“ Address: Comrie / Perth and Kinross / Perthshire / Scotland / PH6 2JS „
Auchingarrich Wildlife Park is set over 400 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside a few miles from Crieff and is a great place for a family day out. To get there you drive along narrow and winding roads, I don't think it is accessible by public transport, once you arrive there is ample free parking.
The first attraction that you will come to once you have entered the park is the hatchery. Here there are incubators which contain hundreds of hens eggs, a glass topped incubator contains the eggs which are due to hatch that day and if you are patient you can watch the chicks peck holes in the shells before shedding them and making a wobbly entrance to the world. There are fluffy yellow chicks in pens on the floor and children can handle them as well as guinea pigs and rabbits. The hatchery also has cages with parakeets and budgies. I try not to think what becomes of all those fluffy little chicks once they are too small and cute to be handled but I've got a feeling they don't live happily ever after. It's a question the kids have never asked and they really enjoy getting so close to the birds.
Auchingarrich has an unusual range of animals on display in wooden cages along which you access by walking along covered wooden walkways. It has some animals I have not seen in any of the other British zoos I have visited. These include porcupines which are huge compared to our hedgehogs, bats hanging upside down sleeping in a cage, otters, camels, llamas, highland cows and of course the famous tartan sheep. Just in case you thought us Scots had managed to breed a special variety of sheep to give us tartan wool I will put your mind at ease and tell you that the tartan sheep are dyed in their distinctive pattern each year but they certainly make an unusual sight.
As well as caged animals there are animals and birds wandering free in the park and most will come and visit you while you are eating hoping for a treat, I made the mistake of offering a peacock an ice cream on my last visit thinking it would refuse it but the greedy bird had the last laugh as it gobbled it up! As well as the peacocks there are hens and cockerels and cute little prairie dogs which have built an underground maze of tunnels underneath the park and are happy to share their home with human visitors and allow people to get very close to them.
There are opportunities to feed baby lambs from a bottle along with keeper talks at the right time of year. I would have loved this when I was a child buy my kids were too scared to try it.
There is also a falconry centre attached to the centre but be warned that you need to walk up a very steep hill to get there and there are also additional charges to visit. If walking up the hill has not used up all of your energy then there are woodland walks which are signposted and you are welcome to take dogs on these walks. Look out for the huge standing stone which is believed to mark the final resting place of a soldier who was slain in the battle of Mons Grampus.
Refreshments are provided in a wooden hut near the entrance of the park. There is not a vast choice on offer here, the food consists mainly of simple foods like soup, toasties, baked potatoes and home baking. The food is all home made and very tasty and reasonably priced. There are seats inside the eatery but you are also free to take your food outside and eat it at one of the many picnic tables dotted around the play area with views over the Perthshire hills.
Next to the refreshment area with plenty of seats for the parents to relax is a huge children's play park. It is well equipped with a sand pit, climbing frames, a rabbit burrow to climb through, a death slide, swings, slides and a play house. There is plenty to keep kids of all ages amused here but my older children in particular loved it. An old fire engine is near to the camel enclosure and the kids can climb into the drivers seat and see where all the equipment is stored. There is an indoor play barn which seems to be mainly geared towards younger children but I did not like this much as it seemed really dark and dingy.
Auchingarrich is certainly smaller than other animal parks or zoos that I have visited but it is still a good day out for the family especially if you have children under 13, there is not much here to keep teenagers occupied. It has a nice range of animals which seem to be well cared for, it probably takes less than two hours to visit all of the animals but the high quality play areas will keep the little ones amused for a long time too while the adults sit back and enjoy a coffee and chat in gorgeous surroundings.
Auchingarrich is located a couple of miles south of Comrie, seven miles west of Crieff and about half an hour drive from Perth.
It's a "wildlife centre" which usually seems to be a code for a farm with a few animals (some wild-ish, some very much domesticated) thrown in. Auchingarrich is more of a country park with animals (mostly wild-ish) thrown in, set in an extensive area of Highland Perthshire countryside.
We live about 10 miles south of Perth and when I looked up directions, each of the sources I consulted (AA route planner, Google maps, Garmin Sat-Nav) suggested a different route. I chose the Garmin route which takes off A9 and goes through Braco and then across country to arrive in Auchingarrich from the south rather than going via A85, Crieff and Comrie.
