What are your travel plans for this year? Any staycations planned?
The past couple of years we have been exploring some amazing places in the UK. As long as the sun is out the UK has some amazing places to venture out to.
Over the August bank holiday, we ventured to Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve in Kent. Part of the Aspinal Foundation, the reserve has a variety of safari-themed accommodation ranging from Glamping to The Lion Lodge and The Bubble.
The Aspinal Foundation is not a zoo. It is a breeding sanctuary and home for over 900 rare and endangered animals, including the largest herd of black rhino in the UK, western lowland gorillas and more. Funds from tickets go towards caring for the animals at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve and supporting their overseas projects. Animals have ample space and are left to roam in large fields which means you can’t always see them- just like the wild!
We booked glamping at the Bear Lodge, in one of their 19 tents overlooking the Kent Countryside. The tents are by the Bear paddock. Due to the size of the area, the two speckled bears are not always easy to spot (we did not see them during our stay).
Some facts about the Bear Lodge:
- Prices start at £350 per night for accommodation. The price includes Entrance to Port Lympne Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park for the duration of the stay (30 minutes drive between the parks).
- There is a complimentary evening safari included (it is advisable to book this because the spaces are limited) with overnight accommodation. You can either go on the 530pm or 7pm one.
- The tent has one toilet and a shower
- Each tent can sleep up to eight people
- The tent comprises of 1 double bed, 1 bunk bed, 1 double cabin bed, and 1 double futon
- Bedding and towels are provided
- The tent had a wood burner and logs are provided
- There is a kettle, fridge and basic utensils/crockery
- Free WiFi is available
- Parking is available for 2 cars per tent
- Check-in is at 4pm and Check-out at 11am
- The lodge is family-friendly and has a play area and a campfire where you can toast marshmallows and watch the sun go down
- There is the Bear Lodge Club House where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch & dinner. There is a bar there too
- It is a tent so expect the temperature inside to change accordingly. We were there over a sunny weekend and during the day the tent got really hot but at night temperatures dropped.
- The drive from Port Lympne Reserve to the Lodge is 3 minutes but you cannot drive. Complimentary transport is available but this needs to be prebooked.
On the sunny bank holiday, once we checked in, we had some chilled drinks we had brought along with us. The advantage of glamping is we could take what we wanted with us including snacks. I am not sure how this works if you stay at the main Port Lympne Hotel.
We had booked breakfast and dinner at the Bear Lodge Club for both days. The food was average and unfortunately the service in the restaurant was really slow. My nephews were really hungry and despite booking a table they did not serve us or see the urgency in seeing to the children. Luckily we had snacks with us. Here are a couple of sample menus.
There is a delivery service for takeaways and or you can dine at the resorts other eateries. Pinewood, Port Lympne Hotel, Babydoll’s Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta Restaurant or Bear Lodge Club House.
On the day of arrival, we headed straight to the Port Lympne Reserve where we enjoyed some lunch before exploring the park. We managed to see a lot of the reserve in about 4 hours including the Dinosaur Forest which has some interesting facts. The next day we visited Howletts Wild Animal Park which was much smaller however still educational.
This took about 3 hours and then we drove back to the main reserve and walked to Port Lympne Hotel for Afternoon Tea.
Set in a beautiful Moroccan themed courtyard we had a nice afternoon tea. The staff here were accommodating and after the walking around this was a perfect break. The afternoon tea was £22 per person and came with a selection of handmade cakes, fruit scones, and traditional sandwiches.
The hotel has beautifully themed rooms and is worth visiting even if it’s for a drink.
We had booked a safari on both evenings at 7pm. The experience lasts about an hour and you get to go on a bumpy track across the reserve. We got to see rhinos, zebras, giraffes and a lot of deers. I am glad we did the safari on both nights because we got to see a wider range of animals and hear about the reserve from different guides.
I would recommend visiting the Aspinal Foundation. Not only is it educational, but it is a great staycation and the foundation is a charity that helps endangered animals we all love.
The Aspinal Foundation
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Lympne, Hythe CT21 4PD
Tel: 01303 264647