I have visited Longleat Safari Park many times and each and every time I have thoroughly enjoyed my day. along with the people whom I visited the Safari Park with.
Longleat Safari Park is located in Wiltshire and is situated amongst beautiful rolling countryside.
A Great Day Out:
There are so many things to do and enjoy at Longleat which is one of the many reasons why I think it makes a great day out for people of all ages. For this reason, I personally think it is highly beneficial to purchase the All in One Day Ticket costing £27.50 for an adult, £19.50 for a child and £22 for a senior, which in my opinion is an absolute bargain. This ticket allows you unlimited access to all of the attractions at Longleat for one day. My favourite attractions have to be the Meerkat enclosure and the Lorekeet enclousure. I love how when you walk through the Meerkat enclosure the Meerkats walk across the path that you're walking on, allowing you to have a close look at them and take some great photographs. For the Lorekeet enclosure you pay £1 for a pot nectar which you walk around the enclosure holding and because the Lorekeet's love nectar, you have loads of them landing on you, I think I had about 3 perched on my head. I enjoyed this experience, although I can imagine that this would not be to everyone's liking.
I very much enjoyed feeding the deer, driving through the safari and seeing many wonderful animals including, lions, tigers, wolves and the monkeys ... even if they do sometimes rip peoples cars apart! I enjoyed every single one of their attractions, including the maze, that even after 3 attempts I still can't seem to find my way out without looking at the clues!
Every time I visit Longleat there is always something new there. In fact just recently they have opened Cheetah Kingdom which I will definitely be visiting in the very near future.
Longleat has been a place that I have visited for many years of my life. Longest is located in wiltshire in the middle of beautiful countryside. It's a safari park with a beaitiful mansion and gardens which is open to the public at certain times! It has got a lot of history and is also well known due to the programme animal park which was on the bbc for many years! It was hosted by Ben fogal and kate humble :) I will now go into further detail about longeat and focus on a few of my favourite areas.
The safari park:
This has to be the best in the country, there are hundreds of animals in the safari, from lions to rhinos! There are many different exhibits that you can drive through, all are very large and great for the animals that live in them. The first one you drive through is the African experience where they have some beautiful giraffes and zebras! It really feels like your in Africa. Later on the most impressive exhibits are wolf wood, tiger and lion kingdoms and the deer park. The animals always look happy and content because they have large areas to live and have places to escape from the cars, although some animals love to come up close to the car and have a look at you, which is incredible! I have driven my ford fiesta around 2 times now and it's come back in one piece, so there is little risk of damage to your car. The only place where damage can be done is the money area, but this has been closed to the public for a couple years due to a disease I believe. Hopefully this will be open one day soon because as a child I used to laugh when they climbed all over my parent 4x4. The safari park is great for kids and adults, you can get really close to the animals and memories can be made that will last a very long time! I advise you buy some deer food to feed the deer, they will come right up to your car and eat from your hand,it's a strange feeling! They are very gentle and it will stop children fearing wild animals! This is definately one of the main highlights of the park that I enjoy! The only downside to the safari is when it ends, you really want to go round again! It's such a brilliant safari and is much better than seeing caged animals, it's a great sight to see a lion roaming the British country side.
Although this may be thought of as boring for the children, I believe it's worth seeing, the house is magnificent and huge! So many priceless items that you can look at. There are tours of the house which go into more detail and are really interesting, I have done the tour 3 times and still enjoy it. You can also book a pivate tour where you go behind the public viewing areas and see private areas which were designed by lord bath! This is a must visit. You will be amazed at he interesting the house is, at the end of th house there is a lovely gift shop and cafe, food is reasonably priced, but tastes great :)
Other things to do:
There is a steam train which takes you near to the lake! It's great fun and lasts around 10 mins, it's great for kids and adults. You can also go on a boat ride in the lake. The lake has hippos and sea lions so it's great to do, it's strange seeing huge hippos in a British lake! The boat also goes past an area called gorilla island, this consists of huge gorillas! I really enjoyed doing both of these as a kid with my grandparents. Longleat has so much to do and it's hard to fit it all into one day, there are lots of shops, mazes and play areas. They also have meerkats and a beautiful butterfly house! You will not get bored at all, there is simply too much to do. When I was young we used to stay the night in a hotel and do it all over 2 days. I believe I have been here 5 times in my life and I will be going again this summer as I haven been for 2 years now! I do miss it and can't wait to get back there.
The last time I went we paid with tesco clubcard tokens, which we used are clubcard points to do. I know they are still accepting them because I am going to order some soon for the summer. A quick look online told me that the cost to go is as follows....
Adult - £27.50
Senior citizen - £22
Child - £19.50
If you would like a two day ticket they add ten pounds on to each of those prices! I think it's rather expensive these days. You can get a 15% discount if you order online, I believe they have increased there prices! It still will not put me off going though as its a truely perfect day out.
It's a great day out! I know you will love it too. If you live far away like I do, there are plenty of hotels in the area. There is so much to do in the area too! It's worth the money as you will create brilliant memories for you and your children! The staff are extremely friendly and will help you out, they will answer questions and make you feel very welcome. I have never had any problems and nothing to complain about. Don't be put off by the high prices, use clubcard points or book online to save money, you will not be dissapointed at all though.
I am giving this a 5 star! It's my favourite place to visit And I will continue to go there for many years! And when I have a family, I will also take them here. Brilliant day out!
Thanks for reading my review, hope it helps.
If you are holidaying in Wiltshire and want a good day out that all the family will enjoy, then Longlete Safari Park is a must! It has everything you could wish for. Mostly remembered for it's lions, Longlete has now become one of the best-know animal parks in the world, and has a vast array of different animals to see. The best thing is that they are not caged, so you know they are contented and well cared-for.
There are all sorts of tickets available from a day pass (£26 for an adult, £18.50 for children aged 3 to 14, £21 for senior citizens) to a passport ticket, (slightly more expensive than the day pass) which is valid for the whole summer, so if you don't get to see everything in one day, you can go back and finish the tour on the same ticket. There is so much to see in one day, so do take that into account when booking tickets.
Once you pay at the main gates, you are directed through to the safari park. You can have the option of just visiting the house if you don't want to see the animals. Driving very slowly is essential, not just for the safetly of the animals, that are all able to come right up to the car, but also because there is so much to take in, you have to see it all! There are stopping places every so often so you can take photos etc. In the first area of the park you can have your windows down, and there are plenty of signs to tell you when they should be closed. ALWAYS follow instructions where this is concerned!
As you enter the first part of the park, there is a small car-park and a gift shop that sells some really lovely things. Worth having a look! You can buy food to feed some of the animals here too.
Continuing round through the park you can see so many different animals it is hard to know where to start, but watching as a herd of giraffes cross in front of you is pretty amazing!
As you come to the monkey enclosure you are given the option of opting out of entering. Think very carefully before you enter. We have seen several cars getting damaged by these creatures, so if you are worried about this, do not enter. You can still see the monkeys from a distance!
For me, the best part of the park is the big cats! I don't need to tell you that once you enter that enclosure ALL windows need to be shut tight! It's a bit like going into Jurassic Park. Huge automatic Iron gates slowly open, allowing only a few cars at a time through, closing behind you before another set of gates open. The security is fantastic, as it should be!
The first time you see the big cats is brilliant. My hubby really freaked out as a tiger walked right up to the car. They are such beautiful animals! The tiger wasn't in the least bit interested in us though and carried on past.
The lions are also lovely and they have a huge enclosure. Every time we have been they have all been fast asleep, though last time we went one huge male was having a bit of an argument with a female close by our car, which was a bit disconcerting!
As you come out of the safari park you can see down the hill to Longlete House and the lake. The park was originally landscaped by Capability Brown, and still remains much the same today. Absolutely stunning!
Parking is very good, with plenty of spaces and is well thought-out.
The house looks fantastic from the outside, and inside is even better! It is so ornate and there so much to see. The library is fantastic! All the guides are helpful and will tell you the history of everything you see, from furniture to the paintings on show, they know everything about the place.
If you still want to see animals, there is a small animal area which younger children will enjoy. You can see the otters and pet some of the more exotic pets here.
Eating at Longlete is good too. You could take a picnic, or eat at one of the establishments on the site. We had a really good meal at The Wessex Pavillion.
Longlete is also famous for it's maze, which I think may be the biggest maze in the UK. All I know is that I have never yet got to the middle, though my hubby and daughter did and were very smug about it too! It's all good fun.
There are many other attractions at the park too, from Postman Pat's Village, to mirror mazes, and teacup rides, and small children will enjoy all of these.
For gift shopping, they have several really good shops, that sell an array of very good quality wares. I could spend a fortune there!
Once you have walked your feet off and seen inside the house, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd done it all.
The lake is a must-see, with a boat-trip that you can take, which is very relaxing and you get to see the old gorilla who lives on the island, plus the sealions and hippos that live in the lake.
All of these things are inclued in the entrance fee, which although fairly pricey, I think is good value for money when you consider what is on offer.
For a good family day out, I don't think you can beat Longlete! I would certainly go back again and again!
Longleat Safari Park is something of a dying breed in these modern times; an animal Safari park that you can actually drive through instead of just seeing the animals in cages! Once you have paid your admission, you are given the option of driving through several enclosed pens containing all manner of wild beasts from giraffes to rhinos, tigers to lions with the added option of driving through the monkey enclosure at your own risk and of feeding some deer from the safety of your car. It is a wonderful experience and one I would not hesitate to recommend!
The monkey enclosure is paticulary funny! Before we got there, my brother-in-law was a bit concerned about the amount of damage they would do to his car! We all told him that that was just a myth propogated by television and film. I t wasn't till we got there that we relaised actually that pretty much was a possibilty! Driving through these pens, you will experience small monkeys up close clambering and climbing over your car. And yes, they do take a fancy to some cars! A Vauxhall in front of us had their rear windscreen washer jet bitten and torn off and a car on the opposite side of the track to us had two monkeys tearing off bits of their trim! That said, it is all part of the fun and part of the risk you have to take as it is an experience you will never forget! Of course, there is always an option to circumvent the monkeys enclosure but where's the fun in that?
