Author: Helen P
One of our favourite places where we try to go at least once a year is Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park. We took advantage of Local’s Day in May this year when residents with local North Devon postcodes can enter the park for £5 each with proof of address. And we chose the perfect day to do it! Bright, warm and sunny!
Visiting the park in the height of summer can leave you in a lengthy queue, but if you plan ahead, you can enter quicker if you book online. Prepaying on the website also includes a discount. See their website for up to date ticket prices
If you’ve ever been here before, the first thing you always do is check your map and park guide for the timetable of animal feeding, talks and show times. The daily schedule is also on a large signpost at the top of the park next to the Dino Express Train – more about this later.
Things to see and do at Combe park
For our visit we started at the top of the park and began a leisurely walk through, then over to the sea lion pool for the Sea Lion Show. The Wildlife Park is set on a hillside and works it’s way down the hillside into a wooded valley. All the paths are accessible to walkers, although some are quite steep and at the deepest part of the park some of the paths have steps and are not very accessible for wheelchairs or buggies.
We walked through open enclosure with wallabies roaming free and can hop over to you and cross your path as you walk through. There’s even an albino! Next to the wallabies in a fenced enclosure were white ruffed lemurs sleeping in the sun and a pelican preening it’s feathers.
But where do the dinosaurs come in? On a winding path we found them hiding in the trees, some roaring and some moving, all with their own information panels. My son enjoys reading out the names and finding his favourites.
Further down we watched the gibbon family for a while. Several of them were swinging at great speeds around their enclosure and there was a cute baby copying the adults. One big advantage of visiting on a warm, sunny day is the animals are more likely to be outside going about their animal business and don’t seem to mind people watching them.
When we reached the sea lion pool, it was already very busy but we managed to squeeze in. The pool is surrounded by a concrete stepped seating area with seat pads available to sit on. The sea lion show takes place twice daily with two of the park’s three sea lions and is always a great favourite. It’s amazing to see them willingly perform fun tricks and swim gracefully through the water.
We stopped for drinks in the Jungle Hut Cafe. The cafe isn’t big but has a good menu for it’s size. There is also the Oasis Deli further into the park and food and refreshments available inside the indoor playzone. We brought a packed lunch to eat on the day. There are picnic benches around the park and a large lawn in front of the main building which you can picnic on in the sunshine.
After lunch we had an Animal Antics Encounter which involved animals which aren’t really favourites in anyone’s list – a cockroach, snake and a skunk. It was quite smelly as it ran past us! The meerkat enclosure is next to this. Feeding encounters take place twice and visitors can get really close to the cute creatures and are even allowed into their enclosure under supervision of the keeper.
In the Main Square of the park are several attractions including Critter Caverns with huge insects from all over the world, Tomb of the Pharaohs, a reptile room and the Dinosaur show with a huge T-Rex and dinosaurs which wake up on the hour and some even squirt water! There’s also a mini dinosaur museum and gift shop in the main building with some interesting artefacts and fossils.
The afternoon was spent looking at the lions and walking around the newer enclosures at the west side of the park. Further down the park is the famous wolf pack of Combe Martin. The paths here are flat but accessible to buggies and wheelchairs. At the bottom a new area was under construction which looks as though it’s future inhabitants may be leopards. The Japanese gardens are worth a visit if you are up for a walk around the park. Our day was finished off with a visit to the Dinosaurus indoor playzone where adults can take a breather and kids can run off the rest of their energy.
If you fancy, you can take a ride on the Dino Express Train but be prepared to get splashed! There is an extra charge for the train ride. It’s better to take the train later in the day when queues can be less busy. And don’t forget your anorak!
The only downside of the visit was the Tropical House which was under refurbishment but hopefully it will be looking good for our visit next year.
Other photos from their visit
For up to date information, directions, buying tickets and a park map see the website. The park is open from mid March until early November. If you purchase your tickets 48 hours in advance online then you will receive a discounted price. Currently if you book in advance on their website they are charging £13.00 for an adult, £12.00 for a child aged 3-15 years and under 3’s are free.
A day out at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park | A Review, Devon
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