On a birthday weekend come "mini-moon" up to Aviemore, we visited the one place that needs to be on everyone's list - The Highland Wildlife Park. One of the biggest attractions in the area and certainly worth your while. Here's how we got on ...
After a previous day playing with reindeer we were looking for an activity to fill our second day in the Cairngorms before heading back home on the three hour drive back to Glasgow. The options are a little more limited when visiting in February if you're not planning on skiing, as many of the local attractions are in their off season but lucky for us the Highland Wildlife Park is open throughout the year. With the prospect of a quiet day playing spot the animal, we took the short trip from our base at Newtonmore to Kincraig.
Having been to the park before, we know the entry fee is a little steep but probably in line with other bigger attractions. Though top tip if you have some pre-warning of your visit - you can exchange Tesco Clubcard points for entry tokens at a very good rate! We didn't really think that far ahead so ended up paying full price at the gate.
We decided to plan our day around the various talks given by the Highland Wildlife Park's knowledgeable staff. After we parked the car, we made our way to red panda enclosure. At first we thought the enclosure was empty, but another couple told us to look up and we found the pair of cute creatures at the top of the highest tree. It's easy to see why they often escape from zoos and wildlife parks, being such adept climbers. The staff member soon arrived and told us all about red pandas and that they sleep most of the day so not to expect too much from them although, they apparently climbed down right after we left to see the wolverine talk.
After our first two talks we opted to take a little break from the outdoor wanders and hop back in the car to enter the drive through section of the park. You’ll see all the larger animals here roaming in the vast paddocks which is nice to see they have so much space to roam. The first creatures you’ll come across are bison who are lovely creatures but truly huge causing you to quickly consider how safe you are in your little tin can car.
Some other very exciting park residents are the Przewalski’s horses. Thought to be the closest surviving species to the original horse, these beautiful animals were once extinct in the wild but are now slowly being reintroduced to Mongolia.