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Immerse yourself in the culinary delights of the Balkans on a 12-day tour through Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Along your way, stroll through lush national parks, discover quaint villages and see some of the region's most spiritual sites. Sip a traditional fermented drink - boza - for breakfast, picnic on the banks of the Treska River, master the art of the perfect pastry with the village women of Janche, indulge in a traditional Kosovan barbeque, dine on home-grown produce in the private garden of a Dihovo family and visit a centuries-old olive press outside of Kotor. With curated food and wine experiences plus an expert local guide leading the way, your Balkans Real Food Adventure will not leave you hungry!
Day 1: Dubrovnik
Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Dubrovnik – a beautiful stone town surrounded entirely by fortifications. Although it experienced devastation in the early 1990s, the restored Old Town remains as charming as ever. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character and easily covered on foot. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6.30 pm today, but if you happen to arrive early, why not walk inside the city walls, or head further afield to one of the Elafiti Islands. There's Lopud – a quiet island with lovely hikes, clean beaches and castle ruins, sleepy Kolocep that has walks for every fitness level, and Sipan with its renowned wine and laidback vibes. After your important meeting, head on an included dinner with your group. Croatian cuisine varies between regions, but an unwavering favourite is the charcuterie. Traditionally created with pork, charcuterie involves using a lot of specially prepared meats, all of which showcase flavours specific to their preservation process. If the option’s there, definitely give it a try.
Day 2: Kotor
After breakfast, head to the Peljesac peninsula, stopping along the way. Take some time to explore the long city walls of Ston before watching the production of sea salt at the local salt panels, then continue on your panoramic drive along the bay. Spend some time passing the local vineyards before reaching the small village of Brijesta. Enjoy a visit to a local agriturismo to learn more about regional production and harvesting techniques before eating lunch. Today’s meal at the konoba includes traditional seafood dishes (fresh oyster tasting), olive oil and local home-made wine.Transfer to Kotor later on, where you’ll spend the evening.
Day 3: Kotor
This morning, visit the town of Njegusi – known around the country for its famous smoke-dried hams and cheeses. Stop at a smokehouse, where the trip leader will explain their production process, dating back for centuries, and will also take you for a tasting of their famous Njegui smoked hams, cheeses and grape brandy. Afterwards, visit an olive farm in the village of Tici, located in the Lustica Bay area near Kotor. Discover the art of olive pressing as your hosts share their second-generation organic olive oil production techniques. Wander through the beautiful olive groves before arriving at an ancient stone olive mill, where olives were once milled by hand. A guided tasting will give you an insight into what makes for good oil. Back in Kotor, with free time later in the day, consider getting lost in the town’s crooked walkways, or perhaps climbing the hills behind the city to experience Kotor’s ruined fortification walls. A 1.5-hour hike up the stone steps, to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan at the top rewards you with views across the Bay of Kotor. With a free night, why not have an optional dinner at a Kotor wine bar?
Day 4: Prizren
Say goodbye to Montenegro and head to Kosovo. The first stop on the journey is Rozafa Fortress, Albania – one of the last strongholds of the allied Christian forces against invading Ottomans in the 15th century. In the afternoon, arrive in Prizren – the second largest city in Kosovo. This picturesque location remains as the most culturally and ethnically diverse in all of Kosovo. The abundance of orange rooftops makes for an interesting sight, as do the impressive mosques and churches in the city. Pass by the sights, smells and sounds of the bazaar, with a whole range of specialties on offer, including stuffed peppers, which are a big hit. After visiting the bazaar, you are free to explore Prizren at your own pace. A guided sightseeing tour is on the cards with your group, and you can choose to continue wandering through the streets on your own as the sun goes down and Prizren’s nightlife takes charge.
Day 5: Prizren
Continue onwards to Pristina today – Kosovo’s capital and largest city. Take some time to explore the historic Gracanica settlement, which serves as the home of one of the few dominantly Serbian populations in Kosovo. A special experience awaits with a delicious Kosovo-Serb barbecue, prepared by the local hosts who serve sausages and other pork delicacies from their personal smokehouse. Afterwards, round out a big meal by taking a short trip to the World Heritage-listed Gracanica Monastery – built upon the ruins of a sixth-century Christian basilica by Serbian king Stefan Milutin in 1321. Return back to Prizren for another night at leisure.
