Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Executive Manager of Estonian Nature Tours represented Estonia at a conference in Zambia

Estonian Nature Tours presented a report about Estonia and company’s contribution to the development of Estonia’s sustainable tourism in the 5th IIPT African Conference: Meeting the Challanges of Climate Change to Tourism in Africa and the Developing World. The international conference was taking place from May 15 to 20 in Lusaka - the capital of Zambia. The main organizer of the conference was IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) in cooperation with UNWTO (United Nation’s World Tourism Organization).

Different “Best Practice” models from all around the world were presented in the conference to find solutions of mitigation the influence of climate change to tourism and to reduce poverty via promoting sustainable tourism. Among the most colourful presenters were Mr. Zoltan Somogyi, the Director General of UNWTO, Mrs. Catherine Namugala, the Minister of Tourism and Environment of Zambia, Mr. Ben Sherman, the President of Native Tourism Alliance, Mr. Jürgen Thomas Steinmetz, the President of World Travel Industry News and many others.

Nearly 440 delegates from 36 countries were participating in the Conference (incl. Africa, Asia, Europe, North-America and the Caribbean). Reports were presented in more than 20 different workshops. Ms. Marika Mann, the Executive Manager of Estonian Nature Tours was giving a presentation in the workshop of Strategies for Marketing and Tourism Investments. The report was followed with great interest, while the final slide being the element of surprise, pointing out how important is the future cooperation between African and Northern European countries. In the nearest future the most content-rich reports will be published as a separate book with the financial support of UNWTO. The presentation about Estonia is among the chosen ones. See the presentation here...

The Zambians were offering exceptionally warm and friendly welcome. Mr. Rupiah B.Banda, President of Zambia, was the patron of the Conference. The Conference was also honoured by the presence of the first president of Zambia, Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, who began his address to the audience … with a song of freedom. See the video clip...

A separate outing to Livingstone was organized for th presenters to admire the power of the Victoria Falls. It was a great honour to participate in the Vioctoria Falls benediction ceremony, that was conducted by the elder of the local tribe Toka Leya. Some trees were also planted in corporate. See the video clip...

The conference was deciding, that the World needs more aggressive changeover to sustainable energy sources and more progressive waste management, also responsible management plans in vulnerable areas, as coasts, wetlands and mountain areas. For the first time it was decided, that inculcation of fair trading in tourism industry is indispensable (sustainable is not cheap!) and that media can help to educate the travellers. It was pointed out that collaboration between separate Ministeries (tourism, transportation, agriculture, environment etc.) is extremely important. Read the Declaration here...

The invitation by the President of IIPT, Mr. Louis D’Amore to present a report in the Conference is so far the greatest appreciation to the company’s work.

IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) was founded in 1986 (the UN International Year of Peace) with the vision to develop tourism as the industry, which supports and promotes the standpoint, that each and every traveller is a potential “ambassador of peace”. Nearly 5000 persons from more than 120 countries have shared their experience in regional and international conferences. Read more...

IIPT President Mr Louis D´Amore: We are pleased to advise you that our June newsletter reporting on the 5th IIPT African Conference is currently being distributed to more than 220,000 travel and tourism professionals throughout the world by our Media Partner eTurboNews.

You can access it directly at:

See the gallery...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Incredible Trip to Russia

Estonian Nature Tours visited Russia in the middle of June to find new
destinations in birdwatching tourism.

Day 1, Polistovsky Nature Reserve

After arriving at Pskov, and short rest at the hotel, we had several hours drive to the Polistovsky Nature Reserve. This nature reserve is the largest raised bog in Europe. Access to this area is very limited which has helped to preserve the area without human interference. The total area of the nature reserve with buffer zone is 635 sq. km. Beside bog habitat one can find here decidious and mixed forests, several lakes and winding rivers.

