Wild horse at the Bell Inn

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Discover the New Forest Safari

Our New Forest hotel is perfectly located for guests who wish to undertake their own adventure and New Forest Safari. Are you aware of the different species of animals that roam our landscape? If not, it’s time you headed out on your own New Forest safari…

The Area

You will struggle to find an environment as unique as New Forest. With wet and dry heaths, mires, bogs, ancient pastures, beautiful woodland, farmland, acid grasslands and coastline, it truly is an area you will never tire of exploring. All different kinds of animals, as well as our very own Inn, love to call the New Forest home. To embark on your very own safari, all you need to do is come and stay. Animal owners are can exercise their Commoner right to graze the animals in these parts, so there is plenty to see.

The New Forest ‘Big Five’ Safari


There are approximately 100 donkeys living in the New Forest, so despite their popularity with tourists, if you get to see them you should feel very lucky! Adorable and docile, these donkeys are surprisingly strong and are able to endure the forest throughout all the seasons. Come rain or shine, if you love them as much as the locals, you could try and get a photograph of them in each season and share them on your social media. We have to remind you not to feed them – the New Forest offers all the food they could ever need!


These fluffy friends are not roamers, and cannot be spotted like donkeys or other animals. One Commoner turns them out so if you are able to see them it will be in Bramshaw and the northern corner of the National Park. They are great to see out in the natural habitat but beware – if they decide to take a stroll in front of your car in the village you could add a little bit of time to your journey.


White and black herds are a prominent feature in New Forest, but your chances of seeing them reduce during autumn and winter. From Highland cattle to Galloway, Hereford crossbreed and the Friesian cow, there are a dozen different breeds in total though each type is just as protective of their offspring so do not approach! These cows are shy in their natural habitat and are a beloved staple in the area.


The New Forest is synonymous with ponies. Ask anyone and they will tell you that spotting one is a true highlight of their trip! Representing a major part of the Forest's heritage, you may be surprised to learn that these ponies are not wild. Descendants of wild ponies from many centuries ago, the ponies you will encounter in the present day have long been domesticated, and their genetic makeup has been improved through breeding with other ponies and horses. There are 3,000 roaming freely and each are owned by Commoners.


More active during the later autumn months, Pigs can be easily spotted during this time in New Forest. At other times of the year, a glimpse of them is a worthy reward for a day spent exploring. Ideal for foraging acorns and chestnuts, they can sniff out those that have fallen from the oak trees – this is referred to as ‘pannage’ This is a very old tradition that dates back to William the Conqueror. He founded New Forest, and this Pannage helps look after the ponies, who if left to their own devices would eat them before the pigs and become very unwell.

Other Animals

During your safari and depending on what time of day and year you visit, you may also encounter badgers, foxes, grey squirrels, cattle and rabbits. If you want to experience this unique safari, we’re sure you’re already thinking about hotels. New Forest, Hampshire, it doesn’t matter where you visit in the county – here at The Bell, we are always waiting to welcome you to our New Forest hotel. We also have our very own walking map from our doorstep into the local area

To go on your very own New Forest Safari, all you need to do is join us at the Inn. Contact a member of the team at our New Forest hotel today, or check availability online for the best rate.