Safari West

By Isabella Brady

At this point, it’s probably too late to book an authentic African Safari this summer, however, whether you’re looking for an afternoon away, or a weekend excursion with family and friends, Safari West provides the perfect venue for some time away. Spacious, and housing a myriad of animals and birds native to Africa, this small ecosystem cultivated in the hills of Santa Rosa offers a plethora of fun opportunities.

Upon arrival there are an abundance of animals housed near the entrance and over many acres spanning the valley floor, such as giraffes, antelope, African Greater, African Lesser and American flamingos, an aviary, fennec foxes, lemurs, tortoises, porcupines and even a pair of cheetahs. If you intend on staying a night amid the wildlife, a jeep will transport you from your car into the park and to your well accessorized ‘tent’ with an accurate design imported from Africa. 

Whether you decide to explore or take some time resting in your immaculate tent, hosting hardwood floors, a queen sized bed and fully equipped bathroom, this time away is guaranteed to be relaxing and transformative. If you’ve thoroughly explored the local wildlife, embark on a jeep safari to explore the countless acres of wildlife beyond. A three hour adventure, this safari climbs out of the steep valley and over rough terrain to bring you face to face with ostriches, white rhinos, zebras, impalas, wildebeests, giraffes, water buffalo and so many more as an informative guide describes each species and effortlessly recalls names and facts for each animal they house. Often within near arms reach, these animals enjoy their spacious and sheltered Californian paradise while those on board admire the tranquil scenery and engaging wildlife. After a guided tour through the local wildlife and tour inside the aviary, your Californian safari will be complete, yet, the memories will brighten your days long after. Quick tip—I highly recommend the rooftop seats on the jeep, it may be a bit more difficult to hear your guide but it makes the experience all the more remarkable. 

Alas, after a long, tiring day, Safari West offers delicious, and fresh food with views of the valley and wildlife. The experience is uniquely inclusive, as nearly every food offered is gluten free, and can be adapted to fit vegan, vegetarian and nut free diets. An excellent way to socialize with friends, I recommend enjoying these diverse foods in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset. If you’re up for it, the darkness of night still accommodates additional time to explore! As the animals adapt to the darkness, Safari West encourages guests to grab a flashlight and explore the local wildlife, an opportunity to view nocturnal animals, such as the fennec fox, in their active hours. While some animals will be happy for the company, in my experience, a visit to the African Greater and American flamingos will inspire a chorus of disdained shrieks and squawking, so while it’s not necessarily against the rules, the residents of the nearest tents will probably thank you for refraining from inspiring such uproar. 

Whether this is your cue to return home after an eventful day, or retire to your tent for the night, I guarantee you will enjoy this day away. In the case of the tent, as forewarning, the animals can either be quite comforting or insatiable as you try to sleep. Personally, they didn’t bother me, but if you’re a light sleeper I highly recommend bringing some earplugs so you can enjoy the adventure as much as the rest of your friends. This summer, plan Safari West into your itinerary to support the unique animal sanctuary and embark on an unforgettable adventure.