After a busy few weeks my friends and I craved nothing more than a relaxing break away from the city. So leaving the hustle and bustle of Cardiff behind we made our way west down the motorway to Pembrokeshire.

As the busy grey roads turned into winding single track lanes bordered by green hedges and miles of countryside, we each took a sigh of relief. It felt as though we were a million miles away from reality.

We were on our way to Pembrokeshire Llama Sanctuary and Lodge in Llandissilio, after being attracted by its perfect record of more than 200 five star ratings on Google and TripAdvisor. Find out about the latest events in Wales by signing up to our What's On newsletter here

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As we approached our home for the next three days we were met by a big farm gate, which we had to exit the car to open. As we did, our ears were filled with what sounded like dozens of indistinguishable farm animals, which instantly brought a smile to each of our faces. I don’t think those smiles left our cheeks until the moment we went home.

Once we entered we were greeted by around 30 chickens and geese, two turkeys, several cats, and a majestic livestock guardian dog called Fintan. While some of the animals were unfazed by our arrival, others seemed as ecstatic as us. The second we got out of the car a ginger cat demanded our attention and led us to where we would be staying: a single wooden lodge with two double beds, a bathroom, a dining area and kitchen.

Lots of chickens at the lodge
The animals were free to roam
Ginger cat rolling over
Our feline friend and tour guide

The lodge is run by Matt Yorke and Aleksandra Mykhailova, who live in an 1800s manse in the grounds. They were very friendly and accommodating and made sure we had everything we needed. They offered assistance so we could set up our log fire ahead of what would be a cold few nights, and told us to shout if we needed any help during our stay.

When we opened the door to our lodge we soon realised we would not be staying there alone, as our feline tour guide confidently marched in ahead of us. He became a loyal and welcomed companion throughout our trip, visiting us several times a day to have a well deserved nap in front of our fire. The two turkeys, named Elvis and Sir Patrick Moore, were also adamant that they would be joining us too and tried their best to make themselves at home. Support award-winning journalism with WalesOnline’s Premium app on Apple or Android

Two turkeys at the lodge
They're friendlier than they look
Two turkeys
They like being around people according to Matt

Probably my biggest regret of our trip was misunderstanding the intentions of the two turkeys, who we wrongly labelled as “creepy” and “possessed” because they would slowly and ominously follow us everywhere. And I mean everywhere - while staring deeply into our souls. I later came across a picture of the turkeys having a cuddle with an owner and was told that they just love people. Among the many reasons I would like to return to the lodge is that I owe Elvis and Sir Patrick Moore an apology.

Matt told me: “They like people because they've always been around people. If you open the door to the cabin they will spend all day in there with you. We call them customer liaison turkeys because as soon as they see someone they will be right there in your face. If you’re not used to turkeys it can be concerning, we do get people thinking the turkeys are coming to get them.”

The log cabin, exterior
The log cabin
Inside the cabin
The cabin had a lovely rustic feel

While “safely” inside the cabin with no people-loving turkeys in sight, we were able to have a good look around and settle in. It had a lovely rustic feel and had everything we needed to self-cater. It included a fridge, cooker, kettle, microwave, pots and pans, plates and any cupboard essentials we might need. There was also a decent sized table which we used for playing board games together in the evenings.

The rear of the lodge backs right onto the llama field, which meant we spent a lot of time staring out of our windows. The llamas also seemed to love people and spent a lot of time staring into our windows. Each morning without fail we would open our curtains to reveal one of their friendly faces gawking back at us. It made for many brilliant photographs.

Ginger can in the cabin
Our feline friend making himself at home
Cabin next to llama field with llamas inside
The rear of the cabin backs onto the llama field

Matt told me that the Pembrokeshire Llama Sanctuary currently leads the UK’s llama rehoming operation on behalf of the British Llama Society. “Any llamas that need rehoming in the UK now I generally deal with them,” he said. “They either come here or we find them an experienced home to go to.”

