Papiliorama — A Visit With Butterflies… and More

The Papiliorama near Kerzers in canton Fribourg is an extraordinary nature exhibit that can give you a one-day tropical getaway in the colder months but is worth a visit year-round. Its main feature is a huge glass dome that houses a tropical garden with more than 1,000 butterflies flying all around you—120 species of all shapes and colors originating from Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Tanzania. In addition to butterflies, the dome houses tropical birds and fish, as well as several dozen species of tropical trees and plants, with more than 15 species of palms and nectar plants that provide shelter and food for the butterflies. Another area also shows the other stages in a butterfly’s fascinating life, where visitors can see butterfly eggs and caterpillars and watch butterflies hatch from their pupas. Tip: The butterflies are attracted to the bright colors of flowers (yellow, orange, pink, red); therefore, visitors wearing such colors are far more likely to have butterflies landing on them—consider whether this would be welcome or not!

Another large exhibit at Papiliorama is called Nocturama—it’s a separate dome with a roof that filters the light to mimic moonlight and therefore nighttime. This dome houses only nocturnal animals that you can observe in their active cycle, including armadillos, Brazilian tree porcupines, free-flying bats, kinkajous, night monkeys, ocelots, pacas, tree-dwelling sloths, and many more. As you wander along the winding paths, you may also encounter some of the free-flying bats.

A third area in the Papiliorama is the jungle trek, which is an exact copy of the protected area of Shipstern in Belize that is being run by the Papiliorama. Amidst tropical dry forests, mangroves, and orchid ponds, visitors can observe iguanas, roseate spoonbills, toucans, and numerous other animals. A 7-meter-high panorama bridge will take you up into the canopy, where you can enjoy a fantastic view.

In addition to these tropical interiors, Papiliorama also features a large outdoor area with ponds and other dry and wet habitats to attract native plant and animal species. This area aims to familiarize visitors with local nature and show them the importance of intact habitats and biodiversity. Included in these outdoor areas are a bug biotope, a pond where in the warmer months you can see European pond turtles sunbathing, and a petting zoo. For children, there is also a large nature playground. Papiliorama has an on-site cafeteria-restaurant, but picnicking is also allowed.

Papiliorama is open from 10:00-17:00 in the winter months and from 10:00-18:00 after the start of daylight savings time. Entrance costs CHF 19 for adults, CHF 16 for students, and CHF 9.50 for kids ages 4–15 (free for kids under age 4).

Papiliorama can be reached by car in about 70 minutes from Basel and offers a large parking lot (CHF 4). The train to “Kerzers Papiliorama” takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Basel; the station is a few minutes’ walk from the main entrance.