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Small group tours & tailor made adventure holidays to Europe
Europe may be a little more familiar than the 'exotic' Asia and Africa but tucked away in its farthest recesses lie lands that have the power to amaze and inspire just as much as those perceived by many to be more 'evocative' destinations. Cast aside any misconceptions that you may have about Europe; beyond the tourist crowds of Rome, Paris and Barcelona you can still find places that have escaped the homogeneity sweeping much of the continent. It is here that you will find the 'real Europe', a place steeped in tradition, incredibly vibrant and breathtakingly beautiful. Discover the fairytale castles of Romania and its well preserved rural traditions, or head to the very edge of Europe and uncover the secrets of the Caucasus, a region of superlative mountain scenery, ancient churches and fantastic wine. The Balkans reveal an intoxicating mixture of Ottoman heritage and Orthodox traditions, while the cities of Belarus and Ukraine hold some of the continent's most impressive architecture, as well as a history that is both tragic and fascinating. Europe's hidden corners are yours to explore.
Isolated from the rest of the world for so long, Albania is a hidden land where age old customs that have long been abandoned by the rest of Europe are still revered. The 'Land of Eagles', its ragged mountains are home to isolated and traditional communities, while towns are packed full of the remnants of the various civilisations that have left their mark here.
Tiny Armenia is the world's oldest Christian nation with an astounding collection of ancient churches and monasteries, beautiful landscapes and a troubled history. With influences ranging from Ottoman Turkey, Imperial Russia and ancient Persia, visitors to this delightful country will be surprised at every turn as they discover one of Europe's hidden gems.
Azerbaijan is the odd one out in the Caucasus. With an Islamic heritage and culture more akin to Central Asia than Europe, it stands in stark contrast to both Georgia and Armenia. The flaming hillsides of the Absheron Peninsula have given rise to the moniker 'Land of Fire', and bubbling mud volcanoes add to the sheer bizarre nature of one of Europe's most intriguing destinations.
This quirky and almost forgotten corner of Europe is best known - if at all - for being the last stronghold of Communism in the continent, but look beyond this and you can discover a land imbued with a complex and intriguing history, full of the type of traditions that have long since died out elsewhere. Leave the ordinary behind and discover a very different side of Europe.
Underrated Bulgaria sits at the very edge of Europe, a fascinating combination of eastern and western influences and the cradle of civilisations. Explore ancient cities, visit fortified monasteries decorated and see the amazing scenery of the Rhodope Mountains. Bulgaria is a cultural gem waiting to be discovered.
Squashed between Russia and Turkey, and with Iran just a stone's throw away, Georgia is home to many different cultural influences but also has a fascinating character of its own. Discover ancient monasteries and churches, and the spectacular mountains of the High Caucasus, where the regions of Svaneti and Tusheti cling steadfast to long held traditions in fortress style settlements.
Once part of Yugoslavia, then Serbia, Europe's newest nation has not had it easy, with a recent turbulent history that has until now made it very difficult to visit. Kosovo is a curious mixture of east meets west, a reminder that there are still corners of Europe which can excite the imagination of the serious adventure traveller.
Sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania the small and rather modest country of Moldova is often overlooked when thinking about Eastern Europe, but it could just be the continent's most unusual destination. With one breakaway republic that few have ever heard of, another semi-autonomous region and a culture deeply influenced by its gypsy heritage, Moldova is truly fascinating.
The small Balkan nation of Montenegro packs a lot into its borders, with scenery and history that rival many larger and better known countries. Discover rugged mountain scenery, glacial lakes and lush forests, as well as historic cities and a stunning coastline. A surprising and charming country to explore.
For much of the 20th century Romania was out of bounds to travellers, shrouded by the Iron Curtain and with a regime that discouraged visitors. With the demise of Communism this delightful country is not only rediscovering itself but has opened its doors to show a world of medieval castles, thick forests where wolves and bears still roam unhindered, and charming rural landscapes.
Spanning both Europe and Asia and by far the largest country on earth, Russia defies neat descriptions but instead offers a bewildering range of diversity that makes it difficult to know where to start. Discover ancient burial mounds dating back millennia, meet local shamans, and explore the medieval villages and jagged peaks of the Caucasus.
Now released from the grip of its much larger eastern neighbour Ukraine is quickly becoming known as the home to some of Europe's greatest cultural treasures, its cities packed full of splendid architecture and stunning buildings that rival anywhere else on the continent.
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