Off on Safari – a Day Out at Port Lympne
This week, Potato and I took Granny to one of our favourite places – Port Lympne Wildlife Park.
This is mine and Potato’s 3rd visit since the summer. We only live 15 minutes away and on our first visit I purchased a Passport, which given us unlimited visits over a year. We’re definitely getting our money’s worth.
This time round, we skipped the Wolves, Lions and Tigers and made a bee-line for the Basecamp coffee-shop. Potato was eager to walk, so we didn’t take a pushchair in with us. We’d planned to take his Toddle Bike, but a sign on the way in said we couldn’t take bike and scooters, so we decided that probably included Toddle Bikes too.
After a quick, but much needed cup of coffee and scrummy cake, we headed off to Primate Trail, the walking park of the park.
We grabbed a pushchair from one of the handy pushchair parks. These are placed at each of the main hubs at the park and are ideal for stubborn toddlers who refuse to walk until they get tired. The pushchair we picked was broken and started to collapse part way round the walk but it didn’t matter, as Potato was determined to walk or ride on my shoulders the whole way round and we swapped it at the first opportunity.
Potato’s favourite part of the Primate Trail is the Guinea Baboons. He would have watched them for hours if we’d let them. They’d just been fed as we arrived, so they were all up at the fence. There were at least 2 tiny babies, hanging upside down under their mummies. We watched the alpha male patrolling up and down, asserting his dominance.
There was plenty to see around the rest of the trail too. The Diana Monkeys were very active and entertaining and my favourites are the Drill Baboons, which I always think look like children dressed in fake fur!
The Palace of the Apes is still empty. At any other zoo or wildlife park, this might be disappointing. But here, it’s because the family has been released back into the wild and they’re preparing the stunning enclosure for a new Gorilla family. It’s a perfect reminder of the good work the charity does.
It was noticeable that we were out of season, because there were clear signs of all the maintenance being done. There was much more traffic around the trail but given how much Potato loves tractors, this was actually an added bonus. We spent 10 minutes watching a tractor manoeuvre and park.
We reached Carnivore Territory in time for lunch. The café is lovely and there’s a good selection of food available. I was a little surprised to find that the only sandwiches available for the kids’ meals, where chocolate spread or strawberry jam, but I know from previous experience that the selection is usually better. It didn’t matter though, as I had a yummy portion of super-unhealthy chips and cheese, and Mum had jacket potato and cheese, and Potato shared our lunches with us.
After a quick visit to see the tigers and other small cats in Carnivore Territory, it was time to head off on safari.
Potato loves everything about the safari. The tractor ride, the noise, the changing scenery and of course all the animals. The safari drivers are all great characters and have an amazing knowledge. Each one has their own style and tells you slightly different (not contradictory) things. It’s great to hear about the wonderful work the charity is doing, interesting facts about the animals and historic information about the park itself. Potato spends the whole time, pointing at the different animals, making hilariously enthusiastic appreciative noises.
We saw rhino’s and elephants in their enclosures, before heading off into the main open parkland that is the African Experience. This is different every time. What animals you see varies depending on time of day, weather and whim of the animals. Having the passport means that you don’t mind if you miss something on one visit, because you know you’ll see it on another visit.
We saw deer, ostriches, eland and giraffe this time.
At the top of the park, we are treated to a sight of Lympne Castle. D and I got married there 5 years ago, so it’s always lovely to see it. It always surprises me that we hadn’t realised that the safari park was here, when we were stood on the terrace of the castle!
Sadly, the meercats were either asleep or hiding, as they are always the more entertaining part of the stop on the safari and the café was closed for the off-season. But Potato had a lovely time on the climbing equipment, while we waited for the next truck to leave.
On the trip back to basecamp, we caught sight of zebra and water buffalo in the distance and got a great view of the beautiful Przewalski Horses and Batchelor Gorillas.
We’d had a lovely day out and Potato was exhausted after a day of fresh air and exciting sights. He was asleep before we even left the car park! We can’t wait to go back. Hopefully we’ll visit the sister park Howletts soon too, as that’s only down the road from my parents’.
Port Lympne Wildlife Park is part of the Aspinall Foundation, along with their sister park Howletts Animal Park. The Foundation is a registered charity which actively works to protect endangered animals across the world. Their main spheres of conservation-based activity include captive breeding, education, ecosystem management, local community education projects, capacity building, habitat surveys and the rehabilitation of confiscated wild animals.
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Disclaimer: I have received no incentive for this post. All views are entirely my owns, though may be influenced by pitch of a toddler’s squeals of excitement.