There’s a new glamping experience in Bristol that brings you close to wildlife, a comfy bed and some of the best burgers ever.  Wild Place Project’s brand new Camp Baboon opens this week and Destination Bristol’s Head of Tourism, Kathryn Davis and daughter Maya were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of this incredible venture.

Kathryn Davis

Image - Kathryn Davis at Camp Baboon

A quick trip from central Bristol on a Friday afternoon got us to Wild Place at Camp Baboon in time for check in at 4.30pm (top tip - to make the most of your stay, you could arrive at Wild Place any time after it opens at 10am). We’ve been here many times before, but were very excited to be staying the night and getting to see what really happens after the doors close to the public.

Along with our fellow guests, we made our way past the Giraffes and the Gelada Baboons and into the site of the new luxury cabins.  This might be a camp, but there is no ‘camping’ - it’s like discovering a little Hobbit Town.  The cabins are clean, warm and have one of the most comfortable beds ever, along with great bunk beds (big enough for a teenager and cosy enough for a smaller one) and a smart bathroom.  And the rainfall shower…. Wow. Good job there’s a busy itinerary as it would be very easy to find excuses to curl up among the cushions for a bit longer after a busy week.

Camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

As well as a luxury cabin and after hours’ access to the park, a stay includes some brilliant experiences.  We re-joined the rest of the happy campers, and set off on a woodland walk, ready to learn new bushcraft skills (new to me anyway) at a clearing.  That was after stopping to look at animal tracks along the way and learning how to spot a fox by its poo. 

With expert tuition, I now know at least four new ways to start a fire in the open, even if I was only able to manage to do one.  After a bit of stick whittling (we’ll come back to that) we were on our way to the café area for dinner.  A great BBQ greeted us, the grill full of burgers, hotdogs, their veggie and GF equivalents and bowls of fresh salads in the café with a range of drinks you can choose to buy (and some rather lovely profiteroles), plus water is available (top tip – you can buy a bottle of wine, have a glass with dinner and send the bottle back to your hut for later). 

walk camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

After filling tummies full of delicious dinner, we were off again for a walk around some of the animal enclosures with our expert guide.  It won’t be too long before you’ll be lucky enough to do this by torchlight – given we were in late June, the sun was still kind enough to light our way.  It’s incredible how the animals come to life and are more inquisitive as the sun goes down, with the wolves and giraffes particularly active.

Camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

After walking off the burgers, we headed back to camp to collect our freshly whittled sticks, and the jars of marshmallows waiting in our huts and enjoy a spot of campfire chat while we toasted our sweets, accompanied by a hot chocolate or the remaining wine from dinner.

Camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

After a truly wonderful night’s sleep, we were woken at 6.45 to give us time to get ready for the morning tour.  As we gathered our things together (while whistling the ‘morning report’ from the Lion King I’m ashamed to say) the early start didn’t matter as we were off to see more of the animals that call Wild Place home.  And even more special, we got to give them breakfast.  Camp hosts were brilliant at explaining more about the animals themselves as you offer up food – we got to throw vegetables to the Gelada Baboon’s (top tip – they go for the leeks first) and then wander over to the Meerkats to feed them their light breakfast pellets.  And then it was time to feed us, but it wouldn’t be Wild Place without a wander through the Lemur enclosure and there was much ahh-ing at the ‘lemur balls’ that greeted us.

And then the very special treat – breakfast with the Giraffe.  New to Wild Place this year, the elegant giraffes have an indoor house and a huge outdoor paddock.  We opted to take our porridge and fruit (ok, and pastries) outside and were over the moon when they decided to join us.

Camp baboon

Image - Camp Baboon, Wild Place Project

We had to check out and head home, but you can either spend the rest of the day at Wild Place (after checking out of your cabin) or the stay includes free parking and entry to Bristol Zoo Gardens.  With more planning, I would have definitely taken this option and popped 15 minutes back into Bristol and spent the day there.

A stay at Camp Baboon is very special and as enjoyable for teens as for the tots and adults.  There is a little bit of walking (and after the great food it was very welcome) so think about smaller ones.  As well as a comfortable bed, superb shower and great food, it is the experiences that are really wonderful -  not just getting to see the animals themselves when everyone else has gone home, but the brilliant camp hosts who are bursting with information and insight.  It’s like you’ve been invited to be part of a secret club for the night and I can’t wait to go back again.

Written by Kathryn Davis

For more exclusive animal experiences in boutique accomodation, you can also stay overnight at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Click here to find out more...

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