If you’ve never been to a safari park it aims to recreate the experience of an African safari. However, I’m pretty sure that the Maasai Mara looks very different to Bedfordshire where Woburn Safari Park is located! Looking at it another way a safari park is like a massive zoo, but unlike a zoo, you can drive your car through the enclosures. Yeah, it’s a drive-thru zoo. Driving through the electric gates in the park made me feel like I was in Jurassic Park and I won’t lie, I did start humming the theme tune!
So what can you expect to see as you drive around? Well we saw some rhinos up close which was a fantastic experience, even if I did think that one was going to ram the car after I accidentally blocked him in his feeding shed with my car! There were a pride of lions who were chilling on a hill and a couple of American black bears that were playing around and taking in the British sunshine like the one photographed in the very casual pose below.
The monkey enclosure in safari parks are always very popular and there were a lot in the enclosure at Woburn. They were pretty docile on the day we visited as they were all just grooming each other like in the photo below. As such, my car was thankfully spared from being covered in monkey footprints and from having a windscreen wiper being ripped off. We didn’t see any elephants or tigers which was a bit disappointing and I was hoping to see a gorilla but Woburn doesn’t have any as far as I could tell.
Once you’ve had fun driving around the safari park you can then do the “foot safari”… which is another name for a zoo. This part was great as there were quite a few enclosures to view including those containing penguins, sea lions, meerkats, porcupines and lemurs. The marmosets were a particular highlight. So cute. There’s also a petting zoo but it only contained goats. I suppose that’s ok if you like goats. I do – they’re awesome!
There’s plenty of information available to visitors on bright signposts, meet & greets with the animals, and various shows and feeding events. I also noticed a couple of enrichment centres which sound like something you would find in a nuclear power station but I think they were just learning centres and classrooms. The safari park is great for kids as you can’t move for adventure playgrounds, climbing frames and obstacle courses, including one large activity centre housed in a giant wooden ark.
I have a love-hate relationship with zoos as I don’t like the idea of caged animals but I also recognise that they are valuable for education and conservation, particularly with regards to endangered species. Woburn is doing some great work in this area. As it’s largely a safari park the enclosures are extensive and much larger than those you find in a traditional zoo.
On the day we visited it was £22.99 per adult which grants you access to the road safari and the foot safari. There are cheaper rates for families and for those with the foresight to book their tickets online. Cough! I liked the fact that you could do as many circuits of the road safari as you wanted which improves the value of the ticket. These sorts of places are not cheap to run so I was happy to pay the entry fee. All in all, it was a great day out and I’d highly recommend it for animal lovers and especially for families with young children. Shame they can’t recreate the African weather!