Balkan Alps Experience

Grebaja Valley; Photo by Tanja Ivanović

We are pleased to announce that Inoa team will be co-creating Balkan Alps Experience in the cross-border area between Montenegro and Kosovo. Amazing Prokletije mountains, the highest mountain range in Dinaric Alps, are located there, attracting mountaineers from all over the world.

Together with our clients, we will be working with local communities and tourism providers, jointly building on authentic, sustainable tourist experiences.

Prokletije Mountain Range; Photo by Tanja Ivanović

 

GEM – Sustainable Product Design

One year after its beginning, Greening Ethiopian Manufacturing (GEM) project is well on track, addressing topics of market access, sustainable product design and SCP certification. Altogether, 99 entrepreneurs are involved in GEM clusters.

During our last field visit, Inoa expert Tatjana Suhadolc provided advisory on sustainable product design to several enterprises from GEM clusters. Entrepreneurs were supported by new product design ideas, recommendations for quality improvement, creative usage of waste (zero-waste design) etc.

Poslovna mreža Slovenije

Ljubljana, 7. november 2018

Danes smo na letnem srečanju “Skupine za Afriko” pri Gospodarski zbornici Slovenije predstavili Poslovno mrežo Slovenije. Vstop v mrežo je za slovenske podjetnike zaenkrat brezplačen in jim omogoča vzpostavljanje poslovnih stikov s potencialnimi poslovnimi partnerji iz več kot 83 držav. 

Predstavitev smo pospremili z individualnimi razgovori s podjetniki, ki iščejo nove poslovne priložnosti v Afriki.

 

10 Reasons Everyone Should Visit Lalibela

  1. Rock-hewn Churches

Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s most iconic destinations. The UNESCO enlisted rock-cut monolithic churches of king Lalibela have been built over 800 years ago. There are 11 churches located within this amazing cultural heritage complex.
Back in the early 4th Century, several Ethiopian ethnic groups were among the first ones that adopted Christianity. The four kings of Zagwe dynasty left some remarkable traces in ancient Ethiopia. The most famous of them was king Lalibela.

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  1. Festivals

Festivals in Lalibela are immersive, wholeheartedly embraced by locals, rich in tradition, picturesque and vividly distinctive. In short, they are a must experience.

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  1. Lalibela Artisans

The legend says that all Lalibela churches were built by king Lalibela himself with the help of angels. An alternative interpretation by historians and scientists would be that it took anywhere between 10 to 40 thousand people to build 11 churches in 23 years.

These hand-crafting skills are still in the genes of Lalibelian people. Pottery makers, weavers, leather goods producers are spotted all around the place.

lal3Leather products by Tadesse                                 Crafts by St. Lalibela Association

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  1. Lalibela Painters

King Lalibela is also recognized for paintings which adorn some of the churches. Nowadays, Lalibela has an emerging art scene, waiting to be explored. We met numerous local painters who inspire with love and passion for their art.

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Art by Hailemariam Tadesse

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Art by Smachew Mesfin

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  1. Peace

It seems that because of 800 years of continuous spiritual ceremonies, Lalibela is impregnated with peace, reflected in local people.

lal8Our trusted guide Endayene Ayalew

  1. People

We were particularly charmed by people of Lalibelia – hoteliers, receptionists, drivers, waitresses, guides, artisans, people on the streets, young and old, most of them radiating unique calmness, kindness and warmth.

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  1. Great Hikes

Nature lovers will enjoy hikes to surrounding mountains, reaching over 3,000 m.a.s.l.. One of our favourites was the hike to Asheten Mariam church high in the mountains above Lalibela where king Lalibela’s prayers to locate the rock-hewn churches from his vision were heard. 

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  1. Amazing Vistas

Pictures speak for themselves. 

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  1. Honey

Ethiopia is known to be the biggest producer of honey in Africa and Lalibela is its honey capital. The land of “honey-eaters” which is the meaning of the word Lalibela, offers delicious varieties of honey in all tastes and colours, from near-white through yellow, gold, amber, dark brown, either liquid or creamed. Delicious!

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  1. Coffee Ceremonies and Great Organic Food

We tried several simple street coffee shops, decorated with grass on the floor and incensed with a pleasant odour of burning wood. Their coffee was without any exception always tasty.

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We were also lucky to enjoy local cuisine at Honey Land Hotel, made from fresh ingredients, served with care.

Lalibela is one of those rare places in the world where tourism is still truly authentic, where moments are savoured and where inner peace is a value!

