on January 20, 2013
We booked an excursion to Loro Parque through our tour operator, before we left the UK. We did have a good day out, but in hindsight, had we known exactly how long the journey there and back would take, we would have given it a miss. The tour operator said it took just over an hour to get there from our location, it took well over 2 hours each way, so a lot of our time was wasted travelling on the motorway.Loro Parque is in the north of the island, in Puerto de la Cruz. It is a wildlife park - with all sorts of animals including sharks, gorillas, parrots, penguins and all kinds of other exotic animals. It is a massive attraction on Tenerife, they advertise and promote themselves heavily just about everywhere, so you can't fail to know about the existence of this place.The park is run on a not-for-profit basis. They have lots of endangered species of animals from all over the world.The day we visited was a bit unfortunate as it absolutely poured with rain the whole day long. It was not even a light drizzle, more of a tropical monsoon. This did spoil the day somewhat. The site is beautiful, with lots of winding pathways and wonderful tropical plants, but because it rained so heavily, you couldn't really just wander comfortably and take all this in.We decided to do a "Behind The Scenes Tour" which you can book on arrival at the entrance. There is an extra charge for this, but I would definitely recommend it. The guide spoke perfect English, was extremely informed and informative and gave us a fascinating insight into the park and its running. We started by the Thai Village, she told us about how the park began and its owner, a German man who still lives in the middle of the park.The tour continued in the Aquarium. Again, the guide gave us so much fascinating information about the fish and marine life here, everyone was really engrossed. We went through the long walk through glass tunnel and saw enormous sharks and all sorts of fish and marine creatures swimming above our heads.The guide took us past the gorillas, told us more about their gorillas here and the creatures in general. We were taken past a "No Entry" sign round to the back of the gorilla enclosure. We saw their "bedrooms", heard all about the underfloor heating there and saw the food preparation area. It was very interesting.Next we visited the Penguinarium. They have over 200 penguins here and Planet Penguin is apparently the biggest replica of the Antarctic continent ever built. There is an artificial ice-berg in the middle, they recreate the snow and you can see the penguins on the ice-berg but also swimming beneath the water. Our behind the scenes tour also took us underneath the giant penguin area, we saw the machinery that keeps it all operating and heard how it all worked.Our last place to see was the orcas or killer whales. This is the park's most recent attraction, apparently you cannot see killer whales anywhere else in Europe. They are housed in 22.5 million litres of sea water pumped directly from the Atlantic. We heard all about these fascinating animals, were taken underneath the water to look at them through glass windows and saw them with their trainers.The tour took about 2 hours and for us was definitely worth it. I would recommend this.In the afternoon we went to a couple of the different shows. You need to arrive early for good seats. We saw the orca show - a lot like SeaWorld in Florida, the dolphin show which was lovely and the sealion show. A highlight of this was when a sealion came into the audience and "kissed" a lady.The park is open every day between 8.30 and 16.45. We arrived at 10.30 and left at 4.00. This was enough time to do the tour, have lunch and see 3 of the shows. I think this is enough time, we didn't feel we had missed anything out. Tickets cost 33 Euros for adults and 22 Euros for children. There are lots of places to buy food and drinks in the park - the food is also quite good.It was a fun day out, we enjoyed coming here, but if you are more than 40 minutes to an hour of travel away from Puerto Cruz, I would suggest leaving this off your itinerary. It is very interesting and the shows are great, but not much different to any other animal park anywhere else. There are more and better attractions on the island that are unique to Tenerife.
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