It’s 10 am on a weekday and I can hear the calls of a dozen different exotic birds echoing thru the dappled green valley. It’s chilly, so chilly that I can almost see my breath, but that doesn’t seem to bother the assorted animals that call the Sonoma Serengeti at Safari West their home.
We begin our Safari on foot, tackling the lower part of the zoo first. Scarlet Ibis deck the trees like psychedelic ornaments. Their shocking red plumage makes the nearby flamboyance of flamingos look practically pastel by comparison.
Many zoos boast colorfully feathered flocks but the species you see at Safari West feel rarer. There are many birds here that I’ve never seen anywhere else. And there are roly poly crested porcupines too – deceptively cuddly looking creatures considering the quills.
It’s hard to tear myself away from the majestic gaze of a cheetah, but when I’m offered a seat on the roof of an over sized Safari Jeep style vehicle, I will not hesitate to climb on top and buckle up. My chariot awaits! I’m queen of the world!
I’ve always wanted to experience the thrill of an African Safari. Who knew you could come so close, so close to home?
Did you know that when you get close to Giraffes, really close, you can admire their long eyelashes? Maybe this juvenile one didn’t have the fullest set but he was adorable nonetheless. Giraffes have very long black tongues too, by the way. There’s one on the premises who is famous for being a drooler.
For almost two hours we traversed the property, checking out hundreds of animals, dozens of species. Antelope and Ibex, Oryx and Cape Bison. Zebras and Wildebeest. We saw Timon and Pumba and the Hyenas too.
We were close enough to the rhinos to see the grooves in their prized keratinous horn. For most of the Safari there were no fences, no barriers, no obstructed views and no bad seats. It was like a childhood dream come true and I assure you my inner child was pretty giddy about that.
The only thing that would have made it better is wine. But this is Sonoma so of course there are Safari tours paired with wine tastings. Something else to return for, next time with a group of friends!
Our knowledgeable Safari West Safari guide gave us a detailed tour, telling us a wealth of information about all of the animals and the history of the Safari West property and it’s founder/owners, which is an interesting story.
Meanwhile I shot photo after photo with my right hand, video with the left.
This is probably the closest I ever want to get to a Cape Bison. They may resemble familiar livestock but these grumpy dudes are actually some of the most dangerous creatures you’ll see at Safari West. Fortunately they recognize the Safari Vehicle is way way bigger than they are and do not challenge it, or the people in it.
We finished our tour with a look at one of the on site luxe “glamping” cabins for guests who wish to extend their stay. Our stay was extended with a delicious spot of lunch in the on site Savannah Grill. Reserve ahead to dine before/after your safari.
Some things to know about Safari West:
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Safari Prices and Schedule
- Special Events and Tours
- Overnight at Safari West
- Children under 4 are not allowed on group tours, but can visit the animals on the lower/ walking part of the property where there is a great deal to be seen.
- The ride is somewhat bumpy, there are only belts for the seats on the top of the vehicle where it is extra bumpy (and extra fun in my opinion!)
- Pregnant women should ride at their own caution.
- There are no bathrooms/bathroom breaks during the Safari drive.
- Safaris commence rain or shine. Blankets were provided to us on our chilly day tour but we were blessed with clear blue skies and sunshine across the dazzling landscape.
You can visit Safari West with your kids, but I won’t judge you if you leave them home and only bring your inner child. This is one of the most exciting day trips I’ve taken in the past year and I can see why Sunset magazine recently recognized Safari West as a top Family Fun destination.