Our first aim was to explore forests which are the nesting sites of the rare Great Grey Owl. Although it was late breeding season and midday, the selection of bird song was superb. As we went out, a River Warbler was singing just next to the car and we heard many Marsh Warblers which seemed to be particularly numerous here. In the atmospheric Silver Birch forests we heard several Golden Orioles and a Greenish Warbler. The same spot has also been the nesting site for a pair of Great Grey Owl but unfortunately the eggs was eaten by Hooded Crows earlier this year.

White-winged Terns / Tarvo Valker

After exploring forests we had several hours boat trip on the Tsevla river and lake Tsevlo. River banks with reedbeds and dead trees formed a rich habitat. and the evening was nice – sunshine with almost no wind. On the river banks Reed Buntings, Sedge`s Warblers and Scarlet Rosefinches were calling everywhere. Already after few minutes we spotted a small group of White-winged Terns. Later in the another spot, as a Marsh Harrier flew over, a party of 250 (!) White-winged Terns took off. On the river we saw several Greenshanks – a bird which you can see in Estonia only on migration. Suddenly a feeding Black Stork took off from the river bank and landed soon again. After few minutes, two individuals were circling to find suitable feeding spot, but this wasn`t to be our only sighting as soon afterwards, one Black Stork was observed sitting on the dead Silver Birch just next to our boat and it was photographable for at least 10 minutes. We also saw small group of Ruffs, which are very numerous here in late May and early June, but rare in breeding season.

Black Storks / Tarvo Valker

After arriving to the harbour we finished first day birdwatching with a roding Woodcock flying over our heads. This first day produced 70 bird species – not bad for a half of day birdwatching in the middle of breeding season.

Day 2, Sebej National Park

Our next birding destination was Sebej National Park with forests and wetlands close to the Belarus border. Unfortunately the weather was not supporting us today – it was rainy. But we still kept going.

We started our birding with another boat trip on the lake. Everywhere there were Great Crested Grebes with young chicks, sometimes climbing on the mother`s back. Among them we spotted also a pair of Red-necked Grebes in lovely breeding plumage. In the middle of the lake on the small islets was colony of Great Cormorants. Sometimes White-tailed Eagles come to hunt near them, and so it was today – one adult was waiting on a high tree. Among flying Grey Herons we also spotted a rarer species for this region – two Great White Egrets. The same lake is also a breeding area for Little Bittern but the weather was not promising for finding find any today.

After the boat trip we went to the another, smaller lake. Several pairs of Slavonian Grebes were breeding here and after few minutes search they swam out from a reedbed – and we saw altogether five nice adults.

Day 3, Lake Ilmen

After a half day drive we arrived to the one of the most popular birding destination in Western Russia – lake Ilmen. Having accommondation at small town Staraja Russa, we started our afternoon birding programme exploring the southern side of the lake. Lake Ilmen has several notable breeding specialities – like Lanceolated Warbler and also very rare Yellow-breasted Bunting, which is nowadays at the verse of the extinction in the area.

First we took a road which ended just near the lake. On the way to lake was cultivated grasslands and overflooded meadows with lots of birds just next to the road. Here, the density of Yellow Wagtails was amazing – in one spot, one can easily count more than 20-30 individuals. Most of the birds were Blue-headed but also Grey-headed individuals were not uncommon. Just few hours before sunset Great Snipes start lekking just at front of us. Later, we found small leks from several places near the lake and got brilliant views of this endangered European wader. Other evening sounds included Thrush Nightingales, Scarlet Rosefinches, a few Corncrakes and Spotted Crake and lots of River Warblers. Suddenly, something big and brown was slowly crossing the road. It turned to be a very big male European Beaver!

Great Snipe / Tarvo Valker

Day 4, Lake Ilmen

Another birding day at Lake Ilmen. We took another small road to explore the southern side of the lake. It had more dry cultivated grasslands which were used for hay cutting. Corncrakes were calling here from every field and Whinchats perching on the tall grass. As the weather was sunny, some raptors were also hunting nearby. We saw several pairs of Kesterls, several Marsh Harriers and a male Montagu`s Harrier. Suddenly, the first Bluethroat for the trip was singing on a telephone wire. Having nice views through binoculars, it was clear that it was the Red-Spotted subspecies.

