Lets Go Wild! - Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire/Wessex, UK
Today we headed off for an adventure of a new kind.... to check out the wild animals at Longleat Safari Park. After a 2 hour drive from home we arrived at this massive park, first opened to the public in 1966. As we stopped the car to take a photo of Longleat from a distance, we could hear the howling of the wolves in the distance. Spine tingling start!
Once inside the main park we took a walk around to see just what was on offer. For £17 per child and £24 per adult you get a Longleat Passport. This allows you a single entry into each of the parks'many attractions throughout the season. This meant that we could take our time today, knowing that anything we missed could be visited for no extra cost at any time until the end of summer. Fantastic idea! With this knowledge we were able to take our time and enjoy ourselves. The park has it's own caravan park for Caravan Club members (of which we are) so we will be coming back again for an entire weekend to finish what we didn't see today.
Next we got up close and personal with birds, rabbits, ferrets, prairie dogs, snakes, iguanas and butterflies at the parks' Animal Adventure section. This gave us a great opportunity to watch a bird show, consisting of parrot tricksters and get some good up-close photos for our photography course.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch at one of the many tables provided for guests on the park's grounds.
Next, it was time for the Safari Park itself. We dropped Storm off at the free dog kennels provided and set off in the car. This part of Longleat was officially opened in 1966, by the 6th Marquess of Bath, and is a major contributor in thw worlds programmes of breeding and conservation of endangered species. Their slogan is 'Preserving the past and protecting the future'. It's many hectares of land consist of a Wallaby Walk, Eastern African Game Reserve, Monkey Jungle (currently closed to the public due to an isolated case of disease), Big Game Park, Deer Park, Wolf Wood, Flamingo Valley, Vulture Aviary, Lion Country and Tiger Territoy. You are given a CD (or tape if your stereo is older than CD's) as you pass through the first gates. This gives a wonderful commentry on all of the areas inside the Safari Park, complete with information on where you can stop your vehicle along with where you should not.
We were able to get out of the car and roam around the East African Game Reserve. Here we saw: Rothschild Giraffes (endangered), Dromedary Camels, Grants Zebras and South Amercian Tapir (endangered). We gave the Red Necked Wallabies a miss, having already seen them many times back home in their true environment.
Next, it was back to the car for the leg of the journey that would involve staying strictly in the car. The only areas that did not allow us to put our car windows down were Lion Country, Tiger Territory and Wolf Wood... for obvious reasons. Inside the other areas we were free to leave our windows down (as long as we stayed inside our vehicles). This gave the boys an opportunity to be surrounded by Fallow Deer as they fed them food (bought from a small hut in the enclosure). Some of the deer literally put their heads inside the car, in search of food. Lots of giggles were had. Having a sunroof gave us some great opportunities for photos we would not otherwise have been able to get. Kerry stuck her top half out of the sunroof to capture many free-roaming animals. This park has definately been designed to give the animals as much room to roam as possible (very nice to see).
In total, the drive around the safari took us around and hour and a half. We were able to go at a nice relaxed pace, making for a very low key kind of day. The sun shone for most of the day too. Not what the weather bureau had predicted at all... thank goodness!
Fresh air, sunshine, good company, lovely animals, space ... just what the Doctor ordered!
Overall, a very pleasing day!