‘It’s just like Andy’s Dinosaur Adventure’ the 4 year old exclaimed excitedly as we waited patiently at a big wire gate about to enter the Safari Experience at Knowsley Experience in July 2014. Well not quite Matthew, there aren’t any dinosaurs for a start but there are plenty of other animals to whet most intrepid explorer’s appetite at Knowsley Safari Experience in Liverpool. The Safari Experience at Knowsley is the longest safari drive in the UK and we couldn’t wait to see what we would see.
The Safari Experience
We drove into the Safari Experience at 10mph with all our windows shut and doors locked wondering what we might see. 4 year old, Matthew, and 1 year old, Daniel, had their noses pressed against the windows ready to shout out when they saw an animal. The first shout was just after we entered the Safari Experience when we spotted 2 Siberian tigers having a snooze. They were there – right in front of us – resting in the morning sunshine, and were absolutely beautiful. We watched them for a few minutes until Daniel started squawking and pointing at a couple of lions wandering towards us.
I quickly double checked that the car doors were locked and the windows were still up, and we watched as the female African lions took a stroll completely unperturbed by the spectators. Lions are social animals living in groups called a pride, so we weren’t surprised to see a few more females following behind. In the distance we spotted the male with his distinctive mane sitting surveying the activity in ‘his’ park . It was awe inspiring to see these beautiful animals so close up.
Well, how can you top that? Onwards we went with the boys shouting everytime they saw an emu, deer or a buffalo around the watering hole. It seemed like we had come at a good time (about 11am) as there were loads of animals wandering around close to the roadside.
It wasn’t long before we came to a sign which directed us to a Car Friendly route or alternatively a route which would take us directly into the Baboon (monkey) section of the park. We had been told that the baboons are quite ‘friendly’, and climb all over cars and have a habit of damaging car ariels and windscreen wipers. Somehow we persuaded my husband that the car would be ok if we drove into the Baboon section and off we went. This part of the park was overrun with these little fellas running along the side of the road and climbing over the cars in front of us.
My husband looked a bit nervous as the car in front had a monkey sat on their back windscreen ‘playing’ with the windscreen wipers. The boys were squealing in delight. Then, thud, one landed on our roof – and another one climbed onto the wing mirror and sat there eating an apple. My husband drove along gingerly but they weren’t bothered and kept sitting there enjoying the ride. It was great to see them so close up and get a small glimpse into their personalities. After a bit they jumped off and we exited the Monkey section – luckily we didn’t have any damage to our car but plenty of other ones had damaged windscreen wipers.
We continued through the rest of the Safari Experience seeing Rhinos, elephants and giraffes. The elephants and giraffes are in a separate section and have viewing platforms so you can walk back and see them more closely later. It is worth noting that your ticket entitles you to go back to the Safari Experience as many times as you like during the day, which is good as I would imagine that there is a lot of different activity later on in the day.
After all the excitement of the Safari Experience, we decided to go for an early lunch in the Oasis Restaurant. We parked the car and headed over to see what options there were for lunch. The Oasis restaurant has just been revamped and I was pleased to see a cold deli section serving fresh sandwiches. I am not obsessed with always eating healthily but I find that the options for adult food at a lot of children’s attractions are hamburgers and pizzas which doesn’t really appeal to me. I chose a Ham Buster sandwich which was freshly made in front of me, and the boys chose a kids hot meal deal which included the old favourites like chicken goujons and fish fingers with chips and a drink for £3.95. The Kids Meal also came with an animal mask too which they loved! There was also a Kids Pasta option too for £3.95 but we didn’t see this until we had ordered the chicken goujons and fish fingers. My husband ordered a cheese burger and the total bill for 4 of us was aprox £20 which we thought was reasonable.
Sea Lion Show
After lunch we timed it just right to go and see the Sea Lion show. The boys had a little play in the playground before we went into the show. This show was 20 minutes long and was really educational and fun. 2 sea lions called Biffo and Arthur showed off their skills in running, swimming, balancing balls and catching hoops. Biffo was the oldest sea lion and Arthur was the youngest and was ‘naughy and doesn’t always do what he’s told’ which reminded me of my 1 year old. We thoroughly enjoyed the show and at 20 mins was just long enough for young children with short attention spans. We stayed behind afterwards watching them swimming and playing in their pools. You can then go and see them afterwards in their brilliant outdoor pool – swimming and sunbathing!
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the rest of the park. There is a woodland walk, Bat Forest (I felt one brush past my cheek!), a train (payable extra) and a Bird of Prey park. We listened to a really interesting talk about vultures and how they are the ‘clean up crew’ in the wild – cleaning up after animals have died to prevent disease spreading.
There are also plenty of rides for little ones including a pirate ship, swings, roundabout and train. Each ride costs £2 each and they operate a wristband system whereby you buy your wristband from the ticket booth prior to going on the rides. Accompanying adults are free for little ones going on the rides.
After all this fun, we were starting to get 2 tired little boys. Our final stop was the Giraffe and Elephant Enclosures to get a closer look at them. We arrived just as the Giraffes were being fed so got some great close up views of these 2 animals (brothers!) being fed. We walked through the Giraffe’s house to see the 3 African Elephants which live at Knowsley. The boys loved seeing the elephants and this seemed like a fitting end to the day.
Both boys fell asleep in the car before we had even driven out of the car park – sure signs that they had had a good day! Matthew has already asked if we can go again when he was looking through the guidebook before bed pointing out all the animals he had seem during the day. I think Knowsley is one of those places where families can have some amazing experiences doing things which you aren’t necessarily going to have very often – and that’s where happy memories are made. Information
Visit the Knowsley Safari Experience website here Note – you can get 20% off prices if you book online in advance.
There are baby changing facilities in the Ladies toilet and a separate baby change behind the Café.
My thanks to Knowsley Safari Experience for providing us with complimentary tickets for the day – all opinions are my own and we did have a great day.