Tag Archives: animals

Our Stay At Port Lympne Hotel & Animal Reserve

On Friday we drove to Kent to the Port Lympne hotel and animal reserve. It is somewhere we have wanted to go to for a while and booked it about six weeks ago but kept it a surprise for Oscar and Archie until we arrived. On arrival when they saw the signs they were so excited but couldn’t believe it when we told them we would be staying there and have the zoo to ourselves in the evening!

We arrived at midday, it took us and hour and a half to drive there and I had packed a picnic so as we couldn’t check in until 3pm we headed to one of the picnic table areas to have lunch. There are a few places to grab meals around the park during the day like the Meerkat shack and a burger place outside Baby Doll’s. We started walking around the reserve which is absolutely huge (600 acres to be precise) and very hilly, but don’t worry if the little ones get tired there are complimentary pushchairs dotted around the reserve to use.

There are two different areas to the reserve one which you can walk around and the other which is the safari route. There are complimentary safaris running all day from Base Camp but the queues are huge. There are other safaris you can book and we booked a Ranger Safari at 3.30pm so took the walking route to start with.

Firstly we walked along the primate trail past all sorts of Monkeys and the Palace of the Apes where the Gorillas are. With every enclosure around the reserve they are absolutely huge, some of the biggest in Europe so sometimes you can’t spot the animals at all. This is why it is great to stay over night as you get two days within the reserve and also once the park is closed to the day visitors you can still go around the reserve and see all of the animals. The evening time was amazing we got to see so many more animals as a lot of them come out more at night.

We then walked past all of the small cats, Cheetah’s and Painting Dogs. Around the reserve there are plenty of toilets and places to grab a drink and a snack which is great especially when the walk around is so long. Both still snack shacks have a children’s play area too. There is also a Dinosaur trail near the small cats which is great with lots of different types of dinosaurs hidden within the trees.

We carried on past the Byson, Lynx, deer and Red Panda’s and passed ‘Hog Deer Creek’ where our Shepherd’s hut was located where we were staying for the night. It looked beautiful, I couldn’t wait to check in!

Further up was the Rhino Walk where you can walk right past the Rhino, sometimes them only being a matter of metres away from you. They are such lovely animals. WE walked up past the baboons and back to guest services. We checked in and then waited for our Ranger Safari which was booked for 3.30pm. The Ranger safari costs £45 each but you get a discount code to use when booking if you are staying at the reserve.

We got on to the safari truck with another family and our Ranger Charlie and set off. We passed the Wolves and Wolf Lodge where you can stay and have your own window into their enclosure and tree top walk way to look down and watch them. There is also a Rhino lodge here too that looks over the huge fields they are in. We then entered into the safari only route and our first stop was by Rosie the Rhino. Charlie told us all about her and about the Black Rhino, he was great with the kids too as Oscar asked him so many questions throughout the safari and he was so patient and answered them all. Rosie the Rhino came right up to the truck, I had never seen one so close up before.

We went passed the bear enclosure but could only spot one from a distance. They are an old elephant enclosure which is ginormous. At Port Lympne they make the enclosures as fun as possible and hide the bears food and treats for them to find and are always installing new equipment to keep the animals stimulated and entertained. There are also Capybara here running around and Vicugna which are cousins of the Alpaca’s.

We carried on past the camels, deer and the Przewalski’s horses which is a really rare breed of horse. The African experience was my favourite part of the safari we firstly went past the Wildebeest, Ostrich, Zebra and the African Painting Dogs. My favourite part was seeing the Giraffe. They came right up to the safari truck within touching distance. There is Giraffe Lodge here too which are a few safari tents where you can stay with a view of the Giraffes. There is also a Giraffe Cottage. For prices, availability and to see the different types of accommodation online click HERE.

We then checked in and was driven to Hog Deer Creek back past a few of the animals on the safari route. The shepherds huts on Hog Deer Creek start at £409 a night and vary in price depending on what day you stay and what time of year. The nightly cost includes a golf buggy from your 3pm check in until 1pm the next day and the two day entry to Port Lympne and its sister park Howlett’s which is 15 miles down the road.

