We chose a beautiful sunny day in August to take the kids to Port Lympne wildlife park in Kent and enjoyed a great day out visiting some rare and endangered animals from around the world.
Our tickets, booked in advance as required, allow visitors to choose half-hour arrival slots to ensure social distancing is maintained from entry, which we expected as part of our experience.
The adventure began the minute we entered the park and encountered a whole host of excitable primates. These included some vocal howler monkeys – a call can be heard up to 5km away! – Javan gibbons and langurs, lemurs, capuchins and colobus, and huge troops of drill and Guinea baboons.
Set in 600-acres of Kent countryside, Port Lympne is currently home to 14 critically endangered eastern black rhinos – the largest herd in the UK – and we were thrilled when two of the rhinos wandered over to meet us on our trail.
We were also excited to see four critically endangered Western lowland silverback gorillas emerge from their dens to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. The bachelors live apart from the family group at The Palace of the Apes, but it was a real privilege to see these magnificent creatures so close – and fascinating to watch them checking us out! (We later agreed this was the highlight of our day).
Further along our trail, we entered the Dinosaur Forest, the UK’s largest outdoor dinosaur exhibition, where life-size replicas loomed around every corner – including a terrifying T-rex!
We also managed to see the Amur tigers, the largest cats in the world, who had just enjoyed a huge meaty meal and were lazily rolling around in the long grass.
The cheetahs, clouded leopards, margay and fishing cats were also spotted close by, with the beautiful Pallas cats wonderful to watch, but incredibly difficult to photograph in their rocky habitat due to their amazing camouflage!
We didn’t get to see the giraffes, zebra and other animals on the African safari on this occasion, but the meerkats offered great entertainment, as did the adorable red pandas and bush dogs, with the park offering more than enough to see and do in one day.
Although hilly in parts, there were lots of cafes positioned throughout the trail – with places to rest and enjoy the beautiful views across the Kent countryside and over Romeny Marsh towards the sea.
As predicted, the kids were very excited to visit the gift shop on the way out, and among the many souvenirs purchased to remind us of a wonderful day was a cuddly gorilla – just like the ones we encountered, of course! 🦍
For more information on visiting Port Lympne – including details on luxury overnight stays – go to www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne