Staycations: Destination Safari West

July 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If going on an African safari is out of your budget, we have the next best thing right in the Bay Area.

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This destination ranks among the most popular in Northern California. Yet its surprising how many locals don't know about it.

Creatures await you at Safari West. The 400 acre wildlife reserve sits on the outskirts of Santa Rosa and AAA says locals looking for a countryside vacation love it.

"That's actually our number one destination for our members in Northern California, followed closely by the Napa Valley and then Tahoe," said Michael Ackerman from AAA Travel.

Visitors trek around in a four wheel drive with trained safari guides behind the wheel. The views can be spectacular, and so can the surprises.

"I really enjoyed watching the grandchildren interact with the giraffes because they were up close and personal," said Colorado tourist Nancy Thornton. "I think it's really cool. I have heard a lot about it and how much fun it is. Some people have told me it's even better than the real thing."

Among the 800 animals here is the Cape Buffalo. The folks at Safari West told 7 On Your Side it's one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. One of the Cape Buffalo was born just two weeks ago.

Also a big attraction in more ways than one is the rhino, and the lovely couple just may soon have a new addition.

"She hasn't seem to come into season in several months. That would be very exciting for us to have a baby rhino," said Safari guide supervisor Leslie Thalman.

Every piece of furniture at Safari West is hand crafted by owner Peter Lang. The beds and end tables in the overnight cabins are also hand crafted.

"The overnight stay here is really one of the most magical things you can do. Our tent cabins are made in Lady Smith, South Africa. They come directly from there," said Liza Darnell from Safari West

Safari West is a pleasant escape from the urban and suburban hustle and bustle of most of the Bay Area.

"I think a lot of time we take for granted the things that are so close to home. We've been here a couple of times and it's nice to know what's close," said a Vacaville resident.

It's strongly suggested you make reservations for a visit at least two weeks in advance. Safari tour tickets are $68 for adults and $30 for children. An overnight stay is half off on Full Moon Madness nights.

Related information:
Safari West

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