If you have followed my blog from the beginning you will have seen my bucket list post! Now I haven’t got round to ticking many off, but the ones i have completed have been major ones – quality, not quantity as they say!
However, for my birthday Dan bought me an overnight stay at Port Lymne reserve. This has been on my bucket list for quite a long time, and i longed to go even more after my mum and stepdad went last year and came back with their wonderful stories and photos.
So we booked it into the diary and were even more excited that we now had our little man to take with us.
We chose to stay in the Pinewood pod and the price of the accomodation included entry to the park for 2 days. We couldn’t check in until 3pm on the day of arrival so we just kept our overnight bags in the car and arrived at the park when it opened to explore for the day.
One of the first things you come to, is a safari experience on a large truck. I would highly recommend doing this, as you really get to see the whole reserve and the animals in a more natural environment. I don’t think you would be able to see the animals, or cover the vast area without doing this. You can’t take pushchairs onto the truck, but there is a buggy park and strollers you can hire free of charge the other end if you have little ones with you. We got off at the first stop, (rather than going the whole way round) so that we could get some lunch and see the animals. The tour guide told us it was a long 40 minute walk back to the entrance that was all uphill, but that we could come back to the truck stop to take the bus back to the start.
We hired a stroller and wandered through the animal enclosures until we came to a central place for lunch. There was 2 cafes and an ice cream stand to choose from and the prices were reasonable. There was also lots of picnic benches around, so plenty of seating if the weather is kind to you. If we went again, we would bring our own picnic, (especially if you have the luxury of putting the bag under the pram) as this would save some precious pennies on lunch. By time we had got to the cafe and wandered a little further, we realised we were probably more than half way back to the beginning so decided to keep going rather than going back on ourselves to the truck stop. The walk was actually fine, and I didn’t moan too much about the slight strenuous activity.
We arrived back to check in around 3.30, we checked in no problems. The staff were really helpful and friendly. Of course, as my husband booked it, he had made a slight error on the booking which the staff sorted out for me without any extra charge.
The pod we were staying in was just what i had wanted, it was so cosy, with lots of over hanging trees, candles to light the pathway, a camp fire and a hammock in the centre. Inside there was 2 single beds, a double futon (folded away), storage space, plenty of room in the centre for a travel cot, tea making facilities and a heater. Generally when you go away somewhere and there is 2 single beds, as a couple you feel obliged to push them together to make a double, however these beds were fixed to the wall so it was a single occupant type of night – win win if you ask me!
A proper free standing BBQ was provided that was put on our entrance decking for us and we paid £5 for some coals and matches from reception. There is a designated cafe/restaurant that is a 1 minute walk away from the pods, that we purchased a BBQ food pack from. This was £19.99 and contained more than enough yummy food for the 2 of us. Again if we were to stay again, we would take our own BBQ food and coals, just to try and save a little bit of money. I just don’t think this is made clear on the booking that you can bring your own food and drink. A small downside i found, is that although they provide a kettle and cups for tea making, they do not provide any tea bags or milk portions, so again next time we would bring these so I could make a cup of tea to enjoy in the morning. Instead i walked to the cafe for when it opened at 8am for my morning brew.
After our BBQ and glass of wine, we sat around the camp fire taking in the scenery. The fire was lit by the staff at 8pm. We were directly in front of the wolves enclosure and literally as soon as the sun went down, the howls began. It was very surreal.
I found the experience amazing on the whole, and was really glad it lived up to my expectations. The zoo part of it wasn’t the best zoo I have been too, although I feel it is what it says in the name – a reserve rather than a ‘zoo’ as such. There wasn’t an amazing deal of animals, and the enclosures were completely like they would be in the wild, so much so that it was quite difficult to see into a lot of them. However I feel it is a reserve more for the animals, rather than for human entertainment, which in reality is how it should be.