Wednesday, July 28, 2010

L'Estartit, Costa Brava Vacation (Day 4) - Sigean Africaine Reserve, France


Today was the day we travelled to France. It really is cool knowing how close it is to get to – like driving to Maine…but it’s France!! We decided on the Sigean Africaine Reserve (not based on the rhino picture I assure you…) as a destination Our “trusty” GPS told us that we had just under 2 hours to go and off we went!

The ad that "motivated" us to go the reserve

The drive, similar to the drive from Barcelona, was just stunning. This time it was mountains that surrounded us instead of the water but it was just as magnificent and we drove a bit in awe of how beautiful the countryside is here.

As I had somewhat expected from reading the reviews, this reserve was part safari and part traditional walking zoo. The safari part required us to drive our car thru the park, and given that ours was a rental, I was a bit ambivalent as all I could think of was the citigroup commercial (I tried to find a link but couldn't find one) where the elephant sits on the guy’s car hood when the family is at a similar type park. In a sense it reminded me a bit of Disney’s Animal Kingdom…except unlike Disney, the animals could actually roam in the street in front of you as you can see here:

The park itself was pretty cool and for the most part appeared natural looking. I do think, and Josh agreed, that there should have been a train or something that goes thru the reserve instead of a caravan of cars. Not only is it bad for the animals to inhale all that carbon monoxide, but it was a major pain the ass to be in stop n go traffic in the middle of an animal reserve. The good thing is that you could stop and take pics from the car and there was no rush to move along – unlike in Disney where if you miss the shot, the truck continues on and the driver could care less.

Long line ahead of us to enter the park

Aidan checking out his map of the park

And Liam watching Aidan and pretending to look at his map

We were given a piece of paper with a warning on it when we entered the bear and lion area – DO NOT OPEN YOUR WINDOWS, DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE, DO NOT STOP NEAR THE BEARS OR LIONS!!!

You can see the trail of cars making their way around the bear area.  There were no boundries preventing the bears from making their way up to the cars (they just seemed to have no interest)

A mom and her cub - they were separated from the rest of the bears

Again, the lions were right near us.  Yes, there was a fence behind her but that's just to keep her out of the rest of the reserve - she had the complete ability to roam anywhere in her area (including by the cars) that she wanted to go.

The boys loved seeing the animals up close and personal, although after a 2 hr drive, I think they would have liked a break before going into the reserve and driving for yet another hour to get thru. After a quick lunch we went over to the zoo portion and I was definitely impressed there. The environments for most of the animals were much bigger than in traditional zoos and for a number of them, there were acres to roam about. It makes you feel a little better about them being in captivity if they at least seem to be in a genuine habitat.

Last little bit of the "wild" before we entered the zoo.  This guy was a little too close for comfort if you ask me!
Liam thrilled to be out of the car!

Amazing view from the zoo area

Tired baby...

My three boys!

By far my favorite view of the day.  From what Josh's GPS told us, the turquoisy water is actually a bay/inlet to the Mediterranean.  Beautiful isn't it??

After the zoo, it was back to L’Estartit once again. It was a VERY long day full of driving but we all had a great time!!


1 comment:

  1. what was that...Ostrich in car parking???Nice pics here...What about next vacations. make a plan to visit beaches in the north of Costa brava, northeast corner of Spain between Barcelona and the border with France.Water is so clear. you will definitely enjoy that trip....location villa espagne may be the best option to stay...