If you’ve ever dreamed of going on an exciting African safari (without the expense or time needed to trek across the world), then Safari West is definitely a must-visit destination when you’re traveling in Northern California wine country.
What is Safari West?
Tucked away in the Sonoma County hills, Safari West is an award-winning, authentic African safari that welcomes you to experience over 90 species of exotic animals through daily Safari tours, and have memorable over-night adventures on their 400 acre property in Santa Rosa.
Founded in 1993, Safari West has become one of the leading wildlife preserves in the United States. Starting as an antelope preserve (that now has 17 different types of antelope species), Safari West has since expanded into an oasis that is home to over 900 animals, including Giraffes, Rhinos, Birds, Buffalo, Zebra, Ostrich, and more.
Not only is Safari West an ideal places for families (as your kids will be entertained all day), it’s also great for romantic getaways for couples and honeymooners, fun-filled girls’ weekends or special occasions (such as Bridal Showers and Birthdays), and groups or family reunions.
The lively, colorful atmosphere and lush greenery instantly transport you to an exotic destination, making you feel like you’ve truly gone on vacation to a tropical oasis.
Upon entrance, you’re greeted by a friendly, attentive staff that makes you feel at home. Walking through the landscaped entry toward the tour meet-up spots, you’ll find winding pathways, whimsical water features, and gorgeous gardens with blooming flowers.
Tip: Bring your camera – this place is definitely great for photos!
Safari West Glamping (Glamorous Camping)
What makes Safari West even more exciting is the opportunity to go Glamping!
Safari West offers 30 luxury tents sourced from Botswana, that house up to 6 guests. In addition, they offer a variety of bedding arrangements (from King to double bunks), making it convenient for groups of different sizes.
Each tent is perched on a high wooden platform, featuring private decks with sweeping panoramic views of the expansive property. And, if you’re wondering about the noisy party animals nearby – we’ve heard it’s like sleeping in a tropical jungle. So, bring some earplugs or just enjoy the sounds of nature.
The daily tours are done in 1950’s open-air trucks (that have a shady canopy above). Hop on into the truck, grab a seat, and get ready for a few hours of fun exploring the property. The knowledgeable tour guide will teach you all about the property, the history of the preserve, and each of the animals that live there.
Our tour guide, Jessica, was particularly knowledgeable (as she studied biological anthropology in college). In addition, she told us that she runs the college internship program on-site, inviting college students (from all over California) to visit Safari West during the Summer for hands-on training and education.
As you go on the tour, you’ll encounter a wide variety of species. Safari West does a great job taking care of the animals, while enabling them to have a safe, natural environment that they feel comfortable roaming around on. Because the animals are treated so well, they appear relaxed and content in their surrounding atmosphere.
Since Spring is mating season, one of the funniest encounters of our day was with this adorable Ostrich. Maybe not the brightest bird on the block, she thought our tour possibly had male suitors, so she pranced up to our truck and started doing her mating ritual, displaying her feathers with a grand show. It was definitely an amusing moment for all of the guests on the tour.
One of the preserve’s Southern White Rhinoceros (named Waldie) showed us his moves by doing a moon-walk (his way of walking backwards, upon command), and came up toward our truck to give us an up-close view of his incredible stature (weighing over 5,000 lbs).
Featured above is the Gemsbok antelope, which our tour guide said is considered the “most beautiful Antelope in the world”. With their striking facial features and unique coloring, this distinctive antelope definitely stands out from the herd.
In addition to providing majestic experiences for guests, the mission of Safari West is to “actively promote conservation, environmental education, and share knowledge that will help each individual make personal choices in regards to the environment and conservation efforts.”
Safari West Wildlife Foundation
“The Safari West Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to creating wildlife advocates. The Foundation helps people of all ages develop a deeper appreciation for the natural environment and conservation by providing a Junior Keeper program, and scholarships for underfunded schools to visit Safari West on educational field trips.
The Safari West Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.”
When you visit Safari West, you can either enjoy a Safari Tour (which lasts a few hours), or have an over-night adventure. In addition, they offer a variety of specialty tours, including the “Winos & Rhinos Private Safari”, “Brews & Buffalo Private Safari”, and the “Serengeti Twilight Private Safari and Dinner (In the Bush or at the Treetops Aviary)”.
If you love wildlife and enjoy majestic adventures, then Safari West is definitely worth adding to your bucket list.
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[Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. A complimentary tour was provided for the purpose of this review.]