Tipi Adventures Ireland – life in the wildnerness
By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 22 April, 2021
Wicklow, also known as The Garden of Ireland, is truly a special place with its loughs and monasteries, mountains and valleys, food and drink, coast and forests. So, when Ed Ledesma of Tipi Adventures Ireland, invited us to come and stay in the wilderness of Rathdrum – I could hear the peace and tranquility the whole way from County Armagh
ANYONE who knows me knows how passionate I am about finding unique, quirky places to stay, off the beaten track things to do while enjoying the best of the best when it comes to food and drink.
So, when I got a call from Ed Ledesma, the owner of Tipi Adventures Ireland, I could not turn down a ‘cooking in the wild’ experience in a stunning, remote forest in County Wicklow.
My friend and I packed our children and bags into our cars and travelled to the heart of The Garden of Ireland for a staycation which promises you wild cooking, sleeping in tipis while soaking up the joys of this under the stars experience.
Between lockdowns, this was the adventure with a difference we were just in need of. Having worked solidly through 2020, stuck to computer screens, zoom calls and managing home schooling, this was the ultimate break away.
Meandering the road from Rathdrum to Laragh, we found the gate which was to lead us to the centre of the forest where we would spend the next three nights in our own private wilderness. And with no electricity, no running water, no wifi – what is not to love?
We arrived at the vast gates, which are the original gates from the set of The Vikings, which was partly filmed at Tipi Adventures Ireland. We got the loveliest welcome from Ed, chose the tipis we wished to sleep in, had a brew, and, once settled, we got a tour of this amazing forest.
We visited the tipis and tree tents and got to paddle in the River Avonmore which runs on the borders of the forest, and, to top it off, there is a gravel beach for everyone to enjoy.
As we toured the site Ed told us how Tipi Adventures Ireland was inspired by the love of County Wicklow’s natural beauty. It is a place to give visitors an adventure with a difference, reconnect them with the great outdoors, develop new skills, enjoy the locally produced food and drink which the Garden of Ireland has to offer and, above all else, it is a place which truly gives its visitors a feeling of well being and fulfilment.
During the evenings and early summer mornings, wild brown trout can be seen feeding on the surface of the river and you may also be lucky to see a herd of wild deer, which Wicklow is famous for, in the woods or crossing the river. Other animals you might also see are pine martens which are usually seen making their way along the water’s edge.
Once back at our tipis, the children got to explore safely. My family, and also my friend’s family, have grown up in the countryside so they are already at one with nature but this experience is pretty special for the little ones. With age ranges from four to 11, this was perfect for them. There was not one complaint of boredom the entire time we were there. The tin whistles came out, they sang, they played games, they enjoyed watching Ed cook in the wild, they loved the food and we all told stories around the camp fires each evening.
When I say it’s a totally wild experience I mean that in every sense of the word.
The over-the-fire cooking is quite simply phenomenal. Ed and his team cook in roasting boxes and everything cooked that day is bought fresh from local stores. It has a fantastic buy local ethos running at the site and Tipi Adventures Ireland is also a member of the county’s food and drink network, Wicklow Naturally. We ate lamb from the fabulous Kilmullen Farm and all meat and vegetables are produced locally where possible and purchased that morning from the famous butchery, The Craft Butcher in Rathdrum. What’s bought that morning is cooked that day.
Ed told us that the honey he uses for cooking is purchased from Olly who owns Olly’s Farm which has beehives at Powerscourt Estate. Visitors can also eat honey using beautifully carved honey spoons from wood harvested and carved on-site.
One thing which will certainly stick in my head is the aroma from the cooking in the wild like that. With Wicklow Lamb Asado you can just imagine, not only the aromas and flavours, but, visually, it’s also so beautiful.
What Ed can do in his outdoors kitchen is phenomenal. This guy has serious cooking skills and the setting in which everyone sits down to eat is so special.
The food is delicious and you can enjoy a range of dishes including chef marinated meats, smoked BBQ beef brisket, beef bourguignon, roasted lamb – we really felt totally spoiled on this unique food and drink experience.
Now that I have done it, this is an experience I recommend you add to your bucket list.
You’ll sleep outdoors, cook outdoors, eat outdoors, relax outdoors and totally fall in love with the great outdoors.
There were so many opportunities for us to leave camp and drive to nearby tourist attractions, but, to be honest, we were happy campers already and didn’t feel the need to leave.
Visitors to Tipi Adventures offers visitors a choice of day or overnight packages. Once at this private wilderness, you will absolutely love this fantastic dining experience like no other.
Ed welcomes tour buses, families, hardened campers, first time campers, school groups – just about everyone who wants something that little different. Tipi Adventures Ireland caters for people touring who wish to experience this wonderful wildness for a few hours before moving on elsewhere or they can cater for people who wish to rest their heads overnight. Accommodation includes tipis, tree tents, camping hammocks and tarps and natural lean to shelters.
This year, Tipi Adventures Ireland has also launched their trekking tents which sleep two people and come with sleeping mats and interior lighting which are ideal for anyone travelling along the Wicklow Way.
I cannot highly recommend this place enough. So pack your bags and head out into the County Wicklow wilderness, sit back and connect with nature. You won’t regret it.
There’s a great FAQ section on www.tipiadventures.ie website so have a good read before you go. Here are a few of our own:
OUR TOP TIPI TIPS:
- Bring sleeping bags and extra warm clothes, hats and wellie boots. The temperature does go down at night as expected so be prepared. Bring a blanket also to wrap around you as you enjoy the fire at night
- Bring head torches for everyone and board games. If it is raining, you’ll be in your tipi so be prepared for some tipi entertainment
- Bring firelogs for your campfires as Ed promotes leaving the forest floor undisturbed. There are designated fire pits for your tipi. Buy your logs or firewood at the Centra Store in Rathdrum as you won’t want to leave the camp once you are there
- Bring some local food and drink with you. For the adults, a few local suggestions include; Glendalough Gin, Wicklow Wolf IPAs, beers from Wicklow Brewery, Fercullen from The Powerscourt Distillery, berry wine from Wicklow Way Wines. In terms of treats, Rhoda Cocoa Chocolate, Miena’s Nougat, chocolate from The Chocolate Garden of Ireland and pick up fresh fruit and snacks from the local Centra store in Rathdrum to make it a truly Wicklow experience.
- There are big rustic wooden tables where you can enjoy your own breakfast and lunches. Our children wanted their own cereals and toast toasted on the fires for their breakfasts so bring your own camping bowls, plates and cutlery. And obviously don’t forget marshmallows.
- Respect the forest.
To book this unforgettable adventure contact Tipi Adventures Ireland directly.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ed and the guys for giving us such an amazing experience. It was great to collaborate with you and meet the guys. Thank you so much.
R755, Ballyhad Lower, Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland
For more information visit Tipi Adventures Ireland
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