Glamping at Elephant Lodge. Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

28/05/2014 by .

It is a little after 5pm and I am surrounded by giraffes. Not any old giraffes you understand, but Rothschild Giraffes no less, the tallest land animals on earth. Under the circumstances, you would be forgiven for thinking I am in the Serengeti, or the Maasai Mara perhaps, but you would be wrong, because this is Kent, the garden of England and I am having a ball glamping at Elephant Lodge in the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park

Port Lympne Wild Animal Park is one part of the revered Aspinall Foundation, world famous for its work in animal conservation ( it is the biggest breeder of Black Rhino outside Africa)  and offers a unique experience to get up close and personal with an array of endangered species from the aforementioned Black Rhino and Zebra to Wildebeest, gorillas, African elephants and clouded leopards among many others,  who it seems enjoy a privileged life roaming the Aspinall Estate in Kent’s rolling countryside until they are ready to be released into the wild in Africa.

Port Lympne Wildlife Park 009

But this is not just a day out in a wild animal park (although you can do that too of course), it is effectively an African safari experience staying after the park closes, sleeping, eating and just being with wild animals in the company of experienced rangers for up to a week in luxury tents at Elephant Lodge .

Having successfully survived my giraffe encounter through a combination of Ranger Andrew’s deft jeep driving and the giraffes simply deciding a nearby water hole was much more interesting than me, I arrive back at Elephant Lodge with a camera full of close ups and a ravenous appetite.

Experience_APR14

Elephant Lodge is a clutch of family sized luxury tents (which can sleep up to eight) set up on a ridge above the park and fitted with hot and cold running water, private showers and toilet, a dining/lounge area and a romantic logwood burner perfect for a cold night in snuggled under blankets watching the flames dance in the stove. It is a perfect family glamping experience.

Elephant Lodge Interior c The Aspinall Foundation

But I have to make a choice about dinner; the warm delights of the Club restaurant and its Mongolian Barbecue feature,  or a home baked pizza from the Boma cafe delivered still steaming to my tent if I prefer eating in. Both of these fine rustic establishments lie just a few steps away and are far too tempting so I plumb for both, after all, I survived the giraffe’s didn’t I?

Port Lympne Wildlife Park 085

After dinner, Ranger Andrew offers me a night time safari, a chance to see the parks’ nocturnal residents going about their after dark business,  however everyone at Elephant Lodge gets an escorted safari included each day and because the animals roam free you can never be sure quite what you will encounter. There is also a stunning range of additional paid for safaris offering unique experiences amongst roaming wild animals  the likes of which have never before been possible in the UK.

EL_DOUBLE_ROOM

That night I sleep in my surprisingly comfortable double bed, the flickering flames of the wood burning stove dancing along the tent walls and I dream of giraffes.

All animal images (c) Andy Mossack.

I want a Port Lympne Safari. What ‘s the cost?

  • Gold Safari

 Enter the African experience to see the animals as they roam around freely. Head off road to find a suitable picnic site. Enjoy some drinks and snacks, relax while surrounded by animals. Your ranger will be on hand to tell you all about the animals and their behaviours. Visit the off show area to see the lions, tigers and hyena.

3 ½  hour experience.

Min 4 – Max 8 people. Min age 12 years.

£80 per person

 Platinum Safari

Get up close to a black rhino, one of Africa’s BIG 5! Then enter the African experience for an off road tour. Encourage the giraffes to come over for a close encounter.

Find a suitable picnic site to stop, enjoy drinks and snacks while surrounded by our amazing animals. The ranger will be on hand to tell you all about the animals and their behaviours.

Visit the off show area to see the lions, tigers and hyena.

5 hour experience. Min 4 – Max 8 people. Min age 12 years.

£125 per person.

  • Bush breakfast

Set off on safari through the African experience where the animals roam freely. Go off road to get a better view of these amazing animals. The ranger will guide you to the game viewing deck. You can relax and enjoy watching the animals while having breakfast. A Premium continental breakfast is offered along with hot bacon sandwiches.

2 hour experience.

Min 6 – Max 12 people.

£15 per person

 Night Safari

 Set off on a guided tour of the African experience. Use the spotlights provided to observe the animals at night, a unique opportunity. Go off road to get even closer to the animals. Then visit an off show area of the park where hopefully you will catch a glimpse of the lions, tigers and hyena at night.

. 2 ½  hour experience.

Min 4 – Max 10 people. £40 per person

 Rhino Safari

Get up close to one of Africa’s BIG 5, the Black rhino. The ranger will take you to one of the black rhino enclosures where you can take the opportunity to hand feed this endangered species. Then head off on a guided tour of the African experience.

2 hour experience.

Min 4 – Max 10 people. £25 per person

 Access All Areas Tour

Get up close to a black rhino and have the opportunity to feed one.

Then head off onto the African experience for an off road guided tour.

Encourage the Giraffes over for a close encounter. Visit lions and tigers that are off show to the public, hopefully you might catch a glimpse of the brown hyena.

3 hour experience.

Min 4 – Max 10 people. £50 per person

  • Sunset Safari

Take a safari through the African experience, go off road to get even closer to the animals as they roam around their 100 acre enclosure. The ranger will guide you to the game viewing platform where you can enjoy drinks and snacks while watching the animals.

3 ½ hour experience.

Min 4 – Max 10 people. £50 per person

 http://www.aspinallfoundation.org/short-breaks

 

 

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