Longleat Safari Park, Warminster
Longleat House has a number of attractions for the visitor, and many people's favourite are the Safari boats that transport guests around the half-mile lake.
The seals and hippos are all very plesant enough, but the real star of the show is Nico the Lowland Gorilla who now wanders about his island, being frantically waved at by vistitors - all day, every day.
I failed to get a photograph of him, so i've included a photo from a similar (but younger) male from Bristol Zoo. Nico lost his partner recently, and as batchelor he has become he spends his time pottering about and lazing in front of the SKY tv set he has. The remote was crushed many moons ago, but he always enjoys an episode of 'Animal park' - a programme shown on the BBC about Longleat Safari park. Unsurprisingly he is often the main star on it. I also believe he is quite partial to re-runs of 'the Teletubbies'.
Longleat is a beautiful Estate. The House is open to the public and the exhibits inside are interesting. The huge Grounds are immaculate and typical of the English countryside.
Of course what isn't typical is the wide range of Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Zebras and other exotic animals that live a wonderful life on Lord Bath's land.
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Two options on the tickets:
Passport Ticket: Drive through the Safari Park and visit all attractions
House & Grounds Ticket: Visit Longleat House and Grounds
One of the minor attractions at Longleat Safari park is an area given over to 'Postman Pat's village'. Although the fictional village of Greendale is supposedly in Yorkshire, all the familar characters appear here in deepest Wiltshire.
In truth, it consists of no more that about twently wooden houses, a couple of meters tall. Most have a character from the series waving / bending / conducting / etc at the press of a button.
My two year old almost wet himself in delights and constantly asks to go back. Oh great ! So a tawdry little attraction gets first prize and the acres of African animals in the superb Safari park play second fiddle then ?
I suspect that by the age of four, you will be able to avoid the delights of this attraction.
By the way, it's interesting quite how many languages Pat has been translated into. The Americans, for once, kept all the voices, but the little red van and tne annoying black and white cat turn up in all sorts of places. Quite what a child living in a yurt in outer Mongolia makes of a bloke with a big nose delivering letters ina red van makes of it all, I just don't know.
The Safari Boat trip takes you around the lake, close to the island where the gorillas live so that you can get a closer look.
You will also see sealions racing alongside the boat, jumping out of the water.
'The Lions of Longleat' are known the world over. Lord Bath's estate was the first to come up with the rather novel idea of turning several acres into an english version of an African Game reserve.
Back in the 1960's it was perhaps seen as a money-grabbing enterprise. Lord bath can't even claim it was his idea - it came from Billy smart (I think I am right in saying this) the circus promoter.
The idea became hugely popular, and in more recent years the conservation and breeding polices have led to a much more positive assessment of its worth.
You drive around the twisting series of enclosures in your own car (or pay a little extra to do it on a bus if you are carless). the first reserve feature a number of animals, including giraffe where you can get out of your car, picnic and spend time relaxing. This area also involves the inevitable, but quite upmarket, gift shop.
Other enclosures contain wilder animals, and are approached through a series of double sliding gates. Anyone familar with the film Jurassic park will be familar with what I mean. I sometime wonder if Jurassic park would have ever happened with Longleat !
The prides of big cats, monkeys and the like are free to roam at will as you drive around. It is quite an experience to see such animals in a semi-natural habitat.
Longleat is a great day out for all the family. I went with my boyfriend about a week after my mum and nan went - me and my bf got round the whole park in plenty of time but mum & nan didn't but the good thing is, your ticket gets stamped once you visit an attraction so you can only do each thing once but if you don't get chance to do something you can come back the next day and do it.
The safari is probably the main attraction. We were going to get one of their buses round but somehow we drove into the park, bought our tickets and the next thing you know we end up in the safari! Monkeys did jump on the car but ours wasn't damaged, others weren't so lucky.
The deer park is also good as you can buy food and feed them from the car window - cute.
We found Longleat house a little boring (kids wouldn't enjoy it too much) but Pets Corner is fun. There's also a train ride, a boat ride, old joe's mine (a bat cave), a butterfly house and simulation rides. The website tells you more info and the average duration time for each attraction.
Apparently the maze can be done in about 25 mins but we took 45 mins to get to the middle (we did nearly quit) and some people never make it to the middle as its that tough! According to the website 45 minutes is average so we didnt do too badly.
See website for more info.
When you buy your ticket there are different options: The Passport which gives access to all the attractions and costs £22 for an adult. It can be used again if you did not complete all the activities on offer within the same year.This gives access to all areas and attractions including the house.
There is a cheaper ticket [£11 per adult] just for the park.
At the entrance there are picnic tables and toilets. As you are not allowed to get out of your car until completing the safari, take advantage of the toilet facilities now.
When driving around the park, beware of the monkeys. They jump on cars, can break the aerial of the car, or play with the wind screen wipers. It's fun watching the mayhem being done on someone else's car, but unbeknown to you, there may be a little mischief at work on your own! This happened to us.
Children like to feed the deer and some can even be tame enough to come up to the open window and take the food from your hand. Cups of dried pellets can be bought for £1. Remember to wipe your hands thoroughly as soon as possible. A packet of wet wipes would be useful.