Thursday 28 August 2014

How to enjoy Colchester zoo in the rain

Yesterday on the way to our holiday we had an overnight stay in Colchester and for my husbands birthday we headed to Colchester zoo as he loves to watch the animals. Sadly the great British weather was not on our side and it was heavy rain pretty much the whole day. Despite being on holiday and thus not being prepared for this kind of weather we decided to brave it anyway.

Here are my top tips for enjoying a day at Colchester zoo in the rain (and yes I would recommend you still go, it is a great place) -

1)    Get prepared before you leave home. Make sure you have waterproof coats, wellies (there are lots of big puddles) and an umbrella. Personally I'd also advocate one of those shopper bags on wheels and pack it with your lunch, towels (to dry yourself or sit on) and all the other things your family might need. Also dont forget the positive attitude, whilst the weather might be miserable, you don't have to be.

2)    Don't miss the brand new Australian Rainbows walk through. For £1 you can purchase a little tub of nectar and feed the beautiful lorikeets. Just look at the smile on my boys face when the bird hopped onto his arm and fed. This was probably the highlight of my husbands day too.

3)    The animal shows continue rain or shine, so use your towel or a carrier bag on a chair and have a seat to watch one of the outside shows. Miss E loved watching the parrots fly overhead and as I was standing the hawks were a tad unnerving when they flew past me!

4)    Make sure you visit some of the public animal feeding times. The kids fed the giraffes and they felt so connected to the animals by doing this, it also meant they could chat to some of the staff and learn some new facts.

5)    Many of the animal enclosures are undercover and you can spend ages watching the animals inside or out. I really loved the fact that the enclosures at Colchester zoo are large and you feel as if the animals have enough space. Particularly good is the Orangutan area, where you can watch them inside and outside and also play with some apparatus and get a taste of what it is like to be an Orangutan.

The sealion tunnel is also much better than most aquariums Ive been to and it is great to watch them swim overhead and feed. The Penguins can also be viewed from inside and make for interesting viewing.

2014 is the year of the bear at Colchester Zoo and the new Bears of the Rising Sun enclosure is very impressive and large. So great to be able to watch the animals and have space to do it.

6)    The Lost Madagascar Express train is good as it is undercover and thus does not matter if it is raining. The ranger guide talks you through all the enclosures that you drive past and takes you straight into the Lemur enclosure and you can get out the train and take a walk and see what the lemurs are up to, it was really good.

7) Visit the Discovery centre for some hands on fun. Miss M loved getting in the cage to see what bears in captivity have to go through and holding the giant African land snail.

Of course if you go along to Colchester Zoo when it is not raining it would be even better I expect, there are so many great adventure parks all over the zoo and my kids really wanted to try out some of the fantastic looking slides but alas it was just too wet on the day we went. It is probably apt to mention that there is a nice soft play at Colchester zoo, we did go in there for about half hour but because of the rain it was really busy.

To be honest due to the weather we probably missed about a third of what we could have seen at Colchester Zoo, so do make sure you check out their website and see exactly what they have to offer.

If we had paid for entry to Colchester Zoo it would have been £78.25 for our family of 5 (this is 10% off the on the gate price). If you find you like it when you are there you can of course upgrade to a yearly pass and the cost of that day will be taken off.

During the summer months the zoo is open 9.30am - 6.30pm and this is plenty long enough to see everything. There are loads of snack and eating venues across the zoo and you can choose from things like cheesy fries at £2.20, wraps made to order, hot dogs or more traditional sit down restaurants and patisseries. We used used the vending machines where a coke bottle was £1.70 and a water £1.30.

In all I'd say Colchester Zoo is a wonderful place to visit, there is so much there and it is all presented well. The animals have lost of space to move and there is good variety. There is also plenty of opportunities for the kids to learn more and lots of interactive displays where they can open flaps, move doors etc to discover more about the animals.

Disclosure: We received free entry to the zoo in return for an honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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