When you think Belgian, it’s almost always chocolate, waffles or beer that comes to mind. But when you’re not gorging on fine treats in Belgium, and looking for unusual destinations, look no further.
A half hour drive from Antwerp and Brussels lies Planckendael Zoo, an animal park like no other. Planckendael is well known for its variety of exotic animals and birds that roam in their unique cultural and spacious habitats.
Wildlife is best enjoyed in the wild, but an animal park like Planckendael is a great place to introduce your kids to animals they’ve never seen before, like cheetahs, baby elephants, rhinos, lemurs .
Located on the grounds of Planckendael castle in the village Muizen in Belgium, the park’s animals habitats are massive and their designs quirky. With safaris and guided tours offered to visitors, and a well respected conservation and breeding program, Planckendael fits the bill for a fabulous eco-friendly destination.
At Planckendael, exotic animals like camels and giraffes roam in their space and are curious, friendly and a joy to watch.
Plankendael follows a theme of placing animals in enclosures designed to resemble surroundings of their native habitats. The animals are situated in sections based on their continent of origin — South America, Oceania, Africa, Asia and Europe.
Quirky cultural dwellings like the teepee, means of transport like the tuk tuk, backdrops depicting an Indian village have been built around the animals and birds. You get the sense that you’re really visiting another country, with settings that transport you to the native home of the animals, providing a park experience like no other.
One of the notable interactive habitats at Planckendael is a smaller primate exhibit where you can actually walk through and feed (with zoo keeper assistance) the little monkeys.
With continent wise cuisine options, daily programs and demonstrations, the parks promises a whole lot of fun for the whole family. So head for Planckendael, where the bisons, zebras, penguins and lemurs will be a delight to interact with for children and adults alike.
Planckendael is accessible by train or car from Brussels (30 minutes drive north on the way to Antwerp), and by train at Mechelen station. A Planckendael Express bus carts visitors to and fro from Mechelen. The entry ticket of the zoo is priced at €25,00.
Eric Dickerson is based in Belgium but hails from a small town in Ohio. Before moving to Europe with his wife in 2013, he was a research associate by day and an amateur photographer in his free time. He enjoys weight lifting, traveling and reading comics, not necessarily in that order! He can be found on Flickr as dickerson.erock.