At all times there are signs telling you that if you get into trouble, simply sound your horn and Wardens will come to your aid and asisstance. You can open your windows through some parts of the Safari but signs are up telling you when you need to keep them closed (such as with the monkeys!) and the whole Safari is accompanied by a CD narrated by Kate Humble which tells you what to lok out for in each section of your trip round.
But it is not just a Safari adventure! Oh no ~ Longleat has sooo much more to offer than just that!
Longleat is huge and getting through it all in a day means that you have to get there fairly early....like opening time! There is the House to go around featuring all manner of examples of how people would've lived back in the day and an impressive collection of art- though some of it is very randomly assembled! The mixture of styles, both classical and modern, alongside each other sometimes on the same wall space at times just felt a bit odd! And there are lots of "interesting" portraits of the Lord who owns Longleat!
There is also lots of other ground to cover....a train takes you around some of the grounds and a boat sails across the lake to Gorilla island where, unfortunately, they now only have one Gorilla after his mate deceased several years back. On the way across the lake, lucky quick guests can get the opportunity to feed the sea-lions who live in the lake and this, again, is a wonderful experience!
For the kids, there is a castle-themed play area and a small scale model of Postman Pat's village of Greendale complete with buttons you can press to animate some of the models! And there are a lot of cafes and eating places all around the grounds providing a wide choice of different things to eat at varying prices!
There is also a Bat cave, a Butterfly room and an enormous hedge maze to go around that myself and my daughter got lost in and took nearly an hour to get out! As you can see, there is a whole heap of thjings to see and do...it is like a normal zoo (say Colchester or Banham for example) except thsat there is about five times as much stuff to see and you can get closer, much closer, to the animals!
The tickets are not cheap but you can get 15% discount if you buy online and there are reductions for group bookings, family tickets and if you buy a double ticket that gives you admission to nearby Cheddar Gorge caves! That said, to my mind, this is werll worth the money and a great day out! It is an experience that all of us who went a couple of weeks ago will never forget and both our two children loved it though it was a reaaaaaalllllly loooooong day!
If you are in the area, you really should check this out! We had lots of fun and I cannot praise it enough!
If someone says Longleat to me the first thoughts that spring into my head are Dairylea and Marmite sandwiches and plastic elephants! Why, I hear you ask? Well, Longleat was always the destination of the annual class school trip when I was in junior school, which sadly, was many years ago! It was always a case of a mad race to get to the back of the bus and the sandwiches were unwrapped within minutes of leaving the school gates and of course, as soon as we arrived us thoughtful kids simply had to purchase a little gift for Mum and Dad, which usually consisted of a naff plastic elephant or a cheap and nasty giraffe!
When my younger sister and I were growing up our parents became members of the Caravan Club and Dad's faithful bright yellow Morris Marina would tow our mobile home to Longleat for many a weekend. Sunday morning at 11am on the dot was a gathering of all of the campers around the flagpole where the proud kids presented their drawings and waited with baited breath for the winner to be announced. What happy and warming memories I have of Longleat. Of course, as I grew older the thoughts of plastic animals became totally horrendous and my hard earned pennies remained securely in my purse. However, the wonderful memories of Longleat always stay with me and my husband and I regularly return and this review discusses my thoughts and experiences of our regular visits.
WHAT AND WHERE IS LONGLEAT?
I'm sure everyone is aware of Longleat, which is located in Warminster, Wiltshire and is owned by The Marquess of Bath, Viscount Weymouth and the Trustees of the Longleat Estates, Longleat Enterprises Limited. Longleat consists of a huge safari park, dozens of attractions suited to both children and adults and a mansion situated in the most stunning grounds. It wasn't until I carried out a little online research that I learned that in 1966 Longleat was actually the first location outside of Africa to create a drive-through safari park. There is so much to see and do at Longleat and I could probably write pages and pages telling you all about it. However, my intention is to be as brief as possible whilst providing you with a good overview and to advise you of my experiencing of visiting.
You may be aware of the long-running BBC television series named Animal Park, which was created in 2000 where we see the presenters Kate Humble and Ben Fogle. The series takes us behind the scenes at Longleat where we learn about the animals, the staff at the park and the day-to-day dramas that regularly occur. The most memorable episode for me was when one of the sea lions escaped from the lake and he was discovered a considerable distance away. Unfortunately, the escapee was soon returned to his home and I believe the staff needed to put in place mechanisms to prevent the naughty mammal from trying to find his freedom once again! I have written this review in sections where I have aimed to cover each and every area of the park, so please feel free to skip through the sections if they are of no interest to you.
ARRIVING AT LONGLEAT
Our journey to Warminster is from South Wales and although I'm not the best with directions (when I first passed my driving test I ended up in Reading as opposed to Weston-Super-Mare; something I've never been allowed to forget!) as soon as you reach Warminster you will frequently see considerable signage to point you in the right direction. As far as I am aware there are two entrances in which you can drive, although I've only even driven in the one way and after a short distance you will reach a wooden style kiosk where a member of staff will approach your car and provide you with your required ticket. We've always purchased the Passport ticket (price provided at the end of this review) and this will give you entrance into every attraction in the park (other than those specifically for children, unless of course you are accompanied by children). You will also be provided with a free CD to give you with details of the enclosures as you drive around the Safari Park.
The journey to reach the car park is extremely memorable, as you seem to be driving for what seems like forever and located on both your left and right are dozens of beautiful trees. You will then reach the top of the drive, which is located a good three quarters of a mile or so from the house and it is then that the magnificent view can be captured. You will see the stunning house in all of its' glory and you will frequently see dozens of sited touring caravans, which regularly use one of the large grassed areas.
This is where our problems started, particularly due to the fact that our last visit was on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend and despite arriving at 10 am on what was initially a rather overcast day, the queues to park were absolutely horrendous. My husband is a blue badge holder and I proceeded to look for the disabled parking bays. However, I was somewhat concerned to discover that there were very few parking spaces available and a large amount were taken up by people not displaying a blue badge. This is a real annoyance of mine, particularly as I witnessed an extremely able-bodied man and woman stepping out of their flashy sports car and walking towards the attractions as fast as their legs could carry them! Consequently, I waited for a while in the hope a space would become available, but this was not the case, so I was forced to park at least a dozen rows behind, which resulted in hubby having to walk a fair distance. I would advise that the car park is absolutely huge and there is sufficient space for several hundred cars.
ENTRANCE TO THE PARK
The queues were absolutely horrendous when we reached this area and there were probably in excess of 150 people waiting to pay for their tickets. What frustrated us was that only three kiosks were manned and if my memory serves me correct there were a further three or four kiosks, which remained unopened. Consequently, the queues deepened and many people were starting to impatiently push and shove others in an attempt to jump the queues! It was a further 35 minutes before we reached the front of the queue and were able to pay for our tickets and it was at that point we were informed that the safari park was closed until 2 pm.
I cannot say that I was best pleased, particularly as we always plan our day at Longleat whereby we initially visit the safari and provided the car still has its' wheels after driving through the monkey enclosure, we then return to the main car park to visit the remaining attractions. By now hubby was feeling a little hungry and as he is diabetic I decided to return to the car to fetch our food and I would advise that there is no problem in doing this, as you are provided with a receipt at the kiosk together with a large ticket and a map of the park. We were offered a brochure, which was priced at £5, but I'm rather a skinflint when it comes to extra costs, so I had politely declined.
We sat adjacent to the car park in a pretty area, which is dedicated for eating your food where you will find a large number of wooden picnic tables, benches and plenty of bins for your rubbish. However, a real negative as far as we were concerned is that the bins were located too close to the seats and consequently, dozens of wasps buzzed around the stinking rubbish and were a real nuisance when we were trying to eat our food. This seems to be a problem in many places we've visited where the owners always seem to place bins directly next to seating. This is an issue that seriously needs to be addressed, as during the entire time that we were eating the stench of rotting food inside the bins was clearly evident.
VISITING THE ATTRACTIONS
We were in two minds on how to proceed with our day, particularly as our main aim was to visit the safari, as hubby is a keen photographer and wanted to capture images of both the tigers and lions. Consequently, we decided to firstly visit Animal Adventure, which was previously known as Pet's Corner. To enter each of the attractions you simply need to hand over your ticket and the staff member will punch a small hole against the appropriate attraction. Unfortunately, this attraction was extremely busy in some areas, so we decided to visit some of the quieter sections and work our way backwards. My favourite has to be the parrots who were all sat quietly and very patiently awaiting the next parrot show, which is shown at numerous times throughout the day. I think one of the gorgeous parrots fell in love with me, as he simply gazed at me for ages, so I said hello to him and he responded several times. He was such a cutie and seemed rather shy when I blew him a kiss, as he pushed his head down into the coloured feathers on his chest.
When hubby eventually managed to drag me from my new boyfriend we stepped indoors where there were two staff members holding my most hatred and feared things of all times - a tarantula and a snake! Hubby is not particularly fond of either, but decided to be brave and ask for a hold! However, he had to get in the queue as the young children who clearly had no fears whatsoever took great delight in holding each of my most feared creatures! Eventually hubby had the female spider in the palm of his hand and he asked me to take a photograph! However, I felt a fast thudding in my chest and my skin became rather clammy as the nerves set in! The young children looked at me as if I was mad, so in an attempt to be a brave 43 year old woman I quickly took the photograph and made eyes at hubby to hand the spider back! He then decided he wanted to hold the snake, so again my heart started racing, but to make my embarrassment even worse a little girl who was probably no more than 6 years old looked at me in sheer sympathy and said "it's nothing to worry about, as it won't hurt you". Yikes! Aren't adults meant to reassure children and not the other way around?! As hubby held the snake in his two hands I pondered for what seemed like hours as I contemplated on whether to touch it and eventually I struck up the courage and with just two fingers I gently touched the back of its' head and as soon as I did it looked up at me and poked out its' tongue! Time to go ..... Located directly next to this area were several sinks, taps and antibacterial soaps where you can thoroughly wash your hands before you proceed to the next area of the park.
