2020 was an intense year for everyone. The world suddenly stood still for nearly everyone, while healthcare workers rushed to fight a global pandemic.
We're used to sending people to their dream holidays and travelling ourselves to find new exciting destinations, but this was the year we stayed at home and redesigned our offerings, evolved and improved ourselves as a company and as an agent in the conservation and rewilding of Europe.
Keep reading to find out how we spent the COVID-19 pandemic.
We started the year 2020 by saying goodby to Chez, Vania and Pooja, our interns that stayed with us for the last half of 2019. Thank you for helping us making Europe a wilder place.
In January we also started testing accommodation for our safaris in the Netherlands. Our first stop was a visit to Cabiner in Drenthe. Their cabins are in secluded nature places in the Netherlands and offer a cozy getaway from the bustling Dutch cities. We also celebrated a contest to gift a Wolf Tracking trip in Italy to two lucky followers from Germany. Read their story here.
February started with a welcome to our new interns Nicole and Irene who took over communications and website design.
We visited the RiverPark MaasVallei between Belgium and The Netherlands to discover its beauty and potential to be included in our new Dutch experiences. Read everything about our getaway in our blog.
March started with great news about National Geographic publishing an article about bear conservation in Italy that explored the area with our partners from Wildlife Adventures and recommended our wildlife watching safaris in Italy.
Just before COVID hit Europe, we traveled to the Oder Delta in Poland to build new partnerships and test our two new birdwatching safaris. You can read about our last adventure before Europe went on lockdown here. We added our new partners to our website as well as new guides in Swedish Lapland.
Then suddenly, everything changed. Travel plans had to be cancelled and everybody started working from home. We would meet via Zoom or Skype to have coffee breaks. Our guests started cancelling or rescheduling their safaris.
In April all our plans were officially cancelled and we had no more guests planning to travel in the next few month.
With so much time on our hands, we took a long hard look at our website and with the input of many talented individuals, decided to use these unprecedented times to work on redesigning our offerings and the presentation of it on our website.
Our communication plan changed to show everybody at home the truly important side of our business, the rewilding actions and the incredibly committed partners that help us make Europe a wilder place. Read all our blogs about our partners actions all over Europe.
During the month of May, our Operations Manager Aukje, gave an interview for The Telegraph to talk about the future of travel after COVID-19.
During the redesign of our website, we also worked on a Frequently asked questions page, and we introduced the team behind The European Safari Company in our About Us page.
We also added new partners in Slovenia that will take you on an amazing bike packing adventures across Slovenia and Croatia in search of bears.
In June we finally reached 1000 followers on Instagram. Thanks to all our safari lovers!
We also said goodbye to our intern Nicole after 6 great months in which she helped creating amazing inspiring content for our social media.
At the end of June, we added the last finishing touches to our renovated website and safaris. In total we developed and redesigned around 40 amazing sustainable experiences.
In July we welcomed Irene as new Operations and Reservations assistant.
We finally presented our new redesigned safari experiences and started taking bookings again for the summer months.
We launched our new area and new experiences in The Netherlands together with our partner 360 Explore. Two exciting micro adventures in the Veluwe and the Wadden Sea that inaugurated our new destination.
In July we also started the preparations for Rewilding Tourism Training, a program dedicated to train tourism professionals who work in rewilding areas in Europe, that would start in October 2020.
In August we could restart our travels again and we started preparing safaris for our customers who started travelling again.
We visited Slovenia to scout for new accommodations and guides. Read our blog to see the beautiful areas and surprising accommodations that we visited.
Right now, we are putting together these wonderful accommodations and guides into safaris that will be available to book in 2021. Keep tuned to our newsletter, Instagram and Facebook and be the first to find out as soon as they are available.
September came full of travels both for us and our safari lovers. We tried our micro adventure in the Dutch Veluwe and wrote a blog about the amazing 24-hour experience with 360 Explore.
As a part of our preparation for the Rewilding Tourism Training program we visited the Central Apennines in Italy and prepared for Stage 2 of the program consisting of field training for guides and small scale entrepeneurs in the nature tourism sector.
We also used the trip to Central Apennines to broaden our partner network and visit new accommodations and guides. Read everything about it here.
Our travels continued with a visit to the Greater Coa Valley in Portugal to create new partnerships and develop new experiences. We tasted port, saw amazing wildlife and experienced the warm welcome of our partners.
In October the second wave of COVID-19 reached The Netherlands and working from home became a reality again. The visit and boatman training in the Danube Delta had to be rescheduled again to 2021.
Luckily, we kept ourselves incredibly busy with the launch of the Rewilding Tourism Training programme at the end of October. In this first series we gave five webinars to forty partners and professionals working in tourism in rewilding areas.
During the month of November we focused on the webinar series in which we talked about the role of natural grazing, how rewilding benefits people and economies, and how to develop a tourism busines while helping the rewilding movement.
In November we also discussed new partnerships with travel organizations in Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
This will help us grow while spreading the message of our mission: You can make Europe Wilder by going on a holiday!
In December we wrapped up the first webinar series of Rewilding Training for Tourism. It was an amazing opportunity for professionals in nature based tourism to come together and share ideas. We started preparing for a new edition of the webinars that will start in January 2021 with a group of fifty professionals to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the field of rewilding tourism.
We also began preparing for Stage 2 of the Rewilding Training Tourism programme which will provide field training to twelve professionals during two weeks in Spring 2021.
At the end of this year, we still keep ourselves positive and keep working on new experiences in Portugal, Slovenia, Italy and The Netherlands that will see the light early in 2021. These experiences feature new accommodations, guides and professionals in the field of nature-abased tourism with whom we are very excited to begin our professional relationship. You can meet our partners and guides here.
In short, 2020 was a year full of challenges, cancelled plans and time to think and reevaluate how to move forward. We took all the lemons life gave us and turned them into lemonade by redesigning our website and safaris and providing training to our partners to ensure high quality & responsible safaris.
We look forward to better times in 2021, with amazing field trainings for tourism professionals, new experiences in the Danube Delta, and to help you enjoy many safaris to discover Europe's wildlife and nature.