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Despite being Europe’s newest nation and having scenery that can hold its own with any of the great mountain regions of the world, Kosovo remains outside the purview of most travellers and trekkers. Sadly, many people only associate Kosovo with the Balkan war of the 1990s, not realising how much it has progressed since those dark days and how safe it is to travel there.
The recently founded Balkans Peace Park Project is a testament to Kosovo’s new dawn and forward thinking. The sustainable tourism project aims to preserve the fabulous flora and fauna of the high mountains and to help the local inhabitants sustain their centuries old lifestyles. As part of the initiative, a long distance walking path has been established that criss-crosses the borders between Kosovo and its neighbouring countries of Albania and Montenegro where few trekkers have yet to set foot. The 120 mile trail winds through traditional villages, over peaks and ridges and across beautiful, flower-filled meadows that are still used by shepherd’s in the summer months to graze their flocks of sheep. Accommodation en route is in authentic shepherd’s huts, village homes or small guesthouses where the welcome is guaranteed to be warm and the food plentiful and hearty.
Virtually all of the Peace Trail can be walked on our two trekking holidays in the region: our Three Peaks of the Balkans trip begins and ends in Kosovo whilst our Accursed Mountains Trek focuses more on the Albanian sections of the trail through equally spectacular and unspoilt mountain scenery.
Away from the trails there is also much to enjoy and discover in Kosovo. The country’s towns and cities reflect both its rich cultural heritage and vibrant future with Ottoman mosques and Orthodox churches sitting side-by-side on cobbled streets lined with lively cafes and busy shops. And, although remnants of the recent troubles are still in evidence, look beyond yesterday’s headlines and you will be rewarded with remarkable hospitality, breathtaking landscapes and a land full of wonderful surprises.
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