Located directly next to Animal Adventure is the Longleat Railway, which is a small train with at least a dozen carriages and will take you on a short ride around the park. Unfortunately, there were probably around a hundred people in the queue, so we decided to give this a miss, particularly as we have previously been on the train many times before. This is most definitely a children's attraction and it was so wonderful to watch their beaming faces as they waited to set off on their magical journey. As you walk around various locations in the park you will see the train passing where many of the children (and adults!) will give you a wave as they pass you.
We decided to walk to the safari boats, an attraction we both absolutely love, particularly as in one area you will meet the Californian sea lions. Again, the queues were extremely lengthy and we waited 45 minutes before we could board the boat. Unfortunately, prams and pushchairs are not permitted on the boats and there is a large area where they can be safely stored until you return. Boarding the boat was extremely easy and staff were helping those who were a little unsteady on their feet. I would also advise that this attraction is suitable for those in wheelchairs. As the boat started to move a staff member provided a running commentary of the animals that lived in this area and we were able to witness a six day old sea lion who was basking in the sun on one of the wooden platform areas located next to the water's edge.
The boat then stopped in order for the staff member to throw small pieces of fish into the water for the huge and noisy sea lions who were jumping into the air to catch their breakfast. It was an absolutely glorious site and the children on the boat (and me!) were thoroughly entertained. I would say that you can sometimes get a little wet, particularly when the sea lions splash heavily back into the water! We were taken to Gorilla Island where we saw the home of Nico, the Lowland Gorilla and the boat turned around the island and proceed to sail back up the lake. We stopped at one further point where we could see a pair of huge hippos named Spot and Sonia. We then returned to where we had started with the journey taking approximately 15 minutes in total. I have probably sailed on the safari boats at least twenty times over the years and each and every time is an experience in itself and is well recommended.
Unfortunately, time was running out for us, particularly as we were fast approaching 2 pm and desperately wanted to see the safari, so we left the park and headed for the lions. However, there were many attractions that we missed and although we didn't visit them in August we have visited them in the past and I detail some of them below:-
THE HEDGE MAZE
The first time I visited the maze was a good few years ago and I have to say it was also the last! The reason being was that my sister and I set us a challenge on who could get out the quickest. From the outside the maze appears to be extremely easy to negotiate, but I couldn't have been more wrong when I stepped inside. I seemed to be walking round and round and continued to hit a dead end! There are many wooden look out towers whereby you climb a few steps and look downwards to plan your escape. However, this was of little use to me, as I was never any good at the mazes on paper, let alone a real one made from leaves! After approximately one hour of desperately attempting to recapture my freedom I resorted to extreme measures whereby I walked through the hedge and in doing so, scratched my arms and probably ruined some of the hedge in the process! Had I not done this I would strongly suspect I would still be wandering around at this moment in time, some five years later!
Unfortunately, as previously stated, we were unable to access the safari until after 2 pm and my first piece of advice is to remove your car aerial before the monkeys get hold of it! There are ladies and gents toilets situated directly in front of the entrance and it is advisable to use these facilities, as you are likely to be sat in your car for quite a while. Whilst we had the option to travel on the safari bus at an additional cost we decided to use our own car and please remember this is at your own risk. I say this because the last time we visited we noticed a section of a car bumper, a registration plate and several windscreen wipers lying in both the grass and hanging from the trees! We placed our free CD into the player and slowly drove through the entrance. Kate Humble will talk you through each of the areas and provide you with information on each of the animals that you see. You are permitted to park your car at the first area within the park where you can study the giraffes in the African Game Reserve. However, parking in this area was somewhat minimal, but we were fortunate that we were able to find a disabled space and use hubby's blue badge.
We returned to the car and proceeded on our journey and our next port of call was Flamingo Valley. There are dozens of signs located throughout the safari, which inform drivers who wish to stop to park on a designated side of the road. However, drivers were parking wherever they wished and huge backlogs of traffic were building up making the experience somewhat disappointing. We carried on driving around the safari and were disappointed to discover that the monkeys were in quarantine, so this area was closed off. Further on we came to the deer park where we saw several notices offering pots of deer food for £1. Whilst I nagged hubby to purchase one he refused stating we'd paid enough already!
This area was hilarious as we were permitted to open the car windows and the deer wandered carefree in amongst the cars. One rather scruffy looking deer walked up to hubby's window and poked his head through as he sniffed for some food. When he realised that hubby was a skinflint he gave him a rather snooty look and walked off! It was at this point that hubby wished he's listened to me, particularly as I'm always right!! We carried on driving throughout the park when we next came to the Tiger Territory and as real cat lovers it was absolutely fascinating to witness the beautiful tigers basking in the boiling hot sun. The last but one enclosure is Lion Territory where we discovered two prides of beautiful lions, which are kept apart for obvious reasons. The final enclosure was Wolf Wood and whilst hubby thoroughly enjoyed this I felt a little spooked as I always think of horror films! Unfortunately, due to the huge back up of cars the entire safari took us almost two hours, but I have to say that it was an enjoyable experience.
POSTMAN PAT VILLAGE
Unfortunately, this attraction is only for young children who are accompanied by their parents and during a visit last year I was desperate to have my photo taken with good old Pat. As I am rather mischievous I persuaded hubby to walk through the exit with me where I sat on a bench next to Pat and hubby quickly snapped away with his camera, then we ran like mad!
Other attractions include the Motion Simulators, which I have entered in the past. However, as hubby has both a heart and spine condition it is not recommended he visit these attractions due to the sudden movements, so I decided not to brave them alone! Whilst there are two available attractions your Passport ticket will allow you to visit only one. For the younger children there are the Teacup rides and for those a little older is the Adventure Castle. Unfortunately, as I'm a little too old for these attractions I cannot speak about them, but I can state that I've heard the children shrieking with laughter. There is also Old Joe's Mine, but again as this is only for children I am unable to discuss this area.
If you have purchased a Passport ticket you will be able to gain entry into the magnificent house, which was built in 1580 and is now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath and is set in 900 acres of parkland with a further 8,000 acres of woodlands, lakes and farmland. As you can probably imagine the house is absolutely immense and according to the Longleat website it is regarded as one of the best examples of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public. During your visit a guide will talk you through the various rooms where you will see the great hall, the red dining room, the state library, the dress corridor and many more. You need to allow yourself a good couple of hours to explore the house, as there is simply so much to see. As far as I can recall photography is only permitted in certain areas in order to protect the antiques from the camera flash. You may be aware that Lord Bath and his family live in the West wing of the house, so you may seem him wandering around during your visit. I could go on and on discussing the house, but this is most definitely a must if you visit Longleat as seeing is believing!
There are many free attractions situated through the park such as King Arthur's Mirror Maze, which is real fun until you walk straight into a mirror and bang your head as I did during our visit in August! Although I've entered this attraction on many an occasion I always find myself walking around with both arms outstretched and giggling like mad! There is an attraction where you can see a scale model of Longleat House, Meet my Ancestors, Family Bygones and State Chariot.
There are plenty of toilets situated through the park, but unfortunately, on the day of our visit we found both the ladies and gents to be rather grubby with urine and toilet paper on the floor. Longleat had let themselves down here, as they clearly were not being regularly checked. However, when you have to go you have to go, so it's simply a case of holding your breath for as long as you can, doing your business and running back outside for some fresh air! There are numerous toilet facilities located throughout the park, which are suitable for those in wheelchairs.
REFRESHMENTS AND FOOD AVAILABILITY
Both food and drink with readily available, but in my opinion the prices were extremely over the top. Whilst we did not purchase anything, particularly as I took plenty of food and drink, hubby decided he wanted a cheeseburger and chips until he saw the price of around £8, so he promptly walked away and settled for the remainder of his ham and tomato sandwiches! There were various machines located throughout the park, which sold both hot and cold drinks.
TICKET PRICES AND OPENING TIMES
As hubby and I were intending to visit all of the attractions during our one day visit we purchased a Passport ticket for £24 each. The great thing about this is that if you have not had the opportunity to visit all of the attractions in one day you are able to return at a later date with the expiry date of your ticket being during November of that particular year. Unfortunately, as Longleat is now closed for the year they have not provided 2011 prices on their website, which are yet to be confirmed. Consequently, I am unable to give you this information, but I will update this review as soon as it becomes available. The opening times differ from one attraction to the next and I would suggest you check on Longleat's website for information when the park opens again in 2011.
I learned from studying the Longleat website that they are associated with the Tusk Trust charity and have worked closely together for several years to perform conservation projects in Africa. I had never previously heard of this charity and discovered that they are based in the UK and have been working and developing programmes with Africa for the past 17 years.
A large proportion of the attractions are wheelchair accessible, but it is advisable to check on the website before your visit. A concern we had was that many of the paths located around the park are poorly maintained and many paving slabs were jutting out. Although there were signs warning people of this, I feel those with sight impairments may experience problems with tripping and you should be aware of this before your visit. There are beautiful gardens located near to the house where you can sit down and relax and simply watch the world go by. An area which tugged at my heartstrings was the pet cemetery where all of the deceased pets belonging to the residents of the house are buried. The area is considerably large and each and every pet's grave is marked with a small headstone giving details of their names, date of birth and death. Unfortunately, I am unable to recall if there were any baby changing facilities, so if this is an issue for you I would suggest you telephone prior to your visit.
PLACES TO STAY
Whilst I have no experience of Centre Parcs, on two occasions my sister has previously stayed in one that is located within the grounds and she speaks quite highly of the service she received.
