October 11th, 2019

11 October 

BEST DAY OF TRIP! (so far!)

We were up and at it, raring to go! Tintin drove for about 15 minutes to the Réserve Africaine de Sigean. Was €32 each to get in - but we spent 7 hours there - definitely worth seeing!

We were given a lovely guidebook in English (with dvd), along with a map. We arrived about 9.45 and had the drive through tour virtually to ourselves. I’d asked the tourist information lady yesterday to phone and check we could drive around in Dave - which we could. Tintin had read some reviews, along with warnings about the ostriches doing damage - so we gave them a wide berth!

Between us we took well over 500 photos - sadly my iPhone doesn’t do zoomed in photos very well. I’ll just give a brief overview of some of the animals we saw, and Tintin will put a selection of photos at the end. 

We started off seeing impala, springbok, blesbok, defassa waterbuck (the ones with a cute heart shape on their nose!), three types of zebra (equids - who knew), red buffalo, brindled gnu, antelope - and lots we’ve never even heard of!

Then into the bear park - they are Asiatic black bears. First time we drove through, there were about six of them right by the entrance. We reckon it must have been near feeding time. When we left, Tintin had to drive around them - they weren’t moving. We did wonder why they weren’t crossing over - but the whole strip along the ground must have been electrified. 

Next into the lion’s den! There were two males, and about eight females? Then onto the  Savanna where amongst lots we saw the white rhino, and the warthogs who amused us!

Drove to the parking area for a cuppa and lunch before continuing. 

The next few hours were on foot - over 7,000 steps! So much to see, the Réserve is spread out over 300 hectares, is home to over 3,500 animals and has been open for 45 years. 

First up were the hunting dogs, or painted wolves - their coats are unique - we saw them trotting about, but could only take pictures through glass. 

Next, one of the many highlights for me - the cheetahs. Think there were only four. There was no one else watching them, which was great. They are just so beautiful - and look so soft and cuddly! 

Sadly I couldn’t really see the marmosets? - but at least Tintin could zoom in so I could see later!

Lots of goats, sheep, donkeys and camels. Again, the chimpanzees were on an island (as were the Barbary apes) - so not that close up unless you have binoculars or a zoom camera. 

There were loads of information boards in one section, these actually had an English translation. That’s one complaint - there were detailed information boards about all the animals we were seeing - but only in French. We have some of the information in the guidebook - but who reads the book - far too keen on watching! Also, all the plants, shrubs and trees have information - but in French only! 

The meerkats were as cute as ever, the one standing guard must get tired!

Saw the American alligator, snakes, iguana...

As for birds - well we need Tintin’s sister Anne to help! There were just so many. We were both quite fascinated watching them all. Pelicans, cormorants, herons, egrets, storks, ibis, spoonbills, cranes, every variety of duck and geese and lots else!

A couple of porcupines next - eating carrots!, then some mountain goats, more zebra, emus, rhea, macaws, potbellied pigs etc!

We laughed when we saw the sheer number of pink flamingoes. We searched the Camargue area for them! Here we could almost touch them - the smell wasn’t pleasant - and they seemed to be angry and having a go at one another!

Last up, the wallabies - who weren’t particularly active!

Back to Dave, charged my phone - had a cuppa - and decided to drive around the park again - which was offered if you missed seeing any animals. 

So glad we went early this morning - saw so much more then! This time the bears were actually around the park now instead of the entrance - looks like they were eating cucumber!

The lions were patrolling around, some having little play fights which didn’t amount to much! They get fed after the park closes - maybe it would upset people too much to see!

It’s very much like Disney - you’re amazed at being able to see so many animals - but second time around you see the ditches and the electric fences. 

So all in all, a pretty brilliant day! Always happy being near animals - although yes, I do appreciate it’s not like seeing them in their actual natural environment - but have to say - the Réserve has done a really good job! At least the animals are safe from predators, and get fed. 

Think there used to be elephants here too. The gist was something like they’re hard to breed, and if artificially inseminated - they tend to only produce males. 

Tintin drove back to the same carpark as last night in Sigean - is nearby, feels safe - and was quiet last night. 

As I’m taking so long to write this, Tintin is cooking tonight! 

And here’s a selection from the hundreds of photos we took - 

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Martin and Kay Dumont from Guernsey, first time motorhomers and ready to travel. ‘Dave’ is our Mobilvetta K Yacht 85, purchased in 2017 and travelled all the way from Italy. After following Jason and Julie Buckley’s blog 'Ourtour' for years I just couldn’t get the name ‘Dave’ out of my head. So the Mobilvetta had to be another 'Dave’. More...

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