One of lodge’s unique selling points is that you can take the llamas for a two-hour trek into the stunning Rhydwilym countryside. We didn’t do this during our trip, but after speaking to Matt, it is definitely something we would like to do in the future. He explained that the walks were beneficial for the llamas as it allowed them to eat a wider variety of food, while it also helped to wear down their nails to maintain their health and comfort. He said it benefitted people by providing a form of therapy and escapism.

“Llamas are very sensitive, easy going and forgiving animals,” he said. “They are very gentle. There has been a rise in llama therapy to help people with learning difficulties or additional needs. We have a lot of people on the autistic spectrum or with aspergers coming to us wanting to be around the llamas because it’s very relaxing for them.”

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Llama looking into the cabin
The llamas were very nosey, but we didn't mind
a chicken in the window
It wasn't just the llamas...
Mtt walking a llama
Matt walking a llama

Speaking to Matt, his clear abundance of knowledge and passion for his animals makes it seem like he’s been doing this forever. But if you told him 10 years ago that this is what his life would look like today, he would probably be surprised. “I always had an interest in llamas,” the former IT manager told me. “But the real incentive came in 2015 when I lost sight in one of my eyes. I had some scans and they said I was okay for now, but could go on to develop more issues in the future.

“I’m from Swansea originally and wanted to move back to Wales to be closer to my family in case the worst happened. I always wanted to get llamas when I retired, but I thought I would just get them now instead. We bought some and jumped into it without thinking too much about it. Eventually people started asking us about them and whether they could walk them. So in 2015 I set up a website to put us out there and we started doing llama walks with the public. It grew very organically, I had never run a business before.”

A big white fluffy llama
This was one of our favourite llamas
A llama outside
The sweetest face

A few years after that, Matt said he decided to let out the wood cabin - which came with the house - and quickly realised it was a hit with the public. “We weren’t really using it so we put it online and it got popular very quickly,” he said. “That wasn’t part of the plan either.”

Matt said he was slowly moving towards third sector community work, such as running workshops with local schools and other projects to benefit the local area and its animals. He said that although a plethora of challenges came along with running a business and farm, it was rewarding in ways he never could have imagined.

“I wouldn't change anything about it,” he said. “If someone offered me my sight back and said I could go back to my old life, I wouldn’t.”

Although we didn’t do the llama trek during our stay, we still had plenty to do to keep us occupied. When we weren’t busy fussing our favourite ginger cat and laughing at the chickens, we made the most of Pembrokeshire.

Group of young women take a selfie
We had a brilliant time at the lodge and exploring parts of Pembrokeshire
A day out to Picton Castle

Even though we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, in reality the cabin wasn’t far from several towns and we were able to easily access the main roads to enjoy day trips. On one of the days we took a trip to Picton Castle in Haverfordwest where we learnt about the site’s history and explored its beautiful gardens. We also had a very good and satisfying meal at The Boars Head pub in Templeton. I had chilli which came with nachos, rice, fries, sour cream and guacamole.

On a different day we took a trip to Narberth town which is full of lovely, quaint shops. We made the mistake of going on a Sunday so pretty much everything was closed, but it was still a pleasant place to walk around to stretch our legs. We managed to find a great brunch spot called Stopio Bike Stop & Craft Cafe.

Chilli con carne
Food at the Boars Head Pub
Brunch at Stopio Bike Stop & Craft Cafe

However, if you don’t fancy venturing into civilisation, there really is no need. The cabin is surrounded by miles of natural beauty and is perfect for taking long tranquil walks. Just make sure you learn from my mistake and remember to pack your wellies or hiking boots.

From start to finish we had the best time at the Pembrokeshire Llama Sanctuary and Lodge and I would recommend it to anyone who loves animals and the outdoors. I usually prefer going to new places on holiday - rather than going back to somewhere I have stayed before - but this will definitely be an exception. I am already planning my next stay.

The three of us paid £136 each for two nights through Airbnb, with llama treks available to book for an additional £45. You can learn more about the sanctuary and lodge on its website.