Fota Wildlife is one of Irelands gems. Its an annual must do for our family and it will always be part of the boys childhood. We’re only an hour from Cork city so I have an eternal soft spot for the city and count, it being the centre point for so many of my own childhood memories and family days out.
When Fota Wildlife invited me to experience some of the Behind the scenes tours I was thrilled. I love animals and I’m fascinated with wildlife. When young free and single if there was a wildlife experience to be had where we travelled, that’s where you found me. From petting Cheetahs in Capetown, Shark cage diving and swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas! So honestly I did wonder how Fota’s experiences would live up to my past exploits or would it just be something more appreciated by children.
It did not disappoint it was such a thrill. The experience was well organised and the tour was facilitated with thought and planning. Willy the ranger was incredibly interesting and passionate. Working in Fota over 30 years this man not only knows his stuff but he takes it all personal too and that’s really nice to see. His compassion and empathy for the animals and the environment is infectious.
The animal encounters themselves were amazing. With no corners cut this was up close and personal and every bit as thrilling as my other encounters. For god sakes my hand was fully inside that rhinos mouth!!! I expected it to be a wonderful day out but I didn’t expect to learn so much or for the encounters to be so special!
I would do it all again in a heart beat and will definitely be going when both boys are old enough for the full encounters experience. They will be blown away, I just know it!
Top Tips for the Tours and general Trips to Fota Wildlife:
– Check out the list of Private Tours available and pick which best suits your party.
-Book any behind the scenes tour in advance of your trip. There is a limit to how many they run and how many people can attend, so don’t be disappointed.
– Check out the age limit on the tours against your parties occupants as they will not be allowed up close and personal for safety reasons and rightly so, plus it’ll be lost on the babies anyway 😉
– Bring a jacket even if your lucky enough to get fine weather like we did you are transported around on a golf buggy which is shaded and very breezy as you motor about. So unless the sun is splitting the rocks you’ll need something.
-Bring cash and coins. For the train ride (€1-€2), Bird feed (50c) and Car park(€3). The park does not profit from either the bird feed which goes straight to conservation or the car park which goes straight to Fota House the owners of the cark park.
– Wear runners, its a day for walking and running and the park itself is big.
– Bring wellies as if you get a wet day there will be a few areas a little bit mucky.
– Bring a picnic, there are a few nice spots to snack and dine but if your on a budget there are plenty of spots to picnic. We ate in the Oasis and Savannah cafe/restaurants during our stay from teas and cakes to pizza and curries everyone was happy and it was served hot and fresh.
-Bring a buggy, there’s a nice bit of walking but if your buggy folds up easily you can happily pop it on the train and get that back from the farthest point in the park back to reception again. Particularly handy if you’ve a child not really cooperating.
– There are plenty of toilets and changing facilities in the bathrooms they can be found at the two separate cafe/restaurant areas near the playgrounds.
– The Fota Island resort hotel is literally 3 minutes away from the wildlife park so if you want to stay in a family friendly five star that’s incredibly convenient to the park there’s no question as to where to go. I could not fault it from start to finish and I hope they invite us back again because id bite their hand off. From pool to playroom, to family dining and service it was perfection!!
Other hotel options not as close to the wildlife park but top notch family friendly hotels we loved are The Montenotte Hotel and Castle Martyr Resort.
Prices and Opening Hours:
As regards the price point for the tours, I feel if you compare like with like its on point with similar excursions and experiences if not better. A falconry experience can cost anywhere between €50-€70 per person for example.
Above all with Willy the ranger by your side your for sure going to get enough bang for your buck. He is so passionate and so patient and not a bad photographer either!! And as I always say about days like this when people talk prices, your investing in animal conservation and our countries amenities!
Side note, can you imagine the heating bill in the tropical house? 😂
Enjoy Dee x