As the road ended near the lake one Barred Warbler was singing in the willow bushes. This species prefers juniperus habitats in Estonia so it was interesting to see this bird in a different breeding habitat.

Later we took a 2 hours drive to the northern side of the lake to explore more agricultural landscape near town Novgorod. Before making our first stop a White-backed Woodpecker flew over just at the front of the car. We stopped quickly and spotted another adult sitting on the telegraph post. As we look more carefully, we also noticed a nesting hole in the pole!

The next birding spot was very productive. The field was full of Curlews – probably females already on their autumn migration. Also a group of around 30 Common Cranes were feeding in the same field and several Barnacle and White-fronted Goose standing further away.

Next day was mostly spent for travelling back home. The last bird – a singing Black Redstart was found on the boarder control area. We ended our trip with 117 bird species. Of course much time was spent driving and attending meetings, so more intensive birdwatching would have produced far more species.

Full bird list of trip to Russia: 18.06-22.06

Photos from the trip

Estonian Nature Tours would like to thank all very good people who helped us in Russia - Vladimir Borisov, Oksana Shemyakina, Mikhail Yablokov, Sergei Volkov, Sergei Fetisov.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Estonian Nature Tours esindas Eestit rahvusvahelisel konverentsil Aafrikas

Estonian Nature Tours tegi ettekande Eestist ja firma panusest Eesti säästva turismi arengusse Aafrika kliimamuutuste ja turismi konverentsil (5th IIPT African Conference: Meeting the Challanges of Climate Change to Tourism in Africa and the Developing World). Marika Manni ettekannet kuulati huviga. Ettekanne tõi selgesti välja, kui oluline on tulevikus koostöö Aafrika ning Põhja-Euroopa riikide vahel. Ühinenud Rahvaste Maailma Turismiorganisatsiooni (UNWTO) toel ilmub lähitulevikus raamat konverentsi sisukamatest ettekannetest. Väljavalituks on osutunud ka ettekanne Eestist. Rahvusvaheline konverents toimus 15.-20.mail Zambia pealinnas Lusakas. Konverentsi peakorraldajaks oli IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) koostöös UNWTO-ga (Ühinenud Rahvaste Maailma Turismiorganisatsioon). Vaata ettekannet siit...

Konverentsil presenteeriti erinevaid „Best Practice“ mudeleid üle kogu maailma, leidmaks lahendusi, kuidas leevendada kliimamuutuste mõju turismile ning vähendada vaesust säästva turismi arendamise kaudu. Värvikamaiks esinejaiks olid UNWTO peadirektor Zoltan Somogyi, Zambia Turismi- ja Keskkonnaminister Catherine Namugala, Native Tourism Alliance (Põlisrahvaste Turismiühendus) president Ben Sherman, World Travel Industry News president Jürgen Thomas Steinmetz jpt.

Konverentsil osales ligemale 440 delegaati 36-st riigist (Aafrikast, Aasiast, Euroopast, Põhja-Ameerikast ja Kariibidelt). Ettekandeid kuulati enam kui 20-s erinevas töötoas.

Zambialaste vastuvõtt oli äärmiselt soe ja sõbralik. Konverentsi patrooniks oli Zambia President Mr. Rupiah B.Banda. Konverentsi austas oma kohaloluga ka Zambia esimene President Mr. Kenneth Kaunda, kes alustas oma pöördumist rahva poole ... lauluga vabadusest. Vaata videot

Esinejatele korraldati eraldi väljasõit Livingstone´i imetlema Victoria joa võimsust. Suur au oli osaleda Victoria joa õnnistamistseremoonial, mille viis läbi kohaliku hõimu vanem Toka Leya. Ühiselt istutati ka puid. Vaata videot

