I've visited a number of zoos and wildlife parks over the years, but the one I've always wanted to visit was Longleat Safari Park. Especially after watching it on BBC One's Animal Park.
A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to do just that! Visiting Longleat to enjoy their Marvellous Monsters event; as well as the safari, Longleat house and all the other attractions.
Located just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury, Longleat Safari Park is the UK's first, and best safari park. Spread across 900 acres of land, there is so much to see and do! We spent a full day at the park (arriving at 10am and leaving at 5pm) and still didn't fit everything in.
Knowing how busy the safari was going to get, and that it could take up to 3 hours to drive though, we decided to head there first. We made a quick pit stop at the African Village first to see the giraffes and lemurs (and to almost lose Parker's shoe on the wobbly bridge.. oops!).
The lemur walk through was one of Parker's highlights, as you really can get so close to them. The giraffes were amazing too, and although we didn't do this, you can feed them for a little extra charge.
The African Village is also the last stop to grab food and drinks, or visit the loo, before getting back in the car to start the safari. So I'd definitely recommend getting out.
Our next stop was the the bit I was probably most excited about. The safari! I was slightly worried we wouldn't see many animals, but I honestly had nothing to worry about. Jack and I both commented on how lovely the enclosures were too - big, natural and full of areas where the animals could hide away if they wanted to.
Safe in the car (there are areas you can have the windows down, but we kept ours up for most of the safari), we slowly drove though animal spotting. You drive through monkeys, the deer park, past Anne the elephant and the rhinos, and then through the big cats and wolves.
The monkey drive through was just amazing as I'd hoped. We didn't have any monkeys on our car unfortunately - although we were slightly relieved, as they were breaking bits off of others! But we did see lots of mama monkeys with their babies.
Leaving the safari drive-through, we parked up by the main square in search of lunch. Picnics are welcome (and I really wish we were prepared with one), however we bought our lunch from The Tropical Storm Cafe.
Serving hot and cold food, children's lunch boxes and right next to a Costa, it was a lovely spot for lunch. We found a table easily and grabbed some food. I went for soup, Jack had a huuuuge pulled pork roll, and we got the littles a lunch box each. With two drinks and some crisps, the total was around £25. So as well as the food being tasty, it wasn't too badly priced either.
Before we visited I never realised just how much else there was to do at Longleat. Away from the safari park, the Main Square is not only home to over 1000 animals, but you can also hop aboard the Longleat Express train or the Jungle Cruise. Or if you think you need a little break from animal spotting, there's also a fantastic play area, hedge mazes and a Rockin' Rhino ride!
The Jungle Cruise was another highlight of our visit. It's only a short trip along Half Mile Lake, but you can spot hippos, gorillas - including Europe's oldest gorilla Nico - and the sea lions. For £1 you can even feed the sea lions; although be quick as they have limited fish to hand out.
As if there wasn't already enough to see during your visit, from the 8th April Longleat has some exciting new animals to meet - huuuuuge animatronic bugs!
"Marvellous Monsters is going to put the spotlight on bugs and showcase just how amazing they are and really raise awareness for the need to conserve them. You’ll come face to face (or maybe eye to antennae) with these humongous creepy crawlies and get a brand new perspective on these bizarre but fascinating creatures."
Walking into the main square and seeing the gigantic caterpillar was such an amazing site! Both littles were absolutely amazed, and Indie wanted to hunt for more straight away. She loved that they moved, and wanted to learn more about every bug we spotted.
If you head to the Animal Adventure area, you can learn even more. We spotted butterflies in the butterfly house, got up close to a cockroach, and there was the option to hold a snake or a spider (we opted out of this, as the queues were quite long though).
Indiana did get up close and personal with some lovely Lorikeets though. Again it was £1 (per pot of nectar), to head into the lorikeet enclosure. The second we stepped inside the birds flew over, and the look on our little tigers face was so special. A definite must do for sure!
While in this area we also made sure to hop aboard the Longleat Express. The train runs every half an hour which is a little bit of a shame - it doesn't take many people, so you either have to queue for a while to guarantee your spot, or miss out. It was well worth it though, and definitely train mad Parker's highlight.
Of course no visit to Longleat would be complete without visiting the absolutely stunning Longleat House. One of the finest Elizabethan stately homes in the country, you can explore 15 rooms either at your leisure or through a guided tour.
We unfortunately never made it inside, as pushchairs are understandably not allowed, and we weren't risking wild boy Parker running around freely. The outside was incredible though with a hugeee lion statue and fountains, and the littles had great fun running up and down the stairs.
It's somewhere I'd definitely want to come and explore properly in the future!
We ended our day with ice creams while watching the world go by in the Main Square.. and Parker was asleep before our car had even left the car park! If that's not the sign of a good day, then I don't know what is?
Longleat Safari Park was an exhausting, incredible, and amazingly memorable day out. There are so many moments I know I will remember forever, so I want to thank Longleat for letting us come and visit. We'll definitely by back!
The Marvellous Monsters event is on until October 29th and is included within the price of your ticket.
Disclosure - We recieved our entry in exchange for our review. All opinions are honest and my own.