Destination: Bear Lodge – Port Lympne Wild Animal Park
Type of resort: Glamping – Animal Park
We were delighted to be offered the chance to review Bear Lodge, a Safari glamping site that sits overlooking and is part of Port Lympne wild Animal Park. I arranged to go for a one night stay in their 8 berth tents with a friend and her two children who are similar age to my own. My kids were very excited to being going on this trip, being 6 and 3, they were unsure what to expect as was I.
Finding the whole idea very exciting we set off from Watford and arrived 90 minutes later to a very well-manicured site that was easy to find. We were pleasantly surprised to find it was spacious yet small enough to feel safe and nicely laid out.
We arrived earlier than the 2pm stated check-in; we were quickly found a tent with no hassle and were settled in quickly. We were tent number 8, and as the site is small and the tents all identical (apart from 10 that has a raised veranda) and the view was spectacular.
The tents are great, very clean, spacious and well equipped. We had a large living area as well as a covered veranda with a sofa, table and two chairs to sit and enjoy the views. Unfortunately the tent had NO cooking facilities however there was a kettle but there was no milk and we were nowhere near a shop.
There were 2 bedrooms and a leather sofa that turns into a double bed in the living area. The double bedroom that is at the back would not fit any travel cots in but is a good size and comfortable. The second bedroom is at the back and has access to the toilet and has bunk beds. There is enough room in this bedroom for at least two travel cots possibly three.
Washroom and toilets
The toilets and showers are accessed through zips at the back of the tent via the two bedrooms. There is a central area and to the left a spacious flushing toilet and sink and the right a hot and powerful shower. The lights in these areas are push lights so battery operated and not very bright but do the job.
For me with younger children and definitely had I bought my 18 month old triplets, I would have preferred to face the site rather than the view, but this is a personal preference. I think this would have been a bigger issue for me had we stayed more than one night.
We decided to head straight off to the wildlife park which was a very short drive down the road and overlooked the park and the Elephant paddock . There is a gate that connects the site with the park; however you can only use this with a member of staff and on the arranged evening activities.
The wildlife park is lovely; it wasn’t busy at all and was not as commercialised as a lot of others. There was a lot of walking however and it’s hilly. You need more than a few hours to get around the whole site and the kids loved the play areas.
We headed back to the site to get changed and have some dinner in the restaurant / clubhouse.
In the middle of the site sits a large wooden ‘clubhouse’ that houses a large veranda with views to die for, a few sofas, large flat screen TV, board games and 8 – 10 dining tables with the kitchen and Mongolian BBQ at the other end. They serve an all you can eat breakfast, menu lunch and choice of either menu or Mongolian BBQ for dinner.
The club house faces the tents of which there are 10. They face away from the camp site and overlook the amazing view from of the wildlife park, the Kent coastline and the sea.
At dinner we opted for the Mongolian BBQ, this was £15 for a small portion which was cooked in front of us with our chosen ingredients. We were offered the chance to have a go at the cooking, which we declined, but some of the older children staying there did and were rewarded with chef hats. The food was good, though a bit on the pricey side. We had breakfast lunch and dinner there for myself and 2 children, we had a few drinks and I had a desert. The price was nearly £80 for that, which was fine for our stay but you would want to eat off site if you were there any longer and I would definitely have missed the option of some home cooking over a period of a week!
We spoke to a couple of people that had been there a week and they agreed that the food was expensive, that they would have liked to have been able to have breakfast in their tents and there was a lack of healthy options for the kids.
For a campsite the restaurant was brilliant in terms of quality food, and is lovely and a luxury to have the option to eat there. I think the problem was it was your only onsite option; a small shop to buy milk for tea, cereal and a toaster / microwave in the tents would be a great balance.
On your stay at Bear Lodge, activities are arranged each night should you wish to participate. We were told that feeding the lions were one of these, though we were happy enough to be going on a safari named ‘The African Adventure’ with the bonus being it was out of hours and the park was closed. We were led through a gate from the campsite and into safari trucks. We were taken into a part of the park where the animals roam free and were delighted to get up close to giraffes, zebra, wilderbeast and loads more.
The view was breath-taking with the sea on one side and Lympe Castle up on the hill the other. The kids loved the trip and it wasn’t too long that they got bored either.
The site was safe with numerous CCTV cameras and a secure keypad entry gate (however this was kept open for most of the day). You can’t lock your tents, not at night or during the day, which felt strange.
Overall we had a great time and would return. The views were outstanding and it was a memorable trip.
Don’t forget to check out our Holiday Review pages – if you have been on a holiday that you would like to review for us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org