a 7-day Eco-Cultural expedition for the blind and the sighted to experience the red deer rut, wolf listening, and local Italian lifestyle
MULTISENSORY IMMERSION in ABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK
Central Philosophy: Unlike conventional tours, our educational tour program offers participants the opportunity to be “In Dialogue with the Wild,” to consider the value of an appreciation for the “wild,” and to explore the socio-cultural phenomena which reconcile the human with the natural. Our expeditions are carefully designed to familiarize participants with local ecological processes and to help them to develop practical skills for interacting with the natural world. We will consider ourselves as guests behaving with humility and respect, understanding that this approach can teach us important values about nature and ourselves.
Eco-focus: The red deer rut and the wolf howl, which have fascinated and deeply affected mankind for millennia, constitute the primary natural references of our learning experience. The deer rut is one of the prime annual events in the European forests. In specific areas, which may have been used for decades, males compete for females using vocalizations and physical contests. At dawn and dusk, we will silently approach these areas and patiently listen to the roars of virile stags and the cacophonous collision of their antler.
Grey wolves are social animals living in family groups. During the summer and early fall, the adults leave their pups in secret and sensitive places known as rendez-vous sites. Howling is crucial for the family to maintain contacts across their territory. We will organize short walks into the forest, within earshot of these incredible creatures, with the possibility of overhearing their howls.
Location: The tour will take place in the Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise National Park (PNALM), in the Central Apennines, Italy. These karstic mountains are endowed with a remarkable biodiversity. Along the altitudinal gradients, vegetation communities range from Mediterranean woodlands, to dominant beech forests, to alpine prairies along monumental mountain ridges. During the 20th century, the park was the last stronghold of three large mammals: the Italian wolf, the Apennine chamois and the still-endangered Marsican brown bear. The landscape is seeded by small, isolated villages, which demonstrate profound cultural integration into the natural landscape.
Project Team: The tour program is managed and directed by French wildlife ecologist Nathan Ranc. Nathan is currently developing his PhD on movement ecology at Harvard University and the Fondazione Edmund Mach. His work focuses on understanding the role of spatial memory in the spatial ecology of large mammals, with relevant applications for human-wildlife coexistence. He has been traveling to and working as an ecologist in Abruzzo for 10 years and has developed an intimate familiarity with the place. Nathan is constantly challenging anthropocentrism in education, culture and politics; his objective is to foster the inclusion of ecology and conservation biology in a multidisciplinary framework.
The team’s assistant managers include Italian archaeologist Luigi Lafasciano and Greek-American designer and cultural preservationist Andrew R. Gipe.
Our staff is completed by the following volunteering consultants: Maria Pia Graziani (director of the transhumance museum in Villetta Barrea), and Béatrice Ranc and Alexis Ranc (tour support: hiking, logistics and cooking).
Preparatory direction and consultation for the tour’s accessible aspects have been provided by American deafblind civil rights lawyer and activist Haben Girma, and education specialist Melissa Sanchez.
Our guests include Bruno D’Amicis, Italian wildlife photographer, naturalist, conservation biologist, and current resident of Abruzzo; Daniela Gentile, bear expert and specialist of human-wildlife coexistence; Francesca Del Fattore, archaeologist of the local Archaeological Superintendence; and Anna Rizzo, cultural anthropologist of Abruzzese communities.
Note to Participants: Because of our commitment to low-impact expeditions, our maximum group size is 14 (including Diakron staff). We recommend that participants not be unfamiliar with outdoor activities, be capable of hiking for several hours, and already have some experience and interest in being in the wild. Participants should bring their own hiking clothes and equipment. Please refer to the recommended personal equipment list and FAQs pages for more information.
Endorsement: this eco-cultural tour is officially endorsed by the superintendency of Abruzzo, Lazio, e Molise National Park.