Wear comfy shoes because you will do a lot of walking throughout your day and you may want to bring some snacks and drinks (maybe even a picnic) for the food stands and restaurants will quickly add up... For example, it was £5.10 for two 99' Ice-cream cones! 🙀
The Main Square is the central part of the park. There are lots of food and drink stands there as well as restaurants and gift shops and it is the central thoroughfare to all the things the park offers.
We headed straight towards the Jungle Kingdom to check out some of the animals.
Wandering through the Jungle Kingdom can be as long or as short a time as you want it to be. It's open air, and you just walk through the curving paths taking in all the interesting animals this part of the park has to offer.
The Jungle Kingdom progressed into the 'Monkey Temple' section of the park but it's a bit misleading really as you have to go on the Jungle Cruise to see Monkey Island and the Gorilla Colony so that is what we did!
The Jungle Cruise is a boat ride on the lake.
You sail past monkey island and get to check out the monkeys clowning around and you get to see the gorillas looking all majestic on their turf but it's all from a distance as you are on the boat.
The lake is home to a seal colony and there's an opportunity to feed the seals which is fun.
They swim alongside the boat barking away at you and they're lovely.
The lake is also home to two hippos but they're pretty hard to see as they're typically hiding over at the edges amongst the vegetation.
This isn't my first year of visiting Longleat (think it was my 4th visit) but it was the first time I've ever actually seen them! And it wasn't a great view! Just a big greyish body under a low hanging tree!
However, one of the heads came up so I saw a head shape and ears so I call it good, lol. I've finally seen the hippos!
While you wait, you can view Red Pandas (OMG they're so cute!) but I imagine the novelty of the pandas would wear off waiting for up to an hour which is what people were doing later in the day.
After disembarking from the Jungle Cruise we followed the paths round to the newly opened Koala Creek!
Koala Creek is Longleat's new Koala enclosure.
They are the only Koala's in England (Scotland has some at Edinburgh Zoo but that's it for Koala's in the UK) so they are pretty special.
They have four and all four were visible snoozing in the indoor part of their enclosure at that time of the day.
We ended up visiting Koala Creek three times throughout the day as the little dude is obsessed with Koalas but at no point was the enclosure too busy to enjoy just looking at them.
On our third trip just before closing one of them had headed outside to chill on a different tree which was cool.
After visiting the Koala's we went back into the central square and the little dude rode the Rockin' Rhino. It's suitable for kids from about 0.8m and is really basic as rides go (you ride a lion or a rhino around a track) but the little dude still finds it amusing.
We then noticed that the train was in at the Longleat Railway so we took a chance and joined the end of the queue just as it was beginning to load, hoping we'd fit on the train that was currently in the station as it would be a half-hour wait on the next one and honestly? From past experience, it's not worth the wait.
The railway trip takes you around the park and you get to see a few animals but mostly it's just the park grounds. If you miss it off your visit you're not missing much.
However, it is a nice 10 minutes off your feet!
As I said, the queues for this can really build up so it's best to hop on it was early or as late in the day as you can.
After the train, we had lunch. We'd brought a picnic and chilled at one of the tables before heading to the car to drive to the safari!
The drive-through safari is an opportunity to see lots of wonderful animals up close including lions, tigers, wolves, leopards, giraffes, elephants, deer and lots of other creatures that I've forgotten to mention! You have to keep your windows closed through most of the enclosures - for obvious reasons - so I was particularly grateful for the car's AC considering it was a hot and humid day despite being overcast.
They say the safari takes an hour but it doesn't, it takes longer. Allow for at least 1.5hrs.
You first park up and walk around the 'African Village' part of the safari where you will find giant tortoises, lemurs, giraffes, zebras and the like.
There's a gift shop and it's the last opportunity you'll have to go to the bathroom before you enter the main part of the safari.
Once back in the car, you drive through the main gates and make your way at your own pace around the various habitats.
You can stop in the deer enclosure to feed the dear but if you do be warned that they shove their entire head inside your car, are quite pushy, and cause chaos!
They really freaked out the little dude so I ended up feeding them the feed (that your purchase for £1 as you enter the enclosure) and got covered in deer slobber - gross.
The little wipe they give you along with the feed gets the worst off but you may want to ensure you have baby wipes and hand sanitiser handy too!
After the deer, we drove into the monkey zone which you can bypass if you're worried about your car. The monkeys are not phased by vehicles and will happily climb all over your car, hitch a lift and try and pull off whatever they fancy.
Luckily, my car got out unscathed but I did watch one chew on the car in fronts aerial for a good few minutes...
It's not long before you enter the first 'air-gapped' portion of the safari and come face to face with the big cats! They have tigers, two lion prides, and leopards.
They also have a grey wolf pack.
For each section of the safari for these animals, you have to wait while one gate opens, drive into until you reach another gate, wait while the first gate closes and then drive through the newly opened second gate. It all makes perfect sense but it is time-consuming and causes most of the time delays in the safari.
The safari is enjoyable and seeing those animals is amazing but there is no guarantee you'll see all that there is to offer. The animals aren't there for entertainment and they do as they please. If they don't feel like coming out, or they feel like hiding somewhere in their massive enclosures then tough luck. Be prepared for disappointment. If you get lucky though, it is awesome.
Once we finished the safari, we visited the manor house which really is something to appreciate but I imagine won't be of much interest to little kids. I enjoyed getting out of the sun for a while learning more about the history of the house, the estate and the family that still lives there. There are knowledgeable members of staff throughout the open rooms to answer questions and provide detail.
No photography is permitted inside the house but you can take pictures aplenty outside it.
We finished off our day with the remaining activities off the main square.
There was the Bat Cave where you get to check out the fruit bats.
It smells in there but I found the bats oddly cute.
It takes less than 5 minutes to wander through but I guess if you're really into bats and can handle the humidity and the smell then you can stay as long as you like!
We lost ourselves in the mirror maze for five minutes but managed to find the sword in the stone easily enough! (The finger marks on the mirrors make it kinda easy, lol.)
We lost ourselves in the hedge maze for 15 minutes or so and I'd probably still be in the maze if left to my own devices (for I have no sense of direction!) but the little dude has his father's in-built GPS and I don't think he took a wrong turn! The time spent in the maze wasn't from getting lost, it was just the time it took us to complete it but you could seriously spend an hour wandering in there...
We spent some time in the Nature Kingdom looking at poisonous frogs and various reptiles. The little dude handled a python and a Chilean rose tarantula while I died inside.
You could lose hours in this part if you chose because the kids seem to love it!
There is also another play park beside it for much smaller children but we didn't go in there as the little dude was much too old.
We had one last peek at the koalas and returned to the main square to see the end of day performance.
Every summer, they have some themed event and I guess in celebration of the koala's arrival, this year's theme is Australian summer.
The little dude loved the didgeridoo and dance performance.
(There will also be an indoor beach opening for the Australian summer event but it opened a few days after our visit so I can't comment on it.)
All in all, a visit to Longleat makes for a very long but enjoyable day and as I said up top it is worth every penny.
If you're in the area, kids or no kids, I'd recommend a visit.