Most people who visit San Diego know about the world renowned San Diego Zoo, but did you know that they have a second park just 30 miles outside of town called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (or Wild Animal Park by the locals)? Opening its doors over 40 years ago, the Safari Park sits on 1,800 acres of land. Just to give you some reference, that’s equivalent to 180 San Diego Zoos or over 21 Disneylands!
Unlike the traditional zoos, the Safari Park offers a wide range of really unique ways to encounter the animals. Although there are exhibits that you can walk around to, if that’s all you see, you’re really missing out. The highlights are definitely the safaris! They have Balloon Safaris, Jungle Ropes Safaris, Caravan Safaris, and Flightline Safaris just to name a few.
We decided to do the Caravan Safari Twilight, which is a 2-hour adventure in a covered, open-air safari truck. Because there isn’t a particular track, they drive through the field enclosures and get you up close and personal with the animals. We even got a chance to feed giraffes AND rhinos!
The feedings are based on the mood of the animals. They told us it is very rare that the rhinos will come up to you for a feeding, but we were very lucky that they were in the right mood! :)
In addition to creating such a unique experience, the San Diego Zoo is one of the leading organizations in the world when it comes to breeding programs and conservation efforts. The revolutionary idea to even build a space this large was driven by the desire to create habitats that are as realistic to their natural habitats. That includes the amount of space that each animal has! Did you know that animals kept in captivity lose a lot of their natural instincts? The San Diego Zoo Safari Park allows them to ensure that those survival skills stay from generation to generation.
BOOK YOUR SAFARI HERE.
Pro Tips for visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park:
- There is plenty of food and drink options at the park, but bring a small backpack with a water bottle that you can refill.
- The caravan also has a cooler, cups, and cold water.
- Regardless of which safari you go with, give yourself plenty of time to explore the rest of the zoo. We only had about 2 hours and could have used another hour to see everything.
- If you’re going with a group, carpool! Parking costs $12.
- For the photographers out there, bring a telephoto lens to get some great shots. We use a 70-200 for the photos of the animals, and iPhones for the ones of us in it.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen, so you can reapply every 2 hours.
Have you been part of any animal encounter programs?
What’s your favorite animal to see at the zoo?
What animal would you like to do an encounter program with?
A huge thank you to San Diego Zoo Safari Park for hosting our Caravan Safari.
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