Konverentsil leiti, et maailm vajab senisest agressiivsemat üleminekut taastuvatele energiaallikatele ning progressiivsemat jäätmekäitlust, samuti vastutustundlikke arengukavasid haavatavatel aladel nagu rannikud, märgalad ning mägipiirkonnad. Esmakordselt leiti, et hädavajalik on õiglase kaubanduse juurutamine ka turismitööstuses (säästev ei ole odav!) ning et reisija harimisele saab suuresti kaasa aidata meedia. Väga oluliseks peeti koostööd erinevate ministeeriumide vahel (turism, transport, põllumajandus, keskkond jpt.valdkonnad). Loe konverentsi deklaratsiooni siin

IIPT presidendi Louis D´Amore kutse esinema konverentsile Aafrikasse on olnud seni suurim tunnustus firma tööle.

IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) asutati 1986.a. (ÜRO rahvusvahelisel rahu aastal) visiooniga arendada turismist majandusharu, mis toetab ja edendab seisukohta, et iga reisija on potentsiaalne „rahu suursaadik“. Ligemale 5000 persooni enam kui 120-st erinevast riigist on 20 aasta jooksul jaganud oma kogemusi regionaalsetel ja ülemaailmsetel konverentsidel. Loe lähemalt
Vaata ka pildigaleriid

Friday, June 3, 2011

The MATSALU TICKET is a new environmentally friendly brand

Paadisõit Kasari jõel / Boat trip on Kasari river

On 28th May Estonian Nature Tours organized an introductory tour in Matsalu National Park to launch its new environmentally friendly nature-tourism project called MATSALU TICKET. People were invited from hotels, travel agencies, media publications and embassies and feedback has been very positive:

A vacation that clears your head (Bioneer / Agnes Männiste

Gallery from Matsalu: a day by bus and boat in this beautiful national park (Postimees online Tarbija24 / Eger Ninn) (Kaido Einama) MATSALU TICKET video

Photos by Jekaterina Krausi in Go Maailm blog

Article by ambassador of Moldova T.E. Hr. Victor Guzun

Interest in the MATSALU TICKET is growing day by day and there are already bookings for June and July.

You can purchase MATSALU TICKET directly from Estonian Nature Tours, but also from Estravel, Kaleva Travel, Estonian Holidays, Reisiekspert, Go Travel and Wris travel agencies and from Piletilevi. You can get information from Maaturism, Terra Maritima,,, Läänemaa Turism, and Estonian Air websites. MATSALU TICKET flyers can be found at tourist information centres and accommodation facilities.

MATSALU TICKET is teaches about wildlife and coordinates visits to the national park helping to avoid excess disturbance of both animal and plant species, as well as the local population. Bus tours and canoe trips are lead by local Estonian and English speaking guides.

Giid Jaan Veltman / Guide Jaan Veltman

MATSALU TICKET is benefiting several companies including about 20 different service suppliers – tour guides, transportation companies, boatmen, tourist farms, caterers, museums, nature centres, and many local craftsmen.

MATSALU TICKET is meant for anyone who wants to travel sustainably and knows how to respect nature as well as local people.
Nature tours organiser Marika Mann asks hikers to think about this – “You can't get everything for free and it is not always sensible to travel around Estonia and look for the cheapest ways to camp. It is nice to contribute to and support the local communities. It shows appreciation. Cheap is not always best for those whose home you visit. With no income people cannot live here and then everyone is forced to move to the city, which would be a tragedy," she says.

