Facing the time of the deepest crisis in tourism and thinking that there is nothing left to write on this topic, the most interesting stories are created. Having a great deal of time to look back at what happened and to make an overview of the events, our team is overjoyed to introduce you to Mano Stavrevski. The man who is about to turn 68 is actively working as a professional mountaineering tour guide.
Mano has an interesting life story. Born in Athens, Greece, but seeking better living conditions, his family moved to Germany. There, Mano finished the fifth grade, and then continued his education in Skopje. After many jobs, in his middle ages he decides to try his luck in the tourism industry. After passing the required exams and obtaining a German-speaking tour guide license, Mano's journey begins. We tried our best to share with you the most from his story, so the interview maybe is a little longer but definitely interesting for the true travel enthusiasts.
Hello Mano, we would like to go back to the beginning of your career. How did you get started?
In 2007 I started working for an incoming tour operator in Skopje, by guiding German-speaking groups mainly interested in culture and history, also there were religious groups, political-themed travel, so finally to expand my activity in the field of the active tourism. Due to one awkward situation with the bicycle, I only focused on mountaineering guiding tours in Macedonia and the surrounding countries: Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Northern Greece.
How did you fall in love with the mountain? What attracted you?
My love for the mountain has been present since my earliest years. I still remember the often walks, while we lived in Germany, that we had with my parents in the beautiful forests surrounded by the nature of Bavaria. In the following years, in Macedonia, as a high school student in the third year, together with three other classmates, we went for the first time to the mountain Kitka, where we slept for two nights on the smaller peak Krasna, building an improvised hut of branches. We spent the third night in one mountain lodge called in that time "Kitka", where the caretaker was the old Bajazit from the village Paligrad. Many years later that house burned down, new was rebuild and Uncle Joseph took the role of the new caretaker.
After I got married, together with my wife and my three daughters, we often stayed for a few days in Kitka, which at that time became my favorite mountain and where for the first time I was really interested and wanted to enter into the world of mushroom hunting. As a passionate mushroom lover, I started visiting other nearby mountains such as Skopska Crna Gora, Vodno, Karadzica, Solunska Glava, the Cheples lodge, whose landscapes were rich with different types of edible mushrooms.
I joined the mountaineering sports club "Bistra" from Skopje, where I started actively getting to know lot of mountain peaks in Macedonia and the surrounding countries. That knowledge gained in contact with the nature helped me to actually get into my new passion - guiding foreign groups of mountaineers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland along ours and the mountains of the surrounding neighbor countries.
How did your career develop? What left the biggest impression on you? How old are you and are the years an obstacle for this physical job?
I have been retired for two years now and I am supplementing my pension by continuing my activity as a tourist guide. All my life I’ve been active in sports (in high school volleyball), karate for 30 years, long distance running, swimming, mountaineering and mountain biking, causing me a few broken limbs and ribs and two artificial hips but despite all I must say that I’m in a very good physical condition even though that I’m already 68 years old.
According to the old Latin proverb "Mens sana in corpore sano" (a healthy mind in a healthy body), in this difficult time when the Corona virus limits all our activities and social contacts, I strive to remain hopeful that soon we can return again to our normal lives and to re-enjoy with my groups on our trips.
What kinds of tourists do you like the most? Do they motivate you to work?
The composition of the groups in the field of Cultural-Historical, Religious and Political-Themed Travels is mainly senior (over 60-95 years). As a professional, I shouldn’t make any difference, but I must admit that in the last three or four years, the active and the mountaineering tours which I combine with animating the groups with my wide knowledge from other fields, even with mushrooms, have been a bigger challenge for me.
We know that there are many beautiful places in Macedonia, but give us the name of the mountain that is your favorite?
Our country, though small in size, is really beautiful and with a biodiversity that is rarely found in Europe. Here is a fun fact for Macedonia: out of the total area of 25,717 km², 79% is mountainous terrain, 19% lowlands and only 2% is water surface. Rarely exist small sized country with so many beauties hidden especially in the numerous mountains – and some of them are still undiscovered by the locals and the tourists.
It is a really difficult question for me to answer which mountain is the most beautiful. I would rather answer like this: for a person who loves nature and goes hiking, each mountain will be beautiful in its own way, every mountain offers its own specificity, whether in terms of the forests, whether in the views of the peaks, whether in the weight and the accessibility of the climb. Only in the Shara Mountain, 85 meters long and 15-25 km wide, we have 15 peaks over 2500 meters, 25 peaks over 2000 meters. And not to mention the Korab Mountain, Jablanica, Jakupica, Osogovo and countless other beautiful mountains, national parks and so on. I think that the most precious period of every person's life is the youth, so I will admit that the mountain of my youth is the mountain "Kitka".
Mano believes that in the future, as before, more and more foreign tourists will be oriented towards the active tourism. Our beautiful nature, the rural environment unknown for the foreigners, combined with the customs of the local population offers a great opportunity for a wider tourist offer. He emphasizes that we should put an accent on mountaineering, mountain bike tours, paragliding, horse-riding tours and many others.
This year, 2021 gives him hope that we will beat the Covid-19 pandemic and the tourism will revive again.
Feel free to visit our Balkan Prime Tour`s Flicker to see more of the Mano`s adventures