Safari West

Ever wanted to go on a camera safari, but didn’t have the time or the money?  Safari West is a family-friendly destination located in the heart of Sonoma County.  What makes Safari West different from a zoo or a drive-through animal park?  The rugged, 400-acre ranch property of rolling hills and oak is patterned after an African wildlife preserve, and is home to over five hundred wild animals–mammals, birds and reptiles.  Carefully selected and collected from Africa and all over the world, most of the animals roam the property, and since they are considered wild, they ignore human visitors.  Since they are happy in their habitat, they are not escape risks.

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Touring Safari West is an adventure for the family.  During the day, tour guides first give a brief walking tour and lecture of the smaller birds and animals before loading visitors into restored war Jeeps for a ride through the reserve.  Safari West also offers special activities on grounds.  For those who want to stay and be surrounded by the animals, there are luxury African tent cabins and dining facilities.

Image Besides being an educational experience, Safari West is an excellent photo opportunity.  Bring your camera and feel free to take your best shot.  For a better view of the wildlife and the landscape, ask to sit atop the Jeep.  People will take turns when it comes to sitting above the driver.

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Tour guides have plenty of fascinating information about the world’s wildlife.  Their lectures invite comments and conversation.  They expertly answer all questions.

During this trip, visitors got to hold an ostrich egg.  Later, the tour passed a lone female ostrich named Goldie.  Before her arrival at Safari West, Goldie escaped delivery personnel and ran through the Golden Gate Bridge before officials were able to catch her.  She was named after her time on the bridge.

Another animal oddity was a wild boar who was adopted and nursed by a herd of cattle.  It could be seen sleeping peacefully in a meadow.  Now full-grown, it is clearly a member of the herd.

Don’t be surprised to have a giraffe walk alongside your Jeep during the first part of the tour.

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On most days, expect the animals to be out–enjoying the sun and scenery.  Always remember that the animals are wild, and safety is the key.  Do not try to approach or feed the animals, and stay in the tour vehicle at all times.  Leave Fido at home because dogs are not allowed on grounds or in parked vehicles.

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There are many familiar animals to view.  This includes monkeys, cheetahs, porcupines, flamingos, giraffes. and zebras.  As the tour guide drives the Jeep over miles and miles of dirt road, there are herds of antelope, gazelle, ibis, and mountain bongo.  Cape buffalo, cattle and wildebeest keep their distance.  They could be seen grazing or lounging underneath the trees.

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You’ll find that a lot of the animals at Safari West are threatened species or close to extinction.  Meaning that very few are left in the wild.  Since the collection of animals changes during the year, a safari is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours of your wine country vacation.  This brief escape is perfect for animal lovers who want to see animals in a natural setting.  After experiencing a safari here, most likely, you’ll return.


  1. ChgoJohn · October 29, 2013

    How I would love to visit this park! In fact, I’d go so often that the animals would probably tire of seeing me. How fortunate that you live in a climate that can offer a safe environment for these animals. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

    • Arlene Poma · October 30, 2013

      John, this place is heavenly in the fall. The weather is beautiful, so you need to remember to bring bottled water and sunscreen. My husband and I love to take that Jeep ride. We always take our cameras and snap away because the animals are pure entertainment. It is also sad to know that this may be our last chance to view them.

  2. The Belmont Rooster · October 30, 2013

    That was a great post. Strange how some of the Flamingos are darker than others…

    • Arlene Poma · October 31, 2013

      Thanks, Lonnie! The guide at Safari West explained that their pond had three different kinds of flamingos. I thought the prettiest ones hung out at the far end of the pond and away from everybody. They were a very light pink. And smaller than the other birds.

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