Author: Jeroen Roodnat

Trips in to nature and culture

Author: Jeroen Roodnat

Outdooralbania.com is new and improved. Building on to 25 years of experience visitors can select the best walking, cycling, sea-kayaking, family and cultural discovery tours bringing them to destinations in Albania and beyond.

“We started out with a a selection of cycling and hiking tours in Albania, ploughing our way through the rumble of former dictator Hoxha. our reach quickly expanded over our borders with destinations across the whole of Western Balkans” says Laura Payne co-owner and marketing manager of Outdoor Albania.
One of these destinations, the Via Dinarica stands out. “We are proud to offer Via Dinarica tours as part of Via Dinarica alliance. This exciting new trail pans nearly 2.000 kilometers and is a cultural corridor that connects countries and communities along the Dynaric Alps and Sharr Mountain Range.”

Outdoor Albania is not just a tour-operator. We believe in a better Albania and are dedicated to help since the beginning of our existence. We have a unique relationship with our shareholders such as guesthouse owners and local guides. With some they have been working for 25 years. “We have to do whatever we can to help each other out. So we have created a sustainability page where you can find a overview on projects we are working on and which collaborations we have.

One of these projects is HopeMade, run by Gerdien Blommers from the Netherlands. Gerdien works with Albanian women to help them getting a sewing certificate in order to get a job and generate income. Their products are sold through hopemade.nl. “We think it’s great what’s HopeMade is doing. We endorse them by offering their products to our clients.” More on Hopemade and other projects you can find here.

Another big part of the new website is the Teambuilding page. “We have noticed that throughout the years people feel re-energized by our adventure activities such as rafting and kayaking. Therefore we have set up our teambuilding department to cater teambuilding events. Throughout the years GIZ, Coca-Cola and many others have had a great time while teambuilding with us. Find more on Outdoor Albania’s teambuilding activities here.

“I am really proud at the tours that we are offering. On our website you will find spreads with photo’s, articles and films on a selection of our activities, guides, local shareholders and everyone else who has taken part in our 25 years of existence.”

Have a look and see you in Albania! 

Outdoor Albania organises nature-friendly tours promoting the protection of landscapes, bio- habitats, traditions and monuments of Albania and beyond. Outdoor Albania is a company “by travelers, for travelers”, that focuses in delivering great holidays through rich travel experiences that show the real, authentic and off-the-beaten-track Albania.

How it all began
It is 1991, communism has just ended and Albania opens its borders. The first curious tourists enter a country that has kept its beauty to it self for many years. A language quite unlike any other, limited infrastructure and little information about where to go made Albania in to a destination for the adventurists and pioneers pur sang.

A pioneer and adventurist on the Albanian side was Mr. Illir Mati, an electronics engineer retired from fixing submarine sonars for the Albanian Navy. Curious to meet people from other countries and with pride for his country he started organizing “Journeys in the Albanian Nature and Culture.”  

Together with his old Ford Transit, lovingly nicknamed ‘The Periscope’, Illir allowed trekkers, climbers, skiers, kayakers, rafters, journalists, archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists and other brave hearts to discover this new opened country. This all was done with great hospitality and a big heart, which gave tourists the feeling as if they were on the road with a personal friend.

22 August 1991, a big date in the history of Outdoor Albania. Illir Mati registered the company, at that time still called “Aulona SUB TOURS”, at the county of Vlorë. Laying the foundation for what later  would be renamed into Outdoor Albania. In the years that followed family members, friends and many other travel enthusiasts got involved and together they experienced growth, success and difficult times, while always keeping their travelling spirit alive.

Inspired by his father, Gent Mati also got ‘bitten by the travel bug’. After working with his father, while finishing his study, Gent meets kayakers from Italy. They invite him to come to Italy and for several summers to follow Gent works on the Italian rivers as an instructor. After a few summers Gent decides to expand his borders and travels the world as a safety kayaker.

Eventually in 2003, Gent meets Laura Payne  his Dutch partner in business and life and together they decided to go continue trail-blazing the Albanian tourism industry. The business expended and grew in to what Outdoor Albania now still stands for; a tour operator specialized in cultural round trips and active tours bringing travellers the pure and authentic Albania.