Interview with Lendita Hyseni, founder of “Kosova Outdoor”

Memorable Experience from Kosovo for Tourists from All Over the World 

A staunch supporter of sustainable tourism, Lendita Hyseni and her company, the tour operator “Kosova Outdoor”, promote offers that present cultural, heritage, and natural values of Kosovo. Through such offers she seeks to have a positive impact on increasing the wellbeing of people involved in the tourism chain in the country. 

What drove you to give life to “Kosova Outdoor”?

I was born in Peja, or the “green city”, surrounded by magnificent mountains. Peja is known for a rich cultural tradition. Ever since childhood I developed a love for the mountains, and a passion for traditional food. My desire to show the beauty surrounding us and our values to the foreign tourists led me to get involved in tourism.

So, since 2010 I was involved intensively in various projects to develop the rural and mountain tourism infrastructure, as well as other tourism products, which attract tourists to Peja and Rugova Gorge. In 2014 I decided to open my own business, which is one of the first inbound tour operators in Western Kosovo. 

Which are the main activities of “Kosova Outdoor”?

The main activities I offer through my business are cross-border expeditions that promote sustainable tourism, that help local families along the hiking paths. Also, we promote traditional food and local products. 

Where do you mostly carry out your activities? 

Since I am from Peja, I carry out my activities in my home city, which offers many attractive products, full of adrenaline, adventure, culture, and tradition. Peja has a lot to offer for all ages. For those who prefer extreme sports, we have the Via Ferratas, the Zipline, the Adventure Park, hiking along various trails of Rugova Gorge. For the admirers of cultural monuments or those seeking to taste traditional dishes, we offer plenty in the city and along the guesthouses in Rugova and Peja.  

What does a typical “Kosova Outdoor” tour look like?

My offers mainly include cross-border mountain hiking, with the main goal of sustainable and responsible tourism. We seek to enable visitors to experience the tradition and culture of the countries that pass through. They are accommodated in the guesthouses and shepherds’ huts along the trails. On the other hand, this type of tourism contributes to be the wellbeing and economic sustainability of the population in mountain and rural areas. 

Also, one of the most attractive offers is tasting of local products and traditional dishes. 

Where do the tourists mostly come from? 

Tourists come from different parts of the world, mainly Italian, German, Turkish, and British. 

“Kosova Outdoor” is one of the biggest promoters of traditional food and “slow food”. Can you tell us about this aspect of your work?

In 2015 we founded the movement “Slow Food Dukagjini”. This movement was put into motion by a group of volunteers, who are farmers, cooks, professionals from the environment fields, guesthouse owners, tourism professionals, and others. They are all passionate about local products and traditional dishes. Our group supports the philosophy of slow food, which is “GOOD, CLEAN AND FAIR”. 

Over the years, we have had a great collaboration with other Balkan countries. We were very activity in various activities to promote local products. It is worth highlighting the activity “Terra Madre Balkans”, held in 2018 at the European Parliament in Brussels. I have also participated at various international fairs such as “SALONE DEL GUSTO” in Italy, or promotional campaigns organized by “Slow Food International”, where we promoted Kosovo and its traditional products and dishes. 

As a result of the good collaboration with “Slow Food International”, I created a cross-border offer “Trail of Taste”, where visitors have the opportunity to taste products listed in the “Ark of Taste”, and to be accommodated in farms producing these special products. 

Guesthouse “ARIU” in Rekë të Allagës and Guesthouse “Shqiponja” in Drelaj are the first ones that started to practice family accommodation since 2008. Both these guesthouses are part of the “Slow Food Dukagjini”. These guesthouses are in villages through which the cross-border trails “Peaks of the Balkans” and “Via Dinarica” pass and over the years, are chosen by many tourists. 

We have a great collaboration with the guesthouses, as they practice the concept of sustainable tourism and promote the values and traditions of Rugova. This practice enriches our tourism offer. 

The pandemics has a negative effect on the tourism sector, resulting in grave damages for the businesses in this field. We remain hopeful that this summer the global situation will improve, and work will resume. We are passionate about and professional in our work. 

Guesthouse ARIU has a farm with 30 cows and produces high quality milk products. The owner of this guesthouse and farm, Fetije Nikqi, uses the bio products in her traditional dishes which are tasteful and much liked by foreign tourists and local visitors alike. 

Guesthouse Shqiponja has a small farm and a garden where they produce bio fruits and vegetables. The owner, Xhevahire Shala, is a wonderful cook and host.