* Prices may differ from that shown
It's not cheap but a day at Woburn Safari Park and Go Ape is a great adventure. Woburn is in Bedfordshire not far from junction 13 of the M1. There are two entrances both of which are well signposted; from the M1 you will go through Ridgemont and the other route is from the A5) The Safari Park is a 360 acres site in the grounds of Woburn Abbey.
Prices are quite complicated as there are various options if you want to combine a visit to the Safari Park with Go Ape or Woburn Abbey, the stately home.
The basic adult ticket for the Safari Park is £19.99, juniors are £14.99 and seniors (over 60) £17.99. A £1 discount per person for booking on line. We combined with a visit to Go Ape, a high adrenaline Treetop Trail, and for the cost for 4 adults and two children was £143. For this you do get a lot.
The Road Safari takes about 60-90 minutes and allows you to get up and close and personal with lots of animals. It's not just the monkeys and lions, we were captivated by the giraffes (a lovely young one was being kept in order by his parents) and bears too. You can repeat the Road Safari route through the reserves as many times as you like during your visit.
We stopped for a picnic (parking was a bit haphazard) and were pleased to find lots of activities which were all included in the entrance price - for example a birds of prey display and a new meerkat enclosure. There are also swan boats, a petting zoo, elephants and sea lions. This area is known as the foot safari and although most of it would be accessible by wheelchair, negotiating some of the narrower parts might be difficult.
Go Ape was great - the staff were friendly and helpful. Safety is taken very seriously with lots of staff on hand to check that everyone is strapping themselves on properly when using their safety harnesses. Lots of challenges on the tree top adventure trail and fun zip wires. The final tarzan swing was a bit much for one of our young baboons but he was able to take an easier option and still enjoy the long zip wire at the end.
For a special treat with all the family, a great day out.
Anyone been to the Two by Two restaurant in Mammoth Play Ark in Woburn Safari Park? After having a lovely time at the park seeing all those exotic animals,my family and I decided to go and have a meal at the Two by Two restaurant in the mammoth pay ark particularly because our kids were very hungry.I calmly joined the queue and at the same time was figuring out what we could have on the menu there.I realised that every customer that came to the till got served and I kept being ignored.I kept moving from one till to the other and each time I got there whoever was serving seemed to move away to do other things.Other customers that came after me still got served and no one bothered to even ask if I was alright.I must have been waiting for at leat 10 minutes at the till and there were four people at the tills yet none wanted to serve me.Even after every one had left and I was the only person at the till these people still stood there not bothering to serve me and my kids were waiting hungrily at the table.There was an older woman in white uniform,a younger lady in blue/blue- black uniform and two young guys in the same uniform as the young lady.Eventually one of the young men had a rapport with the young girl and they laughed before he came to serve me.I then went back to get something else for the kids and stood at the till where the young lady was,She took a while before serving me and with no courtesy at all,just asked 'is that it?' took the money off me and carried on serving other people.This attitude nearly ruined my woburn experience and makes me wonder whether coloured people are not meant to eat in that restaurant.I will certainly not recomment it to any one.
The food was crap any way ,we had to chuck it in the bin and get something else on our way home.
We decided as a family that we fancied a family day out with a difference. We researched what was available in geographical proximity and decided to go on Safari! The chosen park for this was Woburn safari park which is situated in the idyllic surroundings of Woburn which is a picturesque village near to Milton Keynes.
We were very pleased to see that given that it was now November that the park was still open as a few safari parks and other attractions closed for the winter season at the end of October. We had a look at their website which is very informative and packed full of information with opening times, prices, maps for the road safari and foot safari, details on eating venues, animal talks and feeding times along with local amenities, and directions. I do believe that every source of information required was on the website and this made our planning very easy. For the winter months, the price of a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is £34.95 if booked online. It is worth noting that outside of the winter period the ticket prices are slightly higher. We were very lucky to find that the weekend that we were to be visiting that Woburn were holding their annual craft show at the safari park, therefore family tickets were priced at just over £25 for the whole day which included entrance to the craft fair along with full use of the safari park. The younger visitors under the age of three are admitted for free.
On the Saturday morning we set off packed with a picnic and the essential winter component of two flasks of hot chocolate, winter clothing and an air of excitement. Driving from Oxfordshire, the journey was pleasant. A few miles away from the park the very clearly signed sign posts became apparent and the park was very easy to find. We entered the park, paid our entrance fee and headed straight to the road safari. The first animals that we came across were the Rhinos and Emus. The pace was very relaxed and we were able to drive slowly and stop the car to look at the animals with enough room for cars to take over and carry on with the safari should they wish to. Next along the road we came across the Buffalos and the Rhinos. There was so much excitement in the car with the children who are aged 12, 12 and 3 so it really is a fabulous all round family experience. I also think that my husband and I enjoyed this experience as much as the children.
We next drove around to the enclosed compound which housed the tigers. This was the most exciting area in our car so far. Sadly the beautiful tigers were only interested in the big pieces of meat which they had for breakfast so we waved and moved on to see the big black bears and the wolves but then onto my favourite area, the lion park. There were a number of lionesses over this area. Some would walk around your car and others would play and run around. This part of the drive took quite a while to get around as we were all so fascinated by these beautiful creatures plus the fact that they liked to walk into the road and momentarily sit down and block the way. The children thought this to be very funny. All of the way around we were very eagerly looking for the leader of the pride and on our way towards the gate out of the lion park there he was lying down with a number of lionesses surrounding him. He was extremely beautiful with his long mane.
We left the lion park and drove around towards the African forest which was also the monkey enclosure. On our way we drove across the Savannah plain and saw the giraffes and zebras. One decided to walk in front of our car which made my eldest son chuckle as he said that it was the proper use of the term 'zebra crossing'. Outside the monkey enclosure was a warning sign that they may damage your car and if you would like to avoid this take the detour route now. We carried on with the route and it was well worth it although we did witness one of the monkeys snapping the aerial on one families car. Whoops! The scream of excitement shook our car as a monkey jumped onto out windscreen and pressed his face against the glass. I'm sure that this had to be the highlight of the day!
Alas, soon it was time to leave the African jungle and we headed out towards the foot safari passing the camels, Bongos and the wild ass. We were guided to a parking spot and quite impressed how close the parking was to the facilities. We headed straight over to the outdoor playground which was well equipped for both younger and older children.
I will very quickly write about the foot safari otherwise my review could go on forever. We saw wild tropical birds in the bird house, wallabies, monkeys, sea lions, penguins, lemurs, goats, hogs, reptiles and many more. There were clean toilets, food establishments, plenty of picnic areas with picnic tables, indoor soft play for toddler and indoor thrill slides for older children and adults. Most things were accessible with buggies and if not, there were plenty of designated buggy parking areas. There is also a small train that circuits around on the hour although this could be quite difficult to get on due to the queues.
On our way out we decided to take the road safari again as this is unlimited within the opening hours. This time we saw Indian elephants, rhinos and the tigers were actually up and walking around which our toddler actually adored! The wolves had moved out of their enclosure and were walking amongst the cars so well worth the second trip.
Woburn doesn't just end there as there is also a manor house with a deer park to be visited and a very beautiful village which houses hotels and restaurants so my recommendation would be to stay over and explore the other surroundings if the budget and timing suits.
All in all a wonderful day out, in fact one of our best and I could not recommend this park highly enough.
Yesterday, I went to the Woburn Safari Park, and was very surprised at how much fun it was. It was an awesome experience and I would recommend it to all!
The day started off with the "in car" safari, where the animals are free to roam. We saw zebra, rhinoceros and a range of African deer that came very near to our car, which was immensely thrilling. The rhinoceros did a wee whilst we were watching it; last time apparently my cousin saw an elephant poo; unfortunately I wasn't there. There are also some enclosures that we drove in to see the lions, bears and wolves (which was less exciting as they didn't move about that much); another one to see the monkeys (one climbed onto our car) which was exciting (scary for my child cousin though!). You can drive around the park again and again with no limitation.
After the "car" safari, we parked and went into the "on foot safari". We stopped off for lunch at the restaurant, which was an utter rip off (£8 for fish and chips!?) and tasted rather bad. I would not recommend buying food here unless you are utterly desperate and starving! There were limited seating and during lunchtimes would get extremely busy. There are toilets near the restaurant which is placed well. Next to the restaurant, there is also a small stall selling ice cream.
