By Finder blogger: Aimee Chan, founder of suitcases&strollers
The Jamala Wildlife Lodge
A family friendly hotel has opened at Canberra zoo and is about to become the hot new go-to destination for all jetsetters. Located at the National Zoo and Aquarium in the Australian capital, Jamala Wildlife Lodge is a place where kids (aged 6 and over) are able to literally sleep with bears, tigers and giraffes.
The luxury lodge makes for the perfect 24 hour getaway. Here, you’ll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. The lodge facilities are plush, the service is impressive and the interactions with the animals are truly remarkable.
A day at the lodge
A visit starts with afternoon tea in the uShaka Lodge with the sharks and the Colobus monkeys where you will also receive a visit from some reptilian friends that you can touch and take a selfie with. Then it’s off for your first of two private tours.
A dedicated zookeeper is assigned to take Jamala guests on two exclusive and interactive tours of the animals where you might get to stroke a wombat, talk to an African wild dog or even pet a white rhino. These tours give you and the kids a fascinating and personal insight into each and every one of the animals that live at Canberra zoo as well as some background into the rescue and breeding programs they are involved in.
Afterwards it’s time to go to your room for some afternoon quiet time and this is where Jamala truly sets the bar high. Each guest lodging is luxurious, comfortable and kitted out with all the amenities you could need including Appelles Apothecary & Lab beauty products, free wifi and FOXTEL pay television.
But who needs any of that when there is a sun bear in your bathroom or a giraffe wandering around your balcony?
There is something really magnificent and special about the way Jamala has built their rooms so that guests really do get as close as possible to their assigned animal. The Jungle Bungalows have a glass box that sits almost in the centre of the room to allow a tiger, cheetah or brown bears to come right into your living space. If your kids are a little older (they must be 12 and over to stay with the big cats) this is a really awesome experience.
For the littler ones, the Giraffe Treehouses are a less intimidating but equally as thrilling experience. Keepers will give you carrot sticks so you can handfeed Hummer the giraffe directly from your back balcony or, if you prefer, the kids can play with the deer and alpacas who are grazing in the front garden.
For the few guests who do not have an aspect over the animals, Jamala tailors a private interactive animal experience so they can still get their animal fix.
Throughout the stay, Jamala works hard to cater to those little touches that ensure guests continue to feel pampered and special. There is a full free flow wine list that includes Moet Champagne. White lions roam around the dining room and you can nibble canapes while talking to the snow leopard. The kids’ dinner meals are hot and ready at the table when they sit down so they can eat immediately while you have your starter before they are whisked away on their own parent-free nighttime tour of the zoo. And afterwards a zookeeper will drive you all safely back to your lodge so you don’t have to walk a step outside.
Even if you have been on a bona fide African safari, the experience at Jamala is impressive. Despite it’s seemingly odd location in urban Australia, a trip to Jamala is a fantastic combination of relaxing and indulgent sleepover with unique and special animal interactions.
As a capital city, Canberra is not often thought of as a family travel destination of choice. But with the addition of Jamala, it is absolutely a place you should be dedicating at least 24 hours to on your next family holiday to Australia with kids.
About Aimee Chan
Aimee Chan is the founder of online family travel magazine suitcases&strollers. A mother of two herself, she values the quality family time as well as culturally stimulating experiences to be found in traveling as a family. As such, she provides practical tips and useful travel inspiration for fellow parents.