If you’re looking for a unique walk in Kent then this will exceed your expectations. A real slice of Africa in the Garden of England!
Part of me wants to keep this walk a secret and protect it at all costs because I can’t believe something so precious exists upon our doorstep, but at the same time it is too beautiful not to share and that is because of the mesmerising animals you get to see for free along the way.
Located in West Hythe, this walk takes you along the Royal Military Canal and around the outskirts of Port Lympne Wildlife Park where you can see some of the giraffes, camels and wildebeest!
To find parking simply head past the entrance to the zoo and then turn right into West Hythe and drive down the hill. On the right there’s a small car park.
This car park is quite small however so carry on to the Prince of Wales pub which is a little further out, for plenty of parking if you don’t mind the extra steps! If you’re starting here find the river and follow it along to the left. It’s not difficult to get lost.
You’ll eventually get to the West Hythe car park I linked above where you’ll see a path that leads you into the woodland where you’ll walk for about 20 minutes before seeing any animals.
Be sure to take a pair of boots if it’s been raining, it can get rather muddy!
Finding the giraffes
As we walked further in I saw the giraffes in the distance and got so excited at the sight of them, unaware of how close we’d actually be able to get.
Modelled beautifully by Pam below is where the walk up the hill along the Port Lympne site continues and it was where we were lucky enough to be up close with the giraffes. Beyond this right turning there is hardly any animals to see if you were to carry on straight. (Do read on to find out what is straight on though because there’s still a lot of beauty to be seen once you’ve gone past the animals!)
I was genuinely blown away with how close we were to the giraffes going up that hill. I’m pretty sure they have around 110 acres to roam so I think my mum and I just got very lucky but we were standing no more than 20m from two that were feeding right at the side of the fence!
If you carry on up the hill you go right through the site, walking past the camels and looking out over the marsh. The walk up takes about 20 minutes and leads up to the main road. We walked to the top and then came back down to the bottom where we were lucky again to see a giraffe feeding experience taking place with 7 of the giraffes together.
It really is the most surreal sight to see so many healthy wild animals you wouldn’t typically see in England. I felt really touched. Obviously I still recommend visiting the zoo, I did it the week before this walk and I absolutely love it! The money from visitors helps the animals so definitely take the time to visit, it feels 10x more like Africa seeing them in a safari truck.
Beyond the giraffes
Not only can you get the chance to spot the animals but the Royal Military Canal runs along side and is so peaceful to stroll along. When you get to the end of the straight you’ll see a barrier and if you go left over the bridge you’ll be in the open with a better view of the river. We walked back on ourselves along the side of river which was serene. It makes a great fishing spot if you’re into that!
Either cross the bridge back into the trees and follow the path or go straight and both ways you’ll end up back at the car park. If you’re hungry there’s a micro pub called Unit Number One right by the river. We didn’t get a chance to try it when we wen’t but we definitely will next time.
There’s not many walks in England where you can spot giraffes along the way and I feel very lucky that I live so close by to do it again and again!