A couple of weeks ago, Gabe and I headed to the Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham, England to try out a range of adrenaline rush activities at the brand new attraction. You can find out more information about the new adventure experience run by Merlin Entertainment in my last post here. As an overview, the Bear Grylls Adventure has several extreme activities consisting of basecamp, a high ropes course, rock climbing, snorkelling or scuba diving, and indoor skydiving. It’s designed for ages 15 and above and is perfect for anyone who enjoys adventure days out. We participated in Basecamp and the climbing activity. To check out all the different tickets visit the Bear Grylls Adventure website.
In the interest of full disclosure, we were offered the tickets free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review, however, all opinions are my own.
Basecamp was the first part of our adventure and one that all visitors will participate in. If there is only a few of you that go together, you will be grouped with other visitors in a maximum of around 15 people for the duration of basecamp. There are four parts to basecamp which have been carefully designed to test your mental and physical abilities and prepare you for any future escapades you may find yourself in!
I really enjoyed all of the basecamp activities although I did feel like we could have done with a little more time for some of them. Some of the sections seemed a little rushed and at one point we did manage to lose our group between tasks so a little more organisation could be needed. The staff were on hand to help though and were extremely friendly and I imagine these are just teething problems that will definitely improve in no time at all.
The survival maze was the part of the whole day I was most worried about coming into it and for good reason! The maze is designed to test your bravery by bringing you face to face with a series of the most common fears that people have including fear of the unknown and fear of enclosed spaces. I went into it expecting something similar to the scare mazes Alton Towers has for Halloween (at least what I’ve heard about them as I’ve always been too scared to go in!) but it wasn’t anywhere near that bad. No spoilers so I won’t give too much detail but the fear of the unknown section really got to me and I was actually shaking a little bit during it. I didn’t even realise that was a fear I had! I thought I was just scared of heights and bugs!
After that first section, I found everything else alright and actually kind of fun. We could have a giggle about it although certain parts could be a challenge for other people to face. At the end of the maze, we all went into a room for a ‘swallow your fear’ task. Around the room were a bunch of small cups, like the kind you get supermarket free samples in, which each had in it a different gross thing to eat. The good news is if you’re vegetarian or have any kind of allergy you are exempt from this round, however you do still have to drink the consolation prize which is much much worse! What is Bear Grylls famous for drinking again?
Break Out – Escape Room
This was the part of the day I was most looking forward to but was also the part which was most disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because the escape room was bad just it was really, really difficult and we didn’t escape. Again this is a difficult activity to talk about since I don’t want to give spoilers but I will try my best (and maybe see if I can slip in a couple of hints).
There are several escape rooms set up with the same scenarios so groups can play them simultaneously and race to escape. Each room fits a maximum of 6 players so as our basecamp group consisted of 8 total, we were split into 2 groups of 4. Our adventure guide decided to mix us around a bit which meant me and Gabe did end up in different rooms but I thought it was a good way of getting to know some of the other group a bit better.
You have 7 minutes to solve the room and then you are released whether you solve it or not and a slide is revealed for you to exit via. The slide is pretty steep and honestly, I freaked out a little going down it so be aware! Going in, our guide gave us the hint to make sure one person is listening to the radio at all times but I would also add to this to make sure you’re looking at the bigger picture and linking EVERYTHING together!
Assault courses are a very run of the mill activity found within many adventure days out, however, this one is based on the Royal Marines training course. I think this was my favourite adrenaline activity of the day and I thought it was great fun. 2 people can run the course at the same time so you can race against each other but unfortunately, Gabe is a lot taller, stronger and just generally faster than me which gave him a big advantage and he very quickly got ahead. He did try to slow down a little to allow me to catch up but the staff members encouraged him to keep going.
There was a couple of parts which I did struggle with such as climbing over quite a big wall and the monkey bars (which I have never been able to do!) but the adventure team were very encouraging. One of the guides gave me a boost over the wall I was struggling with and another egged me on to keep trying to push myself with the monkey bars. However, they weren’t too aggressive about it to the point it made you feel bad if you couldn’t do it. One lady even assured me that if I tried the monkey bars and even hung on one bar for 30 seconds, that would still be an achievement and congratulated me when I did.
