At the end of June we headed towards the south of the UK with some of my family and spent a day at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.
It is easy to find due to signposts and is just south of the city of Bath. We arrived just after 10am and the weather was kind to us, warm and calm.
After paying the entrance fees, which seemed high at around £30 per person, we entered the grounds and began the very long drive to the park entrance. Halfway through this drive we saw what looked like an employee walking to work, so I pulled over and picked him up. My good deed paid off as not only was he was exhausted and very thankful, he also told us about the history behind the large estate, Lord Bath (who owns the land) and Longleat House (where Lord Bath lives).
The first port of call is the Safari Bus for us. If you’ve ever been to a place like this, you will know that you never drive through the monkey enclosure in your own car!
We hopped on, and after a brief introduction by the pleasant driver we arrived at the giraffe feeding area. A big open plain with two feeding decks letting everybody feed the giraffe’s leaves.
Everybody jumps back onto the bus after 10 minutes and the animals start coming thick and fast!
After a breeze past the zebras, there are flamingos, tapirs, ibis, spoonbills and pelicans. As I’m sure you can imagine they are difficult to get good pictures of. Soon after there is an enclosure with vultures in, the announcement of which drew a pantomime gasp from the passengers.
The next area contains wildebeest and the dreaded monkeys (my favourite!). We saw dozens of cars being torn to pieces, which is hilarious for us on the bus, but not so much for the car owners. If you are going, TAKE THE BUS!
The inquisitive monkeys pull windscreen washers, windscreen wipers, aerials and pretty much anything that isn’t bolted on off each and every car that comes through the gates. They looked really content in their area though, I must say.
Their were a few road blocks before the big cats, and we meandered slowly through the park so as to catch a good glimpse of all the animals. The driver was being very helpful and was knowledgeable about the creatures. The rhinos were apart from the other animals, then the ostrich, oryx and camels were all in the same area, again with plentiful space.
Unfortunately for us, their elephant, Anne, was at the vets so we couldn’t see her. This is Mums’ favourite too!
We entered the gates for the big cats, and it’s the tigers up first. Majestic as ever, and with plenty of space, but they seemed pretty stationery. I suppose being ‘given’ food over hunting for it will do that to you.
Then come the lions, and to my dismay they seemed to be lay down too. We stopped to have a look and listen to the drivers useful facts. Once we had stopped, the alpha male got up and made a beeline for his wooden frame. A lioness on the other side of the enclosure got up and crossed the road and our bus got wedged between her and some of her cubs. Eventually, once the docile ones had realised what was happening, they crossed too. For saying they are supposed to be ‘lazy’ creatures, they moved a lot more than the tigers.
After the lions it’s the cheetahs, and we only saw one of them, through the trees. If they prefer to hide, that’s fine by me. Finally, the wolf enclosure showed us sleeping wolves. Again, if that’s what they want to do, good!
We left the safari satisfied, and headed for a well earned drink in one of the many food and drink parlours. After our fill we took Eli, my youngest nephew, to Postman Pat Village, which is a small interactive walkthrough village for the young ones.
After this, we had a choice to make, we either watch ‘Hunters of the Sky’ or we go on the ‘Jungle Cruise’. We had time constraints as we were heading to the nearby Centre Parcs afterwards.
The children spoke up and were more interested in the cruise, and so we queued for the large open sided boat that would whip us up and down the large lake.
Gorilla Island was up first, and there was a nice looking house (with an aerial??) in the middle, and some vegetation around the outside. This is home to a single silverback, who recently lost his Mrs. Poor thing. They were put here after he was ousted as alpha male by a younger, stronger animal.
Next, there is the gorilla colony on the right, with lots of young ones playing and the aforementioned new ‘boss’. In the water nearby there are 2 large hippos basking in the sun.
Then, as if by magic, 2 sea lions appear from nowhere and begin barking in a very high pitch, switching from one side of the boat to another. Small fish are sold for 50 pence each on board, which customers can then throw to the hungry fellas.
After we got off the boat, I stayed behind to ask some questions, nosey as usual. I wondered how they manage sea lions food intake first, because I imagined some affluent visitor buying 100’s of little fish and throwing them in willy nilly. I was told only so many fish are taken on each trip, to minimise this risk. I also asked about the lonely gorilla, and was told that in the wild he’d be on his own, so it was no different, except that Sky had built him a special gorilla proof television (hence the aerial) inside the house, to help keep him entertained. A nice gesture I suppose.
We couldn’t make the Hunters of the Sky show, but I hear good things. There is also a large maze which is supposed to be good fun too. We got to Longleat relatively late so couldn’t fit everything in!
We headed off to Centre Parcs Longleat after this, tired and ready for a rest.
Keeping animals locked in anywhere isn’t as good as having them in the wild, but most of these animals are rescued, and probably wouldn’t have made it or weren’t even in the wild anyway. It’s a positive way for kids to learn about the animals, and a great day out for everybody. Gemma and I would recommend a visit if you can make it!
Have you been here? Have you been to a better/worse safari? Leave a comment…
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park