This proved to be a good decision as the route took us along an edge of Army firing range through a stunning area of very Highland-looking, pretty wild countryside. I wouldn't necessarily want to drive that way in pouring rain, as part of the way the road virtually edged a rather deep gorge, but on a sunny day at the beginning of the Easter holidays it was a glorious drive. If you are coming from the part of the world south of Perth, do go Braco way!
The park itself is at the end of a rather long drive which is not exactly a dirt track but neither it's tarmac: a rough kind of stones/ash/gravel surface, similar to what we have on our village's internal drive.
The main car park is located in front of the Centre, but as the grounds are rather extensive, there is apparently also a disabled-accessible car-park very near to the highest point of the park.
All facilities (the ticket office, cafe, gift shop and toilets) are located in a wooden-cabin style building by the car park. You can seemingly enter the park from other sides without actually paying - there are polite notices asking you to, but no turnstiles or fences. I liked that trust in the honesty of most visitors!
The selection of animals is not particularly impressive. If you come to Auchingarrich expecting a zoo-like experience, you will be disappointed. Still, there should be something to interest most children and adults.
Mammals include the Highland coos, mountain goats, yaks, deer, donkeys, ponies and wallabies, as well as meerkats, porcupines and skunks. The three mammal highlights of our visit were prairie dogs, coati and otters.
Prairie dogs are everywhere in Auchingarrich: a bit like rabbits in the countryside, you can see them in most enclosures, in the sides of hills and even along paths. Their network of burrows must be extensive under the whole area of the park. They are rather cute and especially my daughter enjoyed spotting them and trying to approach.
Coati are an unusual type of a raccoon, long nosed and nimble. They live in a cage in Auchingarrich, and as they are awake in the daytime, there was quite a lot of activity going on and the children were rather fascinated.
Otters live by a stream in the further-away part of Auchingarrich (on the way back from yaks) and during our visit one came to the fence! Otters are notoriously shy and being able to be face to face with one was very rewarding.
There are a lot of birds in Auchingarrich, normally not that interesting for children, although emus, rheas and ostriches were quite interesting. A big deal is made out of The Hatchery - a big shed in which baby chicks and eggs before hatching are kept. My daughter enjoyed handling a very young chicken and a rabbit, while my toddler was distinctly wary. I think this would be particularly attractive to city children who have less opportunity to interact with farm animals.
Auchingarrich has a newly-opened Falconry Centre, which is run as a separate business and has an extra charge. We didn't visit as by the time we got round there it was getting late and the wee one was getting tired, but for an older child it is bound to be one of the highlights.
The enclosures are large, and even the cages that some animals live in seem roomy. Animals seemed healthy and happy enough.
** Not Just Animals**
The scenery surrounding the Centre and the extensive grounds of the park itself are, for me, one of the biggest attractions of Auchingarrich. The views are breathtaking, and the park extends further out and up, allowing for a lot of walking (and quite a bit of it is hilly).
The path surfaces are for the most gravel or earth and thus, if you have a baby or a very small toddler with you I would only recommend taking a pushchair if it was of the all-terrain, thick-wheeled variety - otherwise a sling or a baby backpack would be much better.
There is a decent outdoors play park just behind the cafe (which is great as the children can play while the grown-ups rest and drink their coffee). An unusual part of the play-park is a set of giant tunnels called "rabbit burrows" to run around in. There is also an indoor play barn, which I suppose would be good for a rainy day, but on the day of our visit it was dry and the bark chip covering the floor meant that the whole inside was unpleasantly dusty.
There is also an old fire engine on site - and my toddler had great fun climbing in, out and pretending to drive it!
There is a reasonably looking cafe and a pretty standard gift shop, but as we brought a picnic and only bought drinks there I can't comment on the food quality.
There are also barbecues provided near the picnic benches, though the idea of lugging coal and raw meat for a day out in an animal country park seems odd to me. But presumably some people like such a thing.
