On Saturday we packed up the car, popped on our wellies and began our adventure in exotic South America…
It’s amazing what you can find on your doorstep and we were lucky enough to be invited to a VIP day out at Amazona Zoo, Cromer – it has to be one of Norfolk’s best kept secrets. As a fully paid up Norfolkian I thought I knew all the places to go for a family day out but this one passed me by.
Set in a beautiful wooded area just as you drive into Cromer it really was a fantastic day. The zoo is relatively small and focusses on species from South America. So no giraffes or tigers but plenty of weird and wonderful animals to spark the children’s interest. They do have some big cats too, including the very beautiful Jaguar.
It’s all set around a buggy-friendly walkway and around every corner there are sights and sounds to behold. I went wth a friend and her two children on a day when it wasn’t just the animals making us feel like we were in the jungle. It was humid with torrential downpours but it really didn’t dampen our enjoyment and by early afternoon the sun was out.
The children loved the Macaws and spent ages shouting ‘hello’ as the birds answered back – although they were a bit miffed when they didn’t answer the question: ‘what’s your name?!’
Arthur spent ages with the Caiman crocs and it was a great enclosure where you could get really close. The staff were on hand and happy to answer loads of questions.
As we wandered through to the yurt, which houses some educational boards telling you all about the people and places, a very strange creature caught our eye…
A Patagonian Mara was wandering (or maybe hoping, I wasn’t completely sure) free on the grass. It was a real treat to see it watching us all, not scared in the slightest. The children all tiptoed up for a closer look before he scurried off for lunch.
I’d never seen a Mara before and he reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland creature popping up – it wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d sat down for afternoon tea! As we turned another corner the Flamigoes were a wonderfully colourful surpise and the children tried to copy them by standing on one leg – very cute.
We watched the otter being fed, the catfish enjoying their fruit and veg and the very cute Geoffrey Spider monkies jumping through their branches. We had coffee and icecream sitting outside the cafe and the view really did make you feel a little sub tropical – I guess the weather helped!
Amazona Zoo is really geared up for families with loads of toilets as you enter, a lovely outdoor play area and Tumble Tots, the new indoor softplay. Our children had a lovely time in Tumble Tots and it was a great way to round off the visit. There was a toddler area and a great area for slightly older children too.
I would definitely go back, a really lovely family day out. It may not have the conventional zoo animals but that’s part of its charm – where else would I see a Mara, a Ocelot and a Tapir?
*Amazona also does a huge amount of conversation work with South American species and is the main sponsor in a programme of research into the life of the Titicaca River Frog.