We are a special interest travel company that loves Bulgaria and knows her well. We put our soul into providing unique opportunities to experience mountains and nature, villages, monasteries, culture, and history through tailor-made trips with professional multilingual guides.
We want to share our knowledge of and love for Bulgaria and her nature, history, and people with our guests. Odysseia-In strives to develop our country as a leading destination for sustainable and ecological tourism. We encourage the protection of our unique cultural and natural heritage by setting examples of successful and sustainable tourism. We support projects for restoration of religious sites and other buildings.
We strive to provide high international standards for adventure travel, to develop sustainable tourism in Bulgaria, to make tourism and guiding viable professions for Bulgarians, and to protect our environment and our mountains. Odysseia-In endeavors to provide rewarding work experiences for the young people in Bulgaria.
Odysseia-In believes that the key components of sustainable tourism that a tour operator must practice are:
Keep the Money Local
Whenever possible buy local in the communities visited, and incorporate overnight stays in rural and remote regions.
Create Job Opportunities
Hire, train and encourage local people to get involved with their tourism product.
Protect Local Environment and Culture
Run tours to minimise impact on the local environment and cultural heritage, and give the communities visited a financial incentive to maintain and protect both.
Give Back to the Communities Visited
Runs and support conservation and education projects, and give to and support charities and initiatives in the communities visited.
We run small groups to create more meaningful interactions and minimize impact. Our overnight stays are specially chosen to be typical for the region visited and to support a wide range of small and poor communities, with accommodation primarily in family-run guesthouses and B&Bs, in villages and small towns. By visiting less-known communities, we provide a source of income to people in rural areas and make sure that our money stays local. We can say with pride that through our business we have achieved significant success and have encouraged several communities to support responsible tourism.
We estimate that each year we pay about 400.000 Euro to our suppliers in rural Bulgarian regions. Our suppliers there are family-run guesthouses and small hotels, mountain huts, local guides, local transportation companies
Reforestation in Pirin National Park
Pirin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of our favourite national treasures. The area we have chosen to work with was severely damaged by a large forest fire in 2003. The fire burned 70 hectares of old growth forest - predominantly pines (Pinus heldreichii, Pinus peuce Grieseb and Pinus nigra). The first two are endemic species existing only on the Balkan Peninsula, and are in danger of extinction. The 2003 fire cut their population significantly. One of the primary footpaths in the park ran through this section of forest and cannot be used now. No authority has attempted to change this extremely bad situation - for the environment, for the park, and for the local people. For this reason, Odysseia-In decided to start the first ever reforestation project in Pirin Mountains National Park.
The goals of the project are to reforest the destroyed area and also to raise awareness among the government and public. Volunteers do all of the work. Most of them are tour leaders and mountain guides from Odysseia-In but we also have recruited many other volunteers that wish to participate in the project. Through reforestation we hope to recover the great forest and again bring tourists there. Since the fire, access is limited and difficult to many of the mountain huts and to other areas further inside the park. After organising and beginning to promote the project earlier this year, we took our first steps in the park in October 2004 when the ground was cleaned and prepared. We will begin planting trees in April 2005.
Our reforestation project brings together nature conservation and the well being of local communities. Not only are we planning to bring this spectacular piece of our natural heritage back to life, but also all of the volunteers will overnight in village houses, small guesthouses andB&B establishments. This way the project itself supports the community while tourist numbers are low due to the damage. Additionally, we are buying the trees from the local tree-breeding centre.
A less known fact is that Pirin National Park is a subject of poaching so our project has been promoted through several press releases, articles in some of the leading Bulgarian newspapers, and short films on television. When tree planting starts in April 2005, we will bring not only members from national and international media, but also local people interested in nature preservation.
Reforestation in Vitosha Nature Park
Vitosha is the first Nature Park on the Balkans, established in 1935. It is very near to the Bulgarian capital and this makes it a well-visited destination for all people living inSofia. Sadly, 2001 a huge storm fell down large areas of the spruce woods in different parts of the mountains. Odysseia-in was involved, financially and voluntarily, to cooperate reforest these regions.
In 2007 and 2008 our staff fulfilled the needed stages in the reforestation of a 6-decare forest. The project was fullfilled with the help of the Vitosha initiative group, the State Forestry Unit Sofia and the Vitosha NP Directorate. In 2009 we will continue our work in other sections of this area.
THE 3 Euro Campaign
In September 2008 we launched a campaign for donation of 3 to 6 Euro per customer (who books a tour with us) for the Coalition “Let Nature Remain in Bulgaria”. Our appeal already received understanding in several tour operators from Spain, France, England, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They all are happy to donate funds for nature conservation and public awareness in Bulgaria. We believe that this campaign is very important and it can create a good marketing tool to achieve a very successful Destination Bulgaria in 2009 and the years after. We hope that the positive change in Bulgaria’s green policy is possible and in this way we want to involve more Bulgarians to feel part of it.
Odysseia-In shares the responsibility for protection of Bulgaria’s unique cultural and natural heritage by setting an example of successful and sustainable tourism through our work, and also by supporting and running projects to give back to our environment, and our communities.
We run small groups to create more meaningful interactions and minimize impact. Our overnight stays are specially chosen to be typical for the region visited and to support a wide range of small and poor communities, with accommodation primarily in family-run guesthouses and B&Bs, in villages and small towns.
By visiting less-known communities, we provide a source of income to people in rural areas and make sure that our money stays local.
We can say with pride that through our business we have achieved significant success and have encouraged several communities to support responsible tourism. We estimate that each year we pay about 400.000 Euro to our suppliers in rural Bulgarian regions. Our suppliers there are family-run guesthouses and small hotels, mountain huts, local guides, local transportation companies, etc.
Restoration of Saint Nicholas Monastery
Saint Nicholas Monastery, a medieval monastery on the southern slopes of the Balkan Mountains near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was once part of the Sofia Holy Mountain network of Monasteries. The church is the only building left standing there. It contains invaluable murals from the early 17th century including some of great importance as unique examples of art from the period. Sadly, the condition of the murals is deteriorating. Cracks are visible in the walls and pieces of several religious scenes have fallen down. Due to the damage done every winter, if we want to save these murals for posterity, we must start conservation work as soon as possible.
In spring 2004, Odysseia-In organised a meeting of experts and a decision was taken to evaluate the importance of the murals of the church in Saint Nicolas Monastery, whether they can be restored, and an estimate of the cost. The evaluation is now completed, and plans for the project implementation are underway. We have taken steps to encourage different institutions to take part in and support this project, and we are seeking additional financing for the project.
The short-term goal of the project is to restore the murals of the 17th century church of Saint Nicolas Monastery and plan for their preservation. There are other medieval monasteries in these mountains in the same general area as Saint Nicolas Monastery, and a follow-up project is to create a network of trails for "human-powered" use that connects some of the holy temples from this medieval network of monasteries. To accomplish this we will invite local people to participate.
At this time, no one offers a tour of the monasteries around Sofia. Including them in tourist programs and opening them again will greatly contribute to the development of the region. Local people will find work - guiding tours, creating and maintaining paths, in other small tourism and tourism related businesses. In this way the project combines the restoration of a culturally significant monastery with the well being of the local community. The projest has been launched in close partnership with locals, Old Sofia Museum, Kremikovtsi Municipality, and Sofia Tourist Board.