The Shepherds hut was beautiful inside with a lounge area, tea and coffee facilities, a mini bar, shower and toilet and sleeps 4 with a double bed and 2 single beds made into a bunk bed. My first and only criticism of our entire stay is that having the two boys in bunks above us wasn’t great as the wooden beds creaked every time they moved and we were constantly woken up and I kept jumping up to check that Archie wasn’t about to roll off the bunk. In the end at about 2am, I ended up sleeping on the top bunk with Archie and Oscar slept below with Greg. If we stay again I will be booking a treehouse instead to get a better nights sleep! The shepherds hut was lovely and clean and the shower was lovely! The treehouses start from £409 to £859 per suite, per night.

Before dinner we drove round to the treehouse hotel where you can a drink and roast marshmallows whilst looking over the fields where the Rhino’s are. It is a beautiful view with the sea a few miles away and you can even see France in the distance.

I booked our dinner and breakfast sittings a few weeks before as they get booked up quickly. We went to Babydoll’s for dinner which is wood fired pizza restaurant. The food was lovely, Greg and the boys had Pizza’s and I had a steak with Pollenta chips. For a meal with dessert and drinks for the four of us it was about £70.

If you are staying at the park once the day guests have left you have free reign. I would absolutely recommend staying as if you come for a day visit you may not get to see all of the animals as the enclosures are massive and the animals are well hidden. Being able to drive around at night and early on the way to breakfast we got to see so much more than during the day as a lot of the animals come out more at night. We drove around until about 10pm then went to bed.

We woke up to breath taking views and water buffalo grazing by the watering hole in front of Hog Deer creek. It was a beautiful start to the day.

I booked breakfast in the main hotel which is the most beautiful mansion-house with the dining rooms walls painted with different animal murals on them. In the centre of the hotel there is a Moroccan courtyard which is out of this World and the perfect spot for a cup of tea or a coffee. Outside there is a terrace looking over the manicured gardens, maze and pond. There were weddings on both days we were there, it would be a beautiful place to have your special day at!

After breakfast we drove our luggage back to the car by guest services and grabbed the listings for the day of animal feeds and talks. At 10am we went to the Tiger talk and got to see both of the Tigers, we had seen them in the evening but asleep. We also got to see the male Lion in the enclosure next door but not the lioness and she was in the hut with their two new cubs that are only a few weeks old.

We then headed to Gorilla Gardens to see the Gorillas and they were relaxing and eating. One of them gave us a real treat and climbed up the side of the enclosure and slid down the slide. The boys loved it and were so lucky to see it!

At midday we went to the Palace of the Apes to watch the Gorilla feed and talk. It was absolutely amazing! They all came outside to be fed and we even got to see a baby Gorilla clinging onto its Mother’s back less than a few metres in front of us.

We dropped our golf buggy back to Hog Deer Creek at 1pm (you have to check out of the hut by 11am) and on of the staff can either drive you back to the car park and guest services or you can walk around the reserve. We walked back to the Dinosaur Forest and it takes about 15 minutes to go around, went back for a last look at the Gorillas and then headed home.

Our stay at Port Lympne was absolutely amazing and we will definitely being going back. I would recommend staying in a accommodation that comes with a golf buggy as the reserve is huge (600 acres) and very hilly and just makes it easier to get around to the different enclosures and make the most of your time at Port Lympne.

There are different types of accommodation to suit all budgets;

Pinewood camping pods and one Shepherds hut – Pod prices start from £129 to £229 per night. Shepherds hut starts from £199 to £279 per night

Forest Hideaway (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £249 to £399 per night

Hog Deer Creek Shepherd’s hut (includes a golf buggy)  – From £269 to £479 per night

Treehouse (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 to £859 per suite, per night

Tiger Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – From £1000 per night

Lion Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – From £1000 per night

Wolf Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 per night to £859 per night

Rhino Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 per night to £859 per night

The Bubble (includes a golf buggy) –  Start from £359 to £699 per night

Giraffe Lodge glamping – From £455 to £595 per night. Based on 2 people sharing including dining

Bear Lodge glamping – From £350 to £475 per night

Giraffe Cottage (sleeps 8) – Prices start from £879 to £1,459

And in late 2020 there will be the opening of Giraffe Hall where you can stay in this gorgeous house with Giraffe’s walking freely in the grounds. I can’t wait to stay here!

You will be able to get closer than ever before and make friends with your giraffe neighbours, as the resident herd peer into the lofty ceilinged drawing room or amble up to the bedroom windows, where you can feed them.

