san diego
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Going to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park) is the quickest way to take an African safari with your family.

Tip: Check new guidelines for visiting the San Diego Zoo, things have changed.


Start the day with a ride on the 25 min. Africa Tram Safari, where kids will see white rhinos, giraffes, lions, gazelles, ostriches, Cape buffalo and antelopes, grazing in the open. Tip: Go early as possible (or late in the day), to avoid a long lines for the tram.
At the entrance - At the entrance are lockers (for extra clothing after the water play areas or souvenirs) and strollers available for rent. Pick up maps, and check out the schedule for the bird show, cheetah run, and animal encounters.
Conservation carousel - A big hit with kids, ride around on endangered animals, such as a panda, jaguar, okapi, rhino, giraffe.
It's amazing how much the gorillas (Gorilla Trail) look like a human family - eating, playing, relaxing, the baby gorilla scampering around, there's even a tire swing and toy ball. The Gorilla Forest is right next to the amphitheater for the "Frequent Flyers" bird show, twice a day, check at the entrance for times.
On the Nairobi Walk, stop into the animal care nursery, where we saw an armadillo running in circles and an adorable white Fennec fox with huge ears, among other baby animals. Little kids will enjoy the Petting Kraal (petting zoo) and Village Playground, with African drums. At Lorikeet Landing, buy nectar and these colorful birds will land on your hand! (Who can resist photos?)
One of our favorite walks is the African Loop Trail through the woods and around the lagoon. Animals are housed in open enclosures, making them easy to see close up - okapi, hooded vultures, warthogs, bat-eared foxes, cheetahs, lions, and oodles of pink flamingoes.
Shiley's Cheetah Run - Kids will enjoy seeing a cheetah in action. The cheetah is the fastest animal on land, can run up to 70mph and go from 0 to 40mph in 3 seconds.
For the run, trainers bring the cheetah out to a long stretch of grass - the cheetach is accompanied by a large dog. The dog runs down the grass first, then the cheetah races out, chasing a toy. The cheetah run is only once a day, so check the schedule.
Condor Ridge - The Safari Park has a breeding program for the endangered California condor (chicks were originally fed with hand puppets. Visit Condor Ridge to see these magnificent birds, as well as the desert bighorn sheep (native to California, but hard to see in the wild).
Water play areas - On a hot day, it feels good to cool off in the water play areas at Lion Camp and Jameson Research Island on the African Loop Trail.
More activities and tours - The following activities and tours require an additional ticket:
Jungle Ropes Safari - Go an adventure in the treetops. Kids put on a harness, and make their way across rope bridges and single logs, high above the ground. For kids 7 and up, wear closed-toed shoes.
On Flightline Safaris ride a 160 ft. zipline over the park for a bird's eye view of the animals below. Ages 10 and up, must be accompanied by a parent, wear closed-toed shoes.
Roar & Snore - Want to spend the night at the Safari Park? You can sign up Roar and Snore. Sleep in big tents, sit around the campfire, and, during the night, you might hear a lion roar! Junior Sleepovers are for kids under age 6, Family Sleepovers for kids 6 and up. Advance reservations are required.
Fun food -
At the park are a dozen places for meals and snacks. Besides hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, there's Mexican food, salads, vegetarian burgers, and barbeque, plus snacks galore - ice cream, popcorn, cold drinks, Belgian waffles, fresh fruit.
Or, bring your own picnic lunch, drinks and snacks. Outside the Safari Park, just north of the entrance, are picnic tables. Inside the park, you can use any of the tables at the eating areas or snack bars; the only restriction is no coolers, ice chests, glass or straws inside the park.

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