Camping and Hiking in Kosovo's Backcountry: Brod to Lake Shutman

Working for the United Nations and as a Travel Blogger/writer has its moments…sometimes they intersect in an amazing experience or opportunity that just leaves me wondering how I ever became so lucky. If anyone ever tells you a dream job does not exist, share this link with them and then get working on making it come true. In the run up to my new guide book release (The Mountains of Dragash, Kosovo: Hiking and Nature Tourism Guide) I led a group of 30 people into the Dragash back-country for a weekend of hiking, camping, and getting back to nature (ie getting very wet on the hike in and out). The trip was part of a larger effort to develop a nature tourism strategy for the isolated Municipality of Dragash, and to create a series of value chains to help locals benefit from increased tourism. The project is sponsored by the Read full article…

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Hiking in Tokyo- Mount Takao

I bet you didn’t know you could hike in Tokyo! I bet you didn’t know you could hike with mountain gods (well ok they are minor mountain kami)! Most people only see the hip (or crazy) fashion of Harajuku, the stately Emperor’s Palace and the blinding neon signs of Shinjuku at night when they think about Tokyo. Packed trains ferrying 10 million people in and out the city each day, name brand department stores, and tourist swamped temples either excite a visitor or make them run screaming away from Tokyo. But there are more things to do in Tokyo than meets the eye and the visitor or resident can have both the packed cultural experience of the world’s largest city and a nice day of hiking out in the mountains. Just 2 days before the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan I was enjoying views of Mount Fuji from the top Read full article…

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Holy Mountain Pass: Travel Photo Contest Friday 31

Update: The winner is Jason…who guessed Thorung La Pass, Annapurna Circuit, Himalayas, Nepal. Well, OK, he didn’t say Nepal, but I think we can assume he meant it. Seriously, I’m not that inflexible! Thanks again to Connie and tranquil mountain photo.  Here is what makes this mountain pass so special to Connie: “Reaching the peak of Thorung La Pass at 5614 meters, after trekking through the amazingly beautiful Nepalese Himalayan mountain range for 12 days was an amazing accomplishment for me. I had never embarked on such a physically and mentally draining task and although it was certainly difficult on most days, not to mention absolutely freezing at the Pass, every single second was worth it! ” Jason gets the prize this week so please check him out at Alpaca Suitcase. Welcome to Travel Photo Contest Friday, wow that’s a mouthful! If you’re new or never bothered to actually read Read full article…

2 Reasons to visit Slovenia: Bled and Bohinj

I know what you’re thinking: “Slovenia, where the hell is that?” Or possibly: “What, only 2 reasons, is that all you’ve got? Are you getting lazy Todd? I mean all the other Top [insert arbitrary number] Lists have WAY more than just 2.” Truth be told, I never thought about visiting Slovenia until recently. My other little secret is that there are more than 2 reasons to visit this amazing country but you shouldn’t need any more than these two. Bam! How do you feel now? Feeling silly? Ready to trust me? Huh? Huh? Also, this is not a post about everything Slovenia has to offer. Over one week I only went to two places. Turns out it was enough to get me itching to head back. I took a week off work and headed into the mountains to work on my Shikoku Pilgrimage book. I’m happy to report that Read full article…

Video instructions on how to hike from Brod to the old Macedonian Smuggling Pass. This is an extra resource for those looking to hike this path and would like to see what it is like and where the map will take them. For a written explanation on how to reach the mountain pass, including a map click this link. What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on the video and the beautiful area of Brod, Dragash. Share

Hiking Dragash, Kosovo: Brod to the old Macedonian Smuggling Pass

Winter is approaching but there are still a few weeks left of crisp clear hiking air awaiting you in the mountains of Dragash. Located in the southern end of Kosovo, Dragash is an oasis of untouched natural beauty and traditional villages sandwiched between the borders of Macedonia and Albania. Ignored by the Yugoslav government, the area never received development money for tourism despite its wealth of flora, fauna and cultural traditions. Luckily, this also spared the region the communist era concrete hotels and restaurants that mar similar regions in Kosovo. To help spur sustainable eco-tourism to the region and highlight an untouched wonder in the Balkans I’m helping to write a hiking guide to the Dragash Region implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the Finland government. What better way to experience this traditional area than by hiking to the old pass to Tetovo, Macedonia. Not Read full article…

Amazing Waterfalls of Krka National Park, Croatia

Rivers and waterfalls are not the first images to come to mind when Croatia is discussed. Most people dream of exploring the ancient Venetian cities, dramatic islands and Roman ruins of the Dalmatian Coast. But located just a few hours drive from Split, near the amazing but underrated old city of Sibenikk, is a true natural wonder, Krka National Park. Take a break from century old monuments to explore the thousand year old monuments of nature. The Kraka river flows through a limestone gorge and at points spreads throughout an expansive forest. The area is made up of karst environments, which form when carbon dioxide dissolves with water on carbonate rock (limestone). Over a period of thousands of years this ongoing process has created unique geomorphological features on the surface of the rocks through which the Krka river flows. What? Basically, its a biochemical process that is constantly evolving and Read full article…

Hiking Dragash, Kosovo: Restelica to Brod

Mountain shepherds, enormous Sharr Dogs, free roaming horses, pristine babbling streams and dramatic mountains are just a small taste of what awaits you in Dragash. Located in the southern end of Kosovo, Dragash is an oasis of untouched natural beauty and traditional villages sandwiched between the borders of Macedonia and Albania. Ignored by the Yugoslav government, the area never received development money for tourism despite its wealth of flora, fauna and cultural traditions. Luckily, this also spared the region the communist era concrete hotels and restaurants that mar similar regions in Kosovo. To help spur sustainable eco-tourism to the region and highlight an untouched wonder in the Balkans I’m helping to write a hiking guide to the Dragash Region funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The last hike was a steep climb from Brod to Mt. Cule. Easy Hike from Restelica to Brod (or the other way around) Read full article…

Thunder and lightening…no problem. No path, whatever. Once you see how beautiful Dragash, Kosovo is nothing will keep you away from the dramatic mountains and the fresh air. Here is a short introduction to the Dragash Hiking Guide, a project I’m working on to be the first to map out hiking routes in this remote area of southern Kosovo. Not a bad way to spend the weekend! More detailed Dragash, Kosovo Hikes will be up soon. As will the magic letters What do you think? Would you visit Dragash, Kosovo? Share

Hiking Dragash, Kosovo: Brod to Mount Cule

Mountain shepherds, enormous Sharri Dogs, free roaming horses, pristine babbling streams and dramatic mountains are just a small taste of what awaits you in Dragash.  “I’ve lived in Kosovo for 9 months and I had no idea there was anything this beautiful,” said a friend as we stood in the middle of a wind swept mountain pass barely an hours walk from the road.  Unfortunately, comments like this are all too common. This one was made by a woman who lived just a 30 minutes drive from where I led a small group on a hike through the sharp green Sharri Mountains in Dragash Municipality. Located in the southern end of Kosovo, Dragash is an oasis of untouched natural beauty and traditional villages sandwiched between the borders of Macedonia and Albania. Ignored by the Yugoslav government, the area never received development money for tourism despite its wealth of flora, fauna Read full article…

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