Earlier this month I went to Port Lympne Reserve for the opening of their new Pinewood Camping Pods – and very swish they are too.
Port Lympne Reserve
Port Lympne Reserve is a wild animal park in Kent in the South of England. The park is home to a range of animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, ostriches and black rhinos. The park is part of the Aspinall Foundation, an animal conservation charity.
Pinewood Camping Pods
The ten new wooden camping pods are in a grassy woodland area which is opposite the cheetah enclosure and close to the lions and tigers. The pods look cosy and comfortable and the compact design of the interiors and the clever use of space made me think of a ship’s cabin. Each pod has twin beds and a double futon and can sleep up to two adults and two children.
The pods have exterior decks and barbecues and there’s also a clubhouse with a pool table and some chairs. A few metres from the pods is a toilet and shower block which looked clean and functional. The pods are a minute’s walk from the park’s welcoming café which serves hot food and drinks and which has a woodburner in one corner. There are no fridges in the camping pods so I guess that guests would take cool boxes and rely on the café to freeze ice packs for them. The pods have power and lighting and there are spare sockets so that you can recharge your phone and other devices.
Port Lympne Reserve covers over 600 acres and is the only reserve in the UK which is breeding critically endangered Black Rhino to be returned to the wild. You can go on an African Experience Safari at the reserve to see black rhinos, giraffes, ostriches and zebras roaming freely. I didn’t have time for a safari when I visited but I did see these tigers being fed:
Port Lympne Accommodation
There are several other types of accommodation on offer at Port Lympne besides the camping pods. Livingstone Lodge is a safari lodge where guests stay in luxury tents overlooking the area where the African animals roam free and with views as far as the Kent coast. Elephant Lodge is a glamping site overlooking the cheetah and elephant enclosures. Livingstone Cottage is a luxurious three-bedroom cottage which comes with a personal chef. The Mansion Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel in an Edwardian country house. There are also plans for a Treehouse Hotel to open later this year.
Howletts Wild Animal Park, also part of the Aspinall Foundation, is around 18 miles away from Port Lympne by road. It has the UK’s largest herd of African elephants and a family of Western lowland gorillas.
Family travel lowdown
The Port Lympne Pinewood camping pods are open all year round and cost from £79 per pod per night. Guests staying at the camping pods will have free entry to Port Lympne Reserve including access an hour before it opens to the public.