The above picture is from our jeep tour of the property. This is really how close you come to the animals, it's their land...and your just a guest driving by! It is home to cheetahs, lemurs, cape buffalo, zebras, and so many more. I have to say, the tour is not exactly what we thought it would be - we expected more adventure, more excitement and a more variety of animals. We started off the tour with a walk around a few of the caged animals - typical to a walk at the zoo. We visited birds, the cheetahs, and the lemurs - which were out in the open, but close enough to walk to. Then we hopped in the jeep, with everyone taking turns to sit up top. Our youngest daughter was not tall enough yet, so I stayed down below with her, while my husband and son sat up top first. The terrain was a bit rough, but I think that was mostly due to all the recent rain the area has had, there was alot of mud and water puddles to go through. That actually made the tour a bit more exciting - especially for the kids who loved the 4-wheeling through the mud! The animals were very spread out, but then they have so much free land to roam there were times we had to go in search of the animals. The tour in the jeep lasted about two hours which turned out perfect because as soon as we were done dinner was about ready.
The area in the above picture is where lunch and dinner is cooked and served buffet style. It's all you can eat, which is what I would expect it to be at the price they charge!! Dinner is $29 for adults and $17 per child. The night we were there they were serving BBQ Chicken (white meat), rice, twice baked potatoes, green beans, salad, and soup. The food was OK, but not as good as we were looking forward too. The chicken was great - always gotta love BBQ Chicken! But again, it was really over priced......I would never pay that much for what was served - really should be half that! Loved the fire pit and eating outdoors with a view of the animals and the scenery.
The tents you see in the above picture was the most amazing part of the trip!! They call them their African Safari Tents. These are heavily lined with canvas and have thick plastic windows and are imported from Africa. The furniture is mostly entirely crafted from on site wood. The beds were huge, so soft and very very comfortable!! I wanted one for my own house! I would not recommend a visit during the winter months as even with our stay it got very cold!! Each tent does have an electric blanket on each bed as well as a wall heater which keeps it comfortable at night. The windows are covered by Velcro flaps which is very cool - especially during the warmer months you can keep them open and have a view of the animals and all the open land. There are no TVs or phones in the tents, which make it more meaningful and gives you more time to really enjoy your visit. They also have a lake on site and each night during the warmer months they will meet you out there in the evening to feed the catfish - which the kids loved!!
All in all it can be a pretty amazing experience, but is a slower pace and not as adventurous as we expected. Another downside is the price - it can be very expensive, and with the economy the way it is, it would make it tough for many to visit. The safari tent is it's own experience which I would recommend to anyone just looking for that experience without traveling all the way to Africa. The kids were a bit bored after taking the tour, it would be nice to see them have more activities or stuff to keep the kids busy. Honestly I would go just as a couple and take advantage of the beautiful Safari Tents and scenery. This is not something I would plan if coming in from out of town, I would have rather spend more time visiting family or sightseeing the historic spots around town......
Reservations are required and the following prices are listed as of today -
- Safari Tours - $68 Adults, $30 for children 3-12, $10 for children 1-2
- Luxury Safari Tents range from $200 - $295 per night
- Lunch is $19 Adults & $14 Child / Dinner is $29 Adults & $17 Child
Visit www.safariwest.com for more information