Ok, it was that boring bit inbetween Christmas and New Year. And there it was, Knowsley Safari Park.
We’d never been before, despite having driven past it many many times. On the spur of the moment we thought it would be a good idea.
Well, we did sort of enjoy ourselves. Mainly.
The whole place was a lot bigger than we thought, even though large sections were closed because it was, well, winter, cold, and that boring bit inbetween Christmas and New Year.
The grounds are interesting, and then there’s the actual safari drive. Broadly speaking you drive up and around, crossing electric cattle grids to enter into different ‘enclosures’, and drive past animals that hate you or want to eat or hurt you. To be honest, large areas have no actual livestock when it’s cold and wet, although you can see it huddled together in the distance in purpose built shelters.
It got a little exciting driving through the lions. Well, trying to drive through the lions. They seemed to be approaching the cars and stopping. Then they were letting out roars. Very loud roars. Long throaty roars.
I think there was a domestic or two going on, and it wasn’t really about the humans. However, the protective gamekeeper driving the Landrover with the reg ‘LION1’ had to keep driving at different lions to break them up. Close up they were a bit scary. The good advice was to keep windows and door closed.
Beyond the Lions were various other things, again, mainly sheltering from the cold, but as the winding trail continued there was a fork and a decision to make.
Right was the car friendly route to the baboons. Left was the direct route into the baboon enclosure.
Heh, how we laughed at the wimps opting to turn right. Almost alone we drove down the approach to the baboons. Look at all those stupid scared people we thought. Pah!
Into the baboon enclosure we drove, no problem. Pretty quickly a huge fat-arsed baboon sat on the bonnet staring in at us. No problem.
The instructions were to just keep driving slowly, do not stop. Do not stop.
So, with a huge baboon looking quite happy yet clinging to the bonnet there we were, driving and not stopping. No problem.
Suddenly, this huge fat-arsed baboon on our bonnet leant down and using his mouth, pulled off and chewed the driver’s side screenwash jet and part of the pipe that he (or she) had pulled through the hole in the bonnet. Ok, a slight problem.
As he sat there chewing the screenwash jet (and pipe) a baby baboon joined him for the ride. He seemed worried that the baby baboon might steal the other screenwash jet, so he spat out the one he was chewing, and leaned across to bite off the passenger side screenwash jet.
The baby baboon was obviously hanging around with an older baboon that he (or she) shouldn’t have been. Having been spotted doing this, suddenly his (or her) mum, dad, auntie and uncles, or brothers or whatever, all came hurtling over. Trampling extremely muddy footprints all over the windscreen, the bonnet, and well, everywhere, they proceeded with a game of throwing each other off our vehicle, and then running back on. Again and again they played this game. Those who didn’t want to leave hung on to the windscreen wipers.
Ah, then we no longer had windscreen wipers. Or attached wing mirrors. Or radio aerial. Or rear number plate.
We proceeded, well limped, to the exit of the baboon enclosure where a lady with a stick stood poking the remaining baboons off the cars as they exited the enclosure. I want her job. It must be hilarious.
Anyway, we enjoyed the rest of the time at the Knowsley Safari Park, and we have vowed to never laugh at people turning right for the car friendly route. They are not wimps. They are realists.
Or, they are people who have, like us, done it once and will never ever do the baboon enclosure again.
If you never take any other piece of advice from me, or listen to a word I say, just believe and trust me on this one thing: Really really, don’t drive through a baboon enclosure.