Girl Kruger Safari Jeep There's no denying that I'm a words, facts and figures girl. I use this blog to provide information which will help plan another person's trip rather than show staged, picture-perfect moments which don't reflect what travelling is really like. But, when I was editing my photos from Kruger, I fell in love with TOO many photos and couldn't resist sharing them all with you! Words don't do a safari trip justice and it's always been known that pictures speak a thousand words. So here's a big old round-up of our time in Kruger National Park! Kruger Giraffe Looking At Camera Kruger Kudu Looking Into Distance Kruger Kudu Kruger Elephant and Baby walking towards cameraKruger Elephant and Baby crossing road Kruger Wild Zebra Blue Bird Glossy Starling Kruger Kruger Eagle Sitting in Tree Kruger Warthog Pumba Kruger Small Antelope Kruger Eagle Sitting By Water Kruger lion sleeping in road Kruger Bird in Trees Kruger Anxious AntelopeKruger Giraffe and Vulture

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - DAY ONE 

To be sure that we were in Kruger National Park at the time the gates were opening, we set off early after a 4.30am wake up call (which sounds horrid but is TOTALLY worth it for a safari). The joys of being on an organised safari jeep is that you can skip the big long queue of ordinary cars trying to enter the park. Our guide quickly sorted out our conservation fees and before we knew it, we were face to face with antelope, wildebeest and giraffe right by the entrance gate! Within 5 minutes we had our first sighting of one of the "big 5" as a herd of buffalo were standing by the side of the road - I took this as a sign that we were in for a good day (spoiler: I wasn't wrong). Throughout the course of the day, I was continually surprised by how many animals we managed to spot. With all of the usual suspects (lions, giraffe, zebra, elephants, buffalo, wildebeest, antelope, kudu, crocodiles, hippos, warthogs, a plethora of bird types) and even a lone rhino now ticked off our list, we wondered how on earth there could be more to see?! Every safari jeep driver that we passed on this day was VERY excited as the elusive leopard had been spotted on multiple occasions. We went on a very long drive searching for it in one particular hot spot to no avail. Normally, this would have been fine, but our first day in South Africa was FREEZING and we were all huddled under blankets in the open top safari jeep. Then, just as we were about to leave, our incredible guide managed to spot the very well camouflaged leopard through some bushes. Lets just say that leopards are very well disguised and very fast, any photographic evidence I have of this beauty is poor but I feel very lucky to have even caught a glimpse of him! To then have our exit blocked by a male lion who decided to sleep right in the middle of the road meant that the big cats really stole the show at the end of the day! Kruger Crocodile by water Kruger giraffe looking into the distance Kruger bird Kruger Kazoo Lion King bird Kruger Lizard on tree trunk Two zebra in Kruger Kruger warthog by watering hole Kruger zebra by watering hole Kruger bird whispering to antelope Kruger elephants playing in water Kruger antelope eating from tree Kruger hippo yawning in water Kruger baboon sitting in tree Kruger kudu in the treesKruger four elephants under tree Kruger lions sunbathing on rock Kruger giraffe packKruger baby giraffe crossing the roadKruger baby giraffe Kruger rhino with horn