Good to know:

There are several morning flights to Lalibela from Addis Ababa, operated by Ethiopian Airlines. Lalibela and Gondar are also well connected. Special discount can be obtained, if your international flight is operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

End of September is a good time for visiting Lalibela. After the rainy season, the landscape turns green. October is one of the peak seasons. Lalibela is also very popular among Ethiopians for Christmas celebrations in January.

Foreign visitors’ entrance fee of 50$ to Lalibela churches is valid for 5 days. To comprehend the amazing story behind the churches, it is highly recommendable to explore them with local guides. 

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Ljubljana Bee-utiful Trail

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We are celebrating the World Bee Day for the first time today. In the northern hemisphere, May is the month of blooming meadows, loved by bees.

It was Slovenia who proposed the proclamation of World Bee Day to the UN in December last year. Slovenia’s Carniolan honey bee is also the first protected native bee species in the world. It is cherished for its non-aggressiveness, immunity to diseases, good orientation and productivity.

About three-quarters of our world crops depend on bees and other pollinators. We need to raise awareness and protect these vital pollinators. In an urban setting, a great way of doing so is to show the beauty of cities from the perspective of bees. Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana introduced a ‘Bee Trail’.

Urban beekeeping officially begun in Paris some 25 years ago. Nowadays, it is a vibrant activity happening in many cities around the world. In Slovenia, beehives were first put on its major cultural and congress centre, named after the nation’s most renowned writer Cankar. About 70 liters of honey are collected there annually. Today, beehives are also placed on the governmental place, parliament, schools, hotels and many other buildings. 
 
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Ljubljana Botanical Gardens sparked the imagination and skills of students of architecture in collaboration with the Urban Beekeeper’s Association to design a modern architecture beehive which is now placed in the gardens along colorful beds of local bee attracting plants. 
 
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Bee Trail also led us to the Slovene Ethnographic Museum which is displaying beautiful artifacts of rich beekeeping tradition in Slovenia. Beekeeping was raised on a whole new level by Anton Jansa, a pioneer of modern beekeeping whose birthday became the World Bee Day. 
 
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Visit to the Ethnographic Museum was an all-sensory experience, accompanied by tasty bee liqueur and buckwheat bread with varieties of honey from nearby Park Hotel beehives.
 
Our next stop was the Ljubljana Castle. In 2016, Ljubljana was the Green Capital of Europe. Numerous activities took place before, during and and after this, celebrating nature in all its forms. One of them was planting the Castle Vineyard with 1050 vines. Without bees, there would be no wine.
 
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A beautiful walk to the Ljubljana Botanical Gardens and than back to the old city revealed Ljubljana ‘s green soul again.
 
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A final stop at Kolovrat restaurant for honey dessert tasting was a perfect way of ending this bee-utiful trail.
 
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How About Staying Around Cliffs of Moher Longer?

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Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s number one natural tourist sight, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors annually. Reaching the maximum height of 214 meters below the O’Brien’s Tower, they are truly a beautiful natural spectacle.

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We were recommended to reserve half a day for exploring several walking trails on the cliffs which was fun.
On our way back we popped into a visitor centre where we were positively surprised by a dynamic and interactive exhibition, offering plenty of information for adults and children alike.

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Nature conservation is a big topic there. Local conservators brought it to a very high level. Together with tourism service providers they are committed to making the area a premier worldwide destination for responsible tourism. They are effectively managing and communicating information about waste recycling, energy and water usage per visitor, promoting and educating about “leave no trace” ethics. Even the toilets are showcasing eco facts!

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However, traveling to western Ireland only for a couple of hours of cliffs’ experience sounded a bit limiting to us. We were looking for a more authentic experience which would allow us to get beneath the surface of the destination.

And here comes the Burren! Together with the Burren, Cliffs of Moher were awarded UNESCO recognized Global Geopark status seven years ago. As they say, it’s about people, place, learning and livelihood.

Lively taverns are offering great locally sourced food. We especially enjoyed the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna where tasty Irish cuisine is accompanied by their own boutique beer and musical performances.
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Local nature lovers are guiding walks, revealing the rock story of ‘geosites’. From May until October you can explore ‘the Burren Food Trail’ and ‘Food Trail Monday Events’. 
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The Burren Smokehouse was the place where we tasted delicious cold smoked organic Irish salmon with seaweed and a honey-glazed variation with whiskey and fennel. Mouth-watering!

