Just before the little ones got sick we went on an outing to Papiliorama in Kerzers, in the canton of Fribourg. Now despite the name it isn’t just all butterflies, it is so much more!
Papiliorama is a complex consisting of a restaurant, gift shop and 3 domes: Jungle Trek, Nocturama and Papiliorama.
We often start with Nocturama (a tropical nighttime environment). I think it just feels a nice calm way to get the kid’s attention. Also you have to be very quiet in there so at the start is best while the children have a bit more patience. On your way through you can see prehistoric-esque armadillos, spiky porcupines, sleepy sloths and plenty of squeaking bats (to name a few). Yes, if you don’t like bats this isn’t one for you! I love seeing the animals scurrying around in this environment. They do keep a fair few of the animals like the Pacas in the daytime enclosures too (in the main complex) but it certainly makes you see them in a different “light” in the dark.
Once we were out of the Nocturama zone we headed to the Jungle Trek. This is a miniature recreation of the Shipstern Nature Reserve in Belize which Papiliorma protects 11’000 hectares (110 km2) of in Central America. It is pretty humid and I would definitely recommend wearing layers when you go so you can strip off once inside. The rainforest is filled with various birds, reptiles and plants. Although in all fairness (despite really trying) I still haven’t spotted a reptile yet. The birds are friendly enough though and there is a viewing bridge from which you can explore the canopy meaning you can get a glimpse of the smaller ones up there. E loves turtles and so we spent some time watching one who kept glancing up nervously at a bird sitting just above his head.
After 2 domes the kids were hungry so we stopped to grab some lunch in the fair-trade restaurant. The food isn’t amazing but there is something for everyone from hotdogs to cheese and dried meats. I like the fact that the whole centre tries to be ecofriendly too. For example the kids glasses are reusable plastic ones with a 2 CHF deposit and the loos run on rain water. The place is just easy for children: their are plenty of high chairs available and there is also a picnic area if you want to bring your own lunch.
Finished with our lunch we decided it was time to explore the Butterfly dome. Not before we got waylaid by a sneaky coin spinning donation bank for the Shipstern Reserve. As E loves it so much and its a good cause we tend to get rid of all our loose change every visit.
Inside the Papiliorama dome you can see all 3 stages of the lifecycle of butterflies from caterpillar to cocoon to beautiful butterfly. There is a case filled with various cocoons of different shapes and sizes. You will also find an Arthropodarium right next to the entrance containing scorpions, various stick insects (phasmids), arachnids and other crawly creatures. We stayed out of there this time instead concentrating on spotting as many ducks, quails and butterflies we could manage. Last time we came we also saw a humming bird but no luck this time. We also spent some time watching the couple of Giant gourami (Maurizio and Frederica) in the fish pond.
I have briefly mentioned all of the inside attractions now but I haven’t even touched on the outside ones. While much better in Summer there is also a Swiss Butterfly Garden, Petting Zoe “Zoe-Zoo” and the “Pongo plaza” play area. The kids seemed knackered though (probably an indication of the fevers that were to follow that evening) so we headed home for naps.
It really is a worthwhile outing and something you can enjoy year round; it only shuts 2 days a year (25th of December and the 1st of January). It is also really good value considering you can spend a full day there. Its free for the under 4s but from 4-15 it is half price at 9 CHF. I have a year pass which basically works out worthwhile on your third visit as it is only 50 CHF.
I think I have been at least 5 times this year as it is often where we take guests when the weather is bad or we are stuck for a Sunday activity – still not bored though!
Oh and one final warning: if you go with kids do not expect to make it out of the gift shop without buying something.