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“Something for everyone”

Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
Ranked #9 of 23 things to do in Ilfracombe
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: A wildlife park that demonstrates how life was for the dinosaurs.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

This is a wildlife park with a difference. Set in a beautiful wooded combe the natural woodland has been enhanced to give a tropical feel and with the Macaws flying free and the calls of the apes it is like walking through a real jungle.
The wildlife has good sized areas and are very well cared for, because they have good sized and appropriate areas it is not always possible to see them clearly and if you are really keen to see them then you will need to wait or go by again as they are behaving more naturally.
There are interesting talks about a lot of the animals right in front of them, some rare white wolves at the moment and some rescue animals. There are also sea lion demonstrations & falconery on a beautiful open bit of ground. You get a list of these talks on the back of the map when you arrive so if you want to see something particular you know when and where to be there. The staff are really cheerful and helpful not to mention their patience with all the questions.
For adults and older children there is everything from wolves to a huge bug display in atmospheric conditions, Egyptian tomb and such like. Activity sheets are avaliable if they need more entertaining and a dinosaur museum and video show. There are some special activities available for an extra cost like swimming with seals or working with the falcons. These have to be arranged and booked in advance through their website or direct. Be aware that on hot days or wet ones the animals, like us, will look for shelter or shade and won't be so active.
For small children there is a petting part. Hand sanitizer is supplied and you are asked to use it but I didn't see one person do so. There are the animated real size dinosaurs that come to life every hour and the children squealed with delight as surprises happened. There is a train ride that takes you through a canyon in the woods with a special surprise that causes some squeeling too. There are also play areas.
There are small food outlets scattered in the park which is nice and not so crowded and some larger ones in the main area. The prices were very reasonable, the same as in the local area which was a nice surprise.
The surroundings are lovely with breathtaking views, it is on a steep Devon hillside which is normal to the area but the paths are well made for buggys and easy to walk on. A fair part is on the level. Because of the car parks, being on the hillside, there is a special one for Blue Badge holders at the main entrance and flatter area, also a golf buggy that will take the driver of any car up the hill so they can drive down and pick up the family. Most people made it up themselves, none of the children had a problem and the grownups were all having a laugh about it when I was there. I will be wearing trainers rather than flipflops next time though.
There are some concessions on the admission price and a discount can be had for booking online in advance.
I found so much to do & see and really enjoyed strolling through the 'jungle' afterwards. It is my second visit and I have every intention of going again.

1  Thank Toopaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dawn G, Owner at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

What a full review and thank you for your recommendations to others. I applaud the fact you mention that like us animals need shade or shelter in wet or hot weather conditions and recommend that visitors wait or revisit an enclosure if they do not see an animal instantly. I am always surprised if someone complains if an animal is not easily visable especially in this day and age where our understanding of animals needs are far more extensive. This is why we recommend that our visitors participate in all the talks, feeds, encounters and shows as they will have more of an opportunity to to see them properly. We are so glad that you have enjoyed both of your visits here, the valley is a bit like being in a tropical jungle isn't it! Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

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"sea lions"
in 157 reviews
"train ride"
in 180 reviews
"sealion show"
in 67 reviews
"animatronic dinosaurs"
in 45 reviews
"meerkat enclosure"
in 38 reviews
"animal talks"
in 38 reviews
"bug world"
in 33 reviews
"egyptian tomb"
in 27 reviews
"t rex"
in 33 reviews
"every hour"
in 32 reviews
"soft play"
in 70 reviews
"indoor play area"
in 41 reviews
"steep hill"
in 54 reviews
"meet and greet"
in 16 reviews
"half price"
in 17 reviews
"value for money"
in 68 reviews
"mobility problems"
in 18 reviews
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1,241 - 1,245 of 1,467 reviews

Reviewed July 21, 2013

Well laid out, with varied animals housed in decent sized areas. Loved the monkey walk ways, otters, and memorable moments of the pigs playing with plastic buckets, and a budgerigar riding on the back of a quail - much to the dislike of the quail!
Be warned the walks around are in places quite steep, especially the exit back to the car park!!

Thank Geoffrey H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dawn G, Owner at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

Wow, five stars. We are so pleased that you enjoyed your day with us. That particular budgerigar keeps 'joy riding' on the back of the quails, the naughty boy! It keeps him entertained but as you say the quails are getting a bit fed up with him! The walk to the car park is a bit of a trek isn't it! We do provide a courtesy buggy after 3.30pm to take the driver up to collect the car or the other option would be for drivers to walk up themselves and drive down to collect the rest of the party at the park entrance. Thank you for taking the time to write your review and we hope to see you again sometime in the future.

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Reviewed July 20, 2013 via mobile

First thing I would say is that this park is set in a gorgeous little valley - if they are aiming for "The land time forgot" then they have it spot on. The only downside being it is steep in places so it isn't really a place for people with accessability issues - infants would be better carried than in a pushchair.

We have visited a few times and the park has obviously had some work done in the last year or so. All the animals seemed well cared for and happy, they were also relatively active even though it was a hot day.

For us the highlight was the Sea Lion show, although there was plenty of other shows and entertainment and a good day in there.

If I had to make a criticism it would be the cost of the encounter sessions, which looked fantastic but are a big cost...

