Are you suffering from the “birding travel blues”?
If you’re like me, you’re at home today daydreaming about distant lands and glorious life birds! Although our ability to travel this year has been hampered by COVID-19, birding and wildlife tours are gaining traction in the year ahead with birders who are eager to “get back out there.” While we encourage everyone to follow safe COVID-19 practices, safe travel is possible for the right people, in the right way, with the right plan. You may be one of those folks who will be ready to resume travel in 2021. With you in mind, we are pleased to introduce you to Blue Sky Wildlife and all they have to offer! Keep reading and learn more about how Blue Sky Wildlife can help you plan your next “bucket-list” birding trip whenever you’re ready to “get back out there.”
I met Chris Larsen, co-founder and creative genius behind Blue Sky Wildlife, at the British Birdfair nearly a decade ago. I’ll never forget my first encounter with Chris. He was bustling around, overseeing the physical design and construction of about 60 exhibitor stands for those Tourism Boards and tour operators exhibiting during the huge Birdfair setup. Bill Thompson, III, and Tim Appleton introduced me to Chris, and I was immediately impressed with his confidence, obvious talent, kindness, and great sense of humor. Even during our brief introduction, I could sense that Chris was someone I wanted to connect with professionally. Not only did he know every single person at the world’s biggest birding event but he also seemed to have earned their trust and respect. After having worked with Chris for many years on various continents and projects, I am happy to call him my friend and my esteemed colleague. Today, Chris is the Managing Director for Blue Sky Wildlife Limited.
I’d like to introduce you, my American birding friends, to my friend Chris, and to this unique organization that benefits birds, birding, wildlife, ecotourism, and conservation enthusiasts around the world.
What Is Blue Sky Wildlife?
Based in the UK but serving the entire world, Blue Sky Wildlife is an online global marketplace of wildlife tour operators and companies from every corner of the planet. This unique collection of tour operators ranges from small, independent enterprises who offer tours in one single country to international companies that offer wildlife tours with a variety of global destinations.
How did Blue Sky Wildlife get started?
In late 2013, Chris Larsen developed the initial concept of Blue Sky Wildlife in collaboration with Tim Appleton (Birdfair’s co-founder) and Richard Goodchild. After much research and planning, they successfully launched this innovative, peer-to-peer website for the wildlife industry in early 2016. Since then, Blue Sky Wildlife has continued to grow, adding more tour operators each year, as well as reaching an ever-expanding audience. Blue Sky Wildlife is now an award-winning organization, having been voted the TravelMole Best Responsible Tourism Site for 2017.
What makes Blue Sky Wildlife Unique?
Blue Sky Wildlife features more than 82 wildlife tour operators and companies on its unique website, and these partnerships continue to expand as the 450th wildlife tour has just been pushed live. Blue Sky’s interactive website allows wildlife devotees to search for nature tours online with the website’s easy-to-use, advanced search function. You can certainly “search” the old-fashioned way, by searching for specific destinations or tour companies. On Blue Sky’s site, however, you can even search for the name of a bird or animal species that interests you and find tour companies that will deliver! Blue Sky’s user-friendly website makes planning your next dream tour a piece of cake.
Another unique feature are the wildlife reviews. Unlike any other review platform, Blue Sky’s “Wildlife Reviews” feature has been designed specifically for the wildlife industry, assessing not only the quality of the tours but the tour guides as well. As reviews are added, they provide the ability for seekers to search by ratings, easily identifying those companies that offer the very best wildlife experiences.
In a nutshell, Blue Sky Wildlife was strategically designed to help independent eco-tourists like you and me find a wildlife day trip, tour, safari, or extended holiday that meets our niche needs and bucket-list expectations! It accomplishes this by highlighting local wildlife experts in specific areas, and directly connecting us—the eco-traveler—with professionals who live, work, and serve in particular, and often remote, regions of the world.
Does Blue Sky Wildlife care about birds and conservation?
Absolutely! Blue Sky Wildlife is devoted to the conservation of wildlife and natural habitat around the world, and chooses to work only with organizations that share its passion for conservation. On its website, each featured wildlife operator and company’s page has a “conservation” tab that communicates its specific conservation commitment. For most of us, this is an important criterion when selecting a tour company, destination, guide, and lodging for our next birding adventure. Each organization has the opportunity to showcase its dedication to ecotourism, and also to share some of the amazing work it is doing for the environment.
Blue Sky Wildlife also supports worthy conservation efforts beyond those of its partner organizations. The company donates a percentage of annual profits to worthy conservation charities. Blue Sky Wildlife is a BirdLife Species Champion, and proudly supports BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Program. As you may know, I worked with BirdLife International from 2016 to 2018; this organization and program are near and dear to my heart. The American Birding Expo, hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and co-founded by Bill Thompson, III, and me in 2015, is also a BirdLife Species Champion. We applaud Blue Sky Wildlife’s decision to support these critical bird conservation efforts. We are privileged to work alongside Blue Sky Wildlife and BirdLife International in support of birds and nature around the world.
But wait, there’s more!
With this blog post, I’ve only scratched the surface because there is so much more to say about Blue Sky Wildlife! Along with its birding and wildlife tours, it offers creative payment plan options, COVID-safe travel requirements, photography-specific tours, safaris, and more. I hope you’ll check out its website and learn more about all Blue Sky Wildlife has to offer.
Here are some examples of information you’ll find on the Blue Sky Wildlife website:
- Finding Vultures in Spain
- Choosing the Best Time for Birding Holidays in Extremadura, Spain
- Bird Watching in Argentina: Where to Go for the Best Birding Tours
- 13 Species of Hummingbirds to Spot on a Trip to Central and South America
Whether you’re planning to stay put until COVID has expired or you’re ready and eager to return to safe, modified travel in 2021 and beyond, you definitely will enjoy exploring Blue Sky Wildlife’s gorgeous, easy-to-navigate website. It will inspire your wildlife dreams and give you much to look forward to when you’re ready to explore the wonderful world of wildlife in the US and beyond.
About the Author
Wendy Clark is the president and publisher of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a career communications specialist, and an avid birder. She has three children and two grandchildren, and lives in Marietta, Ohio.