Many of us, if not all, have gone to zoos in different parts of the world, maybe you are lucky enough to have one in your city, we all know the "DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS" signs peppered generously in them. Few of us have gone to a zoo where you can feed the animals, where they actually want you to feed them! Vallarta Zoo AC allows you to do that, of course, from a bag that you receive when you pay your entrance, do not start feeding them Doritos or chocolate! In some cases, you'll be able to approach and caress many of the animals, although you should only do so along with trained personnel.
Another cool aspect of Puerto Vallarta Zoo is the fact that it's in the middle of the jungle and mountains of Mismaloya, follow the paved but colorful trails, they guide you up the hill and between the areas destined to the different species of animals, birds, reptiles, and others. The shade the vegetation provides is welcome, especially in the hot season and after midday.
Vallarta Zoo is in the valley of the town of Mismaloya surrounded by an exotic and lush tropical jungle. The town itself is located between the Mismaloya River and the mountains, a perfect backdrop for a fun, entertaining and educational family outing.
Located 25 minutes south of the romantic zone of Puerto Vallarta, about 8 miles following the federal highway 200 towards Barra de Navidad. Once you arrive at the Barceló Hotel, that'll be on your right, there is a road that starts off on the other side of the street that goes into the town, following this main road and keeping the river on your right, there is no way to get lost and you will arrive at the zoo.
Car or taxi: Take the coastal highway (Carretera Federal 200) towards Barra de Navidad, once you reach the Barceló Resort, there is a speed stop, then take the road to the left and follow along keeping the river to your right, advance 800 yards and you arrive at the zoo. This would be the same route if you go in a taxi.
Public buses: The buses leave from downtown Puerto Vallarta towards Mismaloya, they start off at the intersection of Basilio Badillo and Constitución in the Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta), the orange and white buses have a sign that say Mismaloya and Boca.
At the entrance of the Barceló Resort there is a stop, there you get off the bus, that will be the place to cross the street, take the road on the other side, keep the river on your right side, pass the Tequila factory, after about 800 yards you will reach the entrance of the Zoo.
As we discussed, one of the main attractions of the zoo is the option to feed the species that are in it. Many times one misbehaves and throws a piece of bread or a peanut at the animals of the other zoos of the world and you feel a bit guilty, not here!
You receive small bags with a variety of healthy animal treats: carrots, corn, wheat, animal biscuits, etc. and each animal you visit has a sign that explains what they'd like to eat. I recommend feeding each animal a little bit/bite, because I ran out of food quickly along the way and had to buy more (in any case they are reasonably priced).
Take many photos, take advantage of getting up close to the animals if there is staff offering these encounters with animals, it is not common to have that opportunity anywhere, so it's well worth it.
The zoo also has a small canteen with lots of space to eat, tables and seats (inside and outside too), you can get some basic food if you are hungry. The menu includes sandwiches, tacos, burritos, burgers, nuggets, chicken wings and meats, coffee, beer and soft drinks.
You have to walk quite a lot uphill and between the various animal enclosures, so put on some very comfortable shoes and take plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. There is a well-stocked store at the entrance of the zoo where you can buy what you need, the prices are very reasonable. You can also buy beverages at the canteen.
I think it's advisable to bring insect repellent along, though in my case I did not use it and I did not have any issues with bugs, but it will depend on the time of year you visit.
Bring sunscreen along and do not forget to reapply after a few hours or sooner if you sweat a lot, this is especially true in the dry season when the shade of the trees is less.
A trip to the zoo can be combined with a walk to Mismaloya beach, there you will also find good restaurants to eat fish and other fresh sea dishes.
Zoo Schedule: 8AM and 6PM every day of the year.
Admission for visitors over 2 years is about 10 - 12 US dollars (2016: 100 pesos; 2017: 155 pesos; 2018: 200 pesos), kids younger that 2 years are free.
Phone: (322) 228-0501, (322) 228-0955 y (322) 228-0957
Address: Camino a El Edén 700, Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
More information about the zoo: www.zoologicodevallarta.com