Go wild at the UK's best safari parks

Days out, Family, Nature

Posted by Kate A on 8th November 2021

Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent

Have you ever dreamt of experiencing an African safari, coming face to face with some of the animal kingdom’s most acclaimed members?

Sadly, few of us will ever have the chance to see lions, tigers, rhinos, and elephants in their natural habitats without spending huge sums. But luckily, you can get the experience a lot closer to home and without a plane in sight, with a visit to one of the amazing safari parks we have right here in the UK!

Some of the best safari parks in Europe can be found on our extraordinary island. So, whether you want to cruise with crocodiles or zip past some zebras, get ready to take a walk on the wild side with our guide to the UK’s best safari parks.

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Rhino in a UK safari park

Safari Park Q&A

In a similar way to a zoo, a safari park in the UK is somewhere you can go to see large, exotic animals that would usually be in the wild. However, instead of being hidden within enclosures, the animals roam freely in an environment that replicates their natural habitat.

Safari parks are fun and educational, and due to their vast size, you have to drive around them to see these often-endangered species. In fact, many animals will come right up to your car window to say hello. Hanging out with monkeys or locking eyes with a big cat is just a drive away!

With a whopping 5-mile-long driving route, Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside is the biggest safari park in the UK.

There are six safari parks in the UK, five of which are in England and one in Scotland.

West Midland Safari Park

West Midland Safari Park | Worcestershire         

Take a drive through West Midland Safari Park and you’ll soon feel like you’ve been transported from the winding country roads of Worcestershire to the wild African plains as you get close with some of the fastest, tallest, and most elusive animals around.

The deeper you drive through this safari zoo in the UK, the fiercer the wildlife you’ll encounter. Spot some of the world’s greatest hunters, including lions, tigers, and cheetahs, as well as majestic herds of savannah grazers such as zebra, giraffe, ostrich, powerful buffalo, the swamp-dwelling red lechwe, and southern white rhino. Then there are the elephants: mother Five and her gorgeous mini goliath named Sutton.

More wild encounters: The fun doesn’t stop when you get out of the car; there’s a roarsome dino park housing the UK’s largest collection of animatronic dinosaurs, as well as an Ice Age experience, myriad discovery trails, a theme park, and daily feeds, talks and hands-on animal encounters.

Prices: Start from adult £25, child (3-15yrs) £20, concession £22, under 3s free.

Facilities: Parking, cafes, food courts, kiosks, WCs, baby changing facilities, cash machines.

Dogs: Not allowed on site, or in cars on the safari drive-through (except for Assistance Dogs in certain areas), however, there are kennels where they can stay for the day for a £5 returnable deposit.

Stay nearby: Secret Townhouse, Cleobury Mortimer | Sleeps 2

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Knowsley Safari Park

Knowsley Safari Park | Merseyside

Boasting the longest drive-through safari park in the UK at 5 miles, as well as a foot and boating safari, Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside is sure to be a hit with the entire family. With 11 different zones to explore, one minute you could be gazing in awe at a formidable pride of lions and the next, you’ll be giggling at the comical meerkats.

On weekends and school holidays, climb aboard the Baboon Bus and enjoy the hilarious antics of the mischievous monkeys as they swing their way across the ropes and ladders attached to the vehicle’s exterior. This is a great way to get up close and personal without worrying about them damaging your own car! And, if you fancy taking to the water, there’s even a wet safari on the park’s boating lake.

More wild encounters: Your little monkeys will go wild for the family-friendly rides on offer, as well as face painting, a miniature steam train, and birds of prey and sea lion live displays. There’s also the chance to adopt one of the park’s animals with the proceeds going towards their brilliant conservation programme.

Prices: Start from adult £19, child (3-15yrs) £15, concession £15, under 3s free.

Facilities: Parking, cafes, food courts, kiosks, WCs, baby changing facilities.

Dogs: Not allowed on site, or in cars on the safari drive-through (except for Assistance Dogs in certain areas), however, there are kennels where they can stay for the day for a £10 returnable deposit.

Stay nearby: Stay On Board, Liverpool | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Browse our Merseyside cottages

Woburn Safari Park

Woburn Safari Park | Bedfordshire

Adventure by car through the wild animal reserves of Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, starting your journey at the Northern Plains with its bison, camels, and wildebeest. Continue to the Savannah Grasslands where the rhinos and zebra live, through to the Kingdom of the Carnivores where big cats prowl, and the African Forest where monkeys playfully dangle from the trees.

Park up and begin your next adventure on foot, wandering with wallabies and ambling around aviaries. Discover adorable red pandas, let rainbow lorikeets feed from your hand and watch lemurs bounce through the woodland just feet above your head. With over 80 species of animal here, it’s not surprising that this is one of the best zoo and safari parks in the UK.

More wild encounters: Packed with leisure activities, you can ride the Great Woburn Railway, pedal around the lake in a Swan Boat, let little ones loose in the Mammoth Play Ark or enjoy a bird’s eye view of the park from the great heights of the Go Ape treetop adventure course, complete with zip wires, Tarzan swing and rope bridges.

Prices: Start from adult £27.50, child (3-15yrs) £20, under 3s free.

