We love a safari park or zoo, but N really likes the drive around the animals. So we decided the Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park would be on our Scottish road trip places to visit list.
Blair Drummond Safari Park is just outside Stirling, with plenty of parking for those driving. Like so many places now you have to book in advance. This was easy to do. Being just after the Scottish school holidays when we visited, we had no problems booking the day before.
Check out other places to see animals around the UK.
There are 300 animals at the park, with both a drive around safari, and walk around. It’s open 7 days a week, 10am-5.30pm, usually from around March to just before Christmas. You really can make a day of it if you’ve got staying power. We’d planned a few hours and that was plenty for us, especially as it was quite a hot day.
If you’re doing the walking safari, the park is quite large so be prepared for a lot of walking. But we did see people driving around from car park to car park. Then that meant less walking to the different animals.
We found it strange that you drive all the way round the park before you get to the entrance of the safari. Most we’ve been to in the past, you go in straight away. The drive through safari was a lot shorter than I expected. It wasn’t that busy (and you can’t buy food for some of the animals like at other places, which meant the cars don’t build up).
In the first section you see the African animals. The rhinos were in their enclosure so we didn’t get to see them apart from through some metal fences. So it was the antelopes, and cattle we saw.
Next we were onto the lions and this was more our thing. They were a fair way away, and sleeping in the hot sun. But there was one female having a bit of a stroll. I really should have taken my long lens on holiday, because N struggled with my smaller zoom lens to get decent shots. It’s always frustrating in safaris that I’m driving so have to rely on his photos!
We did see one on their platform – it was definitely a lazy chilling out day for them.
Onto the macaques. I’m never a fan of going around monkey enclosures. Last time they were all over cars, although thankfully they couldn’t get hold of my Volvo’s windscreen wipers because they’re under the level of the bonnet. But at Blair Drummond, the monkeys weren’t doing a lot. Probably because of the warm weather again, they were sitting around, and we didn’t see too many of them.
The Asian animal area we could see the camels hiding away in the shade, but it was the deer out in the sun. The Pere David’s deer looked abit like reindeer to us. They’re the rarest animals in the park, and spend a lot of time in their mud wallowing to help regulate their temperature.
I’d expected to see giraffes, elephants and zebras around the safari too, but for those you had to walk to them.
The drive through safari was a bit disappointing as we were expecting more, but at least we had the walking part to do as well.
Once we’d parked up, we headed to the covered picnic area to eat our lunch. We’d decided to bring food with us. But there were plenty of other places to eat from tacos, pizza, or a restaurant. As well as the usual ice creams etc. There were a lot of wasps around the marquee seating area though, so watch out for those in the summer months.
Our next stop was the penguins, sealions and meerkats.
The sealions were just swimming around so there wasn’t much going on there. I think we’d just missed the sealion talk, so maybe they’d had enough being on show.
We caught the penguins at feeding time so that was nice to see the keeper bringing them fish. Penguins are great – although the water was a bit murky to see them swimming.
Meerkats are great to watch, and these ones were enjoying the sun. Everyone was laughing at one with all its bits on show as it sunbathed. They’re always good for posing photos.
Round the corner was the farm animal area. I didn’t think N would be that fussed, but there were goats, so we wandered through. I do like the alpacas too, and the shaggy sheep were cute.
The kuni kuni pigs were sunbathing in a corner like many of the others.
Out the other side, we hit the adventure play area. I’m not sure we’ve seen climbing frames quite like it. A huge wooden fort for older children (although there were still toddlers climbing on it despite them having their own play areas.
N wanted to be timed on how long it would take to get up it and then down the slides, but I think there were really too many options. There was a great curly slide, as well as straight ones.
He also enjoyed the swings – you’re never too old to enjoy those.
Near the adventure play (and dinosaurs) there were plenty of seating and more picnic areas. What I really liked is you can even bbq your food. You just ask at reception on arrival and can book in to use one (small cost). They’ll even make sure it’s lit for you. That would be great if you’re there with lots of friends or family.
Then it was the longer walk to see the larger animals. There are plenty of stop points for children – little paid rides (N squashed himself into the tiny tractor (no photos allowed to be shared unfortunately!), and the sandpit diggers which he insisted on having a long go on. I expect during the height of summer holidays these would be busier.
At this end of the park we saw the zebras, giraffes, lions and elephants. Unfortunately the tigers were nowhere to be see which was a shame.
It’s definitely worth walking down especially if you didn’t see the lions nearby in the drive through safari near by. We saw them from the other angle, and the ones on the platform felt like they were really close.
The elephant was unfortunately right over the other side of the enclosure, and the zebras weren’t doing much.
But the giraffes as usual were stars of the show. We first saw one inside, then moved out to follow it to watch them outside eating away. One seemed quite partial to chewing or rubbing the outer fence post.
By this time we felt we’d done a lot of walking (having already spent a couple of hours walking around Stirling Castle in the morning, so we didn’t fancy the walk down to the monkeys.
Instead we headed back via the dinosaurs for an ice cream. Yes, they have a dinosaur area at Blair Drummond Safari park. The prehistoric forest has 20 lifesize dinosaur exhibits that you can walk around. They’re motion activated, so move as you walk around, and not forgetting the noises. N wasn’t that fussed about going in, but this seemed like a really popular area with younger children with lots of people going in and out of the gates.
A final cool down with ice creams while watching the penguins again and we were ready to check into our hotel.
We enjoyed our visit to Blair Drummond safari park, although I think we’ve been spoiled by much larger safari parks nearer home in terms of what we expected. But apart from the tigers, we still saw all the animals we wanted.
If you’re visiting at seasonal times of the year, then do watch out for special events they put on.
Have you ever visited? What other safari parks do you recommend?