At different times of the day, there are feeds and talks that go on in the different enclosures, and we managed to visit three of these feeds, including the Australian area, where wallabies and ostriches were fed. This was sooo cool as they all ran to eat the carrots and cabbage; they got so close we could touch them, and many people grabbed their food to feed them... Unfortunately, we didn't get a talk about the animals, but the feeding in itself was thrilling enough.
Next, we went to see the squirrel monkeys being fed. They were really small and cute, and the one that stuck was this one carrying its baby on its back. This had an alright talk, but the microphone was really not clear. I didn't pay too much attention to the talk, as the monkeys themselves demanded attention!
The lemur talk and feed was much more animated, although the lemurs themselves were less jumpy and lazier; before the feed, they did jump right past us, which was surprising and made us jump.
There were other animals around the safari, including penguins, lynx (which we didn't get to see), goats and water hogs. Most of these had their own feeding times but we didn't get to see them. Instead, we spent some time playing their adventure playground in the ark, as well as the bob cat slide. They also have swan paddling boats that we played on for about ten minutes.
All tickets cost under £20, with vouchers and coupons constantly available online which gives free child tickets, cheaper family tickets and discounts, making the experience even more worthwhile! Booking online will get you a 10% discount.
Overall, Woburn Safari Park is an exciting day out, and has just enough that you can spend one whole day there. The unlimited circuit of "in car" safari you could take means you can see the animals again and again, and for the price, it is a good deal that will give you a lasting enjoyment, an exciting experience and a yearning to return.
I visited Woburn Safari Park a few times as a child but most recently visited in March 2010.
Woburn Safari Park is situated in Bedfordshire, which is just one hours drive from London, Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham. It is off the M1 and is well signed up when you get nearby - we had no problems finding it.
Main season starts from the beginning of March through to end of October. The park opens daily at 10am and closes at 6pm (last entry is 5pm).
Winter season starts from the beginning of November through to end of February. The park opens weekends only at 11am and closes at 4pm (last entry is 3pm).
Main season - adults £18.50, children £13.50, senior citizens £15.50, family £58.00.
Winter season - adults £11.00, children £8.50, senior citizens £9.50, family £35.00.
If you book online (at the website) you receive a 10% discount off single tickets and £6.00 off family tickets. Under 3's go free and annual tickets are also available. In my opinion prices are a little on the steep side, especially if you have a large family (Woburn also accept Tesco Clubcard vouchers, which is probably worth checking out).
We visited at the weekend (Saturday) and arrived just before the park opened. There were a few cars already waiting but we didn't have to queue for more than 5 minutes to get into the park. We paid for our tickets at the gate and didn't have to leave our car to do so. The member of staff on the gate was very polite and gave us a map (which had both the road and foot safari on) which was very useful and also included lots of interesting facts and information.
The first animals we saw on the road safari were eland (large antelope looking animal), buffalo, oryx (another type of antelope), zebra, przewalski's horse (which was allegedly saved from instinction by Woburn) and white rhinos. The animals weren't bothered by us being there and came walking up alongside our car, some of the buffalo even crossed the road infront of us. The rhinos didn't get too close as they were busy eating but they were huge and great to watch - some of them had been at Woburn since it opened 40 years ago! There were a good amount of animals and a large amount of space for them to roam. There was a big animal house (which the rhinos seemed to be hanging around) called Savannah House which Woburn describe as 'the most advance and probably biggest facility for housing rhino and other savannah animals in the world'.
We should have seen the elephants near the entrance and exit but for some reason we didn't see them. Other people saw them but we didn't which was very disappointing (maybe they were indoors?).
We made our way round and came to secure gates which is where we entered the tiger enclosure. We saw a couple of tigers but they were hiding at the back of the enclosure (behind trees etc) and lots of people had stopped their cars to see them, therefore we didn't really get a good look at them which was abit of a shame.
Many people were stopping their cars throughout the road safari, this wasn't a problem in most parts because there was room on the road to 'overtake' but at certain times the road got smaller and you just had to wait.
We moved on to the black bear and wolf enclosure. This is the only mixed bear and wolf facility in the UK so I felt quite privliged to see it. The wolves got very close and were walking all over the road. The bears were great to watch, they were so beautiful looking but so big and scary at the same time. At one point 3 of them surrounded my car, I was slightly nervous to say the least! Especially since there were signs everywhere telling you not to stop your cars as your wing mirrors may get snapped off! Luckilly the bears had just been fed and seemed more interested in feasting on their oranges. We all enjoyed seeing the bears, especially since it's quite rare to see bears in the UK.
Next up was Lion Park. I was suprised at the size of it, it was really spacious which was nice to see. At 32 acres the enclosure is bigger than the area occupied by most zoos. There were a number of lions and lionesses in the enclosure, many got very close and didn't seem bothered by our presence. Carnivore breakfast is fed at 10am daily.
We reached some more secure gates which lead us round to African Forest. This was home to a number of giraffes, zebra, bongo and addax (types of antelope. The addax is endangered). It was great to see the giraffes which towered above our car. There was also a large gifaffe house and African Ungulate Conservation Centre which holds the biggest concentration of critically endangered African antelope and other hoofed mammals on the planet with six species under one roof. The Rothschild giraffes were also the only animal collection in Europe to have access to fresh leaves every day of the year, subsequently they have become the most successful breeders of this endangered subspecies in Europe. Conservation is very important and I loved the role Woburn played in it.
Next up was the monkey enclosure, although there was an option to skip this part if you wanted to. There were 3 different types of monkeys - drill, barbary and patas. The monkeys were very cheeky and were jumping all over everybodys cars that entered the enclosure. They seemed to enjoy all of the different cars coming through and were very inquisitive - unfortunatley this included braking aerials, playing with windscreen wipers and chewing bits of car off! Most people were stopping their cars but I noticed that a few of the more expensive cars didn't hang around. We spent the longest amount of time in the monkey enclosure as my daughter loved it. I spent the next day washing monkey prints off my car.
The last part were a couple of huge and shabby camels. They weren't out when we drove past, but we saw them later on and on our exit. At the end of the road safari you were able to repeat the circuit and go round the whole road safari again or go straight to the foot safari. You can repeat the road safari as many times as you like throughout the day.
Firstly we needed to find a parking space, which was very easy as the carpark was quite large. We then went for something to eat in a place called The Safari Restuarant. The restuarant was nice but very basic - no frills. There was quite a good selection of hot and cold food, aswell as childrens meals. The only downer was that it was a little overpriced.
When we came out of the restuarant we were pounced on by an overkeen photographer who wanted to get a snap of all of us. After lots of faffing around he decided to place us onto a muddy field with a cruddy background (not to mention the bad weather), luckilly none of us were too bothered by this and all managed to laugh about it. He went off for a few minutes and returned with a laminated Woburn booklet with the photo of us inside (the booklet was complete with glossy photos of the animals etc). We were able to view the photo and have a flick through the booklet before deciding if we wanted to purchase it or not. The booklet cost £15.00 and the photo wasn't brilliant (for starters my brothers head was covered up by a rhino!) but it was a nice souvenier, plus we got a few extra copies of the photo and a code to view and print more off the website if we wanted to.
Nearby there was a small outdoor arena called Birds in Action. They run shows throughout the day but unfortunatley we missed them. There was also something called Crazy For Conservation which runs daily at 1.30pm, which sounds educational for young ones but which we also missed.
The kids soon spotted a play area called Tiny Tots Safari Trail, which was an under 5's undercover play area that included a couple of bouncy castles and inflatable slides etc. The play area was totally free to use and even though it was raining the play area was still open which I thought was good. The kids had great fun and we got to sit down and relax for a little while.
Next to Tiny Tots Safari Trail was a small building called My World Education Centre, which was closed during our visit. Opposite this building was another building called Junglies Gift Shop. We didn't visit the gift shop but it appeared to have everything that you would expect!
Around the back of the Safari Restuarant was a large pond and outdoor play area. The play area wasn't very big but looked adequate. We didn't visit the play area or spend much time around the pond area because it had been raining, however if it had been hot and sunny I think we would have brought a picnic and made the most of it (picnic benches were available).
Something which I enjoyed probably the most was Rainbow Landings which was a large greenhouse looking building. Inside was a free flying aviary that was full of beautiful little lories and lorikeets, aswell as plants and flowers. You could walk around at your own leisure and spend as much time as you wanted inside. You were also able to purchase small pots of nectar for 40p a pot or 3 for £1 (I think), which we did and I definitely recommend to others to do. As soon as we walked into the aviary we were covered in birds - they sat on our hands and drank the nectar and even sat on our heads and shoulders! It was a great experience that we all enjoyed and we got some great photos too. Just make sure you don't get pooped on!
