We had heard great things about Chester Zoo with claims of it being the best zoo in the UK and seventh best zoo in the world according to the Trip Advisor Travellers Choice awards and were really excited when we had the opportunity to visit the zoo during the May bank holiday weekend. Parking was easy with organised parking staff who directed traffic.
On arrival at Chester Zoo you can see the rhinos in their enclosure.
We arrived just before opening and managed to park at right at the entrance to the zoo and took the opportunity to take some photos before the crowds descended. We also used this opportunity to have a look at the zoo gift shop when it was quiet.
As you enter the zoo through the ticket barrier there is a lovely new food venue called Bembe Kitchen.
Here you can pick up a drink, snack or hot meal and the quality of food and facilities was outstanding. We chose from a lovely range of homemade cakes.
Within the entrance to the Zoo there is a spectacular elephant enclosure on the left hand side.
There is a herd of elephants including a very cute baby elephant. The enclosure is big and laid out well so that you have an excellent view from several vantage points. We liked the elephants and their babies soaking each other
There were some interactive elements that the girls could get involved in, such as picking up elephant poo!
The Islands is a great new popular area, the size of 7 football pitches and built at a cost of approx. £40 million it’s so very impressive. We took a trip on a boat and explored the six south east Asian islands home to the animals that would live there.
The theming, planting and attention to detail on this attraction is superb and a lot of thought had gone into the design of this attraction, you could imagine yourself being in Indonesia rather than Cheshire on this journey.
Due to the rain we only saw one orangutan which was disappointing but many of the animals such as the tigers were hiding from the rain.
We were told by the ride supervisor that the wait times for this ride are long when the weather is dry so I imagine this could be busy in the summer and maybe best to do this first before the crowds build up.
One thing to watch out for is during the boat ride you are likely to get very wet. The canopy of the boat holds a lot of water and when you bump into the side of the bank the water topples over which resulted in us getting very very wet!
To try and dry off we entered the Monsoon Forest which is a new attraction. It is the UK’s largest indoor zoo exhibit. The huge biome was temperature controlled and was very tropical which was just what we needed to dry off our wet clothes!
As you enter the monsoon forest the first area you encounter is the Tripa Forest Research Station which again has been designed to a very high standard and is very authentic.
It had fantastic views of the orangutans in their amazing new enclosure. The baby orangutan was adorable and the girls spent and age here fascinated.
You then enter the giant rainforest itself which was an amazing experience. We could see a wide variety of exotic birds from Rhinoceros Hornbill to Sulawesi Macaques.
As you meander around the exhibit one of the girls favourite parts was the crocodile enclosure.
Again we had to coax the girls away from this because they didn’t want to leave. We could see the crocodile swimming under water and the view up close and personal was so exciting.
Something I didn’t think I would do but did enjoy was to go into the bat house. You enter into their enclosure in the dark and has a distinct smell and if you’re not keen on 300 bats flying loose around your head then this many be a little unnerving. However it was great to see them in their natural habitat as I have never experienced anything like this before.
The ticket price doesn’t include extras in the zoo such as the monorail train ride around the zoo or face painting.
I do think that given the cost of the entry to the zoo that the monorail should be complimentary but it does give a great view around the Zoo especially on a very wet day, and had a great view of the lions from on board the monorail.
We paid for one trip as you cannot stay on continuously to ride the park. There are two monorail stops where you have to disembark, join the queue to ride again.
The Spirt of the Jaguar house was a big indoor enclosure, with a jaguar and black panther. We were lucky enough to see these fantastic animals up close along with sloths. If you are a fan of the ice age films like our girls are then these animals are great to see. The girls were fascinated.
The butterfly house was another fantastic area which the girls really enjoyed. It is the biggest zoo based butterfly house in the UK, with more than 30 species of butterflies flying around you and landing on you. The tropical theming and planting on offer within this exhibit is of the highest standard.
Next up was the realm of the red ape, an Indonesian inspired forest themed exhibit which housed the longest snake in the world along with threatened Sumatran and Bornean Orangutans which was great to see swinging high on the ropes.
One of my favourite was the Giant Otters and Penguins, they were swimming outside and then came into the indoor enclosure where you can view them underwater and on land.
My other favourites were the Apes, Chimpanzees, Komodo Dragon, Giraffes and the Spectacled Bear ( same as Paddington Bear).
The Zoo was really good and all areas were well looked after with wonderful views to see all the animals. It was easy to get around and all the staff were so helpful and friendly.
The girls had so much fun and were constantly asking questions about the different animals they were viewing which showed that they were really enjoying their day out.
We encountered typical British bank holiday weather during our visit. It was very wet but we were determined not to let the weather ruin the day, just wrap up warm, comfy shoes and an umbrella to enjoy this lovely experience.
The great thing about Chester Zoo is that even on a rainy day there are many indoor enclosures to escape the rain yet still be able to see a huge range of animals. There are so many animals to see in very attractive and well-kept grounds and the benefits of going on a wet day is the zoo is relatively quiet!
The Zoo is very clean with great facilities and lots of places for picnics. You can take your own food but there are plenty of places to eat.
During our visit to Cheshire we stayed at the nearby Village Hotel St David’s Park ( you can read our review on this hotel here) which is a great hotel and location for Chester Zoo.
We had a fantastic deal in their recent sale promotion for our 2 night stay. We asked the hotel front desk if they could arrange tickets for the zoo and we paid for them via St David’s Park at a discounted rate.
You can hire a single or twin buggy on entrance, £10 with a £10 refundable deposit. There is a lot of walking around the zoo but it is all flat and accessible with a buggy. Around the zoo there are plenty of clean toilets and baby change facilities.
There is so much to do at Chester Zoo, too much to see in one day and we were impressed. It’s one the best Zoos we have been to so far in the UK and had a great day.
We can’t wait to go back hopefully in better weather and see the rest of the animals and experience things we have missed this time.