My husband and I have many happy memories of visiting Longleat Safari Park when we were young, so it felt particularly special to be able to carry on that tradition with our daughter. It was a rite of passage in a way. We had wanted to go for awhile, so we finally decided to go for it.
We booked our tickets a few days in advance to knock 15% off the price, and under 2’s go free.
We woke up early on Thursday morning, had breakfast and prepared our packed lunches for the long day ahead. I highly recommend bringing plenty of drinks and food, unless you don’t mind paying a premium in the park restaurants.
After the usual morning faff, we set off on our hour long journey to Warminster. The husband decided not to use a Satnav and instead get creative and “figure it out”. He took a detour to Bath, where we ended up getting lost in some dodgy country lanes.
Interesting fact; Bath has very little signage. We made it out in one piece and arrived at our destination in a timely manner, but there was a moment of uncertainty when approaching an articulated lorry in a narrow lane. Argh!
Arrival at Longleat
We decided to drive straight through the Safari when we arrived. First stop was the African Village where you can feed giraffes, walk with lemurs and pet the goats. It was beautiful and quiet, which was great as it allowed us a good amount of time to spend in each enclosure, and we didn’t feel rushed at all.
An ostrich pecked our windows and followed us for a while through the Big Game Park which Lily found hysterically funny, and then we moved on to the big cat enclosures which feature the famous Lions of Longleat.
I brought along my camera which has been untouched in its bag for years; I’m really out of practice, but it made me remember how much I miss photography.
We finished the drive through safari, parked up and found a great little area to stop and enjoy our picnic in the Main Square before moving on to the Jungle Kingdom, where we saw the binturong for the first time.
The Adventure Park: There is an abundance of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals and even feed them, which makes it a truly memorable experience. The Rainbow Lorikeet aviary is always good fun, so I was looking forward to seeing how our girl would react. Sure enough, she loved it and didn’t stop giggling the whole time we were in there.
Lily adores animals so we were quite confident that she would have a lovely time, but we were not prepared for the look of sheer joy that was on her face the entire day. Every time she saw something new she’d squeal “What’s that?” and point with excitement. Longleat is admittedly an expensive day out, but to see your child that happy is priceless. Cheesy, but true.
The Jungle Cruise: Another highlight for her was the boat ride across the lake. I struggled with this as we first had to wait in a queue and stand nearby, in the sun, next to a significant amount of people. I was getting agitated, so my husband reminded me to focus on taking photos which helped. Once we were on the boat, I was too busy stopping our little monster from diving in with the sea lions and enjoying her reaction to everything she saw for my mind to have a chance to interrupt. On the boat, we also saw hippos, Nico the western lowland gorilla on his island, the Gorilla Colony and a single Kingfisher.
We visited the Little Explorers Garden which is everything you could want in a play area; it is massive. We didn’t stop for long because we didn’t want L to wear herself before we had finished visiting what was left on our list, but she would have happily stayed on the swings for the rest of the day if we let her.
Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to experience everything in one day as there was just so much to do with a toddler in toe. We didn’t get to see some of our favourite animals as it is rutting season so the Deer Park was closed and the timber wolves must have been sleeping somewhere concealed in Wolf Wood as we couldn’t find them. We also bypassed Monkey Mayhem as we had a new car and didn’t fancy a repeat performance of our last visit when they ripped our roof strips and windscreen wipers off, but we had a fantastic time regardless and can’t wait to return.
Longleat is not just another zoo, it’s an entirely different way to experience the animals, and I can’t recommend it enough. This day out will be one to remember for many years to come.
Highlights: Seeing the Egyptian fruit bats from inches away; they are beautiful and fascinating little creatures, feeding the rainbow lorikeets, taking part in the parrot show, walking with lemurs, meerkats and penguins, touching a stingray, seeing lions brush past our car and Lily’s reaction to everything.
Make sure you have £1 coins to buy food for the giraffes, sea lions, rainbow lorikeets and deer.
Bring a packed lunch and drinks.
Book in advance, you can save up to 15%.
Avoid the monkey drive through if you care about your car.