After Rainbow Landings we made our way over to Australian Walkabout which was an outdoor wallaby and rhea enclosure. We had to stick to the paths and the animals didn't come too close to us (although they didn't seem bothered by us being there) but we got a good look at them. It was very spacious and we also noticed that some of the wallabies also had joeys in their pouches which was nice to see. You are able to feed the animals at certain times but unfortnatley we missed this.
Opposite Australian Walkabout is an outdoor sealion enclosure. I love sealions but I must admit this wasn't the best enclosure I had seen, plus there was so much green algy on the glass that we couldn't even see in! Still, it was nice seeing the sealions above the water.
Next to Australian Walkabout is Monkey Business which is a walk around squirrel monkey enclosure. They do feeds and talks at certain times throughout the day, but again we missed it! The monkeys were very cute but very cheeky and tried to steal our stuff - they also had a thing for pushchairs and dummies so the babies sat this one out! The young girl that was working inside Monkey Business was very friendly and informative which was nice.
The kids spotted another play area called Tree Tops Action trail. This was for slightly older children (minimum height restriction of 1.5m) so we didn't stay here for long. Obviously if you have older children this might be a good place to sit back whilst they have a run around. Be careful you don't mistake the entrance of this for the entrance of Monkey Business - we (and many others) found ourselves wondering around this treetop play area like a bunch of wallys!
Directly next to Tree Tops Action Trail is Go Ape! which has to be booked in advance (although you may be able to book in on the day if it's not busy) and costs extra. This is an opportunity to take part in 'an award winning course of rope bridges, Tarzan swings and zip slides set high up in the trees'. It's suitable for adults and children over 10, however we didn't take part during our visit (thankfully!).
At this point we stopped to get some drinks - there are a few places dotted around that sell refreshments and snacks. We then headed off to a large lake that was home to a number of swan boats. The swans are totally free of charge to use which I thought was brilliant and you could seat upto 5 people per swan. The weather was really cold so it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been, but in the summer I bet it's lovely and fun for the kids. The front 2 passengers have to pedal and steer the boat (which I should point out is very tiring) whilst the back passengers are able to sit back and relax! As far as I'm aware you can use the boats for as long as you like, within reason. Afterwards we decided to board the Great Woburn Railway which was also free of charge. The train was pleasant and held a lot of people. It took us right past the camels (we got a good close look at them) and past the Birds Of Prey Demonstration Area, then took us back again.
Next to the train entrance is an attraction called Bobcat Run, we didn't actually see this but I think it was closed anyway as it closes in bad weather. Bobcat Run is a large outdoor 6 lane slide that is suitable for both children and adults.
The Birds Of Prey Demonstration area is kind of seperate to the main park and could easily be missed, so keep your eyes peeled. We didn't see any demonstrations as unfortunatley they run from April to September.
We were able to walk through the sheep and goat enclosure. The animals came up close to us and didn't seem bothered by us being there. To be honest it was nothing new for the adults but the kids really enjoyed seeing and touching the animals. Next to the sheep and goats were the Red River Hogs which you couldn't walk through. You can also watch the Red River Hogs being fed at 12.30 everyday.
The Animal Encounters Area had free ranging marmosets and lynx. The marmosets were very tiny and cute, but they were indoors so we could only see them through glass. There were also big iguanas which were housed inside a dark hut-like enclosure. Nearby was Land Of Lemurs which was a walk through enclosure. The walkway was above the ground and pushchairs were not allowed. We spotted a number of black and white lemurs hanging from the trees above our heads.
We came across the penguin enclosure which had a number of penguins inside. You could view them under the water and on top of the water. We caught the penguin talk and feed (where one girl talked about the penguins and another girl threw fish to the penguins) which everybody enjoyed watching.
There were lots of (full up) antibacterial soap dispensers dotted around the park to keep germs at bay before and after touching the animals. I also noticed that the animal keepers were very friendly and informative, which made all the difference to our visit.
To finish the day off we headed over to the Mammoth Play Ark. This was a big wooden building that looked like a boat. Inside was a big play area and a counter service restuarant called the Two By Two Restuarant. We didn't eat at the restuarant, just had drinks so I can't really comment on it. We all sat in the restuarant whilst the kids played in the play area. The play area was brilliant and one of the best I've seen in a while. It had huge slides and lots of climbing equipment etc - we were all really impressed and the kids stayed in there for what seemed like hours! There was also a seperate play area for toddlers which was equally as good, but just on a smaller scale. Again there was no charge to use the play area.
I would definitely recommend making a visit to Woburn Safari Park. It includes a road safari aswell as a foot safari and has a great selection of animals. You are able to get up close to many animals that you wouldn't otherwise be able to in the road safari and there are lots of walk through enclosures in the foot safari. The majority of animals have large open spaces to roam and the animal keepers are friendly and knowledgeable. There are plenty of good play areas for the kids and I like the fact there were quite a few free of charge attractions, such as the swan boats and train. The park also plays a large part in animal conservation and obviously care about their animals a great deal. I would say this is a great day out for all ages.
The only downsides are that the entry free is quite excessive, especially if you have a large family. Also, it may not be as big as some other safari parks (although in my opinion you should leave a whole day for it). I would also advise going on a warmer day and arriving early to get the most out of it and avoid school holidays if possible as it gets crowded on both the road and foot safari's.
If you have car, this is the place to go if you have a free day and fancy a change. If you dont have a car, some companies offer coach excursions but they are few and far between.
Situated just off of the M1 (you can leave at junction 12 or 13) from London, it was about an hour and 30 mins journey and very easy to get to. Once you get to about junction 10 (travelling from South), you should start to see signposts. If I remember rightly, they will tell you to leave at J12 but if you stay on and leave at J13, it is quicker (and still signposted).
Admittance is £18.50 for adults, £13.50 for children (3-15years) and £15.50 for senior citizens. I'd reccommend you purchase online so you can beat the queues which can be quite large if you get there in time for opening. You'll also get a 10% discount this way. The park is open from 1st March until 31st October from 10am-6pm.
When you drive through before the gates, there is a small area to park and a toilet-I'd suggest you go through the gates first and park inside. I made this mistake once and when I got back to my car, the queue was huge and all of the parked cars were basically trapped. I was trying to get out just to get in for over 30 mins!
Once through the gates, you can go left for the Safari loop, or straight on for parking, more toilets! and out of car activities.
You can travel around the loop as many times as you wish and at whichever speed you want. Each time you go round, there'll be something different to see! Sometimes the animals are in the distance on one loop but when you go round again, they might be up against your window!
DO NOT WIND DOWN YOUR WINDOWS. It might be really tempting but really dont. These animals are wild and it's not even 100% safe to drive around with your window up, let alone down.
There are white Rhinos, Zebras, Giraffes, Wolves, Tigers, Lions, Monkeys and Black bears to name a few. All of which (with exception of the wolves) are free to jump on your car. Many do. Especially the monkeys (you can bypass this section if you wish by following the bypass arrows) I wouldn't recommend you have any visible food in your car as you will be covered and they take wipers, wing mirrors and number plates. It is funny when they sit on the bonnet though, or if you have a sunroof and you can see them peeping in at you!
Black bears are other destructive ones to beware. Last time I went, the car behind me had one sitting right infront of it, what a great view. I was really jealous until I realised it was tampering with the number plate. It had managed to 'undo' half of it and with one last swoop of its gigantic paw it was on the floor. It then strolled back off into the trees! I don't know if the couple had even noticed their loss!
There are Rangers all around in Landrovers and you can get their attention by tooting your horn twice. Only in emergencies though.
The Loop is really big and the animals have huge areas to live in so you really get to see them being 'wild'
The other side of the park or 'foot Safari' has a pond where you can hire swan pedalos, An exotic bird house where for a small price (I think about £1.00) you can hold little pots of nectar and in return get covered in brightly coloured Lories and Lorekeets and not so brightly coloured poop (bring some wet wipes, they'll come in handy!) There's an elephant house where you can get up close, an Australian Walkabout which is a big area full of Wallabies where you can walk around with them and touch them. There's also an indoor play area with slides and mats where you can grab a drink whilst the kids have a play (or you can join them if you want!)
