AS SEEN IN CONDE NAST TRAVELER SPAIN. BY MARTA SADER

You can also go on safari in Europe

(and it is a magical experience)

 

With the European Safari Company you'll be able to see bears, wolves or bison at large, while helping to rewild spaces taken by humans.

"Have you ever cooked a meal around a bonfire and slept in nature? Have you had a picnic in the remote Tarcu Mountains? Tracked bison on foot?" they ask from European Safari Company. The answer is probably no. It is not very common to join a safari in Europe, but it is possible. And the experience promises to be magical.

You could, for example, lie on the grass and contemplate the skies full of vultures and birds of prey, walk among free wandering herds, marvel at ancient cave engravings and revel in the wine and port of the Portuguese nature reserve of Faia Brava. Or follow in the footsteps of the wolves in the Apennines and rest trying out local Italian delights.

You don't need much time:  just a couple of days, although the tour can be extended as long as you want. You could, for example, take the  eight-day bike route through the nature of Slovenia and Croatia, watching bears, traversing unspoiled landscapes and sampling the best craft beer in the area.

 

"We give our customers access to the wildest nature, local cultures, spectacular landscapes and unique wildlife experiences. And, moreover, we differentiate ourselves from other companies because of our  support to the creation of wilderness areas and nature-based economies”, they explain from the company.

 

What sets them apart from others is, in fact, their mission:

"The company was born in 2016 from the need to support entrepreneurs in the nature-based tourism sector in areas of Europe that are wild again."

Thus, the agency is a tool of  Rewilding Europe, an NGO founded in 2011 whose mission is to "make Europe a wilder place, with more space for nature, local wildlife and natural processes.

 "As we reintroduce a variety of life to the continent, we will continue to explore new ways for people to enjoy and earn a decent living from nature".

Today, they already work successfully in eight areas of Europe: the Central Apennines in Italy; the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria; the Oder Delta in Germany and Poland; Swedish Lapland in Sweden; the Coa Valley in Portugal; the Danube Delta in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova; the Southern Carpathians in Romania and the Velebit Mountains in Croatia.

They do this by reintroducing species necessary to balance the ecosystem, like  in Portugal, where they have facilitated the inclusion of wild horses and taurus - a type of cattle - to prevent excessive grass flooding and consequent fires. Or by reducing bear mortality in the Apennines, while fostering the economy based on natural experiences such as bird watching in local villages. "We hope that our actions will inspire hundreds of new rewilding initiatives across the continent," they say from the organization.

European Safari Company already offers stays in Italy, Portugal, Romania, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Germany and Scotland, and they still have more destinations to come. Always sustainable, the accommodations range from simple tents to cabins to mountain shelters and retreats. And the excursions can be on foot, or by canoe, horse, 4x4, husky sledding...

There is a set offer, but you can also create a completely tailored experience, with the destination, activities and duration you choose. "Right now, the most popular safaris are those where nature lovers have the opportunity to see  wolves, bears or bison at large, which can be done in Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Romania, ideally, between spring and autumn".

In winter, for their part, there are many who opt for an experience in Swedish Lapland, which includes a walk on an icy lake, ice fishing, visit to the Samis, snowshoeing,  husky sledding, meals around a bonfire... and, of course, a good ration of saunas. In all cases, your vacation will help develop a local economy based on nature, thus reducing the conflict between humans and wildlife.

The company also welcomes solo travelers and entire families, including children. "The little ones love animals and being in the wild, and what's more exciting than tracking wolves with a local guide, figuring out where the bear dens are and learning about poop of different species?" they conclude from the company.


Translation from an article featured in Conde Nast Traveler Spain. By Marta Sader, October 2020.

Read the original article (in Spanish) here.