When we mapped out our trip to the Cairngorms National Park, we knew we’d spend the bulk of our time there Munro-bagging. But there was another spot I was keen to visit while we were in the area: Highland Wildlife Park. And so, after four days of Munro-bagging (and with four more to come afterwards), it was time for a rest day – in the form of a pootle around Highland Wildlife Park.
Like Edinburgh Zoo, Highland Wildlife Park is managed by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). We swung by Tesco to pick up croissants for breakfast and some snacks for lunch, and then drove out to Highland Wildlife Park. When it says it opens at 10.00, it means it. We arrived fifteen or so minutes early – as the timed ticket had said we mustn’t be late or we wouldn’t be allowed in – and the gates were closed. We pulled into a side road and parked; others queued down the hill. On the dot of ten, a man appeared at the gates and began to usher cars in.
Highland Wildlife Park is split into two parts: a ‘Main Reserve’* and a ‘Walk Around Area’. We decided to start with the Main Reserve, which is home to deer, vicuña (a wild relative of the llama), elk, Przewalski’s horse and European bison, and then wander round the Walk Around Area. Highland Wildlife Park is smaller than other zoos I’ve visited, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in the variety of animals that call it home. We saw polar bears, snow leopards, wolves, wolverine, reindeer – and one of my personal favourites, Scottish wildcats, to name but a few.
*Note: the Main Reserve is cars-only.
Here are fifteen of my favourite photos from Highland Wildlife Park:
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Getting there | Highland Wildlife Park is seven miles south of Aviemore, and well-signposted from the A9. Despite much Googling, I’ve not been able to find an alternative (besides a taxi) for those without their own wheels; it looks as though a number of bus services have changed, and there isn’t currently one which stops near Highland Wildlife Park.
- Tickets | Tickets must be pre-booked, unless you’re an RZSS member (or accompanied guest). Visit www.highlandwildlifepark.org.uk for more details.
- Misc. | If it’s a stonking hot day when you visit and you fancy a scoop (or two) of gelato to cool off, head to Miele’s Gelato in Aviemore. For the chocolate-cone fiends amongst you, I recommend their Smarties cones.