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK - DAY TWO

We opted for a half day game drive of Kruger on our second day and as nobody else else had booked this option, we got to choose our departure time and of course gave ourselves a bit of a lay-in! Having the entire jeep to ourselves proved to be a blessing as we could dictate exactly what we would like to try and see - in our case, rhinos! Our second day was MUCH warmer than the first and we ended up stripping off all of the extra layers of clothing we had brought after the previous day's freeze-fest! I can confirm that there is NOTHING better than driving through beautiful African bush-land with the sun shining on your face. With the weather being much warmer, the animals were displaying completely different behaviours to the previous day. While we were very happy after our first day on safari and thought that there wasn't anything further we could witness, I am so glad we chose to do a second day. We may have seen the same animals, but the experience couldn't have been more different. Today we really got to see the animals mingle with each other. At one large watering-hole, huge packs of zebras, wildebeest, giraffe and antelope lived in harmony bathing and drinking. While on the other side of the lake, the crocodiles and hippos were keeping cool. Four huge elephants all gathered under one tiny tree, fighting for shade (maybe the heat affects an elephant's ability to live up to their wise and intelligent stereotype). After watching so many animals peacefully co-existing, it was a shock to the system when we encountered a group of baboon. One baboon was a little bit cray-cray and displayed very aggressive behaviours towards the other animals before turning his attention to our truck. Thankfully he jumped at the driver's door (who obviously knew how to deal with the situation) - there's no way I would have been able to take him on! Towards the end of our day, our driver made a sudden stop and we we left wondering what on earth he had seen.  Low and behold a lone rhino could be seen in the distance and he appeared to be walking straight towards us! Safari drivers have INSANE vision and should not be underestimated! We spent around 30 minutes watching this slow giant plodding towards us (but never quite reaching us). With no other cars around and the sun beaming, it couldn't have been more peaceful and perfect. It is so hard to understand how anyone can hurt these incredible creatures causing them to be near to extinction. All in all, I have come back from my safari trip with more respect for animals than I could have ever imagined (apart from that nasty baboon). Have you ever been on safari? What's your favourite photo?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

   

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Kruger Safari Scenery on a Budget Kruger Zebra Watering Hole To experience animals in their natural habitat, not confined by cages or domesticated via human interaction is something that everyone should try to achieve in their lifetime. Safari appears on many people's "bucket lists" but is largely unattainable due to the (expected) sky high costs. While planning our recent trip to South Africa, we almost never made it to Kruger National Park given that is is on the opposite side of the country to the rest of our plans (Cape Town and the Garden Route). In the end, we decided that it would be silly to fly that far (UK to South Africa) and not tick off a bucket list experience.

RELATED: You can view the rest of my African bucket list here

Re-jigging our itinerary to include Kruger was an overwhelming experience, there are so many options, so many choices and so many people giving their opinion on the "right" or "wrong" way to experience this magical land. It goes without saying that the prices of some options were also terrifying - so the aim of this post is to de-bunk the myths of Kruger safaris and help you plan a trip within YOUR budget. The bird in the photo below is basically me whispering into your ear, spreading the secrets of "cheap" safaris... Kruger Bird Antelope Whisper Kruger Kudu Camouflaged

COSTING

We flew into Johannesburg O.T International Airport and began our trip to Kruger from here. This is what many people that we met along the way were also doing, so for the purposes of this guide, I  have assumed that you will be doing the same (but of course, Kruger is accessible from other South African cities and even other neighbouring countries!) We spent 4 days in the Johannesburg/Kruger area, with the first and last days being mainly driving days and the middle two days being filled with game drives. Obviously, the time that you spend in Kruger will increase/decrease the price as appropriate! Costs are shown in South African Rand (ZAR) and where we actually incurred these costs, I have shown the GBP figure incurred on our credit card statements (September/October 2017), otherwise the prices have been converted using the approximate exchange rate of October 2017 (0.056). Kruger Giraffe Kruger Elephant Baby Crossing Road

HOW TO GET THERE

£ Drive from Johannesburg O.T Airport

Without a doubt, the cheapest way of getting to Kruger National Park (KNP) is to drive from Johannesburg O.T Airport. Car hire is cheap in South Africa and we weren't charged any surcharge for being below the age of 25 (which is always good)! Road conditions from the airport to Kruger are fantastic and there are plenty of places to top up your petrol or grab a bite to eat (although we did find that these places were closer to Kruger than the airport, so on the return journey, make sure you re-fuel early! The journey is easy as the entire journey is a straight line but it is long. Kruger is larger than many European countries and therefore the length of the journey will depend on where you are staying within the park. We were driving to Crocodile Gate which took around 4 and a half hours. Make sure you have plenty of snacks, a good playlist and maybe a few podcasts to keep you going! Our total car hire costs were R1,140.99 (approximately £73). We rented a brand new Ford Fiesta from Bidvest Car Rentals (booked through Drive South Africa) and this price included hiring a GPS, registering a second driver (even though I ended up doing none of the driving!) and the usual car hire costs such as topping up petrol when you return. We also spent R491.50 on filling up with petrol (approximately £27). Our total costs = R1,632.49 (approximately £100 per car = £50 per person).

