The UK is truly blessed with a great number of wildlife-themed attractions and zoos, both of which always prove to be a fun day out for the whole family. Best of all, however, is the wonderful selection of safari parks that exist in the UK, allowing visitors to discover the glories of the animal kingdom via safari from their very own car. Of course, the parks have plenty more to offer as well but for families looking for an exciting excursion or just something fun to do in your recently acquired new or used Ford vehicle, these safari parks are hard to beat! If you’re looking for one to visit in the near future, hopefully, this guide will prove useful. Here we are highlighting the best UK car safari parks available, letting you know what’s on offer and bringing you the thoughts of those who have visited.
Longleat Safari Park
The first entry on our list is the incredibly popular Longleat Safari Park, a premier UK attraction in the South West of England and a grand adventure for families large and small. While its famous Elizabethan house and grounds are certainly enticing all on their own, as well as the plethora of attractions available on its main square (including the likes of an adventure castle, boat ride to a gorilla colony, and hedge maze), today we want to highlight Longleat’s beloved safari drive-through. With a motto that reads, “Wind up your windows. Hide all the sandwiches. You’re going on a safari tour that’s wilder, furrier and growlier than you ever dared imagine” you know that this particular safari drive will be one to remember. Throughout your drive, visitors can gaze out at a collection of stunning creatures, running the entire gamut of the animal kingdom. At Longleat, you can look forward to seeing a rescued circus elephant, macaques, a wolf pack, tiger territory, lion country, rhinos, cheetahs, and more!
Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park
Image credit: Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park
Another fantastic day out that is Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling. Opening its doors all the way back in 1970 and today home to over 350 animals (many of which roam freely), Blair Drummond has all the elements one looks for in a top-tier UK safari park. The drive-through safari is a true pleasure and highlight of the park, taking visitors through their African, Asian, Lion, and Macaque reserves. Replete with exotic animals such as energetic monkeys (an optional visit as they have a tendency to clamber), rhinos, zebras, camels, antelope and many other friendly faces, Blair Drummond has plenty to offer via its numerous attractions, presentations, and adventures.
Blair Drummond Safari Park told us more about visits can expect to enjoy: "Visitors can view giraffes, lions, elephants, tigers and meerkats. They can take their chances with the cheeky monkeys in the park's famous Macaque Drive-thru, walk with free-roaming lemurs in Lemur Land, catch the popular sea lion and bird of prey shows, and take a boat ride to Chimp Island. There’s also a fantastic adventure play area - all included in the price of their entry ticket."
Sam from the wonderful UK family travel blog Travelling With Our Kids, is very fond of Blair Drummond Safari Park, having visited the park on multiple occasions. Speaking to us about the joys of visiting, as well as offering a few tips on how to make the most of your day, Sam told us:
“Blair Drummond Safari Park is a wonderful location to visit, as it isn’t too far from some of the big cities/towns so it can be easily accessed by many people. There is also so much to do while at the Safari Park, which will keep the kids entertained for hours. We have yet to get around everything in one day, this leads to multiple visits over the year. From fun shows to seeing the animals, to having a play on the pirate’s ship at the playground, there is lots of fun to be had.
“We always find getting to the safari park as close to opening time as possible is best as, if the weather is good, then the park gets busy very quickly. If you are wanting to go and see the Sea lion show, then head there in plenty of time as the queue gets long very fast and once it is full you will not get in. Also, don’t miss out on the birds of prey show as this can sometimes be overlooked as it is away from the rest of the animals.”
Woburn Safari Park
Image credit: Woburn Safari Park
Situated in Milton Keynes, Woburn Safari Park offers visitors the joys of a safari in the car and on foot and is certainly an attraction that will keep all entertained right throughout the day. From the comfort of your car, you can spot rare and beautiful animals, with Woburn’s safari taking you across a number of exciting geographical locations. Starting your journey at the Northern Plains with its bison and zebra, drivers then proceed to the likes of the Savannah Grasslands where the rhinos live, the Kingdom of the Carnivores where majestic tigers prowl, and the African Forest where energetic monkeys play among the woodlands.
Michelle, from the popular lifestyle and travel site The Purple Pumpkin Blog, is a big fan of Woburn Safari Park, and she spoke to us about her experience visiting the park with her family, offering some great tips in the process as well as highlighting other things to see and do:
“We love visiting Woburn Safari Park because there are lots of different animals to see on both the car safari and the foot safari. You can drive around the safari as many times as you like, which gives you a greater chance of seeing all of the animals which include rhinoceros, giraffe, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) and a lot more besides. Driving through the monkey enclosure is always fun because these cheeky little animals like to jump onto cars and hitch a ride. Getting up close to animals like this is amazing!
“My tips for visiting Woburn Safari Park are to drive slowly - for the animal’s safety - it is their home after all, and also respectfully for other drivers. If you want to stop and take photos, you can pull over allowing other drivers to go past you. Make time for the elephant show as it is fascinating to watch and learn about these magnificent creatures, and you also get the chance to pet an elephant too!”
West Midland Safari Park
Image credit: West Midland Safari Park
West Midland Safari Park is yet another winning car safari attraction that can’t be missed. Featuring a host of exciting animal-themed things to see and do, visitors can look forward to the likes of a sea lion show, daily feeds, talks, their SeaQuarium, walk through attractions like ‘Land of the Living Dinosaurs’ – the UK’s largest animatronic dinosaur attraction – and, of course, the wonderful safari drive-through. During your expedition into the wild from the safety of your car, visitors wend their way through the African Plains which is home to a herd of majestic southern white rhino, zebra, ostrich, and more; then there’s Wild Asia with its massive water buffalo, rare deer, and one-horned rhino. Next up is the land of the carnivores, populated by the world’s greatest predators, including tigers, cheetahs, African lion, and even rare African painted dogs. Finally, there is the wondrous elephant valley, which is now home to a new baby elephant and its extremely clever and explorative family.
Daniel Griffiths, head of marketing at the park, spoke to us about why they believe the attraction is a must visit, as well as highlighting some new features: “West Midland Safari Park has been welcoming families for over 45 years and we still remain one of the best days out in the region. With a four-mile self-drive safari, extensive walk-through areas and Adventure Theme Park, we really do have something to suit everyone.
"Our new Ice Age exhibit, which opened earlier this year, is the latest addition to our immersive experience. Featuring a walk-through ice cave and volcano and life-sized animatronic animals, it really does bring the prehistoric era to the present.
"Conservation is also at the heart of what we do and we have been lucky enough to welcome two baby Grévy's zebra this summer. This 'endangered' species is great news for their wild counterparts and we hope to continue our breeding success in the years to come."
There’s no question that those fond of visiting wildlife attractions in the UK have got it made, especially when it comes to safari parks, many of which, including the above, allows you to utilise your own car. Providing tremendous fun for families, friends, and everyone in between, visiting any of the above is bound to be a memorable day out, creating intimate wildlife encounters that are truly unique. Enjoy!