We love animals and I’m keen for my 7 year old son to grow up with a real appreciation of the natural world, whether it be the mini beasts we can find in the garden or wonderful beasts that might wander around the African plains. As much as I would love to travel the world with my son, I just don’t have the funds, so I have to think of other ways to introduce him to wildlife. We often visit the zoo, but I wanted him to get just that little but closer, so we recently spent a day exploring Woburn Safari Park.
Situation close to Milton Keynes in Bedfordshire, Woburn Safari Park is set in 360 acres of rolling countryside, where you can get close and personal with 1000 animals. I’d explained to my son that the safari park would give us the opportunity to dive through the enclosures and that animals might walk right past our car. He loves giraffes more than any other animals, and the thought of getting that close to them, meant he didn’t get much sleep the night before!
My top tip for visiting a Safari Park is to get there early, that way you can enjoy a road safari, then park up and enjoy everything else on offer, and still have time for another road safari later in the day. It’s always worth doing a road safari at least twice in any visit, as animals tend to move around and can be more active at different times in the day.
Exploring Woburn Safari Park is easy as you receive a map of the grounds along with timings for Keeper Talks and Demonstrations when you arrive at the main gates. There’s also a free children’s activity booklet provided at this point. It’s worth remembering that you can’t get out of your car once you enter the Road Safari, so if a toilet stop or refreshments are needed when you arrive, it’s better to park up, use the facilities and then rejoin the route as it can take well over an hour to complete the full trail.
I had an eager explorer with me, who’d even remembered to bring his own camera, and Daddy P was instructed to drive on, we were going exploring Woburn Safari Park. Through the majority of the road safari you can drive totally at your own pace, stop if you want and just take in all the wonderful animals in front of you. You are asked to keep driving slowly through the Tiger enclosure, and things do tend to slow right down through the Monkey enclosure. But that was all fine with us. No feeding of the animals is allowed on the road safari at Woburn, and you are asked to keep your windows closed at all times.
Our road safari introduced us to White Rhino, Antelope, Wildebeest and Asian Elephants as we meandered around the grounds. My son was in awe and the magic of being in the same field as the animals just blew him away. He was just in his element. Spotting animals left and right and ordering his Dad around so he could capture the moment.
It’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of big cats and my tip about taking more than one trip around the road safari was worth it to get a double helping of the Amur Tigers. In the morning they were hiding in the grass and you could just see their heads. Late on in the afternoon they were strolling past the cars and were just majestic. Again with the Lions, it was nice to see them at different points in the day. This tactic also worked with the Canadian Timber Wolves and the Black Bears.
The Monkey enclosure isn’t for everyone, in fact it’s easily bypassed and if you have a convertible you aren’t allowed into that part of the park. My Monkey was adamant that he wanted to see his namesakes, and he was just a little gutted when none of them wanted to sit on our car. But I did point out that it was actually far more fun to see them sitting on cars in front and behind us. We saw lots of monkey’s including a mother and infant climbing a tree. We also got to see some Black Squirrels, a first for me which were enjoying the excitement within the monkey enclosure.
We did have one of those Sod’s Law moments, as we’d driven towards the monkey enclosure, the giraffes were all standing the other side of the exit. Look who we’ll see next I called out. They clearly heard. By the time we’d made our way around the enclosure and exited, the giraffes had moved over ahead of the enclosure entrance and therefore behind a long way behind us. Never mind, we’ll see them later. But by the time we did our second road safari of the day, they were nowhere to be seen and had probably gone back into their house. My son was rather disappointed, but he saw so much else throughout the day, that he wasn’t upset for long.
Exploring Woburn Safari Park isn’t just about the road safari, there’s also lots to do on foot. So we parked up the car. It was lunchtime and we made use of the hot meals available in the Safari Restaurant whilst checking the map and timings to plan out the rest of our day. There are kids meals available but when it comes to fish my son prefers an adult sized portion these days.
The Elephant Meadow meet and greet session had been recommended to me, so we worked our timings around that, knowing that we’d also like to catch the Birds in Action parrot demonstration. I’ve got a soft spot for Macaws so we were thrilled to see them in flight. We felt that exploring Woburn Safari Park had something for everyone.
The Great Woburn Railway wasn’t running on the day we visited so my little adventurer decided to try out the Swan Boats with his Dad while I captured the moments. These are free to go on for 10 minute rides, with just a minimum height restriction.
Everything is very walkable and within easy reach of the main complex. We got to see Otters, Meerkats and Mongoose, all having fun in the sun.
We walked through the Wallaby Walkabout and enjoyed the Land of Lemurs. Penguins and Sea lions are always a must, but there were a couple of highlights for us. We got to see a very friendly Red Panda walking around his enclosure. Normally we are trying to spot them in the trees, so it was lovely to get a really good view of one.
The Rainbow Landing showed off my son’s ever-growing confidence. You can buy a pot of nectar for 70p and feed the brightly coloured parrots. I was amazed when my son asked if he could have a pot, even more so, when he happily let the birds feed. They didn’t want to sit on his arm, but they certainly liked mine. It was a real highlight of his day.
The elephants were adorable, especially little Tarli who was born in 2014. We were introduced to the elephants and told all about them and at the end of the talk there was a chance to stroke one of the females. Again, I was totally amazed when my son touched her, not once but three times as she walked back around the enclosure. Another magical memory made.
There’s also a nice area where you can see various farm animals and kids can enjoy both indoor and outdoor play areas, although my son was more than entertained just looking at the animals. Overall we had a great time exploring Woburn Safari Park, we didn’t get to see all the demonstrations, but it just gives us a good excuse to return in the future, plus we need to get up close and personal with the giraffes!
To find out more about opening times, pricing and the Safari Park as a whole, then pop over to their website. We’d certainly recommend Woburn Safari Park to any animal lovers.
disclosure: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review.