There's actually loads more including Lemurs, Penguins, Monkeys, sheep and goats. You really have a lot to see and do so I think it is worth every penny.
There were no Cash points when I went last year and the shops, cafes etc do not accept cards so you have to bring cash if you want to spend money on anything (I dont know if this has changed since).
I visited Woburn Safari Park last Summer, as my girlfriend lives close to Bedfordshire, and promised me that it was one of the fine staples of her childhood. It didn't disappoint, as long as you have a car! You drive into the entrance, pay for your tickets, and then are free to drive around the park, stopping to look at the animals in the (relative) safety of your vehicle.
This is better than a Zoo in the sense that the animals roam fairly free and you can be quite close to them (although, of course, you should keep your windows shut). Easing you in with the more placid animals, you'll soon enough be encountering the more ferocious animals like tigers and lions, but they are generally well behaved and they get close enough for a good picture while never threatening you. The absolute highlight is the monkey section, where they will often jump on top of your car and begin playing with the radio antenna. It's hilarious to watch other drivers wonder why everyone is staring at them, while a monkey stands proudly atop their vehicle.
There is also a large area to walk around, where you can encounter some of the more placid creatures and get to interact with them. Also, there are plenty of refreshment stands, and also a huge soft play area that's a lot of fun (my girlfriend's young cousins loved it especially!). Furthermore, there is a train system that can transport you around certain parts of the park, while giving you a good rest, particularly if you're with older people.
This is a great park that seems far more humane and accomodating than a zoo; you get a view of the animals without razor wire or fences, and there are always staff members on hand in jeeps with tranquilizers in case something goes wrong. It's a great day out although I can't imagine it's cheap (I didn't pay though!).
Under an hour from London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge you'll find Woburn Safari Park in Woburn, Bedfordshire.
Woburn Abbey and Safari is owned by the Russell family and has been their home for over 300 years. The safari park actually opened in 1970 and was only the second safari park to open in the UK.
On arrival you drive through tollgates and are charged per person not per car. The price varies slightly according to the season but generally its about £17 per adult and £12 per child. Concessions are available for senior citizens and under 3's are free!
You can also use Tesco Clubcard points to purchase entry vouchers and this is the option that I took.
It can be pretty pricey to get the whole family through the gates but in my opinion once youve had a day here you will agree that its good value for money.
Basically once you have entered the park it is split into two sections. A road safari and a foot safari.
The Road Safari enables you to get close to the larger animals .They live in wide open spaces where they can roam freely and behave naturally, and are just on the other side of your windscreen!
Here you are allowed to drive your own vehicle through the reserves as often as you like during the day. I found that each circuit took approximately one hour with short stops at each animal .
Some of the animals being the Rhino, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebras, Lions, Tigers, Wolves, Black Bears, Camels, Monkeys and Antelopes.
My childrens favourite part was definately the monkey enclosure as the cheeky monkeys jump all over your car!
Once you have seen the bigger animals on the Road Safari you can park up and see some of the smaller animals on the Foot Safari. Ranging from cute lemurs to wallabies, to a huge Burmese Python! (no,I wasnt brave enough for that one!) You can also enjoy Penguin World, the sealions, monkeys and a farm area with sheep and goats.
It is a good idea on arrival to familiarise yourself with the different shows, demonstrations and feeding times that are available for you to enjoy throughout the day and perhaps plan your day around these. I for one really enjoyed the sealion show.
Woburn Safari certainly is a jam packed day out and its good to know what is available in the way of food for yourself and your little ones. On our daytrip we went prepared with a picnic but on site there were two restaurants offering anything from cooked breakfast to filled yorkshire puddings. In fact both restaurants seemed to offer a good choice of both hot and cold food and drinks. There were also numerous kiosks and food carts dooted around the park offering hot dogs, hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice cream.
Also included in your entry price are the Woburn railway, swan boats which enable you to pedal around the lake, action trails and both indoor and outdoor play areas.
As with all Zoos Woburn offer special experiences for those budding zoo keepers! You are invited to join a ranger on an off road experience or visit behind the scenes in the lion park.There is also a 'junior' experience for children aged over 12.
No outing would be complete without the obligatory trip to the gift shop and Woburn doesnt disappoint with a great range of gifts and souvenirs on offer.
We all loved our daytrip to Woburn. It appealed to 4 - 64 year olds alike and there wasnt a dull moment. There is so much on offer and so much to see and do. I would definately recommend a day trip here to any animal lovers or parents!
Taking up an offer recently from my parents to take me to Woburn this Sunday just gone proved to make for one of the best days out I've had for a long while.
Entry to the park was £17 per adult and i believe it was £12 per child I think a child was classed as 12 or under. I thought this was quite expensive at first however when compared to other zoos and the experiance you get here it's very fairly priced indeed. I also enquired about a year ticket which costs £55 and allows you to visit as many times as you like in that year. You also get your ticket fee for the day refunded if you buy it there and then.
Once in you can go round the safari as many times as you like.
We arrived at the park just before opening which is 10am and were let in promptly and didn't have to queue for very long. On the way in you will see Bison, Zebra, and the Elephants are in a seperate encosure running parallel to here. The next enclosure you enter contains the rhinos and also a few other species. This part was pretty good as the rhinos are happy to be close up to the cars.
Then we went into the Tiger Pen which you have to go through a set of holding gates before going into their enclosure. There are 2 tigers here which we didn't see very well first time round, but one got pretty close to us second time round.
After this there are black bears which were very close to the edges of the roads, and quite often break car wing mirrors. In the same enclosure are the wolves. We were lucky to arrive at feeding time for the wolves so got some pretty good views of them.
The Lion Enclosure was after this which was amazing as there are loads of lions here and we had a couple wander out in front of our car. However most of them were laid up in the middle as far away from the cars as possible.
Next was the monkey enclosure and there were loads of monkeys with babies which were tiny clinging on underneath them. There are two different species of monkey here the second of which you come across are the ones that like to jump on the car and pull bits off. You can by-pass this area and are warned before you enter.
After this there are giraffes, more zebras and camels amonsgt many animals i'm sure i've forgotten. From here you enter the Foot Safari where you can get close to and be in the enclosure with wallabies, spider monkeys and lamas amongst others. There is also a free flying aviary where you can walk in with the birds. You can buy two pots of nectar fluid to feed to the birds and they will quite happily sit on your hand.
Animal feeding times and all display times are displayed here as well. Displays include animals such as pirds of prey and sea lions and were fairly educational and interesting.
I would advise that you take a picnic with you as all food and drink prices are close to extortion, as are most of the items in the gift shop but that is my only complaint about the place.
Overall great value for money on entry prices as there is enough here to keep you amused all day and you will leave feeling you needed more than the time you spent there to look round.
--Where is it?--
Woburn Safari Park is in a village called Woburn which is just outside of Bedford. It is situated near Woburn Abbey and the deer park if you are also interested in visiting these.
Prices vary depending on the season currently an adults ticket costs £17 and a child costs £12. Children under 3 go free and there is a discount for senior citizens.
I have an annual pass which cost £55 for one person for a year so if you intend on visiting more than a few times a year you can see that this is great value.
--What to do?--
The safari park is split into two areas: the drive through safari and the walk around area. After paying to enter you begin at the drive through safari.
In the drive through safari the animals are roaming free, sometimes you can get really good views of the animals other times they are further from the car. You are able to drive round as much as you like so if you don't get good views the first time go round again.
First, you can see the rhinos, look to your left as sometimes there is a rhino in a separate enclosure (I think this must be the male?) and lots of people miss this one. In this area are also the elands, the water buffalos, and sometimes the zebra as they are free to roam in this area too. You are allowed to have your window open in this area so there is the opportunity to get a lot of good pictures.
As you drive towards the tigers enclosure, you can see the elephants on your left. They are sometimes in their field so you will get a better view of them on the way out. The tiger enclosure contains 2 tigers. They are often quite far from the car but you can still get a good view.
Next is the enclosure with the bears and wolves. They are able to be in the same enclosure because they eat different foods. These animals are sometimes quite hard to see as they are often hiding in their shelters or in bushes so keep your eyes peeled. But when you do see them they are amazing.
