Surprisingly, I won cheap tickets to a little zoo in The Hague on an auction site. It was one of those things I like to do on impulse; bid blindly hoping to score a bargain for a day out. Obligated to complete the transaction legally, I made the payment and hoped for the best.
Eventually, we made an unplanned detour one day while driving back through South-Holland province. Our startling destination Avonturia De Vogelkelder sounded like an adventurous mini animal park. Incidentally, vogelkelder means bird cellar.
Avonturia De Vogelkelder is located about 10 minutes from The Hague city center, within an industrial park. It is a massive corner building with its façade covered with banners. No one can miss it! Parking in the vicinity is widely available and free.
So we walked into the building and were immediately greeted with rows of shopping carts followed by a swing gate entry. I hesitated for a second. “Are we lost already?”
As it turns out, Avonturia De Vogelkelder is the largest pet store in the Netherlands and Benelux! It is 8000 m² in size, decked in an elaborate jungle theme décor throughout the entire store. It has different pets section which they referred to as ‘world’. At the ‘rodent world’, there were rabbits, gerbils and hamsters for sale, surrounded by all kinds of products and accessories for a new, happier and healthier rodent related needs. The reptile world was hair raising with corridors of terrariums filled with lizards, chameleons and many slithering snakes. Other sections were dog world, fish world, cat world and bird world. All were stacked and stocked up with every imaginable merchandise. Not forgetting a dog school and a veterinary clinic on site too. Navigating through the store, we made our way passing by a fish pond, a waterfall, a small flock of flamingos, turtles, a couple of beaver rats and friendly cockatoos where we were allowed to pet them at our own risk. “Wait, this is a pet store?”.
Eventually, we found a sign that said ‘Activity of the month – Avonturion’. That was the reason we were there in the first place.
The indoor zoo section, Avonturion, is situated towards the end of Avonturia De Vogelkelder. It is a cave discovery themed expedition for all ages. Kids will be given a ‘treasure hunt’ questionnaire (mini easy or maxi hard) to keep them engaged. Explanations are provided in both Dutch and English, but there are some facts presented only in Dutch language.
Our adventurous journey was through a series of dark underground tunnel systems complete with sands, rocks, uneven paths and arched walls. Not pleasant if you are very tall or carrying a backpack and had to run after your kids. Certainly exciting for the kids to roam around in the dark. The route involved coming face to face with animals such as meerkats, foxes, bats and giant spiders. It was also an educational quest learning about fossils, ammonites, Buddha, hieroglyphs and dinosaurs among other things. It was all quite interesting!
At the end of our expedition, we exited the door and ended up at Brasserie de Oehoe. On the menu were sandwiches (€5.95+), tosti (€3.50+), soup, kroket and pancakes (€3.95). We took a break and replenished ourselves with some poffertjes (€3.95).
My kids handed over their ‘treasure hunt’ result to one of the restaurant staffs and each received a present of their choice; a Chinese coin and a single shark tooth. They were beaming with satisfaction. It was a delightful experience even for a twelve and a nine years old.
We made our way down the stairs and took a quick look around at the gift shop. It was full of books, toys, home decorations, gem stones, fossil teeth, incense, tea leaves, bags, swimming stuffs and so much more. No time for that!
Our visit to Avonturion was definitely a trip to remember. A regular entry ticket is priced at €4.95 per person age 3 years and above. It is affordable. You could effortlessly spend your morning with your kids browsing around the store, learn about pets, go on the expedition and finish with an additional lunch. A great venue to entertain your kids during rainy or cold winter days!
On top of all that, there are additional activities offered by Avonturion for a small fee. For examples: find gold & decorate a treasure box (€4.95), beeswax candle making (€3.95) or paint a bird house (€3.95). Click link for further info: https://www.de-vogelkelder.nl/Prijzen-activiteiten/i146/(Dutch only).
I highly recommend Avonturion at Avonturia De Vogelkelder. But whatever you do, do not buy any of those cute pets on a whim!!
Address: Kerketuinenweg 3. 2544 CV ‘s-Gravenhage.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9am – 6pm, Saturday from 9am – 5pm and Sunday from 12 noon – 5pm.
Admission Fees: €4.95 per person age 3 years and above.
Getting There: About 25 minutes by public transport from The Hague Central Station. Use https://9292.nl/en to plan your itinerary.