Over half term I had a few days off work. I always like to make the most of days off and take N out for the day. Good weather and a free day, my suggestions were knocked on the head by N who wanted to go and see animals. A safari park. So we decided to head to Woburn to see what was there.
Woburn was different to West Midlands in that once you’re in the drive through automatic gates, you’re in until the end. There’s no hanging around within gates moving from one area to the next, just cattle grids inbetween.
The one thing I always forget is to get the car windscreen cleaned before driving in. N sat in the front so he could take photos but my windscreen is a heated one so has patterns on it if you get too close, and sods law the animals are the wrong side for taking photos. We did get some shots, but some were a little far away.
I do get irritated when driving round. Other drivers using both lanes or stopping so that no one can get past them. Thankfully I did manage to get past one halfway round because I didn’t really want to be stopping my car in next to the lions because someone was holding us all up.
We managed to catch sight of the tigers prowling round. The wolves which N said were the first he’d ever seen (they weren’t). The elephants from a distance. The black bears on a stroll and sleeping. And the beautiful lions hanging out on their viewing point.
The giraffes were our favourites. The adult was on a circuit walking into the building round the corner and back out, and the younger ones were sticking their heads over and probably wondering what was going on. So sweet.
Then we got to the monkeys. I’ve never been keen on them being on my car, but undaunted we headed in rather than detouring the safe route out. I thought we were fine as we’d have no problem getting clogged up behind other cars but unfortunately everyone had stopped to look at the monkeys and many had them jumped on and playing with aerials. We did overtake to go past but with monkeys on the road you had no choice but to stop until they’d moved.
We watched one car have a back wiper ripped off as well a strip of trim removed from their roof. Then suddenly a monkey appeared on our bonnet. Argh. It went straight for the wipers but thankfully mine are further down in a gap below the bonnet hinge so it could reach. Ha ha, thankfully my Volvo scuppered the monkey and it soon jumped off and we were able to drive on through.
I do love watching monkeys, but I’d rather see them when walking past like at Monkey Forest, or from behind a screen, where there’s no chance of damage to my vehicle. We were soon out of the car safari and parked to walk through the foot safari area.
Woburn has most of the animals you’d expect to see as well as a deer park with fallow deer – the train takes you on a circuit past these if you take a ride.
We spotted the red panda on his bridge, a goat exploring his rock, and the penguins being cute at feeding time. We’ve had an issue at home with the ducks on a neighbour’s pond being decimated, and we’ve caught what looks like an otter on our motion sensor camera around our pond, so to see the otters playing was bittersweet.
Once N had had his fill with animals, we had to ride the Swan pedalos. It was lovely and calm on the water, apart from my exhausted breathing while N’s legs weren’t really powering much. After our experience on the chair monorail at Gulliver’s Land, I really should learn to avoid anything that needs ‘cycling’ with a second person.
Lunch was just a sandwich at the smaller café. The main café/restaurant is by the shop, and it’s a small enough site to head back there to grab something. Another alternative is in the Mammoth Ark play centre where they also serve hot and cold food.
After a quick lunch, it was N’s slot on the jungle top high ropes course. It’s for children age 5 to 11, they’re continuously attached and if they struggle the guy will walk round it with them. It is pretty high so it’s good to let them see it first. N wasn’t worried at all even though it’s the most adventurous thing he’s done. There were 5 of them going round one after the other with N going second.
Another similar aged child followed him and was rushing round, showing off to his younger sisters and chit chatting all the way round. It could have been a nervous cover up by him, but it really frustrated N as the boy would arrive at the platform just after N had set off and then would start holding on and wobbling the line N was attached to. Not helpful, but N did it all the way round, nice and steady. All the while telling me when I could and couldn’t take a photo. (It seems he’s now a fan of that kind of activity because 2 days later he wanted to do another high wires course we spotted somewhere else).
Feeding the lorikeets was an amusing experience. We bought just the one pot of feed, and I warned N not to ‘jump’ and lose it out when the birds flew over to him. He didn’t even manage that, just walking into their house meant he’d half spilled it out. I’m not sure how much he enjoyed it, but it’s lovely to see them up close, and they were certainly popular with all the younger children we were in at the same time with.
After a quick watch of the smelly sea lions playing in their water, our final stop was the mammoth play ark. It’s a large soft play frame with 3 large slides – a vertical drop one, wavy slide, and a ball pit slide. N was in his element with the slides, although he still doesn’t go near the vertical drop ones. There’s also a small area for toddlers, and the café. The only drawback was for parents, apart from the café seating which is limited, there is nowhere to sit, so it was a case of standing or sitting on a carpet by all the shoe holders around the softplay. The lack of seating (and boredom for me) meant N didn’t get long in the soft play, but he was happy as we left and headed off to the exit and our journey home.
What we loved:
- The jungle tops high ropes course. Great for children if you don’t have time to book onto Go Ape which is on the same site, and probably a lot cheaper. A great introduction and pretty cheap at £6.95
- Pretty much everything was included in the entry price. There aren’t lots of rides, but the train ride was free as were the swan pedalos. We only paid for lorikeet food (70p for one tub) and the high ropes.
- Overlooking the penguin feeding while we ate out lunch.
- Plenty of play areas – the indoor soft play as well as the outdoor play area
Could be better:
- There’s a car park outside the entrance but it didn’t explain what this was for. This almost needs to be after the entrance before going into the drive through safari, so you can remove aerials, and prep the car ready for going through.
- Having the camels at the same place for as the early car park means you don’t actually get to see them unless you stop. If I’d known this we’d have stopped as you get taken out a different exit so miss them.
- The emptiness of the café above the penguins. It was pretty dead even after the feeding had finished. They only sell cold food and drinks and the choice was fairly limited, so maybe it’s just an off season offering
- Lack of seating in the ark soft play
If you’re after a smaller safari park with only a few additional activities, then Woburn Safari Park might be the place for you. It’s good value compared with other places as you’re only paying entry and very little on top.
Have you ever been to Woburn?
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