What if I told you, you could visit the rainforest in Berkshire? Well, that’s exactly what you can do at the Living Rainforest in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire, which is just a stone’s throw from Manor Farm Courtyard Cottages where we stayed earlier this month.
It’s run by the Trust for Sustainable Living, which each year welcomes 100,000 visitors including 26,000 schoolchildren. Here you can experience the sounds, smells, and sights of the rainforest without ever leaving the country. The centre is home to 700 plants and animals including rare and endangered species.
It cost £11.85 each (adult ticket), which includes an annual pass; the family ticket is £38.15.
There are three large interconnected areas with different animals and plants. Following the walkway, you first pass a number of insects including Giant Stick Insects and Blue Poison Dart frogs, there’s an offshoot area with butterflies and an Iguana. The biggest area is home to a large shallow pond, with birds fluttering about. This is also home to a sloth, channel billed toucan, carpet python and pygmy marmosets.
Tom quite enjoyed having a look at the giant tank where some huge fish were having a field day (as someone with a fish phobia, I avoided it like the plague!) It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the times when some of the animals are being fed. When we were there they were building a new space for two new caimans (I think!)
The Living Rainforest has evolved over many years, it was originally home to one of Europe’s largest orchid nurseries and in the 90s philanthropist, Keith Bromley led its conversion into the Wyld Court Rainforest visitor centre. In 2000, the centre passed to Karl Hansen and is now part of the Living Rainforest.
The centre obviously does a lot with its education programme. Throughout August, they are hosting a green festival – a large eco-market was on when we visited. Check out the website before you go to find out what’s on when you visit: https://livingrainforest.org/
We spent a happy couple of hours having a mooch about, although I was disappointed not to see the sloth on this occasion. There’s an onsite cafe and an outdoor play area if you have smaller ones in tow.
I’d say if you are looking for an easy activity, that will interest lots of different age groups then this is a good bet. There’s a children’s trail which looked like a good option for giving the visit some structure and as two adults, we enjoyed taking in all the different tropical foliage. (But don’t go thinking you are visiting the Amazon, it is after all in Berkshire!)