This is the highlight of the park, especially on a cool, clear morning when the animals are out and about. I recommend heading straight to your first drive-through as soon as you arrive.
Then on Tuesday we took a walking tour of the Safari Village, including:
The brand new Australian Walkabout (open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Kookaburras greet you at the gate and once inside you might see the park’s new Walaroos hopping about. Follow the path to the walk-in aviary and step inside. At once, you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of chirping budgies and cockatiels flitting to-and fro, along with one large hornbill named Zazu (after the character in The Lion King).
Today we’re going to check out some of the other fun things to do at the park, from animal encounters, to rides, to special events happening this summer.
Part Three: Encounters, Rides, and Special Events
Many things have changed in the last ten years we’ve been visiting Wildlife Safari. The Village has been remodeled, new exhibits have been added, new animals have arrived, and, sadly, some old ones have passed away. The biggest changes, though, are the regularly scheduled animal encounters offered daily ($10 per person with drive-through admission):
- Tiger Tour, 10:30 a.m.
- Lions Up-Close & Personal (Mon.-Thurs.), 11:00 a.m.
- Lion Tug of War (Fri.-Sun.), 11:00 a.m.
- Elephant Adventure, 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.
- Giraffe Feed, 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
- Hungry Hungry Hippo Adventure, 2:30 p.m.
- Big Bear Encounter, 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
(Schedule subject to change: check at Guest Services for any last-minute changes.)
So far we’ve gone on two Giraffe Feeds, a Big Bear Encounter, and (on our most recent trip) the new Hungry Hungry Hippo Adventure. In all three encounters, we rode out into the park with a qualified member of the Wildlife Safari team. These folks are friendly and knowledgeable, give great presentations, and can answer any questions you have. It’s one thing to see these animals from the inside of your car, but quite a different experience to see them up close from an open-air truck and watch them get fed or possibly even feed them yourself. Be sure to book at least one of these encounters during your visit.
There’s also a great selection of private encounters listed on the website. These require advanced reservations so contact Guest Services (541-679-6761, Ext. 210) if interested. We’ve done a couple of these too—they are well worth the higher price.
In addition to the Animal Encounters, the train rides ($2 per person, free for members) and camel rides ($7.50 per person) run daily: weather permitting. The train runs in a figure-eight between the village and a portion of the drive-through. The engineer, who’s also a park guide, will point out the various animals along the way, including lemurs, lions, maned wolves, capybaras, and cougars. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the animals a second time after your Village walk-through, and it’s a train ride. Who doesn’t like a train ride?
The camel rides aren’t quite as scenic—the camels just walk in a big circle—but they’re still a can’t-miss, especially for the kids. Not only do they get the one-of-a-kind experience of riding a real, live camel, but they can get their picture taken for their very-own camel-driver’s license (6X4 photo: $5, License: $6, “Combo Deal”: $15.50) . A perfect “show-and-tell” item for school.
Tickets for both the train rides and camel rides are available at the Camel Ride Ticket Booth.
Upcoming events this summer include a baby shower for the newest cheetah cubs, Khayam and Mchumba, on June 16 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. We lucked out and got to meet one of the cubs during our last visit—who was even cuter in person. They will also be on display at the Cheetah Spot daily following Memorial Day.
Camp Tiki Family Nights are scheduled for June 16, July 14 and 21, and August 4 and 25. For $40 per person, you can spend the night under the stars at the Safari and awake to a continental breakfast followed by a free drive-through once the park opens at 9 a.m. Private overnight campouts at Camp Tiki can also be scheduled through guest services, as can birthday parties and weddings and receptions.
Wildlife Safari is an amazing place worth seeing again and again. From I-5, take Exit 119 West on Hwy 42/N 99 towards Winston. Take a right on NW Lookingglass Road, and then take the first right on Safari Road. From there, just follow the cheetah prints into the park. As they say at the Safari: “Any closer, and you’d be lunch.”
(Photos by Julia M. Ozab)