Aviemore Wedneday 17th January 2007

Today we thought we’d take a little wander to the [highland wildlife park]. This is a half zoo half safari park that contains species that either are or were indigenous to Scotland. It’s open all year round, but if the weather is bad you have to phone first.

You can get there from Aviemore by catching the City Link bus towards Edinburgh as it stops right outside.

Reindeer at the Highland Wildlife Park

So we get to the bus stop and there’s this dude with 3 suitcases, a bike and 3 items of hand luggage. But the bus is a coach so there is space but the bus driver still deems it necessary to have a 15 minute conversation about the issue. During which time it begins to snow.

Eventually the bus driver and luggage man come to some kind of agreement and we’re off. The bus drops us right outside the entrance to the park and by now (10 minutes or so later) it’s stopped snowing.

The first half of the park is the safari bit – as we’re walking types a nice lady in a land rover comes to pick us up. The first area we go through contains Reindeer . These dudes get fed 4 times a day!! From this vehicle!! So there we are, the nice lady has her foot solidly on the accelerator, we’re doing 30 coming on 40, the reindeer are keeping pace left and right, until they get bored and pile into the road in front of us forcing us to stop quite abruptly.

Finally we extract ourselves from the Reindeer and can carry on around the rest of the park seeing Bison, Highland Cattle, Red Deer and loads of other things. Then it’s time to head into the zoo part that you can walk around.

We wander along to see a Badger sleeping and suddenly a blizzard breaks out. Which is kind of fun for us types that don’t get any (real) snow. Despite the weather we managed to see some really cool animals like Grouse (which make amazing noises), Red Squirrels (in a protected feeding area so they’re actually wild) and Wild Cats (which look like normal cats in a cage).

Then we join in with the Walk and Talk show where you basically follow around the dude that feeds the animals, it’s shorter than normal due to the weather so we’re only feeding the Lynx and the Wolves. We get to the Lynx and the dude tells us he ate loads yesterday and probably won’t want any food today, he wangs in a cow or 5, and true to form the Lynx doesn’t come. Then we’re off to the viewing tower in the Wolf enclosure, another cow or 5 here, and lo and behold a Wolf appears a mere 500 yards away and the promptly legs it back to it’s hole.

We wander off to the cafe and gift shop which are both excellent :)

If you’re walking you need to ask in the shop to get a lift back to the gate, but after a minor miscalculation by me we’re at the bus stop 20 minutes early in the freezing cold :( But eventually we’re back home for DM and Morse (yuk)