Knepp Wildland Camping and Safaris confess to being ‘wildly excited’ to have won the ‘Gold Award for Best Tour of the Year’ and ‘Silver Award for Best Glamping Business of the Year’ at The Beautiful South Tourism Awards last week. Held at The Grand in Brighton and hosted by TV and radio celebrity Toby Anstis, the awards celebrate the very best tourism businesses in the region.
For Penny Green, Knepp Wildland’s Safari Manager, receiving top accolade for guided wildlife safaris in this pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex is not just about the quality of service, although that was singled out for praise. It’s about the whole experience of rewilding and people’s rising interest in wildlife: “All sorts of people come on our safaris; Whether they’re experienced birders or really don’t know much about the countryside, we’re offering something that is really hard to find these days – a real connection with nature. It may be hearing a nightingale or watching fighting stags or seeing a family of piglets rootling for earthworms – there’s that touch of magic, and I think that’s what really moves and inspires people.”
Situated 8 miles south of Horsham, the 3,500-acre Knepp Wildland began its adventure in ‘rewilding’ fifteen years ago. Unlike most nature reserves, at Knepp, nature is allowed to take the driving seat. Free-ranging herds of animals roam the landscape at will, trampling, rootling and disturbing the soil and vegetation, creating opportunities for other wildlife. The results have been spectacular. Knepp is now a breeding hot-spot for some of our rarest species, like the turtle dove and spectacular purple emperor butterfly. All five UK owls are now found at Knepp, and 13 out of the UK’s 17 species of bats.
Staying overnight in the heart of the rewilding project is also a revelation, according to Rachel Knott, Campsite Manager at Knepp Wildland Safaris, who proudly scooped the Silver for Best Glamping Business of the Year.
Photo: Knepp Wildland’s Penny Green, Ryan Greaves and Rachel Knott with silver and gold awards (Credit: Nick Williams Photography)