In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…and so can you. Who needs Africa and pesky mosquitoes when you can safari in San Diego? A game drive to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park) transports SoCal visitors to the veld in under 2 hours. Their Roar and Snore overnight camping adventures, with a backdrop of roaming antelope, grazing giraffes and graceful gazelles, will bring curious campers up close and personal with all the animal action.
More Fun than a Barrel of Monkeys
Adventurers of all ages can encounter the denizens of the wild from the comfort of well-appointed tents, with delicious dinner, tasty late-night snacks and hearty breakfast all included. Trained safari guides help little kiddies experience first-hand animal’s social and eating habits, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Early risers rejoice!
Any number of ‘animal ambassadors’, from pygmy falcon to tiger cubs, may greet your brood as you set up your cozy sleeping bags in the roomy safari tents, just about the time the Park closes to the general public.
Embarking on behind-the-scenes tour after the sun disappears, check out condors and the stately Lion Camp — the furry friends can’t help taking a closer look too. Then it’s time to indulge in all-you-can eat s’mores under the stars. Morning visits to spring’s seasonal Butterfly Jungle leave pint-sized explorers floating on a cloud before departing with a groovy souvenir.
Perks of the Park
Campfire activities can be crafty, or tired tots may prefer to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa before hitting the hay. Not up for a night on hard ground? Well, glamping is an option too. Tents can be outfitted with queen beds, area rugs and electricity or stripped down to basics for ‘roughing it.’
Don’t Forget to Remember
Any food cooked on an open campfire tastes great, right? Well, not so much when hunger and sleepiness is setting in. Pack a few fave snacks, yet be sure to keep them out of the tent, unless you want to share it with curious wildlife.
If you request a spot situated on the campground perimeter, the elephants will serenade you while you sleep. Snuggle up with warm clothing in the evening as the temperatures can plummet rapidly, almost any time of year. And if you miss the giraffes or zebras in the evening, catch up with ’em on sunrise rounds.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Pick the perfect adventure for your family – there are special sleepy safaris for the whole family, ones that cater to tiny tots, and if you have bigger kids, there’s a super cool one where the over-10 set can get to know ‘The Park After Dark,’ practically rubbing noses with rhinos and chasing cheetahs while learning about the animals’ survival instincts. Special Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations, as well as unstructured ‘Casual Camping’ overnights are family-friendly choices catering to every and all ages.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, Ca 92027
–Kim Orchen Cooper
Photos courtesy of Kim Orchen Cooper and San Diego Zoo Safari Park website