You don’t need to go to Africa, or rob a bank, to go on a mini – safari. Grab a budget flight to Porto in northern Portugal and you can experience true wilderness on the edge of Europe, all from the luxury of your tented camp.
A new vulture hide has just opened at Faia Brava nature reserve giving bird watchers and photographers a close up view of one of nature’s most intriguing spectacles. If you get up around sunrise you may be lucky enough to see these scavengers at work. The hide is situated at a feeding station designed to supplement the food source for the endangered Egyptian vulture.
“This is something people have only seen on TV from Africa on the BBC, but here they can be up close,” says wildlife photographer and guide Fernando Romão of Wildlife Portugal. “There can be up to eighty vultures and kites fighting over the food, making an incredible racket. It’s quite awesome to watch, and of course, you get great photos.”
Staying overnight under the stars is the best way to experience the reserve. The tents at Star Camp are modelled on the best African safari camps, and have comfy beds, solar-powered showers, breakfast picnics and telescopes for stargazing.
What’s happening at Faia Brava is a new approach to conservation, called rewilding. This remote reserve is also reintroducing wild cattle and horses and tourism has a critical role to play.
“As a guest visiting the vulture hide, taking a trek or staying at Star Camp, you’re supporting the expansion of the reserve and the research that goes with it”, says Simon Collier of Rewilding Europe. “Rewilding and tourism complement each other, and there are many exciting opportunities to get up close to wildlife across Europe.”
Rewilding holidays aren’t just for naturalists. Living in our commuter cities, spending too much time indoors, we all need to get back in touch with our wilder selves.