Cassiobury Farm & Fishery Open Day

Yesterday we went to Cassiobury Farm and Fishery as they were running an open day event. Cassiobury farm is a beautiful place set in the heart of the woods of Cassiobury park in Watford, next to the canal and has a private collection of exotic animals and birds and has its very own rare breeds farm. I saw the Summer open days advertised on Facebook and booked tickets for the four of us and it came to only £26! £8 an adult and £5 a child over 3. Under 3’s are free. I had wanted to book last Summer but we were away when they were on.

So I made the mistake of putting the actual farm address in google maps and ended up down a single track to the farm where there is no parking. It does tell you this on the website but I didn’t read it beforehand. The best place to park is in the Cassiobury park car park which is free with a ticket for six hours. You then just walk through the woods which is sign posted to the farm, it literally took five minutes. Disabled Parking is available on-site, but you must call the Farm to reserve a bay in advance.

An arrival I couldn’t believe the farm and fishery was, I think it’s around 15 acres. For years it wasn’t open to the public at all but now they have several open days a year. It first opened to the public in 2015 and when we went yesterday I couldn’t believe we hadn’t brought the boys here before. Firstly we saw the Pelicans which were huge! You can walk around in their enclosure with them and they are very friendly.

They had little boats on one of the old watercress beds and we paid £3 for Oscar to have a go for ten minutes. They were great fun! There is no age limit, your child just needs to be able to swim if they tip out. It is so shallow though and the supervisor is walking in the water by the boats.

We then saw different monkeys, wallabies, love birds, cockatoos and macaws. It was lovely to see them so close up. It was hard to believe we were in the middle of Cassiobury park and behind these gates are so many amazing animals.

I absolutely loved the Black Swans that were on the water, the look so elegant gliding over the water. I don’t think I had ever seen one before.

We then walked to the rare breeds farm which have Gayal, Hungrian Steppe Cows, Soay Sheep, Gloucester Old Spot Pigs, Pygmy Goats, Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Miniature Horses & Donkeys, Turkeys, Pheasants, giant rabbits and many more animals. The miniature horses were my favourite and the miniature pigs.

The private collection of exotics includes Binturong, Flamingos, Meerkats, Marmosets, Wallabys, Crested Cranes, Pelicans, Macaws, Raccoon Dogs, Arctic Foxes, Civets, Gents, Squirrel Monkeys, Reindeer, Capybara, Tortoises and more. Oscar loved the Silver Fox which was absolutely beautiful! It was lovely to see an Arctic Fox up close too!

After exploring the whole farm we sat down on the large meadow area and had our lunch. In the central area there is a bouncy castle, face painting, fishing, crazy golf, mini-tractor rides, climbing frame, stalls and animal encounters. There is also a hot food counter that serves lovely food.

We then walked through the giant tortoise enclosure, I absolutely love them and am trying to talk Greg around to getting one for a pet. There was also a bug enclosure where two people were teaching the children all about the different bugs.

Last but not least we saw the flamingos which was lovely and then we headed back to the car. We were at the farm for about three hours and had such a wonderful time. All the animals were so well kept and the whole farm was lovely and clean. You can see all of the love and attention that has gone into it.

There is only one Summer Open Day left this season which is on Saturday the 1st of September, 10am until 5pm. So if you like local, do not miss it! You can book online or pay on the door, the price is exactly the same. It really is a great day out for all the family!

Our Amazing Day With Yellow Zebra Safari’s

Today we drove into London to a really special event hosted by Yellow Zebra Safari’s. If you haven’t heard of Yellow Zebra Safari’s before they are an award-winning luxury and adventure travel company specialising in African Safari’s. Taking Oscar and Archie on Safari has always been on our bucket list and as I have never been on one myself I just can’t wait to go! Taking your family on Safari is a trip of a life time with memories that are made that will last forever. Both our boys absolutely love animals and wherever we go a bag of Schleich animals comes along too. Oscar has said for a couple of years now that he would love to be a Zoo Keeper. So when we were invited to a fun-filled Safari day out I knew the boys would be so excited!

‘The opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, to watch a herd of elephant walk past their vehicle, to spot a cheetah with its cubs, or listen to a pride of lions roaring at night. It is a magical experience that they will never forget.’

When we arrived the Safari themed room looked amazing. We had been told before hand that we would have a chance to meet some animals today. We met Safari Pete who Oscar and Greg couldn’t stop asking him questions. He knows everything you need to know about animals and safari’s and is a fountain of knowledge. Safari Pete is a wildlife adventurer and conservationist and works closely with the Yellow Zebra Safari team. His stories of his adventures are amazing and his knowledge of animals is amazing.

