“ Las Wolski / Krakow / Poland „
Back in July we decided to go on a little adventure to Krakow Zoo. It was a nice day, not too hot with the occasional rain shower and it seemed just right for spending a day walking around looking at animals.
Krakow Zoo first opened in 1929. The zoo is set in the perfect location of Las Wolski Park/Forest and is home to around 1500 animals of 260 different species.
Our adventure actually began before we even arrived at the zoo because the bus ride to the zoo is, well, extreme! We took the 134 bus from Cracovia bus stop direct to the zoo, this only took around 15 minutes, but it was the scariest 15 minutes I've spent on a bus here! The roads which the bus has to navigate are narrow and steep with cars and buses travelling in both directions. The roads themselves are surfaced with cobbled stones rather than tarmac and when it started to rain I was convinced I could feel the bus slipping. Bus rides in Krakow are usually white knuckle rides and I have become accustomed to this, but this one was worse and I was dreading coming back at the end of the day!
Once we arrived at the Zoo entrance we were really pleased to see there was no queue. I guess the bit of rain must have put people off. The entrance to the Zoo is a lovely wooden building and fits perfectly within the forest setting. Looking around me I could see we were surrounded by pure green and huge trees, to me, this was the perfect zoo setting away from the city sounds and smells and nice and peaceful for the animals. So, we paid our entrance fee, resisted buying a guide book as we have too many leaflets and booklets hanging around already and into the Zoo we went. The price for an adult is 18zl (Polish zlotys) which is around the £3.50ish mark depending on the exchange rate. A discounted ticket for students, children and pensioners is 10zl and children under 3 years old are free. There is no doubt in my mind that these prices are excellent!
Birds, Birds, More Birds and Some Monkeys!
Upon entering the zoo I could see some large cages to the left of me and a little garden area to the right. After establishing that the garden area was just for decoration and while it contained some unusual animal sculptures there were no real animals in there I decided to look in the large cages first. From the noise coming from the cages it was obvious they were bird cages. Upon taking a closer look I could see loads of birds of all different varieties flying around in the cages, they had plenty of space to fly and move and the cages weren't over crowded at all. After browsing my way along 5 or 6 of these cages I was surprised to see that the last cage contained little monkeys rather than birds! These instantly made me smile and I felt like a kid with excitement and ready to see the other animals.
After the birds and little monkeys the Zoo path splits into two, we decided to head in the direction of the Meerkats as I could see their cute little faces looking at us. The Meerkat enclosure was quite big and the meerkats themselves looked quite content with a few of them running around while the others just seemed quite chilled out lying down but still alert to who was visiting them.
From the meerkats we moved along and saw even more birds, I think birds make up the majority of the animals here. As well as these though we enjoyed a nice walk along a path shaded by the huge forest trees with enclosures for wolves and other breeds of wild dogs, these looked really cute until one of them barked and I jumped out my skin! I was particularly impressed with the enclosure for these animals as they were huge and extended far back into the forest so they had plenty of room to roam around.
Following the big dogs we came to a large open area which according to the sign will soon be made into an enclosure for giraffes, well, now I have an excuse to visit again! Surrounding the future giraffe enclosure were about 3 or 4 deer enclosures. Like the wild dog areas these were also huge and the animals had plenty of room to run around freely over quite a large area.
The next area of the zoo which stood out for me was the lemurs, birds of prey and monkeys. All of these animals are located in the same area, obviously not in the same enclosures though. The birds of prey interested me and I was impressed with the large enclosure they have as it even has a little cave built in. The enclosure is very tall and also very long with a large slope to allow the birds to fly through the trees. The trees in the enclosure are actually the huge ones from the forest, which I thought was great as rather than cut the trees down they have incorporated them into the enclosure. I noticed this is a common thing throughout the park.
The lemurs and monkeys were very lively at the time we visited and spent most of their time bouncing around and playing with ropes and balls, this was great to watch as it was clear the animals are happy here, but annoying to try and take a photo!
