Longleat Safari (Wiltshire - England)

Travel costs within UK is sky rocketing. Unlike India where only flight charges changes according to demand (earlier the cheaper), rest all have fixed prices. Here, even buses and trains have variable pricing. Last minute planning just doesn't make sense when even slow modes of transport like buses cost sky high! One mode of transport than makes some sense is renting a car if you're multiple people and the cost gets shared. One fine leave day, that's what we did. We managed to gather 10 people and rented 2 cars. The car rental and fuel charges on sharing works out pretty economical.
Bang in the centre point between Bath and StoneHenge is this Longleat Safari. Its supposed to be a drive-in safari which resembles African Safaris and has a palace in the midst of it! Though my title says Longleat Safari, the safari part of the entire property is just a part. There are quite a few things to explore as well.
Very close to the palace the route to safari begins where you get to spot Bongo, an African Antelope species. They are distinguished by their striking white stripes on their reddish brown body and twisted un-branched horns.

From there next is an actual parking where there are a couple of cafes and some games for kids. But the specialty is that's where you spot giraffe and zebra grazing away in complete peace with each other in a vast expanse of greenery!!! Most of them were sleeping when we went, thanks to the chilly climate that day!

From the Giraffe viewing platform there were 3 walking tiny walking trails to spot Wallaby (Kangaroo's family), Warthog, Tortoise and Lemurs. Lemurs were incredibly cute! They were incredibly playful and the best of all, the group included a tiny little one. As they had a group hug one's tail became the muffler for another!!!

From there, again back to the car for the drive-thru section. The first to spot here is the Tapir (pig family). Definitely its appearance was funny to me, esp its snout! This was followed by a little waterbody filled with pink flamingos and grey pelicans. Quite a few more Bongos were here too!

Next in an enclosed space (yes, till this point nothing was enclosed) were the vultures. Next to this was what the safari was famous for and the total fun part - monkeys! In this part, the monkeys climbed onto the cards, pulled out whatever was pull-able incl antennas, beadings, bolts etc, took a ride atop, did skating on the bonnet etc etc etc!!!! The windows have to be kept closed to prevent them from giving you a kiss! This was also the space of some deers, antelopes and oxens.
The next point was Anne, a rescued circus elephant which we couldn't see. Next were the Bactrian Double Humped Camels, a native of China. At some places the hair looks almost matted locks. Soon as temperature increases, this would be shed! 


This space was shared with ostriches and the majestic Rhinos! Next was the deer park which pretty much reminded me of Richmond Park.  

Next to it came my a section which should have been my favourite, but completely lacked luster - tigers, lions, cheetahs. They were in relatively smaller (than herbivores) cages and enclosures. I would have been happier if it was more like a typical African safari where we travel in enclosed cars while they move about freely like it was so far in all the herbivores section. In this section I felt more like I was in a zoo than safari! The good old Vandalur zoo back home in Chennai, where I've been a few tens of times since I was toddler, has a much bigger (20 hectares) forest section where only the caged safari vans can go while the lions roam freely which costs 30 (abt £0.30). This safari infact has deers in it as well which are literally hunted down by the lions! Here, in Longleat it was the same 20 hectares for all the species of big cats, that's about just 7 hectares for each, that too cages! Disappointed and exited the safari area.
Next was the House (palace?!) and close to it were the gorgeously permed gardens & fountains. Every room in this palace is jewel toned and gilded! The best comparison would be the Arab room of Cardiff Castle. Sadly no pics of the interiors was allowed! This is actually the home of John Thyme who built it in 1580.
Another important section where I had the 2nd highest expectation to safari was the maze! A life sized maze into which you could actually get lost with a tower in the centre! Unfortunately it was closed for renovation when I went!

Another 2 attractions here are the train & boat! The boat ride is very important as that's what takes you closer to the orangutans, chimpanzees and hippos!!! The seals swim alongside the boat & get fed, making the ride awesomatic!!! Nothing so awesome about the train ride though! You could just skip it if there aren't any kids in the group.

There are some smaller enclosures for smaller and tame animals & birds incl snakes, armadillos, ant eaters, macaws, meerkats etc. Meerkats were the cutest of them all. I do have a love for them since Timon & Pumba and more since Life of Pi!!! Binturong was also cute reminding me of sloths!!! 
There's also a section where animals certain could be handled with trained staff beside and I got to hold a gorgeous python! 
I expected something like Silent Valley (talk about high expectations!)!!! I thought spotting an animal would be one heck of a challenge in itself. Perhaps the animals have gotten soooo used to human interaction, they didn't give a damn and grazed away very close to the cars and ate from our hands!!!
The aspect of the whole place is that the herbivores have a lot of place to roam about making it a visual delight while the carnivores do not have that much place and that part is just like a zoo! 

To Get There:
From London: 180km
Nearest Bus/Train Station: Warminster, Westbury
If having own mode of transport, at Amesbury round-about you may want to take A303 route which would give a very picturesque view of StoneHenge than Countess Road & Packway route which is suggested by most sat-navs which only about 5-10 minutes faster! However the Packway route is almost like a roller coaster ride with never ending road going high up and low down; so curved at times where only 100m ahead is visible!!!

Entry Ticket: begins at £28 if booked atleast 2 days earlier

Dedicated to Venkat, Vimala, Soundarya, Bala, Conrad, Punith, Suresh, Shailesh, Madhukar

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

9 comments:

  1. The variety of animals in this zoo is amazing. I really like the wide open spaces they have for these animals to move around in.

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  2. The animals are all so adorable!! Especially the Lemurs :D

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  3. Is that zebra on the first picture! They look so lazy! Hahah... And their strips are more brown than black~ Love your shots of the animals. They are beautiful~

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  4. It's always nice to see the wildlife. It's also good that they are free to roam in the area unlike regular zoos.

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  5. The last time I saw wildlife was over 7years ago, and it was amazing. Such great feeling. Your images are great. And the zebras are looking lazy . Hahahahaha

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  6. The place is beautiful. What I really appreciate about it is the fact that the animals have a larger space to themselves not like one of those cramped up zoos that we normally have here.

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  7. It's so fun to get to be so upclose with the animals... Great Safari to visit!

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  8. The place looks great, not only for tourists but also for the animals themselves. Sadly, I can't say the same for the current state of our zoos here. But wow, I bet it's great to see the animals play on great grassy areas.

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  9. The best Safari I've been too...the place is set well and animals all around you!!! Move out in a JEEP to have the best experience.����

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