Friday, 8 August 2014

Longleat Safari Park


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

We've booked our Longleat Safari Park holiday a while ago and were really looking forward to it, so we were really gutted when Abby was hit by chicken pox the weekend before her school holiday started. She healed up super quickly though and although we lost the opportunity to go to the Foodies Festival and visit Thorpe Park, we managed to salvage our Longleat Safari Park trip with my brother's family! We were so grateful as it was the best Safari/ Zoo experience we've ever had!

We spent 2 days at the park, with the sky threatening to rain on us on both days. Luckily the weather held and we had really lovely weather most of the time. We had a bit of bad luck on the first day as I accidentally dropped my phone in the toilet (blogger without a smartphone?! It's the end of the World!), and hubby had a fairly expensive incident too (see below). Luckily my phone dried up fully the next day and started working again, and hubby ended up only having to spend on paint.


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

If you have watched Animal Park on BBC, you should know about Longleat Safari Park and Longleat House. That's also the reason why we wanted to go there! They have put in so much effort into making the park fit for wild animals to live that it really looked like a Safari (with rows of cars and fences but you get the idea).

The massive safari is split into many sections, and we got really close to all kinds of animals. Some are really peaceful and weren't bothered with the steady stream of cars (even the tigers and lions weren't fussed), but others were quite aggressive, especially the famous Longleat Safari Park monkeys.


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

As soon as we got into the Monkeys drive through, we saw a warning sign, calling the monkeys "Monkey Mechanics". We had a quick word about this and we assumed that the worst that would happen to us was losing the antenna which was kind of stuck to the car. We were giggling throughout, especially at the 4x4 in front of us that had 3 monkeys on the roof, where one was munching happily on its antenna.

Suddenly a park ranger came to us, and told hubby: "If I were you, I'd quickly drive through as you have cables dangling from the back of your car." What cables? We don't have any cables at the back, do we?!" We stopped just outside the exit gate and to our horror (actually, I laughed really hard), we saw this:






Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

The monkeys took all 4 parking sensors within minutes. Obviously, those behind us were laughing at us while we were laughing at those in front of us. You have to admit that it was hilarious, even though it could be an expensive £200+ repair job. So hubby was really lucky when he found spare parking sensors lying around (not in the park of course), and he only had to buy the matching paint to paint it over. So no harm done but hubby refused to visit the monkeys from any Safari ever again. Awwww!

We also wondered what the staff did with all the spare car parts at the end, we saw a whole van full of it!


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

I thought that the worst was over, but then we saw the cars in front of us being threatened with the above! Park rangers had to step in and chase the animals away with their truck.

This was the second time we visited a Safari, and we definitely saw more actions this time. The lions and tigers were too well fed though and it was so warm that all they wanted to do was napping.


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

There are shows throughout the days, and the one that impressed us most was the Hunters of the Sky. Not only did we get to see eagle, owls (tiny ones that are so cute everyone wanted one as a pet!), vultures and falcons fly, they flew so close to us that we had to bob down. Most bird shows will show you a bird at a time, but the Hawk Conservancy Trust went all out to give us the feeling of being amongst a group of vultures and falcons, and there were 6-8 at a time swooping around the audience (shame I wasn't fast enough with snapping the picture!). With the powerful music in the background, it was so overwhelming I was quietly in tears (not because I'm scared of course) and had to hide behind my camera!


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park is all about experiences. Apart from getting us close to the bigger wild animals within the safety of our cars and fences, there are other experiences throughout the park where we can get close to animals and creatures we never could. Sanitary gels and washing basins everywhere of course.

At the Safari we bought 2 cups of deer food (£1 per cup, filled to the brim with dried pellets) and fed the deer inside the safari. None of the deer were scared of us and some even shoved their heads inside the cars if you were feeding too slow! I had one deer hogging my window (Abby didn't feed as she was too scared the deer would bite her) and wouldn't leave even after the food was gone. I thought that it was going to bite me but it simply licked everything off my hand, leaving my hand all sticky and wet! It was a fun experience though!

