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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 13 Jul 2004
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Gent/Antwerpen
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how safe are the Balcans? and albania, kosovo & macedonia?

ALBANIA/BOSNIA-HERZ./SERBIA-MONTENEGRO/KOSOVO/MACEDONIA


Hi,

We plan a motorbike tour through the Balcans this summer and have some questions about safety in this area / practical matters regarding border-crossings. Anyone who can help?

The route would be more or less this: Belgium->Austria, Hungary, Rumenia, Bulgary, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia-Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, A->B.

GENERAL QUESTIONS:

- Any general comment on road conditions/safety on dirt tracks in remote areas/traffic/local driving habits?
- how much time will most border crossings take, given that we will be driving our own bikes with foreign numberboards?
- Any trouble we’re likely to encounter, given the fact that we are two girls on motorbikes with foreign numberboards? (both bikes look old, cheap and dirty). Anything like over-zealous policemen, fines for false infractions, theft, robbery, bike-jacking? Or will we just attract curious glances and occasional stares?
- How about mines on dirt roads?
- How about safety on small roads in mountainous areas? And how about dirt roads and enduro-riding in general? We’ve read wild stories about banditry and car/bikejacking… is that true?
- We’ve heard that people in small villages tend to be rather unfriendly towards strangers, and that foreigners are not welcome there… this strikes us as odd… is it true?
- we' ve heard that women should be extra cautious... is that so? and how do people in general respond to women traveling alone, particularly in rural areas?


- ALBANIA:


- Several travel advisories mention both ethnical tensions and criminal activities such as banditry and carjackings in north Albania, and limited government control. Is that so?
- what about the safety in the north-east region in general? And in specific the north above shkoder, and the Kosovo and Macedonia border area (Tetovo-Struga)?
- How safe is the south-east border region with Macedonia? Korça and eastwards?
- How safe or unsafe is the road between skhoder and kukes, taken into account that we will be driving our own vehicles with foreign numberboards?
- How safe/easy is the border in Morinë (road to Prizen, Kosovo)? And the entire border area?
- How safe is the mountain road from Skhoder to Thethi?
- Any information on the condition of the coastal road between Vlora and saranda?

- BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA:

- Several travel advisories mention armed carjackings and heightened criminality in the Republika Srpska, especially in the region between Sarajevo-Gacko-Zvornik-Foca-Trebinje. Is that so?
- Landmines: will we be ok with our motorbikes on secondary roads and/or dirt tracks?

- SERBIA-MONTENEGRO:

- Several travel advisories advise avoiding south Serbia, specifically Presevo and Budjanovac (and Medvedja). Is that indeed necessary? – and where precisely are Presevo and Budjanovac anyway? We can’t find the districts clearly on any map...
- How safe are the mountainroads (banditry etc) in south-east Montenegro? E.g. podgorica and eastwards?


- KOSOVO:

- what is the current overall security situation? Is only the center (kosovska-mitrovica, mitrovice, pristine, etc) problematic, or is the whole area out of limits?
- How do people in the area react to visitors? (we’re not looking forward to hostile glances and an unwelcome feeling…)
- Several travel advisories mention, apart from the ethnical tensions, high criminality, including violent crimes and shootings… is that so?
- Is it all together possible to get into the area at this moment? And if so, by which border crossings, and which are safe (given the current situation in northern Macedonia)? As far as we understand, it is not possible to enter Serbia via Kosovo, since you will not get an entry stamp in your passport. Is that correct? And does that mean the border at Rozaje is closed for foreigners, or only an entry point to Kosovo?
- We would like to visit Pec (and maybe Prizen). How about the safety situation in this area?
- For the monastry of Pec you have to obtain a Kfor pass… is that true? And if so, how likely is it that we will get one?


- MACEDONIA:

- several travel advisories say that overall the country is safe, apart from the region between skopje, tetovo and kumanovo. Is that correct? How about the smaller roads and rural areas?
- What about the border crossing between skopje and pristina?

Thanks, and of course all travel info/tips/must see’s/beautiful routes and tracks from people who’ve recently been there are very welcome as well…

G&T
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  #2  
Old 20 Jul 2004
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Breda, Holland
Posts: 1
Ladies you worry too much! If 5% of all these things were true, I would stay at home.
It is good to be careful, but being overly suspicious will ruin a big part of your pleasure. In general 99,9% of the people are friendly. The more remote the area, the friendlier/helpful people are in general. Just smile! The more remote the area is, the more careful, especially as women, you should be with "decent" clothing, not to offend (sometimes very conservative) people.
I leave with a friend Saturday July 24 to Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, BH, Kosovo (but not Albania).
If you do not have it, I can recommend to buy the Lonely Planet Eastern Europe guide. They cover all the countries you mention in one thick book. On a few area's still have a landmine problem (especially in Kosovo). The only country where you should really worry in certain area's is Albania.

If you like you can mail me before or after my trip (I live in Breda, Holland):

===================
email address in post removed by Grant - see http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/faq.shtml#notify for why. Use the link above to contact directly, or just post a reply.
===================

I hope we all will have a terrific trip!

Quote:
Originally posted by gaea_trui:
ALBANIA/BOSNIA-HERZ./SERBIA-MONTENEGRO/KOSOVO/MACEDONIA

Hi,

We plan a motorbike tour through the Balcans this summer and have some questions about safety in this area / practical matters regarding border-crossings. Anyone who can help?

[This message has been edited by Grant Johnson (edited 20 July 2004).]
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  #3  
Old 27 Jul 2004
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: amsterdam
Posts: 6
drove in Albania from montenegro, shkodra, tirana, durres and around in May with a car. Only met very nice people. I don't think you should worry to much
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  #4  
Old 5 Aug 2004
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Belgium
Posts: 473
Trui, Iris,

You might wonna check this info:
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000071.html

Kosovo and Bosnia are areas that are mentioned in the warning.
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