Lõuna Männiku talus / Lunch at Männiku farm

Mann says that there is a lot of talk about developing sustainable tourism entrepreneurs. But she believes that you have to teach customers as well how to use sustainable tourism." If we want to have everything for free, we are not sustainable anymore. There has to be some input for local people - if you are getting something for free, you can't appreciate that." Therefore she encourages everyone to use local services... A.Männiste / Bioneer 31.05.2011

Kassikäpp / Catsfoot

MATSALU TICKET´ist on kujunemas uus keskkonnasõbralik bränd

28.mail toimus Matsalu rahvuspargis keskkonnasõbraliku loodusturismi projekti MATSALU TICKET avaüritus. Tutvumisreisil osalesid huvilised hotellidest, reisibüroodest, meediaväljaannetest ning välissaatkondadest. Tagasiside ja päeva kajastamine on olnud väga positiivne:

Puhkus, mis tuulutab pead (Bioneer / Agnes Männiste)

Galerii Matsalust: päev paadi ja bussiga looduskaunis rahvuspargis (Postimees online Tarbija24 / Eger Ninn) (Kaido Einama) MATSALU TICKET´i video

Go Maailma blogis (Jekaterina Krausi) postitatud fotod

Moldova suursaadiku Victor Guzuni artikkel

Huvi MATSALU TICKET´i vastu päev-päevalt kasvab. Eelregistreerimisi on tehtud nii juuni- kui ka juulikuusse.

MATSALU TICKET´it saab osta pöördudes otse Estonian Nature Tours´i poole, aga ka Estravel, Kaleva Travel, Estonian Holidays, Reisiekspert, Go Travel ja Wris reisibüroodest ning Piletilevist. Infot edastavad Maaturismi, Terra Maritima,,, Läänemaa Turismi, ja Estonian Airi kodulehed. MATSALU TICKET´i flaiereid leiab turismiinfopunktidest ja majutusasutustest.

Paadisõit Kasari jõel / Boat trip on Kasari river

Loodusharidusliku MATSALU TICKET´i eesmärk on koordineerida rahvuspargi külastamist, hoides ära nii looma- kui taimeliikide, aga ka kohaliku elanikkonna liigse häirimise. Bussiekskursioone ja kanuuretki juhendavad kohalikud eesti-inglise keelt kõnelevad spetsialistid.

Metsülane / Snowdrop Anemone

MATSALU TICKET ei ole pelgalt ühe firma võimalus. Koostöövõrgustik koosneb ligemale 20-st erinevast teenusepakkujast – giidid,
transpordifirmad, paadimehed, turismitalud, toitlustajad, muuseumid, looduskeskused, käsitöötegijad jpt.

MATSALU TICKET on suunatud kõigile neile, kes soovivad reisida säästvalt ja oskavad lugu pidada nii loodusest kui kohalikest elanikest.

...Loodusturismi korraldajana kutsub Marika Mann matkajaid üles mõtlema sellele, et alati ei tasu tahta kõike tasuta saada ega ole mõistlik mööda Eestimaad rändamiseks otsida kõige odavamaid võimalusi. „On ju kena kulutada ja toetada kogukonda, kes kohapeal elab. See näitab lugupidamist. Odavaim ei ole alati parim neile, kelle kodu sa külastad. Siis ei oleks siin varsti enam midagi, kui kõik ära linna koliksid, sest siin pole millestki elada,“ räägib ta matsalulaste näitel.

Kuidas tehti meile lõunat Männiku talus / How our luch was made at Männiku farm

Manni sõnul räägitakse palju säästva turismi ettevõtjatest, kuidas neil tuleks end arendada. Kuid tema leiab, et õpetada tuleb ka kliente, et nad hakkaksid tarbima säästvat turismi. „Kõike tasuta tahtes me ei olegi säästvad. Kui sulle midagi tasuta antakse, siis sa ei oskagi seda hinnata,“ leiab matkakorraldaja. Seepärast soovitab ta kasutada kohapealseid teenuseid... A.Männiste / Bioneer 31.05.2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Week in Estonian Wildlife

Our guests experienced something extraordinary during the mammal watching tour last week – in 8 days they saw 5 Brown Bears in different places all over Estonia!

Estonian Nature Tours' first mammal watching tours have been very successful. During the 8-days holiday people saw Flying Squirrels, Brown Bears, Lynxes, Elks, Wild Boars, European Beavers, Racoon Dogs and many interesting bird species for example Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Black Grouse, Black Stork, Great Snipe and various species of woodpeckers.