££ Baz Bus 

Baz Bus is a South African backpacker's dream! If you aren't comfortable driving from Johannesburg to Kruger by yourself (I certainly wouldn't be if I wasn't travelling with Callum as I HATE driving), the Baz Bus 4 Day Kruger Park Safari Tour is certainly a good alternative! The price for this option can't be directly compared to the other journey options given the fact that the Baz Bus tour also includes open vehicle game drives, meals as specified in the detailed itinerary and accommodation in permanent erected 2-person dome tents for the duration of the trip. Advantages of this option obviously include having everything planned for you and meeting lots of new people, however if you enjoy the freedom of exploring at your own pace and making your own decisions, maybe this isn't the right choice for you. Total cost = R8,000 (approximately £445 per person).

£££ Fly to Kruger National Park

If the 4.5+ hour drive to Kruger is too much for you to handle, there are regular flights leaving Johannesburg to three Kruger-serving airports. Depending on the area of Kruger that you are visiting, the airports you need are as follows:
  • Northern Kruger Park: Phalaborwa Airpor
  • Central Kruger Park: Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport
  • Southern Kruger Park: Nelspruit Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
We had the option of flying from Johannesburg to Nelspruit but at approximately R2700/£150 - R3600/£200 per person for a return flight (50 minutes each way), it didn't seem worth it to us. Especially as we would have had to wait in Johannesburg for a few hours between flights meaning the flying/waiting time would have been equal to the driving time! Once you arrive at your chosen airport, you will need to hire a car to take you to the park (Nelspruit is approximately a 1.5 hour drive to Crocodile Bridge Gate). The costs of which would have been largely the same as in option 1 (with less petrol usage - therefore estimated R1,140.99 per car (approximately £73 per car or £36 per person). Alternatively, our accommodation offered a transfer for R400 per person from the airport (approximately £23) Total costs would therefore be R3,100-R4,170 per person (approximately £173-£236 per person). Kruger Lion Sleeping Road Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge Affordable Accomodation

ACCOMMODATION

£ SAN Parks Lodging

South Africa National Parks (SAN Parks) have an incredible range of accommodation located in the heart of each of their national parks. This is originally the accommodation that we tried to book but availability was seriously low (at the time, we didn't know that we would be visiting the park on a South African public holiday). I would advise that if you want to take advantage of these cheap and cheerful lodgings, you book at least 6 months in advance. There are 12 main rest camps in Kruger National Park and the two which were of interest to us (due to their location in proximity to Johannesburg) were Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp and Lower Sabie Rest Camp. There are lots of different choices of accommodation within the rest camps including a patch of land to pitch your tent, "safari tents" which are permanent basic buildings, adorable little bungalows fully kitted out with kitchen facilities for two people and larger guest houses for bigger groups. Prices vary depending on the type of accommodation, the number of people staying in the property and the rest camp chosen. We entered Lower Sabie Rest camp a few times to use their toilets/restaurant facilities and would have been more than happy to stay here! Rates for Lower Sabie Rest Camp can be seen here and vary from R305-R2,320 per night for 2 people (approximately £16-£128 for two people or £8-£64 per person).

££ Off-Site Mid-Range Lodges

With the SAN Parks accommodation fully booked, we panicked thinking that there were no other affordable options. Various google searches showed results that would a) give me a heart attack and b) bankrupt me beyond belief. Then I turned to my trusty Booking.com to see if there were ANY alternatives - it turns out there is! We settled for Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge which is located in Marloth Park (a quick 10 minute drive South of Crocodile Bridge Gate to Kruger National Park). Our booking included both breakfast and dinner every day (both of which were absolutely gorgeous) and we were very happy with our choice! The lodge was absolutely stunning and really felt like a "safari lodge" but without the hefty price tag! In September 2017, we paid R2240 per night for 2 people (approximately £124 per night for 2 people or £62 per person).

