Author: Helen B
Longleat is a great place for families. Whether you’re visiting on a day trip or staying nearby, there’s lots to see and do and experience. Check the website before you visit for opening times.
Day Out to Longleat Safari Park
Longleat is the home of the 7th Marquis of Bath and his family and has been open to the public for the last 70 years but is more well known these days for the huge safari and wildlife park. The last time we visited Longleat, our son was less than one year old. Needless to say he doesn’t remember the trip so this was like a first time visit for him. We were interested to see what was new at the park.
After a scenic drive from the main gates to the safari park entrance, the first stop was the African Village. After a long journey we were pleased to stretch our legs and explore. The car park is below the giraffe enclosure so we wandered up to take a closer look at these peaceful, elegant animals. In the African village is a cafe, toilets, a conservation zone, lookout point over some of the wildlife, more animals to see and an African themed walkway crossing over the road and ending in a baobab tree!
We took the pathway up to the lemur enclosure and spent a little while with the ring-tailed lemurs.
After this we jumped back into the car to start our safari. It wasn’t long before there was a hold up caused by an ostrich refusing to move from the road. Luckily a keeper was at hand who moved the ostrich on. We even took the plunge and drove through Monkey Jungle. Our son thought the monkeys riding on top of the cars and playing with the ariels was hilarious, but if you don’t want to risk those cheeky monkeys damaging your car you can always take the safari bus instead.
The safari tour took us through a big game enclosure with camels and oryx up to the deer enclosure where you can get a hands on experience and feed them from your car. The route took us past some impressive rhinos down to the Big Cats where we were lucky enough to see a huge lion very close to our car! The safari ended in Wolf Wood and the road took us on down to the house. Remember to allow a minimum of 2 hours for your safari trip as this can get very busy and cars move slowly through the route.
Longleat House is a grand stately home built by ‘the Builder’ the 1st Marquis of Bath and it is definitely a must-see. The rooms are exquisite, and if you’re an art lover like me, you can spend an age looking at the hundreds of paintings and portraits. My son loved the gold leaf on the ceiling of the dining room. When he asked the stewards lots of questions, we were all impressed with their knowledge of the house.
A lovely spot to eat if you’re hungry is the Cellar Cafe beneath the house. You can enjoy the view of the park from the terrasse while enjoying tea and cake. There are several places to purchase food in the park, from cafes or fast food cabins. Or you can bring your own food and picnic in the grounds of the house.
After lunch we explored the adventure area behind the house where there were lots more animals to discover in the Jungle Kingdom.
Koala Creek Now Open at Longleat
A brand new exhibit which has only just opened for this year is Koala Creek. Do not leave without visiting England’s first and only koalas. Four koalas live here in Koala Creek in a purpose built home which has several areas to ensure the best care for these shy, endangered creatures. My son enjoyed the information displays and finding out about koalas. One display even contained a koala skull!
The sanctuary comprises of a large outdoor area with sunshades and a building housing a food preparation room, a care room and a walk-through indoor enclosure.
Throughout Koala Creek are purpose built trees to mimic the eucalyptus trees of their natural Australian habitat. The koalas love to sit in these and doze after a meal of eucalyptus leaves and it was great to be able to see them all at really close quarters in their open air enclosure. Some other marsupials live here too – wombats and potoroos and it was fun to watch the wombats digging and hiding in holes.
The whole area around the koala house is well shaded from the sun and has a small river creek running through the centre. Koala Creek is a lovely new addition to Longleat which we didn’t expect and is affiliated with the IKCE (the International Koala Centre of Excellence) to understand how they live in the wild and to ensure that these unusual and rare animals are protected in the wild.
Boat Trip and train ride
Next we took the boat trip around the lake which took us up to the Gorilla Colony and the sealions which swam around the boat hoping for a fish treat!
A ride on the railway finished off our day which took us through the park and back alongside the lake. There was so much here to fill our day, despite the Adventure Castle being closed for renovation (re-opening May 2019), I don’t think we would have had time for our son to play there. Sadly we missed the maze too, there was so much to see and do. In the summer however, the park is open for longer until 7pm so you can be sure to visit everything.
Longleat also has a timetable of shows and animal encounters so why not check the website for talks and times.
If you fancy getting closer to the animals, VIP Experiences are available to purchase but some of these may not be suitable for younger children.
One single ticket price will gain you entry to all of the attractions in the grounds as many times as you like so if you fancy driving the safari again, or visiting the house twice, you can do this. Longleat has a timetable of special events throughout the year so take a look before you visit.
Disclaimer: Helen and her family receive complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All words, opinions and photos are her own and must not be copied or reproduced.
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