Balkan explorer small group tour
Description of Balkan explorer small group tour
The sometimes turbulent history of the Balkans over the past century – from flashpoint of WW1 to 1990s civil war – reflects the fact that this is a region at the heart of Europe. But this trip eases aside the wartorn stereotype to reveal four stunningly beautiful countries – Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia plus Bosnia Herzegovina – that are a rich melange of history and culture. Here, Christianity meets Islam in fascinating historical cities – Sarajevo, Belgrade, Kotor - complemented by some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Europe at Durmitor and Biogradska Gora.
After exploring Belgrade's key historic sights, dive into the Fruška Gora National Park – often referred as the 'Serbian Athos' thanks to the gorgeous 15th and 16th century Orthodox monasteries scattered set within its unspoilt nature. Here you'll also visit Serbian cultural beacons like Sremski Karlovci, and also taste the excellent local wines along with traditional snacks. Later in the trip, you'll get a chance to compare tipples here with those in the wine region of Rajac.
The Danube Valley combines medieval fortresses and prehistoric ruins dating back 8000 years with the awesome Djerdap Gorge – nicknamed the Iron Gates – on the widest section of this fabled river. Further highlights of your Serbian adventure include the fantastic Felix Romuliana Roman site, the Byzantine glories of the UNESCO-listed Studenica and Sopocani Monasteries, plus one of Europe's last primeval forests in the breathtaking lake-dotted Biogradska Gora.
The beguiling waterside city of Kotor and Lovcen National Park are two highlights of your time in Montenegro, before moving onto the lovely Croatian city of Dubrovnik. The rich history of Bosnia Herzegovina, meanwhile, includes a Dervish monastery near Mostar and the 4000-year-old city of Konjic. In the capital Sarajevo, dip into an atmospheric oriental quarter of fine architecture, tempting sweet shops and lively cafes.
You'll also visit the unforgettable Tunnel Museum, revealing life in a city that was besieged for several years during the 1990s Civil War – before winding back towards Belgrade via Tara Mountain and the lovely Drina River valley.
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PlanetThis tour visits areas of natural beauty such as Durmitor National Park and Konjic, one of the oldest permanent settlements in Bosnia. We also visit Biogradska Gora, one of Europe’s last three remaining primeval forests. Before visiting these areas, our guides will brief travellers on appropriate behaviour, both cultural and environmental, and we make a point of ensuring that we leave no permanent traces of our stay behind, taking all rubbish with us to protect these valuable tourist destinations.
Where appropriate and feasible we will always incorporate walking tours of cities rather than being reliant on private transportation - not only reducing our carbon footprint but we believe leading to a more enjoyable and intimate experience for our clients. Furthermore, all vehicles used on the tour have low carbon emissions. We work closely with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues.
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.
We do not send a tour leader from the UK to accompany our tours. We believe that to send a foreign tour leader along to accompany the group is unnecessary and increases the carbon footprint.
we use smaller locally owned properties and avoid larger chain hotels. In our experience, we believe that most properties rely on locally sourced food which helps to cut down on transport miles. Most of our tours include daily breakfast and one main meal only, normally lunch. For dinner we encourage clients to choose their own places to eat and the guide will always be happy to suggest local restaurants which specialize in local dishes.
If you would like to avoid taking flight, we are happy to book trains for you - reaching the start point by train is an enjoyable option and a real alternative to flying.
PeopleWe only work with operators who are as committed as we are to putting something back in the communities we visit. On this tour we visit Sremski Karlovci, a Serbian cultural centre in the 18th and 19th centuries. Here we visit the local wine cellars and partake in tasting the local wines. We also visit Arilje, an area famous for its raspberries. By visiting these places we are supporting the local community and their livelihood. Clients also have the opportunity to purchase local souvenirs, ensuring the money is kept within the local community.
On this tour we visit areas which have been destroyed by war, such as Sarajevo, Mostar and Dubrovknik, as well as some smaller villages of Umoljani and Pocitelj, a Turkish settlement. Although the villages and towns have been rebuilt, we bring clients with the aim of bringing tourism to the area, boosting the local economy. Also, clients get to understand and learn about these country’s turbulent past.
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.
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