I went further at th Adventure Park. I held a snake (felt greasy though it wasn't), had a butterfly sitting on my finger (couldn't find the picture!), 4 to 5 greedy birds fighting over a pot of honey in my hand (£1 per pot) and one even sat on my head (I'm not releasing that picture!), and came really close to some fruit bats. We also touched the bottom of sting rays and fed the sea lions, and Abby had a parrot kissing on her cheek too!

It was the best experiences ever!


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo
Favourite animals of the trip!
Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

- Those 2 parrots were bickering for a very long time. They weren't enclosed so we were wondering why they didn't just fly away.

- I love those monkeys! This is a very close up picture, they are actually very small and can probably sit on my hand. Again, not enclosed but they never left their area. They must be so well treated that they didn't want to go!

- That goat was a bit desperate me thinks!

- Baby zebras


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

I have to give these otters their own picture space. The female on the top woke the male at the bottom up, turned him over and started wriggling her bottom all over his face. In front of a whole audience! The male just slept so she started licking and fiddling with his bottom! It went on for so long that the few of us managed to pull a large audience over to watch, and hubby even filmed it because it was just too funny! Apparently these Otters are only in heat in the Winter months, maybe she was really bored?

After she finally gave up on him, she picked up a stone and tried to put it on her foot, do you think she's trying to keep us entertained?


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

This Silverback Gorilla Nico is the oldest in the whole Europe and he's so spoiled that he has a whole centrally-heated island to himself that comes with a TV with Sky Plus! He was hiding inside his house watching TV when we cruised by but we managed to catch him peeking at us.


The only place we really didn't like was the Penguins island. I'm not sure whether it's suppose to be like that, but it was the worst smelling penguin enclosure I've ever been, and I had to run outside. It smelled strongly of "been dead for a while" fish.


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

There is a lot of other things to do in the Longleat Adventure Park, so it's really worth going there for 2 days. The kids had fun going around and playing at one of the largest outdoor play, which has a splash area nearby, and all of us managed to get out of the maze in one piece!

There are a plenty of food, snacks and drinks places, and there is even a Costa cafe! The leaflet/ map comes with a voucher for children to eat free at The Tropical Storm Cafe, which is a bit like a canteen with 3 food stations. We were allowed to Pick 'n' Mix, so I had Chicken Curry with chips and rice, although just the rice would have done nicely. There was also lasagne and burgers, though the minced beef was a bit too beefy.


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

We left visiting Longleat House last as it was forcasted to rain, and the grey cloud said it all. We made our way through the Secret Garden (connects the adventure park to the house) to the back of the house, and ended up at the end of the museum tour (from the front door passing through different rooms, ending with the kitchen and back court yard) inside the house. I must say that it was the best part of the tour, where it ended with the ghost story of the Grey Lady (not Green as many believed) down at the cellar, gift shop that used to be a Victorian kitchen (still have all the features inside!), and the pantry and larder in the 1800s (I think).


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo

There were some really beautiful flowers growing in the Longleat House. I especially love the assorted Hydrangeas in the Secret Garden, and I'm now thinking of growing a few more in our garden together with my blue bush!


Longleat Safari Park, Longleat House, Longleat Zoo
Random cottage spotted near the road from the end of the Safari

We had a fantastic time at Longleat Safari park, and although we had our car demolished by the cheeky monkeys, we all enjoyed the 2 days visit. It's the place to experience what it feels like to get really close to the animals. I've never found courage to get so close to a snake or the aggressive birds, but something about Longleat made me want to try. Going to Longleat is like a learning journey for the whole family, especially the kids.

If you love taking the kids to the zoo or want them to experience what it's like to get close to animals, you must visit Longleat Safari Park. We bought our tickets with a 10% discount, and my sister in law bought theirs using Tesco vouchers. It's more value for money in my opinion, and the parking is free too.