Manos Vatzolas – Greece

I’ve known Chris Vlachos for some time now and I feel honored that I was with him when he captured the idea of Wildlife Explorers. We were together for a private ‘guys birding trip’ in Israel, as we both wanted to escape from everything and decided to visit the ‘Mekka of Western Palearctic’ during migration. Whilst we were predominately interested in birding, what amazed me about the destination, is the wealth of experiences, landscapes, smells and sounds! I love Israel and I have been visiting over a decade now, but this time was so different! 

I will never forget our first sunrise in the desert! The red sun had risen from Jordan and the Negev desert appeared in all its glory. An Arab coffee making ritual with the smells of freshly ground coffee and cardamon, was the best start of our trip.  Whilst having our coffee, an ibex calf just appeared in the first light.  Driving through the desert is an amazing experience on its own.  Seeing the desert come to life and the dry wadies bustling with birds, comes with an amazing feeling.  From regulars to rarities, everything just looks different in the desert.  What was imprinted the most in my memory, is Chris’ enthusiasm, passion for wildlife and perfect field skills!  He approaches the field from a photographic and not only from a birdwatching perspective and this makes a BIG difference for the amateur or the professional wildlife photographer.

What followed during the next days, was a lifechanging experience for me! Learning to spot bustards from the Bedouins, spotting sand grouses in the oasis, dancing until the morning with the new age hippies in the desert of Ezuz, photographing in the Kibutzes around Arava Valley and of course the wonder of migration in its full glory (thousands of step and honey buzzards, turning day into night as they flocked in huge numbers above our heads, with the red mountains of Eilat making the perfect background). Israel is the melting pot of cultures, civilizations and religions.  It is also the crossroad of European, Asian and African species, so the biodiversity of this country is phenomenal!

Experiencing the thrill of Israel is exceptional. Driving through from the green fields of the North, to the moonlike Dead Sea landscape and the dry desert of the south, gives thousands of photographic opportunities and the time to think and reflect of what is important in life.  You are by the Mediterranean Sea in the morning, you are drinking hot tea in the middle of the desert in the night and you enjoy breakfast by the Red Sea on the next day – so many colors, different landscapes, people and of course wildlife .  No doubt Israel is the biblical promise land!  It is the center of the world and Wildlife Explorers know not only how to plan the perfect trip there, but also offer transformational experiences that you bring along when you depart and are yours to keep, forever… 

What many people don’t know about Israel, is the sense of safety one feels once there!!  I love the flight connections from around the world – this is such an easy trip and the closest someone can get to wildlife diversity, in such a short flight time, from anywhere in Europe.  I highly recommend this expedition and Wildlife Explorers.