Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Safari West in Santa Rosa


A few years ago I decided to stop giving my best friend actual, physical gifts and started giving her gifts that we could share together.  I felt that we didn't necessarily have enough girl time outside the home doing fun things other than dining out.  Plus, I wanted to share new experiences with her.  My first gift in this vein was when we went indoor surfing at SurfXtreme in Elk Grove. 

Dari liked the idea of event gifting and so this year her Christmas present to me was to go to Safari West in Santa Rosa. Turns out our friend Val had also bought a package for her mom and daughters and so all six of us went out this last weekend. 

Safari West is located on 400 acres in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa. We were told by our guide, Stephanie, that the ranch owners, Peter and Nancy Lang, had cattle, but had started adding African wildlife to their property for fun. In 1993 they decided to open offer a safari style experience to the public. Safari West gained full accreditation in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association shortly after.

Safari West is now home to about 90 different species of wildlife, mostly antelopes and birds.  There are some cheetahs, monkeys, and other large animals as well.


You can also stay overnight. There are about two dozen tent cabins that range in price from $200 to $315 depending on season and location. These are like hotel rooms with full bathrooms and luxury features, just not solid walls. I guess they could be a bit chilly at night then.

Tour packages range in price from $35 for children to $95 for adults during peak season. The tours last about three hours - one for the walking portion and two for the jeep ride.  Some parties start walking first, some start the ride first.



Oh. I would highly recommend springtime. There were lots of babies and also a lot of hanky panky!


Lemurs at the entrance. 


Our party started with the walking portion with checking out the three types of flamingos first. The flamingos we are familiar with are the American version and then there are two kinds of African flamingos. Each look slightly different and have different shades of pink.  The flamingos had their mud mound nests built up and some had laid eggs and were sitting on them. 


We next checked out the few monkeys and the cheetahs. Cheetahs and civets are the only cats they have here. No lions, unfortunately. This female cheetah came and laid down at the fence close enough so that we could hear her purr.


The aviary was spectacular.  There were many types of birds in here and I could easily have spent an hour in here just checking out the many types. This lady was particularly friendly as she had been hand raised.


This is the nesting tree which was a very popular high rise apartment building! Many nests with many different breeds. 


Finally it was our turn for the drive.  They give everyone an opportunity to ride on top if you have the nerves. The best time to be up top is FIRST because that's when you will go through the giraffe encounter!



You can see the jeep in the background. You do drive through the animal enclosures. No touching or getting off the vehicles!


We would stop often when near an animal so that Stephanie could tell us about them. Unfortunately I was losing battery in my camera, so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked. There were many types of antelope with babies.


They currently have three Southern White Rhinos. Stephanie says there are only FOUR Northern White Rhinos left in Africa and they have their own personal body guards. So sad that we are wiping out species for stupid cultural myths and greed.



I did get this little guy.  A couple of other zebras were visibly pregnant as well. This very large enclosure had impala, caribou, and wildebeest as well.



This was a great tour. Dari's friend Dawn has been on this tour and a real African safari and said you actually see more, closer, at Safari West
then you do in Africa.  Dari was also checking it out to see if the family could bring Roman, her 2-year old nephew.  We decided he needs to be about 6 before he could come.  Some children, like the ones on our jeep who were 3 and 5, can do well if they are well behaved. Roman would be too squirmy for three hours, so we'll wait til he is older.

It was a great day overall. I was a bit disappointed on the few cats and there were no elephants, but otherwise we had a fabulous day. And it's just day-trip distance away!


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