Santa Rosa, CA 95404United States
Activities & Resources
Safari West050in Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Santa Rosa, CA 95404United States
about Safari West:
Imagine that such a place exists less than two hours from San Francisco!
Safari West is one of the best-kept secrets in the Bay Area. The 400-acre wildlife preserve in the heart of Napa Valley is home to more than 500 exotic mammals and birds - nearly 100 different species. Parents can take the family on a local getaway that is truly unique and unforgettable.
On a recent visit to Safari West we were enthralled from the minute we stepped foot on the grounds. While we were waiting for a ride to our tent cabin, a black and white bird the size of a small dog with a huge yellow bill hopped and flopped toward us. This was Dalia, the Great Indian Hornbill, an endangered gal from Asia. My son's mouth dropped open and his eyes went wide when he asked, "Is that a real bird?"
That wasn't the only time his jaw dropped and eyes went wide. Over and over again we were all astounded at the up-close animal encounters and beauty of the preserve.
Families can take a two-hour tours aboard authentic safari vehicles - try to sit on the top for the best view! It?s a bit of a dusty and bumpy ride up the hills, but well worth it. Depending on the day, visitors on the tour might see African Cape Buffalo, endangered Grand Zebra, Zimbabwe Waterbuck, giraffe, ostrich, wildebeests, gazelle, scimitar-horned oryx, and other species of African antelope.
Our tour guide was a man named Gideon, who hails from South Africa and won us over by welcoming us in his native language. Throughout the tour, Gideon regaled us with stories of growing up in Africa - from riding and racing ostriches to close up encounters with killer African Cape Buffalo. A born entertainer, Gideon also interjected a lot of punny jokes that kept us all in smiles. ("The lion will swallow its pride if its hungry enough.")
A tour of the property by foot includes a visit to the aviary, with dozens of exotic birds from Asia and Africa, including the rosette spoonbill, as well as a few ten-pound Duiker, tiny antelope that look like small dogs. There is also an island of Ringtail lemur, some whistling ducks, three cheetahs, an ocelot, and more.
It's possible to visit Safari West just for the day. But we suggest an overnight in one of the tent cabins -imported from Africa and built on high wooden platforms with spacious decks (with a view of grazing giraffes). It is amazing to fall asleep listening to the sounds of the crickets and wild African birds echoing across the big sky. Cabins feature a large airy room with a king-sized bed, a couple chairs, cots for the kids, an en suite bathroom with a shower. A space heater and electric blankets provide plenty of warmth.
The leopard print bedspread and carpet, twig towel holder and light fixtures, and the breeze through the tent screens make one forget for a moment that this is the wine country. It feels like the Serengeti! Beautiful hardwood floors, thick towels, hot water, and the New Yorker Magazine are pleasant reminders that this isn?t Africa. Tents with two beds or a two-bedroom cottage that sleeps up to eight are also available.
Safari West hosts a buffet dinner of appetizers, BBQ chicken, soup, salad, and dessert. Guests can eat indoors ? or outside with the wonderful sounds of the aviary nearby. Complimentary breakfast is included with overnight stays.