So many of my friends and family have told me about their visit to Fota wildlife park in Co Cork and I was so glad that myself and Ali had the opportunity to visit last weekend. It still amazes me how many places there are to visit in this beautiful country and when we arrived at Fota it was absolutely jammers! We had to park in the overflow car park which was a great sign! Fota wildlife park is situated just off the main N25 Waterford road as you are coming from Cork city. Take the sign for the R264 off the motorway and it is well signposted from there.
As I said the park was hopping on this particular day but there was plenty of parking and plenty of guys directing us where to get parking. It took us just 2 minutes to get to the gate to get our tickets. We bought the guide also to make sure we didn’t miss anything- its only €1. Inside the main gate you are greeted with an expanse of green and we could hear the animals in the distance. In front of you is a train stop where you can take the park train tour. There are signs in front of you as you make your way through the park telling you which way to go for the recommended route.
We made our way over to the right and we were greeted with a field that had giraffes, zebras, ostrich and scimitar-horned oryx! All in the same area! The animals are all safely in their own area but they are so close to you at the same time! The giraffes at the time were just getting their dinner of some type of leaves. Park rangers were lining it up for them on tall stakes so they all looked like they were delighted with life. On the other side you had another huge area that was home to the cheetah run (the cheetahs were just hanging out that day and not doing much running!), the European bison and the red lechwe. So we had already seen 7 different animals and we had just started!
We made our way down to the Asian sanctuary to check out our next animal experience! Our first encounter here was with the Indian Rhino. It looks like they were wearing armour plates. Next door to the Rhino’s are the lar gibbons but they were hiding on that particular day. You cross over a bridge here and the trees on the far side of the bridge are home to the agile gibbon and the francois langurt. I had never even heard of some of these animals but we were getting a great education on them. There is a little plaque describing each animal and where its from in front of all of their homes.
From the Asian plains we made our way into the tiger forest. This is home to the sumatran tiger. An incredible rare species of tiger that total only 400 left in the wild. Again I couldn’t believe how close they were to us and they all seemed to be happy out just hanging around. There is a lovely little path that weaves itself through the forest here and an elevated platform to give you a better view of the tigers. There is a coffee shop situated here and we grabbed an ice-cream before making our way over to check out the lion-tailed macaque in their house and the warty pig.
From here we made our way through another forest area and back out to the beautiful duck pond. There is a little stand here where you can get some food to feed all the ducks. In the middle of the lake are little islands where lots of different animals live. The black howler monkey, the white faced saki and the red ruffed lemur to name a few. To the right of the lake we found the penquins! They were having a great time flapping their fins and they seemed to be genuinely entertaining the kids in front of them. They had a great big area to go frolicking.
The tropical house is on this side of the lake also and we took a wander in. It is so hot in here, but obviously that is to keep all the animals comfortable. In here we came into contact with some of the most amazing butterflies. In here you will also find 340 tropical plants, iguanas, turtles, snakes and tropical fish. The sweat was hopping off me after around 10 minutes so we made our way back out to the lake. At the end of the lake you will find the Oasis cafe and a lovely outdoor sitting area. There is also another train tour stop here.
Following our recommended route we came across the Chilean flamingos balancing themselves on one foot and right beside them the Colombian black spider monkey. The monkeys are well named as they crawling and swinging out of all the trees. They have really long limbs and they seemed to be getting great craic out of all the kids waving at them. We took a stroll then along monkey island walk to get a better view of the monkeys on the Islands. We walked up through the palm walk and came into contact with the ring tailed lemurs. These animals are native to Madagascar (a country I really want to visit!- next birthday maybe- hint hint Ali 🙂 ) and you will definitely hear them before you see them. They were just roaming free climbing up and down the branches of the trees.
We spent lots of time here just looking at the lemurs and then eventually made our way back around the prairie dog walk to check out the harbour seal and the white tailed sea eagle. The eagle was clearly having a day off so we made our way back up to cheetah hill. Just to mention at this point there are a few animals that roam around the park that you should watch out for. As well as the ring tailed lemur you might see the eastern grey kangaroo, the bennets wallaby (we saw this guy in the asian plains) and the mara.
At the top of cheetah hill we were greeted by the field that we started at the other side of. Along here there are cordoned off sections for some of the cheetahs. In one of the areas you could just see the 4 little cheetah cubs at the bottom. The mother cheetah had come right up to the fence to us. Probably to warn us to be quiet! Again I couldn’t get over just how close we were to these amazing animals. Further up we came right up and close to the red panda. There is a little kids play area along here also, even though the kids have lots of animals to keep them entertained anyway.
Our last encounter was getting really up close to the giraffes along here. You would nearly think that they are going to butt heads with you as they were all up along the fence. We realised at this stage that we had been in the park for almost three hours! Time flies when you’re having fun. We did miss some attractions along the way because we just got distracted by other animals that we wanted to see- so we will definitely be making a return journey. The park is open every day of the year except Christmas and St Stephens day. Adult admission is €16 and kids are €10.50. Toddlers under the age of 3 are free of charge. You can purchase membership for the year also which starts at €120. A good idea maybe if you have a few kids and your within in an hours drive of Fota!
We were guests of Fota wildlife park on this occasion so a big thank you to Esther and all the staff for welcoming us and giving us a fantastic day out. One that I would definitely recommend for everyone. So if you haven’t visited already get it on your Galavanting bucket list! I have attached the link to the website to book your tickets and find out more about the park- as always- Happy Galavanting! xx