There is an awful lot to take in so doing a spot of personal research prior to setting off will certainly whet your cultural thirst for the experience ahead.
Small group. Max size 12. No minimum age.
Mainly local hotels and the occasional guesthouse.
Private minibus, entrance fees, tour leader throughout.
14 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners.
Solo travellers welcome. Single room supplements available.
Responsible tourism: Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia holiday
We spend time walking in pristine environments and our guides are careful to brief travellers on appropriate behaviour and the importance of taking all rubbish with us. In areas such as Boge, one of the most beautiful valleys in Albania and Mavrovo National Park, the biggest in Macedonia, tourist are rarely seen and we monitor our impact closely, not only of our group visits but the impact any increase in tourism may have.
Our visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the beautiful town of Ohrid help to support local projects to conserve the areas cultural and geographical heritage. Clients and guides are briefed on local customs and general courtesy (such as asking permission before taking photographs/dress-codes/conduct in places of worship etc) and behave appropriately.
The village guesthouses and local homes that we stay in use predominantly local produce in the preparation of meals, avoiding as much as possible bringing food from far away and thus reducing carbon footprints. Hotel Osumi is a great example of this, offering comfortable hospitality and home comforts all locally sourced. We make every effort to alert the owners of the accommodation in question to ways of improving their service with the environment in mind.
This trip has a strong focus on staying in rural communities. We believe that staying small village guesthouses and family homes in regions not only gives travellers an authentic and very special insight into the lives of local people, but brings tangible benefits to small communities that may otherwise be overlooked by the tourism industry. This includes areas such as Gjirokastra, where we visit the local museum, housed in the building in which the former dictator Enver Hoxha was born.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced.
We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an on going relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved. People such as Ndrec in Albania are part of our team and take great pride in showing people their country.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.
We only employ local staff and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that locals know best. Our local operators only use locally owned accommodation. This means your money stays in the area to benefit the local community. When possible we use local transport, (i.e. rail or bus) and we always use local restaurants, markets and shops and encourage our clients to interact both financially and socially with the communities that they are passing through. In doing this your travels are supporting and encouraging the development of local services.
We only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back into the communities we visit. This may include giving a percentage of the profits from each tour to a foundation to help street children or local conservation projects. Furthermore, in order to allow our clients to make an informed decision on where a greater proportion of their money should be spent, we avoid including pre-paid full board meals where possible. Local restaurants and cafes then benefit
Our groups average only six clients, and many tours operate on a private basis with just two travellers. This has much less impact when travelling through rural areas, reducing our environmental and social affects. Finally to emphasis our commitment to Responsible Tourism all clients will receive a copy of our Travellers Code of Conduct with their travel documents.