Although not widely discovered yet, Estonia is the ideal country for observing one of the most spectacular natural shows – massive bird migration. This smallest and northernmost Baltic country lies on the crossroads of the Eastern Atlantic migratory flyway: Estonia is locked between the Finnish Gulf, the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and Lake Peipsi near the Russian border. Geographically the Estonian waters and coastline are stepping-stones along the flyway between breeding and wintering areas for millions of Arctic waterbirds, making birdwatching in Estonia fabulous at this time of year.
Top Five Birds
- Common Crane
- White-backed Woodpecker
- White-tailed Eagle
- Ural Owl
At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Marika Mann from Estonia Nature tours said to us…
What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?
The Young Conservationist Award (yearly since 2005); Flying Squirrel surveys (yearly since 2010). In December 2017, Estonian Nature Tours invited the Belgium environmental journalist, Arthur Neslen, to Estonia, to write about the problem with intensive forest cutting here. We organized him different meetings up to high level politicians and the Environmental Ministry. Also, in April 2018, Forest Movement Europe (FME) and Environmental Paper Network (EPN) met for a conference on the west coast of Estonia in participation of representatives from 29 different organisations came from 24 countries all over the world. The meeting was called together by help of a civic movement Estonian Forest Aid (Eesti Metsa Abiks), environmental non-profit organisation Estonian Fund for Nature (Eestimaa Looduse Fond) and nature tour company Estonian Nature Tours.
How does the tour support local people?
More than 10 local small businesses can offer their services during the trip. Our philosophy: ENT considers cooperation with the local community an essential part of organising nature trips. Lunch at a gourmet restaurant cannot compare with the direct experience that guests receive having conversations with locals at a farm picnic or buying handicrafts and farm products. This creates a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience and a feeling that we and our guests have been able to give something back by making contact with locals, thereby valuing them and leaving warm feelings in the hearts of all the guests… and we find that gratitude for this towards the tour organiser is experienced over and over again. “
What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?
We provide ethical bird tourism. We explain to our customers why we are not in favor of distributing GPS coordinates and not bringing groups closer to nests. Our bird guides are Estonian top field ornithologists, they are able to share information on the population of birds, as well as breeding and migration. During a tour Estonia in Autumn our customers can visit Sõrve and Kabli Bird Stations, get aquainted of the results of bird ringing etc.
Through our wider operations, we offer the unique environmental education trips in Europe – Flying Squirrel Study trips – always led by zoologist-ecologist who has researched them more than 25 years in Estonia.an important opinion, thought about sustainable tourism.
There is a lot of talk about developing sustainable tourism entrepreneurs. But we have to teach customers as well how to use sustainable tourism. If we want to have everything for free, we are not sustainable anymore. 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. Therefore I encourage everyone to use local services.
“The most memorable experience was sitting in the forest watching bears foraging. This operator stood out because of their personal service and expert local knowledge. To anyone considering this tour I’d say, do it!!” J Rogers – Mammals and Birds in Spring May 2018.
• Experience of the tour = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
• The education the tour = 5/5