Responsible tourism: Albania & Kosovo tour, 4 x 4 adventure
We are very aware of the local environments in which we operate and we take care to minimise our impact at all times. We do not churn up virgin countryside. We stick to established roads. We make sure the vehicles we use are well-maintained and don’t belch out clouds of black diesel smoke. A 4×4 is obviously not the most environmentally friendly vehicle, but without them we would not be able to access the more remote areas of Albania, which do not usually receive tourists.
We think bringing tourists to these areas does more good than harm. However, there are some areas where we do not take motor vehicles (even though this is possible), because of the possible impact on local fauna.
Albania, like most of the Balkans, has a trash problem. We leave no plastic or paper waste behind on our tours – we take only photos and leave behind footprints. We try too to educate locals on the importance of responsible waste disposal (an uphill task…). On trekking tours we provide zip-lock plastic bags to keep toilet paper till it can be disposed of properly. Although Albania has no recycling scheme, we do everything we can to minimise office waste too.
We have opened an office in Tirana with a small staff consisting of an office manager and full-time driver-escort recruited locally. Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries and we are mindful of this in everything we do.
Although we try not to compromise on comfort, where possible we stay in smaller, family owned hotels and guesthouses. Sadly there has been a glut of new, often poor-quality, construction in Albania since the fall of Communism – we try hard not to stay in properties which we feel are architecturally unsympathetic to the local surroundings. Likewise, we make a point of eating at smaller restaurants, or with local families in villages en route.
By their very nature, most of our tours travel through extremely remote areas. Here we make a point of buying services from locals. This makes a small but positive impact in the villages, and makes for a better experience for our clients.