Banish boredom and the are-we-nearly-home-yet blues with five of our favourite British experiences for children, including safari parks,underwater adventures, and a healthy dollop of monkey business.
Africa Alive!, Suffolk
It turns out the UK’s Sunrise Coast isn’t as far from Africa as you thought. You need a good imagination to picture the African savannah in Lowestoft, but you can spot rhinos, giraffes and ostriches roaming here. Walk with lemurs and ride the Safari Roadtrain, while for a special treat over-14s can feed the lions, or even be a keeper for the day.
http://www.africa-alive.co.uk. Daily from 10am. “Meet the lions” costs £110 for 1hr; “Keeper for the day” costs £99 per half-day.
Monkey World, Dorset
Few animals have the capacity to mesmerize children like primates, and at this superb rescue centre you can meet the largest group of chimpanzees outside of Africa. Alongside the resident chimps, orangutans, gibbons and monkeys, there’s plenty of rope ladders and climbing frames to keep kids amused. Be prepared to fall in love so much you might adopt your own primate.
http://www.monkeyworld.org. July & Aug 10am–6pm; Sept–June 10am–5pm. Adults £11, children £7.75
The Deep, Hull
Seeing a shark swim past your ear you might think your time had come. Yet as you stroll through the deepest underwater viewing tunnel in Europe, and ride in the glass elevator, a close encounter with sharks and rays is just part of the experience. The Deep’s oceanic odyssey will take you into a deep-sea research station and to the ice-cold Polar Gallery, but don’t miss the feeding in the lagoon or the daily dive presentation.
http://www.thedeep.co.uk. Daily 10am–6pm. Adults £10.50, children £8.50.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Jersey
Set up to save endangered species from extinction, the Trust uses its Jersey Wildlife Park to provide a window into its global conservation work, showcasing some of the planet’s most exotic – and at-risk – species in habitats ranging from Madagascan dry forest to the Discovery Desert. As well as visiting the animals, kids can get involved in numerous other ways, from half-term workshops to three-day courses for older children considering wildlife conservation as a career.
http://www.durrell.org/wildlife-park. Daily: summer 9.30am–6pm; winter 9.30am–5pm. Adults £12.90, children aged 4–16 £9.90.
Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire
Longleat invariably crops up amongst the UK’s top tourist haunts; after all, its combination of exquisite country house, Capability Brown gardens and full-blown safari park is pretty irresistible. Vast in acreage, the grounds have plenty of space for giraffes and zebras, rhinos and hippos, and the drive-through safari, a world first when it opened in the 1960s, is still one of the country’s wildest and most exciting. Alight in Wallaby Walkthough but you’ll want the windows firmly shut in Tiger Territory and Lion Country.
http://www.longleat.co.uk. Safari Park open Feb–Oct. Adults £12.50, children £8.50