Back in January 2004, we heard that old house was for sale on the Bloke Plateau in Slovenia. On a sunny winter day, when temperatures were well below zero and snow cover was almost a metre thick, we arrived in the small village Metulje. The house was just what we were looking for, and a few months later it became our new home. When spring finally reached the plateau, we fully appreciated how fantastic this place is. In late spring and summer, the meadows behind our house turn in a colourful carpet of flowers. These meadows inspired us to name our ecotourism brand Nature in colour.
A decade later we are still greeted by the same stunning meadows every summer, but tragically, we have also watched similar places disappear elsewhere. The experience of seeing such rapid declines in nature first-hand, made us realise that biodiversity cannot be taken for granted. To preserve it, we need more than formal designations as protected areas. To ensure that nature conservation is not only done on paper, we need people who are passionate about nature. Our excursions and holidays are about sharing our passion with you.
Nature in colour was created by Jana and Paul, the two principal guides and wildlife tour organisers. We grew up on different ends of Europe, but are we still amazed at how similar our experiences are. Both of us like to walk through wet meadows, one tends to look a bit more up (Jana) and the other a bit more down (Paul), so together we see more. Or that’s what we tell each other. There is also great joy in sharing experiences.
Paul is from the Netherlands, the most densely populated country in Europe, a landscape which is almost entirely man-made. Because he grew up there, Paul can still look at a straight ditch between fields as if it is an attractive place to search for animals. But, when he first came to Slovenia in 1998, he immediately fell for the natural landscapes found here.
Jana grew up in southern Slovenia and sometimes still takes flower-rich meadows for granted. Her visits to the Netherlands, however, taught her that ecosystems are fragile and nature can be lost forever. She always loved the Slovenian landscape, and having seen its vulnerability, she now appreciates it even more.
We could say that our common interest in the living world brought us together. We both trained in biology, and we had a pretty good idea what we wanted to do in our lives. Back in 2003, we established an NGO, Institute Symbiosis, to work on various nature conservation and education projects in Slovenia. It was then just a small and logical step to ecotourism.
Through the years, we came to realise that the disconnection of people from nature is one of the biggest threats to nature. Modern life, often bound to cities, offers few opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature. In 2015, we set ourselves on a new mission – to reconnect people with nature. As our goals are tightly linked with nature conservation, we decided to develop ecotourism within our existing NGO and obtained licences to be a tour operator. Since April 2016, we also have the status of a social enterprise, which underpins our commitment to environmental and social goals and well-being of local communities.
Paul has exceptional abilities to spot and catch animals and about almost every species he will be able to tell you a story you will never forget.
Jana grew up in Southern Slovenia: she knows all the best nature areas and the intriguing history of their protection. Starting out as a birdwatcher she has become one of Slovenia’s top-experts on Invasive Alien Species and Nature Conservation.