Muddy says: Could this be the very best family day out in the whole of Wilts? Yup, we reckon so!
The last time I took the Mudlets to Longleat, they (and I, obviously) were utterly gutted that the monkeys didn’t pick our car to clamber over, and ever since this lack of simian attack has been noted every single holiday, accompanied by wails of ‘when are we going back?‘ This is exactly the magic of Longleat – the rolling plains of gazumping giraffes, rhinos in their paddock, some seriously terrifying lions and tigers, even the monkeys, all of it contribute to the uniqueness, the fabulousness of this emporium of mammalian excitement in the heart of Wilts.
With a Safari Drive-Through, Longleat House and Grounds, Jungle Kingdom, Adventure Castle, Family Farmyard, Longleat Railway, Little Explorer’s Garden and a penguin walk-through (and that’s just for starters) the park will keep your Mudlets entertained for a day or three. New this July are two more Amur tigers, painted pop-up pandas everywhere you look and, until 3 Sep, Predators Season (yikes), with new exhibition T.rex: The Killer Question. Come face to face with the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex and unravel an ancient mystery millions of years in the making: was the fearsome T. rex perfectly adapted for the hunt or better suited to scavenging a kill?
All the way from the Natural History Museum, T.rex is a prehistoric installation of epic proportions with 8 animatronic dinosaur models taking you on a journey of discovery. An Edmontosaurus mother with her nest of duck-billed hatchlings, an armoured ankylosaur being preyed upon, and a towering T. rex skeleton all feature in this astonishing exhibition, plus you can get hands on with fossil replicas and square up to a life-size T. rex.
Once you’re done with the mean guys, check out the new apes in the growing Gorilla Colony. Two new western lowland gorillas, Yuba and Suwedi, are currently getting settled at Longleat and will join the other three likely lads soon. And if you need a break from the big beasts, six Southern koalas will soon be making the journey from Adelaide to join the Longleat family so that they can act as a European hub for the newly-created International Koala Centre of Excellence (IKCE), set up to ensure the future of koalas in the wild. And these adorable new additions won’t be coming alone; a pair of Southern hairy-nosed wombats are making the trip from down under as well to set up shop in Longleat’s Koala Creek in time for Easter 2019.
There’s shed loads here to keep you busy, and if you whack in a tour through the sweeping corridors of Longleat House and it’s ‘Capability Brown’ landscaped grounds followed by a stuff up at one of their many watering holes, you’ll fall into bed with a smile on your face. And very quiet Mudlets. Which is what we like.
If one day isn’t long enough to explore all of the park (uh, which it isn’t), book into The Bath Arms next door and bunk up for the whole summer… A foodie pub in a stonkingly gorgeous location only a stone’s throw from Longleat, it’s the perfect place to rest your weary head after a hard day of lion-spotting and rhino-racing at the Safari Park. Other Muddy options are Homewood Park Hotel in Bath, Bishopstrow Hotel (with a lovely spa, natch) or keep it real at Botany Camping.