Kristiansand Zoo 30 km south of Oslo i Norway is not just an ordinary zoo. It’s a zoo, wilderness experience, theme park and water park all rolled into one and that is the reason we keep coming back.
The zoo outdates me with 10 years (without revealing my age) and when I was a kid I always wanted to go there, but never got the chance to (took forever to drive in those days). I guess you can say that that left me with a lifelong quest to finally go there.
When my son was little over a year I finally had a reason to go, and from our first visit we simply fell in love and in our first season we returned 10 times (with a total of 5,5 hours of driving for a return trip, that is considered crazy..). The next couple of years we went even further and bought season passes.
The reasons why we fell in love with the place are plenty, and here are just a few:
1. The animals
Of course, it is called Kristiansand Zoo, so I have to start with the animals. The place really focuses on animal welfare and they are also a part of global breeding programs and I also love the fact that the animals have plenty of space and you are not guaranteed to even catch a glimpse of them. The wolves, for instance, we are only able to spot like 10% of our visits.
Kristiansand Zoo has their very own pirate, called Captain Sabertooth and he has both his own village, pirate boat (in which you can join and fight another pirate ship) and he also has several freebie shows during daytime in the summer and an evening show (extra cost) in July. Need I say that we have been to his show around 7-8 times?
The kids can also donate their pacifier to Captain Sabertooth for safe keeping in his vault, when they are ready to stop using it. For that they will be rewarded with a bonafide pirate diploma.
3. Cardemom Town
Cardemom is a small village inside the zoo, that is based on the very popular children’s book “When the Robbers Came to Cardemom Town” by Torbjorn Egner. Here you can visit the houses of many of the main characters and in season you can even stay the night in one of the houses. Several times a day during summer, the characters also come alive and play out some of the scenes from the book. In Cardemom town you can also buy legendary cinnamon buns.
4. The Huckybucky forest
Huckybucky forest is also based on a book by Torbjorn Egner; “Claus Climbermouse and the other animals in the Huckybucky forest”. Her you can take a train through the forest and watch scenes from the book played out. Mikkel Fox is as always out to eat the deadbeat mouse Claus and the other smaller animals in the forest. The bear is celebrating its 50th birthday, the baker intern is making cookies totally wrong and Morten Mouse is visiting his grandmother.
5. The Water Park
The waterpark is located next to the zoo and you have the option of either buying a combination ticket to both parks or standalone tickets. The first year the water was freezing cold, but now it’s better and last summer they even made an artificial beach here. In addition you have waterslides, an obsticle course, wace pool, baby slides and an indoor pool.
Or, lack of crowds to be more specific. In the zoo (granted that you stay away from the feedings and freebie shows), you can find spots where you are more or less alone. Also, there are plenty of picnic areas where you can enjoy food you have brought from home. During winter they sometimes also make a fire where you can warm your own hot dogs.
7. Amusement park
Kristiansand Zoo also has an amusement park with obstacle courses through the forest, lotteries, carousels and much more..
8. Playground and petting zoo
In the park you can find several playgrounds for the younger ones. It aldso have several petting zoos where you can get up close with goats and pigs.
If you want a stay-over you have plenty of offers. Across the street you have a nice hotel with a heated pool and right next to the entrance of the park you have the Dyreparken hotel, where all the rooms have an animal theme. If you want to live like a pirate, you have Abra Havn close by (here you will get a visit by pirates every morning during summer) and they even offer tree cabins (can’t wait to try these out…).
I sincerely hope I have been able to transfer my love for Kristiansand Zoo into this post. It is really a haven and a perfect spot for me that are not really a fan of big crowds and long lines. The ticket fee is a bit steep, but once paid most of the avtivities inside the park are for free.