The lion enclosure is next. There are a whole pride of lions, about 12 in total (I have never been able to count them!) They have a huge area and are often spread out sunbathing under trees. At the moment there seem to be 2 younger females who are always playing/fighting and the rangers in their trucks in this area start to panic when they go near each other! Whatever you do don't bang on the windows as this is what my uncle did and the lions started to stalk his car! Luckily the rangers warned them off. If you have a soft top car you can't go into any of the carnivore enclosures for obvious reasons.
Now you go back into the starting enclosure but further over, here you can see the zebras and the giraffes. You can choose to bypass the monkey jungle now if you wish and proceed to the walk through area. If you decide to go through the monkey area make sure you have taken off anything loose such as your aerials before coming into the park. The monkeys might sit on your car but I've never had anything pulled off mine yet.
Once you have driven through the monkeys you can go to the walk around area. Here there is lots of places to park and still loads more to see.
Walk round area
When you first entered the park you would have been given a map and a list of the demonstration and feed times. These include: penguin feeds, lemur feeds, wallaby feeds, squirrel monkey feeds, sealion displays, birds of prey demonstrations and more. The shows are definitely worth seeing but you won't have time to fit them all in so choose wisely!
There are many more animals that you can look around here including those listed above and also sheep, goats, red river hogs, marmosets and lynx.
There is a gift shop which is quite good if a little overpriced. There is a café and other stands where you can buy food and drinks. There is also an indoor playground with slides which my goddaughter loves. There's also an outdoor play park.
I just keep thinking of things to say! This review seems very long. There is also swan peddle boats and an indoor area where you can feed birds with nectar although there is a 70p charge for the food.
More recently Go Ape has been built, it is a high wire course. I haven't tried this so can't really comment on it. But it's there.
There is so much to see here that although the entry might seem expensive it's definitely worth it for what you get included. There is something here for all of the family.
The only bad thing is that on busy days people have no consideration for others and stop anywhere in the road rather than pulling over. This causes huge queues and means everyone has to wait for them to stop.
Please keep your windows closed when you are driving through the lions, wolves, tigers and monkeys. There is nothing more annoying than silly people being a few feet from a lion and holding their camera out of their window (you think people wouldn't be so stupid, well they are) I've seen one person get out in the middle of the lion enclosure with their child, put their child in the car behind and then get back into their car. All of this with the lions about 10 feet away! It is so frustrating and I expect the rangers feel the same way.
As a season ticket holder it's obvious that I love Woburn Safari Park but I hope I have been able to give a fair objective review.
Half -term holidays saw us going on a trip to Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire. We arrived at 10 o,clock which was opening time and saw quite large queues at the toll-booths which seemed to move extremely slowly but that may well have just been the begining of the day hold up and would probably ease after our arrival. For one adult and two children it was £45 which I thought was a bit pricey but I had gone armed with Tesco Day Out vouchers so at least I didn't have to pay!
After passing through the tollgates you enter the Road safari. I didn't feel this was particularly good. We found it nearly impossible to see the Rhino as the enclosure was so far from the road. We saw one tiger very close to the car which was lovely, one bear and two wolves. Obviously we saw a fair few Zebra, elands etc but those don't tend to excite my children much! The most impressive safari area was the lion enclosure where there is a good size pride of lions and lots of oppotunity to view them. If you drive a soft-top car you are not allowed in the carnivore enclosue (no surpise really!). I didn't enter the monkey enclosure as I have a towbar which monkeys seem to delight in playing with the electric wires which can be expensive so I can't comment on them.
After the drive through area (which you can complete as often as you like on the day) you park by the Foot safari area. On the day we were there it was very hot so we were able to spend the rest of the day here. There are enclosures of Lemurs, penguins, wallabies, sealions and monkeys. Several of theses allow you to walk through in contact with the animals. When you arrive you are given a timetable of all the talks, demonstrations and feeding. This should be used well and can give you a really interesting day. I particularly recommend the feeding of the wallabies as the children are encouraged to hand feed the animals which they loved. There were hand washing facilities. The Birds of Prey demonstration was also very good with several members of the audience participating. My daughter held one of the birds and that made her day. I held one of the large owls which was quite an experience as it was amazingly heavy!
In this area there are also recreational facilities. There is a GoApe course which is a high ropes course which has to be pre-booked and has a seperate charge. There is an outdoor adventure play area suitable for older children. There is a toddlers play area outside the restaurant. There is a lrage astro-slide and there are also swan boats. These tend to develop a bit of a queue but they weren't too bad even in the school holidays. There is an aviary where you can feed the exotic birds a syrup mixture. I think this costs about £1.50 but it was not available to do on the day we were there as we were told the birds were resting. One of the best parts for the children is the large indoor play area. They managed to spends ages in there which was great as us mums sat on the terrace outside drinking tea.(The advantage of older children!) All children who want to use the large slides inside this area must wear long trousers, long sleeved tops and socks, we always take some clothes like this for them to pop on as they would be very disappointed to miss out. It does however get very hot inside this play area so luckily(?) there is an ice-cream kiosk not far away to help cool them down. When you are in need of a rest you can hop on the railway which runs every half an hour and takes you through a couple of enclosures, slow and sedate.
There are restaurants, kioskes and places to buy gifts. There are also lots of places for picnics. You can find a table or just put your blanket by the swan-boat lake. It is all very informal and easy. Considering how much was covered by the admission charge (all of the above except the bird feeding, eating and spending) I felt in the end it wasn't bad value. The talks are educational as well as entertaining and even though it was alovely day in the school holidays it didn't feel too crowded. The car safari was a bit of a traffic jam but the road is wide enough to allow you to drive past stopped vehicles if you have seen enough.
An ideal day out for the family, lots to see and do without exhausting little ones with too much walking or having to put your hand in your pocket every five minutes for an activity.
Went for the day out during the Easter holidays with my three year old. Was a little annoyed that there was no displays of admission price until you get to the gate (by which time too late to reverse out) and initially thought it was a huge amount (£73 for 3 adults and one child) but later admitted there is a lot to do there. The safari itself was probably the least succesful part, having gone during a school holiday it was a little to a kin to sitting in a traffic jam in africa! My three year old therefore lost interest and the animals were just that little bit to far away to keep her engaged (is apparently better on warmer days) and i was a little disappointed in the monkey enclosure were i heard of them jumping all over your car, but there weren't that many. However when we parked the car we had lots of fun and i managed to regain my daugthters interest on the bouncy castles, monkey enclosure you can walk through, kangeroos with babies, sealions, slides etc etc. The train ride was fun as was the swan pedalo on the lake. Queuing wasn't a problem anywhere other than the swan lake but even that wasn't unbearable. We took a picnic but the places to eat looked reasonable and the facilities were decent. Good shopping. A good day out, could of stayed longer, still more to do.
Woburn is a safari Park based in bedfordshire.
It is quite a popular tourist attraction and gets very busy in the summer months.
If you decide to go you have to visit one of the feeding times. They have bear feeding I never seen it happen though, pengiuns my favourite and the little monkeys.
They do a bird of prey demonstation which is quite good but depends on the weather.
The admission is expensive up to £16 an adult in high season so to save a few pennies go out off season its a lot quieter too.
I remember when I went with my dad nearly 19 years ago. We were driving through the lion enclosure when my cousin then 2.5 needed the potty. It was highly amusing watching my dad wondering how to get it out of the boot..
I would recommend taking a picnic as the food is expensive for what it is as with all of these sorts of places.
If travelling with small children take a potty inside the car.
And if you get the chance visit woburn village as is really pretty.
Flicking through the choices of places to use my Tesco Clubcard vouches I spotted Woburn Safari Park. We had already used the vouches for a number of theme parks so thought this would make a nice change.
We stayed in Luton for our visit which was around a 10 minute drive from the Park.
Woburn Safari Park is approximately one hour's drive from London, Oxford, Cambridge and Birmingham. Follow signs to Woburn Safari Park from the M1 junction 12 or 13.
From the A5, follow signs to Woburn village. Woburn Safari Park is signposted from here.
Woburn Safari Park
Bedfordshire MK17 9QN
We found if you came off at J12 you drove through Woburn Village and it took longer, however J13 is more direct to the Park. When you leave the Park you will be directed back through the village to J12 so you wont miss seeing the village with its 200+ listed buildings if you come in on the more direct route.
As the park is situated just off the motorway it is easiest reached by car. However If you are planning by coming another way, the nearest train station, Ridgmont, is 1.5 miles away. From here you would need to take a bus or taxi to the Safari Park.
~~Opening Times and Prices~~
The Website only shows the current opening times which are;
29th October 2007 - 7th March 2008. 11am - 3pm (last entry)
29th and 30th December.
