Our Local Tour client Oscar and his partner wrote about their trip to explore Albania with a local guide.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track destination that’s rich in history and culture, then Albania should be at the top of your list. And what better way to discover this hidden gem than with a local guide who can show you the real Albania? That’s exactly what we did on a recent private tour of Albania, and it was an experience that we’ll never forget.
From the moment we arrived in Tirana, we knew we were in for a treat. The guide, Agron, was waiting for us at the airport, and we immediately hit it off. He was friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about his country, and it was clear that we were in good hands.
Our first stop was the vibrant capital city of Tirana, and Agron wasted no time in showing us the best that the city had to offer. We started with a visit to the National History Museum, which was a fantastic introduction to Albanian history. The museum is a huge, modern building, and inside there are exhibits that cover everything from prehistoric times to the present day. Agron was a font of knowledge, and he brought the exhibits to life with his stories and explanations.
Next, we headed to the Et’hem Bey Mosque, which is one of the most important landmarks in Tirana. The mosque was built in the early 19th century and is a great example of Ottoman architecture. Despite being in the heart of the city, it’s a peaceful and tranquil place, and we felt a real sense of calm inside the mosque.
The next day, we hit the road and headed south towards Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s often called the “town of a thousand windows”. And it’s easy to see why – the town is full of beautiful Ottoman-era buildings with countless windows that give it a unique and romantic charm.
One of the highlights of our time in Berat was a visit to the castle, which is perched on top of a hill overlooking the town. The castle dates back to the 4th century BC and has been used by various empires and rulers over the centuries. Agron was a fantastic guide, and he gave a real insight into the castle’s history and the many battles that were fought there.
As we left Berat, we headed further south towards the Albanian Riviera, a stretch of coastline that’s been described as the “Mediterranean as it once was”. The scenery was stunning, with crystal-clear waters and rugged cliffs that dropped down into the sea.
Our base for the next few days was the town of Saranda, which is known for its lively atmosphere and stunning beaches. One of the highlights of our time in Saranda was a visit to the ancient city of Butrint, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city dates back to the 7th century BC and was an important centre for the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines. The ruins are incredibly well-preserved, and it was fascinating to walk around and imagine what life was like there thousands of years ago.
As our tour of Albania came to an end, we both felt incredibly grateful to have had Agron as our Albania guide. He had shown us a side of Albania that we would never have experienced travelling on our own, and his passion and enthusiasm for his country was infectious. Albania may be a small and often-overlooked destination in Europe, but it’s a place that’s rich in history and culture. I would highly recommend any intrepid traveller visit now before things change too much.
Morocco is a country that has something to offer everyone, from its stunning scenery and rich culture to its delicious food and friendly people. It’s no wonder that it’s become a popular destination for yoga holidays.
If you’re looking for a yoga holiday that combines the best of Morocco, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best destinations and experiences for yoga holidays in Morocco.
Best Destinations for Yoga Holidays in Morocco
There are many great places to go for a yoga holiday in Morocco, but some of the most popular destinations include:
Essaouira is a beautiful coastal town that’s known for its windsurfing, kitesurfing, and yoga. It’s also a great place to relax and soak up the Moroccan atmosphere.
Taghazout is another popular destination for yoga holidays. It’s located on the Atlantic coast and is known for its beautiful beaches, great surfing, and laid-back atmosphere.
Marrakech is the most popular tourist destination in Morocco, and it’s also a great place to go for a yoga holiday. The city is home to a number of yoga studios and retreats, and it’s also a great place to experience Moroccan culture.
- The Atlas Mountains
The Atlas Mountains are a beautiful mountain range that runs through Morocco. They’re a great place to go for yoga holidays if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
Best Yoga Experiences in Morocco
In addition to the great destinations mentioned above, there are also a number of great yoga experiences that you can have in Morocco. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Yoga in the Sahara Desert
There’s nothing quite like practicing yoga in the vastness of the Sahara Desert. The silence and stillness of the desert are the perfect setting for a yoga practice, and the stunning scenery will take your breath away.
- Yoga on a Surfboard
If you’re looking for a challenge, why not try yoga on a surfboard? This is a great way to combine your love of yoga and surfing, and it’s also a great way to get a workout.
- Yoga with a View
There are many places in Morocco where you can practice yoga with a view. Some of our favorites include the rooftop of a riad in Marrakech, the beach in Essaouira, and the mountains in the Atlas Mountains.
