Catching some Zzzzzs at the Zoo

This weekend I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since 2012 when Jersey Zoo, formerly Durrell Wildlife, opened their Wildlife Camp, offering the opportunity to stay a night, or a week if you fancy, on the grounds of this wonderful place.

Wildlife Camp this might be, but ‘roughing it’ it is certainly not. Each self contained spacious yurt is sturdy, carpeted and contains real beds. No sleeping bags or ground sheets are required here. Each unit also has its own private bathroom and equipped kitchen right next door, with everything down to a corkscrew supplied (thankfully, as we forgot ours!). This is Glamping with a capital Glam.

I’d heard only good things from friends who had been lucky enough to stay already, so having an animal loving friend visiting from Australia seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it for ourselves.

We were warmly greeted on arrival by Al, who showed us to ‘Indri’ our home for the evening, before running through a tour of the facilities and safety briefing and leaving us to settle in.

The first job was to introduce ourselves to the neighbours. Now usually a group of noisy, excitable swingers wouldn’t be my first choice of camp mate, but I could make an exception when they are this cute. I’m talking of course about the Ring-tailed and Black & White Lemurs who reside just over the fence from camp, on the banks of aptly named Lemur lake.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on our private sun deck watching them bounce, frolic and chatter just feet away. Not long after their feeding time we realised it was time for ours. Despite the kitchen offering plenty of scope to create a meal ourselves, this was a special occasion so we had booked into Cafe Firefly at the Zoo entrance for their Meze & BBQ special. I’d heard a lot about about this treat, but nothing prepared for how delicious it was going to be, and stunning value at £15 each. After stuffing our faces we walked/waddled back to our yurt by torchlight, and settled in for the night.

Al had earlier given us a lesson in how to use the wood burning stove that takes pride of place in each yurt, so with a September chill in the air we got stuck straight in. Matches, kindling and enough treated logs for one night are supplied, and more are available to buy on site if required.

With the fire roaring we tucked into a bottle of Malbec (thanks again to the corkscrew) and played an intense game of Durrell Monopoly. Snug as bugs inside, the atmosphere was only made cosier by distant thunder and the tip tap of rain on canvas. If only Elle & I were each other’s type this might have been the most romantic night of our lives.

Sensible girls as we are, we were tucked up in cloud soft beds by midnight, and slept like logs until the alarm call we’d been warned to expect in advance. Just before 7am the Lemurs collectively announced that the day had begun, and it was time to jump to it. Impossible to sleep through this cry (unless your name is Elle) thankfully their shouting only lasts a few seconds, and I was soon dozing again, but this time dreaming happily of African safaris.

Like a snooze function the Lemurs remind us that it’s morning around every half an hour, and at the 3rd call we relented and dragged ourselves up for coffee on the deck.

By 10am we had packed up, said a sad goodbye to our temporary home and set out  to explore the Zoo itself (more of which later).

Our night in the ‘wild’ is one that we won’t soon forget, and one that I’ll certainly repeat at the next opportunity. As a fan of unique and characterful accommodation this place shot straight into my all time top 5, and lucky for me it’s right around the corner from home.

Whether you are visiting Jersey or live here and are looking for a fun and unique weekend staycation then this girl highly recommends a night or 3 at Durrell Wildlife Camp. Thanks to Ashley, Al, Vicky and the team in Cafe Firefly for making it such a memorable occasion for us.

(This post is neither a promotion nor an ad. All expenses were paid personally and my opinion is unbiased)


With stars at our feet….

Just before 11.30pm last Friday night, we found ourselves standing somewhat apprehensively in almost complete darkness at La Rocque Harbour. For people more accustomed to the bright lights of the Weighbridge at that time on a Friday, it was a little unusual to say the least.

Any initial nerves melted away however when we were approached and warmly greeted by Derek of Jersey Walk Adventures who was to be our guide for the evening, ably assisted by his colleague Trudie.

Furnished with hired wellington boots and with brief introductions made to our fellow late night adventurers, we made our way cautiously down on to the beach to begin the hunt for what must be the most fascinating and mystical of Jersey’s marine life, tiny bioluminescent worms that inhabit the sands around the south east coast RAMSAR site. Noted by local fishermen for time immemorial, these real Jersey wonders have only come to the attention of the scientific world in the last half a dozen years.

Blessed with a cloudless night, our orientation briefing included Derek pointing out planets and constellations in the star crowded sky above us, before we made off, away from the car headlights and warmly lit windows of land and into the inky dark moonscape ahead.


We hadn’t ventured far, picking our way around rocks and clumps of seaweed as our eyes slowly started to adjust to the darkness, before we hit gold – or green, to be more precise. Gathering us into an expectant circle, Derek dragged one wellington-clad foot through the sand and shingle seabed, and the group let out a collective gasp as the channel he’d created lit up like a Christmas tree, with the light of a thousand minute luminescent worms, each hardly wider than a human hair and glowing for all they were worth. It was quite honestly the most breathtaking and unexpected example of the wonders of nature that I’ve ever seen, and less than a 10 minute drive from my own front door here in Jersey.

I don’t want to spoil all the surprises before you take part in this fantastic walk yourself (and I urge  you to do so) but the next hour or so passed in a haze of child like discovery and delight, splashing through underwater fireworks and writing our initials in twinkling sand, punctuated by just the right mix of facts, anecdotes and jokes from our knowledgeable guides.

Before we knew it we were back at La Rocque, stamping the sand off our boots and wondering if that really just happened. If you only do one new thing this year, I urge you to go out and discover these mysterious creatures who share our Island for yourself, but please do not forget that our beautiful coastline is treacherous and low tide walks MUST be undertaken with a qualified guide. You can book the bioluminesence walk, amongst a selection of others, with Jersey Walk Adventures.

(It is far beyond my modest capabilities to take photographs of this phenomenon, so for the purpose of this post I have borrowed an image from Jersey Walk Adventures/Phil Halper)