Review: Givskud Zoo (Denmark)

We (instructors from Northern Workshops) love nature and all it's wonderful gifts for us. Even though wildlife is not the biggest part of our workshops, wildlife is still a big part of nature and therefor also landscape photography. 

In Denmark where our base is the wildlife is very rich but also very small in actual size - we have an enormous number of different birds but most of them are rather small in size and therefor quite hard to photograph. 

This summer we had the opportunity to visit Givskud Zoo/Safari Park and after our visit we have decided to do a small review of the park. We know that there is a bit of debate about animals being taken out of the natural environments but we did our research before entering the park and found that they do a lot of the animals. We suggest that you check out there website if you want to learn more about this: https://www.givskudzoo.dk/en 

Givskud Zoo is located in the middle of Jutland in Denmark - very near to Billund Airport and Legoland. Lets take a quick look at the history of Givskud Zoo with a quote from their website:

GIVSKUD ZOO, or the Lion Park as it was originally known, was founded in 1969 by Jacob Hansen. Jacob Hansen, who owned a small zoo in the town of Vejle, drew inspiration from Europe for the first Danish safari park with free-roaming lions. Despite a number of teething problems, and notwithstanding the initial scepticism of the authorities, Givskud Lion Park first opened its doors on 12 August 1969 and became an overnight success.
— https://www.givskudzoo.dk/The-company.4095.aspx

The park can seem a bit chaotic when arriving at the entrance but it's actually very simple - you have to choose from either parking outside the park or take your car with you inside the park. Yes (!), you are actually able to drive your own car around in the park and view a lot of the animals from a very close distance.

The prices for the entrance are extremely affordable - 26.75 euros for adults, 14.11 euros for children (age 3-11) and children under 3 is free. Givskud Zoo is a part of a joined partnership called "Top attractions in Denmark" which means that if you have a season pass to e.g. Djurs Sommerland then you get a discount on 50%. I must say that we were a bit surprised how low the prices were especially after our visit to the park. 

When you enter the park you will receive a map and the option of buying a CD so you can be guided through the park. We didn't buy the CD and we really didn't miss it that much but I think it could have been valued in some of the locations. 

Review continues after the map over the park.

As you can see from the above map there are 3 parking areas inside the park - P1-P3. The park isn't bigger than it is possible to walk the entire route but further down in the review we will provide a recommended route through the park by walking. As long as you are in your car it is only possible to follow one route through the park but I must say that the route was nearly perfect and road as it was wide enough that you could stick in one spot without interrupting other visitors.

We had our trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 on our cameras with an 2x extender so our actual focal length was 140-400mm (your aperture will drop from 2.8 to 5.6 or 2 stops). For the people that haven't tried an extender yet then you will have to know that it is a wonderful tool but also a tool that takes a bit of adjusting to. When using an extender you will be locked to using the center AF spots only which makes composing a picture quite hard if the subject is moving. We are not that big fans of cropping a lot but it was necessary to do a bit of cropping in post production. Also you will have to accept that you will miss focus quite often and you really have to bump up your shutter speed to at least 1/400 to minimize vibrations.

We took the designated route through the entire park which ends by the lion den. We spend a good hour driving through the park and took 3 turns around the lion den and we have a post-production hint for you here. When photographing through a window you often get a hazy/foggy look to the images but if you use Adobe Lightroom you will be able to remove this effect totally. In the develop module go to the effect tap and turn "Dehaze" up to around 15-50.

Before Dehaze

After Dehaze

We had prepared our lunch from home and there where plenty of shelters in P3 where you could enjoy your lunch right next to the playgrounds for the kids - that's a postive thing.

We left our car in P3 and went for a walk from P3 to P1 and from there to P2 and back to P3 again. The path you walk on seems a bit random and we actually had to use the map a few times around P2. The dinosaur land was very well made but there were a few of the mechanical animals there weren't working and there was also a few tears in some of the models. We also had a bit of rain at the end of the day and on the path between P2 and P3 there was no shelter to find anywhere so we got a bit soaked. P3 has by far the most shelters because of the playgrounds and shops - it would have been nice if the spread it out a bit more. We would suggest that you park at P3 and take the dinosaur route to P2. From P2 you can visit the gorillas and from there go to P1 and back to P3.

We went to the park in the middle of July which is the high season for tourism and around 3pm there was a lot of people in the park. We wouldn't go as far as saying that there were to many people but we could see that there was a long queue to enter the lion den by that time and there were quite a lot of cars on the route around the park. We would highly suggest you come to the park when they open so you can drive around the park in your own pace and perhaps even take a couple of trips in the car.

Overall we had an almost perfect day at Givskud Zoo and we would highly recommend everyone to visit the park. We have found 5 minor cons on our visit to the park and as they are very minor we give Givskud Zoo an overall score on 95/100 for the experience. 

Scroll down to see all the pros / cons and a gallery from our visit. Hope you liked this review - it is possible to like, share and comment. Be sure to read more about our upcoming landscape photography workshop to the Faroe Islands in April 2017 - click here.

Overall score 95/100 for Givskud Zoo

Pros:

  • Extremely affordable for the value you will receive.

  • Very serviceminded staff - smiling, curious, guiding and polite.

  • The route through the park is perfect and you will be finding yourself taking it multiple times.

  • The park is spotless to trash and everything from buildings to the grass is very well maintained.

  • The animals seem to be in a relative natural environment and look very healthy.

  • The food was actually excellent when you keep in mind where we were. 

  • The playgrounds for the children were perfect - a good variety of different areas and even areas where you could get close to some of the animals.

  • A very nice addition with the dinosaur land.

Cons:

  • Long queue to enter the lion area - we suggest you arrive at the park when they open.

  • The parking areas seems a bit chaotic and the trolleys were all over the place.

  • There were a bit to many routes to choose from especially in P2 parking area - we found ourselves walking in a bit of a circle. 

  • We had a bit of a rainy day and had a hard time finding shelter - even when we were at the parking areas.

  • The dinosaur land was a bit worn down.