In a world where international travel is highly encouraged and ‘cheap’ travel is somewhat glamourized, it can be hard to resist the urge to splurge and get on the next plane to anywhere! Although this is painfully tempting, I believe you should stick within your means and learn to appreciate the opportunity for tourism on your front doorstep when jet-setting just isn’t feeling feasible! With this in mind, we embarked on our trip to the zoo!
As the only twenty-somethings in rural Wiltshire that do not have access to a car, we rely solely on trains to get us from A-to-B, and although at times this can be incredibly frustrating, it can also provide us with some great deals on days out. Great Western Railway offer a 2-for-1 deal on Bristol Zoo entrance fees, so it cost us just £17 for the two of us including a voluntary donation to the zoo’s charity (not bad if you ask me). Bristol Zoo is really accessible with public transport, and they actively encourage this due to a lack of car parking and desire to promote awareness of our environmental impact as consumers. Trains run frequently to Bristol Temple Meads from almost anywhere in the South West, and from here you can catch the number 8 bus which runs every 15-20 minutes. You can purchase a day ticket for £4.50 per person and use it as a hop-on, hop-off service on all routes throughout the inner city. We use the number 8 service regularly to get to places such as Cabot Circus (a must for shopaholics), Clifton Village (a quirky suburb full of boutique shops & cafes), views of Clifton Suspension Bridge (an iconic photo spot) and College Green (a hub for culture vultures).
We got to the zoo at around 10am (around an hour after opening) and it was still moderately quiet despite being a warm sunny day in July. We’re always greeted with a smile and an up-to-date times guide & map to help us plan our day (not that we ever need to do much planning). You can find out about current special events and news on the zoo’s own website. What we love about this zoo in particular is it’s size. Without little ones you can easily walk around it within 2 hours, but with a number of dining options, a high-ropes course, beautiful landscaped gardens, animal feeding times, talks and interactions, you have the option to make it as long an experience as you like.
Upon entering the zoo, you are immediately confronted by a pride of Lions, typically found relaxing on a rock, basking in the sun. The zoo is home to many weird and wonderful species (including my personal favourites – the tapirs) and they reside in a range of different types of environments and enclosures. One of our favourite features has to be the walk-through exhibits. These include species such as Ring-tailed Lemurs, Butterflies, Flamingos, Tree Kangaroos and Fruit Bats! They offer some amazing opportunities for photographers who are looking for something challenging to capture, as Joe quickly found out! There are also a number of exhibits which make you feel like you could reach out and touch the animals, such as the Penguin Coast, the Pygmy Hippo House and Kona Brazil (though this is obviously not advised)! These are great because you can see the animals without having to ‘ostrich’ your neck above fences or barriers, and this makes it ideal for taking photographs! Gorilla Island is another one of those enclosures that feels like the animals are roaming free right before your eyes!
Last year saw the welcome addition of the zoo’s new restaurant ‘The Hideaway’ which boasts a varied menu of breakfast offerings in the morning, hot beverages and cakes throughout the day and a full lunch menu serving a variety of hot and cold options. Food is delivered fresh to your table and there are lots of innovative interactive elements throughout the restaurant to help entertain the little ones whilst you wait for your meal. We visited last year and enjoyed a delicious lunch of sausage & mash, however this visit we opted for the slightly sweeter option of coffee and cake! They also offer an outdoor barbecue kiosk (season and weather permitting), light refreshments & vending machines, plus a picnic area if you wish to bring your own.
Overall, Bristol Zoo provides visitors young & old with a lovely day out with some great deals if you know where to look. Wherever you are, I highly recommend getting out of the house and enjoying a ‘staycation’ in your corner of the world if you need to beat the holiday blues. You never know – you might just enjoy yourself!