Roar and Snore is Taronga Zoo’s long-running overnight experience. It starts after the gates have closed on daytime visitors and continues until they open again at 9.30 the following morning. It’s one of the biggest income generators for the not-for-profit wildlife organisation, and at $320 per adult for a Saturday stay, it might seem expensive for a night under canvas – but then again, how often do you get to sleep at the zoo? The staff looking after and escorting the group of campers are knowledgeable, bubbly and approachable – one of our guides, Leon, had great stories to tell about chasing saltwater crocs in his hometown. And they packs in as much as they can before the 11pm ‘lights out’ – you'll meet critters at sunset; see lions, tigers, snow leopards and a sun bear fed late-night snacks; and dine at the zoo’s restaurant. The tents are positioned with the best view in the house. Each one is prepped and ready to roll into bed, complete with electric blankets for chillier nights. For the full experience, sleep with the outer door rolled up and lull yourself to sleep with the lights of the city in the distance.
When you wake up… Set your alarm: mornings start with a 6.15am breakfast of fruit, yogurt and pastries before it’s time to meet the meerkats and other wildlife before most people have ordered their morning coffee. The experience is fully immersive: you can feed a giraffe, pat a seal and sunbake with an echidna.
During the day… The beauty of sleeping over at the zoo is that you’re already there, ahead of the crowds, and entry on the following day is included. If you want to escape, take the sky safari down to the ferry terminal – be sure you wave to the elephants – and explore Bradleys Head, where a bush walk stretches to Chowder Bay for panoramic views of the harbour.