Monday 31st December and Tuesday 1st January 2008.
Open daily during February half term. 9th - 24th February 2008
I am assuming though that from Easter onwards the park is open daily with the main season price, and and then swapping to the high season price during the Summer holidays. Winter season when the park appears to only be open weekends except school holidays would be from the end of October through to Easter.
The idea of charging more during school holidays does seem a little unfair since the animals will not put on any extra displays etc, so I would suggest using vouchers or discount tickets wherever possible.
10am 5pm (last entry)
Wild World Leisure Area closes at 6pm
Senior Citizen £13.00
10am 5pm (last entry)
Wild World Leisure Area closes at 6.30pm
Senior Citizen £14.50
11am 3pm (last entry)
Wild World Leisure Area closes at 4pm
Senior Citizen £8.50
* Child (3-15 inclusive)
Groups of 12 or more people receive a discount as do groups from Disabled Care Homes, nurseries, schools and childrens clubs such as Brownies, Cubs and Scouts. They also offer Annual passes and combined tickets with the Abbey. More information is available on the website.
~~History in brief~~
Woburn abbey has been the home of the Russell family since 1619. In the 19th Century the 6th Duke of Bedford commissioned the design of a pleasure ground, garden and menagerie of exotic birds, llamas, swans, peacocks and antelope. This later was added to, to include bisons, horses, giraffes and zebras.
Over the years animals came, and others were sent to zoos around the world. Then in 1970 the safari Park opened and became what it is today.
~~The Safari Park~~
The Park consists of three main areas I would say. Each which I will discuss in more detail below. There is the Safari Drive section, The Walkabout section and The Leisure area. You will also be able to see some demonstrations and if you fancy visit the Food areas and Gift Shop.
~~Our Day at Woburn~~
We arrived just before ten so had a short wait before the gates opened. Since the first part you come across is the Safari Drive you queue in your cars. There are several queue lines and each passes a booth where you pay your entrance fee. They ask you to pay in cash if possible to speed up the process but do also accept cards. You can also buy your tickets in advance online, however there appears to be no discount in doing so.
After handing over my vouchers plus a further £6 (£2 Entrance plus £4 for a guide book) We drove into the Park. Here you have a choice of either entering the Safari Drive or parking up for the Walkabout area.
We bravely drove on to the Safari Drive. Being first thing there was quite a volume of cars going round so at times we moved very slowly or sat waiting for some time for cars to move on and allow us a peek. On our second tour this was not such a problem so I would suggest arriving slightly after 10 for this reason.
Some of the animals seemed to have wandered from their intended areas but I guess that is the whole idea of a safari park. I dont want to list every animal as it would be quite boring but Ill just say we saw many animals we expected such as Rhino and Zebras as well as a number of unusual species, like the Ankole Cattle that I had not come across before.
The first part of the drive is quite safe and although windows and doors should be kept shut many were driving with their cameras hanging out the window. Beyond this area though you enter Tiger Woods, where I would advise you seriously think before leaning out of the car. After passing security gates you slowly pass the grazing tigers. Most take no notice prefer to continue gnawing on their meat but on the odd occasion they do glance up and stare straight into your eyes you become very grateful for the metal can you are sat in and the fact the rangers are sitting parked up just a few feet away. This area is shared with the Black Bear and Timber Wolves. Not a mix I would have imagined but clearly they are happy enough being neighbours.
After the Navajo trail which follows the bears you will enter Simba Hills. This is where we spent most of our time (and not just because of the white van man that refused to move and let anyone else take a closer look!) To be just a few feet away from a full sized male lion is quite an awesome feast. With jaws opened wide, baring his sharp teeth we realised how much respect these animals deserve. We did get to see his other side later when he was having a good old game of footie with the cubs.
After passing more security gates we enter the Monkey area. We had heard tales of the monkeys climbing over vehicles and removing parts so in preparation we had removed our aerial. We neednt have worried since they were far more interested in the grass than us. We returned to this area in the afternoon when they clearly had woken up more and with our aerial now replaced they did seem more keen to explore the various vehicles. We could have easily got through again without any problems but our children were keen to see what damage they could do to us so we had to hang around until they chose us as the next victims. A huge relief to us they simply had a wander up the windscreen and across the roof. The aerial remained intact and the rear windscreen only received a knock where they used it as a springboard to reach the next vehicle.
We continued on past the giraffes and a few more hoofed animals until we came to the parking area. You can bypass this and repeat the circuit but in need of the toilets we decided to stop.
A trip to the toilet was followed by a quick cup of Hot chocolate to warm us up, and then we headed down to the Ampitheatre to catch the Birds in Action show. This lasted about 20 minutes by which time we were quite hungry.
The Restaurant itself is not too badly priced and not over crowded however we had brought our own lunch and sat ourselves at a picnic table by the lake, where if brave enough you can take a trip on the Swan Boats.
Next we visited the sea lion house to watch the entertaining show and then took a trip on the railway that takes you round a small area of the park. We continued to explore this area, managing to avoid the two play areas since it was far too cold to stand and watch the children, diverting their attention instead to penguins in the Animal Encounter and the ever so friendly Lemurs. My daughter was overjoyed by the marmosets and thrilled that they would bound across to her.
By now we were beginning to get quite cold as it was freezing this particular day so headed for Noahs ark, an indoor playground, to let the children loose and allow us to get a hot drink.
The area was extremely packed and you had no hope of a chair, let alone table. The children ran off and that was the last we saw of them for half hour. Being so busy and being perched on the floor we regularly got knocked by little ones running about so after we had warmed up a bit we headed back outside to the Australian walkabout. En route we made our way through the Tree Tops action trail. This is a wooden assault course complete with scramble nets, tunnels and zip wire. Thankfully there is also a simple path to take you from one side to the other. This area has a height restriction but there is a similar area for the younger ones.
Finally reaching the Australian walkabout where we encountered the rheas and wallabies, where you can hand feed the animals, making sure of course that it their food you are feeding them.
At this point we headed back to our car for a second trip round the drive. This was well worth it as some animals had moved to better viewing areas, whilst others had livened up.
On finishing the trip we headed off out the park, journeying through the little village of Woburn.
On returning home we realised we had missed out Rainbow Landing which is a large aviary housing a variety of free flying birds. I think a better map of the area and clearer signs would have helped, nevertheless I believe our autistic son would have slightly freaked out here so it is probably just as well.
The Park also has a Bobcat Run where you sit in a sledge and whiz down a run. This sadly was closed on the day of our visit.
I would say our day was definitely worth the £2 we paid, however am not sure I would have gone as far paying £72 for us. But if I was to be in the area again with some vouchers then I would certainly return.
We had a very fun filled day and were quite exhausted when we left. My children are now old enough that they no longer need the use of buggies, and although I have two disabled children they do not require the use of wheelchairs. On our visit I did note that some areas would have been slightly difficult to manoeuvre around but in general all areas had sufficient ramps or specially designed routes so no one missed out on any parts.
If you want an extra special day then you can pay extra for a Woburn experience. This could involve adopting a pet (£50), shadowing a ranger (£150) or walking offsite with the elephants. (No price given as currently fully booked)
You can also take a VIP tour. On this you will travel around the circuit in a Land Rover with one of Woburns rangers. Not only can you ask all the questions you could possibly think of but the Land Rover can also go off road allowing you to get even closer to the animals. There are a few to choose from and details can be found online. Prices start at £240 for 4 people and increases by 350 for each additional person up to the maximum of 8.
Corporate events, birthdays and educational trips can all be catered for and further details can be found on the website.
It is not possible to write all information in this review but it can all be found on the website. You can also use links here to find out about other things to do and see in the Woburn area.
~~ Woburn Safari Park ~~
After reading luckyarchers review on Woburn Safari Park I got really excited I loved the sound of it and especially Rainbows End, which leads me to another story which I will tell you about later on. Straight away I went onto the internet to take a look at their website, it was on here that I discovered they did various Special Experiences; one of these happened to be a VIP Tour with a Ranger, where you get right up close to all the animals, this is fantastic and the ideal birthday present for my animal loving daughter for her 21st. All I needed to do now was to arrange who was going and when; I could not wait to discuss this with my daughter who became just as excited about the trip as me, which is just as well as it was her present.
