Or more accurately, a holiday on the side of a wild life park. During the betixmas break and new year, we booked a stay at the Caravan & Motorhome Club Longleat site. This 164 pitch site is located right next door to the world famous Longleat Safari Park and has it’s very own pedestrian entrance just a mere 100m or so from the front of the site.
Obviously the site is as you would expect, well maintained, good size pitches, spotless facilities and fantastic wardens. However as the sun sets over the site, there’s something very unique in store for those staying, as the call of nature (and I’m not talking a trip to the toilet block) interrupts your evening.
Far beyond the tree lined fence, over Longleat’s very own miniature railroad and across the lake, the safari parks residents fill the night air with their calls. Maybe you’ll hear the bark of the sea lions, shudder at the howls of the wolves or if you’re very lucky, be thrilled by the tremendous roar from the king of the pride. In fact, they say a lions roar can be heard up to 5 miles away and if you’re intrigued to see these magnificent animals that serenade you each night, you'll be pleased to hear it’s just a short drive from the club site to the Safari entrance where you can ride through the paddocks and enclosures of everything from Antelope to Zebras.
At this time of year, as well as seeing everything you'd expect to see at a safari park, you'll also be able get up close to a flaming phoenix, grazing unicorns, fire breathing dragons, centaurs and so much more. Nope, I'm not making it up, you really will, as during our stay, the safari park was also hosting it's annual Festival of Lights. A dazzling array of handmade lantern sculptures laid out across the courtyards and gardens of Longleat House, which this year even featured for the first time, an animated projection on it's facade. The Festival of Lights theme changes each year, so whilst we enjoyed Myths & Legends, your visit will reveal something completely different.
Having been twice before, but not for some years and only as a day visitor, it was really nice to stroll in to the park from the site on several of the evenings we were staying at Longleat, especially just as the sun set and the lanterns were switched on. The advantage to this, was not having to rush to see it all in one go or if overly busy and crowded (which does happen), to leave early and return another evening allowing us to take our time and really appreciate what was on show. The only downside to multiple day visits, is the cost can soon rack up. There are twilight tickets just to see the lanterns or the alternative is to be prepared to pack it all in to one day and pay a single admission, but if staying at Longleat and being able to make the most of it’s proximity and convenience of walking in, maybe consider as we did, purchasing an annual pass.
The annual passes represent great value for money, we worked out that 3 day visits at general admission price and our cost was covered. You don’t even have to purchase these before you go as you can upgrade from general admission to annual pass on the day of your visit, especially if you think you’re likely to return during your stay. Another reason we chose the annual pass was to help us get tickets via the membership area on their website for sold out days. To get these tickets will cost you an additional 50p each but it does guarantee entry as even on sold out days as a pass holder you will be turned away without these tickets. The final reason we decided to purchase them, is that we will be returning for another break at Longleat this year and we’ll make full use of the passes once again.
If all that isn’t enough fun and excitment, on New Years Eve, Longleat puts on a spectacular firework display and guests staying on the Caravan & Motorhome Club site can take full advantage of it’s location by walking to the entrance of the club site to view the fireworks without even entering Longleat Safari Park itself. The only thing with viewing here, is you may not hear the music that the fireworks are set off too. However if you have an annual pass, these fireworks are included and you can get the best views and experience by standing in the dedicated viewing area within the park.
We had a fabulous time at Longleat and everything it had to offer, from the excellent club site and close encounters with magnificent animals of this realm and those of a magical other. Longleat is most certainly a very unique site and one of our favourites that we visited in 2019, but the question is, will you be brave enough to take a break on the wild side?