On the fourth and fifth days on our family road trip we traveled from Napa Valley to a wonderful, 400-acre wildlife preserve in Sonoma’s Wine Country called Safari West. Dubbed the “Sonoma Serengeti”, Safari West is what you get when you mix an interactive, safari-styled zoo with fancy bungalows placed amidst an African-looking setting of golden hills and small lakes.
Safari West was my first ever “glamping” experience. Glamping basically means camping in comfortable luxury. People have been doing this for more than a century but it’s now part of a growing industry of luxury resorts and I must say that it was not disappointing.
Our wooden bungalows, for example, featured spacious beds for the six of us, a huge outdoor deck and a bathroom and shower. We didn’t have AC but it this place doesn’t need one because the weather cools at night. In true glamping style we slept inside electric blankets.
Our top highlights from Safari West were:
The African Safari, OF COURSE! The safari is actually a part walking tour/part driving tour. On the walk, we got a guided tour of different wildlife enclosures for animals who are either too aggressive (Cheetahs) or too fragile to be out in the open (birds). The true star of the Safari tour, however, is the driving part. We rode in a safari style, two story truck that lasted over two hours and put us in close contact with giraffes, gazelles, zebras, oryx, antelopes, cape buffalo, wildebeests and some of the other 600 animals in an exotic African savannah setting.
Sleeping with the animals: Well, we didn’t really sleep WITH the animals but it sure felt like it because our bungalow was located next to the fenced, open enclosures that housed the giraffes, cheetahs, elk and monkeys. The sounds of Africa really made the bungalow experience feel extra special.
Walking around preserve: the kids particularly enjoyed being able to walk around and wonder around the wildlife preserve. Many of the coolest animals, including the Cheetahs, were just a short walk away from our bungalow.
Feeding the catfish: Every evening Safari West takes kids to a small nearby lake teeming with catfish. The catfish we saw went wild at feeding and our kids easily spent an hour there marveling at how the fish would fight for the food.