Aquatis, the brand new sweet water aquarium in Lausanne (VD)

Our grandparents are keen to take us anywhere in Switzerland and it’s the school annual fall break: do we need to better reason to keep the kids entertained and visit the brand new aquarium in Lausanne? They claim it is the largest sweet water aquarium in Europe, with over 10000 fish, reptiles and amphibians. We are thrilled, and so we choose Canton Vaud as our destination.

We left by car one October morning from Tessin, and in 3.30 hours we reached Lausanne. Right outside the Vennes exit, on the right, we see the brand new building. The kids notice immediately that the “aquarium looks like a fish”. It’s really true: it is covered with roughly glittering fish scales (a detail I would not have noticed without them!)

The wonderful grandfather, in an equally glittering moment, decides to treat us to a night in the aquarium hotel, so we stored our luggage there, had a sandwich at the snack bar, and headed immediately for the aquarium.
Everything smells “new” and our minds are blown away by the tricks of light, mirrors, high technology, and captivating setting. It really feels as if we are entering an enchanted land.

The first floor is dedicated to the topic “water in Switzerland”, following a route from the glacier to Lake Geneva, then to the Rhone river, and finally to the Mediterranean area in France, where the river enters the sea. There are tanks with fish and plants that are unique to this environment. You should not expect to see colourful fishes like those in the Maldives; our local types of fish cover all the possible shades of grey – nothing more, nothing less. Nevertheless, everything is very captivating, thanks to a wise use of technology and simple interactive explanations, which kids will love.

On the second floor, by contrast, we got to discover fishes, reptiles and amphibians from the rest of the world, continent by continent. From Africa and its lakes, with fish and crocodiles, through Asia and its rice-fields and mangrove forest, to Oceania. Finally we reached South America and the Amazon rainforest. We saw colourful frogs, poisonous snakes, friendly-looking iguanas. Our goal was to see the famous Komodo dragon, but he was hiding all the time.

The visit ends in the jungle, where the humidity is so high that it’s hard to breathe. So humid that in fact when we came out, we were soaking wet. I can assure you that we had a good idea of what a rainforest really feels like, but  – had they turned down the humidity a little bit – I’m sure it would have had the same impact on us.
Our only regret is that many plants are clearly fake. And gran finale? The tank full of piranhas, that you can also admire form the restaurant.

All in all we found the aquarium built with a compelling concept in mind, and very interesting. It’s definitely something else from your classic aquarium and it’s also a good way teach kids (and adults, too) about the lake and sweet water environment!

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