Where can you wander among squirrels and prairie dogs, watch lemurs lark about and escape from the high-rises for some winter sun– less than 35 miles from the capital? Make the most of blue sky days with a trip to Temaikèn.
The attraction of Temaikèn is not immediately obvious because there are no big-name stars among the residents of this nature park. No elephants, giraffes, showy lions, brash gorillas or other zoo celebrities. Therein lies the attraction: Temaikèn is not a zoo. Temaikèn, part of Fundación Temaikèn, is a biopark or wildlife park; an extensive nature trail where you get up close to the beasts.
You feel none of the guilt induced by watching wild animals pace behind rusty bars. The creatures here don’t appear to be in captivity. The enclosures are expansive pits – landscaped and interesting – or constructed with wooden roofs for the jumping animals, and large meshed-in spaces for the birds. In some cases the path goes straight through the enclosure, allowing the wallabies to come up and sniff the visitors (or vice versa). I don’t see anyone stray from the path and offer their leftover pancho, however. Probably because panchos (hot dogs), popcorn, and coke are so expensive here.
Temaikèn has alligators, hippos, pumas and a few tigers as well as lemurs, antelopes, zebras and flamingos….. Crowds gather 10-deep with cameras, paparazzi-style, to see the meerkats performing or perhaps just being fed. I like the petite aquarium where some hard-nosed sharks take the spotlight.
Take your own food and drink, and take hats and an umbrella if you’re visiting in summer because there’s not much shade for the humans. We last visited on what turned out to offer the last blast of summer heat before autumn. A spray-and-fan system showered us at regular intervals but I was glad there wasn’t a huge area to walk around. Still, I was afraid of missing something and would have liked arrows or some marked routes to follow but perhaps that is a little sad to admit. Go, wander, turn back on yourself; embrace the unpredictable.
The way I see it, you’ve got two main options for spotting wildlife roaming free when you don’t want to leave the city. Put out garbage bags full of meat scraps and wait for the street dogs to appear, or take the bus to Temaikèn.
Entry is $120 pesos for adults and $96 for children under 10. In winter (01/03 to 30/11) the park is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 6pm.
Temaikèn is located in Belén de Escobar, on Ruta Provincial 25, 1km from Ruta Panamericana. You can drive to Temaiken (and easily drive by the exit on the highway – it is woefully signposted) or take the bus number 60 from Plaza Italia to the ticket booths at the entrance (I have no idea how long this takes. It is a semi-rapido service….)