Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Week in Somerset #2 - Longleat Winter Safari

Hi there everyone 😀

We are back to our November holiday in Somerset for today's post ...

It was Sunday, the second full day of our week's holiday in Somerset back in November last year. It was also my 54th time around the sun and we had a very exciting birthday treat on the cards.

We were up and out by 8.30am! We were heading over the county border into Wiltshire ... on our way to Longleat to visit the Winter Safari and their annual Festival of Light.

It was a beautiful morning with weak and hazy sunshine trying to burn through the late autumn mist.

Our plan had been to have a breakfast stop before hitting the Safari but as we checked in the lady in the booth advised that we would be wise to head straight for the Safari as there were thousands of other visitors due to arrive behind us.

So Safari it was ... the information provided said to allow 15 minutes for the drive to the start of the Safari and I was surprised to find that it did actually take this long ... the estate is just huge. It was an interesting drive ... passing some fabulous views of the house and some tantalising glimpses of the lantern displays on the way.

Once past the house it was a long and windy road through the countryside before finally reaching the Safari entrance. We weren't quite first in the queue but not far off ...
We were greeted and given a CD guide to play in the car as we made our way around. It was really exciting and we couldn't wait for the gates to open.

We didn't have long ...

Our first stop was The African Village where the plan was to get out, have a walk through the lemur enclosure and have some breakfast.

If I'm honest this bit was a bit disappointing ... it was too cold for the lemurs, though we did get a glimpse ...

... and the service, standard of cleanliness and quality of food in The Watering Hole Cafe was very lacklustre.

We were soon tucked back up in the car, with our CD playing away, and on our way.

First stop ... zebras ...

... then another stop and a quick jump out of the car to have a closer look at the tapirs ...

It was then past the flamingos as we headed for the monkey enclosure ...

There is the option to skip the Monkey Drive-Thru. If you are precious about your car this probably isn't a bad idea. There was no way we were missing it though and we just hoped for the best as we waited at the gate, watching the keepers clearing the monkeys from the cars that were on their way out.

We took a very slow drive through the enclosure ... keeping a very close eye out for the little blighters running about in between the cars. They were naughty little buggers and were jumping from car to car ... wrestling with aerials and windscreen wipers trying to secure a bit of booty ... they knew exactly what they were doing ...


They weren't all misbehaving ...

The next drive through was the Big Game Park, which was a lot more sedate and orderly ...


Then onto The Deer Park, where you are able to buy food and feed the animals from your car window ... 
Our next stop was the rhinos ...

We could then feel the tension in the air as we waited at the gate to enter the first of The Big Cats enclosures. Even the music on the CD got a little unnerving ...

We saw plenty of big cats. The tigers and lions were mainly just chilling out soaking up the autumn sunshine ...


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I feel it only right to mention here that I wrote this post a week or so ago, and the day after I wrote it I read on the BBC News that Shouri, one of the rare Amur tigers kept at the park, had died in a fight with two other tigers. I'm not sure if this picture is Shouri, but I was just so sad to read about this. 

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The cheetah was not spending her day chilling out in the sunshine ... we had just entered the enclosure and there was a bit of drama as the cars behind us were stopped from entering and there was a very swift manual closing of the gate as she got a little close for comfort ...


So that was it ... the end of the Safari and we found ourselves back at the front of the house ...

We'd loved the Safari, in spite of the disappointing start at The African Village. The brochure says to allow yourselves three hours. We never for one minute imagined it would have taken us that long ... but it did ... and we could have spent longer ... though we did spend a lot of time take photos.

It was now time to park up, find something decent to eat and see what else was occurring.

I'll let you know what came next in my next post 😀

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