Longleat is easily accessible and as previously stated is extremely well signposted. However, I do not feel it would be accessible with public transport, particularly due to the fact that the journey to the park itself is far too long for anyone's legs.
Longleat is an absolutely beautiful place to visit and I feel it is worth the money that you pay, particularly as there is so much to see and do for the whole of the family. Unfortunately, there were a few issues with our most recent visit during August Bank Holiday weekend, which on reflection, was a bad time to visit and on this day alone I would have awarded only 2 stars. However, as this is somewhere I have regularly visited since childhood I feel Longleat deserves 4 stars, together with my full recommendation.
If you've got to the end of this review - thank you! I hope it has given you a flavour of what you can expect from visiting Longleat.
This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name.
LONGLEAT SAFARI PARK
This is a great place to visit and there are so much to see. What we did first was to ride in our car around the safari where we saw amazing animals that were roaming around in the park
Longleat was the first drive through Safari and it all began in 1966 in Great Britain in Wiltershire.
There are over 500 animals living in 9,000 acres of Longleat.
There was the East African Game Reserve and d you can see Rothschild Giraffe and Grants Zebra and they were happily roaming and grazing together in this 25 hectare enclosure. We were also told to keep an eye open for Llamas and Camels when you are at the Observation Point at the Trading Post Picnic Area which you will be able to leave your car at that point.You will then be able to take a walk and could come across Wallabies,Brazillian Tapir and Pygmy Goats.
Leaving the East African Game Reserve then you reach Flamingo Valley there you see Chilean Flamingoes and are very contented living with their companions Spoonbills,SacredIbis,Carolina Ducks and White Faced Whistling Ducks.
After that there is the Vulture Venue and this is before you approach the Monkey Jungle.There lives the White Backed Vultures and often you can see them flying around.
Then the Monkey Jungle from there there is the Big Game Park and you can see the Rhinos the Southern White Variety fine impressive creatures and they live with the Ankpole Cattle which is a breed of cattle that originated in Africa and they can be easily spotted by there large horns which can be 2 meteres in length. Also you could see the Bactrian Camels which have very woolly coats in the winter and then their coats are shedded in the summer months and in the summer they can look a little moth eaten . Monkeys jumping on the cars so lucky the windows were shut.
There are plenty of deer in the park and apparently they have been on Longleat Estate for a long time since the sixteenth century. These are the only animals which you are allowed to feed..The Fallow Deer share the park with the Red Deer which are very fine creatures .The only time when you are not able to go to the Deer Park is when the deer are in rut..
Mini Railway and a Boat trip also on offer are just a couple of other attractions to tempt you as well.
The cost I think is good value as there are so many things to see and you could spread it out over two days if you wish.There are so many different deals to suit all families. The most popular type of ticket is the Standard Passport Ticket which allows you 12 tickets for all the attractions which can be used once but this you could spread over a number of days which is nice as you are able then to go round at your own pace.
Adult Children Senior Citizen (60yrs+)
Passport Ticket £24.00 £17.00 £19.00
To sum this up a very good day out and value for money.
Longleat Safari Park
If you are under the impression that Longleat Safari Park is for the enjoyment of children only, then let me start by saying that this is one huge misconception. Even those who have closed hearts and minds will be softened and astounded by the vast and immense grounds and gratifying atmosphere this park holds.
I had been to many zoo's and safari parks in the past, though when I began to watch 'Animal Park' on the television, a real life program following the staff, ground, Lord Bath and animals at Longleat, I knew that there was one other safari park I just had to visit, and the great aspect about it was that we were due to go on holiday soon after a few short miles away from the park. It was like the animals were pulling me in!
******Background of Longleat******
Although a lot of people do not care much for the background on such a place as a safari park, a review on Longleat would not be the same without a brief background as the park itself holds so much history which is one huge aspect which makes the park so successful. I wish that I could cover everything, though half the fun of visiting this wonderful place is learning about the history for yourself, so allow me to give you a very brief background to Longleat.
Longleat Safari Part is set within a huge 900 acres of beautiful landscaped countryside with the amazing Longleat manor at the focal point, with its Elizabethan architecture and astounding views.
Longleat Manor, itself, was built in 1580 and homed the present Marquess of Bath's father, the 6th Marquess. It was he who first decided that this wonderful house and grounds were too amazing to keep to himself, that he had a vision of allowing this manor and its magnitude to be opened to the public as a tourist attraction. It was many years before it finally opened (in 1949) to the public on a fully commercial basis and became historically known as the first manor house of this kind to do so, therefore almost straight away, its popularity was immense.
Less than 20 years following, in 1966, Longleat opened the first safari park outside of Africa, and although many people loved this idea, there were huge worries about lions and tigers roaming the countryside of England and this subject was even taken to Parliament. Luckily, though, after a few safety checks, Longleat Safari Park was allowed to continue and in the many years since has grown to an astounding size and popularity with added attractions to boot!
You can not help but notice the manor house when you first arrive, with its amazing architecture, it is like nothing else. I know that a lot of people would not appreciate this part of the trip, but I recommend that everyone at least has a short look otherwise you will miss out terribly.
Walking around the house, you get a great sense of history, with the original architecture as well as fantastically decorated rooms; you will soon forget that you are in the present. There are many displays around the house, such as old clothing and books etc, most behind glass screens, though quite a few out in the open behind only ropes. The deocr itself is a mix of French and Italian and has been kept perfectly in its original state from over two hundred years before. One of my favourite parts of the house was the amazing grand staircase. Yes, I hear you saying what on earth would a staircase be appealing to you for? Well, all I can say it this - you must see for yourself. I have never seen such brilliance in a staircase, such vastness and such elegance.
The present Lord Bath has also added his own touches of amazing artwork, symbolizing his amazing personality. Some of the paintings so stand out as very modern compared to the feel of the house as a whole, though they still stand in amazing awe on the walls and I found myself looking deep into them, mesmerized.
It is difficult to explain just the amazing feel and sight of the whole manor. It is somewhere that you can only really appreciate by visiting yourself. Not only do you get to see parts of the house which you would never expect, but you are also transported back in time and feel like you simply do not want to leave, but please do leave some time to visit the rest of the park. This is why I believe the passport tickets are a brilliant deal as you do not want to rush around this park. You will only really benefit by taking your time, and this may take a couple of days to fully take in the whole experience.
This is perhaps one part of the park that children will not really appreciate. On our visit, I did see many children being dragged around by their parents with an extreme look of boredom on their face, although when my mum took my 6 year old brother there, he actually enjoyed the house, though unfortunately she couldn't say the same to our younger 4 year old sister. This is perhaps something to consider when visiting the park with children.
One aspect I loved about looking around the house is that you are able to take your time. You do not have a member of staff ushering you from one room to another so you can really take your time basking in the splendor. There are staff members around the tour of the house, though they did not make you feel as though you couldn't even cough as some places do, and they mingle relaxed throughout the visitors and are always open to answer any questions.
It is possibly worth mentioning that you are also able to hire certain rooms within the house for specific venues, and although this would make an extremely great reception party, the prices are extremely high.
Flash photography and high heels are not allowed inside the house, either, due to risk to floors and old artifacts.
Although there is disabled access, it can be very difficult for wheelchair users and prams and buggies are not actually allowed in the house (though there is a small room to leave them safely) so I would suggest ringing ahead to explain your situation. From the experience of my visit, I feel that Longleat staff will do all they can t help out in these circumstances.
At the back of the house, there is a small gift shop which holds a large array of wonderful products such as china, gifts and other such memorable items. Prices vary on each product, though as with many gift shops; they are not cheap so if you have children and not a lot to spend, perhaps try to avoid this shop at all costs.
******Safari Park Drive Through******
I have always has a fear of driving my own car through a safari drive through and had to get my husband to take the controls as I didn't trust myself not to try to make a fast escape if a lion looked at me funny, though I need not have worried.
As we entered the drive through, I immediately realized that many safety aspects are provided. Although the animals basically roam free, there are many staff in protective cars in case of problems and gates to keep animals separate, so I felt at ease and could still enjoy the safari feel. It was even better than I could imagine an African safari being!
It was amazing how close some of the animals came, though luckily we didn't get any rogue monkeys jump on the car, although the person in front had a few monkeys pull off their windscreen wipers which was unnerving though slightly funny, especially as it wasn't our car! The lions were quite close to us, though simply sat and roamed minding their own business as did the giraffes, rhinos and other great animals. It was amazing the large array of animals in the safari - something which I have never experienced in other parks. It just had a completely different feel to it and one I wont forget in a long while I don't think!
All the animals were in their natural surroundings which is an amazing thing to see these days. I hate seeing animals in cages, and this certainly does not happen here. With the vast amount of land, the animals seemed content which gave a really amazing feel, and even made me relax more as because the animals were happy they were not going to chase me looking to have a chunk out of my leg!
There are many parts of the drive through which I will briefly outline below;
*East Africa Reserve*
This huge acre reserve hosts animals such as giraffes and giant zebras, llamas and even camels. There is even a small part where you are allowed to pull over and stretch your legs whilst watching such animals as Shetland ponies and Ostriches from the observation post. I found this part really nice, especially as a lot of drive throughs in other parks do not allow this. You are far enough away to feel safe, yet close enough to really enjoy the experience.
Even with my fear of rogue monkeys, this was perhaps my favourite part. You do not have to drive through this part, though I fully recommend it. We had a great laugh at the antics of the monkeys and also saw the buffalos which you would miss if you bypassed this part.
*Big Game Park*
This part of the drive through is amazing. Here you find such animals as White Rhinos, Ankole Cattle and Deer. The site as a whole is fantastic and none of the animals were hiding from us which was great!
This part of the park is enclosed by simple fencing to keep the deer at bay. Back in 1987, a hurricane destroyed some of the fencing and allowed the deer to roam into the neighboring countryside though this has now been fully fixed and looks great. Children love this part, as did I, as you are able to buy food to feed the deer and it is amazing how tame some of them are.
Not my favourite part, though it is quite interesting.