We were fortunate enough to meet several of Pete’s animals; Gumbo the Toad, Pinchy the Scorpion, Juliet the Barn Owl, two lizards, Boo-Boo the Monitor Lizard, Jay-Z the Crocodile, a snake, Lady Gaga the Tarantula and Steve and Baby Bear the Meerkat’s. Oscar was so lucky and got called up to hold the crocodile. We also got to see the lizards, snake and crocodile catch and eat their prey, which was really amazing. I had never seen this up close before. It’s incredible how quick the crocodile reacts to his prey and how the snake is able to swallow his meal whole.

We then sat down to our Safari themed lunch which was very yummy!

When booking a Family Safari with Yellow Zebra Safari’s you know you are getting the very best of everything. They will recommend to you based on the ages of your children where is best to travel too. Their team is made up entirely of professional safari guides, camp managers and people who were born and raised in Africa so you are getting the best knowledge and advice when designing your perfect trip. For example if you go on to thier website, we are a family of four with Oscar who is 8 and Archie who is 3. Archie being Under 6 they advise to stay somewhere that is malaria free. For us at this time a Safari in South Africa would be perfect for us. The Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands offer epic ‘Big Five’ viewing, while the malaria-free safari reserves of ‘SA’ cater well for families. The accommodation choices all look out of this World, from lodges to hotels there is the perfect stay to choose from for everyone.

When Archie is 6 we can then all go to Kenya which is home to Maasai Mara National Reserve which is the place to visit if you are looking for a safari, super size. In Kenya is a hotel in particular that has been on my bucket list for a few years now and I know the boys will love it. It is called Giraffe Manor,  most of the hotel grounds incorporates the Giraffe Centre of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and a group of giraffes lives in the Manor’s grounds, they even put their heads through the windows to say hello.

Image result for giraffe manor

 ‘EUROPE’S LEADING SAFARI TOUR OPERATOR’ IN 2015, 2016 & 2017′

After lunch we got to meet the Meerkat’s again and Oscar and I had one of them on our shoulder. They are Grandad’s favourite animal so he will be very jealous!

Oscar and Archie then got to choose a ceramic animal to paint which was great fun and now has pride of place in the playroom.

We had such a lovely day with Yellow Zebra Safari’s and can’t thank them enough for the wonderful experience the boys had meeting all of the animals and a big thank you to Safari Pete too. I am definitely booking one of his animal parties for Oscar’s next birthday! It was also lovely to catch up with Ruth and her family from Rock ‘N’ Roller Baby Blog.

*This post is in collaboration with Yellow Zebra Safari’s

World Of Dinosaurs At Paradise Wildlife Park

On Monday we drove to Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne for a family day out at the Zoo. I packed a picnic and even thought it was due to rain all day we braved it and got on our way. The boys were really excited as new to Paradise Wildlife Park is the World of Dinosaurs. We have been to Paradise Wildlife Park many times before and absolutely love it! Oscar and Archie are both into dinosaurs and when I told them there would be 30 life-sized dinosaurs they couldn’t wait to see them!

When we first arrived at the Zoo we decided to see all of the animals first and save the World of Dinosaurs until last. It was raining quite heavily but this actually worked in our favour as most of the animals were indoors and we got so close to them.

The Lions, Cheetah and the White Tiger were all inside out of the rain and we were so lucky to see them only a metre or so away from us.

The Big Cat walkway is always great and you can see a Jaguar, Snow Leopard, Tigers, Cheetahs and the Lions. We stopped at the picnic area by the Tigers which is covered from the rain and ate our lunch right next to the Tiger’s enclosure window. A lunch with a great view!

After we had seen all of the animals in the Zoo we made our way to the World of Dinosaurs.

We were genuinely blown away! It’s absolutely fantastic, full of 30 life-sized dinosaurs that move and make sounds. I’ve never seen anything like it. Oscar couldn’t believe how real they looked. For any Dinosaur fan this is the place to visit. Around the woodland walk around the Dinosaurs are signs that tell you what each Dinosaur is called and facts about them.

By the T-Rex is the perfect photo point where you can pose in a jeep as you get away from the roaring T-Rex. Watch out for the Dinosaur at the end he will squirt you with water! When you have finished the walk there is a great Dinosaur themed shop and cafe.

I am going to take the boys back in a couple of months to do it all again in the dry warmer weather. We got absolutely drenched but had a lovely day out as always at PWP.

*This post is in collaboration with PWP. All opinions are honest and my own.