Halo Children’s Foundation is a local charity which helps support bereaved children. Sophie has been going to their monthly group sessions for just over a year now. She enjoys the activities there, such as crafts and yoga, and making friends. One of the things Halo aims to do is to help the children make happy new memories. At the start of the summer holidays we made some happy memories on a day out with other Halo families at Port Lympne Safari and Reserve.
Port Lympne is run by the Aspinall Foundation, a conservation charity which aims to return captive-bred animals to their native habits. It is home to over 700 animals, including lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), giraffes, gorillas and the largest herd of black rhino in the UK.
Our day out was organised by intu Uxbridge who have been supporting Halo as their nominated charity over the last couple of years. It was an early start for us. We were meeting up at intu Uxbridge at 8.15am for a group photo by the Halo angel wings before catching the coach. Sophie was quite fascinated to be wandering around the shopping centre before the shops had “woken up.” She had brought her Jessica-bunny along for her day out. Some of my blogging friends sent this to her shortly after Jessica died. Lately, it has become the one toy that always seems to go everywhere with her. I think it is her way of keeping Jessica close to her.
It has taken Sophie a little while to make friends at Halo. There is one girl who is a little older whom she absolutely loves though. She sat with her friend on the coach and it was lovely to listen to them chatter and play with Sophie’s toys together. I think the coach driver may have taken a wrong turn when getting on to the M25 though. Fifteen minutes into the journey we came off the motorway, and then headed back on to it in the other direction!
We were greeted by one of the park rangers when we arrived and had a guided walk around. I was at the back of the group though so missed out on some of the information about the animals that we saw on the walk. We saw an Amur tiger and some Barbary lions before walking through the wallaby enclosure. It was amazing to see the wallabies so close up and to be right inside the enclosure with them. We also saw the lemurs and the black rhinos. Thomas loved the lemurs and was smiling and waving at them.
Next up was a safari ride around the park on one of the safari trucks. There was a bit of queue for the safari truck ride. Thankfully there is a children’s play area right next to it so the children can play while the adults wait in the queue.
The safari ride goes from Basecamp to Carnivore Territory, taking in the animals in the African Experience and Asian Experience. You can then either take the safari truck back to Basecamp or walk back to take in Carnivore Territory, Dinosaur Forest and the Primate Experience. There is a buggy park at Basecamp and strollers that you can borrow at both locations. Thomas fell asleep in the wrap during the safari truck ride and stayed asleep most of the way back to Basecamp so we didn’t need to use one of the park’s strollers.
The safari experience was definitely our favourite part of the day out. We had such wonderful views of the different animals roaming around the park as well as beautiful views of the Kent countryside and coast. The giraffes were my favourites – such beautiful animals. We also saw a cheetah, red lechwe, deer, bison, water buffalo, painted dogs and many other animals.
I assumed that we were taking a round trip on the safari truck and left the cool bag with our picnic in back in Thomas’s buggy. This was a bit of a mistake as we all then stopped for lunch on arrival at the Carnivore Territory stop. Fortunately there was a food kiosk there and Sophie was quite happy just having an ice-cream. We ended up eating our picnic on the coach on the way home instead!
There was another play area at the picnic spot. Sophie particularly enjoyed the sand pit where she had fun digging for dinosaur bones.
The walk back from Carnivore Territory to Basecamp is quite a long and uphill one. I think we would have enjoyed it had we been able to take it at a leisurely place and spend more time looking at the animals along the way. Unfortunately, we were running out of time before we were due to get back on the coach to go home. It felt like quite an arduous trek back to Basecamp.
On the plus side, we did manage to stop briefly to look at a few animals along the way. Sophie’s favourite animals are the meerkats so we had to stop for a moment to look at these. The red pandas are one of my favourites. Somehow we managed to miss their enclosure on our way past the gorilla pavilion though.
Back at Basecamp, we retrieved Thomas’s buggy and headed for the gift shop. Each of the children had been gifted with a voucher to spend there. We found a dinosaur playset for Thomas and Sophie added a couple more cuddly toys to her collection. She loves her cuddly toys.
We spent about four hours at Port Lympne and could have done with a couple more. I’d certainly recommending having a full day there if you are planning a visit. We enjoyed our visit very much though – thank you Halo and intu for a lovely day out.
Visiting Port Lympne – what you need to know:
Port Lympne Reserve