As we drove through the entrance to Woburn Safari Park one crisp November morning, the car was filled with an air of excitement and trepidation with the knowledge we were about to come face to face with tigers, lions, bears and monkeys.

My two daughters are animal lovers and have been to London Zoo a few times in the past, but they knew as we approached the safari park that this was something different altogether. The chance to view animals from the comfort of your own car, with only windows separating them from us, is an amazing privilege - and the children were not disappointed.

Located off the M1, close to Milton Keynes, Woburn Safari Park opened in 1970 and covers 360 acres, but that is not just restricted to the drive-round attraction. There is also a foot safari where you can meet up with slightly less dangerous animals, a nice addition which also gives the allocated drivers a chance to stretch their legs.

The start of the drive safari begins gently with ostriches, buffaloes and rhinos, one of the latter electing to stand right next to the car munching grass. The children were transfixed by the huge creature - gentle but immensely powerful.

Meerkats in the desert springs
Meerkats in the desert springs
 

Further on, we came to the security gates which served as the entrance to the big cats territory. First up were the Amur tigers, and it really is amazing to see these graceful animals close up, wandering past our car as if we were not there. Looking at the size of the tigers' teeth I asked the children several times if their windows were shut, a slight anxiety sitting with the awe.

The lions were just as immense and we caught up with them as all the females were napping in the mid-morning sun (the young male is in a separate enclosure at present while it is introduced to these daunting looking big cats).

Leaving the African animals behind for a moment, we then encountered North American black bears which looked deadly and cuddly all at once. We were advised by signs to keep the car moving slowly and you could see why - these sometimes grumpy animals are hugely fearsome when standing.

After those exhilarating meetings it was the wonderful giraffes up next, with a few gangly youngsters adding to the wow factor here. The final part of the drive safari is optional and we were hesitant before entering due to the notoriously mischievous behaviour of the monkeys and macaques. But with a deep breath and fingers crossed, we entered and were treated to great entertainment with the Patas monkeys and Barbary macaques, well, monkeying around - play fighting, jumping around, climbing the trees and, of course, using the cars as objects to jump between and, to great relief, no damage was caused, just a few muddy paw prints on the bonnet.

Birds of prey demo
Birds of prey demo
 

After 90 minutes in the car, the road safari was over and we parked up at the foot safari, which also has a restaurant (although we enjoyed a picnic in the car) and much-needed toilets.

The animals here are just as enthralling, with meerkats in the Desert Springs area a particular highlight.

The favourite area (maybe out of the whole park) though was the walk-through squirrel monkey enclosure. These tiny monkeys are amazingly tame and standing watching them play and eat really is a privilege and, to be honest, I could have stayed in there all day.

But there was still plenty to see, including a few demonstrations of wild birds and sea lions and another few walk-through areas where you can see wallabies being fed and lemurs jumping around the branches above your head.

As well as the animals there is also a chance to pedalo around a lake in a swan boat and travel through a field of reindeer while in the carriage of a small train (all of this included in the entrance price). Being autumn though, with the days getting shorter, it's important to keep an eye on the time if you want to go round the drive safari again (which we did) as the last entrance time is 3.30pm.

 

Driving out of the safari park, with windscreen wipers and aerial still intact, we took with us great memories and pictures of the wonderful animals at Woburn Safari Park and swiftly contemplating a return trip.

Woburn Safari Park is OPEN FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ONLY until December 21, 2014.

Opening hours are 10am to 3pm (last entry), closing at 4pm.

VIP Experiences take place on days the park is closed to the public. Go to http://www.woburnsafari.co.uk/wildlife-experiences/ for more information.