* Tiger Territory*
I was amazed at how close these animals came to the car. I had to rush to shut the window and cowered back towards my husband slightly as one came to say hello, though it did nothing more than look at us and stand watching us from right by the car. It was an amazing sight as I had never seen these tigers up so close before. I really wanted to take a photo, though was too afraid the flash would upset the tiger and didn't want to be its next snack!
Like the tiger territory, this was another amazing part of the drive through. There are two separate enclosures do drive through, and watching the lions roam freely was amazing. The lions were not as brave (or silly) as the tigers and stayed well back from the cars, though still close enough to see them in the splendor.
At first it was difficult to see the wolves, though I heard one howl before I saw a couple beneath the tree. Absolutely amazing to watch and none came too close. This was perhaps the most difficult part to see the animals, though we were lucky to see a few during feeding time.
If you haven't brought your own car, there is a safari bus for a price of about £4 (stc) which leaves regularly from pets corner, so don't worry, you will not miss out! You are also given a free CD or tape with commentary on the animals whilst going around the park which is a brilliant plus and very interesting, and you can even bring it home with you to listen to at your leisure.
I loved the drive through area. I would have been very disappointed if I had not gone through it, even with my fears, though I can happily say not only was it an amazing experience, my car came out in tact too!
Not only do you have the amazing house and safari drive through, you will also find an amazing sight of Longleats grounds and gardens which is expertly maintained and hosts a wide arrangement of attractions for all ages. The gardens itself is perfectly looked after, with friendly gardeners seen around showing how much effort is put into maintaining the lovely scenery. We chose to eat our picnic within the gardens as it was so relaxing and such a lovely experience to just sit there and bask in the glory of the breathtaking area.
There are a few different parts of the garden itself, and one that springs to mind in particular is the 'love garden' with many statues and water features as well as a small maze. We did not go into this maze, though, but it looked really lovely, though not one to get lost in (which is a good thing!).
Another part is the Mystical gardens aimed mainly for children though is really appealing to adults too with the hedge sculptures, giant toadstools, mist covered pond, and home made furniture. Completely brilliant and takes you back to your childhood. The artistic quality in itself was so beautiful that it is worth visiting.
Around the grounds, you will also find many attractions for all ages. I will outline them below;
*Adventure Castle and Blue Peter Maze*
This area is designed completely for children with different areas designated to different age groups, and adults can have a well deserved break whilst the children let off some steam. The Blue Peter maze was added in 2002 by the design of a child for children which is a lovely touch.
In 2006 the splash pad was brought in which is really amazing and children love it. This play area has many water jets and fountains, so be prepared to get slightly wet - perfect on a hot summers day.
The adventure castle only allows children of 14 and under to play, though adults may accompany their children if need be, and I even saw some children trying to pry their parents away from the castle which was very funny indeed!
Walk through this enclosed butterfly garden which is basically a very big greenhouse. Be warned, though, it gets very hot in here so take in some water. I couldn't stay in there too long as I began to feel rather faint, though my husband loved it.
The surroundings are beautiful, though, with greenery, ponds and bridges, pathways and of course, loads of beautiful butterflies which are so tame they often land right on your nose!
There are also cabinets holding cocoons which if you are extremely lucky, will see hatch into butterflies. An informative area though nothing happened whilst we were there.
There is also a small gift shop at the end of the greenhouse with many butterfly items all with varying costs and quite expensive.
It only takes a few minutes to walk around unless is very busy and could take much longer. This was a lovely area, though I didn't think was worth the £2 entry fee.
The 1950's style steam replica railway was amazing. It is of smaller size than a real railway, of course, but is well worth the ride. The platform itself is amazing and really transports you back in time and we were lucky enough not to queue very long for the ride.
The train ride itself takes approximately 10-15 minutes as you are taken through trees and tunnels and around a large lake which holds sea lions. This was a wonderful sight as the sea lions jumped in and out of the water. We also saw a huge gorilla sitting on the island in the middle of the lake and the train slowed down so we could watch him, though apart from itching his bottom (which why do all gorillas do that when you watch them!?) he did not really do much else. Around the trip, you also see wooden sculptures, I believe, done by Lord Bath himself. An interesting sight, though not the best of the ride.
There is (once again) another gift shop at the station exit full of railway merchandise - some not too expensive, though if you go into every shop in the park, you will soon be out of pocket!
As far as motion simulators go, this one is quite large, though we did not go into it for two reasons. I'm not a lover of these attractions and the queue was huge!
*Old Joes Mine*
Now if you are not a fan of bats crawling and flying through your hair, then I would recommend you stay away from this area. When my mum took my younger brother and sister, they were quite terrified of the bats and so wasted their money, so take into account what your children (and yourself) are like around things like this before entering.
This is one of the newer attractions and is set out like a mine (hence the name) and is very dark and dingy making it even more scary when a bat swings over head. There are also containers of cockroaches, but don't worry - these are not on the loose!
I began to feel slightly claustrophobic when walking through the tunnels as there were quite a few people there, so just a thought to those who suffer bad clautophobia!
Although I felt slightly scared, I am glad that we went in this attraction as I have never (and probably wont again) experience bats so close.
Pets corner is a must for both children and adults alike. It holds a large array of small animals from the fluffy kind such as rabbits, chinchillas and ferrets to the slightly scaly kind such as snakes, lizards and tortoises and so many more. There is an animal to suit everyone and all animals can be fed and petted with the kind on look of the pets corner staff. One of the best parts I found was the parrot show. It doesn't matter how many times I see a parrot show, those beautiful birds performing wonderful tricks never grows old. There is also a 'Meet the Creatures' event which are timed sessions where a member of staff will give talks and answer questions on specific animals. Personally, my husband who has a phobia about snakes preferred to get out of the pets corner quite quickly after a member of staff came up to us holding one, though I enjoyed holding the fluffy variety of animals, especially those which I had never held before, though I admit, I did steer clear of the snakes - my excuse was that I didn't want to give my husband nightmares, though I'll admit, snakes never did appeal to me anyway!
Also around pets corner is many boards holding a variety of information and interactive activities which the children love.
This was a lovely area, and well kept and certainly worth visiting whilst here. It is also bigger than many pets corners I have ever seen, and if you have children with you, you can make up for them not enjoying you dragging them around the mansion house by promising them a chance to meet the little animals.
*Postman Pat Village*
As the name suggests, this is aimed at younger children. You get to 'go behind the scenes' to see mice at work in the workshop, watch postman pat stories and go around the miniature village of postman pats home. Adults are only allowed if accompanying a child under 14 years of age, therefore we did not go into this, though my younger brother and sister loved it.
The safari boats are quite large and open and extremely fun. This was one of the best attractions in the park grounds, so relaxing and such a great ride.
You head out across the lake to the gorilla island (which was having work on when we were there) though you were able to see more of the gorillas in their natural habitat and one thing which I could not stop laughing at was one of the gorillas watching television! Apparently this particular gorilla loves playing computer games as well!
There are also apparently meercats on the island, though we were not lucky enough to see any.
We also saw many sea lions which seemed to love swimming and diving alongside the boat, especially when the staff member tossed them some fish from a bucket. An amazing sight. We also saw some hippos in the lake, basking in the sun. I love hippos and to see them that close was really amazing.
As you go around in the boats, the staff member gives a running commentary of the animals you see, the history and other such information which is really great and informative.
The queue for this was quite large but it was well worth the wait, and you have some pot belly pigs to keep you entertained whilst waiting.
*Longleat Hedge Maze*
This maze is astoundingly huge covering 1.48 acres approximately. It is made with over 16,000 yews and was first erected in 1975.
The center of the maze has an observation tower which gives you a great look of the whole maze and laugh at your family and friends who are completely stuck! It apparently takes around 90 minutes to complete the whole maze, so give yourself plenty of time. There are hints around the maze to help you cheat if you really get that stuck, though as this maze is so well kept, you will not find any holes in the hedge walls! We took just under an hour to complete this maze - and felt quite proud at the end!
This maze is possibly the best maze I have ever been in, so definitely have a look!
******Events and Shows******
There are many shows appearing in the summer. Please bare in mind that these change and check the times and dates before going if you are interested.
We were able to catch one summer show from a distance, though didn't actually sit and watch, though we heard a sing a long with the characters Lenny Longleat, George the Lion and Meddle the Monkey. Great for children. My younger brother and sister saw the show when they went and couldn't stop talking about it - they described it like a caravan park entertainment.
The entertainment is designed for all ages, though I would say mainly for those who are younger. It is free to attend for those holding a passport ticket and shows are approximately 20 minutes long.
There are also random events throughout the year such as knock out days with obstacles and water activities, motor racing activities and so much more. Please ring to find out various times and dates for these events. Costs vary.
******Food and Drink******
Personally we took our own picnic as buying food and drink from parks such as this can be quite expensive. If you do choose to purchase lunch, there are many refreshment stalls around the park selling a range of items from sandwiches, hot food, ice cream, cold and hot drinks etc etc. There are also many picnic areas complete with tables and benches dotted around the park.
As mentioned throughout this review, the staff at Longleat are absolutely amazing. They are fully recognizable with their green Longleat tops and are always open for questions and are very approachable. They are extremely well trained and care hugely for the job they do. They make the whole experience even more enjoyable.
*How do you get to Longleat?*
Longleat sits just off of the A36 between Bath and Salisbury. If traveling from the south east, take the M3 to the A303 and then the A36 towards Bath. From this direction you will find Longleat just off of the A362 between Warminster and Frome. From the south west, simply follow the A303 towards London and then get onto the A350 towards Warminster. From the North, you will need to get onto the M4 until you reach the A46 towards Bath and then join the A36 towards Salisbury. If traveling via train, the nearest train station in in Warminster which is around 5 miles from Longleat. There is also another station in Westbury which connects directly to London. This is slightly further away at 12 miles, though you are able to catch a taxi which will bring you straight to the park.