Day 6: Janche
Enjoy some breakfast before travelling towards North Macedonia. Pass through the Brezovica National Park, witnessing the steep cliffs and rugged mountain scenery. Onwards through Tetovo to the nearby village of Varvara, enjoying a delicious Macedonian lunch of regional specialties. Afterwards, loop back to see the beautiful Sarena Dzamija, or the Decorated Mosque of Tetovo. This mosque is famous for its intricate facade and internal painted decorations. Arrive in the village of Janche, located in the south part of the beautiful Mavrovo National Park in the early evening, to enjoy a meal typical of the Mavrovo area at a beautifully decorated traditional restaurant. Considered to be a division of Balkan cuisine, Macedonian dishes reflect influences taken from both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. The relatively warm climate allows for excellent growing conditions for vegetables and fruits, along with fragrant herbs. Macedonian dairy products, wines and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija, have gained considerable notoriety for the variety and quality of flavours they offer. However, if there’s two things you should keep an eye out for in North Macedonia, it’s tavce gravce – a traditional dish prepared with fresh beans, pepper and onion, and mastika – a liqueur seasoned with resin gathered from the mastic tree.
Day 7: Ohrid
Have a delicious village breakfast, which will include local jams and cheese. Afterwards, set off to explore the southern part of the Mavrovo National Park. This region serves as the home to an indigenous community of Macedonian Muslims and, as a result, the area is culturally and ethnically different from the rest of the country. Take a stop at the nearby St Jovan Bigorski Monastery (St John the Baptist), which is widely renowned as the most spiritual monastery in North Macedonia. This 19th-century structure, erected upon both the ruins of an 11th-century church and the slopes of Mt Bistra, is home to a small silver coffin allegedly containing the remains of St John himself. Return to the village of Janche, sitting in the canyon that guides the Radika River. The village is known as one of the oldest in the region – its quaint houses line the hillside. After a quick walk around this village, a hands-on cooking class with the local women will teach the skills required to make local pastries with wild porcini mushrooms, considered to be a specialty of this region. After lunch, drive onward to Ohrid where you will spend the evening.
Day 8: Ohrid
Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake and, as one of the oldest human settlements in the world, it’s got a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. The town is said to have once been home to 365 churches, one for each day of the year, earning it the nickname ‘the Macedonian Jerusalem’. Today is free for you to explore the town’s streets and churches, maybe picking up a bargain or two in the vibrant Old Bazaar. Alternatively, consider joining your leader for an optional day trip to Ohrid Lake and the mystical Sveti Naum Monastery – one of the most important places of pilgrimage in North Macedonia. Take in the ancient Tzar Samoil’s Fortress, which stands on the top of Ohrid Hill and looks across the town, along with a 2000-year-old Roman theatre that was uncovered near its upper gate. The Sveti Jovana Kaneo church, which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake, is one of the most popular in North Macedonia. This evening, head to Kuratica – a village on the outskirts of Ohrid. Here you’ll experience local hospitality and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Your host also brews his own rakija, which you’ll be lucky enough to taste.
Day 9: Bitola
After leaving your accommodation in Ohrid, head down to the green market for a traditional breakfast. You might like to try the best burek in town or enjoy a ‘gjomleze’ pie. It is a fairly plain dish, but it’s the added condiments that truly make this pie shine. Drive onward to Dihovo – another little village sitting in the foothills of Mt Pelister. A local beekeeper will teach you about the honeybee as they share their secrets – you’ll get hands-on with an open beehive demonstration. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of honey extracted straight from the comb before having a home-cooked meal in a traditional villa. All of the ingredients are organic and come from the family’s private gardens. Continue to Bitola, arriving by mid-afternoon. Relax in one of the city’s many cafes, explore the stalls of the Old Bazaar or choose to take a guided tour of the ancient town and archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola. Heraclea was founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the fourth century BC after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lyncestis. The city was named in honour of the mythological hero Heracles, whom Philip considered his ancestor.
Day 10: Skopje / Tikves
Start the day with a Turkish coffee, or for the more adventurous, perhaps try a bowl of the local specialty ckembe corba (tripe soup). It is claimed that the soup was once an initiation rite for boys, but today it’s commonly enjoyed for breakfast. Later on, head out to the Stobi archaeological site for a short walk. Stobi, once known as Paeonia, was conquered by the ancient kingdom of Macedon and became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris. It is considered to be the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia, with its carved basilica, stone columns and ancient theatre. Onwards to Tikves wine district , where you’ll meet an international wine writer and critic responsible for the first guide to Macedonian wine. The production of grapes is prominent in North Macedonia, thanks to an abundance of sunshine and rich, rocky soil. This has been the case since Roman times, where wine production was conducted in monasteries. Tikves continues to play an important role in the country’s wine production and is home to many of the country’s finest wineries – today’s adventures offer a taste of local varieties at two of these estates. Enjoy a pairing of delicious local cheeses and cured meats next to these wines this afternoon. Arrive in Skopje in the late afternoon where tonight is free to explore – perhaps ask your leader for some restaurant suggestions.
