I’d heard good things about Port Lympne Reserve for a long time. I love animals and conservation and as much as I adore seeing wildlife, following them around a zoo isn’t always ideal. What’s great about Port Lympne is that the reserve is focused on raising money for the animals and aims to breed and rehabilitate wild animals with a view to returning many of them to their natural habitats.
The reserve works alongside The Aspinall Foundation and houses over 600 acres of wildlife including cheetahs, gorillas, giraffes and wildebeest. It is designed so that much of it can be explored by foot, but a free safari takes you around the areas of the reserve intended for the free-roaming animals. It’s surreal to see animals intended for the plains of Africa frolicking around the Kent countryside with a view of the sea in the background, but it’s certainly beautiful. We started our trip by walking around the reserve, taking in the tigers, gorillas, wolves, lynxes and various other animals.
When we got peckish, we stopped off at Babydoll’s Wood Fired Pizza. The restaurant is named after the centres last surviving original Howlett’s gorilla, Babydoll, who is 55 years old! I ordered a margarita pizza with a side of broccoli, spinach, nuts and chilli and a glass of red wine.
After food we headed to the reserves new attraction, Dinosaur Forest, which boasts life sized examples of various dinosaurs including the dreaded T Rex. Wandering through the forest, it was amazing to see how many animals that walk our world today carry remnants of the ancient dinosaurs, from the humble chicken to the majestic elephant.
The safari takes about 45 minutes to reach its first stop so make sure that you have a toilet break first. A poor little girl sat behind us ended up in tears because she couldn’t bare waiting for the loo! Over 700 animals live here and by safari you can see many of them at a leisurely pace. We came into close contact with a beautiful giraffe (so jealous of those eye lashes.)
Although we came for one day only, you can stay overnight at any of the parks various forms of accommodation. Options include the 4* hotel, a trip to the Treehouse or the Tiger Lodge, where you can catch glimpses of tigers from inside your room. It’s cheaper to buy your ticket online where it costs only £22.50. Buying tickets on the door will set you back £25.00 for adults and £18.90 for children between the ages of 3-15. You can also get a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children for £82.00.
This place is quite simply a must for animal lovers as the work accomplished here is astonishing. Unlike zoos that can feel commercial in nature, Port Lympne has the wellbeing of the animals at its heart. The animals have plenty of space and freedom and in that sense spotting them can feel like really being on safari but that’s the way it should be. I’m looking forward to coming back here in the spring and hopefully finding plenty of new baby animals to bulk up the numbers!
All my love