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“A Safari Adventure Without Going to Africa”
Review of Safari West

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Safari West
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 July 2014

This is just about the closest you'll probably get to having a safari adventure without going to Africa.

I spent two days and one night at Safari West. It was a very unique experience, and nothing like I've ever had before. After you check in, you are taken by jeep to your tent (if staying over night). The tents are big, heavy duty tents, overlooking the main Safari West preserve. They were clean, and very well kept. Don't worry, the tents have running potable water, hot water, a toilet, and a shower! It's like camping on the Serengeti but with amenities. Depending on which tent you're staying at, you'll either have a view of a lake, antelope, or flamingos.

On our first day we arrived in the mid-afternoon and did a special behind the scenes tour at 4 pm. It was just our group of three people, and our tour guide. Supposedly, Safari West doesn't like to advertise what exactly you do on this tour because each tour may be a little different. I'm not sure what others got to do, but we got to hand feed porcupines, give meatballs to the birds in the aviary, hand feed warthogs, and hand feed the giraffes, all the while our expert guide (Sydney) provided informative commentary on the animals. Other people on the regular tour saw us doing this and were very jealous. Feeding the giraffes was the highlight of our trip! The special behind the scenes tour is pricey ($275) and only lasts an hour, but how often do you get the chance to hand feed all those animals (especially the giraffes!) and get awesome pictures doing it?!

Dinner is served at 7 pm. The food is buffet style. We were offered BBQ chicken, tri-tip steak, along with sides of Caesar salad, veggies, macaroni & cheese, and garlic mashed potatoes. The food was average, at best. The meats were a little dry from being on the open-air BBQ pit for so long, the veggies were fairly unseasoned, and the macaroni & cheese was a little on the bland side. But you don't come to Safari West for the food, you come for the safari adventure. On the plus side, they did have a LOT of different local wines to purchase (you are in prime California wine country after all), and a LOT of African beers to purchase. The waitstaff was friendly and serviceable for what it is.

After dinner there isn't much to do except walk around and look at some of the animals before it gets dark. Once it gets dark, most of the animals go to sleep as do the guests. We brought flashlights, but Safari West provides you with one in case you're walking around the grounds at night time. If you're staying in a tent by the buildings, then the there are plenty of trail lights to light the way to your tent. But if you're staying in a tent way in the back of the preserve overlooking the lake, then you'll definitely need a flashlight because there are no trail lights back there.

PRO TIP: If you're visiting in the winter, you probably want to bring some warm pajamas.

At night time Safari West suggests putting the velcro window covers up over the screen windows to help insulate the tent. We did this and turned on the space heater (it seemed to go on only when the temperature dropped below a certain point). This kept the tent a very comfortable 65 degrees or so at night time. I imagine if you're visiting in the colder months that things could get a lot cooler though. Although the bathroom is attached to the tent, it is not insulated so if you're planning on taking a Serengeti tinkle at night or in the early morning, the warm pajamas come in handy.

PRO TIP: Bring earplugs if you want to block out the animal noises at night!

Having heard that the animals can be a little noisy at night, I brought earplugs so I could get some sleep. And let me tell you I am glad I did. The tent walls are thin and don't block out any sounds. You'll hear the animals, other guests talking in their tent, perhaps the occasional toilet flush, and footsteps of people walking by. The animals aren't making noise all night, but when they do they make enough noise to keep you up. If you're sleeping in a tent by the flamingos and monkeys, then you're in for a noisy night for sure. If you're sleeping in a tent at the back of the preserve, then things will be much quieter.

I was at Safari West with my parents for my father's birthday. All three of us were in Tent #9 which is in the middle of the preserve. It was a cozy fit for three people, but it wasn't uncomfortable. My parents took the bed, and I had a cot. The cot was adequate although not super comfy, but I'm young and not too picky. The funniest part of the trip occurred at 4:30 a.m. when I was shifting positions in my sleep. I must have moved just right because one of the cot's legs folded up, sending the head half of the cot crashing to the floor with a really REALLY loud BAM! Immediately -- and I kid you not -- every animal at the preserve was hootin', hollerin', squakin', tootin', chirpin', rattlin', screamin', and screachin'. My parents woke up, wondering what the hell happened. I'm pretty sure everyone else at the preserve woke up from all the commotion too. The animals settled back down after ten minutes and went back to sleep, as did I after fixing the cot.