Auchingarrich is quite high up and open to the elements, so bring something warmer as it's likely to be more chilly than where you are coming from. As always and everywhere in Scotland, rain gear is virtually mandatory even on the blazing-sun days. Some of the paths in the Centre are actually roofed, and the hatchery, the play barn, cafe and gift shop could provide a diversion in case of a short downpour, but essentially it's an outdoors attraction and thus best visited on a sunny (and preferably warm) day.
Children under 3 are free and the family ticket admits 2 adults and up to 4 children. There are discounts for big groups.
Bags of food 50p
The entrance charges are not particularly good value for money, although it obviously depends on the composition of your party: the family ticket can be good value if there are two adults and more than 2 paying children. I went with both of my children (one is 8, one is below 3) so our total bill was £12.50 which felt reasonable but not fantastic.
It's certainly not cheap, but neither it's excessively overpriced.
To compare it with other similar attractions within an hour's drive, Blairdrummond Safari Park (which is a proper zoo with a bit of fairground thrown in) would cost us £5 more and is overall a much more interesting place (though doesn't share Auchingarrich's stunning location). On the other hand, the Deep Sea World near Edinburgh which I consider to be one of the most overpriced attractions in Scotland would cost over £6 more for what is a 2 hour visit at the most. Dundee's Camperdown Wildlife Centre has a better selection of animals (albeit in a much smaller space - but it's surrounded by an extensive country park and has a brilliant play-park nearby) and is a true bargain - would only cost our party £7.15 to enter.
It's open year round, from 10am till dusk (but the shop and cafe close at 5pm).
I tend to see Auchingarrich as an expensive country park with animals rather than a zoo-like attraction and I really like it. You can easily make it a whole day out, arriving late morning, bringing a picnic lunch and leaving mid to late afternoon.
In the greater scheme of things though, it's very much a local place rather than a major attraction worth a long drive. I would not suggest a visit if it entitled more than an hour drive, but if you are nearby, it's certainly worthwhile, especially if you have preschoolers and younger primary aged children. Older kids and teenagers would probably find it bit tame, though.
Highly recommended for people with children aged 2 to 10 staying within an hour drive, but probably not worth the drive and admission price for others.
We wanted to make Easter Sunday a big family day out, but having such a wide range of ages, tastes and abilities to cater for I was struggling a bit to find something to suit all without any moans. I had recently heard a lot of good things about Auchingarrich Wildlife Park by Comrie, near Crieff in Perthshire. I had a look at their website and thought it sounded quite good. Lots of lovely animals to walk around and look at, something which could be done slowly for the older members of our party but at the same time keeping the younger ones occupied; a coffee shop, definitely a good thing for the older members, a good refuelling stop and some warmth if it was cold; a shop, toilets, picnic areas and play areas. Could this be the right choice? I sounded everyone out and all seemed to be pleased with the choice, so it was decided we would visit Auchingarrich Wildlife Park on Easter Sunday.
Auchingarrich is set in 400 acres of beautiful Perthshire countryside. When we first reached the park, of course, with it being Easter Sunday it was packed and we had no choice but to park on the driveway leading up to the car park, along with many other cars. This was the first thing that caused a problem for my elderly mother-in-law as it was then quite a walk for her to get to the entrance, not far for us, but for the elderly yes. The drive and car park surface was very bad, almost like hardcore waiting for tar to be laid on top, big black uneven stones, this would not only cause problems for the elderly but also for those with prams, buggies and wheelchairs, making it a very difficult surface to push wheels over.
On leaving the car park you arrive at the entrance, this is situated by the shop and café, which are dark wooden buildings inkeeping with the look of the park. The entrance fee is paid through a window in the gift shop where you can also buy bags of animal food for 50p a bag. Across from the gift shop is the Pine Lodge coffee shop, which was not huge but seemed to be big enough to cope with the number of visitors. It served hot and cold drinks, snacks, sandwiches, soup etc. Just to the back of the coffee shop was the toilet block, which was the only set of toilets in the park and with only 3cubicles in the ladies I didn't really think was adequate for the size of the park. This was also where the baby changing area was situated. All were clean and well kept. The gift shop sold the usual souvenir type gifts and ice cream and lollies could also be purchased here.
