Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Katy Holland: Get your safari experience on a shoestring...just give Africa a miss

One large bill: you should spot puffins during your sea safari in the Scilly Isles

Ask my kids where they'd like to go on holiday and they always give the same answer.

They have a penchant for sniffing out the most expensive things money can buy, so an African safari comes top every time.

We are lucky enough to have been on one, and since then the little darlings have been asking for more. My bank, however, is begging me never to leave home again. Ever.

So what's the alternative? I'm happy to report that there is safari-style fun to be had in some unlikely places.

Like Holland, for example. Stay at Beekse Bergen with Eurocamp (0844 4060402; eurocamp.co.uk) and you're entitled to free entry to the impressive African-style safari park. Zebra and giraffe are among the animals roaming free, while the big cats have their own enclosures.

And when the kids aren't busy ogling orangutans, the site boasts nature trails, a lakeside beach, go-karting, water bikes, roller skating, and tennis courts. Prices for next half term start at £563 per person staying in a mobile home.

Or how about a water safari in the Isles of Scilly? Take your mini- mariners on a rib boat to spot seals, puffins and even dolphins, with Island Sea Safaris (01720 422732; islandseasafaris.co.uk).

Book accommodation at the St Mary's Hall Hotel (01720 422316; stmaryshallhotel.co.uk) where prices for four nights start at £574 per person this September, including half-board accommodation, boat ride to Tresco and entry to the Abbey Gardens.

And for families who like their wildlife really wild, Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) runs short breaks to see brown bears in Finland from £995 per person for four days. Stay in a log cabin in the taiga forests on the Russian border, where you can watch Europe's most elusive mammals going about their daily business, and there are moose, wolves and flying squirrels too.

It's good to know that going animal spotting doesn't have to mean going completely wild with the bank account.

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