Where we’ve been today | Our visit to Longleat: the UK’s #1 Safari Park
We’ve been to Longleat a couple of times, it’s one of those places that isn’t too far away from us, but far enough to make it a bit of a special day out! We wanted to go in early February last year when we were staying at Center Parcs Longleat Forest, but unfortunately it wasn’t open then (you can check opening times here), so we decided to take Arlo for his 1st birthday treat instead!
We paid for the full ticket which includes Longleat house, gardens and safari – if you pre-book online you can save between 10-15% depending on how far away you book.
We started the day at the safari, where upon arrival you receive your CD to narrate you through the various areas of the park.
First up is the African Village where you can get out, grab a coffee, look in one of the little shops but more importantly….get up close and personal with the giraffes!
We also took a stroll through the Lemur Walk but they were huddled in groups around the edges so unfortunately we didn’t get to see them running about.
Then we hopped back into the car and got started with the bit we’d been waiting for – the safari!!
The kids were more excited that they got to ride up front with us, without seatbelts on, rather than the animal viewing….until we arrived at the monkey enclosure.
We knew it was risky business but there’s no way we’d come here and not do monkey drive thru, even if it meant we may lose a wing mirror, sensor or wiper blade – luckily we didn’t. My car (because there was no way LagerDad was bringing his) has a panoramic roof which was fab as we could see them walking over it staring in at us from above.
Anne the elephant was up next, we could just about make her out but she wasn’t very close. We also saw rhinos and camels here – bloody hell those rhinos are huge!
Next up were the deers, you can buy a cup of feed for £2 and they frantically come to your car windows for a nibble which is really worth doing.
Windows up for the next bit, you are entering the Big Cats!
Lions and tigers are next but it was a lazy day and they were all just lying around in their packs. Which was fine by me as I wouldnt want them getting too close!
After the Safari we drove around to park in the carpark beside main square and began our Longleat adventure on foot!
We headed straight to the riverboat cruise as we anticipated there may be a bit if a wait, but we were in luck. There wasn’t and we hopped on and enjoyed our guided boat trip, we even got to see one of the hippos who apparently had only been spotted once in the last few months so that was pretty special. We looked at the new gorilla enclosure bit which looked great – seeing them all communicate and interact really made me realise how monkey like us humans are!! On the cruise back, you can feed the sealions who jump up and follow the boat – it’s £2 for a cup of fish. Take wet wipes!
From here, we had an explore around Jungle Kingdom where we did the meerkat walk through and learnt about all the other animals they have within the area – otters, anteaters and porcupines were just a few we discovered.
From there we did the Lorikeet walkthrough, all I will say is if you’re buying nectar (£1 a cup) for them to feed from your hand then just beware that as soon as the gates open they will flock to you. Y’know ‘feed the birds tuppence a bag?’ Yup, that.
Penguin Island and Ray Bay was next on our list. We did the penguin walkthrough but there were none on dry land so it was a bit disappointing as we couldn’t get as up close as we’d like – I imagine when they’re out and about it’s amazing to be able to get so close. One of the stingrays in Ray Bay did stop for a picture with Sofia though so all was not lost!
As we were nearing the end part of our day we decided to head over for a little bit more animal handling in Animal Adventure, but not before a quick stop off at the butterfly house first. Sofia then completely surprised us by announcing that she wanted to hold a snake in the animal encounter area – and she did. The other option was a spider and she wasn’t so keen to do that!
From the Animal Encounter zone we headed over to the Family Farmyard which is home to donkeys, goats, wallabies, reindeer and giant rabbits, the latter of which you’re able to go in and stroke them.
Arlo loved watching the donkeys here – and we physically had to drag Sofia out of the farmyard as we decided to try and lose each other in the giant maze…
A quick go on the ‘Rockin Rhinos’ happened before we finished our day at the Adventure Castle adventure playground which is a giant wooden castle/fort with all the park bits you’d expect, there’s also an indoor softplay and I believe there’s also a splash pool bit too – but it was too chilly to give that a go. We made a rapid exit from here after a while as Sofia ended up wetting herself because Stuart couldn’t get her to the toilet in time (good ole daddy), but by then it was 5pm and we needed to leave anyway so after a slush puppy and a bag of crisps from one of the onsite cafes we headed back to the car.
Overall we would highly recommend Longleat as a great day out in Wiltshire – there’s so much we didn’t get to see or do, so we’d love to return soon to tick those things off the map too!