No matter what your budget, experience level, or interests, there’s a yoga holiday in Morocco that’s perfect for you. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your yoga holiday today!
Here are some additional tips for planning your yoga holiday in Morocco:
- Choose the right destination
There are many great destinations for yoga holidays in Morocco, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you. Consider your budget, experience level, and interests when making your decision.
- Do your research
Once you’ve chosen your destination, it’s important to do some research on the different yoga retreats and studios that are available. Read reviews, compare prices, and make sure you choose a retreat that’s a good fit for you.
- Pack light
You’ll be doing a lot of yoga on your holiday, so it’s important to pack light. Bring comfortable clothing, a yoga mat, and any other essentials you might need.
- Be open to new experiences
Yoga holidays are a great opportunity to try new things and step outside of your comfort zone. Be open to new experiences, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time.
We hope this blog post has inspired you to book a yoga holiday in Morocco. With its stunning scenery, rich culture, and delicious food, Morocco is the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate, and connect with your inner self.
Sustainable Tourism for Tour Operators
Sustainable tourism is becoming increasingly important in the travel industry. Outbound tour operators such as Our Local Tour have a key role to play in promoting sustainable tourism practices and supporting local tourism development in the destinations they serve. Here are some ways that we believe we can work towards becoming a beacon for sustainable tourism and support local tourism development.
Promote sustainable tourism practices
One of the most important ways that outbound tour operators can improve sustainable tourism is by promoting sustainable tourism practices among customers. This can include encouraging customers to choose eco-friendly accommodation, reducing waste, supporting local businesses, and respecting local cultures and traditions. Tour operators, such as Our Local Tour should also work with local partners to develop sustainable tourism initiatives, such as community-based tourism projects, that benefit both the local community and the tourists who visit. Of course, we are already doing this and it is an important part of our ethos and fully built in to our tours.
Support local businesses
Another way that tour operators can support sustainable tourism is by working with local businesses. This includes not only accommodation providers, but also restaurants, transportation providers, and activity operators. By working with local businesses, tour operators can help to create a more sustainable tourism economy that benefits the local community. This is also an integral part of our product design and we work closely with our local partners to make sure local businesses are supported by our clients travels. In many of our tours, we do not include meals were there are nearby options to eat out, encouraging travellers to eat in local restaurants and cafes.
Tour operators also need to play an important role in educating their customers about sustainable tourism practices and the importance of supporting local tourism development. This can include providing information about local customs and traditions, promoting responsible travel practices, and encouraging customers to shop locally and support small businesses. Tour operators can also provide customers with information about sustainable tourism certification programs, such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) or the Rainforest Alliance, which can help customers to identify and support sustainable tourism businesses. Our Local Tour is currently in the process of applying to be accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Partner with local organisations
Outbound tour operators should also partner with local organisations, such as community-based tourism initiatives, environmental organisations, or social enterprises, to support sustainable tourism development. By working with local organisations, tour operators can help to promote sustainable tourism practices, support local communities, and protect the environment. You will find that in many of our tours we visit a local community ran program or help to support a social enterprise. We are working hard to embed more of this into our tours.
Measure and report on sustainability
Finally, for tour operators to become a beacon for sustainable tourism it is vital that they are measuring and reporting on their sustainability performance. This can include tracking and reporting on carbon emissions, waste reduction efforts, and community investment. By measuring and reporting on sustainability performance, tour operators can demonstrate their commitment to sustainable tourism and provide customers with transparency and accountability.
It should be obvious to all travellers that their outbound tour operators have a key role to play in promoting sustainable tourism practices and supporting local tourism development in the destinations they serve. By promoting sustainable tourism practices, supporting local businesses, educating customers, partnering with local organisations, and measuring and reporting on sustainability, tour operators can become beacons for sustainable tourism and help to create a more sustainable tourism industry for the future.
Responsible Travel Policy
Our Local Tour is an innovative tour operator with a focus on responsible travel and sustainable tourism. Our goal is to develop and promote authentic travel experiences which will bring the greatest possible benefit to travellers, the host population and local tourism businesses and entrepreneurs. We aim to respect the environment, culture, societies and religions of the communities and areas that we visit, and we encourage all our staff and partners to take an active interest in responsible travel and sustainable tourism.
Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility by taking action to make tourism more sustainable.
We strive to generate greater economic benefits for local people and enhance the well-being of the communities we visit whilst still providing a positive and rewarding experience for our customers. Our business aims to minimise the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of tourism.
