Day out and review: Cotswold Wildlife Park

I’ve not been to Cotswold Wildlife Park since primary school, and like so many other places, it’s free for under 3’s, so I wanted to take N before he hits that, and while the weather is reasonable.  Choosing a time to visit is difficult – school holidays will be busy, but then so will school time as it’ll be full of school kids (and probably less adults per child so more chaotic!?).

I had a day off so we decided to visit yesterday.  Of course, we were later than planned so there were 4 queues of cars for tickets, but they moved quickly and it wasn’t long before we were parked and ready to go.

There are maps all over the place which is great because there’s not really an ‘entrance’, it’s just decide which direction to walk in and go there.  Although it was pretty busy, you never really felt like it was due to everything being spread out and in the open.

N obviously loves animals, so was interested to see the different ones from books he’s got.  It’s funny to see which ones spark his interest (peacock, monkeys, snakes, giraffes), while others are virtually ignored…there was a little train, so of course every time he heard that going round with its horn going, he just wanted to watch the train.

He’s now calling anything that looks like a tortoise (large rock outside a Stratford car park which admittedly was about the size of a giant tortoise), a turtle, as he heard another child call the giant tortoises a turtle.  He wasn’t interested in those when we walked past them as we started out, but when we went past them later he was more interested in them, and remembered what they were called.

giant tortoises
Giant tortoises, just hanging out

Most of the animals are outside, amongst the trees or in the open, although there are a few around the reptile house, bat house and insect house.  This peacock decided to make an entrance next to the monkey cage, and looked quite spectacular as he strutted of.  N quite liked the look of him, and was all for trying to grab hold to stroke him.

Stunning peacock, although refused to show off his tail feathers

The monkeys had a crowd around the cage, and were showing their skills climbing around the cages and swinging from the ceiling.  This one obviously didn’t want to be in any photos!

Headless monkey…not really, it just moved every time I got my camera out
Spot the chameleon

There’s a great playground with lots of nets and rope climbing frames, and an amazing treehouse with a covered slide.  N was in his element once he spotted the merry go round…again.  Although at only 80p a ride, it’s a bargain.

fairground ride
Another day, another ride. Bargain 80p a go

The cafe had a long queue at 12 o’clock, but they serve hot food (including children’s portions and baby portions of most of the adult meals at reduced prices which I’ve not seen before).  The prices are quite expensive, but it was packed, although a lot of people were eating picnics.  There’s lots of tables for bought food, with lawns galore or plenty of benches for picnics.  We ate ours sitting in front of the red panda enclosure.

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lunchtime benches
Having a break at lunch

Once lunch was over, N just had to have a ride on the train.  It runs from its station around the wildlife park, and handily took us past the giraffes, camels and zebras which were further away and we wouldn’t have got to on this short trip.  The train ride is a £1 a person (although we ended up paying £2 as I’d not spotted the tiny writing saying under 3’s free) so pretty cheap, and you feel like royalty as everyone sitting having picnics waves as the train goes past.  N loved waving at everyone as well.

mini train
On the train…excited
Grouchy camels during our train ride
Grouchy camels during our train ride

Finally, we just about had time for a quick wander round the walled garden to check out the penguins (N’s favourite, plus they put on quite a swimming and diving show for us), the meerkats who had lots of babies and some more birds.

Penguins put on quite a swimming and diving display. N loved them

We were only there for about 2 1/2 hours, and managed to cram in quite a lot, but I’d definitely want to go back again for a full day.  For £14 for the two of us to get in (he was free), it’s definitely a good price, especially if you take a picnic.

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

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  1. Sounds like it was a good visit with lots of animals to see and activities to keep you busy. He certainly looked to be enjoying himself.

  2. There is certainly a lot to do there – so many animals and plenty of lovely grounds with activities for the children. You did cram a lot into the time you was there, and as you say you could take a picnic and spend all day there. I love the photo of N in the red car looking so cute and the happy photo of the two of you – thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

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