£££ Luxury Private Reserves

I am a member of many travel groups on Facebook and the number of people that think luxury private reserves are the ONLY option when booking a safari is unbelievable. With safari being a bucket-list luxury, prices can be hiked accordingly (and in many instances, extortionately). My lovely fellow travel blogger Lucy recently had the opportunity to stay at a luxury private reserve called Klaserie Sands and boy did it look gorgeous! There are plenty of these private reserves available throughout safari destinations in Africa and a quick google will help you find the lodge of your dreams. Prices at Klaserie Sands are currently R10,200 for two people per night (approximately £566 for two people or £283 for one person). Kruger Safari Jeep Girl Kruger Kudu

GAME DRIVES

£ Self Drive

The cheapest way to view the animals is to self-drive around the park. If you are on a strict budget, this is without a doubt the best way to view the animals. You don't need a 4x4 to access the park but be warned that the roads do get quite bumpy! The downside to self-driving is that you don't have the knowledge and expertise of an experienced guide and being in a car (which is much lower than a safari jeep) means that the animals are often harder to spot as you may not be able to see over bushes/plant life. On the plus side, you can spend your time exactly as you wish. Self-drive is as expensive as you decide to make it - Free! (Other than petrol)

££ Guided Drive

With only two full days to explore Kruger, we decided to splash out and join guided game drives (despite the fact that we had a car). Our accommodation (Crocodile Kruger Safari Lodge) arranged the game drives for us using their trusted guide (Solomon - you're the best!) and they were AMAZING. I would highly recommend doing a guided drive if it is within your budget. Safari guides are very talented at spotting wildlife (you don't realise how well camouflaged animals truly are until you see them in their natural habitat) and know the best spots to see certain creatures. Our accommodation charged us R670 for a full game drive plus conservation fees of R306 for each day. This price was applicable whether you did a full day (around 5am to 5pm) or a half day (times dependent on availability). The total cost for a full days game drive would therefore be R976 per day per person (approximately £54). Kruger Warthog Pumba Kruger Baboon Sitting in Tree

SUMMARY OF OUR COSTS & VERDICT

ZAR GBP
  Total  Per Person Total  Per Person
Car Rental + petrol R1,632.49 R816.25 £100.00 £50.00
3 x nights accommodation & food R6,720.00 R3,360.00 £372.00 £186.00
2 x full day game drives R3,904.00 R1,952.00 £215.00 £107.50
R12,256.49 R6,128.25 £687.00 £343.50
£343.50 for a once in a life time's experience - was it worth it? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY. Of course, that price is still out of reach for many people, but remember, you could make it much cheaper! Pitch a tent in the SAN Parks accommodation to ensure you're not wasting money on a hotel you won't spend much time in and self-drive to save on guide fees. We did debate doing the Baz Bus 4 Day Kruger Park Safari Tour and if I was travelling on my own, this definitely would have been my choice. However, when travelling as a couple, it was cheaper for us to drive ourselves, stay in a mid range lodge and pay for guides (£343.50) vs pay for a tour (£445). The tour does look truly great however and takes you to some other points of interest during the driving days such as Blyde River Canyon (which looks amazing). I also feel that our accommodation was incredible and I'm glad that we didn't pay another £100 for the Baz Bus tour to sacrifice our gorgeous lodge for camping. Have you ever been on a safari? Was it as expensive as you thought?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

