Craig shares his experience of his stay at the Port Lympne animal reserve and safari experience
Every now then I am surprised by an experience. I had absolutely no idea that just two train stops from Stratford and I could be hand feeding a Giraffe, monkeys and a Rhino. The Port Lympne animal reserve and safari experience is home to 760 animals across 90 species, including giraffes, monkeys, bears, lions and tigers. Not only that but you can stay in lodges with the animals!
Where to Stay at Port Lympne
For our two day experience we stayed at Port Lympne Mansion. This stunning grade II listed building was built in 1913 for Sir Phillip Sassoon. Like many large country homes it became abandoned after the second world war, before being bought in 1973 by John Aspinall who spent 10 years restoring the mansion. Aspinall was an interesting character known also for his gambling and links to the ‘disappearance’ of Lord Lucan, whom it is said he met with many years after he went missing.
We stayed in the Mountbatten Junior Suite. At £279 a night the room was exceptionally clean, very well appointed with coffee machine, hair dryer and iron as well as a rain shower in the en suite, and a super comfy king size bed.
If you choose to stay in the mansion you’re in good company as other guests have included Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Edward & Mrs Simpson and George Bernard Shaw, to name but a few. Alternatively you could stay in Wolfe Lodge or Tiger Lodge, where you’re literally a pane of glass away from the animals.
If star gazing is your thing why not book The Bubble! An entirely transparent dome where you get to enjoy the outside from luxurious comfort. With Kingsize beds, a free standing bath and exceptional views it’s a wonderfully romantic option for honeymooners who want something a little different.
Maybe you’ve always had a fantasy about staying in a tree house? If so Port Lymnpe can fulfil your dream with their Forest Hideaway. Complete with log burner for cold cosy nights, it’s another wonderful option for your stay.
Where to eat and drink at Port Lympne
There are plenty of great food options at Port Lympne, from afternoon tea in the Moroccan Court Yard to an authentic wood fired pizza or bowl of pasta at Babydolls. The food at Babydolls was excellent. We ordered a selection from the menu including bread and olives, pizza and pasta and every dish was to a very good standard.
There’s also the Pinewood Cafe which offers a selection of tasty meal choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cosy cafe, adjacent to the Gatehouse, offers the warmth of a wood burning fire on colder days and airy al fresco dining on finer days.
We also ate at the main restaurant in the Mansion. The restaurant is absolutely stunning, and beautifully decorated with hand pained friezes of wild animals. It offers an extensive range of fine wines, alongside a delicious breakfast, lunch and evening menu, designed by their Executive Chef. They use the very best seasonal produce from their own vegetable and herb gardens alongside locally sourced ingredients wherever they can.
For my evening meal I started with the scallops with squid ink risotto and tempura spring onion. It was incredible! I followed this with the chicken breast with bubble & squeak and cauliflower cheese and baby vegetables. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the accompaniments were a delight.
The Safari Experience At Port Lympne
The following morning after my eggs Benedict it was time to undertake my AAA VIP safari. The experiences offered by Port Lympne range from being a keeper for a day, bush craft, photography courses and even hot air ballooning among many others.
After seeing monkeys up close and personal and hand feeding them inside their homes we boarded our safari truck and set off to Africa.
First up was Rosie the Rhino, who while resting in the shade when we arrived, was pleased to see us, especially when she saw that we had food! She promptly ate from our hands before ambling back to the shade.
The Port Lympne animal reserve is known worldwide for their incredible animal breeding programs which have seen them put endangered species back into their natural habitats and helped to save them from complete extinction. The animals are all exceptionally well cared for and they promote very close relationships between the keepers and the animals.
Animal welfare is at the very heart of everything that they do. This is not a zoo, it is an exercise in conservation and is a real haven for many rare species that roam the 600 acres. It is all funded by people like you and I that come to enjoy the unique experiences that it can offer. And what they are doing for the animal kingdom is truly inspirational.
We truly loved our experience at Port Lympne. Aside from the incredible location, proximity to London, great food and places to stay, what they are doing for the animals of this world is both admirable and inspirational. Without them I am sure than many of the species that they take in and care for would not be here in a few short years.
The park offers a wealth of experiences for most budgets. You can have a truly luxurious break and stay in Tiger Lodge at £1,000 a night enjoying fine dining and fine wine, and hand feed the animals on an AAA safari experience, or you can camp in a shepherds hut or luxury tent for £109 a night and bring your own lunch. The choices are endless.
With a day pass from just £22.50 per adult it’s a great option for families this summer. Book your experience now online.