One of my favourite areas in any zoo is the big cats, I love lions and tigers in particular. Here at Krakow Zoo I was a little disappointed not to see any lions, however the tiger enclosure was great! It was huge and had two tigers living in it, both of them very chilled out and asleep when we visited, but this wasn't too much of a disappointment as I think one of them knew he was being watched and rolled on his back to sleep with his legs in the air and head tipped back in a "look at me, I'm so beautiful" kind of pose!
Other big cats at the zoo include leopards, lynx and panthers. The enclosures for these cats were smaller, but still had ample space for the animals to move around if they wanted to.
About halfway around the zoo we came to a mini zoo, I guess this is aimed mainly at children but as soon as I saw the donkey's I had to go inside. I entered through the little gate and I was greeted by some rather large fluffy chickens running towards me, once past the chickens I spent about 5 minutes watching some guinea pigs running around their pen and eventually hiding in their house away from the little kids trying to pick them up!
I then had a wonder around the mini zoo and met a grumpy little horse who walked away from me, some little deer and baby bambi's, a couple of cute pot bellied pigs and of course the donkeys'. The donkeys were my favourite and I really enjoyed being able to pet them.
On the way out of the mini zoo I saw a little sink and washed my hands with the soap supplied, unfortunately there was nothing to dry my hands with but as the sun was now shining this didn't matter too much.
The zoo is home to 2 elephants, they are housed near the exit of the zoo and at the time we visited they were being fed apples. This was great to see the zoo keepers throwing the apples into the enclosure while the elephants fished them out of their pond in the middle. The enclosure for the elephants is also large and I really like that they can come up very close to the public if they want to as their fence is quite close to the path.
Whenever I visit a Zoo I always take note of the animals wellbeing and whether they have enough space as well as a place they can escape from the public eye if they want to and plenty of shady areas for the hotter days. I am pleased to say Krakow Zoo is fab in this respect, all of the enclosures are large, some of them huge and none of them seemed over crowded or in a state of neglect. All of the enclosures had ample water supplies and food available for the animals and it was obvious to see that all of the animals are all very well looked after and in great condition.
The zoo has a little cafe and restaurant both inside and outside. The one inside the zoo has a nice play area with wooden climbing frames and balance beams as well as a large bouncy castle style inflatable. We didn't eat at this cafe but we did stop for a hot dog on our way out of the zoo at their restaurant just outside the entrance. The hot dogs cost us 5zl each and bottles of Coke and Fanta also cost 5zl each. The hot dogs were nice although I had to spend 5 minutes taking all of the relish off it as they didn't ask if we wanted relish and just piled it on regardless!
As far as I could see, the only toilets in the Zoo were in the form of porta-loo's. These were located near the mini zoo. As I wasn't desperate for the loo I managed to resist the temptation to check these out so I cannot comment on the condition of the loos but either way, clean or not, I think Krakow Zoo need to invest in some proper toilets for the guests!
The Zoo is open all year from 9am until 7pm with the last entrance being at 6pm. There is a car park very close to the zoo, you will need to pay to park here but as we didn't go by car I am unsure of the cost.
Should you Visit?
If you are in Krakow and you like animals then yes you should visit Krakow Zoo. I am nearly 30 and really enjoyed my trip to the zoo! I felt like a kid again and I loved the forest setting of the Zoo. If you have children they will love to see all the animals in this environment and you can enjoy a nice walk in the nearby forest afterwards. The only thing I can complain about, other than the porta-loos's is that the boards that are located by each enclosure to tell you a bit about the animals are written entirely in Polish with only the name of the species translated into English and no other languages at all. Ok, I know we're in Poland, but for somewhere like a Zoo I would think they would have a couple more languages knowing that they are a tourist attraction.
Overall we spent almost 3 hours in the zoo and I could have probably spent more! The animals I have mentioned are the main ones I can remember, there were many more to see as well, but I cannot remember them all and I don't want to ruin the experience for those of you who may visit in the future!
If you're ever visiting Krakow then definitely give this place a few hours of your time!
Thanks for reading :)