Go on a Safari

Too much African Queen?

List item: Go on a Safari

I had heard about Safari West from my parents who stayed the night there a few years back. They talked about how amazing it was sleeping right near the wild animals. Sounded like an interesting experience, so  it got added to the list. Work has been heating up due to summertime deadlines, so Sylvia and Ruby decided to head up north to visit some family and friends, leaving me to work longer hours. This hatched a plan where we drove up north together and stayed the night at the safari park Sunday night, a much easier day to find availability.

The park is amazing. We got one of the prime locations, cabin #12, which is directly in front of the giraffe enclosure. Our closest neighbor was Jamala, the old lady of the herd (incidentally, a group of giraffes is called a tower). She waits at the gate each morning and once it is opened, wanders as far out from the other giraffes as possible and lays down. My spirit animal. We were told this is not normal behavior in the wild (the laying down part) because it takes so long for giraffes to standup in cases where predators attack. Clearly, Jamala cares not of these things.

Cabin #12: All the amenities of a fine hotel without the burden of drywall. The shell is a tent with mesh window openings. Bring your earplugs because the animals party all night (and early in the morning).

Since it was a heat wave during our visit, we appreciated the 5pm start time for our safari adventure when the sun dipped behind the hills and everything chilled. Because no one else in our group was tall enough to sit on the top, we got to ride in the seats above the driver for the entire 2-hour trek.

A few things we saw on the journey (the Safari West website has a list of the types of animals that can be found there):

A Greater Kudu chilling in the giraffe enclosure. In case you are wondering, there is a different type that is called the Lesser Kudu. The poor bastards. A group of antelope is just called a herd. Talk about lesser…

One of the female ostrich that came to say hello by sticking her head into the truck. According to the guide, these ladies have a thing for the truck and preen and fluff up their feathers when they roll up. Apparently wild animal parks don’t keep male ostrich because they are the perfect balance of aggression and stupidity. Is it possible to have TWO spirit animals?!?!

Wildebeest. Kind of a minotaur-meets-donkey. The great migration is an ocean of these things like a massive sushi treadmill for predators. A group is called a Confusion of Wildebeest.

Baby Zebra. Come on… So adorable. A group of zebra is known as a ‘dazzle’. This little one was certainly dazzling.

Cape Buffalo looking like they might exact revenge for any slight. The guide told us about how Cape Buffalo are known to gather-up and the obstinancy (or gang) will ambush poachers or lions who kill one of their group. Stories of lions killing a young buffalo only for the buffalo to track down the pride and stomp them to death as they sleep.

Watusi Cattle with their enormous horns. A couple got into some head butting action in front of the truck.

Southern White Rhinoceros with her giant dung pile. The guide told us that when a competing male enters another’s territory, they will often knock-over these dung piles as a sign of disrespect. That’s such an odd-toed-ungulate thing to do. Perhaps unsurprising, a group of Rhinos is called a Crash.

One of several Cheetah. They can be more than just a snack food mascot. Mostly these fastest of the land animals do what all cats do- plan the eventual overthrow of humanity. A group of Cheetah is called a coalition.

Sunset over the giraffe enclosure. Ruby for scale. A group of Ruby is called Trouble.

Ruby and Sylvia admiring a ring-tailed lemur on ‘Lemur Island’. Yes, bucolic morning light was real. A conspiracy of Lemurs.

Really can’t say enough about this place. The people who work there were all super nice and helpful. The food was good (breakfast at the cafe). The only negative was (as hell is made of…) other people. Our neighbors were a family of 6 that didn’t seem to understand how sound works. There was also a couple on our tour with two young kids. Both were too young to be there, but the little one was an actual problem because he was prone to screaming, something that can startle the animals and is unappreciated by the rest of the group. I thought the kid was going to lose a hand to the ostrich, but after being single-out several times by the guide, the family were eventually asked to leave when we got into the aviary and the kid tried (several times) to grab a Demoiselle Crane. Do everyone a favor and visit when your kids are old enough to understand and appreciate the tour. Or let them run with the Cheetahs to tucker them out.