Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as soon as the golden ticket dropped through the letter box I was excited, I mean what do you pack for wild adventure? As part of the CS Collective – you might remember my day at Harptree Court or us trying our hand at winter glamping but this was something special – I had been invited by Canopy & Stars for getaway at Knepp Wildland Safari with some lovely bloggers, and channel my inner girl scout by collecting badges as part of their Year of Wild.After arriving with my road trip blogging buddy Heather, we were welcomed by a host of hot drinks and Hunter wellies for our stay, before we were given a tour of the beautiful campsite. Along the small winding paths, surrounding a ranch like homestead kitchen, is a multitude of dwellings to rest your head, and with an array of beautiful glamping options it's hard to choose between the Shepherd huts, yurts, bell tents and tipi, all thoughtfully furnished for a cosy stay.
After taking a peek into each handcrafted corner and a short walk under a canopy of trees, it felt as though the site might roll on for miles as we wandered onto open land for those of you wanting to pitch your own tent, and with a hot outdoor shower and a fire pit for outdoor cooking what's not to love! For those who are less inclined to embrace nature the site also has two wet room facilities with underfloor heating, shop, camp kitchen and wi-fi to keep you connected, but these breathtaking views it's better to unplug and soak it all in.I made my way to the Turtle DoveYurt with another lovely blogger buddy Katherine, my roomie for the night, and sunk back onto the soft quilted duvet and knew I was in for a splendid stay. I could have easily curled up on the bed, book in hand, relaxing with natures sounds, but then I did want to miss out on a safari ride and a chance to earn my first badge! The origins of Knepp Wildland Safari is fascinating as resident ecologist Penny Green explained. Nestled in the heart of Sussex lies 3500 acres of land where wild ponies, fallow and red deer, Longhorn cattle and Tamworth pigs roam and a multitude of small animals have made their home in the largest 'rewilding' of land in lowland Europe. Once used for intensive farming, Charles Burrel and Isabella Tree had a change of heart after visiting Oostvaardersplassen project in Holland, and wanted to recreate a bio diverse, ranch like estate which would contribute to conservation efforts. In short they have given the land over to Mother Nature and have been rewarded with a balanced eco system supporting some of our endangered native species as well as a more balanced farming practise *hooray for nature!*
As you can imagine, two all terrain Austrian Troop Carriers filled with eager bloggers, cameras in hand, filled the air with laughter as we wound through the terrain, avoiding stray branches and occasionally whispered tones as deer and cattle came into view. The land is alive with creatures great and small, making their presence known with a cacophony of sound. The safari takes you along to a viewing platform where we stopped to see nature from the tree tops, and refresh ourselves with home cooked brownies and a cuppa before heading back to base as the the light started to settle.
On our return we were given the chance to earn some Year of Wild Badges, and this is where it all gets a bit competitive, as for someone who was once *ahem* kicked out of Brownies as a child, I was eager to bag as many badges as possible! We were given our first chance with a Wild Beer Tasting, and although I am not a beer fan, it was fun to swill glasses of gold and dissect the distinct tates that go into these bottles.
We were treated to a feast of organic Venison burgers, Tamworth sausages and halloumi kebabs all cooked outdoors on the BBQ by chefs while we chatted, laughed and shared stories outdoors, before residing to the cowshed until the late hours.
As the last candles dwindled we made our way to our beds, tired but happy, and slept soundly only to be woken by the gradual crescensdo of the dawn chorus that surrounded the yurt with the morning light. I was quick to get dressed as the smells of strong coffee brewing by an open fire pit eagerly awaited me, and I was keen to tuck into a breakfast of rich yellow yolked eggs and freshly baked bread from the local baker. There is something so relaxing about eating a hearty breakfast outdoors.It really does remind you of the importance of recharging your batteries and reconnecting with nature, and I'd like to thank Canopy & Stars for a wonderful stay. I can't wait to collect more badges on my next adventure! If you want to try a wild adventure and experience the great outdoors in comfort then you can book your stay here.