Best of British Getaways 2022

5 | Best of British Getaways Awards 2022 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 guests 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, familyfriendly 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 Jul22061 Best New Ecotourism Destination 2022 British 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. Company: Watatunga Wildlife Reserve Contact: Anna Hamilton Email: Website: Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is a 170-acre nature reserve in West Norfolk, specialising in the conservation of deer, antelope, and rare birds, as well as providing education. It organises guided self-drive buggy tours for its guests which enable them to see the animals roaming freely whilst learning about them and the threats they face in their homelands. The reserve also collaborates with partners around the globe on breeding programmes to aid future survival of endangered and rare species. In light of Watatunga’s extraordinary awards success, we explore what makes this nature reserve so special.