* Starline Taxis: +44 (0) 1985 212215
* AAA Taxis: +44 (0) 1985 846674
* DJ's Taxi's +44 (0) 1985 215151
* Can I park my car easily?*
Yes! Longleat has a vast space of both tarmac and grass parking alongside overflow car parks so you will always be able to park. When we went, there were many staff members to help you find a space, so no car drivers fighting over the best parking space. There are also specified disabled parking which is nearer to the main entrance to the park.
* What are the opening times?*
Longleat house itself is open daily all year around except for Christmas day. The Safari Park and Grounds is only open to the public between 31st March to 4th November.
Safari Park: 10am to 4.00pm (5pm on weekends, Bank Holidays and during state school holidays)
Longleat House: 10am to 5.00pm (5.30pm on weekends, Bank Holidays and during state school holidays) All other Attractions: 11am to 5.00pm (10.30am to 5.30pm on weekends, Bank Holidays and during state school holidays)
(Please note: These are opening times for this present year. Always check times before venturing to the park in case changes ensue.)
* Is the Park Expensive?*
With prices of attractions these days you would be excused for thinking that this will be extremely expensive and you would need to raid a bank to attend, though this is not the case at all. Yes, it is not free and you have to remember that the costs of entry help to cover maintenance to the house, grounds and animals, though it is affordable.
There is an option of a 'Passport Ticket' which I would recommend looking into. This may not be worth while to some people, though it does save a lot of money. It saves you over 50% on attractions and entry price and you can come back to the park as much as you want during the year.
Passport Ticket £20.00 (adult) £16.00(child 3-14 and senior citizen)
This passport ticket covers 12 brilliant attractions (which I mention above). To give you an example of what you are saving, please see below;
Safari Park: £11.00 / £8.00
Longleat House & Grounds £10.00 / £6.00
Grounds & Gardens £3.00 / £2.00
Adventure Castle & Blue Peter Maze £3.00 (child only)
Butterfly Garden £2.00 /£2.00
Old Joe's Mine £2.00 /£2.00
Longleat Railway £3.00 / £3.00
Motion Simulator £2.00 / £2.00
Pets Corner £3.00 / £3.00
Postman Pat Village £2.00 (child only)
Safari Boats £3.00 / £3.00
Tea Cup Ride FREE
Longleat Hedge Maze £3.00 / £3.00
Summer Show (21st July to 2nd Sept 2007) FREE
TOTAL COST OF INDIVIDUAL TICKETS £42.00 / £39.00 / £34.00
PASSPORT TICKET SAVES YOU! £22.00 £23.00 £18.00
Longleat accepts cash and all major credit cards but not cheques at the present time. Group rates and disability rates also available.
(please note: Prices may change so please check before attending)
* Is there accommodation nearby?*
There are loads of varying accommodations nearby to allow you to visit the park and relaz without having to think of the long drive home. Longleat Park, itself, does not offer accommodation (although I am sure so many people would love to stay in the manor!), though very nearby are such places as bed and breakfasts, caravan and camping parks, Hotels, public houses and self catering.
Some interesting and helpful contacts for accommodation;
Wiltshire Accommodation Booking Service on www.visitwiltshire.co.uk
Bath Tourism - www.visitbath.co.uk
Frome TIC www.frometouristinfo.co.uk
Warminster TIC email@example.com
Bradford-on-Avon TIC firstname.lastname@example.org
Salisbury TIC email@example.com
Shaftesbury TIC firstname.lastname@example.org
* How can I contact Longleat Safari Park?*
Address: Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
Tel: 01985 844400
Fax: 01985 844885Email: email@example.com
I don't know what else I can add as an overall statement as I think I covered all of what I could above. Would I recommend Longleat Safari Park to others? Most certainly! And more than once!
This is not only for children, as I hope I have outlined, and myself and my husband thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and will certainly be going back again with our new baby. It is not only an enjoyable park, but very educational too.
It is difficult to describe everything to the degree I think it should be, so I would recommend going and seeing for yourself.
During the summer my family and I spent a week driving round the country visiting different attractions. One of these was longleat safari park, and I must say it was my favourite day by far, this was also the opinion of the rest of my family. We arrived early about 9.40am as the park was to open at 10.00am and we had heard that there is a lot to do so we wanted to fit in a full day. When we arrived there was a small queue already and we were approx. 20th or so in line but at 10.00 when the gates opened the queue went down very quickly. Upon entry you are given a audio CD which you can listen to as you drive around the safari park which I would recomend as it really adds to the overall enjoyment of the experience when someone is giving you information that is relevant to the animals your currently looking at. (this is at no extra cost).
After passing through the gates you enter a woodland area which opens up to a large open area where the giraffes and large game are, at this point you can get out of you car and have a walk to the visitors centre or have a look at some smaller animal pens such as a tortoise. When you've seen enough of the animals at this stop off you can get back into your car and drive through the large game area, which to be honest brought us closer to the animals than the standing area.
There are several enclosures with large animals in ranging from wolves, tigers, lions, other large game animlas and monkeys (this area was closed when we went but we didn't feel like we missed out as there is so much to do!) but despite all this which is very impressive my favourite bit was the deer, which you can actually feed as they come up to your car and take pre-purchased deer food from your hand, it is a wonderful experience for the whole family and the kids really enjoyed it!. The whole drive through lasted for hours as you can park up to watch or drive as slow as you want and we were really lucky as the large male lion walked across the road in front of our car and he was an impressive beast.
After the safari park we parked up and visited the house grounds, there is so much to do that you can't fit it into one day, you are supplied with a ticket which is stamped upon entry to each of the attractions and if you are on an extended stay you can visit the day after as the ticket is still valid. The house looked really impressive but we did not enter, instead we visited the bats, took the train ride which takes you past gorrilla island, visited petting corner and walked through the gardens.
Overall this was a fantastic day that I would have no problem recomending to anyone and i'm sure I will visit again, I just wish it was closer to where I live!
At the moment a adult ticket will cost you £23, a child ticket costs £15 and a senior citizen £17.
Longleat is such a fun and exciting place to visit, with lots to offer. You can access Longleat via car or public transport so it really doesn't matter if you can't drive. I went for a day to Longleat, however I can't help but feel that I missed out on some of it's glory by not having enough time there.
We arrived early and it was rather quiet, we decided what we wanted to do for the day and booked our safari ride etc. Our first stop was looking around the house, been the osrt of person that likes to see how other people live I really enjoyed this. The first part of the house you can walk arround at you own leisure, enjoying the artwork and decor as this house really has on show some amazing items. There is also a dress corridor to look at clothes from the past, this can be very educational. The second part of our tour was when we went into the private apartments of the house to view Lord Bath's Murals. These murals have amazing detail and spread all over the walls and the ceiling. On this tour you are in small groups, your tour guide takes you round and gives you the history behind the murals which really gives you an insight of Lord Bath himself and his family as a whole.
Our second stop of the day was the Safari, to save our car from the monkeys we decided to book a private VIP tour in one of their jeeps. This was nice and the guide was very nice as an individual. He gave us lots of information about the animals and was more than happy to answer any questions we had. Whenever I have spoken to anyone regarding Longleat they have always had a great time, alot of people tend to use their own cars on the safari's... I advice if you want to keep your windowscreen wipers you pay a little extra for someone to do it for you.
Amongst all of the above they also have so much more for you to do including.....
Safari boats - These take you for a ride in the Lake so you get a closer view of Gorilla Island.
Pets Corner - This area allows you to get up close and personal with animals such as rabbits and parrots etc.
And without going into too much information you can also visit the Grounds and Gardens, Longleat railway, Adventure Castle, The Hedge Maze, just to name a few!
There are lots of places to eat and buy snacking items, or if you plan ahead like we did take a picnic and enjoy it in the Picnic area. The whole park including toilet facilities were very clean even though the park was very busy at the time we visited. Prices overall were very resonable and if you check their website they have special offers on all of the time, you do just need to time it right. Definately a place to take the kids, or even go without them there is so much to do for adults aswell it would be a shame to miss out on a great day. Recommended over and over to everyone. I'm just waiting to go again!
Myself and my partner booked tickets on line to Longleat back in March, but on the day we were supposed to visit, i was unwell. Since then we havent found a perfect day to visit until the 4th September.
I have never been to Longleat before but its always somewhere i have wanted to visit. I am a huge fan of animals and i was really excited.
We purchased passport tickets which are usually £23.00 for adults, £15.00 for children and £17.00 for senior citizens. These give you access to 11 attractions and you will get them stamped at each attraction you visit. We only paid £19 for our tickets each because we booked during a special offer time.
Under 3's visit for free.
Children at 3-14 years old.
You don't have to purchase this ticket as every attraction can be paid for separately, but if you plan to visit each one this will save you money!
The safari park (prices without passport ticket adults: £12, children £8 and senior citizens £9):
I have been warned about long queues entering the safari park but on arrival at 11.15pm there wasn't many cars queuing at all so we were quite pleased.
We drove to the pay kiosks and were greeted by a very happy cheerful lady who took our ticket booking confirmation and gave us 2 passport tickets in return. She told us about the safari park, asked if we wanted a program (£5) we declined and she also gave us a commentary cd to play on the way round which is narrated by Kate Humble.
We drove to the first part of the Safari park which is where you can park up. It is the last opportunity to visit the toilet and buy some refreshments.
Here they have a cafe where you can buy some basic hot food like bacon rolls, sandwiches, drinks, crisps etc! All i can say is BRING YOU OWN! This places takes the mick and costs a fortune! The thing that makes me laugh is theyre charging the earth for a cup of tea but in the shop next door you can get one for £1!
In the shop next door they have various gifts etc and much cheaper drinks.
There is a toilet block which was very clean and have the new dyson power hand driers.
There is a picnic area with quite a few tables.
Also from here you have a fantastic view of the giraffes, zebra's, llamas and some camels.
Once back in the car you can start on your journey!
