Close Encounters: A Visit to Longleat Safari Park

Close Encounters: A Visit to Longleat Safari Park

If there is any place in the UK that truly is a family attraction, it is Longleat Safari Park. This was my second visit to this fantastic place and each trip has been a totally unique experience.

What are the attractions?

Longleat is built around a stately home, the residence of the Marquesses of Bath. You may have seen Longleat on the popular BBC series ‘Animal Park’ a programme which filmed the day-to-day mechanisms of the park. Visitors can enter the home, a marvel in itself, however arguably the most popular attraction is the safari park. The grounds also house a menagerie which offers a truly unique close up encounter with many of its inhabitants; this it seems is the ethos of the attraction.

The Safari Park

We began our day at Longleat in the safari park. It soon became apparent that this is how everyone starts the day. After speaking with the staff later in the day they suggested on our next visit we should leave this activity until later in the day as it is much quieter. The first stop actually involved getting out of the car and exploring the African Village and Walking Safari. Giraffes and zebras can be watched from the viewing platform.

They did get pretty close to us. For a small price (£1-£5) visitors can feed the giraffes (although customers were having little success as the animals were rather full). My toddler particularly enjoyed walking through the Lemur enclosure. There is also a large gift shop and a spacious café. An ideal place to grab a coffee before you begin to drive through the safari park.

The animals encountered on the safari were spectacular.

 

We avoided the monkeys. If you value your car – I would highly recommend this – we saw cars exit the monkey enclosure with wing mirrors and wiper blades hanging off.

 

The deer can be fed for £1.

The route taken builds up the momentum and excitement for the top predators at the end.

Surprisingly we spotted a tiger hidden in the grass.

And then a pride of lions lying in the sun.

I was extremely excited to see my favourite animal, the wolf.

It was tremendously busy the day we visited and although the safari was excellent, the traffic was extremely slow-moving and we were in the car for around two and a half hours. Next time I will be leaving this part of the trip until the end of the day!

The Main Square

Leaving the safari, we parked up and began to explore the main square. Our first stop was the Jungle Kingdom which offers among other things a walk through Meerkat enclosure.

By far my favourite part of the day was Penguin Island. We were fortunate enough to stand next to penguins.

The children also experienced sting-rays close up in the ‘Ray Bay’. Visitors can put their hands in the water and make tiny waves until these amazing creatures come close.

My toddler loved the Adventure Castle playground and honestly we could have spent half a day in there – it is huge and suitable for big and small kids!

We entered the hedge maze expecting to be lost for hours! We let our toddler lead the way and were out within 10 minutes!

Without doubt the highlight of my husband’s day was the boat trip. Throughout the day the queues here were enormous. A member of staff told us to try for the last boat at 6pm – we  were the only ones on the boat, it was like having a private tour and we were encouraged to move around the boat freely! We saw hippos.

…and fed the sea lions

A perfect end to a perfect day!

There is so much more to do at Longleat; such as taking a walk around the house and gardens, feeding the Lorikeets and exploring the Monkey Temple, unfortunately we only purchased day tickets. Next time we will certainly be opting for the two-day ticket. Even on an exceedingly busy day it was hard to complain, Longleat is so impressively huge and there are many and varied activities going on throughout the day. Importantly all of the animals are extremely well cared for – all the enclosures and habitats were extremely clean and put many other zoos to shame. This is definitely my family’s all time favourite place and we are planning another trip in the summer.

Overall Ratings

Cost: Book at least 2 days in advance online to receive 15% off. 1 day ticket: Adults £28.85; Children £21.62 (concessionary rates are available – a paying disabled person can bring a carer for free). It is well worth the entry fee!

For Adults: Plenty of activities for adults.

For Kids: Children will be continuously entertained throughout the day.

Time Spent there: From opening until closing (9 hours).

Disabled Access: Wheelchair friendly throughout. For those with limited mobility, there are plenty of benches and seating areas – there is a lot of walking involved around the Main Square.

Dogs: Permitted only in certain places (check website for an up-to date list). Longleat does provide a kennel service (the facilities are basic and unattended so please bring a water bowl, food and blanket etc).

Parking: Free and ample spaces.

On-site Café: A good number of cafés, restaurants and food stands are located throughout and reasonably priced.

Shop: A few well stocked gift shops throughout with some lovely products.

Toilets: Ample toilet facilities throughout Longleat.

Overall Rating: 5/5

 

  • A handy tip: if you can, exchange your Clubcard vouchers for tickets. This is relatively easy to do online and significantly decreased the cost for us. We exchanged Clubcard points for 3 tickets which was a huge saving!
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