“Combine the well-known highlights of Dubrovnik and Sofia with the lesser-known towns and villages of Albania and Kosovo on this 12-day small group tour of the fascinating Balkans.”

Highlights

Sofia | Skopje | Prizren | Lake Ohrid | Berat | Tirana | Kruja | Shkoder | Kotor | Dubrovnik

Travel Team

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25 Apr 2020
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Responsible tourism

Western Balkans tour

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation & meals: Our small group size allows us to stay in family-run hotels and pensions that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited size, which in turn limits the carbon footprint of our trips due to the small scale enterprises we support. A major criterion for sourcing accommodation on all of our trips is whether it is family owned and run in order to empower locals over international conglomerates. We also support small restaurants and cafes, serving locally sourced produce like mouth-watering rich stews and sauces, hearty soups and delicious desserts.
All our leaders are passionate about RT, so the message is consistent at all times in regards to environmental issues. In the Balkans, especially Albania, the main issue is littering, and our leaders address this issue on the ground. We actively educate locals by showing an example, such as picking up rubbish others have left behind. Some of our leaders ask our clients to participate in collecting rubbish on hikes in the mountains, and on one occasion locals were clapping as they appreciated the effort. They commented that they are embarrassed that foreigners have to come and clean up their country, as they themselves canít do it.

We discourage our travelers to buying water in plastic bottles, and advise them to refill their bottles from the tap (this is possible in most places on this trip). We also educate our clients to use recycling opportunities whenever feasible (this depends on the country and can vary from proper recycling facilities to unofficial collectors of glass bottles)

Especially in Albania a lot of businesses are not yet across environmental responsibility, however we are trying to educate them by giving them business and delivering our message to them as well.

As a company we aim to contribute to the environmental preservation of the destinations we visit and to reduce any negative impacts our operations may have. This translates to actions such as using local transport where safe to do so in order to reduce emissions, observing all national and marine park visitor rules and operating a Ďtake in, take back outí waste management system, to name but a few examples. Through our inhouse foundation we also invest money into environmental initiatives that benefit the planet, including restoring kelp forests to help reverse the effects of global warming and protecting endangered species such as sea turtles and elephants.

UK office: 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 by having a range of recycling bins for waste, plastic recycling and paper.

Community

All transport on this trip is by private transport which is locally sourced. The section from Skopje to Lake Ohrid is covered by using a local bus.
The local bus, taxi and boat journeys on this trip are excellent examples of traveling like a local, with locals.

This small group tour has a maximum of 12 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.

This tour actively encourages guests to chat with local people, visit local cafes and bars, purchase local produce, gifts and crafts and discover what life is really like in the Balkans.

The Dubrovnik City Walls are an inclusion on this trip, and the revenue of entrance fees is partly used to preserve the structure for future generations.
On our day trip to Kruja we visit the old fortress. The money raised goes back into the local community to enhance living standards and slowly restore the historical old bazaar and the fortress itself.

We employ local leaders as much as operationally possible. Guides are always local (e.g. the included guide in Sarajevo, Mohamed, is a local who has lived through the siege of Sarajevo), and they set their own rates. Leaders are always European, and wages are standard salaries as found elsewhere in the tourism industry.

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2 Reviews of Western Balkans tour

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 02 Jul 2019 by

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


Climb and walk in Valbonne to alpine meadows

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


Good walking shoes

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


Yes. Our guide took us to small hotels, locally owned restaurants and we did not waste food or dispose of plastic.

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


Our leader Saimir Maja was excellent and made the most of every location.

Reviewed on 01 Jul 2019 by

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


The hike in Valbona valley, a boat trip and a swim in lake Ohrid.

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


Take some clothes for going out to dinner in the evenings. Balkan people dress well.

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


Yes. Saimir our was very aware of pollution. He took us to local restaurants and markets. He encouraged us to use tap or well water where available.

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


Excellent, unexpectedly varied and good balance of activities. We would have liked more in-depth information about the archeology?

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