Banham Zoo is approx an hour from our holiday cottages, southwest of Norwich. It is a beautiful drive over there, through the Norfolk Countryside.
On arrival we were handed a map of the zoo complete with a stamp challenge for the kids to find and stamp the page in order to get a prize at the end! That was it, they were hooked!!
(TIP: you can if you are organised, prior to your visit trade in Tesco Vouchers for entrance tickets)
Having never been to this zoo before I was unsure of what to expect but it was spacious and the enclosures were big & airy for the animals. Everywhere was really well kept and it was set in a beautiful park.
The accessibility was fantastic with the majority of the park having level pathways. There were plenty of toilet facilities dotted around the park, each with a disabled loo.
With over 2000 animals in 50 acres of park there is plenty to see and do, you can happily spend the whole day there.
We were excited to start our adventure and see some animals! The staff are fantastic and give regular talks about the animals and there are set feed times that you can watch. We were just in time for the feeding of the penguins! There were excellent windows in the enclosure walls meaning that both the young and wheelchair users can get an excellent close up view of these cute little creatures :) There are windows showing underwater so you can see them swimming too.
We moved on to the seal pool where they had a large space to not only swim but hang out too. There is a pair of seals living there and they were having a lovely time swimming around gracefully. Again, the large windows gave everyone a fab view.
We continued round seeing all different kinds of monkeys, some noisy ones, some little ones even some very chilled out ones ;)
I was very impressed to discover, when we were checking out the Meerkats, that the leader of the pack was a woman! But of course!! And to make things even better she had all her men running around after her while she sat on her bum! Brilliant :) A lesson to be learnt there ;)
To save our little people's legs we decided to hop onto the land train which regularly does a circuit of the park which would be fantastic for those who can't walk too far, it enables them to see everything.
By this time, we had happily spent a couple of hours looking round and the children were starting to make noises that they were hungry so we found a couple of picnic tables and sat down to our lunch. There is a food hall and regular 'Snack Shacks' at the Park but the majority of people we saw about had brought a picnic. We kept ours in the car and went back to fetch it at lunch to save us having to carry it about. I can say that the Snack Shacks do a mean coffee mind you :)
After lunch we headed to the other side of the zoo, passing through the Farm Barn where there were pigs, llamas and goats out towards the bigger animals. We saw camels, zebras, kangaroos, tigers, snow leopards as well as an impressive looking Cheetah.
There was an impressive raised walkway alongside the Giraffes meaning that you could be at a level with them.
The walkway was accessed at one end either via steps or a fab lift which would be perfect for wheelchair users and the walkway slowly meandered down until it reached the ground at the other end.
The other side of this walkway we saw the SkyTrek & Junior SkyTrek for the more adventurous visitor to the Zoo, you can be harnessed up and walk along tightropes for an extra cost - definitely not my cup of tea! My feet stayed firmly on terra firma! :)
It was soon time for the Birds of Prey Display which the men of the party particularly were looking forward too. We all went along and I was so pleased we did as I think this was definitely the highlight of my day! The birds were fantastic! They brought out a Peregrine Falcon who showed off some impressive flying, even attempting to take out a pigeon! Next came a very impressive Eagle Owl who flew centimetres away from our heads soundlessly & very gracefully considering it's size & power!
We were then treated to a display by a pair of Black Kites who did some air acrobatics swooping to catch their food mid air - amazing! The finishing display came from a family of vultures who were surprisingly endearing considering their reputation. A fantastic demonstration all in all. There is a disabled seating area by the entrance to the display area so is accessible for all.
As our children are all under 8 and were getting tired we decided to head back to the car and call it a day although there was still so much more that we could have seen. We had to have a stop to play in the brilliant playground which they managed to find a teensy bit more energy for! It demonstrates how much there is to do at Banham that they hadn't nagged us to try out the playground earlier!
We stopped off to get there well earned medal (the prize for the stamp collecting!) and said our goodbyes and left. Both kids were fast asleep within 10 minutes of leaving! Job jobbed!
I can highly recommend this as a fab day out for all the family, there is something for everyone. They do regular events including photographic workshops & Experience Days where you can be a Keeper for a day or spend time with the Birds of Prey.