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Review: Howletts Wild Animal Park & Conservation Charity

Attraction - Others

Bekesbourne Lane, Bekesbourne, Littlebourne, Canterbury , Kent, CT4 5EL, United Kingdom

See rare and endangered species

  • By SilverTraveller Hardyplant

    37 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • November 2018
  • Husband

19 people found this review helpful

My husband and I have visited Howletts on many occasions as we’re only a short drive away and in the past have made good use of tickets that enabled us to visit multiple times throughout the year. We particularly enjoy visiting in winter as in addition to seeing the animals the paths make it a good place to walk when the ground is wet. Howletts is the smaller (100 acres) of two wildlife parks set up by the late John Aspinall in the 1980s to help in the conservation of endangered species and returning captive animals to the wild. The other wildlife park is Port Lympne, between Ashford and Hythe, also in Kent (review to follow). The last time we visited Howletts was in 2018, as the following year we mainly went to Port Lympne.

I’m not too sure about TICKET PRICES now as things are in rather a state of flux; in the past there have been day tickets, annual tickets and membership options. What will happen when they re-open remains to be seen, but I would guess it will still be cheaper to book online in advance rather than leaving it to the day of the visit. However, read the options available very carefully to make sure you pick the right one for you. Historically entrance has been free for children under 3 and the website will have details of concessionary rates.

Before setting out on your tour of the animals it’s a good idea to check up if any times are posted regarding feeding times and/or free talks being given on particular species. When the weather is cold some animals don’t come out of their shelters so you will not see every species, but this is not a zoo as such, and there will always be something of interest to see.

There are several routes around the park, but basically it’s easy to do a circular walk, with just a couple of cul-de-sac spurs leading off the main paths (down one you’ll see rhinos, and sometimes views of the elephants). There are two gorilla enclosures, the first of which is down a path to the left near the entrance and the other one is at the furthest corner of the site. In between are various big cats, numerous different primates, giant anteaters, wolves, wild cats and lots more to numerous to mention. Near the tigers is a separate secure entrance to an enclosed area which visitors can walk around with lemurs roaming free. The two main paths join up at a picnic spot and just after this is a Treetop Challenge at additional cost. The single path then goes down a slope to the second part of the site and here there’s a cafe that has always been open when we’ve visited. At this point there’s a choice of two paths but it doesn’t matter which one you choose as it’s another circular route, however, the elephants are to the right. Further on there is a children’s play area, cafe and toilets. I’ve heard people say that the food is a bit expensive but it is a charity in desperate need of money to keep the place going. However, you can take your own food and use the picnic tables provided if you don’t want to buy food there. A bit further on still are leopards, bison and to the right, past some honey badgers, is the entrance to the final area, which used to be the walled garden for the estate. This is where the large, newer gorilla enclosures are situated. On the way out of the park there is the inevitable gift shop with a pretty good range of books and gifts and also a farm shop.

Howletts is not geared up to provide extra entertainment for children other than the play area and Treetop Challenge – the animals and their conservation are the main functions – however, experience days and animal encounters can be booked for special occasions.

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE A CAR it is still possible to reach Howletts: one option is by bus.- the no. 43 Canterbury to Sandwich bus or the no. 11 Canterbury to Ramsgate/ Westwood Cross. Get off in the village of Littlebourne. Extra directions: when you get off the bus by the village hall and shop stay on the shop side of the road and walk back up the hill until you reach Jubilee Road. Cross over the main road here and on the other side is a footpath sign pointing down School Path, a narrow path that runs behind houses and gardens until it reaches a bend on Bekesbourne Lane, turn right here and the entrance to Howletts is on the right a very short walk along this busy road (be careful as there’s no pavement). Alternatively you can go by train to Bekesbourne station (on the London to Dover line) and then it’s a dangerous walk of about a mile and a quarter along Bekesboure Lane as for most of this route there is no pavement, so definitely not for children. However, in the past, during summer months, Howletts has run a minibus shuttle service at peak trom Canterbury East station so it’s worth checking this out.

See website for full details of opening times and prices

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • Patti365
    27 days ago
    I love Howletts and it’s sister zoo Port Lympne and recommend both. My only advice apart from recommending a visit is to maybe take a picnic as the food is cafeteria style mostly and not particularly adventurous. To help support the charity it’s nice to buy ice creams, drinks, etc and there is always the well stocked gift shop or animal adoptions to consider. All in all a great day out.
  • kingsoftz
    28 days ago
    Nice one