I spoke to the girls father (my ex husband) and my hubby, we then made arrangements to get a date when we could all get the time off work to do the visit, plus co-ordinating this with the Park for a vacant time slot. Believe it or not even though this came at the princely sum of £240.00 for up to 4 persons (50.00 per extra person up to 8), it took us a couple of weeks to find matching dates which happened to be 3 weeks after her 21st Birthday. Sadly my hubby could not make it as he was at work, so it was our two girls, their dad and me that went on this wonderful day out (I will go into more detail on the VIP Tour later in the review).
~~ A Little History ~~
It is hard to believe that this was once the grounds of a wonderful stately home (one I have still yet to visit) Woburn Abbey which belonged to the Russell family in 1619; centuries later in the early 19th to be exact the current owner of that time which was the 6th Duke of Bedford commissioned Humprey Repton (a renowned landscaper of that time) to make a pleasure ground, garden and menagerie around the Abbey. This was completed and originally contained exotic birds such as peacocks and swans, also some exotic animals like antelopes and llamas; over the time the collection of birds and animals grew.
The 11th Duke, Herbrand was the president of the Royal Zoological Society, he and his wife continued the collection and started to breed the animals to send to zoos and over sea collectors.
It was in 1970 that Woburn Safari Park first opened it gates to the general public and became the park it is today, still strongly working on the conservation of the animals and wildlife making it an award winning park with some rare and wonderful breeds.
~~ Our Visit ~~
We arrived around 1000hrs and went straight to the main office as instructed to in our letter for the VIP Tour. The girls dad went inside and spoke to the staff, he then called us all into the office to sign a disclaimer, this was because later that afternoon we were going to get really close to the animals and we had to sign our life away (he, he), we signed the paper to say the park are not liable and we understand the risks, something like that.
After going through the paperwork we got back into our car and headed around the safari drive; my daughters armed with cameras and me doing the driving (very slow and frustrating at times). Although I was driving I still got to see the animals some fairly close and others some distance away. You could always tell where the animals were from the group of cars huddled together and stationary blocking the route in front of you. At one point we were stuck for 10 minutes whilst someone was videoing the animals (this is where it got frustrating as they blocked your view also so you only got to see the car in front).
Anyway, our first animal was a White Rhino all on his own in an enclosure, we found out later on our VIP trip that he was in there because he was too horny and he kept pestering the old lady Rhinos who were just not interested (I know how they feel, lol), he became very frustrated and started charging at the Land Rovers, so he is now separated and living a lonely life in solitary confinement (Take note boys).
It was really exciting spotting the animals as we drove round no longer was it four adults in the car, as we all reverted back to our youth and excitedly shouted out when we spotted a tiger, lion or bear. My daughter even shouted when she saw a wild rabbit and we have hundreds of them around where we live. It was not only the cars stopping to see that animals that made us wait on occasions, it was the animals too. Twice the antelopes decided to perform and cross the road stopping the traffic on two occasions; situations like this happened a couple of times with various animals, we saw the giraffes doing it, a bear and we were lucky enough to see a wolf do it, lucky because they are very nervous of humans and usually hide in the wooded area (we only actually saw one wolf on the hole visit).
On our first drive around the park (yep, our first trip, we went round 3 times in total over the course of the day). We got to see the African Lions, Siberian Tigers, Ankole Cattle, Elands, White Rhinos, Chapmans Zebras, the Canadian Timber Wolf, North American Black Bear, Giraffe, Grevys Zebra, Elephants and others. I have not been to another Safari Park since I was a child, but my two daughters have and they both state that out of Longleat, West Midlands Safari Park and this one, Woburn comes top of the list for this part of the Safari experience.
~~ Our VIP Tour ~~
As I have been discussing the drive round section of this visit, it seems appropriate to discuss the VIP trip in detail here. As mentioned earlier it cost £240.00 for four of us, and it was absolutely amazing and such a wonderful experience not only do you get exceptionally close to the animals, your guide gives you their names and tells you all about them.
For instance it was our guide that told us about the horny Rhino mentioned earlier, also the male Eland that was the constant shadow of the female Eland that was due in season (is spring in the air  ). Our guide took us right across the bumpy (and we felt every bump) grounds in the Land Rover to get close to the animals, taking us to where some of the animals were asleep or simply keeping out of the hot sun; this was especially good as we got to see the Dwarf Forest Buffalo which were really cute, they had all took themselves undercover so we missed them when we drove ourselves around the park.
She took us close to the zebras and explained the differences between the two breeds the Chapmans Zebra with their shadow stripes that appear to be slightly brown and the Grevys Zebra with their thin Black and White stripes.
We were taken within a foot from the North American Black Bear named Ben; he was a young playful bear, he lay on his back and was showing us his paws you could see his pads we were that close.
We travelled around the monkey enclosure, which was fun, as we did not risk damaging our own car here. They do get very playful, it was here that we saw another Ranger speaking to the occupants of a car that had their windows down and were trying to feed them. The park is really strict on this it is 100% not allowed not only for your safety, but for the animals too. We were told that there are some sick humans in this world that have fed the monkeys cigarette butts, baby nappies, excrement etc, and once this caused the monkeys to get Hepatitis B and they had to have all 200 monkeys put to sleep.
In this area we managed to see a Black and White Ruffed Lemur, which were very hard to find as they tend to hide in the top of the trees.
Another highlight was seeing the very young lion cubs and their mother, they were still in the confines of the compound not yet mixing with the pack outside, so this was a very special treat which other visitors would not get to see.
I wont bore you with every animal, but I have saved the best bit of this until last, our guide took us over to the Giraffes my daughters favourite animal, the guide called Frankie one of the young female giraffes and got her to bend her head down for us to stroke her. It was amazing you really dont realise just how big and majestic they are until you are up that close. The fully grown male came up for a stroke and his legs came to the top of the Land Rover which we were in. We were also told that the females give birth standing up and the baby giraffe has to fall to the ground, now thats what I call entering this world with a bang (ok a thud then), the baby giraffe is about 6ft tall from head to toe at birth.
I have just remembered I wanted to tell you about the Bactrian Camel, as our guide told us about their little new comer the baby camel which took them all by surprise, as they had one female, one castrated male and an old gent with his floppy humps (they do that when you get old apparently) whom they thought was totally past it. Well he went on to prove them all wrong and showed that there was plenty of life in the old doge yet (ooops camel  ) and fathered the lovely baby camel.
I could talk forever about this trip, but I will have to settle for just the highlights. I was supposed to be a 1.5 hour trip, but gratefully with our very enthusiastic guide our drip exceeded 2hrs.
~~ Rainbow Landing ~~
It was only my eldest daughter and myself that wanted to go in here, it is a tropical house where you get to see all the wonderful and colourful Rainbow Lorikeets, Dusky Lories and Red Lories. In their own habitats you would find them on the western coast of Australia and the South West Pacific Islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. As they have bristles on the end of their tongues to collect the pollen and nectar from flowers. You can purchase some Nekton which is a special powder which contains bee pollen, fruit nectar, soya protein, vitamins and minerals all mixed with water at a cost of 70p for 1 tub or 1.00 for 2 tubs.
You open the door carrying your little tub and you are surrounded within seconds, one of them even landed on my head. At one stage I had one on my head and one on each shoulder, one of the cheeky birds even had a wee all down my arm, which thankfully didnt smell. I was told it was good luck if they wee on you, he, he. Now believe it or not even after this little indiscretion from one of the birds we still went back in with more Nekton as we were enjoying ourselves so much.
~~ Birds in Action ~~
This is found in the walk about section and at certain times of he day the keepers come out holding the birds of prey and tell you about them and give a demonstration of the bird in flight. On our visit we got to see the Green-winged Macaw and a large Blue Parrot. The birds fly right across the amphitheatre so you may find yourself having to duck.
~~ For the little ones ~~
As any parent knows when you take little ones on a day trip you need activities to keep them happy. Although I am now a Granny and did not have any young ones with me I did notice what was on offer for their enjoyment and education. So, on that note I best give you an idea on what was on offer.
Great Woburn Railway This is a free service and comprises of a short train ride taking you past some of the animals like the elephants, camels and bison.
Bobcat Run enjoy reliving your childhood with the kids and come down the big sledge ride. You know the ones where you take a sack and come down a wavy slide.
Adventure Ark this is a building in the shape of Noahs Ark, where the children can enjoy scramble nets, rope bridges, ball pools and a vertical drop slide (Yuk, I remember these from when my children were little, they scared me to death). You can also get refreshments here whilst your children play. There is an age and height restriction on some of the areas here (you may want to check on their website).
