It’s been many years since I went to West Midlands Safari Park and, in truth, I don’t remember anything about the animals. I do remember going on a rollercoaster with my Dad, who was a big scaredy cat and said “Jesus Christ” at the end of the going forward bit, just before the coaster started going backwards to do a loop the loop in reverse.
I’ve asked the husband if we can go over the years, but he always refused on the basis that the monkeys might rip his car to pieces. So when my sister mentioned taking my toddler nephew, I jumped at the chance to join in and offered to be the designated driver.
There aren’t any monkeys on the loose these days – precisely for the reason husband feared – they were pulling windscreen wipers, bumpers and aerials from cars. But there is a wide range of animals, many of whom you can feed through your car window.
First things first – tickets aren’t cheap. You’re charged per person rather than per vehicle. It’s £25 per adult, £20 for children aged 3 to 15 years, and under 3s are free. On the plus side, after your visit, you’ll receive an email with a code for a return free visit within 6 months, which makes it an appealing prospect if you can get back there for round two. As with everything in these weird Covid times you can’t just rock up on the day; you need to pre-book tickets online – even your free return visit.
We arrived at around 11am after a pit stop for a McDonalds breakfast and the queues were already quite long as people snaked towards the ticket booths to show their proof of purchase. You get the option to purchase a box of food at the same time as your ticket purchase online, and this is handed over to you at the ticket booth, with some handwipes. If you plan on feeding the animals all the way round DEFINITELY take more hand wipes and gel. Some of them are a bit slobbery and you’ll be wanting to sanitise after being licked by a huge giraffe tongue!
The Park is split into sections with animals specific to that area. Not going to lie, the first time I put a hand full of food out of my window and an eland approached, I squealed. They’re just so big and so close up and so keen to eat! But you get more used to it as you drive round the 4 mile route. Obviously in the carnivore section you have to keep your windows firmly closed, unless you want to become lion feed.
There are lots of rangers in vehicles all around the park; they’re there for the safety of both the visitors and the animals. They also drive around the park in the right places, and encouraging them to move so that visitors get to see them. And sometimes they need to get them out of the middle of a traffic jam!
We were lucky enough that a ranger had just disturbed the lions as we drive through the carnivore enclosure. It was incredible to watch this male just wander in front of my car!
The elephants aren’t allowed to wander freely – probably in case they inadvertently trample your car – but you can pull up really close to them.
It took around 2 hours to drive the whole way around – a mix of busy traffic at the beginning (which thinned out), driving slowly so as not to scare the animals, and spending more time in different areas in order to get close to our favourites.
It was super cute to watch my nephew seeing things he’d never seen before.
It was crazy to see the giraffes just wandering amongst the cars! I was thrilled to feed them on the way in and on the way out (the giraffe area straddles both the entrance and exit). Giraffes are my favourite anyway, but just wow!
After the safari we then parked the car up to go into the theme park side. This comprises of gift shops and places to eat, smaller animal exhibitions including penguins and reptiles, Land of the Living Dinosaurs, and fairground rides which are an additional cost on top of the entrance fee.
Unfortunately by that time it was raining heavily which wasn’t conducive to fully enjoying the outdoor sections, so we’re saving that for our return visit next year.
The opening hours are variable now with the darker nights and in the lead up to Christmas, but you can check availability and book tickets here.
Thanks, as always, for reading. x