Local Crafts and Culture:
Under Edvar Hoxha Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to the world. However due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. Guests know that most things are produced locally and are encouraged to purchase crafts and produce locally everywhere they go, particularly when we pass the farms. On the second day, we visit a local market where guests can try local specialities and interact with the market sellers.
Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should use the fresh water springs beside the road to re-fill a singular container. These springs are clean and are a wonderful resource for reducing waste.
Accommodation & meals:
We try to ensure that we use locally run accommodation serving locally sourced produce from the nearby farmers as much as possible. Locals from the surrounding area are employed. In Dardhe, we stay in the beautiful self-sustainable Hotel Alpin, high in the mountains and surrounded by nature. The hotel uses solar panels. Where meals are not supplied, your local guide can recommend a number of good family-run restaurants in the area.
Meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form complimented with a variety of succulent vegetables, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, wines and of course, raki.
This tour makes every effort to support the local community by using family-run hotels and restaurants, who source locally produced food. In Albania, it is important to generate income for the local economies, which are predominantly agricultural. We visit a local market on the second day of the tour, where we can try local specialities and see local dishes being made. We also regularly cycle by farms, where we are able to buy local crafts and produce. To reduce the use of plastic bottles in this area, we fill our water bottles using natural water springs, which are found along the roads where we cycle.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in a unique, family-run hotel that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to its limited size.
Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Leaders ensure that clients stick to agreed path in order to minimise our impact. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional gifts and crafts and get a real impression of the country.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.?