Students prepare for regenerative travel and tourism trip to Europe’s first Wild River National Park

Students from UHI North, West and Hebrides’ School of Adventure Studies in Fort William are joining forces with EcoAlbania and Visit Gjirokaster for a packrafting expedition to the recently established Vjosa Wild River National Park in Albania

Seven students enrolled on the BA (Hons) Adventure Education and BA (Hons) Adventure Tourism Management degrees will visit the park as part of their module, 'Expeditionary Skills in a Changing World'. They will learn about the importance of sustainable, regenerative travel and tourism, take part in activities such as a river clean-up and tree planting, and enjoy a packrafting adventure on one of Europe’s last big, wild rivers.

Vjosa Wild River National Park was set up to facilitate solutions to challenges faced by the Vjosa River such as water and land pollution, waste management, and deforestation. It has also created economic opportunities for its local communities, through responsible tourism, helping to address the problem of depopulation from the area.

Student Alberto Carta said: “The expedition is a truly exciting experience for us. Not only do we get to travel and see the spectacular Vjosa River National Park but we also get to learn practical experience that will go on to support our future careers and help to support a new and environment way of travel.”

Lecturer Jose Navarro added: “The students are very much encouraged to adopt a critical environmental stance, not just by taking into account the broad national and international frameworks above but by also ensuring that their day-to-day actions align with Leave No Trace principles e.g. camp hygiene, waste disposal. All these while recognising the benefits that international travel can offer in an educational context, and also for the host communities and environment.”

The students are now working with local businesses to support and sponsor the trip, which takes place in May.

Collage of school of adventure studies students doing activities