Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo tour in the Balkans

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Date
Price
Basis
14 Jun 2018
£ 1299
including UK flights
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05 Jul 2018
£ 1299
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09 Aug 2018
£ 1399
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13 Sep 2018
£ 1349
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13 Jun 2019
£ 1349
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04 Jul 2019
£ 1349
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08 Aug 2019
£ 1449
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12 Sep 2019
£ 1399
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Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo tour in the Balkans

Accommodation and Meals:
On this tour we will spend 9 nights in comfortable hotels. All accommodation is locally owned and staffed, which provides employment and income alternatives for many locals. Where meals are provided, there is a focus on using locally sourced produce and traditional ingredients in locally-run establishments. For meals that are not included, clients are encouraged to eat in authentic, family-run restaurants that showcase the best of Macedonian, Bulgarian and Kosovan cuisine. During the tour we are fortunate to have 2 included meals in the Macedonian villages of Dihovo and Kuratica, where we are served home cooked meals in the gardens of local families who are keen to share their traditional dishes and introduce us to their way of life. In St. Jovan Bigorski monastery we will enjoy a special prepared lunch from local produce in the monastery restaurant. There will also be the opportunity to taste different types of honey and honey products when we visit the beekeeper in the village of Dihovo.

Local Craft and Culture:
This tour is packed with culture: we visit the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and its main sights before staying in the small Bulgarian town of Melnik; known for its historic architecture. In Melnik we visit the Kordopulova house, the largest house from Bulgaria's Revival period, and will learn about the old Melnik traditions. Here, there will also be an opportunity to arrange wine tasting at the famous 250 year old Kordopulova House winery.
The tour will see us visiting some of Bulgaria’s and Macedonia’s most famous orthodox monasteries and churches. In Bulgaria we visit the Rozhen Monastery and UNESCO sites of Boyana Church and the famous 10th Century Rila Monastery; considered to be one of Bulgaria’s important cultural, historic and architectural monuments. In Macedonia we stop at the monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski and take lunch in the monastery restaurant before visiting the Painted Mosque of Tetovo, one of the oldest and most notable Islamic monuments in Europe.
In the Macedonian village of Dihovo we also have the opportunity to explore the fascinating world of the honeybee as we join one of the local beekeepers where he will share the hidden secrets of bees and beekeeping. There will also be the chance to purchase some of his honey products after the demonstration.

We will stay in the well-known Macedonian wine region of Tikvesh, where we stay at a hotel-winery and enjoy an evening of wine-tasting and traditional dinner whilst learning how Macedonian wine has taken a central role in society since the Roman times.
During the trip we will take tours of the Macedonian archaeological sites of Stobi, which was first mentioned in 197 B.C. and of Heraclea Lyncestis which was founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the 4th Century B.C after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lyncestis and incorporated it into his kingdom of Macedon.

In Macedonia we also will stay 2 nights in the town of Ohrid located on Lake Ohrid; both the lake and town are listed as cultural and natural world heritage sites by UNESCO and are popular destinations in summer for locals and tourists alike to visit.
There will also be the opportunity to explore and purchase local crafts from the old Bazaars of Bitola, Skopje and Prizren in Kosovo during each orientation or sight-seeing tour to further learn about the cultures of this region and engage with the locals.

Water:
Whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. As the tap water in Macedonia is safe to drink, the leader will always suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should pack a refillable water bottle and make use of the many public fountains and taps in the cities and towns to refill their bottles.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator to run this trip in a way that aims to reduce impacts and to give as much back as possible to the local communities. Part of this is employing local leaders, who are committed to responsible tourism and helping to preserve the way of life in their area. The leaders will give a briefing on responsible tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

Waste:
The leader will also give a briefing on how best to manage waste during throughout the trip. Clients are actively encouraged to dispose of waste in bins and to use recycling facilities where possible. Whilst this is an area of Europe that still has a long way to go in terms of environmental sustainability initiatives, our local supplier and leaders ensure they lead by example and provide clients with an appropriate briefing on how to dispose of waste.

Community:
This trip is designed to allow a high degree of economic benefit to the local communities; we buy local produce, eat local food and use local services, thus ensuring that as much money as possible is retained within the local economies and the host communities. By visiting a large number of cultural and natural sites such as the Pelister N.P and various Orthodox monasteries and paying entrance fees, we are contributing towards maintaining, restoring and protecting these valuable monuments, nature sites and facilities. The visit to the village of Dihovo for lunch and to the local beekeeper is part of a village community effort to promote different forms of rural tourism and to engage locals with tourists as a way to sustain their businesses. The dinner in the family of home Kuratica is prepared by local women from the village and it is the support such as this that encourages the locals in this community to stay in their village instead of migrating to the bigger cities in Macedonia.

UK office
It all starts at home so we have first worked to reduce our carbon footprint in our UK offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies in place, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group size
We operate small group tours that have a low impact on the communities we visit and we always ensure our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. This allows us to stay in unique and characterful accommodation that would not have benefitted from tourism due to their limited size.


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