One For The Team!
Watatunga wins Best New Ecotourism Destination 2022 !
We were delighted this week to find out that SME News’ Best of British Getaways named us Best Ecotourism Destination for 2022. This recognition is testament to the skill, passion and hard work of our amazing team, and gives us confidence moving forward as we look to add even more experiences and events to what we do on the reserve.
Here is what the Awards Team had to say….
“Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is a family-run business welcoming wildlife enthusiasts to its stunning woodland, grasslands and lakes. The team have created a diverse and ideal habitat for animals to thrive, including over 20 types of ungulate and rare bird species. With the space and the freedom to roam, Watatunga is an environment that lets animals live as natural lives as possible.
Access to the reserve is by guided tour only and must be pre-booked online, with guests being allowed to drive themselves in buggies while led by a tour guide who describes what they see. This enables quests to understand and interact with some truly magnificent species in a way that would otherwise be impossible.
The range of species across the reserve is unique with all the animals roaming freely, it feels like an African safari. You never know what you might see, and the animals behave in a very natural way, as they would in the wild. The reserve is fully accessible too, with a dedicated wheelchair trailer available for those who require it.
The Watatunga team is passionate about sharing the conservation work they do with a wide audience. Not only are guided tours available, but also self-catering accommodation in the form of two new holiday homes, which appeal to families looking for an exciting and unique experience to enjoy together.
Anna Hamilton, responsible for accommodation and education at Watatunga, tells us, “We are proud to be a destination where children, parents and grandparents can access, learn and enjoy an experience on equal footing. We appeal to conservationists, bird-watchers, animal lovers and photographers, and our focus on accessibility has made us a popular destination for wheelchair users.”
Particularly during lockdowns, people realised more than ever that the British holiday can be packed full of wonder and amazing attractions. With a wonderful array of restaurants, family- friendly activities, landmarks, and places to visit, a UK staycation is ideal, and it of course helps reduce the carbon footprint of taking flights which are bad for the environment – something the team is very passionate about at Watatunga. Anna says, “We have been thrilled with the responses from guests who have enjoyed a pretty safari holiday and wouldn’t rush to go abroad again.”
By providing the location and the experience, Watatunga Wildlife Reserve can inspire the conservationists and passionate naturalists of tomorrow. School groups are welcomed as well as standard guests, providing them with a day out that is absolutely unique in the U.K., but also educational and of the highest importance to the natural world – and all in a gorgeous corner of west Norfolk.
Ultimately, the Watatunga team work incredibly hard for the animals, the customers, and each other. They also receive ongoing training to help them learn more about the animals that live at the reserve and their status around the world, as well as to engage with and inspire guests. Alongside this, each week, the team have the opportunity to read through any reviews or feedback received from guests, with Anna commenting, “It is amazing to read the compliments the team pay to each other whenever they get named.
Going forward, the Watatunga team is constantly working with partners in the U.K. and around the world to bring new wildlife to the site. They are always looking to evolve the reserve and ensure that guests have the best experience possible when visiting. Having recently introduced a picnic area as well as a shop and café in the reception area, they are now launching a forest school this autumn. Additionally, there are hopes to add a stretch tent to the site in order to hold events and host many more educational visits and tours specifically catered for photographers.