instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

Escape: Want to go on safari without flying anywhere? Metro is your wild guide

Lie with big cats in Kent

A star is horn: A rhino at Port Lympne Reserve’s African Experience area

Port Lympne safari park, above Romney Marsh and the Kent coast, has now opened its new split-level Lion Lodges. The deluxe safari-themed suites (pictured, top) — which come complete with outdoor bathtub — abut a lion enclosure where you can watch (male) Adras, (female) Oudrika and their three offspring. If the cubs’ play-wrestling leaves you itching for more, then hunt out the park’s tigers, wolves, black rhino and gorillas. It’s pricey but the conservation work from owners the Aspinall Foundation sweetens the pill. From £1,200 per night B&B, including a 90-minute Rangers Tour, aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne. For more on the Lion Lodges, see next page​

Track giraffes in Scotland

It seems Scotland isn’t too cold for the meerkats, giraffes, elephants, chimpanzees and rhinos among the menagerie at Blair Drummond, a 120-acre park near Stirling, north-west of Edinburgh. Like Woburn, it opened in 1970 and is home to over 350 animals. The park has a driving route and guided bus tours, plus a petting farm and new life-size, animated dinosaurs. Breeding programmes are a focus and there are areas for lion and Amur tigers with wheelchair-friendly viewing platforms. From £16.50, blairdrummond.com/tickets

Go ape in Woburn

Woburn is home to upward of 1,000 beasts, despite being relatively small at 360 acres. But the Bedfordshire park has won animal welfare awards and is very hot on both conservation and breeding programmes to save endangered species. Visitors can mosey in cars through five savannah-like zones, spotting anything from tigers to black bears, then walk past penguins and lemurs. On the Palladian-style Woburn Abbey’s estate since 1970, Woburn also includes a Go Ape ropes course and hosts regular talks by its keepers. From £24.99, booking.woburnsafari.co.uk

Double-decker bus it in Longleat

When it opened in Wiltshire in 1966, Longleat became the world’s first drive-through safari park outside Africa. Some 9,000 acres in size, the reserve is in the grounds of Longleat House, an Elizabethan country pile where the flamboyant 7th Marquess of Bath lives, and supports more than 500 animals, mostly in open enclosures, including cheetahs, rhinos, red pandas, Bactrian camels and wolves. There are three ways to experience it — with guides amid red double- decker buses, on board a steam railway or inside your own car using the app. From £29.70, longleat.co.uk/ticket/day-ticket

Follow wild bears in Bristol

Last July, a great reunion took place — a few brown bears, wolves, lynx and wolverines began sharing the same British woodland for the first time in a millennium. Part of Bristol Zoological Society’s Wild Place Project, five miles north of the city, this 10,000-sqm zone hopes to provoke debates about potential UK rewilding schemes. Wild Place also hosts baboons, a lemur-filled Madagascar exhibit and a slice of Cameroon’s Bénoué National Park complete with giraffes, zebras and cheetahs. From £10.92, wildplace.org.uk