Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire has to be one of the best days out I’ve had in England.
Longleat has an incredible stately home, the most beautiful gardens and grounds that cover a huge 9000 acres and a drive through safari park. Longleat was the first drive through safari park of it’s kind in the U.K when it opened in 1966. We arrived at Longleat on a beautiful sunny day and headed straight for the giraffes and lemurs. There were over 20 giraffes roaming freely in their rather large enclosure and you could get pretty close to them too. The lemurs had a walk in enclosure and again they roamed freely through their enclosure, they didn’t seem to mind us hanging around and got pretty close.
We then jumped in the car and headed for the fun stuff! The very naughty monkeys. There are multiple signs warning you of the dangers of the monkeys and what they will do to your car and they are not wrong. From the moment we drove in to the separate enclosure the monkeys are all over your car. The car in front got their windscreen wipers and aerial yanked off in record time. We were lucky to only have one guy have a go at the aerial but he didn’t manage to tear it off.
Then the real safari began. After leaving the separate monkey enclosure you then drive by camels, rhinos, deer and elephants. The animals can come right up to the car and it was incredible seeing a rhino close up, they are even bigger than what I imagined.
The road then leads on to the big cats enclosures. I didn’t know what to expect when we drove in. I was a little nervous but also excited. The let only a small number of cars in at a time and from the moment we got into the tiger enclosure we spotted one and then two and then a third. It was like being on actual safari, everyone is on the look out and when you spot one you just stop and stare and try and get as close as possible. The tiger enclosure was huge, they have a massive amount of space to wander around in and wander they did. They were on the move the whole time. It was so exciting seeing tigers that close up.
Next was the lions enclosure, I couldn’t believe it myself but there was over 30 lions. Prides were obviously separated but seriously there was a lot! Lions were doing what lions always do…sleep. Again we got insanely close to the big cats but they were all being very lazy indeed.
After the excitement of the safari we parked the car and headed straight for Longleat House. The current house was built in 1580, yes it is that old! This was without doubt one of the most grand buildings I have ever seen. It was the first stately home to be opened to the public in 1949 and the eccentric Lord Bath resides here.
Included in the ticket price was the Longleat House tour, we went inside and got dressed up in some costumes to you know get into it, Dan went a little overboard with the costumes.
We spent about an hour walking through this fantastic house. Lord Bath’s art is on show throughout and a lot of the rooms have kept original furnishings. It is an absolute beauty, inside and out.
Just when I thought Longleat couldn’t get any better we jumped on a boat and went for a cruise around the river. In the middle is ‘Gorilla Island’ where one of the oldest Gorilla’s in the world lives (with a TV). We caught a glimpse before he slunk away, he was covered entirely in grey hair. There was another family of gorillas further down, their enclosure was again really big and far enough away from us. There was flamingos, two hippos and some very hungry seals as well. You could feed the seals from the side of the boat, they put on a great show for us. The commentary on the boat trip was excellent as well.
To finish off our day at Longleat we then headed for the maze. This was my first maze and I can’t say I’ll be rushing back into one. Myself, Dan and some other family members went in together but then the boys ditched us and it was a challenge to get out! We made it though (thank God).
Longleat is an absolute gem, there is something for everyone and I enjoyed it immensely. The grounds were manicured to perfection and you can tell how much time and effort is thrown into keeping this place beautiful. I highly recommend a trip to Longleat if you are in this part of the country.
Tickets cost £28 for an all in one day ticket. For more information check their website
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