There is no off the shelf solution. We understand that the responsibility and action needed in a particular location will depend upon the local environment and culture. Tourism is one of the most important and largest industries on the planet. It accounts for 11% of the world’s GDP and 12% of its exports. It employs more people worldwide than any other industry, with millions of families relying on tourism for their daily needs.
Our type of individual, off-the-beaten track tourism can bring benefits to many communities, help preserve the environments we travel to see, and provide authentic and positive social exchanges.
Our Local Tour and our approach to responsible tourism
1. Respect for the local communities that we visit
It is important that we always respect the local customs and culture and abide by the laws and etiquette of each region. Our customers will be encouraged, through our literature and through our local teams, to act in a socially responsible way. We provide our customers with guidelines on how to respect the environment, culture, societies and religions of the communities and areas that we visit.
All our tours operate in a way that encourages positive cultural exchanges.
2. Working to support the local economy
Our Local Tour will always try to use small locally owned hotels, guest houses and homestays to provide accommodation. Wherever possible we use local businesses to provide activities, ensuring money is put directly back into the communities we visit. Our strategy is to develop long term relationships with our local suppliers to ensure that the economic benefit is ongoing and continuous. There must also be a visible benefit to the local communities.
We ensure that local suppliers and operators receive a fair rate for their services and support and encourage fair employment practices.
3. Preserve and enhance the environments in which we travel
Our Local Tour recognises that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our world today and the tourism sector is a growing contributor to the problem. Travel and tourism are responsible for around 5% of global CO2 emissions. Our challenge is to prepare for a low-carbon society by further reducing our environmental impacts, while ensuring we preserve tourism’s social and economic benefits – both for the host community and for our customers
Working with all relevant local bodies and authorities, we aim to help preserve or improve the environment and deliver a long-term benefit for the host community. All our suppliers should have or be developing green practices. Reduction of the use of single use plastic water bottles will be actively encouraged. We encourage all our customers not to use single use plastic bags and bring along their own shopping bags or ‘bags for life’.
There are responsibilities at home. Running our office in a responsible manner and monitoring and reducing our energy usage as well as recycling is part of the culture we are developing.
We recognise the need to fly to a destination but thereafter we will encourage travelling overland rather than using internal flights, to minimise carbon emissions. Where possible we will promote the use of train rather than plane to reach a destination.
4. We respect Human Rights
We actively discourage the exploitation of local people and will only engage with suppliers that demonstrate a duty of care towards the people they employ. Our Local Tour actively encourages tour leaders and guides to disclose any concerns they may have to us. All suppliers must respect elementary human rights such as non-discrimination, freedom of assembly, no forced labour and no child labour.
It is explicitly forbidden for any participation in or endorsement of commercial sexual activities, exploitative sexual activities or drug use on our trips, from staff or customers.
We do not engage with suppliers that exploit children in tourism. Children are not a tourist attraction and therefore we do not offer visits to schools, day-care centres and orphanages. We do not offer excursions or volunteering with vulnerable people.
If customers want to help children in need in the areas they are visiting, we advise them to make a donation to a non-governmental organisation which is focussing on special target groups, such as children, orphans, handicapped persons etc.
5. The promotion of animal welfare
Our aim is to help protect animals from exploitation, neglect, and cruelty. We do not offer elephant riding on any of our tours or holidays. The best place to view wildlife is in the wild whilst minimising our impact on the wildlife concerned. We actively discourage the buying of items made from any protected wildlife.
We advise customers not to purchase any type of coral and products made of corals as well as all big shells, ivory and products made of ivory, cactuses or orchids, Chinese medicines, any products made of the skins of tortoises, crocodiles, snakes, big cats, butterflies and parrots. For more information please visit www.cites.org
6. Our Responsible tourism policies are monitored on an ongoing basis
Our Local Tour is proactive in raising awareness of sustainability issues with our customers and on social media we encourage interaction with customers on sustainable travel issues. To achieve our goals we need customers’ support both through the purchases they make and the personal actions they take.
Sustainability is still not the major deciding factor for most people when they choose a holiday, but it is in the interests of our destinations and the environment that it becomes a strong influencing factor.
It is important that we actively seek out feedback about our responsible tourism practices. The environmental impact and any customer comments are monitored and acted upon on a regular basis. The ethos of responsible travel is central to what we do and is promoted throughout our organisation. We actively communicate with our office staff and local partners on environmental and social issues, through team meetings, direct mail, newsletters and social media.
An annual review of our responsible tourism policy takes place to ensure that it is in tune with current needs.