We climb out of the Land Rover, leave the beaten track and trudge deeper and deeper into the moorland.
I’m on safari, but not the open top lion spotting kind you see on TV in the scorching hot landscapes of Africa.
Instead, I find myself right in the heart of Exmoor National Park, on the border of the Devon coast.
But this wildlife tour brings me much closer to the animals than any safari in the Serengeti.
Cars are banned this far on the moors and it doesn’t take long before we see a deer for the first time, completely unperturbed by our beady eyes.
During our safari with wildlife expert Daphne Bruce we spot not one, but twelve deer, as well as wild ponies and a variety of birds, from kestrels to buzzards.
It is undoubtedly the highlight of our Devon holiday.
I live nearby with my husband and dog at The Exmoor White Horse Inn, a characterful retreat on the banks of the River Exe.
The area is a hiker’s and angler’s paradise with numerous hiking trails and brown trout and salmon swimming in the river.
The White Horse Inn itself is steeped in history, with parts dating back to the 16th century.
It feels utterly secluded and most mornings we are awakened by the sound of the flowing river and the clatter of horses’ hooves from the stables next door.
If you’re visiting in the winter months, the open fires and hearty pub grub will warm you up, but summer is best spent lounging at one of the garden tables overlooking the water and a glass in the sun.
On our first morning we set off on one of the dog-friendly walking routes recommended by the inn owners to enjoy the best of this unspoilt region.
The hotel will even prepare a delicious picnic lunch for you to take away.
You can cycle these routes, but be careful because the hills require muscle power!
Or why not the old-fashioned way on one of the horses from the local stables?
Of course, such an outdoor adventure whets the appetite, and the food at the inn is one of the reasons it’s so special.
Great dishes made with locally sourced ingredients include River Exe trout, which is best washed down with one of the excellent local brews.
Even our dog was provided with half a sausage for breakfast!
If sandy beaches, characterful harbors and historic sights like Dunster Castle are getting you somewhat bored, a day trip to Exmoor Distillery is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Just outside Dulverton on the southern edge of Exmoor, this small family business makes specially crafted gin, rum and other spirits.
It was founded just six years ago and has already won an international award.
Book a guided tour followed by a tasting (you can even taste the spirits neat if you’re brave enough).
The smoky, full-bodied Northmoor Navy Strength Reserve gin was our favorite as it was aged in bourbon whiskey casks for six months before bottling.
That evening, the sky rewarded us with a glitter game like we had never seen before.
With little light pollution, Exmoor is one of the best spots in the country for stargazing.
The inn offers visitors a “stargazing package” that includes binoculars, a flashlight, and a blanket, along with instructions on how to gaze at the sky.
Rugged, rolling moorland blanketed by a flickering night sky is an image that sums up Exmoor perfectly.
And it proves that you don’t have to get on a plane to experience nature at its best.
STAY THERE: The Exmoor White Horse Inn has double rooms from £140 on a B&B basis.
Call 01643 831229 or see exmoor-whitehorse.co.uk.
TRAVELING: Exmoor Wildlife Safaris cost from £45 per adult, £35 per child and £130 for a family of four.
Book by email exmoorwildlifesafaris@gmail. com or call 07977 571 494.
Exmoor Distillery tours cost £12.50 per person, including tastings.