Monday 6 August 2018

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens **REVIEW**

I am always on the look out for new and exciting family days out for us to enjoy around especially for during the summer holidays as the kids are usually climbing the walls by day two!

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is somewhere I have wanted to visit for over a year now and last weekend we finally got round to going and it was definitely worth the wait! Cotswold Wild Park is based in Oxfordshire and has over 260 species of animals set over 160 acres of rolling landscape and gardens.

It was around 1 hour 15 minute drive for us but we hit no traffic and entry into the park itself is super easy. They have kiosks manned by staff at the entrance as you drive into the park where you pay for your tickets and can buy your guide books etc. We waited no more than 2 minutes to get through and park up (and parking is FREE which is another great bonus!).

There were no long ques, no waiting around in a busy gift shop or reception area to pay. Once we had parked up we were straight into the park starting our day out. Since there is no "official" entrance way you can choose your own way to discover the wildlife park. We had a handy guide book which I would really recommend getting. Its only an extra £2.50 and has lots of interesting information in as well as a huge detailed map. We opted to turn left upon entering and were greeted by the beautiful grounds and a humongous giant tortoise which the kids absolutely loved! They were in an enclosure you could walk all the way around with low fences so you had the perfect view of the giant tortoises wherever they were.

One of the great things about Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens is that there is such a variety of animals to see there is sure to be an animal to make everyone smile from tiny insects to towering giraffes, James and Evelyn couldn't stop oohing and ahhing (and asking for a pet everything!) at every animal we saw. A highlight for all of us were the giraffes! They had a huge enclose in a quiet corner of the park with an outdoor area that you could view them from and an indoor area up a ramp so you could be at head height with these magnificent animals if they were inside. At one point they were so close we could have reached out and touched them.

As I mentioned above the viewing area's at Cotswold Wildlife Park are fantastic. Being only 4 Evelyn usually struggles to spot the animals at the zoo etc and we spend lots of time lifting her up and down to show her through the window or cages. However this time we didn't really have to do that at all. The enclosures are either surround by a low enough fence for her to see over/through or huge glass viewing area's with unobstructed views of the animals inside. There was even a bridge we could walk over through the wolf enclosure to get an amazing view of the wolves roaming around as we stood above them.

Those who have small children will understand just how much of a difference this can make and Evelyn loved being able to see and explore for herself.

Despite being a scorching hot Saturday in the middle of the summer holidays not once did the park feel busy during our visit. We arrived shortly after opening time at 10am and left around 5pm and didn't once feel like we were in a crowded place. The layout of the park means people are spread out as soon as they enter the park and therefore we didn't encounter any ques or waiting around to see into enclosures. I was sceptical about there being no "starting point" when we first arrived but this clearly helped as everyone went their own way and didn't follow the same path around the park.

Which was good news really as James spent quite some time at this enclosure with his new little friend!

Evelyn loved the penguins and spent ages watching them waddle around the enclosure, underneath the waterfall and then diving into the pool. They were swimming around the pool, diving under and then coming right up to the wall where we could get a close up look of them.

As you walk around Cotswold Wildlife Park you will spot several buildings that you can access each one contains a different habitat or animal collection. These walk through sections are only short but a great way to spot different animals such as insects, nocturnal animals like bats and even amphibians like this huge crocodile we spotted in the reptile and amphibian house.

One great area we discovered within the park is an area ideal for younger kids, although James who is 8 really enjoyed this area too was the Children's Farmyard area. With lots of "classic" animals such as sheep, goats, ponies, guinea pigs and pigs with a large open field where you could actually go in and pet the goats who were free roaming around! These goats were very chilled out and seemed to be loving the attention and strokes from all the visitors on the day. Evelyn and James spent ages wandering around the field making sure they had given every goat a bit of attention and there is no time limit so you can spend as long or little as you want in here.

Another highlight of our day here was the train ride! This is an extra cost and is priced at £1 per person regardless of age but it is 100% worth it. The miniature train takes you around a large loop of the park in open carriages so you get a great view of the park and the grounds around it. The journey takes around 10 minutes and runs all day between 11am and 3pm. We did have a little wait for this but only 10 minutes which gave us a chance to sit down and rest our legs on the little station benches whilst we waiting for the train to come back around.

We did the train ride at the beginning of our visit which worked really well as we got to see what was coming up and what was where around the park. The train drops you back off right where you got onto it so you won't miss anything out by hopping on the train either.

On the train ride you may just catch a glimpse of the giraffes, rhinos, farmyard animals, lots of varieties of monkeys and birds as well as camels and even zebra.

Between visiting all the animals through the park we couldn't help but notice the amazing grounds the park is set in. Rolling green fields, large looming trees that provided some much needed shelter for families having lunch and the most beautiful flower beds blooming in colour. They really brightened up the park it was lovely to see so many varieties of plants and flowers and they smelt amazing too.

The park is set out over vast grounds and so little legs might get tired however there are lots of places to sit and rest or you can just enjoy shading under a tree on one of the lawns. The handy mats dotted around the park make it easy to get back on track if you do stop and means you can make sure you haven't missed anything along the way.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, it was a fantastic day for the whole family and we can't wait to go back! The animals were amazing but there was so much more than the animals to see and do. The goat petting, the train ride, park, flower gardens and all the fun and interesting facts and information to be found around the park made it an educational visit for us all too!. Adult tickets are priced at £16 (or £14 if brought online in advance) and children age 3-16 are priced at £10.50 (or £9.50 if brought online in advance). Children under two go free and there is a discounted rate for senior citizens.

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens is the perfect place to escape the stress of everyday life and enjoy an amazing family day out with the kids. I know we will remember our visit for a very long time.


**We received free tickets to Cotswold wildlife park and gardens for the purpose of this review. However all words and opinions are my own and I retain full control of this post.**

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