Reviewed by Rebecca Wong
I visited Knowsley Safari Park with my two children (2½ years and 11 weeks) and my husband. My toddler was incredibly excited on the drive up to the entrance with statues of the elephants giving him a taster of what was to come. We decided to experience the safari drive first. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side that day, it was quite wet and so I think many of the animals were seeking refuge from it, but were still on view to visitors. Despite this there were still a variety of animals that greeted us along the way. From the deer to the rhea (similar to ostrich) to the lions, elephants and rhino.
The baboons, definitely the highlight for us, provided plenty of entertainment climbing over people’s cars and sliding down the window screens. Fortunately, there are two options for seeing the baboons; you can drive through the enclosure (and risk your wipers) or take the ‘car-friendly’ route. We chose the latter. If you still want to go into the enclosure but not risk your car, there is an additional option to go on the Baboon Bus (£5 per person), but make sure you book this online the morning before visiting. For us though it was much more entertaining watching the fun that ensued for the baboons at the sight of a nice clean and intact car, from outside the enclosure. We were still close enough to see them very clearly and get some great photos, but could relax in the knowledge that our car wouldn’t be covered in muddy primate handprints afterwards.
For the price of £16.50 for adults and £12.50 for children over 3 you can drive around the safari route as many times as you wish. There are also family tickets available and cheaper prices if booked online.
The fun doesn’t stop there; with ample parking you can then stop and visit the walkaround area where you will find plenty of rides for the kids, more animal encounters and places to eat. The rides have various restrictions on depending on the size of your little people. They can be paid for individually at a central kiosk or you can buy a wristband for £10 which gives access to all rides. My little boy cannot visit anywhere without a train ride and even in the rain we all enjoyed a scenic trip around the park on the lakeside train. The giraffes are also an experience not to be missed, with an elevated balcony were you can literally come face to face with the tallest animals in the world. Other close encounters can also be had with meerkats, elephants, birds and I highly recommend a visit to the bat house.
We also caught the sea lion show that is included in the price. A lovely close up experience in which the sea lions show off their skills and we got to learn more about these talented creatures. On our visit the cheeky 2 year old Roger (still in training) and the beautiful 22 stone Biffo kept everyone’s attention and provided lots of giggles for the kids in a half hour show. My toddler particularly enjoyed this with the show’s host building up the excitement to Biffo’s big stunt at the end.
Overall, I think Knowsley provides a great family day out, I will certainly bring the children again as they get older and are able to appreciate different things that maybe they can’t now. I recommend checking the weather before visiting as with anything involving the outdoors, the weather can sometimes limit your options; here not all the rides were open due to the weather and, as with humans, not all the animals liked it either. We did what we could in a day with 2 young children but there is so much more to experience at Knowsley and I think you would be hard pushed to cover it all in a day. Given half the chance I would have been on the high rope experience and jumping in a boat but instead I had to play the role of sensible mum. So I would say that it’s definitely worth visiting the website and planning your visit beforehand.
Tickets cost: Adults £16.50, Children £12.50, Family £55 (save money by booking online).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.knowsleysafariexperience.co.uk.
Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot, Merseyside, L34 4AN | 0151 430 9009