Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo tour in the Balkans
Description of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo tour in the Balkans
There's an incredible depth of fascinating cultural heritage spread across the Balkans and, as this ten day tour demonstrates, gaining first-hand experience of key countries, such as Bulgaria, Macedonia and Kosovo, is the only way to truly sort out the facts from the fictional alternatives.
This tour places travellers into a small guided group within the region's capital cities, such as Sofia and Skopje, as well as visiting national parks, including Galicica and Pelister in Macedonia, so as to present a well-rounded perspective of what is often a misunderstood pocket of Southeastern Europe.
From the influential eras of the Ottomans, the Romans and Communism to the wine region of Tikvesh, the lakes of Ohrid and Prespa, and the stunning Rila Monastery, this ten day tour is a feast for culturally starved eyes and will go some way to ensuring you never think of Europe in quite the same way, ever again.
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PlanetAccommodation 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PeopleLocal 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.
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.