It has been a good couple of years since we last visited Longleat.
Longleat is the UK’s first safari park and is a place where you can see lions roam, tigers stalk and monkeys getting up to no good, normally at your car’s expense.
We arrived at opening time and with the weather forecast due to be wet that afternoon, made the decision to do the safari drive through first.
At the beginning of the safari, you get to stretch your legs and explore the African Village. Sadly for us, the Giraffe’s were still in their winter enclosure so we didn’t get to see them, but we did enjoy the Lemur Walkthrough, which is home to both ring tailed and brown lemurs.
It was then back in the car to enjoy the safari itself, where we got started with spotting zebra, camels, scimitar horned oryx, ostriches, a herd of Ankole cattle and their rhino’s.
You get to the monkey enclosure fairly early on in the safari, although you can choose to avoid this section if you prefer.
The rhesus macaques that inhabit this area can only be described as mischievous, as we soon found out when they decided to attempt to take apart Abbey’s car.
Mum and Baby posed in front of the windscreen, taking centre stage whilst the cheeky one on the roof tried to pull the rubber stripping off.
Thankfully it was repairable but some other cars were not so lucky. We saw one monkey using the rear windscreen wiper as a trampoline and promptly snapped it and another taking apart a roof box. Luckily the only damage to our car was a slightly chewed aerial.
The next enclosure on is the deer, where you can wind your windows down and feed them. We decided not to buy the food and drive through, but traffic was at a standstill and we got a visitor or two looking for food peering through the windows.
The Big Cats enclosure was next on the safari and we caught a glimpse of a tiger asleep on a ledge. Thankfully the lions were much more active and we even followed one walking along the road for a while.
The Cheetah cubs, Poppy and Winston were a huge hit with the kids, although at 6 months old they are no longer a bundle of fluff.
The pack of grey wolves were wandering around their enclosure, oblivious to everything going on around them as they dosed under the trees.
The safari takes a good 90 minutes to complete and the kids were ready to stretch their legs once we got back to the main house. They spotted Rockin Rhino as soon as we walked into the square, which is a bit like George’s Dinosaur ride at Peppa Pig World, only on a lion and a rhino.
The kids have been looking forward to visiting Postman Pat, but that area has now been replaced by a fabulous new Little Explorers Garden.
Inspired by British wildlife, the Little Explorer’s Garden features 4 fun-filled and immersive zones each of which is based on an adorable furry friend that you might spot in your garden. There is also a huge interactive arch that beams images onto the floor so you can play games.
There are lots of animals to see alongside the main house in Longleat, including marmosets and tamarins in the Monkey Temple, who were just as interested in us as we were in them.
Abbey faced her fear of birds and bravely let the Lorikeets feed on their nectar, straight from her hand.
Longleat is one of the few places you can do a walkthrough with penguins and we got up close to one of their Humboldt penguins, much to Sebby’s delight.
In the Animal Handling Hall the keepers had the kids bravely stroking and holding snakes.
It had now started to rain so we went in search of some undercover activities, with our first port of call being the Jungle cruise, where you board an old steamer which is escorted by Californian Sea Lions hoping for a fishy treat as you head to get a glimpse of Spot and Sonia, their resident hippo’s.
At the far end of the lake is the Gorilla Colony and we could not help but feel a bit sad as we sailed past Nico’s island. Longleat’s famous gorilla Nico, died in his sleep on 7th January aged 56. The three remaining lowland gorillas live in a lap of luxury though, with their own homes with underfloor heating.
Also undercover is Bat Cave, home to a colony of free flying Egyptian fruit bats. The kids were concerned they would fly into them, but luckily they have a clever way of navigating in the dark which means they know when they are getting too close. We did feel a rush of air as they flew past though.
We enjoyed a brief walk around the grounds, exploring the gardens before making the decision to do the safari again to get out of the rain, only this time Abbey joined us in our car as she didn’t want to risk those pesky monkey’s again!
A day ticket entitles you to:
- UK’s No1 Safari Park including Cheetah Kingdom, Monkey Drive Through and the famous lions of Longleat
- Main Square including Jungle Kingdom, Monkey Temple, Longleat Hedge Maze and Adventure Castle
- Longleat House and Gardens
I would highly recommend you book online for the best prices (£29.70 for adults and £22.27 for children aged 3-15) and get there for opening time to make the most of your day. Two-day tickets are also available, so you can ensure you tick everything off your to-do list.
The Predators exhibition starts this Easter, running until 3rd September, with 14 killer animatronic carnivores, stalking into the park to make your day out extra wild! This fascinating new exhibition will include an impressive range of species from modern-day predators to those who walked the planet thousands, and in some cases, millions of years ago!
Have you braved the monkey’s at Longleat?