  Safaris are crazy expensive right? Think again! We recently did a trip to Kruger on a budget and it was amazing! Here I outline all of your options, how much we spent and how you could make it cheaper!  
Sahara-Desert-Landscape-Dunes A trip to the Sahara Desert was one of the experiences that I was most excited for on my recent trip to Marrakech! I almost had the trip booked before the flights and accommodation! The obsession started back in October 2015, a year and a half before my actual trip - I was staying in a hostel in Slovenia and two girls who had just met booked a trip after both lusting it after it for a while separately. Then I found the amazing Sarah and read both of her blog posts on the trip at least 15 times (you can read about her Sahara Desert tour here & here). So when the time came for me to take my trip, it's safe to say that I was SO excited. There are lots of these tours on offer, I saw so many posters and signs for excursions while in the city, so if you're thinking of booking a trip, here is EVERYTHING you need to know! Morocco-Scenery-Valley How Long is the Journey? LONG! Apparently I didn't sufficiently brief Callum on the length of the journey between Marrakech and the desert (although I made him read Sarah's blog posts multiple times!) so I think he was a bit surprised! The total journey from Marrkaech to the desert takes around 8-9 hours each way including stop-offs. So if you're only in the country for a weekend, it probably isn't worth it, but if you've got some time to kill, you won't regret it! Quite honestly, the ever-changing scenery of Morocco kept me captivated the entire way! Sahara-Desert-Camping-Beds What Are The Sleeping Arrangements? There were a number of tents in the desert set up in a circular structure. Some are private and will only be allocated to you if you have paid extra for a private tent. We opted for the shared tour and were placed in a tent for 6 people - myself, Callum, two American girls that we had become good friends with during our trip and two solo travelling guys (one from Hong Kong and one from Japan). Singular mattresses are laid on the floor with masses of different blankets and duvets to keep you warm. The desert does get very cold at night and I definitely recommend bringing a jumper with you! Our booking confirmation also asked us to bring an additional sleeping bag if we were visiting in January (we weren't). Ait-Ben-Haddou What Is The Structure Of The Tour? You will be picked up from your accommodation in Marrakech bright and early before setting off for the first leg of your journey. The journey is truly beautiful, I really didn't expect to see so many different environments in Morocco. Your journey will obviously start with the hustle and bustle of the city, before descending into rolling hills and greenery, followed by the snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains, red rock canyons and finally the sandy desert! There will be plenty of little stops along the way for photo opportunities, toilet breaks and grabbing snacks/drinks as well as a big lunch (at an additional cost)! On route, there is one bigger stop at Ait Ben Haddou (pictured above) which you may recognise as a popular film set (including Game of Thrones, Indiana Jones and Gladiator)! On a day-to-day basis, the town is only populated by 8 families (a total of 40 people) who have no electricity and have to walk 3km to access water! On arrival at the edge of the desert, you will meet the lovely camels and ride across the Sahara Desert either at sunset or just beforehand. We were visiting in March when the sun sets earlier than in the summer, so we experienced sunset on the camels rather than in the heart of the desert. We then were shown to our tents and were cooked a huge meal (a tagine style meat and potato dish). Afterwards, a bonfire was lit and we all sat in the desert, gazing at the impressive stars, singing African camp songs and getting to know our new camp friends! Day 2 included an early morning wake up call to see the sunrise and eat breakfast in the desert (of course with mint tea). We then jumped back onto the camels for a much shorter trip to another roadside to meet the van. The drive home was filled with chatter (after all, we'd got to know our trip buddies fairly well at this point)! The main stop was for lunch but there was an optional stop at a film museum (Ouarzazate Hollywood of Morocco) which didn't interest our group, so we gave it a miss. Sahara-Trip-Atlas-Mountains Where Can You Book A Tour & How Much Does It Cost? Tours are offered in most riads/hotels/hostels, as well as by street vendors in the city. However, we booked ours before departure through I Go Morrocco who took a 50% deposit on booking. The exact tour that we booked can be found here and cost 59 euros per person, which is incredible given that you get two full days of adventure! Kids below the age of 12 get a 50% discount. When booking our tour, we also got asked if we wanted a complimentary airport transfer on our arrival in Morocco too! Which I certainly would have taken up if we hadn't already made arrangements with our hotel! Is It Safe? Most definitely! There was no point during the entire tour that we felt unsafe. Whilst in the car, you are obviously accompanied by a driver the entire time and the surroundings are so beautiful, if you have any concerns about safety, they will quickly evaporate! During your time at Ait-Ben Haddou, you are shown around by a local guide also. Girl-Camel-Sahara-Desert What Is The Difference Between The Zagora Desert And The Sahara Desert? You'll notice that the 1 night tours are to the "Zagora Desert" rather than the "Sahara Desert". The longer trips usually cover both the "Zagora Desert" and the "Merzouga Desert". Essentially, Zagora and Merzouga are two separate parts of the Sahara. Zagora is known as the "gateway to the Sahara" and is the closest point of the desert to Marrakech (hence the ability to reach it within a 1 night trip). However, if you're looking for a TRULY authentic experience, the Merzouga desert offers much larger sand dunes, richer coloured sands and an array of wildlife. What Trip Should I Pick? It really depends on how much time you have. We only had 2 days to spare, so the 1 night trip to Zagora was all we could manage. It was a great insight into the desert life and I can now tick off a bucket list item of camping in the Sahara Desert! But if I were to return with unlimited time, I would love to do a longer Merzouga trip to see the real expanse of the desert! Sahara-Food What Should You Pack? Make sure that you take a small bag with you that you can carry on your lap/back whilst riding a camel. While you probably could have left a larger bag in the van, the van doesn't come into the desert with you and god knows where it stays for the night/how secure it is! We left our cabin sized luggage in our riad. What Do I do About Water? In the last town before the desert, you will be given a chance to stock up on water bottles before the night ahead, so don't worry about packing lots of water, but of course bring some for the day! Always keep hydrated kids! What Is the Food Like? As pictured above, we sat in a separate tent to eat in small groups - the starter was a yummy soup with thick warm bread, both of which were delicious. The main meal was a HUGE tagine dish filled with all kinds of goodies - meat, veg, potatoes etc! Considering the food is included in the price of the trip (which is really reasonable by the way), the quality was great! Sahara-Desert-Camels How Are The Camels Treated? Before the trip, I was just TOO excited to camp in the Sahara Desert that I didn't even think about the logistics of getting to the camp and booked it straight away. It wasn't until the trip was looming that I started to consider whether this was the right choice. I absolutely love animals and would never promote something that I thought hindered their life (swimming with dolphins in enclosed spaces, going to tiger kingdoms, riding elephants etc.), I did my research and from what I could gather, the camels were treated well. After visiting, I am still of this opinion. The camels make one journey in the morning from the desert to the roadside and one back again in the evening. In the meantime, they aren't chained and are free to roam - while we were sitting around the campfire in the evening, the camels roamed around the outskirts of the tents. My research shows that when a camel is distressed, it will spit or scream - something that we did not experience at all. Further to this, I can confirm that my tour group did not use any of the cruel herding methods such as bull hooks, pegs or ropes that are pulled directly through the tissue of their external nostrils, a very painful procedure (if pulled too hard the rope can rip the tissue). The men that operate the camel element of the tour live in the desert and this is their livelihood, good treatment of camels is in their best interests.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Danielle1

