Award-winning safari experience
An arable farmer with a passion for conservation and an interest in global wildlife since a boy came to Rural Solutions to help make his vision for a new conservation facility and visitor attraction a reality. Opened in 2021, Wataunga achieves this vision and more; situated amongst 170 acres of woodland, grassland and lakes, this former quarry site now hosts over twenty types of deer, antelope and rare bird species and runs guided tours for visitors.
To regenerate a redundant quarry to create a wildlife reserve, specialising in the conservation of endangered hoofed animal and bird species, offering a safari-style visitor experience and overnight accommodation.
The starting point was to test the commercial viability of a wildlife attraction in this location. By appraising the potential visitor market and looking at comparative and competitor attractions, we were able to establish likely demand to test the feasibility of the proposed scheme. Alongside this, an appraisal of the site’s development potential generated a design concept to provide habitats for the conservation of endangered species, and to operate a visitor business that would make particular provision for education and for visitors with accessibility needs.
A design was developed for a unique and striking main building providing visitor facilities and a hub for self-drive guided safari tours as well as hosting events and educational activities. Accommodation and provision for guests with accessibility needs was also incorporated and the phasing of the project was planned based on financial modelling to forecast returns on the investment proposed.
A robust planning application was developed, supported by successful stakeholder engagement, a compelling design and the compilation of a comprehensive evidence base to support the scheme.
Planning consent for the proposed scheme was granted at the first council planning committee meeting, and the Watatunga Wildlife Reserve opened in 2020. Despite the uncertainty of opening during the Covid-19 pandemic, Watatunga enjoyed a hugely successful first season and has been recognised with awards for both Best New Attraction, and Best Eco-Tourism Destination.
Camping, glamping, lodges and more
Experiential tourist accommodation in fantastic locations from tents and touring to treehouses.