Watch the skies the man said, and sure enough down they swooped, Griffin and King Vultures, American Bald Eagles, and even scavenging storks. There was no fear though around the amphitheatre at Jungle Park in Chayofa, just admiration at the majestic beauty of the birds of prey show.
I had never been this close to nature’s hunting machines but as they swooped from all directions their trainers guided them in expertly to their arms or the perches just behind the enthralled audience. That was the first big surprise of the day, I had already admired the tigers and lions and had seen the cheeky Humbolt Penquins waddling around their keeper as he topped them up with fresh fish. Time to play the big white hunter and go exploring around the lush green layers of the park.
With signs in English, Spanish, and German it was easy to became acquainted with many species of monkeys, iguanas, and parrots. The sound of cascading water lured me across a rope and wooden board bridge over a leafy ravine. On one side alligators lounged at the waters edge and on the other a large area opened out with a tree house platform occupied by a large orangutan snoozing with one eye keeping watch on the monkeys scampering around the rock face where the fountain played.
This summer a new sea lion show was on my list of things to see so I headed around to the restaurant terrace and the tiered seating that spread downwards to the glass sided pool. The two sea lions slithered onto their stage with their trainers and went through their party pieces of looping through hoops, over small hurdles and posing with a lucky volunteer from the audience. There were a lot of families watching and the small children were particularly captivated by their antics. Next door on Gibbon Island the White Handed Gibbons wanted to be the star turns and were showing off their most gymnastic moves on their tall tree branches.
I had noticed earlier an even higher rope bridge so back-tracked and followed the trail that led across there for great views over the park. There were a lot of split level walkways and small paths adding to the enclosed feel of a jungle setting and plenty of benches in well shaded spots take a break. The Jungle Trail looked like a challenge, aimed at the younger visitors, us oldies were also welcome so I did my best not to look too clumsy as I climbed the rope ladders, crawled through the netting, and picked my way across the rope tunnel.
A tower at the end gave great views over Los Cristianos but passing down below was a sight that fired up many of the younger adventurers. The Bob is two shiny metal bobsleigh runs, I traced them back to the station where for 4 euros extra, adrenalin fans of all ages were boarding flat moulded sleighs with brakes. A hydraulic system hauled them uphill to the other end of the park and then released them to hurtle down at up to 45 km per hour around a twisting course.
In Tenerife, the chance to see so many wild animals at close quarters is a major pull at Jungle Park but it’s that added spirit of exploring and adventure that makes it really roar.
Jungle Park, Chayofa, Arona; (0034) 922 729 010; free buses, free parking; taxi 7 euros from Los Cristianos; open daily from 10am to 5.30pm; adults 24 euros, children (5 to 10) 17 euros, minis (3 and 4 years) 12 euros.
Category : things to do
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