When in the time of the deepest crisis in tourism we think that there is nothing left to write on this topic, then we create the most interesting stories. We have enough free 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 already 68 years old, but that fact is not an obstacle for him to work as a professional tour guide who gives a great importance to mountaineering tours and active tourism.
Mano has an interesting life story. He was born in Athens, but in search for a better existence, his family moved to Germany with him. Mano finished the fifth grade there, and then continued his education in Skopje. After many jobs, in the middle of his life 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 travels begin. We managed to get the most from his story, so the interview maybe is a little longer but definitely interesting for the true travel enthusiasts.
WW TRAVEL: Hello Mano, we would like to go back to the beginning of your career. How did you get started?
Mano: In 2007 I started working for an incoming agency in Skopje, by guiding groups of German-speaking language in the field of culture and history, religious groups, political-themed travel, so finally to expand my activity in the field of the active tourism. Due to an awkward situation with the bicycle in the field of the active tourism, I stayed to guide mountaineering tours in Macedonia and the surrounding countries with which we border: Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Northern Greece.
WW TRAVEL: How did you fall in love with the mountain? What attracted you?
Mano: My love for the mountain exists since I was a little boy, when in Germany on weekends with my parents we regularly went for walks in the beautiful nature and forests of Bavaria. Later in Macedonia, as a high school student in the third year of high school, 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 the then known mountain lodge “Kitka” where the janitor was the old Bajazit from the village Paligrad. Many years later that house burned down and after that the janitor became the well-known Uncle Joseph.
After I got married often, with my wife and my three daughters, we stayed for a few days in Kitka, which at that time became my favorite mountain and where I made my first steps in the world of the mushrooms. As apassionate 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 with which we border. That knowledge gained in contact with the nature helped me to actually get into my last passion – guiding foreign groups of mountaineers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland along ours and the mountains of the surrounding neighbor countries.
WW TRAVEL: How did your career develop? What left the biggest impression on you? In what year of your life you are and are the years an obstacle for this physical job?
Mano: 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, contributed with 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 saying “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.
WW TRAVEL: What kinds of tourists do you like the most? Do they motivate you to work?
Mano: 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.
WW TRAVEL: We know that there are many beautiful places in Macedonia, but give us the name of the mountain that is your favorite?
Mano: Our country, although small, is really beautiful and with a biodiversity that is rarely found in Europe. You probably know that out of the total area of 25,717 km², 79% is mountainous terrain, 19% lowlands and only 2% is water surface. Rarely does a country have so many beauties, such as mountains that some of them are still undiscovered by the tourists.
It is a really difficult question for me to answer which mountain is the most beautiful. I would 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 massif, 85 meters long and 15-25 km wide, we have 15 peaks over 2500 meters, 25 peaks over 2000 meters. What to say about the Korabski Massif, Jablanica, Jakupica, Osogovo, countless other beautiful mountains, our 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 and 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 tours and many others.
This year, 2021 gives him hope that we will beat the Covid-19 pandemic and the tourism will revive again.