Albania and Kosovo Easter vacation

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Albania and Kosovo Easter vacation

Environment

On this tour, due to the nature of the areas we are visiting, we will unavoidably have to use four-wheel-drive cars (Land Rovers, Jeeps or similar off-road vehicles with raised ground clearance, air intakes and low-range gear-boxes). However, we do not churn up virgin countryside. We stick to established roads and military tracks. We make sure the vehicles we use are extremely well-maintained by skilled mechanics and burn fuel as efficiently as possible.

A 4×4 is unfortunately not the most environmentally friendly vehicle, but without them we would not be able to access these areas of Albania, which do not usually receive tourists. We think bringing tourists to these areas does more good than harm and massively benefits the local community. Orenjė in particular is well over an hour's drive from asphalt, and a car with raised ground clearance is the only way to reach it - particularly if it rains, when the road to the village becomes extremely muddy.

We take any non-biodegradable waste with us from remote areas to urban areas to be recycled by the municipality and make sure that wherever we go, we clean up any mess, leaving the environment as we found it.

Community

Although we try not to compromise on comfort, where possible we stay in smaller, family owned hotels and guesthouses. On this tour, in Albania particularly, we stay in very uncommercial spots. Our guesthouse in Radomire is an all-round wonderful experience (be warned - it is very hard not to get drunk here as the owner is overly forthcoming with his homemade raki!).

We do make a point of not eating at the hotel restaurant, but instead walking a kilometre down the road to a very local family run place.

Orenjė is a delight - a very remote village where a local family have restored their old stone house and provide a wonderful welcome. Everything you eat will be grown either in their own garden, or the neighbours'. In Lin we stay with an absolutely charming family who have lived by the lake for generations, and more recently opened a very sweet guesthouse. The man of the house is a fisherman, so we'll likely have fresh lake fish for supper.

Our drivers, Ardi and Nesti, are native Albanians (in fact Nesti is from Dibėr, where we spend two nights, and a few years ago helped waymark the hiking trails up Mt Korabi himself). We also use local guides along the way where necessary, such as in Ohrid, Prizren and Gjakova, which is a famous centre for traditional carpentry in Kosovo.

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