Balkan Rivers Tour (BRT) started as a crazy idea and turned into the biggest direct river conservation action in Europe. When ex-Olympian, kayaker and biologist, Rok Rozman started the tour in 2016, his intention was simple; have fun kayaking rivers of the Balkans and expose the destruction that hydropower dams are causing there.
After extensive international media coverage and protests throughout the region during the first tour in 2016, BRT turned into an annual paddling and protesting tour where anyone is welcome to join in, travelling and paddling the Balkans, revealing the stunning wild rivers and untouched wilderness of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. Using whitewater kayaks as a means to spotlight the unknown rivers that are being destroyed by large and small scale dams, BRT generates attention from decisions makers, then passes the megaphone to the locals to demand their rivers stay wild, protected and free.
BRT 1 took place in 2016, with BRT 2 in 2017 and BRT 3 is about to set off for 32 days of paddling through six countries on Friday September 7th to Monday 8th October. You can follow their progress as the Paddler brings you coverage throughout the expedition. The Autumn/Fall issue of the Paddler will also publish a comprehensive feature on the tour after its finish, with the Winter issue holding an interview with Carmen Kuntz of the Balkan River Defence organization.
The Balkan Peninsula cradles Europe’s last free flowing rivers and supports abundant, diverse and endemic wildlife. These rivers are ‘The Undamaged’ – astounding, pristine and undammed. However, these rivers are under threat of an unprecedented dam craze from private hydro power companies. Over 2,700 hydro power plants planned to be built in the Balkan; 535 in strictly protected areas and 113 dams inside 14 National Parks.
Follow the Balkan Rivers Tour in 2016, when a crew of whitewater kayakers, film-makers, photographers and friends, who decided to stand up for these rivers and travelled the Balkans for 39 days kayaking 23 rivers in six countries, organizing 11 events. It’s a wild ride that ends with an emotional protest in front of the Albanian Prime Minister’s headquarters, demanding the government stop all dam plans on the Vjosa River. With a total of 500 paddlers and more than 1,500 protesters from 18 nations, Balkan Rivers Tour was the biggest river conservation action in Europe to date.
The international media attention the tour generated presented the hushed issue of dams to people of the Balkans, Europe and the world, exposing the often illegal and underground concessions and construction of dams. Travel with the crew as they paddle through wild canyons and valleys, hearing the passionate stories of locals living traditional lives, dependant on these rivers.