If you are given the cd to play you can start it here, it has some interesting facts about the animals you will see.
Throughout the park you will see signs about what to do if you break down and also about having windows open or closed!
Throughout the park you will go through the following sections:
- East African Game Reserve
- Flamingo Valley
- Vulture Venue
- Monkey Jungle: (this has been closed all year which has something to do with the monkeys having herpes. There is more information on their website) you are warned that this area is optional because you car is very likely to be damaged by the naughty monkeys lol! Enter if you dare...
- Big Game Park
- Deer Park: Here you can buy some deer feed for £1 a cup and feed the deers through your car window. They are very tame and it is a lovely experience.
- Pelican Pond
- Tiger Territory: Here began the fun of all the queues, it seemed there was a car parked observing the tigers for Longleat. It was parked with its hazards on so it was causing a lot of traffic. We were slow moving for about 45 minutes.
- Lion Country: There are two seperate lion areas for the two different prides. Both very nice. The lions were sunbathing when we arrive and it was a lovely view.
- Wolf Wood
The safari park was a lovely experience and it is fun getting so close to the animals. But i will be honest i wasnt that impressed by it all.
The waiting around and the idiots who just keep stopping in front of you randomly and also the selfish ones who sit there for ages taking a million photos holding everyone up can get a little tedious.
I think i do definitely prefer to walk around a zoo!
Once you have left the safari park you reach the area where the other attractions are.
There is adequate parking and overflow car parks too.
Even though we had a passport ticket we were too tired to look around the house after doing everything else so we missed this attraction. (Also i have seen most of it on the animal park program)
Safari boats(prices without passport ticket £4 each for all ages):
The boats take you on the river showing you some more of Longleat's animals.
There are two boats, called the lady bath and the lady Lenka. Both have someone commentating for you and adequete seats for quite a few people. So if there is a queue dont be put off as it does go down very fast.
In the queue you can watch the meer cat attraction, this can keep most people occupied.
On the boat there are red fold down seats, which are basic and plastic, but the whole trip only takes 15 minutes so it is not too bad.
During the boat trip you will see Spot and Sonia the two resident Hippopotamus, the Californian sea lions which are fed during the trip and also the beautiful lowland gorilla Nico.
Pets corner (prices without passport ticket £3 each for all ages):
Here you can walk around and visit some of the smaller animals of Longleat. The children can hold and stroke rabbits and other various animals and different times.
There is also a bird show every hour where they have parrots doing various tricks. We didn't see this but did hear laughter and a lot of sqauking later on.
There are also guinea pigs, snakes, spiders, chipmunks and other animals.
This section is great for the kids but i wouldn't have visited it if i didn't have it as part of the passport price.
Longleat railway (prices without passport ticket £4 each for all ages):
There was no queue for this as we arrived so we jumped straight on the train.
The journey takes you around some of the beautiful grounds, along past the river and you see some unusual sights along the way.
The journey is fantastic for the kids and adults too and lasts about 10 minutes.
The longleat hedge maze: (prices without passport ticket £3 each for all ages)
Again i am not sure i would have done this without the passport ticket but thought why not!
I am not sure if it was pure luck or it was just easy but we were to the middle and out within about 10 minutes. Others said they took an hour! lol
But it can be a laugh, i probably would have gone back in if it had been free to go again.
Other attractions that we didn't visit were:
- Adventure Castle (for 14 years and under)
- Old Joe's mine
- Motion simulator x 2
- Postman pat village
- Tea cup ride
All in all my impression of longleat is mostly its for children. The animals were amazing but in my opinion they could have a few more available.
I think we were lucky as i have friends who have said they hardly saw any animals due to the weather, or queues have been even longer.
We went when i think a lot of kids had just gone back to school so i think that helped!
I would however suggest taking a picnic because the price of any food is terrible just like most attractions.
I probably wouldn't go again until i have kids.
Longleat Safari Park is down in the South West just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury. It is easily reached both by car and public transport (if you arrive by public transport then you have to pay extra to use the safari bus, there are a limited number of spaces per day so arrive early).
I went to Longleat Safari Park on a Monday during the school summer holidays and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't have to queue to enter. On entry they give you a CD to play as you go round the park this gives you instructions (they are also signposted) and tells you a bit about the park and animals.
As you first drive in you come to the East African Game Reserve. At this point you can get out of your car to go the cafe or shop. There is the chance to walk and see the giraffes, zebras, llamas and camels from the Observation platform. You can also go see wallabies, Brazilian tapirs, ostriches and pygmy goats. Next you get back in your car and drive in to see the giraffes, zebras, llamas and camels up close, they may even walk in front of your car if you're lucky!
At the next section you drive past Flamingo Valley and Vulture Venue where you can see the birds in the lake and in the Avery. After that you reach the optional enclosure of Monkey Jungle, at the time I went this was closed for health reasons and as I write it remains closed.
The first major section you drive into is the Big Game reserve. At this point you can still have your car windows open so you are able to take very decent photos as you dive past rhinoceros, Ankole cattle, Bactrian camels, Pere David's Deer and Scimitar Horned Onyx.
The Deer Park is the next stop, at this point you can buy food to feed the deer for £1 a cup (they also give you antibacterial hand wipes). They advertise that the deer eat out of peoples hands but I didn't see this happen at any point. Most of the deer would eat the food that people had thrown on the ground but this does give you a chance to see them up close. As you leave the deer enclosure you drive past Pelican Pond, this is your last chance to have your windows open, after this you have to close them.
Now's the time you enter Tiger Territory. Look out for the rangers cars as this gives you a hint as to where the tigers are (the rangers park close to them so that they can be quickly at hand if there are any problems). The next stop is Lion Country which is divided into two sections as the lions live in two prides. Again look out for the rangers car.
Lastly you enter Wolf Wood, unlike the lions and tigers the wolves are often spread out all over their grounds so keep an eye out from the moment you drive in.
I had a brilliant day at Longleat Safari Park. The actual drive around the park takes about one and half hours.
Myself my partner and a few friends decided that we would have a day out to Longleat Safari Park on the Bank holiday Monday, I had been to Longleat before but when I was a child, it was a great day out back then and I was hoping it would be even better all these years later.
As it was a bank holiday that we where planning on going on we knew it would be busy so we set of at 8.30am to get there for when it opened which was 10am and I'm so glad we did that because as we predicted it got incredibly busy later on.
Longleat Safari Park has two parts to it, firstly you have the Safari Park itself and then you have the house and gardens which also has various rides and attractions around it.
The Safari Park:
The safari park was opened in1966 and it was the first place outside of Africa to open a drive through safari. The safari park consists of various enclosures - East African Game Reserve which consists of Giraffes, Zebras, Llamas and Camels, you then move onto the Flamingo Valley consisting of you've guessed it Flamingos, then you have the Vulture Venue again consisting of Vultures, next you come across the Monkey Jungle (closed when we visited due to a monkey having Herpes), be warned the monkeys do tend to pull bits of peoples cars, you can go round this section if you wish.
After the monkeys you have the Big Game Reserve which has White Rhinos, Ankole Cattle, Camels and Dear, we had quite a close encounter with a Rhino in here, there are just some animals you don't want to get to close to and that was one of them. Next you have the Dear Park where for £1 you can purchase some food and feed the dear out of your car window.
You then go past Pelican pond consisting of Pelicans and onto Tiger Territory (you are allowed car windows opened until you get to this point), after Tiger Territory you go into Lion Country and then finally onto Wolf Wood.
The whole safari takes about a hour and a half and if you don't wish to take your car around then a safari bus is available for a surcharge (3yrs +). Obviously soft top cars are not allowed to go through the safari and dogs are also not permitted, they do provide free kennels where you can leave you dog whilst you visit the safari.
The House, Gardens and other attractions:
Longleat house is a beautiful Elizabethan stately home which most of is open to the public, it was completed in 1580 and is now the home of the 7th Marquess of Bath, the house is set in 900 acres of landscaped grounds and 8000 acres of woodlands, lakes and farmland.
The house is accessible for wheelchair users, pushchairs are not permitted but they do provide hip carriers for small babies free of charge. It take about an hour to walk around the house, guides are in every room and are very knowledgeable so if you wish to find out more information about something they are more than happy to help.
There are only a few rooms open to the public (these are - The Great Hall, The Red Library, The Lower Dining Room, The State Dining Room, The Salon, The State Drawing Room, The Dress Corridor, the Grand Staircase and the basement where you see the kitchens and a servant quarters) as the house is still lived in, private tours of other rooms are available at a cost of £10 per person but these are only available on certain days throughout the year.
After you have looked around the house you can then move on and explore what the grounds have to offer:
Safari Boats - There are two boats operating on the lake so you don't have to wait to long to get on to this attraction, the boats take you on a tour of the lake and introduce you to the seal lions living there (they swim alongside the boats and jump out of the water to get food), the boats also take you past the Gorilla Island where Nico the Silverback is living (he evens has sky + tv) and if you are really luck you may even spot Longleats most dangerous residents the hippos - Spot and Sonia. Fully accessible to wheelchairs but pushchairs are left by the boat house, the trip take approx 15 minutes.
Adventure Castle - A large castle play are for the kids, you can sit and relax whilst they head inside to play on the various slides and climbing frames etc. Unlike other attractions you can go in this more than once.
Hedge Maze - This maze has been here since 1975, it takes up 1.4 acres of land and a pathway length of 1.6 miles, it also has bridges so you can get a good view of the maze from up high, not suitable for pushchairs of wheelchairs.
Railway - This is a scaled down railway which takes you on a trip around some of the grounds, you head past the lake with the sea lions and through some of the woods, the trip take about 15 mins and is accessible to wheelchairs but pushchairs again are left at he station.
Old Joes Mine - This attractions introduces you to fruit bats, you head through some corridors looking at various spiders and scorpions etc then you enter a room where they have bats flying around, the zoom past you heads so close you can feel the wind from there wings, they do tend to dive bomb you a lot, if you are not a fan of bats stay well clear of this attraction.
