The number one attraction on our to-do list in San Diego was the Safari Park. I had been there about 20 years ago, but as is typical of my travels, I didn’t get a long tour – just the back of a truck to feed giraffes. While this was a fabulous experience, I had always hoped to get back for a thorough visit.
It was a 40-minute transfer up to Escondido and we had our ride scheduled so we would get there right at opening as the website had said that it was “first come, first served”. We didn’t need to worry – the pandemic has definitely changed people’s leisure habits – it wasn’t crowded. In fact, as the day wore on, there were fewer and fewer visitors.
The park is like a zoo, except fewer animals with larger habitats, separated into different areas: Gorilla Forest, Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley, Tiger Trail, etc. Due to covid-19, all the various tours by safari van and truck were cancelled, so we were faced with getting through the whole park in one day.
We started with the Tiger Trail and that’s where we met the first of the volunteers stationed around the park to answer questions. These are my favorite people; it’s always fun to ask questions and chat about the animals and the park. The tiger in the photo is Rakan, a two-year old Sumatran tiger. He came to the safari park when he was five-months old from the Smithsonian Zoo, after his mother aggressively rejected him. For the entire time we stood and talked to the volunteer, Rakan laid majestically behind very thick glass, as if it was his turn for the photo op. YA snapped this great photo.
As the day wore on, YA started to complain about the heat. I was quite hot as well, but I thought it was probably just all the walking around. I had looked at the San Diego forecast that morning – high of 85. Well, turns out that when you drive 45 minutes north of San Diego, towards the mountains and desert, the high is a bit higher. In fact, at 2 p.m., the temperature was registering at 109. Yikes. And the safari park is NOT built on a flat land. I know that for every up we had a down, but by the afternoon, it felt like all we did was climb up! We went through a lot of diet pop and water but powered through; who knows if either of us will ever get back to the park. The other areas we really enjoyed were Condor Ridge, Elephant Valley and Gorilla Forest. I suppose it’s not a surprise that there were great volunteers at all those locations.
It was a great day and I don’t think either of us have ever appreciated how cool 85 degrees feels after you’ve walked all over a safari park in over 100!
What animal do you like to visit at the zoo?