Q & A with Alexandra Aubertin, Director, Montenegro Eco Adventures, Podgorica, Montenegro. This eco-tour company was founded in 2014; guest reviews can be found on Facebook and TripAdvisor. Single day and multi-day tours are available with guides who are fluent in foreign languages such as English, Italian, Turkish, French, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.
WHERE DO YOUR GUESTS COME FROM?
We are proud to say that our guests come from all over the world – Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia…we are truly an international company!
ARE VISITORS LOOKING FOR SINGLE DAY OR MULTI-DAY TOURS?
Both. We meet visitors who have already arrived in Montenegro and want to have a great adventure just for the day. Then we hear from others who have not yet arrived but plan to visit as part of a wider tour, perhaps one that includes neighboring countries like Croatia and Albania to our south. We certainly can give newcomers a taste in one or two days, but in our opinion, it takes five days or more to gain a full appreciation for the real Montenegro.
SO DO THEY ARRIVE MAINLY BY BUS OR TRAIN?
Actually, the majority of visitors come by plane, but the train ride from Belgrade [Serbia] into Montenegro is a local experience not to be missed!
We have ready-made, multi-day itineraries that we have created which include – in our opinion – the best choices of what to see and do. However, we are also happy to provide tailor-made tours for those clients who may have other preferences.
ARE THERE LIMITS TO GROUP SIZE?
We prefer small tour groups as this limits the impact on our communities and the environment. Usually we work with groups of 2 - 6 individuals. In any case, our policy is no more than 12 people per group.
WHICH TYPES OF TOURS ARE MOST OFTEN REQUESTED?
We mostly receive requests for the “active-outdoor-nature” type of holidays. Our guests want to go off the beaten path, get away from the crowds, and meet and stay with local people. They enjoy trekking outdoors, observing nature, and maybe visiting one or more UNESCO Heritage listed towns. After a long day being active on the trail, our guests look forward to a meal featuring locally sourced organic foods and wine..
We believe so. We have a very well organized team and a good network of licensed guides – plus flexibility is an essential part of our daily routine! We have our competition - there are a lot of agencies covering popular sites like the historic city of Kotor, for example, but for our money seeing Kotor is just the tip of the iceburg!
IT IS INTERESTING THAT MONTENEGRO HAS A “MINISTRY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM.” I THINK THAT’S A SIGN OF PROGRESSIVE THINKING. YOUR OPINION?
It sure is. This came about because Government leaders decided that Montenegro should be "the first ecological state." They did not want to see our unique culture and heritage destroyed by over-development. So they make policies in support of "quality over quantity." Tourism is one of the few industries bringing income into the country, so it is important, but it also can become excessive and destructive if not managed properly. While there are lots of challenges ahead, as an ecotourism company we are proud to "lead by example."
We are involved in a number of projects. For example, we initiated a “Zero Waste Montenegro” project with a local NGO to promote a reduction in use of plastic bags. Also, we pledge a percentage of profits earned to local environmental causes.
ARE GUESTS SURPRISED TO LEARN THAT LARGE ANIMALS STILL ROAM AROUND THE WILDERNESS?
Yes, definitely - they don't expect so much wildlife to exist in such a small country. With the help of an international team of experts, we have organized a very unique expedition we call "In The Quest For The Last Balkan Lynx" now scheduled for June and September 2016. This will be an exciting one-of-a-kind tour for nature lovers! Wild animals typically hide from humans and therefore are difficult to spot, but our camera traps do confirm their presence!
WHICH FESTIVALS DO YOU RECOMMEND TO TRAVELERS?
You will discover that wonderful festivals occur all year round throughout Montenegro. A few examples would be “Boka Night” during the month of August in Kotor, “Lake Fest” in Niksic - also during August - and “Olive Days” in the city of Bar during December. There is the “Southern Soul Festival” held in June in Ulcinj, “Petrovac Night” in Petrovac during the summer, and “Wine and Bleak Festival” in Virpazar. The “Mimosa Festival” in Herceg Novi is one of Montenegro’s oldest festivals. We advise our clients of these events based on when they plan to visit.
DO YOU OFFER PRICE DISCOUNTS FOR OFF-SEASON TOURS?
We usually give a 10% discount in the off season, and a 5% Early Bird discount. Most of our special expeditions have up to 10% discounts for early bookings.
We say there many advantages to booking a tour with us. If you are like most people, you have a busy schedule, and you want to fit in as much as possible during your holiday time. You don’t want to be in the situation of searching for accommodation late at night or missing special places that you don’t know about. As a local service provider, we are all passionate about Montenegro, and we spend our spare time hiking seldom-used trails and visiting small towns. We are constantly updating our adventure and accommodation database, researching forgotten histories, and talking with the locals to identify those special places. With a knowledgeable guide at your side, a whole new aspect of the country will open up for you.
THANK YOU FOR THIS INTRODUCTION.
You are welcome. We encourage all world travelers to come and see first-hand how such a small piece of land can contain so much nature and raw beauty. Looking forward to hosting you in Montenegro!
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