Creepy Crawlies and Other Fantastic Beasts
Norfolk is rich in all kinds of weird and wonderful wildlife. But do you know which fascinating creatures are native and which are new around here? It’s time to find out! See if you dare handle skittering, scuttling creepy crawlies from around the world at the Invertebrate Experience. Then meet the Beavers, nature’s ecosystem engineers and a UK keystone species, hunted to extinction for hats and perfume by 16th century humans. Welcome them home and discover their story. Finish your Norfolk safari with a private tour of exotic award-winning Watatunga Wildlife Reserve and a luxe lakeside BBQ.
Many people bug out at the thought of handling insects…but not you! With over 200 species of invertebrates to see at BugzUK, this is an unforgettable chance to experience insects in a new way. Once you’ve visited all the invertebrates living their best bug lives in three tropical houses, you’ll have the opportunity to spend an hour holding a selection of insects (book these popular handling sessions in advance).
Whether you already love bugs, want to conquer a fear or impress your friends, handling insects can really open your mind. You’ll find crawlies aren’t so creepy after all. In fact you’ll be amazed by what these tiny creatures can create – such as the work of a huge leaf cutter ant colony. These critters are truly small but mighty! And don’t worry! If you’re arachnophobic, the spider/tarantula houses can easily be bypassed!
BugzUK emerged from Martin French’s passion for our insect cousins and he wants to help everyone learn to love these vital creatures as much he does. As he says, ‘without them, our world would collapse’. This truth is poetically expressed in Jay Griffiths’ poignantly hopeful 2 minute film, ‘Almost Invisible Angels’, voiced by Sir Mark Rylance. Do search for it on YouTube!
As the metamorphosis of this fascinating Tropical Invertebrate Parc continues, plans include magical butterfly experiences, a bee garden, wildlife ponds and a sculpture trail. There’s free parking on site and you can pop into the Chrysalis Café and gift shop without needing a ticket.
The beavers are back! Native to Britain, until the 16th century beavers were widespread throughout these islands. But 400 years ago, we hunted them to extinction in the UK and most of Europe, killing them for fur, meat and ‘castoreum’, a vanilla-like secretion used in perfume making and food flavouring. Yet the beaver is a ‘keystone species’, with a significant positive effect on its environment. And that’s good news for humans too. Beaver activity reduces flood risk, shapes wetlands to mitigate drought, improves water quality and supports fellow animals.
This tour gives you the chance to learn how and why Wild Ken Hill reintroduced Norfolk’s first beavers for hundreds of years. An expert guide will take you into the 50 acre enclosure to find out just how these remarkable eco-system engineers are shaping the landscape. Wandering through wet, tangly woodland, you’ll see their intricate dams and structures, highly visible signs of their feeding, and maybe other wildlife like water voles, frogs, toads, ducks, birds and insects who thrive in their shared home. Beavers are largely nocturnal but occasionally out and about in the day, so once in while visitors are lucky enough to make their acquaintance. You’ll hear guides on daily patrol sharing the thrill of seeing nature’s charismatic architects and recalling the excitement of beavers being released into the new enclosure. Connecting to the land, you’ll leave with a profound understanding of why it’s so vital we reinstate this magnificent animal in the UK.
Watatunga Wildlife Reserve is a stunning new ecotourism destination in west Norfolk, dedicated to protecting some of the world’s most endangered deer, antelope and bird species.
This is your chance to go behind the scenes with the rangers amidst lakes, woods, animals and birds, learning about the conservation work of the acclaimed team at Watatunga on a private catered safari experience. From the comfort of a state-of-the-art safari trailer, you’ll travel through a unique environment where animals and birds roam at will. You might spot a herd of blackbuck grazing on the rich grasslands, see mighty stags drinking at the lakeside or come nose to nose with an eland wandering in dappled woodland light. With over twenty different deer and antelope species, not to mention rare and endangered birds, your private guide will hold you spell-bound with stories of the animals, their habitats and homelands.
After your tour (approx. 90 minutes) you’ll be welcomed to the lakeside bird-hide for a drink and canapés while you scan the distance with the telescope and look through a fascinating collection of bird books. When you’re ready, sit around a glowing fire inside the BBQ hut or out by the water while the Watatunga team prepares a fabulous feast of local produce.
After dinner you’ll have time to relax and chat. The team will be on hand at a discreet distance, ready if you need them, but giving you space to yourselves before escorting you back to reality.
Build your own itinerary
If you fancy creating your own itinerary for a day trip to Norfolk or a longer visit, it couldn’t be simpler. Just go to Search Activities and select from our wide range of free and paid-for experiences, saving any that capture your imagination with the click of a button.
Once you’ve finished, you’ll find all the information stored in My Favourite, where you can drag and drop activities to create your own day-by-day itinerary! You can download this to a calendar and even share it with friends.