ECO-WALKS: A Mesmerizing Experience in Tara National Park

Writer: Thodoris Maximilianos Chytis
The university summer semester of 22/23 was stressful and demanding. It needed a spark. One sunny day at the beach in the south of Crete, organized as a group getaway from our routine, resulted in the re-ignition of my deep urge and appreciation towards nature. As a result, the first thing I did returning from the getaway daytrip was to apply for training as part of the Eco-Walks Erasmus+ Sport project. Both a theory and activity driven initiative to promote outdoor activities as a driver for environmental appreciation and awareness located in Tara National Park in Serbia and hosted by Mountaineering club TARA.


From the off, the journey was a roller coaster for all fellow participants travelling from Greece. Mobility to get to Tara National Park included a total of 20 hours of bus riding, while also getting to know fellow travellers and their motivation behind travelling which ranged from business to long distance relationships. More contrast followed, between chill strolls exploring Belgrade but also last-minute streaks to arrive (almost made it) on time to meet the host organisation in Bajina Basta, located close to Tara NP.

From then on, we were met by incredible feats of hospitality, and organization skills by the host organization while also being given an incredible insight into Serbian culture and history. Thus, the base was given for all participants from Serbia, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, and Greece to connect and create a team of enthusiastic participants.

The hosting organisation provided an old school turned mountain-hut as our little lair, located right in the heart of nature, right next to an ever-flowing water stream. Bunk beds, and huge common areas set the mood for a group of people trying to connect, explore and learn. The hut would turn out to be both the starting point for the daily activities but also the reflection and discussion point till late into the night.


The activities organized for the next days covered a wide range of topics and approaches. Getting to know each other better through creative games like sustainability Bingo, brought interesting reactions. Hiking towards a viewpoint, while interacting with local villagers gave an insight into both the natural beauty and the lifestyle of the people living there. Presentations regarding the ECO-WALK project gave a better understanding of the way EU projects are structured and executed correctly. 

High scale group clean-up of the lake together with locals gave an opportunity to provide hands-on help and interact and discuss the environmental issued we are all facing. Intercultural evenings allowed us to exchange interesting info, traditions, habits and flavours from each country, leading to hilarious jokes. Technical knowhow was given when we went out to mark a hiking path in the correct way as everyone had an opportunity to leave their mark. On the other hand, during the hikes, it was mentioned again and again that no one should leave their mark in the case of littering but also how important it is, to pick up the litter that someone can find while being out in nature. Through moments of silence outside in the woods, it was highlighted to remember that nature is an alive habitant that consists of many species of both animals and plants and respect is needed towards this existing biodiversity and balance. A day cruise, allowed for observing the river canyon, exploring the nearby Bosnian town, and the history between the countries, while also bonding on deck while chilling in the sun playing group games napping, singing, and napping again.

The above experiences were always followed by not by rest, but by further natural urge for social interaction. The fact the mountain hut was not equipped with internet, surely inspired us to meet every night after dinner in the common areas. There, conversations ranged from serious and insightful to silly and funny. Night activities included highly enticing football matches and chilly swims. Dancing ranged from being traditional and indoor to improv and outdoors. As all characters showed their faces and opinions, emotions and attitudes ranged from surprise and skepticism to affection and empathy. Laughs were aplenty.

The main challenge of the whole program as agreed with the fellow participants was to catch up with both the activities and the natural social interactions between the participants during the evenings. As a result, rest and sleep were at a premium.


All in all, the ECO-WALKS Erasmus+ training that took place in Tara National Park, was a mesmerizing experience. As I loved to jokingly describe it, the exchange week felt like a simulation, simply to good to be true. The people that we met, the ideas, history, and practices that we encountered, the beauty that we witnessed the meals that we ate, the hospitality that we received contributed to a unique experience. Undoubtedly, the great balance between outdoor, in practice activities, together with the theoretical knowledge and empirical knowhow provided, set the perfect balance to dive deep into a very specific need. Specifically, intercultural understanding and awareness is needed to act and preserve the beautiful, diverse and unpredictable environment and earth ecosystem that we live in.

The main challenge of the whole program as agreed with the fellow participants was to catch up with both the activities and the natural social interactions between the participants during the evenings. As a result, rest and sleep were at a premium.

  • Special thanks to the host organization for the great hospitality.
  • Special thanks to the coordinating organization for the management of the ECO-WALKS project.
  • Special thanks to InterMediaKT providing the opportunity to attend the exchange and specifically to Melike as she was an amazing person to be around and an amazing group leader.