Gabe did find this task a little tedious though as he was the first to tackle the assault course and a lot faster than everyone else. He did also find the monkey bars a little difficult so that killed a bit of time but he ended up waiting around for us (mainly me) at the end of the course. I’d suggest going with people of similar abilities to you to avoid this however you can’t control who else might be in your group when you get there
The Archery session was the final adventure activity that is included in the basecamp. It consisted of getting kitted up and going to the archery range. There we got one round of 8 arrows at our own target, some advice from the guide about our shooting and then a free for all each aiming one arrow at the same target and all firing it at the same time. The archery was really good fun but I did feel like it was over a little too fast.
Each activity in basecamp is about 22 minutes long giving a total time of almost 90 minutes. However, there was an introductory video to watch, a health and safety talk and then a little lesson on how to load, aim and fire a bow which really ate into the actual archery time. Not a lot that can be done about this though as these things need to be done!
Adrenaline Rush Activities – Climbing
After we had finished at Bootcamp, we had a bit of time to chill out and get drinks before we started our Hero activity, rock climbing. The climbing area is in the main part of the attraction so it’s easy to find the entrance whilst the rest of the extra activities are a bit more tucked away up the stairs. When the time came, we went through, watched the safety video and headed to the climbing area. We started climbing with about 15 minutes of bouldering on small walls with a padded floor and without a harness to get warmed up then about 10 minutes each in two different climbing wall areas. The first was a section of more traditional climbing walls with the normal handholds. The second section was full of climbing walls designed to look like real climbing trails from around the world.
During this activity, I discovered something about myself. And that is, rock climbing is not for me! I’ve done a little rock climbing in the past but I never realised how bad I am at it. I could barely get up higher than my head, even on the easier walls, and at 5 foot 3 that’s not much of an achievement. I did however later see a girl scaling up some of the most difficult climbs with complete ease so it must just be me! It was still fun though and Gabe did do a lot better than me although we were both very sore the next morning! In total, the climbing experience lasted about an hour and that felt like plenty of time. By the end, we were pretty tired out and I think the others there were too.
The Food at the Bear Grylls Adventure
We were pretty tired out after our full day of adrenaline rush activities so we decided to refuel with some dinner from the restaurant. They have a wide range of food available from sandwiches to pizzas and even a few creepy crawlies if the survival maze wasn’t enough for you! They also have a deal where you can get a pizza, drink and protein snack for £11.95 which is a pretty good deal when you consider the size of the pizza. There are a few different options for pizzas and they all look pretty nice. I had the veggie pizza and Gabe had a bbq one.
The Bear Grylls Adventure is beautifully decorated. Everywhere you look you see another incredible piece of decoration. Even the floor is made to look like tyre tracks and water which is really impressive because it is so realistic. Every area has a theme and sticks to it so well. Around the climbing area, you will find posters for Machu Picchu and Kilimanjaro, around the archery section it is designed to look like an armoury and there are live spiders outside the Survival Maze. There is even a highly realistic life-sized model of Bear Grylls himself! The restaurant looks spectacular and you can really believe you’re in a camp canteen deep in the jungle.
On top of this, the staff working there really make the experience. Everyone who works there (that we met) were friendly and helpful and whilst there will always be an element of upselling in places like this no one was too pushy about it. The survival guides during the activities were excellent and really built up the atmosphere and even just walking around the building afterwards team members would chat with us and really make us feel comfortable. At one point, Gabe and I were messing around taking some pictures near a crocodile figure and a staff member happened to walk past. He started telling us the best pictures are when you ride the crocodile and even sat on it himself to show us. That really made the experience great for me as they clearly loved working there and were enjoying themselves too.
Overall we had an amazing time at the Bear Grylls Adventure and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Whether it’s a girls night out or a work team building activity I’m sure it would go down a treat. And… I truly believe the attraction is great value for money. It is £20 for the Basecamp or £35 for Basecamp and climbing/high ropes and you get so much packed into your day for that price. There are a couple of things that could be a little better like organisation but those things will come in time and there are so many more things that are pretty much perfect about the place. It’s a great place to visit for any adrenaline junkie or adventure lover and I will definitely be returning again although maybe not for rock climbing this time! And if my review has made you want to visit you can get 10% off your activity tickets here.
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