Jul 30, 2012
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Safari Review: Santa Rosa Safari West vs. San Diego Safari

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Henry Miller, an American writer and painter, once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” With the economy in a downturn, not many people can afford to travel halfway across the world to experience different cultures, habitats, and ways of life. Luckily, California offers two affordable options to see African wildlife close to home.
 
The first, Safari West of Santa Rosa, is in Northern California. The second, the San Diego Safari, is located in Southern California. I have been to both safaris and both are pretty comparable in the types of wildlife you will see on your trip, but I did notice a few distinctions between my two visits.
 
San Diego’s Safari Park offers several different safari adventure options, depending on your budget. For instance, the park offers caravan, jungle rope obstacle course, and zipline safari options. The cheapest is the tram which is $42.00 for adults and $32.00 for children. Safari West doesn’t have as many options. For a vehicle tour, it costs $78.00 for adults but still $32.00 for kids.
 
Although Safari West seems a little more pricey for adults, my fiance, a small group of about six people, and myself had our own tour guide throughout but both the driving and walking portions of the park. Our guide was very knowledgeable and answered any and all questions group members had while on the tour. At the San Diego Safari Park, we would have to pay quite a bit more for a tour guide for the walking portion of the park and the tram was packed full of many people, so it was harder to get individual questions answered.
 

 

 
Both parks have a main expedition area, where the tram or vehicle runs through, where you will see giraffes, rhinos, zebras, antelopes, gazelles, and so much more. However, as hinted above, both parks also have a large area you can walk around.
 
At Safari West, we learned a lot about their different monkey species. The San Diego Safari is located near the very popular San Diego Zoo, which also has a lot of different monkey species. When we went to the San Diego Safari, we just happened to go on a day where the Gorilla Forest was set up for a gorilla birthday celebration. I learned that gorillas really like popcorn. Safari West didn’t have gorillas and although, both had several species of birds, the San Diego Safari had a Frequent Flyers bird show.
 

 
Cheetahs are on the endangered species list and both parks offer an opportunity for you to see a cheetah up-close and personal. However, one of my personal favorite moments of my San Diego trip was seeing the cheetah run. For those who don’t know, the cheetah is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph), covering distances up to 460 m (1,500 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h (64 mph) in three seconds, faster than most cars!
 

 
Although the San Diego Safari has the cheetah run, Safari West definitely has its advantages. If you are looking for some adult time away from the kids, I definitely recommend going to Safari West because it is not too far from Napa Valley. You can go on a safari on Saturday and head over to the wine train for some wine tasting on Sunday. This is actually exactly what my fiance and I did for our visit. 
 

 

 
Both parks value education, especially for kids. For instance, the San Diego park offers summer camp and educational programs like the Critter Connection, which is a presentation featuring natural history, conservation stories, and up-close animal encounters. Your kids can still take advantage of the educational opportunities, even when school is in session. Each year, Safari West has over 10,000 school children visiting for field trips. If you’re a teacher, or a parent looking to recommend a field trip option, I highly recommend something fun and education like the above aforementioned.
 
Mark Twain said:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

 

 
I would love to hear about your trip to either safari park. Let me know what you liked best.

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