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Africa, Asia and Australia are home to thousands of rare and exotic animals. However, planning a trip halfway across the world to get up close to these animals is not cheap.
Thankfully, you can now plan a special family day out right here in the UK to the best safari parks.
Want to know which are the best safari parks in the UK? Keep reading!
The Best Safari Parks in the UK:
- Woburn Safari Park
- Port Lympne Reserve
- South Lakes Wild Animal Park
- Longleat Safari Park
- West Midlands Safari Park
- Blair Drummond Safari Park
- Whipsnade Zoo and Safari Park
- Howletts Wild Animal Park
- Knowsley Safari Park
1. Woburn Safari Park
Address: Crawley Rd, Woburn, Ridgmont, Bedford MK43 0TU
Enjoy a drive through exotic and endangered animal habitats at the Woburn Safari Park. Set on more than 300 acres, the safari park has 1000+ wild animals. As you explore the park, you’ll drive alongside lions, tigers, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants and much more.
The Road Safari around the park takes around 60 to 90 minutes to complete and you’ll see the wild animals roaming the beautiful countryside. Some of the animals will be windscreens away, while others may be a little more distant.
You and your family can take as many circuits as you want, and in each circuit, your kids will learn more about exotic and endangered animals. At the end of your Road Safari, you’ll come to the Foot Safari.
You can park your car for free and proceed the rest of your adventure on foot. Open from 10.45am, this section allows you to walk through habitats hosting smaller mammals and birds.
You and your family will get to see red pandas, Guianan squirrel monkeys, and birds of prey such as red hedges, seriema, Harris hawk and more. The Foot Safari has several enclosures, including the Himalayan Heights, and Humboldt Harbour.
After the Foot Safari, you can explore the Leisure Area where you’ll find the Junglies Gift Shop, clean toilets and Safari Restaurant. After your break, you can head back to your car and repeat the Road Safari circuit if interested.
Remember, the Safari Park is only accessible when using your vehicle. Motorbikes, bicycles, cabriolet cars or open-top cars are not permitted.
2. Port Lympne Reserve
Address: Aldington Rd, Lympne, Hythe CT21 4LR
Embark on a fun and educational adventure with your family at Port Lympne Reserve. Set on 600 acres, the reserve is an excellent place to visit and see wildlife close up. The reserve is home to over 900 animals across 75 species.
As you explore the park, you’ll get to see the Western Lowland Gorilla, Eastern Black Rhino, Grey Wolves, Nubian Giraffe, Ostrich, and Elands. You’ll also see the Red Lechwe, Malayan Tapirs, Bisons, Javan Gibbons, Fossa, Monkeys, Barbary Lion, Zebras and even Wildebeests.
Besides the wildlife, Port Lympne Reserve has a Dinosaur Forest where you can marvel at the extinct beasts. From the tremendous T-Rex to the Stegosaurus, the Dinosaur Forest allows you to take a step back in time and come face to face with the ancient creatures.
After the Dinosaur Forest, we recommend exploring the landscaped gardens. Set on 15 acres, the gardens provide a tranquil setting and terraces which provide a perfect spot for a picnic.
Exploring the 600-acre reserve may take you 3 to 5 hours. The good news is there is a reserve map where you can find everything you need to make your day at the park run smoothly. That includes the play areas, restaurants, toilets and more.
After hours of exploring the park, take a break and enjoy tasty dishes with Kentish brews and local wines at the park’s restaurant. You can also grab a quick snack and coffee at the kiosks.
3. South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Address: Melton Terrace, Lindal-in-Furness, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 0LU
Established in 1994 by David Gill, South Lakes Wild Animal Park is a 51-acre zoo that is home to more than 1,000 animals. The park has rare and endangered animals that roam the unique natural environment. As a visitor, you can wander amongst the emus, kangaroos, wallabies and other animals.
In addition, you can become a zookeeper for a day. This involves feeding various animals, such as lemurs, kangaroos, penguins and giraffes. As a zookeeper, you’ll have a close-up encounter with your favourite animals. If you’re brave enough, you may get a chance to feed the big cats.
