Family Travel: Go on Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Flickr: ernietbiker

Go on a VIP Ultmate Safari!

I love the San Diego Zoo.  It is one of my favorite places to spend a day relaxing with the animals.  But for every part of the zoo that is low key and easy going, its sister property, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, offers a unique and sprawling, choose-your-own-adventure style of animal encounter.

The concept of this park is simple:  although you might not be able to pack up the family and fly off to a real African Safari, you can come pretty close.  The Park is expansive, hosting more than 2600 animals from over 300 species on over 1,800 acres of land!!  Let’s be honest, no one wants to walk through 1800 acres of zoo exhibits- the real fun at this park is the safari tours. 

Safaris are offered with a range of options starting from the most basic, the African Tram Safari, all the way up to the VIP Ultimate Safari.  The African Tram Safari is pretty amazing.  This open-air trek takes you and your family around and through the African field exhibits, getting up close to numerous animals in a diverse, open habitat, where the animals can freely co-habitat together as they would in the wild.  The tour is perfect for small kids- it only lasts 25 minutes and takes them by some very kid-friendly animals like giraffes, zebra, rhinos, and cape buffalo, among others. If you are looking for a similar tour with a bit less crowds, try out the Cart Safari.  You still wander on the paths outside the exhibits, but you can choose between the African Plains or Asian Savanna where you will linger a bit longer –this tour lasts just about an hour.

Want to get off the cart path?  You are in luck.  Opt for the Behind the Scenes Safari taking you in the footsteps of the animal keepers to see and learn about their habitats, cleaning, feeding, and care.  Tours just for little ones are offered on a regular basis and are focused on kid-friendly facts and information.  Another off the cart option is the Caravan Safari that puts you and your family not just around the animal enclosures, but right inside them for drive-up-close views and interactions with giraffe and rhinos, and even the chance to feed these impressive creatures from your caravan!  Roar and Snore Safaris allow you to spend the night at the park for an off-peak look at animal behavior, and VIP Ultimate Safaris are personally crafted around your family’s interest. 

Thrill seekers rejoice, there are great safaris for you as well!  Take the Jungle Ropes Safari for a thrilling aerial obstacle course in the sky, or the Flightline Safari where you can soar 160 feet above the animals as you zip down nearly a mile of line to a safe landing.  You can join the Cheetah Safari for an up-close seat at this cat’s 70mph run and post-run meet and greet.

In addition to these safari options, standard zoo exhibits including numerous animals and shows, play areas, and interactions are offered on a daily basis.  Dozens of restaurants and dining facilities are located throughout the park including typical American favorites like burgers and salads, international entrees including paninis and Mexican fare, and snacks including a variety of healthy and sustainable options.

Don't forget about the discount airfare to San Diego from CheapOair!  There is nothing wild about that!

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photo: ernietbiker

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