During our heatwave summer, while staying in Norfolk in our caravan, I took the children to Africa Alive! This is just down the coast from Hemsby, popping over the county border into Suffolk; it’s in Kessingland, close to Lowestoft. I last went to Africa Alive! when the children were really small. I remember Millie-Mae, who was bat obsessed at the time, taking part in a bat experience – she literally did climb into the nearly pitch-dark bat enclosure! And she loved it ? This time around, we wanted to see all the larger animals … the giraffes, zebras, rhinos and lions.
We parked in their carpark, underneath a really tall wind turbine (I loved the whooshing noise it made). I’m not sure if I was guided by my children, or whether the way in was through the shop, but after handing over our tickets at the booths, I found myself inside the gift shop. Arrgghh! I’m sure there was a walk round it, but knowing my children, they led me straight in! Anyway, you leave the shop on the zoo side, and that’s where our visit properly started!
Upon exiting the shop, we could see a crazy golf course in front of us, a playground with picnic tables, a covered picnic seating area – and giraffe’s in the distance.
We were given a map that told us what time activities like the ‘giraffe feeding talk’ were taking place; however, we headed straight towards the Plains of Africa!
Plains of Africa
As we approached this large enclosure we were met (on the other side of the fence) by a large, inquisitive ostrich, who decided to walk with us towards the giraffe house.
Looking across the enclosure we saw giraffes, white rhinos, more ostriches and some zebras.
These ‘Top Trump’ boards are a particularly fun way to show facts:
Kingdom of the Lion
The lion enclosure has a great viewing building – with both a lower floor viewing area and a large upstairs that overlooks their habitat. When we visited all the lions were sunbathing and sleeping in the sun … the temperature at that time was approaching 30 degrees and we didn’t blame them!
Africa Alive! have two southern white rhinos … but again because of the time of day, and the weather, they were all outside enjoying the heat.
But we walked through the Rhino House anyway – and we’re pleased we did. On the way out. there’s an aviary containing the most beautiful birds we’ve ever seen. They are called Superb Starlings – and they really are!
The Rock Hyrax next to the starlings were very cute, albeit rather camouflaged!
Near the Giraffe House there’s Lemur Island, where we watched some baby lemurs practice their climbing. But further round, there’s an actual walk-in enclosure where you can get up-close to lots of Ring-Tailed Lemurs.
I remember the last time we visited, these were really lively … but sedate on this visit, due to the weather.
Upon leaving the Lemur enclosure we headed towards the Farmyard Corner. On the way we stopped to look at the Fennec Fox. And we fell in love there and then! They are SO beautiful – when you visit Africa Alive! make sure you go and see them.
We headed here because they have goats, and I love goats! You can buy food to feed them ? There’s also lots of guinea pigs in large pens here, and a row of aviaries with some pretty lovebirds.
Behind the Farmyard Corner is access to the nocturnal animals – the Bat Enclosure (that Millie-Mae entered the previous visit), and the aardvarks; unfortunately, these were sleeping too!
It was impossible not to notice the incredible Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre Company. I tell you, with the scorching heat of the day, and the chanting, dancing and drumming coming from the display arena … we could easily have BEEN in Africa!
Their dancing was mesmerizing and fantastic … see for yourself with this short video I captured.
When they’d finished their session, we watched a young barn own being trained by its handler. It did very well.
At this point of our day, we were feeling rather hot and thirsty. We were tiring and debated whether to stop and rest at the Limpopo Restaurant; it was rather busy though, as the crowd who enjoyed the African Dancing had headed there afterwards. We had spotted the Road Train many times throughout our visit. We had planned to hop on at some point and do the full circuit to see the animals we hadn’t managed to walk to.
Before we left this area though, we wanted to walk through the Woodland Walk aviaries with the owls and the vultures, and the serval. We were, at this point, still hunting down a missing stamp too … let me explain …
There is a children’s ‘quest’ to complete while visiting the animals. You need to look out for embossing stamp stations … you even have a map that tells you, approximately, where they are; the embossed pattern is of the animal inside the enclosure etc.
However, some are really tricky to find! (Especially the Fossa one!)
At the end, if you have completed all the stamps, you win a medal of your choice.
Food, Play Area and Discovery Centre
We missed the road train, typically, in the quest to find the Fossa stamp – so walked back through the flamingo enclosure to the Explorers Food Hall …
Three ice-cold Slushies were just what the doctor ordered! We sat indoors, in the shade, to cool off and enjoy them.
In an adjacent building was a large soft play frame … my two are too old for those now, to my relief as I felt too hot to have to supervise them ? Next to this was the Discovery Centre where talks and activities take place. There was nothing happening when we visited, but we did get to meet this hairy character …
Toby, being a bit of a golfer, wanted to try out the mini golf. I tried to talk him out of it, given the heat, but he insisted. You collect a ball and club from the shop, and Millie-Mae and I sat under a picnic table umbrella and watched from the shade.
He said it was really fun.
I guess I should end by mentioning the shop, as it certainly caught the attention of my two children! As shops go, it’s one of the better ones. A good choice of pocket-money, animal-themed gifts, up to animal-themed household items and gifts for grown-ups. Millie-Mae bought a model giraffe to live in the stables with her model horses (its head sticks out the roof!)
Overall Thoughts on Africa Alive!
We didn’t get to see all the animals. We could have, but it was just TOO hot to get around. My one piece of advice, if you visit, please do a whole circuit on the Road Train. There are animals at the far corners of the park that deserve attention too. I’ve only mentioned a handful of the animals we saw – I nearly forgot to mention the baby zebra …
There are picnic opportunities throughout the park. The Food Hall is reasonably priced though. And there are several cold drink vending machines dotted around the attraction, if you get thirsty. The park is very child-and-parent friendly. Perfect paths for buggies, parking areas for when you need to visit an observation platform (though I believe these had ramps too).
It’s a great day out. Very healthy-looking animals kept in well-managed enclosures. Africa Alive! even has an ‘enrichment wishlist’ on Amazon where people can purchase toys for certain animals.
You must visit!
That’s a demand, not a request – you’ll love it! I promise! If you want to look at an online map, or plan your day, please visit their website here