Eight of the best zoo sleepovers in Australia
You don’t have to be born in a zoo to want to stay overnight at one.
Imagine waking up in a luxurious jungle bungalow, throwing open the curtains and being greeted by a Sumatran tiger, or feeding giraffes over the balcony of a towering treehouse hut.
If you like the idea of an immersive – not to mention unforgettable – wildlife encounter, Australia has some seriously swoon-worthy zoo sleepovers that allow you to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most majestic, mysterious and marvellous creatures. So, for a different kind of bed and breakfast, these are eight of the best zootels (zoo hotels) in Australia.
Slides: Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo, Slumber Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo, view from the balcony at Werribee's Slumber Safari, Taronga Western Plains Zoo, family enjoying a stay in the Zoofari Lodge Accommodation at Taronga Western Plains Zoo (image from Destination NSW).
Eight of the best zoo sleepovers in Australia
Jamala Wildlife Lodge
Take cat napping to the next level at Jamala Wildlife Lodge in Canberra. This luxury eco-retreat allows you to eat, sleep and observe some of the jungle’s most ferocious creatures from the comfort of a glamorous, glass-walled bungalow. Lock eyes with Malayan sun bears while you’re taking a bath, chill out with a cheetah in your bedroom or lie down with a lion (on opposite sides of the window, of course). Plus, you still have all the creature comforts of a boutique hotel, including a king bed, bathrobes, freestanding bath tub, wifi, MP3 music system and free Foxtel. Welcome to the jungle, indeed. jamalawildlifelodge
Werribee Open Range Zoo
Have an Out of Africa adventure with a Slumber Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo. This fully hosted slumber party is the ultimate glamping experience, where guests are treated to a range of wild and wonderful animal encounters. Kick off your animal expedition with a guided safari tour before being whisked away for sunset sips followed by a sustainable African-inspired dinner. Round out the evening by toasting marshmallows around a savannah-side campfire while being serenaded by the dulcet roar of lions before retreating to your boutique glamp site. Each luxury-equipped tent comes kitted out with its own ensuite, bedding and bath linen, and a purpose-built balcony that looks out over the zoo’s sweeping plains – perfect for watching the world wake up the next morning. All this at just 30minutes’ drive from Melbourne. zoo.org.au
Step into the lion’s den with a Roar and Snore experience at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. This starry safari allows you to get acquainted with some of the zoo’s most affable furry friends – including red pandas, Sumatran tigers and even sea lion pups. As dusk begins to fall, you’ll be treated to twilight tipples and canapes against the twinkling backdrop of Sydney Harbour, then you can drift off to the sounds of the zoo’s animal orchestra. And though you’re in the thick of Sydney’s urban forest (complete with spectacular city views from your lavish tent), the critter cacophony ensures there are plenty of jungle vibes. taronga.org.au
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Wake up in the Wild, literally, at Taronga's Western Plains Zoo. This Dubbo adventure is beyond your wildest imagination. Depending on your budget – and how brave you’re feeling – you can choose from three accommodation options that will put you almost in arm’s reach of giraffes, zebras, rhinos and other wildlife. Sit out on the back deck of your Zoofari Lodge and be mesmerised by the myriad animals wandering around, or have a roaring time at the Billabong Camp, where you’ll be right next to the Lion Pride Lands. taronga.org.au/dubbo-zoo
Go where the wild things are with a Wild Nights adventure at Adelaide Zoo. This zoorific slumber party sees you sleep out in style, camping out on a rooftop garden overlooking the menagerie. The overnighter includes an after-dark safari, gourmet barbecue dinner and breakfast the next day, as well as entry to the Panda and Friends Behind the Scenes experience. adelaidezoo.com.au
Camp out with animals in their natural habitat at Mansfield Zoo. This back-to-basics sleepout asks you to pack a swag, pick a snuggly spot within the zoo’s grounds and BYO camping gear for a personalised slumber party, where you’ll be serenaded to sleep by the snore of lions, the hum of llamas or the distant patter of possums as they skip and scurry among the native bushland. In the morning, instead of waking up to a rooster crowing, it will be the startling sound of camels bleating that will have you sleepily unzipping your swag and embracing the fresh, wild air. mansfieldzoo.com.au
Get up to all the monkey business at a Melbourne Zoo Roar ’n’ Snore sleepover. Enjoy a sensory and sumptuous dinner in the Elephant House while listening to wild and wonderful animal stories, then set off with a torch as you explore the zoo after dark. After supper, retreat to your private tent, where you’ll be snoozing overnight in the historic elephant exhibit. Awake to the sound of gibbons and birds chirping, then fuel up before a day of animal encounters, wildlife talks and roaming around the grounds. zoo.org.au
Wings Wildlife Park
For a more free-range zoological adventure, Tasmania’s Wings Wildlife Park has it all. Base yourself on the banks of the Leven River, which flows through the park, then pull out the fishing rods or pull on your hiking boots and get ready to explore the local flora and fauna. Some powered sites and picnic shelters are available, and there is also a swap-and-go gas bottle depot. You can even take a walk through the animal farm, where there are buffalo, bison, camels, alpacas, emus, deer and more. wingswildlifepark.com.au