A whole safari holiday can be a daunting – and expensive – trip, so why not get a taste of the magic with a safari zoo experience? These four fantastic safari-style days out can be found at zoos around the world, from Singapore to San Diego, where you can either drive yourself around enclosures full of game, or get driven around as part of a guided tour:
1. Taman Safari, Bogor, Indonesia
A few hours’ drive outside of Jakarta, Bogor is home to the Taman Safari Zoo. For a reasonable 85,000 INR per person, you’ll get an excellent experience – all the animals roam freely around your vehicle! Get up close and personal (and some excellent photos) of lions and tigers and your other favourite animals. With a background of musical bird song, lush Indonesian landscape and green trees, you’ll feel miles away from a traditional zoo trip.
You can also ride the cable car (45,000 per person) or explore further on foot after the game drive. For small children, there are shows – just drive your vehicle right up to the entrance – and a baby zoo where they can enjoy a few hours of activity. The cowboy show, featuring special effects and actors, is particularly entertaining.
2. San Diego Safari Park, California, USA
The vast San Diego Safari Park is an African outpost in California. You’ll find all the wildlife favourites here, from cheetahs to flamingos – a real taste of a safari without your passport! Experience the atmosphere in your car or book a tram tour for an open-air expedition ($42 per person). If you love lions, head to the close encounters Lion Camp for an exclusive view on the big cats’ lives. For an insight into elephants, meanwhile, you can overlook the herds from a special viewing platform.
Specialist areas such as the Jameson Research Island add a fun educational element and there’s a Savanna Cool Zone where kids can get wet and splash around after a long day in the sun. Take a stroll through the botanical gardens for a spot of relaxation. Picnic tables are also provided lunch breaks and there are campgrounds for a ‘Roar and Snore’ special night time adventure amongst the animals ($182 per person).
In addition, San Diego Safari Park celebrates California’s native animals, with condors, owls and prairie dogs roaming the Condor Ridge above the African plains below.
3. ZSL Whipsnade, Bedfordshire, England
Go to Africa without on a plane with adventure at a safari lodge in Whipsnade – all in wildest Befordshire! New for 2012, ZSL Whipsnade is offering the chance to experience a safari holiday with overnight camping within the zoo. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of lions in one of Europe’s largest conservation parks (and Britain’s largest zoo). The accommodation is definitely glamping rather than roughing it, with a private lodge and a special safari tour after hours with expert keepers for unique wildlife viewing without the crowds. You’ll get to see a different side to the zoo with a night time safari walk, and dinner is also included as part of the package (£115pp, £30 for children).
Founded back in 1926, Whipsnade was a pioneer of the safari experience within a zoo, with wild animals roaming outdoors rather than living in cages. Today, the large site is filled with herds of elephants, zebras, giraffes and snoozing lions.
4. Night Safari, Singapore
Travel deep into the world of safaris with the tram adventure in Singapore’s vast zoo with a special twist – the trip is after dark. From a tram expedition with a knowledgeable guide to the seven diverse geographical zones, this is an experience through changing landscapes and habitats with a huge array of wildlife to spot. Himalayan foothills, the plains of Africa, the mangrove swamps of Indonesia, a Nepalese river valley – you can get a taste of them all from a journey by tram or on foot.
At night, the safari forest has a different vibe, with hunters out on the prowl and nocturnal sounds creating a multi-sensory vibe in the specially lit areas. The open spaces and natural habitats add to the wild feel and banish any old fashioned thoughts of zoos and enclosures.