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Into The Balkans: Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Emerging from the turbulent horrors of their recent past, the craggy and beautiful landscapes of Bosnia and Serbia provide a stunning backdrop to a journey rich in history and tradition. Lying at the crossroads of eastern and western cultures, they present a fascinating mix of Ottoman influences, Austro-Hungarian history and a warm hospitality that cannot fail to captivate. Beginning in Belgrade, we’ll follow the course of the Danube and cross the beautiful heartlands of rural Serbia, as we journey through a landscape filled with ancient fortresses and medieval churches. There will be opportunities to visit Roman ruins and Ottoman citadels, take boat rides along the Danube and visit stunning World Heritage monasteries. After taking a train ride through the mountains we’ll then cross into neighbouring Bosnia, where we will have the chance to visit the stunning old town of Sarajevo and explore the remarkable ‘Tunnels of Life’ that helped Sarajevo through one of the country’s darkest periods. In Mostar we’ll then discover the cultural centre of Herzegovina, before driving through the spectacular Vrbas Canyon towards Banja Luka and journey’s end.

Walking in Montenegro

Montenegro may be one of the world’s smallest countries and yet it is undoubtedly also one of its most beautiful. Only two-thirds the size of Wales, the country’s diversity is absolutely striking. From Europe’s deepest canyon to some of its wildest mountains, Montenegro also claims a dramatic coastline to rival anything you will have seen before. Proud to have been the only country in the region to have successfully defended itself against the might of the Ottoman Empire, Montenegro has a truly unique culture. From its mountain-top fortresses and medieval walled cities to its remote villages and varied cuisine, Montenegro is an exciting new destination that offers not only some magnificent walking but also an insight into a lifestyle most of Europe abandoned centuries ago. Things will be sure to change, but for now, Montenegro’s multi-faceted charms still largely remain a secret. Be amongst the first to discover this true gem.

Bulgaria – Monasteries and Mountains

Europe’s newest country is a fascinating mixture of east and west, with some of the continent’s best scenery and fascinating towns that remind you that the Orient is not far away. This short trip covers both the highlights and allows you to get beneath the skin of a rather intriguing land. We start in Pristina, with its melange of Christianity and Islam, exploring the old town as well as the ancient Roman remains of Ulpiana, then head to Peja with its Albanian and Ottoman architecture. We explore the pristine mountainous countryside, criss crossed with rivers and harbouring villages where the traditions of yesteryear are as relevant as they ever have been. Explore the impressive 14th century monastery at Decani and head to Junik for an insight into the complex and feudal customs of this land, then explore the spiritual heritage of the dervishes in Gjakova. In Rahovec we sample some of the region’s excellent wines, and then head to the historic town of Prizren, dominated by an ancient fortress and home to numerous fascinating mosques, churches and merchants’ houses. Finally we head into the Sharri Mountains, one of the most traditional areas in Kosovo to understand the rich cultural diversity of the country. Kosovo has long been troubled but is now beginning to shake off its problems to become an exciting destination for the educated traveller, full of cultural riches to be discovered, and on this short tour we show the best the country has to offer.

Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova

Europe’s newest country is a fascinating mixture of east and west, with some of the continent’s best scenery and fascinating towns that remind you that the Orient is not far away. This short trip covers both the highlights and allows you to get beneath the skin of a rather intriguing land. We start in Pristina, with its melange of Christianity and Islam, exploring the old town as well as the ancient Roman remains of Ulpiana, then head to Peja with its Albanian and Ottoman architecture. We explore the pristine mountainous countryside, criss crossed with rivers and harbouring villages where the traditions of yesteryear are as relevant as they ever have been. Explore the impressive 14th century monastery at Decani and head to Junik for an insight into the complex and feudal customs of this land, then explore the spiritual heritage of the dervishes in Gjakova. In Rahovec we sample some of the region’s excellent wines, and then head to the historic town of Prizren, dominated by an ancient fortress and home to numerous fascinating mosques, churches and merchants’ houses. Finally we head into the Sharri Mountains, one of the most traditional areas in Kosovo to understand the rich cultural diversity of the country. Kosovo has long been troubled but is now beginning to shake off its problems to become an exciting destination for the educated traveller, full of cultural riches to be discovered, and on this short tour we show the best the country has to offer.

Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia – The Edge of Europe

The Caucasus region occupies an unusual position both geographically and culturally, intertwining elements of Russia, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Central Asia. This comprehensive tour visits Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, formerly tucked away within the Soviet Union but now easily accessible to the curious traveller. The highlights here are diverse; we start in Azerbaijan and visit its unique geological phenomena – flaming mountains and bubbling mud volcanoes – which has given rise to the nickname ‘land of fire’. In the mountains we visit unique communities and historic towns packed full of ancient mosques and mausoleums where the past never seems too far away and villagers welcome us into their homes with traditional Azeri hospitality. Moving into Georgia we head into the High Caucasus Mountains, visiting the mythical Mount Kazbek, reputedly the site of the Greek fable to Prometheus, then move on to Mtskhehta, the spiritual heart of the country with some stunning UNESCO listed monuments. Heading west we stop at Kutaisi with its striking religious buildings, then return once again to the mountains and the wild and untamed land of Svaneti, one of Europe’s most isolated and traditional areas with unique villages and towering summits. Here we meet the Svan people to learn about their unique way of life, and enjoy some of Europe’s finest scenery. Armenia offers ancient monasteries that date back to the emergence of Christendom, and in Dilijan we wander around the old centre and meet the Molokan people, one of Europe’s smallest, but most traditional ethnic groups. We discover the stunning churches of Echmiadzin and visit Kurdish and Yazidi villages where lifestyles have changed little for centuries, uncovering the rich cultural heritage of this complex but fascinating part of the world. At the dramatically located monastery of Geghard we see ancient religious treasures, and in the area around Garni we spend time in a local village as guests of a family, where we are treated to a typical Armenian meal in a traditional setting. The adventurous can extend their trip with a visit to the independent republic of Nagorno Karabakh, a country unrecognised by most of the world. Uncover the secrets of a truly enchanting corner of Europe.