From July 2nd thru July 16th, three teams of Belgian volunteers participated in the cleaning and marking of the “Village Trail” in the village of Pošćenje.
Altogether, 54 scouts from Belgium – Braine-le-Château, Waterloo and Brussels – age 16 to 23, were guests of the Mountaineering Village Nevidio. This young and enthusiastic group helped with completing the marking and cleaning of the “Village Trail”.
Last year, the Belgian volunteer group, “Jer’s de Lasne”, started the marking of the trail, worked on the preparation and cleaning of the terrain for a local nature park and the excavation of several local stećci.
(Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards: In the neighbouring municipalities Žabljak and Plužine, the stećci are inscribed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016. This serial property combines 28 sites, including a selection of 4,000 stećci. The sites dating from the 12th to 16th centuries CE are located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, north-western Montenegro as well as central and southern Croatia. More information: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1504)
The “Village Trail” leads past the stećci and the remainders of a former fortress and a local legend. The trail opens to stunning 360 degree views between two lakes, canyons Nevidio and Pridvorica, as well as the mountains of Morača, Vojnik, Golija and Durmitor.
The main idea of the “Village Trail”, and other local hiking and biking trails is to offer guests reasons to stay longer and to support the integrative development of small family businesses with minimal interventions in nature.
The “Village Trail” was first introduced on June 24th when 13 professionals from the Travel Massive Global Travel Insiders´ Community visited and hiked the trail. The event called “See your surroundings with different eyes” was published with a bunch of impressions on this blog post.
Two weeks later, representatives of the National Parks of Montenegro, the National Park Black Forest and the Baden-Baden Forestry Office from Germany “tested” the new trail.
The German TV program SAT1, came also to feature a 45-minute episode recorded in Montenegro, including this trail. The documentary series is titled “Discover the World Without Borders”. The Public Service of Montenegro (RTCG1) satellite program in the series “More than summer” has documented and aired some of the volunteers’ work. And here is the final result. (in German)
Various educational and leisure activities were planned for the three groups of volunteers. In cooperation with the Montagna Travel Montenegro agency, the scouts were able to experience canyoning the “Nevidio”, the last conquered canyon in Europe (1965). They also enjoyed a presentation about the first Yugoslav expedition to Mount Everest in 1996, held by Dragan Gašo Lalović**, the technical leader of the group and founder of the Mountaineering Village Nevidio. He also lead two of the scout groups to ascend the highest mountain of Montenegro, the Bobotov kuk (2,523m).
All three groups visited the newly opened “House of Honey” – part of the EU IPA project: Honey routes through Durmitor Mountain and Herzegovina. And lastly, the groups were educated in “Leave No Trace” principles to help continue these practices back home.
The main reason the scouts will return one day is the positive impression of Montenegro. All three groups travelled throughout the country for a period of 10 to 14 days and are said to have excellent memories of hospitable hosts and natural beauties of the country.
“We came here without any expectations and were very happy to have experienced that tourism has not perverted the natural beauty we saw in the North, nor the people who are genuinely happy and excited to show their country to their guests”, said Amélie Levie, 23, one of the leaders. She added that “public transport from Podgorica Airport should be something to urgently improve, along with better information.”
“Bus timetables are necessary information to travel across the whole country more easily and in a sustainable way. Very unusual for us were the huge amounts of plastic bags, given away in all stores for free. We are trying to control and reduce our plastic consumption, and when we said so in the shops in Montenegro that we do not need them, those working at the cash register, they just continued to pack…!” she described.
Quentin Bastogne (23) explained: “Volunteering and scouting in Belgium have long traditions, which means that young people job to save money during the winter – to travel together and to join and help develop volunteering in other countries through ecological and social projects.”
** Gašo was the heart and soul of the whole village. All of us who were very lucky to know him, were inconsolable to lose him from this world on 31st December 2017. His spirit will forever be missed.