The first part of the wildlife park was quite a good size with large fenced off areas and most of the walkways around the enclosures here were undercover. There was quite a good range of animals here with wallabies, meerkats, ponies, ostriches, pigs, different kinds of birds, racoon, beavers and prairie dogs, just to mention a few. The prairie dogs were real characters and seemed to enjoy entertaining everyone. They are almost like moles who play around on the surface just as much as below the ground. There must be a very extensive system of tunnels below the park with the prairie dogs literally popping up everywhere, in every field and enclosure and even on the paths right before your eyes. In fact I'm actually surprised they are not roaming around all over Scotland now! Although they were very entertaining and cute this again did cause a problem with the path surfaces, making them a bit treacherous for the elderly, very young and anyone pushing a buggy, pram or wheelchair.
Also situated in this part of the park was the hatchery. In here all the kids had a great time. There were many different species of birds hatching in here and the park rangers were all kept busy helping the kids hold little chicks and ducklings only a few days old. They all seemed to love this! Obviously there were plenty wash stations situated within the hatchery where you must wash you hands after touching the baby birds.
After completing our visit of this area of the park we stopped for our picnic. The picnic area we stopped at, as we thought it was the only one, was beside the play park and had quite a few picnic tables. We did have to wait about 15 minutes before a table became available but I think this was probably because the park was so busy with it being Easter Sunday. The picnic area and park were situated on a steep grassy slope, which again was very uneven and the grass was long and not really very well kept. I am possibly being quite fussy here but with my elderly mother-in-law being with us I was terrified she was going to fall and I also saw a family with a young child in a wheelchair really struggling with 2 family members trying hard to manoeuvre the wheelchair across the grass and up the rather steep hill.
We did venture out to the car on various occasions, to get the picnic food and to get jackets etc. and we were able to come and go freely although we had no hand stamp, ticket or receipt, in fact we had no real proof we had paid. I don't know where you would stand if you were stopped coming back into the park!
After our picnic we had a wander over to the other side of the park, situated at the other side of the buildings. This was probably my favourite part of the park. It was here that we found the other picnic area, which we wished we had known about earlier. It was a small fenced off field, still with very long grass, but much flatter, although there was no play area here. This picnic area was much quieter, obviously most people were like us and hadn't realised it was there.
There was a stream running through this part of the park, where you could see animals such as trumpeter swans, otters, Chinese water deer, and red deer. This area was much quieter and with it being such a beautiful, warm and sunny day we had a lovely wander by the enclosures. Unfortunately my mother-in-law was unable to tackle this part of the park as it was on a very steep hill with very uneven earth walkways. They were fine for us as it was such a dry day but on a wet day I would hate to think what the walking surfaces would be like. Half way up this hill was the falconry area, which I had been looking forward to visiting. It was fenced off but we were still able to see the many beautiful, majestic birds of prey chained to their standing posts through the fence. When we reached the entrance however we were very disappointed to see that you had to pay an extra charge to enter. We were so disappointed as we had already paid a substantial entrance fee for our large party and not having been overly impressed so far with the quality of the park, there was no way we were paying any more money to see animals we feel we had already paid to see.
At the top of the rather steep hill was a magnificent view of the surrounding area, overlooking the small, picturesque town of Comrie and Strathearn. Here you will also see "The Peternal Glen" Pet Cemetery. A new service offered by the park, which has proven to be a very popular final resting places for many sadly missed pets.
On your way down the other side of the hill you will pass the Broom Play Area and rain shelter, the emu enclosure and the world famous "tartan sheep", and don't forget those comical prairie dogs, who will keep you entertained all day!
If you want to give someone an unusual gift or perhaps something a bit unusual for yourself then at Auchingarrich you can adopt the animal of your choice. The adoption lasts for one year and for your money you will receive an adoption certificate with all the details of the bird or animal you have chosen, a photograph of your chosen animal, a fact sheet, a car sticker, one family ticket and a copy of the yearly newsletter. Prices range from £25 - £80 depending on the animal you choose. The money goes towards the upkeep of your chosen animal. I personally feel this is just another way of conning people out of money as the animals will be well cared for whether or not they have been adopted!