After hours of exploring the safari park, take a break and enjoy refreshments and snacks at the cafe. Later, you can visit the gift shop where you can buy some souvenirs to take home.
If one of your kids is celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday, you can enhance their experience by holding a party at the zoo. Guests will enjoy a mini tour of the zoo under the guidance of an experienced zookeeper.
Kids will also receive a party bag, birthday presents and a party lunch at a VIP-decorated reserved area. All the above and more come at an affordable cost – the basic package starts at £19.99 per person for a party of 10.
4. Longleat Safari Park
Address: The Estate Office, Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
The Longleat Safari Park was one of the first Safari Parks to open outside Africa in 1966. Home to more than 120 species of animals, visitors can go on a safari tour that’s wilder and growlier than any other.
From the comfort of your car, the safari journey will take you to different enclosures and areas where the wildlife will be roaming. You’ll get to see deer, wolves, monkeys, tigers, lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras and much more.
You can make your tour more memorable by choosing the park’s VIP tour. If you choose the Bronze VIP Safari Tour, you and your family will climb aboard a zebra print 4X4 and explore the park.
You also have the choice of a Tiger Feeding VIP experience. This experience is not for the faint-hearted. Under the watchful eye of an experienced guide, you’ll get closer and feed the caged Tigers. You can also feed the lions, cheetahs and wolves.
After exploring the park in your car, put on your walking shoes and meet the furry and feathery friends on foot. You’ll get to meet Southern Koalas, anteaters, meerkats and more.
At Half Mile Pond, enjoy a boat trip and watch as sea lions escort you on your journey past the gorillas. Along with the opportunity to feed the sea lions, you’ll also meet the hippos as they emerge from under the water.
Besides the park, you can also visit the Longleat House and explore one of the finest private collections in Britain. Every year, special exhibitions featuring first-edition books are always held at the house.
5. West Midlands Safari Park
Address: Spring Grove, Bewdley DY12 1LF
Located in Bewdley in Worcestershire, West Midlands Safari Park is a safari park that holds more than 165 species of exotic animals. Opened in 1973, the park provides a great experience for the whole family.
Visitors can book minibus safari tours and enjoy a guided tour of the four-mile safari. The drivers will take you through the African plains, home to rhinos, giraffes, zebras, waterbucks buffalos and elands. Next, he will take you to wild Asia where you’ll meet the armoured Indian rhino, the blackbuck, the endangered barasingha and the spotted deer.
Thereafter, your journey will proceed to the Borderlands where you’ll find the Bactrian camels. These endangered camels are important ambassadors at the park. This is because they help to raise awareness about the plight of their wild cousins.
Besides the minibus tour, you also have the VIP experience which provides an opportunity for you to feed the big cats. You’ll also get to feed the lemurs, giraffes and more. There are more places to visit in the park, such as the African Walking Trail, Land of Living Dinosaurs, Discover Trail, African Village and more.
For a fully immersive 4D experience, head to the new Virtual Reality Ride. When you hop on the ride, you and your family will journey through the jungle on a quest to find precious crystals. The ride lasts 3 minutes, but the experience is memorable.
6. Blair Drummond Safari Park
Address: Blair Drummond, Stirling FK9 4UR
Visit one of Scotland’s top attractions for an incredible family day out. Located in Stirling, Blair Drummond Safari Park is home to giraffes, lions, tigers, elephants, meerkats, monkeys and much more. Opened to the public in 1970, the park is home to more than 350 animals.
Many of the animals roam freely in the park, while others live in large enclosures in the 120-acre estate. Visitors can visit all the animals on foot. The park has raised viewing platforms that allow visitors to enjoy eye-to-eye views of the animals such as giraffes.
You and your family can also go on an exciting safari drive-thru and meet beautiful and exotic animals. You can say hello to the giraffes, cheeky monkeys, antelopes, rhinos, camels and lion pride.
Besides the tigers and lions, there are dinosaurs at the Blair Drummond Safari Park. Behind the huge Jurassic Park-style gates, you’ll find a prehistoric forest for you and your family to explore. There are over twenty moving life-size dinosaurs, but you’re not allowed to feed them.
Next is the bird of prey flying display where you can view birds soar, swoop and dive. The display is a 20-minute presentation that takes place three times a day.