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The Burren Perfumery makes perfumes inspired by the local landscape. And there are many more inspirational stories in the Burren, such as: the Moher stone, the Doolin Chocolate Shop, Linnalla Ice-Cream, several exhibitions and thematic events etc.

Our beautiful planet is full of amazing natural sites. Memorable authentic travel is only possible when people and places go hand in hand together, treating each other with respect. This proves to be the critical link between authentic and responsible tourism.

Greening Ethiopian Manufacturing (GEM)

Greening Ethiopian Manufacturing (GEM) project has been launched in Addis Ababa!

Inoa is partnering with Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ECCSA) and Precise Consult International on this EU funded Switch Africa Green project. Over 100 Ethiopian micro, small and medium enterprises will be supported throughout the next 3+ years in seizing ‘green growth’ opportunities.

Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

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Photos by ECCSA

(English) Upper Egypt Local Development Program

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Upper Egypt Local Development Program

We are collaborating on the Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP). By launching this program, the World Bank Group is aiming at supporting economic and social development of the two lagging governorates Qena and Sohag (US$500 million will be dedicated for this purpose). Our expert is being involved in the identification of clusters and in the design of the Program Operational Manual.

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(English) 7 Half-Day Trips from Podgorica

7 Half-Day Trips from Podgorica

Though a small country, Montenegro has been blessed with cultural richness and immense natural beauty. Its capital Podgorica is rarely chosen as a primary tourist destination, however its central location can be a good base for exploring the country.

Whether you’re visiting on your own or with family and friends, here are my picks for 7 half-day trips. You can either take them in the morning, or in the afternoon and still be back early enough to attend your meetings or experience the buzzing nightlife of the Podgorica city. No ranking here, each of these trips has a charm of its own.

Skadar Lake and Rijeka Crnojevica

Skadar lake is an ancient tectonic lake. Numerous scientific studies have revealed that several European freshwater animal species originate from there. Skadar lake is also one of the largest bird reserves in Europe and, among other birds, pelicans can be spotted there.

Skadar Lake Boat Trip; photo by Nino M. Markovic

Skadar Lake; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

Skadar Lake boat trips, lasting from 2 to 6 hours, are bringing a new dimension to out-of-town getaways. Silent boats, sliding over the beautiful lake, covered with waterlilies and other aquatic plants, are circling tiny islands, called Gorice, Mala & Velika Čakovica, Andrijska Mountain and Grmožur, the latter also known as the Montenegrin Alcatraz. Yet another trip will take you to the magnificent Kom Monastery, built between 1415 and 1427. In hot summer days you might want to combine a boat trip with a short hike to the waterfalls in nearby Poseljani and jump into fresh waters. Birdwatchers will enjoy Dodosi, delta of the river Morača and above all, Manastirska Tapija, an ornithological reserve.

Biodiversity protection is of vital relevance to the lake and we recommend a trusted nature-sensitive boat operator Skadar Lake Boat ‘Milica’.

An alternative heritage & culinary colored trip can be experienced by visiting another town on the shores of the lake: Rijeka Crnojevica – hiking or biking to a couple of traditional villages and tasting an authentic meal either at ‘gumno’ or ‘konoba’. The ‘wine route’, as well as, the ‘cheese road’ call for unique experiences. Check out Your Montenegro Agency website.

Rijeka Crnojevica; Photo: Nino M. Markovic

Rijeka Crnojevica; Photo: Nino M. Markovic

Donkey Farm Martinici

Donkeys have a special place in Montenegrin rural heritage. However, modern agricultural technology replaced them. Darko Saveljic, the ‘founding father’ of the farm, is a passionate nature lover who saved several indigenous female donkeys (jennets) from maltreatment and abandonment by opening his farm. Martinici Donkey Farm is probably one of the most nature-friendly donkey farms in the world.

Donkey Farm Martinici; photo by Tadeja L. Colnar

Donkey Farm Martinici; Photo by Tadeja L. Colnar

Only a 20-30 min drive from Podgorica brings you to a great place for children (and adults) to see these animals, learn about beneficial effects of donkey milk, enjoy the countryside and get inspired for nature protection. Donkeys are also great ‘therapists’. Children will certainly enjoy touching and combing them and designing funny hairstyles from their hair. Free hippo-therapy can be individually arranged for children with symptoms of autism.

The farm is open every Sunday 10.00-13.00, entrance fee is 1 kg of donkey feed, such as: apples, carrots and similar. Group visits can also be arranged.

