In 1966 Longleat became the first location outside of Africa to open a drive-through safari park, and still 50 years later it remains one of the country’s leading wildlife attractions.
You may have seen Longleat on the TV as it is the location for the BBC programme Animal Park, presented by Kate Humble and Ben Fogle, which documents the parks keepers and animals lives.
Longleat safari park is situated in 9000 acres of beautiful county side in the county of Wilshire and is home to over 500 animal’s.
The park is separated in to 2 main sections
- The Drive through
- Longleat house and grounds
The Drive through
The drive-through took us unbelievable close to many different species of wildlife. On entering the park we purchased a guide book and we were also was given a CD tour guide (presented by Ben Fogle) to play whilst we drove around the park
African Village & Walking Safari
This is where we could get out of the car and get up close and personal to animals such as Rothschild’s giraffes, Grant’s zebras, ring-tailed lemurs, red-necked wallabies, pygmy goats and warthogs.
There is also a super little gift shop and café.
The highlight of my children’s visit was going through the monkey enclosure. Rhesus macaques are highly mischievous and they enjoyed nothing better than jumping from car to car and pulling little bits off, which is very funny unless it’s your car of course.
Big Game Park
This is where we saw the impressive herd of white rhinos, Bactrian camels, horned Oryx, ostriches and Ankole cattle.
This large enclosure is home to two different types of deer, the red deer which is Britain’s largest land mammal, and the Pere David’s deer which is native to China but are actually extinct in the wild.
It was here we had a truly hands on experience with the deer by feeding them through our car window with bags of food we purchased in the deer park.
I didn’t expect that we would spot a tiger, as in previous parks we have visited they have always been so elusive, but not long after entering the tiger enclosure Belle spotted one.
We didn’t have to look very long before we saw the pride of lions Longleat is famous for.
The cheetahs in this enclosure were somewhat shy on our visit and we didn’t manage to glimpse one this time
Spotting these wolves was more difficult than you would expect, but after many minutes of searching we did eventually spot a wolf laying down asleep
Here we hopped aboard a boat and took a short trip around Half-Mile Lake. The journey took us close to both Gorillia Island and Pelican Cove.
Whilst on board we could see Californian sea lions, hoping for some tasty fish, following the boat, feeding them is quite amazing.
As we passed the Gorilla Colony, we spotted Nico, Europe’s oldest male gorilla and quite possibly the only gorilla to have sky TV!!
Jungle Kingdom offers a chance to get really close to all sorts of exotic animals, like meerkats, porcupines, giant anteaters, binturong, coati, otters and new to the park … Aardvarks.
At penguin island we had the opportunity to observe to penguins both above and below the water through giant viewing windows. The penguins are also allowed into a large walk-through area where my children could get close to the Humboldt penguins.
My children would have spent hours exploring the enchanting medieval fortress and exciting adventure playground, had there not been so many other things to do. The Castle is divided in to different areas that are designed for different age groups, so there was something for everyone.
Strolling through Monkey Temple, we spotted marmosets and tamarins hiding in the trees and running across their rope bridges.
In the centre of Monkey Temple is a special walk-through lorikeet aviary. We purchased a cup of nectar from the feeding station for £1 a cup and the Lorikeets drank it straight from our hands.
Here we saw the thornback ray in their open-air pool, baby rays in their nursery and even some Sea horses.
Taking a ride on the train is more difficult as it sounds as it was so busy, and my boy’s just did not have the patience to wait in a queue for about hour. We decided that we would leave the train ride until as late as possible and I am so glad we did as we only had to wait 10 minutes to get on.
The train ride runs along the edge of Half-Mile Lake and through scenic country-side.
During the train ride we saw Monkey Temple, the Californian sea lions, lowland gorillas and the resident hippos.
There is just so much to see and do at Longleat unfortunately we didn’t manage to discover it all in one day. We didn’t manage to explore …
- Little Explorers Garden
- Rockin’ Rhino
- Hedge Maze
- Animal Adventure
- The Bat Cave, this was closed for cleaning
- Longleat House
Longleat tickets are quite expensive priced at around £30 for adults and £25 for children, but with so much to see and do I do feel that it is well worth the price. We had such a fun day and cannot wait to visit again in the future.