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Safari West: Africa Hidden in the Santa Rosa hills

Nestled in the hills between Santa Rosa and Saint Helena is a unique northern California adventure. Safari West is a 400 acre wildlife park dedicated to the conservation, advocacy, and education of African animals and birds. Guided “african” safaris via an excursion Jeep offer a true four wheel drive experience through the park.

Short of paying the plane ticket to go to Africa, this close-to-home alternative is as good as a safari experience gets–and it’s one of only six of its kind in the US. You can expect up close and personal looks at the animals in an expansive and natural habitat that might have you forgetting you’re in California.

For those wishing to fully embrace that safari feeling, Safari West also has available overnight “glamping” in luxury tent facilities that reminisce an Indiana Jones-esque atmosphere but with much more style.

Two years ago I spent the night glamping–an awesome experience, indeed–and recently returned to the park for a wildlife-encountering safari. Here are a few of the animals I saw along the way.


Believe it or not the Cape Buffalo are the single most dangerous animal in the park. If irritated they can charge vehicles causing substantial damage and injury. They are responsible for more deaths in africa than any other animal.

Cape Buffalo
Cape Buffalo

Although considered dangerous the Southern White Rhinocerous is slow to anger (compared to the Cape Buffalo) but still capable of much damage and injury.

Southern White Rhinocerous

Here are other more friendly animals that can be seen at Safari West.

Reticulated Giraffe
Common Eland
Watusi Cattle

An enclosed aviary is home to a number of species of birds. Many flamingos, ibis, and spoonbills fly freely within the aviary. There are also a number of birds roaming wild on the open landscape.

Demoiselle Crane

Learn more about Safari West and plan your own trip at safariwest.com.

Photos by Phil Kemp


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