Besides visiting the animals, your kids can play and relax at the adventure play park. It has forts, pirate ships, rope swings and a sandpit. The park also has a mini funfair with spinning teacups, dodgems, a train ride and a mini Land Rover safari.
7. Whipsnade Zoo and Safari Park
Address: Whipsnade, Dunstable LU6 2LF
Enjoy a day filled with fun and adventure at the Whipsnade Zoo and Safari Park, one of the largest zoos in the UK. Located at Whipsnade near Dunstable in Bedfordshire, the park has more than 10,000 animals. This includes 30 different species of butterflies and a herd of Asian elephants.
At the park, you’ll meet the aardvark, dwarf crocodile, lions, penguins, wild dogs, Amur Tiger, short-clawed otters, cheetahs and many more. The park has several habitats to house the animals.
One of the habitats is the Aquarium where you can experience a round-the-world journey of the different types of aquatic habitats. Next is the custom-designed Elephant care centre which is home to a herd of Asian elephants. The park also has the Butterfly House, one of the largest butterfly biomes in the UK. It hosts 30 different species of butterflies from around the world.
Other habitats that are a must-visit include Giraffe Heights and Hullabazoo Farm. The park has a Lookout Lodge which provides an after-dark experience of the zoo. You and your family will receive three educational and entertaining tours around the zoo. This includes a torch-lit night tour, a sunset tour and a morning tour.
You can also pitch a tent at the park and spend the evening discovering what the animals get up to at night. This is a great opportunity to test your kids’ knowledge of animals before going on a torch-lit expedition around the park.
8. Howletts Wild Animal Park
Address: Bekesbourne Ln, Bekesbourne, Littlebourne, Canterbury CT4 5EL
Howletts Wild Animal Park is Kent’s original wildlife park. Established as a private zoo in 1957, the park sits on 90 acres of ancient parkland. Ideal for great family day outs, it is home to more than 450 animals.
It has one of the largest groups of Western lowland gorillas and the largest breeding herd of African elephants. Other animals you’ll get to see at the park include wild dogs, leopards, cape buffalo, black lemur, Amur leopard, Capybara, monkeys, wolves and others.
You and your family can walk alongside the lemurs in their natural leafy enclosure. You’ll get to see the crowned and red-bellied lemurs plus ring-tailed lemurs as these playful primates explore the branches.
Discover a world lost in time at the Howletts Wild Animal Park. You and your family can marvel at the life-size prehistoric creatures from the Ice Age. You’ll get to see the mighty mammoth, sabre tooth Smilodon and even the giant sloth.
Besides exploring the park, you can join the free animal talks at the education centre. Some of the talks are held at the Giant Anteater Enclosure, the Rhino Paddocks, and the Elephant Bandstand.
9. Knowsley Safari Park
Address: Prescot L34 4AN
Near Prescot, England is the Knowsley Safari Park. The 550-acre park is home to many animals, such as baboons, African lions, Bactrian camels and many more. Knowsley Safari Park has a 5-mile route where you can drive and see all the animals. This route has several continental zones.
Your journey will start in Eastern Asia where you’ll meet a herd of Bactrian Camels, Yaks, Eastern Kiang and deer. Next is the African Savannah, home to the largest White Rhino herd. You’ll also meet the Ostrich, spot the Roan Antelope, and Waterbuck. Whilst driving through the woodland, you may also see the Bongo and other animals.
The drive will take you through the Lion Country where you can watch the lion pride without a fence but from your vehicle. Besides the safari drive, you also have the foot safari where you follow trails through Tiger enclosures and woodlands.
Start with the Amur Tiger Trail then onto the meerkats, sea lions and giraffes. Add to your adventure a walk past the beautiful waterfall to keep your kids entertained. Once you’ve experienced the safari drive and foot safari, head to the rides and amusements where your kids can play and socialise.
the UK’s safari parks offer incredible experiences with diverse wildlife. From Longleat to Knowsley, there’s an adventure for everyone. They’re not just fun visits, but also contribute to wildlife conservation. Whether a seasoned explorer or a first-timer, you’re in for an unforgettable day out.