Disneyland Resort and Southern California LIVE! Guidebook
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San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
If an African safari isn’t in your plans, or your budget, the next best thing is a visit to the San Diego Safari Park. Located about 35 miles north of the San Diego Zoo and 85 miles from Disneyland, the park is home to more than 3,500 animals and 1.5 million plants throughout its 1,800 acres.
The busiest area in the Safari Park is Nairobi Village, just past the entrance, where you will find most of the shopping and dining, as well as several exhibits, including the Gorilla Forest and aviaries containing everything from bee-eating birds to storks. Kids and adults alike will marvel at the unique animals available for personal attention in the Petting Kraal, including impalas and sika deer. Steps away are the Nairobi Nursery, where the park’s newest arrivals and any sick or injured animals are cared for.
For an overview of the park, catch a ride on the Africa Tram (no extra charge). This 40-minute tour takes you through the expansive African field exhibits that make the Safari Park so unique, where animals roam freely amongst each other, just as they would in their native habitats. Be prepared to see hundreds of animals, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, gazelle, and more. Your ride will be different each time—you may be lucky enough to catch antelope sparring, or rhinos stampeding across the savanna—so keep your camera ready and your eyes open, and make time to ride more than once during your visit. (Your guide will point out animals and provide information for you, and can slow down if something interesting is happening). This tram replaced the aging Wgasa Bush Line Railway in 2008.
We strongly recommend experiencing at least one of the many safaris to complete your Safari Park visit, although they do cost extra. Choose from options such as the Caravan Safari, the Cheetah Safari, and the Trike Safari; just be sure to check age requirements on the website.
While the large field exhibits focus on Africa and Asia, Condor Ridge highlights endangered animals of North America, including California condors, desert bighorn sheep, and black-tailed prairie dogs. Also take time to experience the Hidden Jungle, home to butterflies, hummingbirds, and insects native to the rainforest.
For a uniquely up-close experience, stop at Lorikeet Landing, where rainbow lorikeets (also known as brush-tongued parrots), native to Australia and New Guinea, fearlessly land on your arms (or shoulders, or even your head!) and drink nectar straight out of your hand. There is a small fee for a cup of nectar, but the experience is well worth the minimal cost.
The Safari Park does have a handful of daily shows; Frequent Flyers (featuring 20 species of birds) and the Cheetah Run (you can watch cheetahs reach speeds of up to 70 mph while they chase a mechanical lure, as well as various animal encounters throughout the park. There are also a couple of rides available for an additional fee, but the focus of this park is animals and plants in their natural habitats, so the rides are more of an afterthought, and your experience will not suffer if you skip these extras.
Top Photo Slice: (℗ 30278) Photo contributed by © DopeyGirl
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