SAHARA DESERT - FAQ-Pinterest

IMG_3296 v2 What Is The Essex Pass?  If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have heard about my love for The Essex Pass. Despite my blog name, I'm not ALWAYS trying to escape Essex, in fact I love finding new things to do in the local area. That's where the Essex Pass comes into play - 12 months membership will cost you a mere £9.99 and will give you loads of discounts in Essex (most of which are 2 people for the price of 1)! If you live in Essex and want to find some new things to do (like me), or you will be in the area for a short period of time and want to do more of the touristy attractions in the area, I couldn't recommend this card enough! I've recently visited the Original Great Maze and also Hazle's Pottery Barn using the pass, but this was the first time we had used it for a FULL day out - so I thought I'd share it all with you because it was a really great day (although it included a very strange mixture of activities - from sports, to history to animals)! Rope Runners IMG_3269 v2IMG_3271 v2IMG_3284 v2
  • Location: Ongar Rd, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, CM15 0LA
  • Normal Price: £28 per person
  • Essex Pass Price: £28 for 2 people = £14 each
  • Website: http://www.roperunners.co.uk/
If you want to complete the full day of activities listed in this post, you'll need to book on to a 10am Rope Runners course. The booking lasts for 2.5 hours and your get to do as many courses as you like in that amount of time as possible! There are 6 rope courses in total, 2 at ground level, 2 at medium height and 2 high up courses. Being completely afraid of heights, the medium levels were quite enough for me but Callum completed all of them (with only a few little moans on the high levels). Each course ends with a zip-wire (there's a brilliant video of me being terrified on the podium and refusing to do it, before doing it, realising it was fun and then falling on my face at the end - not sure that video will ever make it to the internet!). And there's also a huge stand-alone zip-wire which we both also completed. The staff were super helpful and friendly, so if you want a fun activity-based day out, this is the place for you! They also have archery, air rifle, paint balling and water-zorbing to choose from, so there's something for everyone! You can tell I'm not built for sports however.. it's the day after and my legs hurt... Secret Nuclear Bunker IMG_3293 v2IMG_3300 v2IMG_3339 v2
  • Location: Ongar Rd, Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood CM15 0LA
  • Normal Price: £7 per person
  • Essex Pass Price = £7 for 2 people = £3.50 each
  • Opening Times: 10am - 4pm (5pm on weekends in Summer)
  • Website: http://www.secretnuclearbunker.com/
If you're visiting Rope Runners, it would be wrong not to also visit the Secret Nuclear Bunker as they are located right next door to each other! This photo made it's way round social media a while back as the "secret" bunker is clearly not much of a secret! You enter the bunker through what looks like a normal little house before picking up an audio guide - I think the tour took us about 2 hours but it was great! According to the website, this is the biggest and deepest Cold War bunker that's open to the public in the South East of England. After the heat of the Cold War died down, the bunker was no longer needed and the Government sold it, hence we are now able to visit it as tourists! It's so strange to see something of such historic importance so close to your home! Hopefield Animal Sanctuary IMG_3344 v2IMG_3359 v2IMG_3400 v2IMG_3444 v2
  • Location: Sawyers Hall Farm, Sawyers Hall Ln, Brentwood CM15 9BZ
  • Normal Price: £5 per person
  • Essex Pass Price = £5 for 2 people = £2.50 each
  • Opening Times: 10am - 4pm
  • Website: http://www.hopefield.org.uk/
Located a mere 20 minute drive away, I couldn't help making a quick visit to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary! The sanctuary isn't huge, and it won't take you much longer than an hour to see all of the animals on display. Even so, there's a great range of animals to see including many horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, raccoons, various reptiles, birds and many more! The sanctuary is a non-profit organisation caring for around 200 unwanted, sick or mistreated animals. They require donations and volunteers to continue their great work - so if you're in the area, make sure you stop by! Even the former X-Factor winner Leona Lewis is a huge supporter of the work they do! There are plenty of other ways you can help out including volunteering and adopting an animal. And for only £20 you can have a full animal experience day - my sister has already asked me to buy her this for her birthday! Highlight of the day: I didn't know that Racoon Dogs exist - but apparently they do, and I love them so much. So god damn cute. And in Conclusion... We had a really great day out! The close proximity for these three activities means that it's easy to do all three in one day (providing you get to Rope Runners early)! The full day out would normally cost £40, but with The Essex Pass, it will cost you a mere £20. For three activities spanning 10am to 4pm, I think that's a pretty great deal! Plus, given The Essex Pass only costs £9.99, you've already made your money back! Apart from the Secret Nuclear Bunker, without The Essex Pass, I wouldn't have known these activities exist and I can't wait to find out about more hidden gems near home! Does your local area have a discount pass? Have you ever used it?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1