Safari West has been a major bucket list destination for us, and we finally got to go!
Did you know that you can have a full safari experience right in the heart of Wine Country in California?
At Safari West in Santa Rosa, you can take a safari truck tour, spend the night in a glamping safari tent cabin and dine with a view of the animals.
You don’t have to stay at the resort to take a safari tour.
Most guests come just for the day to go on safari, and day guests also have the option to add on lunch at the Savannah Cafe.
We booked the earliest safari tour because we visited in summer and it was the coolest time of the day.
The signature attraction at Safari West is the trucks.
As soon as you see them, you are so excited to get on!
The trucks are perfectly designed to give every passenger a great view, but of course, the top seat is the most coveted.
Kids must be at least 45 inches tall to ride in the top seat, and they measure every child at the start of the tour, so be aware that if your child is not tall enough, it may be a huge disappointment.
We witnessed a few sad tots who didn’t reach the mark.
Usually, the guides rotate people to give everyone who wants to a chance to ride in the top seat.
In our tour, all of the other parties had children who were too small or the adults didn’t want to make the climb, so we got to sit in the top seat the whole time.
Just the drive itself is very enjoyable.
The whole Safari West property is so beautiful and peaceful.
The safari guides are extremely knowledgeable and you are guaranteed to learn A LOT on these tours.
Here, our guide is explaining the difference between horns and antlers and their functions for animals.
Another word of caution for families with small children:
The safari tours are long – about 3 hours – and they include a lot of detailed information, so you want to be sure that your child has the attention span for it.
Our little guy was 6, and I would say that he was right at the mark.
I wouldn’t have wanted to take him any younger.
The best part about the Safari West experience is how close you get to the animals.
We’ve been to a lot of zoos and animal parks, but have never been able to observe wild animals so closely.
It was really incredible.
The one little issue with sitting in the top seat is being in the direct sun, but they thoughtfully provided large umbrellas that kept us well-shaded.
The best part of the safari tour is the giraffe area.
The giraffes wander all around the trucks and you can witness their beauty and their unique movements right up close.
The safari tour also includes a walking portion that may be done before or after your truck ride.
It allows you to see some animals that aren’t part of the herds and walk through the aviary to observe many beautiful birds.
We wanted the full adventure experience, so we opted to spend the night in one of the glamping tents.
It was awesome!
We were able to get a Base Camp tent which is directly across from the large animal area.
Some of the tents are up on the hillside in a quieter location.
The interior of the tents is full luxury!
They are so beautifully furnished and have many comforts, including electricity, a ceiling fan, space heater, heated blankets and an ice chest with ice and bottled water.
Some of the tents even have bunk beds!
Our kids were especially excited by the full bathroom with tent walls.
The boys were initially concerned because there are no TVs in the tents, but they never missed them because we spent almost all of our time hanging out on the deck watching the animals!
We checked into our tent in the late afternoon in mid-July, so it was hot!
However, we enjoyed other parts of the property for a few hours, like the snack bar area where there were cool water misters, and once the sun went down, the temperature dropped quickly and the tent became very comfortable.
Also, we didn’t have cell phone signal on the property, and although the lower tents have some wi-fi coverage it was spotty for us, so we used the wi-fi in the cafe area to check in back home.
From the lower tents, it’s a short walk to the cafe, snack bar and gift shop area, and as you walk you get to see some more animals right up close.
For an additional charge, you can have a great wood-fire grilled dinner at the open air Savannah Cafe.
The meal included a fruit plate starter, salads, ribs, chicken, mac and cheese, potatoes, veggies and dessert.
No one left hungry and everything was very tasty!
After dinner, they lit a fire and provided all the ingredients for the overnight guests to make s’mores!
Once our bellies were full and the sun started going down, the real magic began.
We were able to wander around the park at dusk and enjoy the very active animals as much as we liked.
We were even able to walk around and check out the animals after dark, thanks to the staff suggesting that we bring flashlights.
When you’re an overnight guest at Safari West, you can walk around the property at any time as long as you’re not noisy or disruptive.
We had one of the best night sleeps ever in our tent!
The beds were so luxurious and the cool fresh air was flowing through all night.
In the morning, we were able to lay in bed and watch the giraffes right through the tent window!
A basic, continental breakfast is served to tent guests in the Cafe in the morning, and then a staff member in a Jeep will come and help you take your luggage to your car at check-out time.
Visiting Safari West is a very unique experience and truly unforgettable.