If you are visiting the Scottish Highlands with children, then the Highland Wildlife Park is a must.
Located near Aviemore, and with staggering views of the Cairngorms in the background; the Highland Wildlife Park has a large collection of animals, a fantastic adventure playground and a drive through safari experience.
The animals at The Highland Wildlife Park
The wildlife park has conservation at the core of what it does; many of the animals are endangered and the wildlife park is trying to reverse that through education and breeding programmes.
There are native species such as Scottish wildcat, capercaillie, red squirrel, Eurasian beaver and European wolf. And there are non-native species such as polar bear, Amur tiger, snow leopard, red panda and snow monkey.
The drive through safari at The Highland Wildlife Park
The park is very big, and there’s two different sections to it – the walk around reserve and the main reserve that you drive around (both parts of the park can be explored as many times as you like throughout the day).
Our children loved driving around the main reserve – it’s an incredible experience to be close to so many large animals, and they found it hilarious when we got caught up in a herd of Przewalski’s Horses. The animals have right of way, so we were stuck for a while with the beautiful and inquisitive horses all around the car. The children squealed with excitement because of this and giggled when the car behind us got blocked by the horses too.
It was wonderful to see how much space the animals had to roam in, and how healthy and well looked after they are.
The walk round reserve at The Highland Wildlife Park
The walk around area is roughly the same size as the main reserve, so it’s very large. You can definitely get round it during a day trip, but if it’s too long a walk for your little people, then the paths are all pushchair friendly.
Because the park is so extensive, there’s lots of space for roomy enclosures for the animals, which was absolutely wonderful to see. Our favourite exotic animal was the Amur Tiger. We heard on national news about the three tiger cubs that had just been born. While the cubs and mum were resting indoors during our visit, we did get to see dad tiger proudly striding around his enclosure. We’d love to return to see the babies explore their new home.
It’s hard to pick which native animal was our favourite. The children were awestruck by the wolves; entertained by the pair of playful red squirrels that were rolling around and play fighting on the ground just a few feet from where we stood; they enjoyed spotting the wildcats lounging above their heads; and were even thrilled by the empty beaver enclosure which told us the happy news that more beavers had bred and been released back into the Scottish wild.
Facilities at The Highland Wildlife Park
The Highland Wildlife Park has a large adventure play ground with picnic tables next to it. There’s also two cafes which serve a range of hot and cold meals and sweet treats, the Antlers Coffee Shop has fantastic views of the Japanese snow monkey enclosure.
There’s also a visitor centre and gift shop, which stocks lots of local and animal related gifts and mementos.
Prices at The Highland Wildlife Park
Why not read more of our reviews for Scotland.