Selwoo Safari Park

Day 4
Tuesday October 28th 2008

The hotel literature showed us that there was a safari park not more than 10km down the road which had a zip wire ride which was a couple of hundred yards long going right over a large central lake. This looked like too much fun to miss, a zip wire however could mean a rough landing and the weather was cooler today, however the only long trousers I'd brought with me were my good ones, so unwilling to risk dmaging htem I opted for shorts and hoping the weather improved.

We arrived fairly early to find the car park almost deserted, the only other guests was a school coach trip of 9 year olds from Malaga. We quickly decided to go whichever way they wer'nt.

An intriguing ste of African carvings were dotted randomly around above a small play park, the play park was set up with a series of troughs, channels and buckets through which water could run, thr troughs had removable plugs so the water course could be diverted along many alternative routes. Unfortunately there was no water supply, either we're too far out of season or it was broken.



The park was split into three main areas with trolley buses to carry people between them. We wandered aimlessly around the first area ending up in a huge aviay over 300m long and from one side of the valley to the other.

As it was rather cold many of the animals hadn't woken up yet, I was only awake because I was by now coming out in goosbumps. We found ourselves in the aviary inside was a single path leading uo the centre of the valley. Interestingly in the middle was a bobcat enclosure, we're not sure if they placed it here so the birds could taunt the cats or for the cats to frighten the bids, either way it is a bizzarre decision.

Reaching the top of the enclosure we found that the exit took us to the second area, we were supposed to walk back down through the aviary not up it. This meant we'd bypassed the first trolley bus ride but it only took you through a bison enclosure so we didn't feel we'd missed much as we could see it all from where we were.

The place was obviously set up for hot summer days as every 20 yards there was an African carving with an in built shower facility to spray the path and any unwary travellers.

Running across the top of the valley was a large trestle bridge


This led us around to the elephants and tigers which we watched while waiting until 1pm when the raptor display started. We all assumed that everyone else wanted to see the raptor display but fortunately we realise in time that we'd seen plenty of other displays and by jumping on the first trolley bus to the third area (which also started running at 1pm) we could jump ahead of the school trip grab a burger at the restaurant in tha area before heading on back down.

We were't quite first in the queue but managed to grapo a whole row of seats to ourselves bar one child from the family facing. The driver was animated and babbling incoherently (in Spanish) but he wound up the passengers so they were all jeering and screaming. Having no idea what was coming I was shocked when the bus suddnly started hurtling down a steep slope seemingly out of control. This was the equivalent of the Canadian dinosaur bus driver having fun, the difference being that then we were aware of what was happening. As it turned out it was just a short sharp drop into he beginning of the penned areas.

The bus was open on the sides so they didn't take us through the bear or tiger enclosures. Everybody ignored all the rules posted in three languages, such as standing up or leaning out.

At the far end we were deposited outside the restaurant so we headed in for lunch before the hordes descended, pizza and chips sounded good but they only sold full meals such as swordfish or lasagne. Not up to something as large as that we decided to head back to the second area where there were burger bars.

The walking route back led you over several rope bridges across the mini valleys and over the enclosures (but not the tigers or bears so we were unable to sacrifice David).

From one bridge we watched as some goat like creatures discovered a hole under the fence and started a bid for freedom startling the passers by before darting into some nearby bushes. Several made their excape before realising there was nowhere much else to go and headed back under the fence.

As David & I were crossing the last bridge a German family with 2 teenage girls came on behind us and started swinging the bridge; not to be out done David and I turned to face our enemy and battle ensued for the next 5 minutes as we all tried to unseat the others.


We arrived back at the elephant section of the second area only to find the burger bars were closed; it was too cold for ice crea. Searching for anything to eat we stumbled across the reptile house with a large yellow and white snake, the like of which I'd never seen before, David tried magic to make the glass walls dissapear but couldn't quite master it. We settled for a hot cup of coffee before wandering down the hill to see the giraffs.

To get back we had to traverse the aviary again and this led us to the top end of the zip wire. It was situated amongst one of the numerous clusters of "African" huts which you could stay in like a safari lodge.

Deep thinker

The zip wire wasn't supposed to open until three so we hung around for 10 minutes with another couple of families. 3pm came and went with no sign of any attendents and the other families slowly drifted off, by a quarter past we too called it a day and sauntered down to the monkeys which we'd missed on the way up.

David decided that if he comes back as any animal it would be a white handed monkey since they had great fun swinging around the cages. He then spent the rest of the day devising a computer game where you'd play a monkey and have to resuce your friends from the evil big game hunters.

Reacing the other end of the zip wire it looked like it hadn't been used for a while, the signs giving the opening times during October were a figment of someones imagination.

Leaving the park at about 4pm we settled down to lunch in the car park before trudling home.

Zip Wire

This is our last evening in Spain and we had to eat at least once in a Spanish restaurant so we headed into Estepona; figuring we could park on the side streets we followed signs to the town centre but the place was packed, this must be where all the tourists were. Traversing the seafront twice we espied an underground car park right oin the sea front, this would be the first time we had to pay but were left with little choice.

The light was fading but we rushed down to the sea to have our first paddle in the Mediterranean then wandered into town where we were overwhelmed with choice of eating establishments, cafes, Indian, Chinese, Italian, burger joints, bars you name it they had it - except Spanish. Eventually going up the side street we came across what seemed like the only Spanish place in town and settled down to a "Special Paella" for 3. The place was deserted except for ourselves was this because we were early, late or the place had a bad reputation? This had to be cooked from scratch so there was bit of a wait whilst we discussed the joys of Vesta paella that I'd thought such a treat on camping holidays. How different this was to be.

It arrived on a single large dish covered with whole King Prawns ranging from large to ginormous, the waiter carefully served out a portion and laid one prawn of each size on top. Needing an explanation of the best way to de-body a prawn the waiter explaind, in Spanish, then watching our feeble attempts asked if he could use a spare prawn to demonstrate. Now we could access our food he left us to its delights. There were prawns, mussels, squid and some other unspecified shell fish, David liked the squid, mussels and unspecified fish but passed on the prawns so we all swapped various bits with each other. Although we'd been served a huge plateful there was plenty left but we skipped seconds in favour of a dessert, here we chose three different desserts and each had a potion of all of them. David chose, ice cream & hot chocolate sauce, I had ice cream & hot chocolate sauce wrapped ina pancake and Jude some form of sponge with crystallised fruit. Neither David nor I enjoyed Judes but the pancakes were a hit.

By the time we left several other families had settled down so we figured we had been early and like Italy most people ate later. Ovhearing another English family explaining to their children that the Special paella would be rice and chicken we put them right before they had a nasty surprise.

It still wasn't late when we returned but we seem to be getting to bed early but tired over here and tonight was no exception.


©2005 Rob Hayward