Skip to main content

Dad Discovers... Safari Parks

A Love of Cars

I'm originally from Essex, and we love cars. So much so that we've figured out how to involve cars in activities that didn't involve them in the first place, and in some cases invented new car-based versions of existing activities. Fancy a meal? Drive-thru McDonalds. Fancy selling some goods? Boot sale. Fancy hooking up with random strangers? Dogging.

So why use up valuable energy trudging round a zoo when you can sit in your car and point at animals through your window? I'm fairly certain that the people of Essex didn't invent the safari, but frankly it's right up our street. What's more (having some Essex blood in him), The Boy LOVES cars. Even more so than animals, so a trip to Woburn Safari Park would clearly be a winner for everyone (especially the pair of 2-year-olds travelling with us).

After arriving at the park and paying to get in, we got The Boy out of his car seat and let him sit on my lap while I drove. Every other parent was doing this with their kids too, and he looked like he'd just won the toddler lottery. Sitting with Daddy while he's driving? This may very well have been the best day of his life, and we hadn't even seen any animals yet.

There are three separate loops for the road safari; Savannah Grasslands, Kingdom of the Carnivores and African Forest, so off we went into the first.

Savannah Grasslands

The main draw of this bit is the rhinos. There was already a short traffic jam of cars up ahead so we assumed that's where they were, and once we got a bit closer we could see a few having a lie down in a wooden shed. We drove around a bit more, but couldn't see any out in the open. There were also Antelopes and Wildebeests but no one in the car was particularly interested in them as we all wanted to see massive rhinos. The Boy didn't care either way as he was busy turning the window wipers on and off much to his delight.

Kingdom of the Carnivores

This is where it started getting serious as the animals got dangerous and exciting. First up was the tigers, and there was a massive queue of cars taking photos of a particularly self-confident tiger who was posing on a platform. We spotted another one though, a bit further along the road, who was hanging around the back fence. We got a bit closer and it became clear it was stalking something we couldn't see. Suddenly it pounced, and at the same time a squirrel legged it out of the grass and up the fence, only for the 8-foot long tiger to leap up the fence trying desperately to paw at the squirrel who made a swift exit. We were all very excited and slightly terrified by this. The Boy meanwhile had found the hazard warning lights, apparently to warn other drivers of the danger.

We then discovered a pack of wolves who strolled nonchalantly in front of the car and stopped for a scratch, blocking the whole road to show us who was boss. Next, we entered bear territory and found most of them lounging on the roof of a hut. We stopped next to them for a better look, at which point The Boy decided he fancied a stroll, grabbed the door handle and opened the car door. A short but intense freak-out by everyone in the car ensued until the doors were locked and we continued into the lion area where we saw the usual bunch of lazy lions lounging around in a big group. By this time, The Boy had discovered the radio and was happily skipping through the stations.

 African Forest

Otherwise known as the monkey bit, this is when it got real with what can only be described as being in a lengthy traffic jam in the middle of a forest with small mammals using the roof of your car as some kind of hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus. This definitely did attract The Boy's attention, although only for the duration of the interesting bits after which he decided to grab the wheel and try to steer the car. This was disconcerting at first until I realised that he might be shaking an unseen monkey of the roof so I let him get on with it.

The road safari complete we gladly headed to the main car park (much to The Boy's disappointment) and did the rest of the park on foot. Though not massively pram-friendly, it did include a viewing window into the sea lion enclosure which both 2 year-olds found inexplicably hilarious and spend a good 20 minutes cackling like maniacs. It also has a bouncy castle area, and an indoor soft play should you need to let your little one go crazy in a controlled environment for a bit.

So all in all fun was had by everyone. The Boy got to teach himself how to drive, we experienced the adrenaline of having a 2-year-old steering the car and occasionally opening the door to deadly predators, and we made it through without any monkeys breaking off bits of the car.


Popular posts from this blog

Dad Discovers... CBeebies

CBeebies is great. Until you have kids you'll probably never have any cause to watch it, but once you do you'll be thankful for the BBC for creating it. It's brilliant. There are, of course, loads of other kids channels out there from CITV to Nickelodeon, Disney Channel to Baby TV, but most depend on a paid subscription of some kind, are predominantly American in content, and are bursting with adverts. CBeebies on the other hand is free (sort of), has no adverts and can generally be relied upon to serve up several hours of good quality content for your sprog.

Needless to say there's a lot of different programmes out there, but these are my current personal Top 10 CBeebies shows.

10) Justin's House The almost reincarnation of Emu's Pink Windmill Show, hosted by the undisputed king of toddler TV, Justin Fletcher. He pops up all over the place on CBeebies but this one is the most fun.

9) Baby Jake Oh look, this family live in a windmill! Ah, here's each membe…

Dad Discovers... Soft Play

“A dungeon horrible, on all sides round… No light; but rather darkness visible served only to discover sights of woe” 
- Description of Hell in ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton.
A Great Idea Soft play establishments were one of those things that I was vaguely aware of before having kids, without actually having any interest in. It’s a bit like the way that I’m aware of cricket, ITV Be and Luxembourg and have nothing against them but have no plans on giving them any of my attention.
Flash forward to the present and I’m sitting at home with a small energetic child, it’s raining outside and we desperately need to get him out of the house for a bit. Then we remember that there are mythical play lands specially designed for small children. They have a cafĂ© too, so what’s not to like? We decide to give it a try. Remote for a Reason What sets the tone for these places very early on is their location. Something conveniently located in town? Nope. Something in a leafy suburb overlooking a park? …

Dad Discovers... Shopping

Ah shopping. Some things I blog about aren’t necessarily age-specific and will probably stay the same regardless of how old The Boy is. Soft play for example, will always actually be soft torture even when he’s a bit older. But other things change over time and have varied massively depending on his age.
One of the times this is apparent is my experience of taking him to the shops. At two-and-a-half I’d say he’s been through three main phases:

Phase 1 – Babe Magnet This could actually be taken in two ways since it involves having a baby stuck to you like a magnet. When the Boy was really little I loved nothing more than strapping him to me in his harness and going off out and about. A few weeks later he started demanding a better view than my chest, and he soon became semi-permanently attached to me, looking out into the world taking in the sights and sounds.
At this point he was a dream to take around the shops. However, it was clear from day one that certain people were drawn to ba…