Overall we did enjoy our day out here but I think that was down to the fact that we were blessed with one of the sunniest and warmest days we had had this year, it was Easter Sunday and we were with our whole family. However, I do feel for what they offer it was very over priced. The fact that you had to pay even more to see the Falconry Centre made it even worse. I do feel the wildlife park has a lot of potential. It is set in breathtaking scenery and does have a lot of great animals to be seen but it could definitely benefit from having the car park and the driveway tarred. The play parks, although well looked after, could do with upgrading as they were very basic and the paths around the park, I feel, should be upgraded to wooden walkways, thus making it easier for the less able and also not interfering with the fun the prairie dogs have. I do appreciate there are parts of the park where it would be very difficult to upgrade the walkways, in particular the hill area of the park. It is actually possible to drive around the hill area allowing the less able to see what's on offer, however, even when walking around some of the animals were very difficult to spot and going around in a car would definitely result in missing most, if not all of the animals. They should also undeniably invest in more toilets.
It was unfortunate that my mother-in-law did have to spend most of the day in the café, although she was happy enough to do this, I did feel the £5 admission fee for seniors very steep as the park is not designed for the less able at all.
I don't think I would visit here any time soon in the near future, which I feel is a shame. As I said the wildlife park does have a lot of potential but at the moment I feel it is very highly priced for what they offer.
Under 3's FREE
Family Ticket £24.00 - 2 adults, up to 4 children (rate of £5.00 applies for additional children)
==Group Rates for 10 or more==
Visitors in wheelchairs FREE
==School Visit Rates==
Open every day 10.00am to Dusk
Please note that the Coffee/Gift shop closes at 5.00pm
*** Location ***
Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre is located in Perthshire in Scotland, just outside Comrie and not too far from Crieff.
As far as I'm aware there is no public transport to Auchingarrich and the only way to get there is by car or hired bus. For us, it was a long drive through the country and we found it quite difficult to find the Centre even with the use of Sat. Nav. There are no signposts until just before you get there, but we eventually made it and it really appears to be in the middle of nowhere, however, Crieff is only a 5 mile drive away and it will take about 15 minutes to do this.
*** Arriving at Auchingarrich ***
You have to be careful not to miss the turn off, because if you don't notice the signpost, you would be forgiven for not realising that you had just passed the entrance to a wildlife centre as there are no other obvious signs that you are there. Once you turn off the road there is an uphill drive through gravel to the car park, and along the way you might spot the odd wallaby or meerkat out of your car window.
The car park seems large enough and there was lots of parking space when we visited during the Easter holidays albeit on a cold day.
Before you enter the Centre you have to pay at a window at the entrance and you can also purchase bags of food for 50p here to feed the animals as you go around. You will be given a map which is great as the place is quite large and also a car window sticker.
*** The Animals ***
There are quite a few animals at Auchingarrich, but there are a lot of birds, which can be a bit boring for older children who are expecting lots of variety. You will also find pigs, highland cows, meerkats, wallabies and a donkey to name a few.
The Wildlife Centre is spread over a huge area and I never once had any problem with the amount of space any of the animals had to roam around in. All the animals were in huge areas with plenty of natural surroundings and were as clean as you could expect while keeping it all as natural as possible.
There were two main highlights for the children in our group, and the adults as well actually. The first was the Hatchery, which is home to the baby chicks and the rabbits that you are able to handle. The older children in our group found this truly amazing, especially since we were there around Easter time. If you are lucky enough you may even witness a chick hatching during your visit. While we were there, there were a few eggs in the incubator with their cracked eggs, waiting to hatch, and a baby a day or so old, which didn't have its fluffy feathers yet, but we didn't get to see any being born.
The second highlight was the Falconry Centre, which is not run by Auchingarrich but is situated inside the Wildlife Centre. There is an additional fee for this of £3.00 per adult or £1.50 per child. On the day we visited, this was half price so we decided it was worthwhile and we were so glad we did. There were many different owls and hawks and we were able to see an eagle chick being fed and the children were able to hold an owl, which they were over the moon about.
*** Play Areas ***
There are two areas for the children to run wild and play at while the parents chill for a bit. The first is outdoor and has loads to do, climbing frames, swings, slides and even giant tunnels known as the "rabbit burrows" for them to run around. The second is an indoor barn and has slides, swings, climbing frames, a sand pit and more. Both play areas are great and have areas for most ages. The kids in our group ranged from 14 months through to 7 years (or 28 years as I remember one of the dad's joining in) and they all found plenty to do in both areas.