Pets corner - Full with a variety of animals including guinea pigs, otters, snakes and more, you can even hold a tarantula if your brave enough. They also do parrot shows throughout the day which are well worth watching, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Postman Pat Village - We did not go in here so cant really tell you anything about it, I think it's for smaller children.
Mirror Maze - Is basically a maze made out of mirrors, a fun maze for the kids (old and young) to complete.
There are also two motion simulators here, a tea cup ride, life and times of Lord Bath exhibition, family bygones exhibition and a scale model of Longleat House as well as all the gardens that you can look around.
We had a fantastic day out here, we arrived at 10am and didn't leave until 6pm, most people visiting Longleat go around the Safari park first then visit the house etc, we decided to do it the other way around so we had a look around the house then did the safari on our way out, this worked out really well because the attractions were nice and quite so we went straight on everything, it started to get really busy in the afternoon and waiting times where getting quite long, this is when we went to the safari which was nice and quiet because everyone was now in the house and gardens.
The best way to pay for this attraction is to get the Passport ticket which gives you free entry into everything; it saves you almost 50%.
Adult - £23.00
Child (3 - 14yrs) - £15.00
Senior Citizens (60yrs +) - £17
If you bought individual tickets for everything it would cost you £48. (The cheapest attraction is £3 each)
If you only wish to visit the safari then its £12 (£8 for child) and same for the house also £12 (£6 for child)
If you have a large group going (12 people +) then prices are dramatically reduced
Adult - £16.10
Child - £10.50
Senior Citizen - £11.90
Longleat is just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury
From the South East: M3 (J8) - A303 - A36 towards Bath - Longleat is just off the A362 between Warminster and Frome
From the South West: A303 in a London direction - A350 towards Warminster - A36 towards Bath - Longleat is just off the A362 between Warminster and Frome
From the North: M4 (J18) - A46 towards Bath - A36 towards Salisbury - Longleat is just off the A362 between Warminster and Frome
This is my review of our visit yesterday, Tuesday the 11 of August 2009.
Extremely disappointing and a complete waste of a day. We travelled almost two hours arriving just after 10am, the time stated on the website and other literature as the opening time, to visit the safari park only to find it was not open until 2pm, with no explanation as to why. The signs, located very close to the car park, indicating it would not open until 2pm seem fairly permanent so why do they not update the website to reflect this change. As a result, lots of unhappy people milling around waiting for the safari park to open, hence huge queues for all the other attractions. Did not see the point of waiting around for four hours for the safari park to open so decided to visit Lacock Abbey instead.
Considering all the other excellent places to visit in that area of the south-west I was surprised at Longleat for being so thoughtless.
Note: Take you own food and drink as the prices charged are high
Longleat is a wonderfully attractive place to visit. It comprises of an Elizabethan stately home, safari park, lake and lanscaped parkland - in total covering some 900 acres, and when including farmland extends to some 8000 acres.
It is owned by the Thynne family, (The Marquees of Bath) and has been in the family for some 450 years. It was opened by the 6th Lord Bath, Henry Frederick in 1949 as a means of generating income following huge debts after the death of his father two years earlier. Formal gardens were original designed by Capability Brown during the 18th Century, with gardens around the house redesigned in the 1950's by Russel Page to allow for tourists. It's most famous asset, the first safari park outside of Africa opened in 1966 to boost visitor numbers.
It is set near to the village of Buckland Dinham between Frome (Somerset) and Warminster (Wiltshire), and is today owned by Alexander, the eccentric 7th Marquis of Bath.
Along with the house and Safari Park two other attractions always compelled me to Longleat - The Safari Boats where sealions run up and down the lake next to the boat, and you travel round an island where a guerilla actually watches sky and encounter hippos along the far banks away from the expanse of visitors, and the Doctor Who exhibition which sadly after 30 years left for pastures new - materialising at Lands End!
The train ride (Longleat Railway) alongside the lake is fun, and there's a great place for you to see all your favorite butterflys and moths. In fact I could probably spend hours going up and door the lake - if you weren't restricted to one admission per attraction with their ticket system.
The safari park is best experienced from a coach or the onsite tour bus - if you want to keep your wipers and other external car parts that is as the monkeys are notorious for pulling them off. Occassionally lions do move around, but normally the deer and camels are more likely to stop you in your tracks. It does take a while, and can be taken at your own pace if you're the ones doing the driving. Other animals you'll encounter are wolves, tigers, giraffes and zebra.
Other long time attractions are the adventure castle, the hedge maze and pets corner, with new attractions being Postman Pat Village, Animal Adventure, Old Joes Mine and Get Active with Sportacus (from 27 July to 16 August 2009).
I have never been inside the house, but its sheer presence appeals, and it is used quite often these days for weddings/wedding receptions.
I was first introduced to Longleat by my father at an early age, and we visited once every 2-3 years on a local coach company based in Taunton, and at that point admission prices were quite reasonable and were included in the coach fare. Several years later, my son started at a special school in Taunton, and almost from the first September he joined Taunton and Wiltshire Roundtables joined together to provide a free day of fun for special needs children and their families - which was still continuing up until we moved down to Plymouth 8 years ago. At the time they provided free passes allowing entry to about 5 of the main attractions (in addition to the safari park).
Today, it is difficult to advise on admission prices because it depends on what you want to do, but a full ticket for one entry per attraction costs £23.
Often, Longleat play hosts to events this year this included international horse trials 19-21 June.
Iy is also quite common to see cyclists pedalling around the area.
One thing that you will need to do is take plenty of money with you and even a quick snack can set you back a tidy sum.
It is a wonderful place to visit and explore and is somewhere (if the weather is good) that you can spent plenty of time.
The park is located within easy reach of the A303, and can also be accessed from the A36 Bath road.
It is somewhere I can definitely recommend as a day out for all the family.
As an added incentive why not visit the Longleat Forest Centre Parc - but like with Longleat be prepared to pay out!
For more information try the link below:
Longleat is a massive, 9000 acre (that's 36 square kms), estate located in rural Wiltshire. At the heart of the estate, set in 900 acres of eye-bulging parkland, is the stately house (Longleat House) home to the Marquesses of Bath and which dates back to Elizabethan times.
In the mid-sixties, Longleat Safari Park opened its door and was, I believe, the very first drive-through park outside of Africa. The "Lions of Longleat" became world famous and the park has been one of the country's most popular attractions for over 30 years.
The park is separated from the other attractions (these are grouped near the magnificent Longleat House itself). The entrance is well signposted from local roads and beyond and Sat Navs are not required.
If you're travelling by car (rather than on a tourist coach or other) then you have the options of:
* paying £12 per adult and £8 per child (over 60s £9) OR
* buying a "passport" which allows you to tour the Safari Park and
visit each of the other Longleat attractions (including the House, gardens, maze, adventure playground, safari boat ride and more). The cost of a passport is £23 (adult), £15 (child) and £17 (over 60s). You can only use/visit each attraction once but this doesn't have to be on the same day, which means that you can take your time and use your passport over multiple visits (although you've still the option of paying for each individual feature if you want). The passport "saving" is about 50% compared to the total of individual prices.
* use Tesco Clubcard vouchers to buy a Longleat passport entitlement (exchange the Tesco paperwork for a passport on entering Longleat). At £6.50 per passport this represents great value.
This subject matter is the Safari Park, which is quite distinct from the other attractions, so I'll limit myself to that.
Having paid your entrance fee/had your passport stamped, you are loaned either a CD or cassette which contains a commentary for your journey through the various stages of the park. You play the CD and you will be told when to pause and restart.
The animals seem to have a lot of space to roam in, look (as far as I can tell) to be generally healthy and well-cared for and appropriate fencing/separation is in place. The park is run like a well-oiled machine and there's the comforting sight of Land Rover driving 'keepers at every turn.
To start the park tour (on which must follow a set route) you go into
Wallaby Wood where you can actually park up, wander around (gift and food concessions are sited here) and hopefully view some red-necked wallabies, camels and pygmy goats. This is your first and last opportunity to get out of your car (emergencies aside of course) before you finish your Safari Park visit.
Your drive takes you through enclosures with white rhino, zebra, antelopes (of many shapes and sizes), tigers, warthogs, exotic birds, wildfowl, Canadian wolves and much, much more. You have the option of driving through the "Monkey Jungle" or detouring it ( to avoid the outside chance of a baboon or other monkey damaging your vehicle).
The "Lion Country" enclosure is one of the most interesting with a few lion prides in residence. On a recent visit, lions were nonchantly walking past my parked car at about 2 feet distance - this is a great experience and the animals seem totally oblivious to the myriad families gawping at them at such close quarters. I must add that on an earlier visit, the lions were no closer than 50 yards from the car and obscured by trees, grass and the like. It's a bit of a lottery as to what you get to see on any given visit.
You're allowed to crawl around in your car and are free to pull-up on the wide tarmac road to watch/enjoy a nearby creature. If you drove round the park without stopping, on an averagely busy day, I'd guess that you would do the whole park in about 50-60 minutes. Factoring in a few stops (as most do) extends this time accordingly. I've found that there tends to be less visitors earlier in the day (the Safari Park is open in the summer at 10a.m and closes at 4p.m summer weekdays and 5p.m weekends) with many touring the park at the end of a day spent at the other attractions.
This is a wonderful place to visit, especially if you go down the passport route and make a day, or two, of it. I'm not generally one for zoos and animals in captivity but Longleat is heavily into conservation, animal welfare and is involved in many projects, including the reintroduction of animals into the wild. If you are going to visit, I recommend bringing your own picnic and drink (if possible) there's lots of space near the House to sit and eat and the food at the on-site eating places is expensive and with mainly unhealthy choices. Longleat does get extremely busy in the height of the school holidays so try and avoid these times if you can. Longleat is open daily until 1st November 2009.
For more details, the Longleat website is: