The Balkan Peninsula is home to many countries, nations, rich and diverse cultures, and some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Europe. Some of these countries, like Greece and Croatia, have been tourists’ favourite summer holiday destinations for a long time. On the other hand, others are only just gaining recognition for their natural beauty, vibrant old towns, cuisine, and pristine human encounters that they offer.
Balkan Rivers Tour’s focus is on saving some of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe and conserving their diverse ecosystems. This conservation also benefits tourism potential. We have seen that the locals often aren’t even aware of how unique and attractive these areas are, which is why they are more likely to give in to the pressure of international financial entities that come to destroy them for private profit – of course under a disguise of the term ‘development’.
Balkan Rivers Tour thus also works on promoting these areas and helping them become more frequently visited by tourists. I was lucky to be a part of the BRT2 crew and some of these destinations and human encounters there really enriched me as a person. With hopes of having you be able to experience the same and also meeting some of the same characters along the way, I am publishing this multi-part destination guide. Keep in mind, there are a lot more to the destinations than what I write about. This blog simply follows the footsteps of the BRT2 crew.
BRT2 took off at the end of March in Slovenia. I won’t focus on the Soča river, since it is a well-visited destination but do have a look at what we did in the first part of the tour by watching this video:
This country is a synonym for seaside vacations. Warm blue sea, beautiful islands and fresh and tasty Greek Cuisine have been attracting tourists here for decades. Most people are surprised when I tell them that we went kayaking and ski touring in Greece. Yes, Greece has mountains and whitewater rivers and they are spectacular. A lot of the Greek rivers are also in danger from hydro ‘development’. And where there is a threat, you can bet that you’ll meet some local heroes fighting it. And we get disappointed …
RIVERS: Arachthos and Kalarytikos
SPORTS: Kayaking, Rafting, Canyoneering, Hiking, Fishing, Biking…
WHERE TO STAY: Arachthos Camp or Teloneio Hotel
COORDINATES: 39°27’10.69″N / 21° 2’6.11″E
This place is a paradise for class 2 to class 4 kayakers. Arachthos and Kalarytikos rivers are refreshing, clear-blue and run deep inside beautiful gorges. With a very interesting history of the area, your go-to for lodging and local stories is Nikos Manthos. Stay in his Arachthos Camp or the Teloneio Hotel and ask him for all the river beta, a shuttle or go on a rafting trip with him. He is also a local champion fighting for these gems of nature to remain free flowing.
LOCATION: Lakmos Mountain (Pindos Mountain Range).
SPORTS: Ski touring, hiking, mountain biking, climbing.
WHERE TO STAY: Camp on the mountain or stay in either one of the nearby towns.
COORDINATES: 39°41’2.40″N / 21° 7’22.80″E
If you’re a fan of mountain activities but you don’t like the crowds, this is the place to go to! We had one of the best springtime ski touring days here that we could imagine and no old tracks were to be seen anywhere on the mountains. There are a few walls that look great for climbing in the area as well. We kind of stumbled across this mountain by chance and it absolutely blew our minds.
Stay tuned for part two of the Balkan Rivers Tour destination guide …