Safari West has a continental breakfast. It's mostly cereal, toast, muffins, oatmeal, fruit, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and freshly squeezed orange juice. It's a nice breakfast, but proteins like bacon and sausage would have been good.

We then went on the regular 3 hour guided tour at 10 a.m. There were 13 people total in our group. The first hour consisted of walking around the Safari West grounds to see the caged animals, like the birds in the aviary, turtles, monkeys, and cheetahs. The final two hours were spent on the safari trucks, driving around the rest of the preserve looking at the giraffes, rhinos, water buffalo, antelope, and zebras.

The tour guide was satisfactory, but unfortunately our group had one young child who basically hijacked the entire tour by interrupting the tour guide with his inane comments. He wasn't even asking questions, he was just spouting out pointless things like "that one's the boss!" (Trying to tell us which one he thought was the leader of the herd.) Or "that one is the mommy, and that one is the daddy!" (He was just randomly picking two of the animals to call mommy and daddy.) Or "that one's a baby!" (Whenever he saw a baby animal.) The tour guide spent too much time responding to his comments, correcting him, and telling him which one was actually the herd leader or which ones were the real mothers and fathers. Other people on the tour were getting annoyed as we weren't able to hear what the tour guide was trying to tell us, nor were they getting the opportunity to ask questions due to the kid constantly interrupting. And his parents were no help in trying to keep the kid quiet. More than a couple times, the kid's loud exclamations scared away animals which were close to our truck. The lucky times that the kid wasn't being a loud obnoxious brat, our truck was able to get within five feet of some animals which made for some awesome pictures.

PRO TIP: If you're going on the tours in the morning, be sure to bring a jacket or wear warm clothes as the mornings are cool and riding in the truck is breezy.

Overall, this was a really fun and unique experience. I would highly recommend it. At the very least, you HAVE to do the regular tour so you can see all the other animals on the preserve which aren't immediately visible by the tents (the rhinos, zebras, water buffalo, etc.). If you have extra money to spend, then I would seriously consider the behind the scenes tour too, because feeding the giraffes and other animals is a memory you won't forget!

11  Thank Jason C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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89 - 95 of 189 reviews

Reviewed 9 July 2014

What a great place. This is a zoo, breeding ground, sanctuary, and lodging location with very personal touches. The owners have constructed the facilities out of love for the animals; the staff seems genuinely interested in the welfare of both the animals and visitors. The tents are all custom made using African canvas and have amazing details, including extremely comfortable beds and amazing views.

Staying overnight in a zoo was amazing. The flamingos are loud at all hours -- you've been forewarned and there are earplugs if you happen to be close to them. The antelope and giraffe enjoy being out in the evenings after the transient guests have left.

The food is not particularly good, but is acceptable for a camp. The service is great and tips are greatly appreciated.

This is definitely a good place to go at least once.

Room Tip: Tents 26-29 have great views and are a bit further away from the flamingos. I recommend requesting 2...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Daniel L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 July 2014

Let's start with fun for the family, nice day trip. Sleeping would be fine if your are not in the a tent next to the flamingos. If you are ok with loud honking noises all night then no problem, but you should be warned properly early on, not have the surprise and no option to change because the place is full. You are well aware that not everyone will be happy stuck next to loud honking flamingos.

Your staff are knowledgeable and quite helpful outside of my commentary on the sleeping arrangements.

