Visiting the world in one day? Then head for Pairi Daiza, definitely the best zoo in Europe, immersing you fully in the world of animals in their original habitats. Strolling through the park feels and looks like you are actually on each continent. The enormous park is divided in several themed worlds. Want to explore? Read some more about our experiences in this blog.
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#1 Cambron – Abbey
In summer time, thousands of different colorful plants and flowers are leading your way into the zoo, starting at the park’s 45 m high landmark the Cambron – abbey Tower, where impressive peacock and other feathered friends freely wander around the Rose and Andalusian Garden. From there on, with a detour through the giant greenhouse, the beautiful Pairi Daiza world lies at your feet.
#2 Cambron – by – the- sea
First embark at the themed world of Cambron-by-the-sea, celebrating the treasures of the ocean in its colorful aquarium. Clown fish, seahorses, jellyfish, coral and fascinating sharps inhabit the large water basins. A bit further, in Algoa Bay, you can encounter some Cape penguin and fur seals. They reminded us at our time in Capetown in Sout-Africa.
#3 The Middle Kingdom
From this seafront experience, head towards the Middle Kingdom, where you feel China awake. The pavilions, bridges, water features and paths are clustered into a city surrounded by medicinal plants, delicate flowers and rare herbs. Not to mention the various temples and pavilions, all respecting traditional techniques.
In this rich culture, which breathes harmony and serenity, humans and animals come together. There are three shining must-see stars: Hao Hao (‘nicely’), Xing Hui (‘twinkling star’), the two giant pandas that arrived in Pairi Daiza in 2014 and their newborn Tian Bao (‘treasure of heaven’), an extremely rare birth for Pairi Daiza, Belgium and Europe. We admired then while bathing in the sun outside and enjoying some bamboo lunch in their sheltered home.
But there are others too. We saw the Asiatic black bear, the Himalayan red panda, the yellow-cheeked gibbon, the mandarin duck, the ounce, the superb snow leopard and not to mention the Père David’s deer, which now only exists in captivity and the Chinese alligator, also threatened with extinction.
#4 The Southern Cape
The Southern cape is the smallest themed world, somewhere in between the others and yet, it gives a great view on the magnificent animals living in Australia and New Zealand. Maori craftspeople contributed to the habitat of the Tasmanian devils, emus, wallabies and kangaroos, sunbathing on their grassy planes near the lake. You can admire the koalas in their sheltered area. Really impressive are the Australian pelicans, which we saw in full glory near the lake and, later on the evening, in a marvelous bird show in the amphitheatre.
# 5 The Land of the Origins
Then there’s the Land of the Origins, featuring the Africa continent, the cradle of our civilization. With it’s colorful huts, re-creating the houses of the builder people in norther Togo, this part of the zoo offers visitors an authentic way of learning about the life of the people and the animals of this founding continent. A stilled lakeside village, some African art and textiles, prints, masks, snapshots of everyday life with advertising boards, a hairdresser; …. rhythms, shapes and colors.
Here we met the majestic lion, the predatory hyena and the fascinating cheetah. Elephants wander around, just like a handful of white rhinoceros – with a baby – and a herd of zebras. And the gorilla family hide in the impressive volcanoes. Here too, it brought me back to our safari trip in Southern Africa a couple of years ago and the splendid herds in Addo Elephant National park.
#6 The Kingdom of Ganesha
In the enchanting Kingdom of Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, with its lush vegetation, wonderful Thai craftsmanship and sacred temples – built from blocks of lava – Bali comes to life. We climbed the great staircase which lead to the Sacred Hill and were rewarded with a splendid view over the zoo and the various themed worlds.
Not to mention the stunning views of the white Bengal tiger in its majestic home, the Javan Leopard, the macaques and the Sumatran orangutans. The views on the herd of Asian elephants are simply superb. Their habitat in the form of a beautiful Hindu palace is enormous and stretches out around and behind their dwellings, impressive.
This is definitely one of my favorites in the park. The Indonesian illusion is perfect, you feel like you are standing in one of Bali’s temples yourself.
#7 The Land of the Cold
From Ganesha’s Kingdom, it’s just a step away to the Land of the Cold, reflecting remote regions up in the north, white ice floes arctic tundra and dark pine woods. This is the land of the penguins in their underground cave, polar bears (eating pumpkin!), giant walruses and the Siberian tiger. There are buffalo close by, wolves and reindeer. Scandinavia, Russia and Antarctica at your fingertips.
#8 The Last Frontier
And a last, but not least, themed world: the newly opened Last frontier. This sacred land breathers the grandeur of nature, with its Indian totem poles carved with animal figure and plunges you into the world of British Columbia and southern Alaska, the Indian tribes and their magnificent ecosystem to adapt to their wild and dangerous natural surroundings.
This is a pleasant area to walk around and see a lot of animals in ‘the wild’: brown and black bears, timber wolves, moose, white-tailed deer, pumas, elk, beavers and sea lions. This land offers two vast planes, where animals live together, re- created as in ‘real life’. There are forest and small rivers, scattered with lush vegetation.
This is one of the locations where you can stay overnight. The Native village bungalows offer vies on the black bears, the Full Moon Lodges on the brown bears. The latter location reminds a bit of Frodo Baggin’s house in the Shire.
Looking for some more day trips? Then have a look at some of my other blogs such as a great City walk in Ostend.