Dinosaurs, coral reefs and giant bubbles: Welcome to Medellin’s Parque Explora

Posted on Apr 9 2014 - 4:18pm by Rico
The dinosaurs of Parque Explora (Photo: Andrew Wight)

Parque Explora is Medellin’s city playground, suitable for visitors with children and adults in touch with their “inner child.”

There’s no way around the steam-filled entrance corridor, you’ll have to chance “tropical hair” and near-collisions with stray children who run giggling through steamy fog. Visitors emerging at the other side will find themselves at the center of a pre-historic park, complete with animatronic brachiosaurus.

Parque Explora opened in 2008 as part of Medellin’s “urban transformation.” This was the final stage of former Medellin mayor Jan Farjado’s initiative, which saw the construction of the metro cable, botanical gardens and “library parks,” in a scheme to advance social development through high-principle architecture. These tourist attractions were built away from the upscale El Poblado and Sabaneta areas and aim to serve Medellin’s less developed communities.

The park boasts the largest freshwater aquarium in Latin America, themed upon “Amazon river.” This aquarium is everything a Saturday afternoon can promise, refreshing, fun and a little sedative. An enormous, multi-level tank filled with a native Amazonian tree and large, eerie fish is a highlight of the aquarium. The now-inevitable “Finding Nemo” spin-off tanks may tickle the inner-child, with several tanks featuring clownfish, Moorish idol, Yellow Tang, and Pacific regal Blue Tang fish.

Parque Explora features “over 300 interactive experiences.” These interactions are dispersed over the open grounds and within the unique architecture of the main building.  These four massive red cubes seemingly “float” when viewed from a distance. The open-air playground is teeming with model dinosaurs and local foliage, although the see-saws, and happy children detract from the Jurassic effect.

The indoor interactions are grouped into four themes, in each of the cubes. Parque Explora’s “physics” experience will challenge the most grown-up adult not to crack a smile. On the upper floor you can race against an elephant, walk the tight-rope and measure your strength in newtons, while the ground floor will see you fitting a bubble around your entire body. The “mind” box left my brain throbbing and insecure about my ability to multi-task. I was also, at one point, on the floor.

Visitors must pause at the vivarium. Parque Explora exhibits some of Colombia’s most intriguing creatures in a rain-forest themed experience. The mini-zoo includes some exciting snake varieties, a tarantula and highly venous tree-frogs. There are also some amiable-looking lizards and a turtle tank for those indisposed to ogle creatures that could kill you as easy as looking at you.

Parque Explora is conveniently located adjacent to the Botanical Gardens and Universidad metro station, allowing visitors to make the most of their time in Medellin’s north sector.

How to get there

The easiest way to access Parque Explora is to take the metro to Universidad station, where the park is visible from the metro station, on Carrera 52.

Prices

$10 and $9 for students.

Opening hours

Mon-Fri, 8:30 AM- 5:30 PM, weekends and holidays 10AM- 6:30 PM

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