Tuesday 20 December 2011

Christmas at South Lakes Wild Animal Park

It's been just over a year since I first went to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park so I was very pleased to win a full Christmas Experience visit there from my local free paper The Citizen. If we had been able to go on a Saturday then it would have started with a breakfast with Father Christmas but on a Tuesday this wasn't available.

So we started off with taking our free animal feed to the emu and wallaby enclosure. As you can see on some of the photos below my children took great delight in feeding the permitted animals:

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Then we partook of a much needed free hot drink in the Maki restaurant before exploring more of the Park. It is full of a wide variety of rare and endangered breeds that the Park are captive breeding. Despite the cold plenty of the animals were out and about for us to see. 

We had a couple of attempts at trying to go skating and had to retreat to the restaurant for our Christmas lunch. Unfortunately there was a a big rush due to the one and only downpour we had all day. This meant we had to wait quite a while to be served but once it arrived it was delicious. It was extra festive to get a cracker to pull whilst enjoying it! There was a little gap until we had a confirmed skating spot so we headed off to see the giraffes and reindeer. My daughter enjoyed feeding both species and my son just fed the reindeer (got to make sure Santa's sleigh gets here on Xmas Eve!). 
Three of us then got geared up to get on the fake ice rink. My daughter confidently wobbled off round the edge but my son put half a boot on the rink and then refused to get on at all!. My daughter definitely went for the comedy effect with the way she kept falling over. I just tried to avoid being sent flying by the young skaters on the ice.

We then had our trip to Santa's grotto on the mini steam train. It was taken right into the workshop where the children were individually greeted by Father Christmas before being presented with a named gift. Then a photo before steaming back out back to the start of the track. Typically my son thought his sister's present (plastic ark with animals) was much better than his (wooden animal jigsaw) but we managed to avert a complete break down! He was also mollified by the hot chocolate that came with the grotto trip.

There was a while to wait before our night safari so my son and I went to give out the last of the animal feed whilst my daughter took Granddad to the Nativity and another visit to Santa (she worked out that this wasn't the same one as he was wearing different glasses and didn't remember her from earlier!). I'm sorry I missed out on the nativity as there were real donkeys and the children got to take part (think my 5 year old wouldn't have enjoyed it as much).

A brief retiring to the cafe whilst the children tried out their second present from Santa (this time colouring books etc.) as they had to clear the park of "normal" guests before we went on the Night Safari. This was a guided tour round part of the park with a keeper who gave us interesting information about the animals. It was quite eerie hearing the sound of the male lion as we walked down to the lion enclosure in the dark.

By now the children were shattered so with a brief farewell to the giraffes we headed home. Overall a great experience for all of us and I'd love to be able to afford to do some of those bits again next year!

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