There is also an old fire engine in the Centre that the children can go inside and climb over, which is a great photo opportunity and the kids absolutely loved it.
*** Eating ***
There are plenty picnic and barbecue areas throughout the Centre. However, the day we were there was absolutely freezing and so we opted for the onsite café. There wasn't a huge selection of food available for a lunch, but soups and baguettes and the likes for adults and great little lunch boxes for the kids. There was a huge selection of drinks, hot and cold and plenty bars of chocolate, cakes, crisps and ice cream, so plenty of options for snacking. There didn't seem to be a problem with eating picnics brought from home here either, although I'm not sure if this was again down to the time of year. I can't imagine they'd be too happy at people sitting inside with their home made picnic while paying customers were without a seat, but I'm sure this would only be a problem on the busiest of days.
There was a good amount of seating. Our party of 7 adults and 6 children had no problems finding tables together inside right in the middle of the lunchtime rush. I have a feeling there may be a lack of seats indoors at busier times of the year, but there are plenty of benches and things outside as well, so I don't think this would be a huge problem.
We were served very quickly in the café and the staff were very helpful - even carrying my tray to my table for me when I had my hands full with children.
*** Services ***
I'm pretty sure there is only one set of toilets in the Centre and they are situated beside the café and gift shop. I noticed there were only 3 toilets in the ladies and though this wasn't a problem when we were there, I think this could cause a bit of a wait at busier times of the year. The toilets were clean enough and well stocked. The baby changing area is separate from the toilets and although I didn't use it personally I was informed it was nice and clean.
There is a small gift shop beside the café which stocks lots of souvenirs both little and large. There are stuffed animals, little toys, wooden construction kits, posters, stationery items and the likes. Some are very reasonably priced, whereas others are expensive for what they are, but it's easy enough to buy the kids a little something to remember their day.
*** Prices and Opening Times ***
Children under 3 are free and the family ticket will admit 2 adults and up to 4 children.
There are also discounts for big groups.
Bags of food are 50p each
I think the price is very expensive for what you get to see. There isn't a huge variety of animals and the Falconry Centre is extra on top of the entrance fee. However in saying that I think I if you are a family with 4 children, the family ticket would be extremely good value for money.
The Wildlife Centre is open every day from 10am until dusk, however the gift shop and café does close at 5pm.
*** Things to Note ***
The car park and many of the paths are stones, so it can be extremely difficult pushing your average pushchair/pram.
The Centre is very open and quite high up and so on a cold day it can get super cold. It is mostly outside so unless it's the height of summer and a scorching day, I'd suggest wearing layers so you are warm enough.
There are a few creatures that have free roam of the Centre. The peacocks and the meerkats can just pop up anywhere, so keep your eyes peeled. The meerkats peeking out of the paths ahead of us were highly entertaining for the children.
*** Overall ***
For us the Falconry Centre saved the day. We had driven a long way and were a little disappointed up until this point. There isn't a huge selection of animals and most of them we could see in fields etc back home with no fee at all. However, the kids enjoyed it, which is of course the main thing at these places. The animals are well kept and seem healthy and happy enough. The staff were helpful too which is always a bonus and if it hadn't been for the cold weather it would've been an extremely enjoyable day out. However, the price I think is where Auchingarrich loses it's appeal. For a few pounds more we could've visited Edinburgh Zoo or Blairdrummond Safari Park and had a whole day out and seen much more interesting and exciting animals. It was a nice enough place, just expensive for what it is.
I wouldn't recommend travelling any distance to go here in particular. If you are in the area and like the sound of it then yes, by all means pop in and see what you think, but we travelled almost 50 miles and just felt it was a bit of a let down. However, like I said before, if you are a family with 4 children, this could work out a good budget day out for the whole family.
Family wildlife park with many different animals that the children can have direct contact with. You can walk round visiting the deer, meerkat, highland cows, rare pigs and then visit the hatchery and watch chicks being borne. There is an indoor play and picnic area for rainy days and a cafe with lovely views over the Perthshire countryside.