Camel riding is something you think of doing when on exotic holidays in distant, faraway locales. But this weekend we visited the Camel Park Oasis in Suffolk and rode camels in the UK! Camel riding is something that our oldest son has always wanted to do, so we were delighted when we found out about this place, and how close it was to us! The Camel Park Oasis is something of a hidden gem: when we told locally based friends that we were visiting, most of them hadn’t heard of it. The up side of this is that it was quiet all day (impressive given it was a bank holiday weekend) meaning there were never crowds or queues, and we didn’t have to worry about the boys getting too close to anyone (which is always at the back of your mind with the current covid situation)
First things, first, let’s talk about money. We paid £35.50 for a family of four ticket to enter the park. If you aren’t a family of four then adult entry is £10 .00 and child entry is £9.00. Children under the age of three were free. We went specifically to ride the camels: this is the only place you can ride camels in the UK! So we paid for this on the gate too, and paid £9 each to ride the camel, with over 8s having their own camel. Our youngest was reduced to £5 because he had to share a camel with his dad. We then purchased two bags of animal feed for 50p each. In total, we paid £65.50 on the door.
Meeting the Animals
As well as the camels, there were plenty of other animals to meet at the Camel Park Oasis. I would describe it as somewhere between a farm and a zoo (by which I mean, there were more animals than you would find in the farm, but not the ‘big’ animals you would expect to see at a zoo). There were the usual farm animals such as horses, chickens, donkeys, goats, sheep and kune kune pigs, as well as larger and more unusual farm animals such as llamas, alpacas and emu. (Or at least, they’re farm animals in Australia!)
There were also wallabies, ring tailed lemurs, marmosets, an aviary full of unusual and interesting birds and (the boys favourite enclosure of all, bar the camels) the cheeky meerkats. It was the perfect time of year to visit, because so many of the animals had babies with them; there’s nothing better and more spring-like than seeing lambs and we were fascinated to see the baby emus, who look just like chickens chicks (in terms of their size and shape) but they are black and white striped.
Finally, there was a small animal petting barn, where you had the opportunity to pet either rabbits or guinea pigs. This was organised really well too, in covid terms, with just three benches spaced well apart. Each bench had a selection of small furries on it, and only one family could be on each bench at a time. If the three benches were full then families were asked to wait outside, but the park was so quiet this only happened to us once (and we only waited for a few minutes). In an act of much hilarity, both boys were peed on by their guinea pig friends, and we couldn’t stop giggling. Luckily, I always carry spare clothes in my backpack, so their soaking wet laps didn’t ruin the day!
The Camel Riding Experience
The highlight of the whole day for all of us was the chance to ride the camels in the UK; this went incredibly smoothly. When we rode camels in Cairo we had to mount them from the ground, which would have been a challenge for the children, but here there was a ladder-type platform to mount the camels from. This also meant the camels didn’t have to sit or bend down for us to get on. We then went on a ride around the outskirts of the camel paddock, and the camels went at their own pace; if they wanted to stop to eat the grass, the leaves from the trees or defecate (which they did…regularly!) then they were able to. The whole thing lasted around 20 minutes.
What was incredibly clear was how loved and looked after these camels were; their needs and their care was the main priority at every turn. They had plenty of space, their paddocks were well looked after, and their handlers knew all about their quirks and foibles (which camel liked the leaves best, who would want to stop for the long grass etc) and I was impressed. There were also only two short riding sessions each day, so they weren’t working for longer than they were comfortable with.
The Play Equipment
Thanks to the huge amount of play equipment available, as well as the animals and the camels, we found there was plenty to do at the Camel Park Oasis for the day. Some of the play equipment looked and felt a little tired, but that’s not the kind of thing children notice: they just loved it! Two huge playgrounds with slides, zip lines, climbing frames and tunnels started the fun.
There was also a huge jumping air pillow that was newly introduced last year, and which the kids would happily have bounced on for hours! Pedal go karts and a small wooden maze completed the play area excitement (there is also an indoor play area advertised, but unfortunately we couldn’t go in this due to Covid restrictions, although we didn’t miss it: there was plenty of other stuff to do!)
In addition to this there was a land train which took turns around the park, and a compact mini golf course; unlike other parks, both of these were included in the entry price. There were small coin operated motorised go karts (you had to insert £1 into these) and finally, a quick word on the food: simple but cooked freshly. Hot and affordable! Boy8 had the kids chicken and nuggets and chips , Boy 5 had the chicken burger and chips. Both grown ups had quarter pound burgers and chips, and then we had 4 cans of fizzy pop (which is a treat we only have on days out!) and it all went down well with the total price for all of it being only £21.98! We’re used to being heartily ripped off for food on days out, so this was incredibly refreshing.
Conclusion: A Big Thumbs Up!
If you’d like to ride camels in the UK, or simply visit camels in the UK, then the Oasis Camel Park is the place to be. It was a really fun family day out that we actually enjoyed as much as the kids, and refreshingly affordable at every turn. I don’t think the play equipment would have been challenging enough for children much older than our oldest, but for our current family dynamic it worked perfectly.
Having done a little research, next time we will be going back for the meerkat special experience, which allows you to enter the meerkat enclosure, take part in their play and enrichment, and feed them. For just £35 per person (or £60 for two people) this day experience also includes park entry, lunch, and the opportunity to walk a llama or alpaca. Compared to similar experiences at our local zoo, the price is just incredibly good value!