Daniel Blankenheim

Daniel grew up in one of the largest industrial areas in Europe, the Ruhr in Germany. While this may seem like an unlikely place to become a nature lover, he bonded with animals during frequent visits to a small farm. The beautiful moments he experienced with the resident sheep, chickens and rabbits are a part of why he chose to study landscape ecology at university. After graduation, Daniel traveled around New Zealand for a year, fulfilling a dream he had since the release of the Lord of the Rings films. He swam with wild dolphins, came across penguins and spotted his favorite animal, orcas, from shore. These wildlife encounters taught Daniel that the will to conserve nature comes from a transformed heart, fostering his desire to seek out moments of connection to nature and help others do the same. Daniel returned to Europe to attain a master's degree in wildlife ecology and management in Vienna and traveled to northern Greece for his thesis on brown bears and human-wildlife conflict.

Daniel's first guiding experience resulted from his understanding that one must touch peoples' souls to protect nature. He found fulfilling work educating fellow nature enthusiasts at an ecolodge in Thailand. Continuing to broaden his horizons, he ventured to some of the world's remotest places in search of raw wilderness to inspire him. In 2019, he canoed the Hard River in the Yukon for 40 days, where he witnessed the aurora borealis in the vast skies of the Far North as wolves howled in the distance. He also traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a research project on habituating wild bonobos. Daniel feels his most alive in wild places and a part of something bigger than himself. He is passionate about connecting people to nature to help them feel their most alive, and this is precisely the philosophy Daniel found at Natural Habitat Adventures.

A certified Paddlesport Leader, Daniel views kayaking as one of the best ways to connect with nature. He spent five days navigating the rough seas of Marlborough Sound in New Zealand, encountering dolphins and seals along the way. His next excursion took him to New Zealand's Abel Tasman National Park. These trips ignited Daniel's love for paddle sports. He continued to find serenity while paddling through the wilderness: in Thailand, he led day trips through mangrove forests in search of wildlife, and in the Canadian North, he canoed through Class III whitewater rapids. In the DRC, he used a traditional dugout canoe called a pirogue to navigate waterways and even go hippo-spotting! Daniel refined his paddling skills in England's Lake District and the rough seas around the Isle of Portland in the South of England. The heavy winds and high waves he experienced as a part of his Paddlesport Leader certification more than adequately prepared him for the much calmer conditions experienced in Portugal.

Daniel hopes to inspire and be inspired by a diverse group of people with one thing in common: a love for nature. He enjoys reading, writing, watching movies and the greatest game of all—European football—among other sports.

Upcoming Adventures with Daniel:
Paddling Portugal's River of Wine
Iceland: Circling the Land of Fire & Ice

Praise from Nat Hab travelers:

J. Thompson
"Daniel was a fun and energetic leader. He shared his knowledge with us freely and he did a great job of keeping an eye on everyone and judging when assistance was needed. I think the thing that struck me the most, once I realized it was happening, was how smoothly and subtly Daniel, Vitor and Pedro enhanced their guests' experiences."

K. Ellwood
"This was Daniel's first trip, and he did a great job! He's a fine addition to Nat Hab's Expedition Leaders. He had a good grasp of the culture of the area and explained it well."

P. Bender
"Daniel is an asset to this organization. His professionalism, knowledge, skills and caring were outstanding. The choreography of this trip was remarkable unmatched. The team was always in good spirits and and worked together seamlessly."

T. Tse
"Daniel was very personable. He took time to get to know everyone on the tour and explained the conservation and environmental aspects of what we were seeing. Daniel, Vitor and Pedro were extremely helpful and knowledgeable; they answered all our questions and worked great with each other. They also anticipated individual needs."

S. Von Bargen
"Daniel was super fun, knowledgable and very attentive and informative."
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