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Balkans

"When we first made plans to discover the Balkan countries this past summer, it was all about exploring something new, seeking adventure in places commonly unknown. Little did I know what we were about to experience in these countries. Starting our trip in Sofia, Bulgaria, we traveled quite a distance of over 2500km through Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro in only ten days. Each country had its own atmosphere to it, still all of them shared quite some characteristics which I now assume typical of the Balkans: Incredibly friendly people, vast nature and an interesting cultural background." (Johannes Hoehn)

"When you think about the Balkans, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Probably not: the Albanian Alps, Lake Kozjak or the Pyramids of Melnik. The Balkan Peninsula is located in the south-east of Europe and contains eight countries – but about twelve countries share land with the peninsula: from the Adriatic Sea all the way to the Black Sea, from the Julian Alps to the 3000 Greek islands.

Its natural wealth and incredible variety of wildlife, flora and climate is unique in Europe and yet – it's not as touristic as other countries along the Mediterranean Sea. That makes it the perfect region to explore and to get off the beaten paths, to find countless hidden gems and places that are unknown to most Central Europeans." (Max Muench)

"Traveling seven different countries in ten days promised us a vast variety of landscapes, cultures and amazing moments. One of these amazing moments happened in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro. The sunrises we spent there offered perfect conditions – after a foggy morning, the sun broke through and created a magical atmosphere.

This was when suddenly I felt like I was really where I wanted to be – I somehow felt at home, even though I was more than thousand miles away.

I grabbed my OM-D E-M1 Mark II, ran off into the woods, searching for compositions of light-rays between the dark greens of the firs. I could’ve gone for hours, but eventually the others came looking for me – definitely a morning to remember." (Max Fischer)

"We splitted the crew into to individual groups, both of them starting in the opposite direction. One was challenging its way from the East in Bulgaria, the other one from the West in Bosnia-Herzegovina. With the mission to follow and document the last wild rivers of Europe with our OM-D EM-1 Mark II. The plan was to meet up again somewhere at the source of the rivers in the Albanian mountains. Exactly, the last wild and untouched rivers are located on the Balkan peninsula and unfortunately they are endangered. The so called „blue Heart“ of Europe is about to get destroyed. More than 300 dams are proposed or being built already, which will obviously damage thousands of kilometers of rivers and the natural habitat of a big variety of animals and locals as well. The goal of this trip was to raise awareness of this big problem and make people think about it to #savetheblueheart of Europe together." (Hannes Becker)

"Once again the OM-D system proofed its reliability. Whatever conditions we throw against the OM-D E-M1 Mark II or the Pro Zuiko lenses didn’t matter. From high summer temperatures to rainy conditions resulting wet cameras - they never stopped delivering and worked fine throughout the trip." (Roman Koenigshofer)

"I was really impressed how openminded the locals are, even though most of them do not really own much. We always arrived to a warm welcome. They take things just how they are, this can also be a destructive way to look at life and the place you surround yourself, but at least they make the best out of it. Maybe that is also the reason why they appreciate their rivers so much. When it comes to the landscapes, the very north of Albania was my favorite place of the Balkan Peninsula. We followed the Vjosa river for about a day on our journey and experienced the last untouched river of Europe as a very fragile place. This river is a source of life for many humans and animals, and it is serious danger." (Tobias Meyer)

See below all images of the trip

All images and the video are shot with the following equipment
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