Newest Review: ... 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 costin... more
See the mane man and his family too
Longleat Safari Park (Wiltshire)
Member Name: markysparky
Longleat Safari Park (Wiltshire)
Advantages: A great opportunity to view Africa's wildest at close quarters
Disadvantages: Pricey, very busy at peak timesi
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:
Summary: A fantastic family attraction which will live long in the memory
More reviews in the field of Theme Park / Zoo National
- Folly Fab
- A fantastic theme park with some amazing thrill rides
- Paignton Zooooooooo
- Fun, exciting, adrenaline fuelled experience
- Best Theme park in North Yorkshire
- I never realised things could get this wild in Doncaster
- Gulliver's World, Warrington
- I went to the animal fair...
- An enjoyable visit and good value.
- Stuff for the kids, adults are out of luck.
- Monks Park Farm (Yorkshire)
- Wetlands Animal Park (Nottinghamshire)
- Tayto Park (Kilbrew)
- Marine Aquarium (Lyme Regis)
- Crocodiles of the World (Oxfordshire)
- Filey Bird Garden and Animal Park (North Yorkshire)
- Owl and Monkey Haven (Isle of Wight)
- Cantref Adventure Farm (Cantref)
- The Hop Farm Family Park (Kent)
- Skipsea Sands Holiday Park (Yorkshire)