Awesome African Adventures
What do the king of the beasts, the biggest land mammal in the world and man’s largest living relative have in common? They’re all indigenous to Africa…and you can see all three without leaving the UK!
Usually you’d have to take out a second mortgage to book a safari in South Africa or Botswana (not to mention making sure you go during the school holidays!), but the UK is home to a wealth of African wildlife experiences, from fab wildlife parks and aquaria, to quirky restaurants and bio-domes, scattered all across the country.
Here are 10 awesome ways to experience the wonders of Africa, from (nearly) John-o-Groats to Land’s End:
1. Blair Drummond Safari & Adventure Park, Stirling, Scotland
Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park near Stirling, Scotland, boasts a drive-through safari experience of lions, zebras, giraffes and more and even gives you the chance to be a keeper for the day. Now the weather is improving, it’s open for business.
2. The Caffeine Drip, Edinburgh
If you or the children aren’t animal lovers, how about experiencing the tastes of Africa? In Edinburgh you’ll find the African-themed Caffeine Drip café and bakery. Enjoy the bright, vibrant colours while you try some milkshakes in recycled jars or ‘knysna’ – traditional South African hot chocolate made with real melted chocolate.
3. The Barnardo’s Big Toddle, Blackpool Zoo (Tuesday 28th June at 10.00am)
Famous for its entertainment value, Blackpool also boasts a huge 132 acre zoo with lions, giraffes and a fantastic gorilla enclosure. Put Tuesday 28th June in your diaries for the Barnardo’s Big Toddle, where children are being encouraged to dress up in their favourite animal costume and ‘Toddle on the wild side’ for the charity’s annual sponsored walk.
4. Safari Phil's Animal Adventures, Greater Manchester
Suffer from arachnophobia? Or would you like to get up close and personal with one of Hollywood’s smallest celebrities, the 8 inch long emperor scorpion? Safari Phil, the Northwest’s very own animal ‘Wild Man’, offers mobile educational encounters for children of all ages where they can hold, stroke and learn about spiders, scorpions, snakes and more.
5. Chester Zoo
You might have seen the ITV series ‘Our Zoo’, which tells the tale of the founding of Chester Zoo. Why not go and discover more about the zoo and see their baby okapi, Usala? The okapi is a shy, secretive animal which was only discovered in 1901. Its closest relative is the giraffe and it can lick its own ears. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
6. West Midlands Safari Park, Bewdley, Worcs
There’s more to meerkats than Aleksandr Orlov. You can meet these tiny team players when you wander through the African Village at the West Midlands Wildlife Park, as well as lemurs and the friendly African sheep and pygmy goats.
7. The city of London
A trip to London can be jam packed with African awesomeness. Start your day at London Zoo, stop off at the Aquarium to see the sharks, wander round the Natural History Museum and finish up with dinner at the Rainforest Café (strictly speaking, it’s themed on the Amazon jungle, but the children will love the food and décor and they do a great range of cocktails too!)
8. Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne, Kent
Go on safari in Kent! You might not think that giraffe, black rhino and wildebeest roam the plains of Kent, but that’s just what they do at Port Lympne. Book a short break near the watering hole to see for yourself. Part of the Aspinall Foundation, Port Lympne and Howletts Wildlife Parks show the Foundation’s commitment to the breeding, reintroduction and protection of rare and endangered species.
9. Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire (16th to 18th June)
This September, Longleat promises something spectacular: over 50 hot air balloons will be launched over the park. For a truly memorable day out keep the 16th to 18th September free in your diary and head to the home of the Marquess of Bath. While you’re there, you could visit the Wildlife Park or the magnificent Elizabethan house and maze.
10. The Eden Project, Cornwall
The groundbreaking experiment of the Eden Project in Cornwall gives you the chance to experience the humidity and extraordinary diversity of the rainforest. Once you’ve cooled down, why not challenge the children by trying out England’s longest zip wire?
For some people, the best bit about going away is coming home again. But you needn’t stop exploring! Why not put your feet up and watch some great movies about Africa, like Madagascar or The Lion King?
Here at BrainBox we’re crazy about learning through experiences. Once your children have seen some of these awesome African animals, try playing BrainBox Animals or BrainBox Predators and see who can get the highest score!