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)