Pairi Daiza Zoo and Botanical Garden in Wallonia, Belgium

By alison - June 15, 2012 (Updated: February 29, 2016)

Travel the world at Pairi Daiza zoo and botanical garden in belgium

Only in Belgium could you find a globally themed botanical garden and zoo, with over 4,000 animals, on the site of a former Cistercian Abbey. Our only question is why didn’t we discover Pairi Daiza sooner?

We’re always looking to promote Belgium’s ‘Hidden Gems’ here at CheeseWeb and the Pairi Daiza animal park and botanical gardens, in Brugelette, Belgium is definitely a gem. This vast 55-hectare (140-acre) park is one of Wallonia‘s top attractions, even though it’s still years from completion. We were curious why we’d never heard of Pairi Daiza before one of our readers recently tipped us off.

Part of the confusion may come from a name change which happened in 2009. The zoo and garden was known as ‘Paradisio’ until the owner decided to change the name to Pairi Daiza, which means ‘walled garden’ in Persian. Still if we were working in tourism promotion, we’d be shouting about Pairi Daiza from the rooftops. Consider this post our shout-out!

Snowy Owl, Pairi Daiza, Wallonia, Belgium

All eyes are on Pairi Daiza for the summer season.

Like many attractions in Belgium, Pairi Daiza started life as an abbey. Cambron Abbey was founded in 1148, by Anselme of Trazegnies, on the Blanche River. It was one of the wealthiest monasteries of Hainault and at the end of the 14th century, was home to about 70 monks.

The abbey was dissolved in 1797 and the property was sold to the Counts of Val de Beaulieu who owned it until 1993 when it was sold to the current owners, the Domb family. The Dombs set up the zoo, originally a bird garden, and it has been growing steadily since.

The grounds of Pairi Daiza are divided into different areas, based on particular countries around the globe. In each area, you find architecture, gardens and animals from that part of the world.

Black and white goats

We were greeted at the front gate by these split-personality goats.

You can visit Red Panda’s in the China themed area, which opened in 2006. The Chinese garden here called the “Dream of Han Wu Di,” is the largest in Europe.

For me, a highlight was definitely the African plain section. Here I got to come nose to nose with a friendly giraffe. She even let me pet her nose and head… Best. Day. Ever!

The friendly giraffes of Pairi Daiza

The friendly giraffes of Pairi Daiza
The friendly giraffes of Pairi Daiza

This smiling gal (?) came in for a head pat.

Next door to my smiling giraffe was the most adorable baby elephant. It was feeling a little frisky and entertaining itself by kicking a ball with its hind leg and then scampering away while trumpeting through its trunk. If you’ve never seen a baby elephant scamper, it’s a pretty adorable sight.

Located beside the elephants was the incredible Kingdom of Ganesha, which opened in 2009. This area is the largest Indonesian garden in Europe and transports you to the temples and rice paddies of Bali. The details and carvings here are stunning.

Bali in Belgium at Pairi Daiza

Bali in Belgium at Pairi Daiza – Rice paddies and intricate carvings
The gateway to Ganesha

The gateway to Ganesha

During our visit, we were also able to commune with kangaroos in the Australia section, watch squirrel monkeys dart overhead in Madidi and hang out with harbour seals in the African Lake Village.

Kangaroos in Pairi Daiza

I see a Roo or two, can you?
A few more sights at Pairi Daiza

A few more sights at Pairi Daiza: (top) African Lake Village; Frolicking Elephant; (middle) Squirrel Monkey; Baby Goats; Bottom view of the Kingdom of Ganesha

Because Pairi Daiza started its life as a bird park, as you can imagine, there is an incredible amount of bird life. In fact, the first area we visited was the Oasis, a 7000-square-metre (75,000 sq ft) greenhouse which opened in 2000. Inside there are waterfalls, a cactus garden, restaurants, a playground, and plenty of free flying birds.

The birds of Pairi Daiza

The birds of Pairi Daiza: (top) White-Fronted Bee-Eaters; Peacock; (middle) Hottentot Teal; (bottom) Ural Owl; Lanner Falcon; Bee Eater

The White-Fronted Bee-Eaters, in particular, swooped over our heads and, as we wandered through the greenhouse, we would catch sight of brilliant flashes of colour flying by.

In the middle of it all is the ruin of the Cambron Abbey tower. Surrounding the tower is a fantastic rose garden, where peacocks roam free.

The remains of Cambron Abbey at Pairi Daiza

The remains of Cambron Abbey at Pairi Daiza

Pairi Daiza still has big plans for the future, including the Inca-themed Lost Horizon and a Moroccan One Thousand and One Nights overhaul for the Oasis.

We were thrilled to discover this wonderful zoo and gardens. So much so in fact, we bought season passes, so we can return throughout the year.

Pairi Daiza – Getting There


Domaine de Cambron
7940 Brugelette
Phone: 068/25.08.50
Fax: 068/45.54.05

By Car: Pairi Daiza is a little over an hour’s drive from Brussels. It is roughly Northwest of Mons. Follow the E19 to the E249. From there follow signs for “Parc paradisio” (the former name) or Pairi Daiza. There is ample parking available at the park, for 5€.

By Train: Pairi Daiza is within walking distance of the Cambron-Casteau railway station on the Mons-Ath line.

Pairi Daiza Tickets

Individual visits

  • Children under 3 – free
  • Children 3-11 –  €19
  • Adults 12- 59 – €24
  • Seniors 60+ – €22

Season Passes

  • Children – €35
  • Adults – €45
  • Seniors – €40

For full details on the advantages of the season pass click here.

Take a tour of the Pairi Daiza Park through our photos on our Facebook Page.

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
I loved my time in Riga, Latvia a few years ago and Adi's post takes me right back. It's a European travel... - 3 days ago


  1. Comment by Roz Parkinson

    Roz Parkinson June 15, 2012 at 14:40

    Fabulous place !!! The zoo should give you a free pass for life for this great article. Your photos are wonderful as usual.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison June 15, 2012 at 14:45

      Thanks Roz!

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