Day 11: Skopje
Wake early and enjoy 'breakfast on the move' through the streets of Skopje. Pay a visit to the Green Market to learn more about the ingredients that make up Macedonian cuisine. Travel to Matka Canyon – a fascinating gorge containing a rich complex of medieval buildings, churches, monasteries and the remnants of a fortress. After a short walk to the Monastery of St Andrew, a boat will collect you for a relaxing sail through Matka Canyon and down the Treska River with a picnic lunch stop along the way. Once lunch is finished, return by boat and head back towards Skopje. This evening, the group leader will offer suggestions for a celebratory group dinner – the perfect way for say farewell to North Macedonia.
Day 12: Skopje
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to end! If you wish to spend more time in Skopje, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
- Ston - Town Visit
- Brijesta village - Small winery and restaurant (oyster tasting)
- Njegusi - Smokehouse Visit & Tasting
- Lustica - Olive oil farm visit
- Prizren - Walking Tour
- Shkoder - Rozafa Fortress visit
- Kosovo - Sightseeing Tour
- Pristina - Gracanica Monastery Visit
- Gracanica - Traditional Lunch
- Tetovo - Painted Mosque of Tetovo Visit
- Mavrovo National Park - Traditional Dinner
- Janche - Cooking Class
- Debar - Mavrovo National Park Visit
- Debar - St Jovan Bigorski Monastery visit
- Kuratica - Local Home Cooked Dinner
- Dihovo - Beekeeping Masterclass
- Ohrid - Green Market Visitbr/eakfast
- Dihovo - Villa Dihovo Lunch
- Stobi - Stobi Archaeological Site Visit
- Tikves - Visit two micro-wineries for tastings
- Matka - Matka Canyon Boat Cruise
- Skopje - Green Market
7 Breakfast(s) Included
8 Lunch(es) Included
3 Dinner(s) Included
Health and Safety Protocols for Intrepid Tours
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced protocols in hygiene and sanitation. We will put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
Handwashing is one of the most important safety measures to prevent the spread of disease. Intrepid will actively reinforce its importance by:
- Implementing a handwashing policy that dictates when, how often and for how long all staff, leaders and crew must wash their hands on-trip.
- Promote the importance of hand hygiene to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Contract suppliers that have hand hygiene protocols in place
- Contract suppliers that provide hand sanitizer in public places (where applicable)
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of hand hygiene via training.
Practicing good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of disease by reducing the number of droplets in the air when you sneeze or cough. Intrepid will:
- Actively reinforce its importance to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of respiratory hygiene via training.
- Contract suppliers who have respiratory hygiene protocols in place.
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them. Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy and that the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene must also form part of the strategy.
On our trips, regardless of destination, the following people must wear medical/surgical masks:
- Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have been tested yet.
- People caring for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (outside of hospitals/clinics).
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them.
- People over 60
- People with underlying health conditions
- Provide medical/surgical masks as part of the First Aid Kits carried by leaders.
- Educate leaders, crew, staff and customers on the correct method to wear, handle and dispose of a mask.
- Require all customers, leaders and staff to comply with any local regulations or requirements that require the use of a mask in public or in certain places
Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is not necessary for the public to wear fabric masks generally.
However in certain circumstances, in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is high and/or physical distancing is not possible (e.g. on public transport, in shops or in other confined environments) then a fabric mask can be a useful barrier to prevent the spread of virus.
Fabric masks be purchased commercially or handmade, and are generally not standardised like medical masks. Fabric masks should:
- Cover the nose, mouth, and chin
- Be secured with elastic loops or ties
- Include multiple layers
- Be washable and reusable.
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced sanitation processes. Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols
- Audit/monitor all suppliers on their cleanliness and sanitation.
- All cleaning and disinfecting products must be approved by health authorities (e.g. WHO).
- All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be available in public areas.
- There must be a process in place for customers to escalate any concerns regarding hygiene or sanitation.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- All tents must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
- If staying at a campground, ensure all bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. If the area is remote, with limited facilities and/or minimal staffing, then customers should be informed to bring their own hygiene equipment.
