovo is a small country and I did think that we could have been based in one place for a couple of days, rather than moving to different hotels/ guesthouses every night, often only 90mins drive away. However there are pros and cons to both options!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely, there did not seem to be any multi-national companies in Kosovo so all hotels and restaurants were locally owned and we visited local places with local guides. Plenty of opportunities to contribute to conservation projects and buy local products.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I would highly recommend this trip, it was a real eye opener. Well organised, excellent transport in a comfy car with an English speaking, very friendly and helpful young Albanian driver who kept us amused by the plans for his imminent wedding! Well worth fitting it in to a wider trip across the Balkans as we did, it is very easy to travel from Pristina to Albania, Serbia and Macedonia and seeing the country in its Balkan context was especially interesting. And the weather was perfect, glorious sunshine, almost too hot, no rain!

Reviewed on 22 Oct 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Sunset from the Country House restaurant near Pristina (just before it rained).
Wine tasting and dinner at a winery in Rahovec.
Driving in mountains near Boge - although a 4X4 would have been better than a Mercedes sedan.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Hope for good weather!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It benefitted the local hotels and restaurants, various ethnographic museums, etc.
I don't feel there was any reduction in environmental impacts or support of conservation on our part. Kosovo doesn't seem to have much incentive to clean up trash - it was everywhere.



4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Good. It's not that there were any problems really, it was just a low key trip. It was a small group (only two of us since one couple backed out at the last minute), so it had the feel of friends just doing a little road trip. We had a lot of rain which put a big damper on things (especially in the mountains and scenic areas). It wasn't a particularly active trip. We visited more places than what was listed in the itinerary. Our guide was knowledgeable. enthusiastic and aimed to please.

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