This May, a small team from the Croatian adventure travel company Adria Velebitica, a guest couple and Dutch bushcraft specialists from Extra Survival, joined Rewilding Europe for a Rewilding Tented Camp training programme in Velebit, Croatia.
Using specialist equipment honed over years in the South African bush, participants in Velebit worked through several classes including setup of the camp, operational planning and management, maintenance and care of equipment, as well as the day to day running of the wildlife tented camp.
Rewilding Europe Wildlife Tourism Manager, Simon Collier, lead the programme, following a similar format to a training held in our Southern Carpathians rewilding area in Romania in November last year. Bison rangers and WWF Romania participated in the training. Excitingly, the tented camp in Romania will be operational for the upcoming bison release in mid-June 2015.
The training day started off with a general discussion on how the camp should be used and a presentation of its purposes and benefits, before a hands-on assembly of the tents and equipment. Following the low impact and immersive African model, this includes comfortable padded stretcher beds, pillows, hand basins, hanging bucket showers and solar lantern jars. There was also plenty of time to discuss the potential for such camps across Croatia and solidify relations between partners in this operation. The Rewilding Velebit team members were also involved in the training, getting full hands on experience.
The tented camp offers the flexibility to be utilised in various locations, readily moved when necessary, with minimal impact on the landscape. We envisage it being used by both study groups and nature enthusiasts who are after a little bit of extra comfort. With nature based tourism as a key factor in the future of our rewilding areas. Rewilding Europe is pioneering the use of tented camps in Europe to offer visitors new wildlife experiences and help develop responsible tourism in a way that really benefits the local economy. Furthermore, this exercise is the first of the future efforts that Rewilding Velebit is investing into developing nature based tourism, prolonging the tourist season in Croatia. By doing so, this is in support of the Croatian national tourism strategy. This will provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs and potential new jobs for community members. Rewilding Europe will transfer its knowledge and experience in this field to the local entrepreneurs.
The Rewilding Tented Camp in Velebit will soon be put through a test phase, and host the first guests of the Rewilding Velebit team, WWF Netherlands and Adessium Foundation. Participants of this initial training will be responsible for full set up of the camp and hosting the guests during their stay.
Other tests will be done in Southern Carpathians and Western Iberia and we will report soon on the first experiences of our tented camps. So keep your eyes open for the follow up blog about the tented camp experiences in the weeks to come.