- All mini buses, transfers, charters, overland trucks must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be made available
- Close top bins with bin liners should be available on board and disposed of at every stop
- Must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day
- Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each guest use
- Avoid buffets where possible. If buffets are used, prevent customers from handling food and operating machines (e.g. self-serve coffee stations)
- Either disinfect shared use objects (e.g. table salt) between guest use. Where possible, Intrepid will try to source safe alternatives to single serve packaging.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- Preferred: Provide hand sanitizer to guests at the door before entry
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest us
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
Limiting the number of surfaces touched by large numbers of people helps prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, it is important to proactively move towards contactless or low touch solutions for travel. Intrepid will:
- Prioritise contactless/low touch as a key feature when sourcing new tech or solutions.
- Remove any paperwork required on the ground (e.g. signing forms, feedback cards)
- If details must be entered using a shared device (e.g. insurance details), then it must be disinfected between each customer. Preference is to move entirely to digital solutions.
- Accommodation should provide online check in (no paperwork)
- Contactless keys (e.g. QR codes)
- Contactless tech (e.g. lights)
- Online ticketing for attractions and transport
- Online payment
Physical distancing is important in the preventing the spread of COVID-19 as it can be transmitted via droplets sprayed when coughing, sneezing, singing, yelling etc…
Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their physical distancing protocols
- Follow local regulation and advice on the need for physical distancing.
We will continue to offer this as an option. Single supplements are available for single travellers who do not wish to share a room. We will work closely with accommodation suppliers to ensure increased availability of single rooms.
- Consider whether it is appropriate to offer single tents for solo travellers as customers will be much closer together then in a traditional room.
- Consider whether staggering meal times may reduce the number of people sharing a dining tent.
Intrepid will consider the following factors when designing or amending transport options on trips.
- Local laws or requirements regarding physical distancing on transport
- Hygiene protocols of the transport provider
- Level of active community transmission in the destination
- Using designated seating on transport. Customers have assigned seats throughout the trip.
- If trip is longer than 15 minutes and air conditioning is available, it must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.
- Designing or amending itineraries to reduce the duration of travel.
- Increasing the size of the vehicle, using multiple vehicles.
- Educate all leaders, crew, staff and customers to maintain a 1.5m distance wherever practical in public (e.g. queueing at a museum).
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds by visiting attractions at off-peak times.
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds on public transport or at airports where practical.
- Follow local regulations on table spacing and guest seating in restaurants. Wherever possible, try to ensure groups are sitting at their own table without strangers in restaurants.
- Proactively design product that focuses on experiences that assist with physical distancing (e.g. picnics over crowded marketplaces) if relevant for that destination.
Screening for COVID-19 helps isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and stops the spread of disease. It is likely to become more common for future travellers.
Pre-Departure (Brand Material)
Customers should be informed as part of ‘Essential Trip Information (ETIs) or other similar trip notes if their trip is likely to include any of the following:
- Testing for COVID-19 before being able to pass through immigration and/or board planes.
- Negative test results to be uploaded for visa purposes.
- Thermal temperature checks in airports, train or bus stations, major hotels or attractions.
Pre-departure, all customers are required to fill out an online questionnaire (“self- declaration/assessment” form) to identify any high-risk customers before travel.
Extra qualifiers will be included to address customers with symptoms that can be contributed to pre-existing conditions (e.g. breathlessness to asthma).
Customers answering YES to any question should be removed from the departure and appropriate arrangements made.
Intrepid will not require a negative COVID-19 test as proof of health from customers or leaders at this stage unless it is required by local law or regulations.
This is partially due to the lack of availability of testing for people with no symptoms in many parts of the world and may change in due course.
- Ask customers, leaders, crew and staff to monitor their own health
- Display appropriate signage on COVID-19 symptoms
- Educate leaders, crew and staff on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms
- Describe COVID-19 symptoms in group meetings
If customers, leaders or crew show symptoms of COVID-19 and are either unable to or unwilling to be tested, Intrepid reserves the right to remove them from our trips to prevent any risk to others.
Flexible Booking Conditions
Customers will be supported by flexible booking conditions to stay home if unwell or displaying symptoms
Flexible Work Conditions
Intrepid will support leaders and crew to stay home rather than lead a trip if they are unwell or displaying symptoms. Schedules will need to be created with back up availability of leaders/crew.
Data Collection & Health Tracking
Intrepid will assist government health departments in tracking and tracing any customers, staff, leaders, crew or suppliers at risk of contracting COVID-19 via exposure to a known case and/or outbreak by providing relevant details in line with privacy laws and regulations.
COVID Tracking apps
Intrepid strongly recommends that customers and staff download COVID tracking apps (e.g. COVIDSafe in Australia, StayHomeSafe in Hong Kong) to assist in reducing the spread of disease within their communities.
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Intrepid tour is great company. Will use this company again.
The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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