Panoramic Route ‘Krug oko Korita’

Stellar natural spots with amazing vistas over the river Cijevna, Podgorica and Albanian Alps are to be experienced on the designated circular path ‘Krug oko Korita’. By walking only a section of this panoramic route for about 1.5-2 hours, you reach spectacular Falcon’s Throat (Grlo Sokolovo). Kucka Korita, the starting point of this hiking tour, are located 38 km from Podgorica. Maps are available on the Tourism Board Podgorica web site or at the visitors’ centers.

Viewpoint ‘Falcon's Throat’ (Grlo Sokolovo) on Krug Oko Korita; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

Viewpoint ‘Falcon’s Throat’ (Grlo Sokolovo) on Krug Oko Korita; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

Lipa Cave

Lipa cave, located 35 km east of Podgorica, near the historic capital Cetinje, is the youngest member in the family of renowned world show caves, and the most impressive cave, open to visitors, in Montenegro. It is known that King Nikola held receptions there and Njegoš spoke of its beauty. A system of 2.5 km of passages and halls is available to visitors. Theater lighting designers have created illuminations that have a rich influence on the scene of the cave.

IMG_2067Lipa Cave; Photo by Tadeja L. Colnar

Families and casual visitors can enjoy a walk along the 400 m of cave corridors, admiring cave ornaments, underground lakes and majestic hallways created by nature. Adventurers and adrenaline seekers might prefer a 30 m descent from the ceiling on a rope and explore hidden corners of the cave with a professional guide. These adventures are only available, if arranged in advance. The cave is open to visitors from April till December.

River Cijevna and ‘Niagara Falls’

Taken with a pinch of famous Montenegrin humor, these ‘Niagara falls’ are much smaller than their northern American namesakes. Nevertheless, the five rivers of Podgorica are certainly an important natural asset, enriching the experience of the city. ‘Niagara falls’ on the river Cijevna are a cool out-of-the-city spot, popular among locals and less known to the visitors. On hot summer days, you can cool yourself off by jumping into calm waters. It only takes a 10 minute drive from Podgorica to Tuzi to get to the Niagara falls.

Niagara Falls on Cijevna River; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

Niagara Falls on Cijevna River; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

Roman Settlement Duklja

In the northern outskirts of the city, you can visit one of the best preserved ancient historical sites in Podgorica: the Roman settlement Duklja, built in the 1st century. There’s not much tourist infrastructure on the site. It is rarely crowded so you can usually explore the old ruins on your own.

Roman Settlement Duklja, photo by Nino M. Markovic

Roman Settlement Duklja; Photo by Nino M. Markovic

While being in the area you might want to visit Zenta Winery, located above the shores of Zeta river in Rogami. What began as an experimental vineyard has grown into one of the most renowned wine brands in the country. A cozy tasting room with old ceiling beams is a great place to end the day, but arrange your visit in advance.

In Front of the Cellars in Zenta Winery; photo by Bernadette

In Front of the Cellars in Zenta Winery; Photo by Bernadette

An alternative way of approaching Duklja is an insightful 4-5-hour bike tour from the center of Podgorica, following the river Moraca to Duklja. The biking tour continues on the banks of Zeta river all the way to Danilovgrad. Montagna Agency provides you with bikes, accompanying vehicle and guides.

Free Climbing at Smokovac

If you feel like getting some air under your feet, limestone rock formations at Smokovac are the place to go. Smokovac, located 5 km Northeast of Podgorica, is a hot spot for free climbers of all levels of experience from absolute beginners to professionals. 

Smokovac Free Climbing, photo by Mico Cerovic

Smokovac Free Climbing; Photo by Mico Cerovic

Climbers are supported by a guide, using safety ropes, and provided with climbing equipment. For more information contact Montagna Agency.

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Our home away from home has been Hotel and Restaurant Laguna, renowned for authentic cuisine that can be rarely experienced in Podgorica. Try delicious ‘priganice’ for breakfast or carp fish, eel, ‘rastan’ (green cabbage stew) or ‘japraci’ (traditional rolled green cabbage stuffed with meat and rice) for lunch or dinner. Be prepared for generous portions!

On our trips, we devoted special attention to local heritage and nature protection, thanks to our trusted and responsible tourist guide Nino M. Markovic from Montenegro Tour Guide.

                                                  Written by Tadeja L. Colnar
                                                             

Prepared within the EU-funded project ‘Laguna Heritage Tourism Cluster’ (LHTC), led by the Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognosis (ISSP).