The Best Safari Parks in the UK
Published on: 19/06/18
One of the most popular items on a so-called bucket list (i.e. things that people want to see and do before they die!) but the cost of travelling to Africa can be prohibitive. With the average cost hovering around £300 per person, per day, you’d be forgiven for seeking cheaper alternatives! Ok, Britain might not have the guaranteed sunshine or endless horizons, but there are some fantastic safari days out to be had closer to home, without needing to remortgage your house!
What’s the difference between a Safari and a Zoo?
First up, why would you want to go to a safari in the UK? What does a Safari Park in the UK offer that our many zoos and wildlife gardens don’t?
Well the main difference is that in a zoo, you are looking into the animal’s enclosure, and separated by a boundary of some kind. In a safari, you are actually inside the animal’s enclosure, and the animals are free to roam around you. You may drive your own car into the enclosure or hire a car, but either way this is the only thing between you and them!
Another major difference is size – safari parks are generally bigger than zoos as they aim to give the animals as much space as possible. The animals also tend to be bigger – think lions, giraffes, elephants and rhinos.
Where can I go on safari in the UK?
The original safari experience is Longleat in Wiltshire, which was the very first African safari outside out Africa anywhere in the world when it opened in 1966. Back then it was famous for the pride of 50 lions, and the existing pride contains direct descendants of those original inhabitants. Lion breeding has been so successful that they now have two prides, each with their own territories.
Hot on the heels of Longleat was Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, which opened in 1970. Nowadays it has as vast array of species, not just sub-Saharan ones, such as Bison, Timber Wolves, black bears and camels. While you’re there you can also visit the Grade 1 listed Woburn Abbey and 3000-acre deer park.
West Midland Safari Park was the first in the UK to have the ‘big five’ game animals (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) and now has around 165 species. This park is known for conservation, and also has a unique ‘walking with lemurs’ attraction where visitors can stroll through woods inhabited by three species of lemur.
Finally, Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside is the place to go for equatorial animals such as South American tapirs, Sitatunga antelopes, Rheas (large flightless birds similar to emus) and Capybaras (which look like huge guinea pigs!). If you’re feeling brave you can drive through the Baboon enclosure, but there is a likelihood of them damaging your car!
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