Whether vehicle-based or guided on foot our Safaris take you into the heart of the Knepp Wildland Project – 3,500 acres of natural habitat where you can enjoy a stunning proliferation of wildlife, from herds of free-roaming herbivores and flocks of birds to the rarest fungi and beetle.
Our Safaris are suitable for all - wildlife novice, amateur enthusiast or professional ecologist. Your guide, who is highly experienced in species identification, will take you to the current hotspots for wildlife activity according to the season.
About the Project
The Knepp Wildland Project is a pioneering experiment in habitat creation, the largest of its kind in lowland Europe. Here, natural processes – driven by large ungulates – are allowed to take place on an influential scale.
Over the course of little over a decade, since the project began, we have seen a remarkable come-back of species, many of them nationally scarce. Knepp is now a hotspot for nightingales, cuckoos, turtle doves and purple emperor butterflies, to name a few. From observing species like these at Knepp, ecologists have gained new insights into their behaviour and habitat preferences, demonstrating that the Knepp Wildland Project, with its focus on natural processes rather than species targets, has ground-breaking scientific value.
Our 12+ Policy
Knepp Wildland Safaris and campsite are all about the quiet and patient observation of nature. Some of the species we are likely to encounter are shy or can be frightened by loud noises or sudden movements. Others may take time to find. For this reason our safaris are suitable only for children of 12 and over.
Our campsite with open-air fire-pits, wood-burning stoves and an on-site pond is unsuitable for small children. We welcome guests with responsible children of 12 years and over but would also advise we do not provide additional entertainment for them.
When to come
April & May is best for the Dawn Chorus.
Late April–early May sees the arrival of cuckoos, nightingales, and turtle doves.
Early summer onwards is best for seeing beetles, reptiles and birds in general.
Mid-end October is the deer rut.
Half Day Safaris are available throughout the season and run from 9.30am-12.30pm and 2-5pm
Safaris will continue through all safe weather conditions. Unfortunately we cannot provide refunds or date changes for poor weather and, in the nature of safaris, we cannot guarantee you see particular species, though our ecologists know the area and what’s in it like the back of their hands and there is always something wonderful to see.
Safaris are either vehicle-based in an open-sided 14-seater or 10-seater Austrian Pinzgauer, open-air 5-seater Kawasaki mule, or guided on foot. If on a walking safari you’ll need a level of fitness that enables you to walk at a gentle pace, with numerous stops to observe things of interest, for 2-3 hours. On vehicle safaris there will be plenty of opportunities to stop at sites of interest and walk around for 15 minutes or so.
On receiving your booking we’ll send you an information pack with further details of what to wear and what to bring, together with a location map showing where to meet.
Knepp Castle Estate
Knepp Castle, a castellated mansion designed by John Nash, was built in 1806 for the Burrell family. Thanks to its historic continuity Knepp Estate can boast ancient trees hundreds of years old which support rare species of beetle, lichens and bracket fungi.
The Estate was farmed with increasing intensity over the last century, following government directives after the Second World War. The soil, however, is heavy Weald clay and not ideal for modern intensive farming methods.
Towards the end of the 1990s we gave up our dairy herds and arable crops and switched to a more extensive system. The method we are now practising in the Knepp Wildland Project is more like ranching, which gives us a significantly low-carbon footprint. Permanent pasture, woodland and scrub also play a vital role in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Grazing animals are the prime ‘movers’ of regeneration. The breeds of animals we have at Knepp – longhorn cattle, fallow, roe and red deer, Exmoor ponies and Tamworth pigs – imitate the mix of herbivores that would have grazed this land thousands of years ago. The different species affect the vegetation in different ways helping create a mosaic of habitats like open grassland, regenerating scrub, open-grown trees and woodland.
Population densities of these grazing animals are carefully managed - too many animals and the whole area will revert to open plain; too few will result in dense woodland. With careful monitoring the animals can live outside all year round without the need for supplementary feeding, except when there is significant snow cover. The cattle, pigs and deer we cull provide us with premium quality ‘wild-range’, slow-grown, organic meat – something that is much in demand amongst both food connoisseurs and ethical consumers.
Local Pubs & Cafés
Safaris include tea, coffee, and organic homemade cake but if you’d like to tie in your visit with a local meal we recommend:
The Crown Inn (our nearest pub with locally sourced food), Worthing Road, Dial Post, RH13 8NH - 01403 710 902
The Countryman Inn, Shipley, RH13 8PZ – 01403 741 383
The George & Dragon Dragons Lane, Dragons Green RH13 8GE – 01403 741320
The Sussex Produce Company (lovely food shop and café), 88 High St, Steyning BN44 3RD – 01903 815045
There are also lots of restaurants and cafés in Horsham, including Wabi, Bill’s and Tristan’s.
In the next 60 years I hope we will have learnt the importance of a robust ecology for our future on this planet. Our focus will be not simply on conserving what little we have left but on re-creating the conditions to allow natural processes to return. Isolated areas of nature will be re-connected through a lacework of corridors and stepping-stones so that species can survive in sustainable numbers. Intensive farming will be balanced by a greater emphasis on extensive methods like pasture-fed livestock. Ecosystem services - putting an economic value on our natural resources - will be a vital part of this process.