1  Thank stretchg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dawn G, Owner at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, responded to this reviewResponded July 25, 2013

Yes the valley is beautiful, and very much like 'The land time forgot' although we didn't have to do a thing! Higher Leigh Manor was a victorian estate dating back to1866 and a lot of the exotic trees, plants and ferns were planted during this period. Obviously the valley itself is also naturally beautiful with its streams and waterfalls and natural flora. The valley does make the park steep in places but if it was not here then we would not have the stunning scenery. As new owners the beginning of last year we have done quite a bit of work during the last 18 months despite our near catastrophic 2000 tonne landslide we had here on xmas eve so we are really pleased that this was noticeable to you as a previous visitor. With regards to the encounters as you know we have various free ones during the day that are included in the admission charge so I assume you mean the additional experiences that are available to book ie Lion feeds, Bird of Prey experience, Sea Lion Meet and Greet and Swimming with Sea Lions. I am a bit surprised that you felt that these were expensive to do as they range between £15 - £99, the latter figure being the swim with sea lions which is a unique experience and includes 25 photos on a disc, free wet suit hire and the admission charge to the park. However I take your opinion on board and thank you so much for taking the time to write your review and we look forward to seeing you again in the future.

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Reviewed July 19, 2013

In fairness the staff were polite and helpful and reasonably well turned out in matching uniforms, the animals were clearly well cared for and not remotely "smelly" as you find in some zoos and animal sanctuarys.
BUT................

This attraction is ridiculously steep and anyone with any thing other than exceptionally good health is going to struggle, we certainly did and with a two year old in tow it was no pleasure I assure you.

Most of the paths are well maintained but the park has no natural flow through it and you seem to be constantly going back over your tracks to get to the next group of animals.

The Dinosaur Kingdom wasn't that great either a few big plastic models scattered around the bushes with roaring sound fx going off intermittently was it.
The cafe was clean and fairly reasonable and the tomb of the Pharoah was ok too, although the gift shop was very , very, expensive!

I would not recommend this attraction to anyone even if they loved hill walking there just isn't enough there to warrant the £13:95 adult entry fee, don't know what they charge kiddies ours got in free being only 2.
It must be said, to be fair, that it was an exceptionally hot day but also note that there is no seating around the park to enable you to take a break.

Thank Philip P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dawn G, Owner at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, responded to this reviewResponded July 27, 2013

What can I say apart from I am sorry you feel that way. We obviously want our visitors to have a good time so I am disappointed that you did not. We do find that visitors that involve themselves with all the park has to offer do feel that they get value for money. For £13.95 they can have Meerkat and Lemur encounters, getting the opportunity to go actually into their enclosures; experiences that are generally expensive and additional to other collections admission costs. They can watch an owl and bird of prey display, a sea lion show, handle a snake or reptile, see various exotic and endangered animals including our white Hudson Bay Wolves, so rare that there is only one other collection in the UK you can see them (and only 12 in the world). Apart from the dinosaurs you have mentioned in the Domain we also have the animatronic ones at the top of the park which includes the UK'S only full sized animatronic T-Rex. Exhibited in our Dinosaur Museum is one of the largest nest of fossilized eggs ever discovered. The park is built around a valley so that has obviously had to be taken into account with the design. There is only one pathway near our lions and european wolves that you have to go back on yourselves but as new owners last year it is on our 'to do' list to remedy this and we plan to build a raised pathway around the tropical house over the meerkat desert to link it up to the top of the park. This will also make it easier for pushchairs and visitors with disability to access this area of the park. I am surprised you consider the gift shop very expensive as we have an extensive range of gifts in it from 'pocket money' goodies to the more expensive items. We also plan to increase our seating in certain areas but I would not agree there are none at all. It is a shame you did not come and see us at the park information desk as we would have been happy to discuss your complaint directly with yourself. Maybe your struggle with the steepness of some of the terrain affected your enjoyment of the park.

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Reviewed July 17, 2013

We went to this park because it seemed to be good value, which in all fairness is reasonably cheap for a day out, the dinosaurs get turned on once an hour on the hour so you have to wait around to see the display. I paid for wallaby food yet even tho it was first thing in the morning they were not interested. The lions were asleep. My eldest enjoyed the Pharohs tomb and loved the gift shop. We enjoyed the sea lion show! We went into the meerkat enclosure but they weren't very interested either. My son has knee probs and had to drag himself up the hills using the railings don't even attempt to visit if you are disabled due to the location being stupid hilly it was hard with the buggy too. Didn't go on the train ride it was extra on top of admission and my kids were not that interested. The talks were interesting and otter feeding was super cute

Thank Ladypennyp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dawn G, Owner at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, responded to this reviewResponded July 18, 2013

Thank you for your review. This very hot weather does reduce our animals appetites so we are sorry that most of them were not interested in feeding opportunities on the day of your visit. However we are still glad that you enjoyed your day with us and thought it was good value for money which is paticularly important these days isn't it. We do realise that the steepness of our valley, although stunningly beautiful, does make the park difficult for our visitors with disabilities. Our intention at some point in the future is to build a raised walkway across the meerkat desert and around the tropical house to reach the wolves and lions from the top of the park making it far easier for those with disabilities or pushchairs. With regards to the 'wow' factor we do try our best but unfortunately we have not got the budget of Disneyland being a privately owned park located in rural Devon but please be assured, every possible penny is reinvested back into the park.

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