Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Going Wild at Knowsley Safari

We were invited to visit Knowsley Safari, a 550 acre park located in the North West of England, and home to over 700 animals. We were given the opportunity to ride their Baboon Bus with a guided safari tour and discover everything that Knowsley Safari has to offer adventurous families.

Knowsley Safari offers an interactive experience for animal lovers where you can come face to face with the free roaming animals, have lions block your path and watch as baboons hitch a ride on your wing mirror. Anything can happen! In addition to the drive through safari, Knowsley has an amusement park, a walk through Wild Trail, Sea Lion Encounter, Bat Forest, play area, Flight of the Talons and much more to explore. It is a full day out for all the family.

Our first port of call was a ride in the Baboon Bus with a guided safari tour. The bus goes all around the drive through safari route including the infamous baboon enclosure, where the cheeky monkeys get up close and personal with the vehicle. The tour guide was a very friendly and bubbly Liverpudlian lass who regaled us with facts about the animals and the safari park as well as some zoo related anecdotes and general chatter. We actually learned a lot of really interesting stuff in a fun and entertaining way, and although I am not usually a fan of audience participation, she was very engaging and made the tour enjoyable.

It was very busy and quite hot when we took the tour so the bus got quite stuffy, especially when the windows were shut in the carnivore and baboon enclosures, so remember to take some water and use the guide book as a makeshift fan!

As it was so warm a lot of the animals were sleeping and not very active, but we had a great view of snoozing lions, rhinos and other animals. The baboons were, however, super active!  They leaped on the top of the bus, using the windscreen wipers as climbing aids as they scaled the windows. It sounded like they were having a real party up there!  From our window we saw other cars crawling with baboons large and small. The mums with babies were particularly wonderful to see. Some monkeys left little presents on the roofs of the cars. Seeing monkey poo on someone's nicely polished car made Freddy laugh his head off! Toilet humour never fails to impress my boy. Before exiting the enclosure, the baboons on our roof were encouraged off and dozens jumped down and scurried away, which was quite a sight.

zoo, monkeys, baboons

After our Baboon Bus experience we went for lunch and were pleased to see veggie burger options for both adults and children in the restaurant. The restaurant was clean, reasonably priced and efficient and the fast food meals we had were not at all bad.

zoo, fun fair, amusements

Following our lunchtime break we went to the amusement park where we bought Freddy a wristband allowing him and an accompanying adult on all the rides, which included a swing ride, a kids' rollercoaster, dodgems, a carousel and other similar rides. While Ian and Freddy amused themselves with that, my girls and I went to the Bat Forest. The walk through enclosure was dark, but our eyes quickly adjusted allowing us to view the spectacular Egyptian Fruit Bats in flight and hanging around. They buzzed past our heads, flying around us. Quite an experience! We also got to see the lovely sealions in their pool, which we loved.

It was at this point that the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down with rain. So we made a dash back to the car to do the safari drive through in our own car. We had been supplied with a Go Pro to record our trip around the animals, but as it wasn't waterproof I had to film through the window, which was being pounded by torrential rain. Needless to say, the Go Pro videoing was a bit of a disaster.

As it was much later in the day and cooler, the animals were more active and lively. We saw lots of varieties of deer, antelope and cattle and came face to face with a huge camel that ran beside our car. The lions were up and about, fighting and crossing in front of the queue of cars. Unfortunately, we were a few cars back and didn't get a real close up of the beautiful big cats. Our favourite moment was when a rhino walked out in front of our car and stopped right in our path. He looked a bit agitated and rocked from side to side and we were slightly concerned whether he was going to charge at us. But the reason for his agitation soon became clear when he raised his tail and did an enormous poo on the road right in front of us, before turning and sauntering nonchalantly away. True to form, Freddy was in fits of giggles at the steaming pile of rhino dung!

We decided to brave the baboon enclosure in our own car, deciding that the risk of having a wiper or trim pulled off was worth it for the fun of having monkeys on our roof! However, the wet weather subdued the baboons and they were all sat huddled up under the cover of the trees, not at all interested in hanging off our car. It was a shame, but we enjoyed seeing the monkeys cuddling together against the cold, looking so humanlike!

camel, sealion, zoo

Knowsley Safari has been awarded the 2015 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor. Until September the 4th you can get 20% off the price of entry when booked online, which makes the cost £13.20 for adults and £10 for children. The baboon bus costs an extra £5 per person and the amusement park wristbands cost £10 for unlimited access or £2 per ride.

It is a full day out for families and we really had a great spite of the torrential rain storm!

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