Roy Atkins visited Estonia last week and his first comments during the trip:

25th May. So far so good!

"We have had some great sightings and missed a few things - but basically it is great. We saw not just one but two Flying Squirrels with Uudo -
absolutley superb little things even if you don't get long to look at them!
I was absolutely thrilled. We saw both of them come out of the hole, climb
up the tree and then fly off - brilliant!

Flying Squirrel / Rainar Kurbel

Brown Bears were also good with two animals coming in to the bait at the
hide at around 22:50. They stayed for around 20 minutes before heading off
agin into the forest. I think the hide is superb - very comfortable indeed.
But more astonishing we saw two more on our night drive last night! One was
a beautiful creamy coloured one. We watched them for several minutes and
everyone was so excited.

The birds have been very good with a great selection including White-backed, Grey-headed and Three-toed Woodpeckers, Hazel Hen, lots of Black Grouse, River Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Nutcracker, Ural and Pygmy Owls, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Icterine Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and stunning close up views of Montagu's and Hen Harriers

We have seen tracks of Elk, Wild Boar, Lynx, and Raccoon Dog but sadly all
these animals have stayed hidden."

31th May. Final comments

"I think the tour went really well and we saw loads. I still can't believe
we saw not just one but two Flying Squirrels!! This meant everyone managed
to see one fly as well (some people lost concentration and missed the first

I am also thrilled with our bear sightings. Not just seeing two at the hide
but then two more the next day was wonderful - but then adding a final one
at the wild boar feeding site was simply crazy!!! Where did that one come
from?! Uku was clearly astonished - I have never seen him so excited. He
just couldn't believe we had just seen a bear so close to Tartu and kept
saying that you don't get them there!!! Even the guy who runs the feeding
station was astonished - he has never seen a bear there. How lucky were we
to see that... and what a wonderful finale. The Wild Boars were very good
here by the way and well worth including. We saw them from the van as they
were already there when we arrived. I am not sure how a whole group would
fit in the hide and tower - but you could always do it from the vans if
necessary - we got great views of them.

Brown Bears / Uku Paal

I still can't believe we never saw an Elk. That must be one of the easier species of mammals in Estonia and it is bizarre that we didn't see one. Did you know Uku saw four while we were there - three one morning when we went to retrieve his map after leaving it in Triin's bus by mistake and then he had one swimming in the flood when we were out beaver watching (he could not come with us as there was not enough space on the boat). He phoned us on the boat to try and guide us to it but we were watching the beaver at the time and by the time we were finished it had gone. So I think we were just unlucky - will be interested to see whether the group out there now see any.

We saw lots of foxes, got good views of beaver, glimpsed a single Raccoon Dog and saw lots of foxes. Also saw a single mountain hare as well as a couple of Brown Hares.

Birds were excellent to largely due to Uku's excellent birding skills and
local knowledge. We saw 2 Ural Owls, Pygmy Owl, Three-toed, White-backed
and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Marsh Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper,
Red-necked Phalarope, River Warbler, Hazel Grouse, Thrush Nightingale,
Common Rosefinch, Icterine Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Citrine Wagtail,
Black Stork, lots of White-winged Black Terns and lots more plus we even
managed to see the lekking Great Snipe! At first we thought we would not
see these as Uku said the water levels were too high but we went and checked and they had dropped and we saw several birds displaying - brilliant!"

All in all I think it was an excellent trip and am absolutely thrilled by what we saw - my first ever Flying Squirrels, Brown Bears (in Europe), Raccoon Dogs and European Beavers and my best views of many of the birds including Lesser Spotted Eagle, Thrush Nightingale, Icterine Warbler, White-winged Black Tern, Marsh Sandpiper and others. Many thanks for doing such a good job of putting it together and organising everything."

R.Atkins / May 2011 Speyside Wildlife /