We discovered The Living Rainforest in Berkshire a few years ago and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it sooner. Situated in Thatcham near Newbury, Berkshire this indoor gem is an ecological and educational centre which attracts visitors all year round. It provides a tropical environment based across 3 rooms in which you can discover wonderful plants, insects and animals all of which are becoming endangered in our rainforests today. If you love The Eden Project you will also love it here!
As you enter the rainforest the first thing you notice is the temperature. I would recommend leaving your coats in the car because the longer you spend in there, the warmer you get! As it is humid, it is also damp so I would also leave your best shoes behind. We always put Jake in wellies so if there are any puddles he can walk straight through them. Another point to note is that it is pushchair and wheelchair friendly, although the pathways are narrow and people can be reluctant to move out of your way, so it may take a little longer to get around but as the centre is open 10am-5pm and you can pop in and out to the cafe or outside play areas, you have plenty of time to enjoy everything they have on offer.
The path in the first warm greenhouse takes you through a jungle of plants, unusual flowers and creatures, including blue poison dart frogs.
As you wander around taking in all the sights, a second room comes up on the right. This is a relatively new room called the small island rainforest. Here you can enjoy looking for the free-flying butterflies, the mudskippers and varieties of fish.
The third room is much larger and hosts a wider variety of animal life as well as a pond. This room also has free roaming wildlife so keep your eyes peeled for the flightless birds who may cross your path, the lizards that may be lurking in the trees and the very elusive sloth named Cinnamon who we only spotted for the first time on this last visit.
Staff are often on hand to answer questions, to demonstrate feeding or to give talks on the more interesting insects…
You can also view a variety of snakes, birds, Goeldi’s monkeys, an Armadillo, marmoset monkeys, fish, turtles and an Asian Water Dragon if you can spot him!
The plants and flowers are all so interesting and unusual that at times you just need to walk around and look up to take everything in.
I love the fact that the centre is also educational. On your way in you can pick up an age-appropriate activity sheet to complete together, you can learn all you need from the information points or staff, plus they have an interactive educational station next to the shop.
Granted, you couldn’t spend an entire day here but you could definitely fill your morning or afternoon and even have lunch in their cafe too.
The Living Rainforest has something for all the family and it is a place we keep coming back to… your entry ticket will last you a year so there’s no excuse!
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