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Safari West

  • 5

(1 reviews)
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Safari West
3115 Porter Creek Road
Santa RosaCA 95404
(707) 579-2551

Ages: 4 and up

Cost: adults $78-80 | children $32

Parking: Yes - large dirt lot

Features: Picnic Area, Outside Food Allowed, Shop, Restaurant, Restrooms, Family Friendly

An African adventure in the heart of California wine country! Explore the Sonoma Serengeti on an African wildlife safari or relax in your luxury tent under the gaze of a graceful giraffe... This is the closest you can get to Africa without a passport!

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  • 5

Reviewed on 06/04/2013

Santa Rosa’s Safari West was an adventure my children (ages 7 and 9) will likely never forget. The wildlife preserve spans several hundred acres, and though we spent only about three hours at Safari West, we were amazed at how many different animals there were to see, and by how close we were able to see them. Sitting atop a safari vehicle, driving down a dirt road, I was nuzzled by a 19-year-old Masai giraffe named Toufani! Aside from visiting the African Serengeti, I’m quite sure I would have never had that opportunity.

The safari begins with a 40-minute walking tour through bird aviaries and amongst primate enclosures. While this part of the trip is more in vein with a typical zoo visit, our tour guide, Karen, was able to share with us more about the many species than we would glean from a placard attached outside an exhibit. Karen, who was knowledgeable and engaging, asking the kids direct and thought-provoking questions, then loaded us up on the safari vehicle and we began what would be the highlight of the day.

My two children and I were given permission to climb to the very top seats, above the cab of the Korean War-era Jeep. Karen was sure to note that everyone who wanted to sit in that coveted spot would have the chance at some point during the safari drive. We lucked out, though, because the first major habitat we went into was the giraffe and antelope enclosure, which was where we got up close and personal with several four-legged animals, including the aforementioned and very friendly Toufani. Those in the main part of the vehicle were more intimate with shorter animals like bongos, greater kudus, and roans, but really, being close enough to count the eyelashes of a giraffe more than made up for that.

This unique adventure is most appreciated by children four and older, especially when considering the $32 price tag for child’s admission and that the almost two-and-a-half hour safari drive is a bumpy one. The safari drive may not be comfortable for pregnant women and those with back issues. Also, because only those roughly 42” and taller are allowed on the very top of the Jeep, I would either plan to have one parent remain below in the main part of the vehicle for the duration of the trip, or wait for a growth spurt.

Peak tour season is June through August, so prices are slightly higher during this time. Late spring is when weather is most cooperative — Santa Rosa’s temperatures can reach above 100˚F on summer days. (Late spring is also when many of the recently born babies begin to assert their independence, wandering a bit from mother’s side. We saw baby zebras, antelope, and cape buffalo in late May!) Remember sunblock, hats or sunglasses, and comfortable, lightweight clothing if visiting on warm days. Closed-toe shoes are advised. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your tour time; you will need to check in and meet your tour guide before beginning your Safari West adventure.

We will return to Safari West again, with extended family in tow. My daughter (9) said, “This is great because we can see the animals in their actual habitats. They’re not gated up like in the zoo.” My 7-year-old son, a quiet observer, learned many new facts about African animals: “Did you know a giraffe’s tongue is black so it won’t be sunburned, and did you know that a person can tell where an antelope lives based on the texture and color of its coat, and did you know… ?” Did you know we had a great time?

Safari West