Facilities: Parking, restaurant, WCs, baby changing facilities.

Dogs: No dogs are permitted in the park and no kennel facilities are provided. Assistance dogs are only allowed to enter very limited areas of the park.

Stay nearby: Rose Cottage Picts Hill, near Bedford | Sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

The Great British coast is another brilliant place for observing wildlife; find out the best spots with our guide.

Browse our Bedfordshire cottages

Blair Drummond Safari Park

Blair Drummond Safari Park | Scotland

Since Blair Drummond opened its doors in 1970, it’s been regarded by many as one of the best safari parks in the UK, taking visitors on a fascinating journey through thriving wildlife populations. Scotland’s only drive-through safari park, there are four reserves to discover, including an African, Asian, lion, and macaque area.

Then you can swap your car for the park’s boat tour around Chimp Island where you can watch the cheeky chimpanzees monkeying around, before embarking on a foot safari to meet even more friendly faces like the free-roaming lemurs. And you can enjoy lots of informative talks and demonstrations throughout the day, including the popular sea lion and bird of prey shows.

More wild encounters: There are oodles of thrilling attractions here, including a dinosaur park, an adventure play area with a giant fort, a pirate ship and hidden fairyland, pedal boats, a tremendous zip line, an enormous slide, and even a mini funfair. If that’s not enough, there’s also a petting farm with all manner of cuddly critters.

Prices: Start from adult £16.50, child (3-15yrs) £13.50, concession £13.50, under 2s free.

Facilities: Parking, restaurants, cafes, kiosks, picnic and BBQ areas, WCs, baby changing facilities.

Dogs: Not allowed on site, or in cars on the safari drive-through (except for Assistance Dogs in certain areas), however, there are kennels where they can stay for the day for free.

Stay nearby: Drummond Cottage, Blair Drummond | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

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Longleat Safari Park

Longleat Safari Park | Wiltshire

Exploring by road, rail, waterway and foot, Longleat in Wiltshire offers a memorable safari experience in the UK. Earn your safari stripes as you drive through Lion Country and observe the kings of the jungle as they pad past the car, see Anne the elephant lumbering across the wilderness, and gasp as the mighty white rhinos come crashing through your path.

In the African Village, you can jump out to meet the giraffes and zebra, before hopping aboard the Jungle Cruise where you can glimpse Spot and Sonia, the lake’s resident hippos, emerging from the depths, as well as sea lions leaping out of the water as you throw them some tasty fish. Delight as rainbow lorikeets drink nectar from your hand in Monkey Temple and, for an extra treat, why not book one of the park’s VIP experiences where you can feed the lions, go behind the scenes with penguins, koalas, and red pandas, or let a meerkat sit on your lap?

More wild encounters: Be amazed at the daily education shows where you can hold parrots, snakes, and spiders, get wondrously lost in the Hedge Maze, board the miniature Longleat Railway for a relaxing journey around the park’s scenic woodland, and let the kids burn off some energy in the Adventure Castle. You can also step back in time and wander the sweeping corridors, grand rooms, and formal gardens of Longleat House, one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Britain.

Prices: Start from adult £34.95, child (3-15yrs) £26.20, under 2s free.

Facilities: Parking, restaurant, cafes, kiosks, shops, WCs, baby changing facilities.

Dogs: Not allowed on site, or in cars on the safari drive-through (except for Assistance Dogs in certain areas), however, there are kennels where they can stay for the day on a first-come-first-served basis.

Stay nearby: Rose Cottage At East Hill, near Shaftesbury | Sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Browse our Wiltshire cottages

Port Lympne Safari Park

Port Lympne Safari Park | Kent

Come face to face with one of Africa’s ferocious ‘big five’ at Port Lympne Safari Park. Ending our list of the top safari parks in England, you’ll find more than 900 animals here across 600 acres of the Kent countryside, including the single largest herd of black rhinos, and Rothschild giraffes, which are both critically endangered species.

Jump onboard a safari truck and travel to the African Experience where you’ll be within roaring distance of clouded leopards, western lowland gorillas, fishing cats, painted dogs, European wolves, and spectacled bears. There are also myriad pre-bookable animal experiences to enjoy for a special treat, from incredible hands-on encounters to wildlife photography courses.

More wild encounters: The Dinosaur Forest is a sure hit with younger visitors – it helps you appreciate just how big these prehistoric beasts were when they roamed the Earth. There are also several play areas, a hedge maze and 15 acres of landscaped gardens to meander through.

Prices: Start from adult £20, child £18.18, concession £18.18, under 3s free.

Facilities: Parking, restaurants, cafes, WCs, baby changing facilities.

Dogs: Not allowed on site or left in cars.

Stay nearby: Marwood Farm Cottage, near Aldington | Sleeps 6 + 1 dog

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Map of safari parks in the UK

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Stay near a safari park in the UK

Why not extend your day out with a stay in one of our UK holiday cottages? Scattered throughout the country, from the coast to the countryside, our self-catering accommodation offers a cosy place to rest your head after wild adventures in these thrilling safari parks. Including fun family-friendly escapes, romantic retreats for two and spacious group getaways, you’re sure to find the perfect staycation within our collection of handpicked properties - just click the button below to have a browse.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.