Visiting Africa Alive with Toddlers

July 31, 2019

On Monday we visited Africa Alive near Lowestoft, Suffolk for the first time, so I thought I’d share our experiences and write a little review about our trip with two toddlers in tow. We paid for our tickets ourselves, although we did get them half price because at the time of visiting, we had Roarrr Dinosaur Adventure passes.

It takes around 45 minutes to get to Africa Alive from Norwich, and we arrived just in time to watch the Amazing African Animals display. This included an eagle owl, some hooded vultures and some exceptionally cute African pygmy goats, who are being taught to climb by the zookeepers.

An eagle owl sits on the keeper's left forearm and takes food from her right hand at the Africa Alive Amazing African Animals display.
The eagle owl lands on a log in front of a keeper, with wings outstretched as part of the Amazing African Animals display at Africa Alive.
African pygmy goats stand on a pile of rocks and take food from a keeper at Africa Alive.
Two African pygmy goats stand on rocks at the legs of their keeper, who is holing a small tennis ball on a stick.

After the show, we had some lunch. There are two restaurants, as well as various snack shacks, but we had taken a picnic lunch and found that there were plenty of picnic benches dotted around the park for us to use.

Obviously I can’t speak for the food on offer as we didn’t sample it ourselves. We did enjoy some ice creams from one of the snack shacks, and found they were comparatively priced to other attractions we’ve visited recently.

There were a couple of areas of Africa Alive that were a little bit difficult to negotiate with the pram, but on the whole, we found the park to be really accessible for pushchairs (and so I assume similar for wheelchairs). The paths were well paved and there were ramps up to all of the viewing areas.

Our main problem was that B didn’t want to stay in the pram, and insisted on walking most of the time! This meant that we ended up walking at an incredibly slow pace, and missed some of the many feeding talks on offer.

We did manage to make it to the lion feeding, though, which was very interesting. Did you know that if a male lion is castrated, it is unable to grow a mane? No, nor did I!

A male lion looks up with raw ribs at his feet.
A lion eats some ribs as part of the lion feeding talk at Africa Alive.

As a parent of toddlers, the thing I liked about Africa Alive was the amount of open space there was for the children to walk around in, looking at the different animals. There was also a really nice play area with a trim trail, swings and a slide, which the girls enjoyed.

There were open spaces and play areas for the animals, too, which was lovely and quite unusual for a zoo. A particular highlight was the ‘Plains of Africa’ – a savannah-style open space where giraffes, zebras, rhinos and ostriches roamed together.

A view of the savannah at Africa alive. A wide open green space with a ostrich in the foreground and rhino in the background.
Two giraffes relax by a tree on the savannah at Africa Alive.
Three rhinos lie on their sides, leaning against one another in the foreground, while another sniffs the mud in the background.

Past the savannah, there were the Lemur Islands, where it was lovely to watch the lemurs hopping around and playing on their rope bridges and tyre swings. There was also a short boardwalk down to the ‘Wader’s Lake’, with information boards about the various birds to be spotted there.

The nice thing about the information boards was that many of them had buttons at heights accessible to children, which then gave clear information via audio. This was a really nice touch as it made the displays interactive for children, as well as being accessible to those with visual impairments. M loved pressing all of the buttons to find out more about the animals.

Matthew, M and B walk down the boardwalk to the Wader's lake at Africa Alive.
A view of the Wader's lake.
Jules kneels next to an animal information sign with M and B.
M presses buttons on the Fossa information display at Africa Alive.

Another high point for M was meeting Africa Alive’s mascot, Reggie the lion. She was so excited when she was given a sticker after working up the courage to give him a high five. When we said we needed to go and see the lions, she kept telling us that she’d already seen a lion, and given him a high five!

M also enjoyed collecting all of the stamps around the park, in order to earn a medal. The stamps at Africa Alive are a bit different to the usual ink stamps at attractions. Instead, they’re like little embossing machines with a lever to pull. M found this a great novelty and both girls were pleased with their medals at the end of our visit.

Matthew helps M to emboss her stamper sheet at Africa Alive.
M gives the Africa Alive mascot, Reggie the lion, a high five.
M smiles at the camera, touching her 'I met Reggie the lion at Africa Alive' sticker with pride.

There was so much to do at Africa Alive and we didn’t manage to see everything on our visit. M was disappointed that we ran out of time to ride on the train and have her face painted. There’s also an indoor adventure play area that we didn’t even get to go inside! I’d definitely like to see more of the feeding talks next time.

We’ll definitely be visiting Africa Alive again in future.

A pinnable image for this review of Africa Alive.

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