Tiny Tots Safari Trail especially for the under fives is a little inflatable safari where they can bounce around, slide and climb is safe surroundings.
Swan Boats take the children for a rest and have a lovely paddle around the small lake.
Badger Valley this is a little playground where the under fives can have some fun, it is a mini adventure playground with a little slide, and a bridge to walk over.
Tree Tops Action Trail now this I dont remember seeing, but from the brochure it is an adventure playground for the bigger kids including mom and dad , there are height restrictions that apply in this area.
~~ Disabilities ~~
My health has been deteriorating for the past couple of years, to the extent that I have to use a wheelchair as I cannot walk further than a few yards. Woburn offer a wheelchair service, which means someone has to push you around the park, they do not offer any motorised scooters for hire, which is a shame as these would make the experience a lot better for the disabled visitor.
Not all areas of the park are suitable for wheelchair users, and those areas that are, you will find have very steep gradients, so unless you are extremely light in weight it will be hard on the person that is trying to control the wheelchair. My girls pushed me around the park, so I managed to get to most places, except for the Sea lions, the gradient was just too steep to attempt; we also did not make it into the Australian Workabout, which was a bit of a downer as I would have liked to have seen the Wallabys. I did get to see the penguins which I loved.
You will find on the map that you get free to help guide you around the park that they mark out the certain areas that are not accessible for the wheelchair; these are found in the Australian Walkabout and the Bobcat Run. As I said before through the gradients also make it not wheelchair friendly. It would be nice if they invested in some scooters to help their disabled visitors, they could even charge a small lending fee, as these would make those hills a lot easier to cope with.
There are also disabled toilets available and disabled parking bays available.
~~ Special Experiences ~~
This is the section where you can get something extra special, like we did for our daughters 21st birthday.
VIP Tour with a Ranger I have already described our experience on this and the price, but you also get a certificate and a full colour brochure with your letter confirming your booking. It runs from March until the end of the season in October.
According to their website and a leaflet I picked up there are other special experiences on offer, here are a few:-
Shadow A Ranger for the day you do exactly what it says you stay with a keeper for the day, you get to go behind the scenes whilst they go about their duties including mucking out and feeding (we kept teasing my daughter saying she had to muck out the giraffes) . You also get to meet the friendly and playful lemurs in the walk through land of the lemurs. This comes at a cost of £195 per person; you can get more details off their site.
VIP Tour Plus Walk and Talk This is what we had plus the extra of a supervised walk around the smaller animals. This comes at a cost of £290.00 for 4 persons plus £60.00 per extra person up to 8 people; more details available on line.
Breakfast with the Carnivores for £240.00 for 4 people you can meet the lions and tigers in their enclosures before the park opens, you are also there when they are let out for the day. This trip lasts for one hour available March until October for more details again please look at their web site.
Elephant Experience this is an elephant walk experience, where you need to be fit and be adorned in suitable attire and footwear; this comes at a cost of £100.00 per person and be prepared to walk.
Adopt an Animal I wish we had known about this before, but my daughters dad had already adopted a giraffe at Chester Zoo for my daughters birthday. Looking at what you get from Woburn in the adoption package it is a lot better than what we got from Chester Zoo, and for the same price of £50.00.
You get a certificate of adoption, a photograph and fact sheet about your animal, a complimentary ticket to the park (this is worth 17.00) and a guide book (worth 5.00). There is also Adoption Plus available (which I thought was brilliant) for an extra £40.00 you can get to meet your adopted animal for about 30 mins accompanied by a ranger. This is a wonderful idea for the animal lover that adopts one.
~~ Refreshments ~~
There are many small pit stops around the park which sell ice creams, drinks and hot dogs (which were lovely and not bad for £3.00)
There are also two restaurants on the park, one by the gift shop and the other half way round the park adjoining the mammoth play ark.
At the mammoth play ark you have the Two by Two Restaurant where you can get many snacks and leave the children to play safely inside the ark. Sorry we did not eat here or check out the menu, we chose to have a picnic on the tables in the grassed out to the right of the Ark.
The Safari Restaurant is the one we chose to sit outside of and have a rest whilst waiting for our Ranger. It is situated right in the centre where you start and finish your tour of the park, right next to the gift shops and toilets. Whilst sitting here I took a look at the menu, as we did not eat here I cannot say if it was well cooked, but it looked nice when we saw other people eating.
This restaurant offered a good selection of descent sized meals ranging from £6.00 for an all day breakfast to £7.50 for half a roast chicken, with potatoes and seasonal vegetables. There was also a range of sandwiches and baguettes priced on average £3.00 £4.00, cakes, pastries and little snacks at various prices, salads at £5.75, Yorkshire pudding meals at £5.50, Jacket Potatoes with various fillings for £5.00 or just settle for the soup of the day with a nice crusty roll at £2.95.
Hot drinks, cold drinks, wine or lager are also available; they do offer a pretty good selection.
You can get cheaper and smaller children portions.
I felt that the prices were on par with other tourist locations, slightly over priced, but they do have a captive hungry customer.
~~ How to get there ~~
It is quite easy to get to actually, but it is a bit of a boring ride (scenery wise) as it is mainly motorway driving, well for me anyway.
Woburn Safari park is just of Junction 12 or 13 of the M1 and it s clearly signposted from there. You just follow the brown signs and within minutes you have reached your destination.
When you leave the park you come out through the wonderful picturesque village of Woburn.
Woburn Safari Park
~~ Prices and Tickets ~~
Prices for the Safari Park vary on the season but they range about £15.50 - £17.00 per adult and £11.50 - £13.00 per child. If you like historic houses you may want to consider getting a passport ticket that lasts for 12 months, this gives you a saving of £7.50 for adults and £3.50 for children on the two prices combined giving you a visit to Woburn Abbey and the Safari Park. Please be aware though that it would be difficult and would spoil your enjoyment to try to do both these in the one day. Something that is worth thinking about if you are travelling long way, as we did.
Woburn also offer an annual ticket to the park giving you unlimited visits during that year, this is great value if you are fairly local.
To find out more please take a look at their web site.
~~ Gift Shop ~~
The gift shop has a wonderful array of soft toys and animal related merchandise at varying prices, some of which are reasonable and others like the t-shirts at £18.00 each are totally over the top.
The gift shop is also the focal point of the park it is where you go to arrange to meet your Ranger for the special experiences; it is where you go if you have loaned a wheelchair, you mention it to the staff and they arrange for someone to bring it over to you; the staff are also very friendly and helpful.
I mentioned t-shirts earlier in the gift shop; there is also another gift shop solely for t-shirts where they are all on display on the walls for your perusal.
~~ Education ~~
It would not be fair not to make a short mention to the fact that Woburn Safari Park like to get involved in educating children, teaching them to respect the animals, but also teaching them basic skills such as team work by helping each other. They run many educational trips for schools etc. It may be worth while looking at their site if you want to learn more.
~~ Toilets ~~
These were very clean and adequate; we visited on Monday 6th August 2007 during the school holidays, even though it was a busy time of year there was no queuing for the main toilets.
The disabled toilet however there was a slight queue as this is shared with both sexes for the disabled use and also for mothers and babies.
Sorry I did not go in the gents so cannot comment on how clean they were and somehow it never came up in conversation with my ex husband either.
~~ Overall ~~
Overall, we were over the moon with our visit, and very impressed with the care the rangers give to the animals. I neglected to say earlier but we were stopped by staff even before we got through the gates, they were checking where we had travelled from and if we had any contact with livestock. The reason for this was due to the recent outbreak of foot and mouth in Surrey. This may be worth noting if you want to visit and you live in an infected area as you may not be able to get in. I would suggest that you make contact to find out prior to your visit. I am aware that the scare is now over, but these things can crop up unannounced at any time.
We all had our own personal highlights of the day, which was great as this meant we all got something from the visit. Even though our visit was made a lot more exciting due to the VIP Tour we would have still enjoyed it, as there was something for all ages.
As mentioned throughout my review there are a couple of minor niggles, but these niggles did not spoil the overall enjoyment of the facilities and our day.
My children tell me that Longleat won hands down on the walking section of the park, so sorry Woburn this is an area you may want to look at if you want to be the best.
So overall I highly recommend it for a visit, we had a magnificent day and I would love to go again, but possibly stay over night and visit the Abbey the next day.