When we arrived we were of coursed locked in to stay, had two nights reserved and of course one already paid. This is reasonable. At this point we are told that our tent is next to the flamingos which never quiet down and go all night. Seems they sleep individually and not as a group. The reservation was made months in advance. Even spoke to one of the employees on the phone months prior to arrival. We were not warned as to the noise level and honestly the web page, of course, says nothing about the noise. The second night we got to move up the road one tent which helped. Luckily my daughter sleeps through anything, as does my father. Can't say the same for myself or mother. Keep in mind I am use to sleeping with earplugs and a loud Friday night in the Mission of San Francisco as that is where I spend my weekends and I have lived in cities for years. The earplugs provided did not help the first night.

To the management I propose, Tent 2 should be a last resort, "We have one tent left, it is next to the flamingos...." you get the point. If we had stayed further up the hill and warned earlier on we would have insisted on this. Things would have been nice. We gave the new tent a chance as it wasn't nearly as loud and stayed the second night. Had we been stuck with tent 2 the second night, we would have paid the full second night and just packed and left. Honestly I wish we had gone to your park for the day and simply stayed at one of my favorite B&B's outside of Cloverdale tucked away in the hills. Would have spent a little more for two rooms and gotten two good nights of sleep.

I split the bill with my parents, but feel I wasted $330 plus tax on two nights of little sleep, the first night I slept max 2 hours and tried to get to sleep around 10 pm due to a planned early rise

Room Tip: If you don't like really loud honking flamingos all night, then stay away from tent 2, 12 is not...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled with family
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5  Thank Erik T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 June 2014 via mobile

This place is great for families with elementary aged or older children.

We stayed in the little house. Two bedrooms and a tiny kitchenette. Perfect for our family.

Being driven through the land on the jeep and spotting the animals was so exciting for us. And riding on the top was icing on the cake!

The kids enjoyed walking around exploring in the garden.

It is such a great setting for nature lovers.

  • Stayed: June 2014
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1  Thank Boootz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 June 2014

We had a great time on our jeep tour at Safari West! Robert, our guide, was very knowledgeable and entertaining. We saw many animals including endangered species and several babies that were born there. Several reviews stated that it was expensive but I consider it a contribution to a group that are fighting to preserve and protect these animals.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with family
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2  Thank Beth K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 June 2014

We stayed overnight in one of the tent cabins. Check-in was efficient. We were taken to our room, helped with the luggage, and had details explained. A cooler and ice are provided. The room was very nice and the bed comfortable. Lighting in the bathroom is low. It can be cold in winter months so be prepared to dress in layers.

Our safari was scheduled for the next day so we had the afternoon and evening to relax, walk around camp and visit with friends. It was a wonderful experience to see and hear the animals.

We opted to have the dinner on site and it was good. Bring a flashlight to walk back after dinner. Breakfast was similar to a continental breakfast. Check-out wasn't well organized.

While it's not the same as being in Africa, Safari West offers some of the same sights and sounds and is worth a stay.





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Room Tip: The flamingos can be noisy.
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Cynthia P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 May 2014 via mobile

Great overnight. Watch out for rattlesnakes though! Bring ear plugs as flamingos are loud all night long. Ask for Alex for safari tour guide...kind and quite knowlegable. Cabins comfortable and dinner good. Not sure behind the scenes private tour worth the extra money though. A wonderful grandparent outing.

  • Stayed: May 2014
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1  Thank pres2n
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Safari West

Address: 3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404-9655
Region: United States > California > Sonoma County > Santa Rosa
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Speciality Lodging in Santa Rosa
Price Range: £233 - £345 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Safari West 3*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Escape to Africa by way of Sonoma County…Come discover the Sonoma Serengeti.The classic African safari is a trip of a lifetime for intrepid travelers from around the globe - and, it is closer than you think!. Families who are curious and wild at heart can get close to nature...very close! Marvel under the gaze of a graceful giraffe or explore the Sonoma Serengeti alongside romping rhinos. Our guests enjoy enlightening African wildlife safari drives, and “glamping” tent cabin accommodations. The sounds of Africa will echo in your dreams. Stay one night in a luxury safari tent located on Giraffe Alley, meet some giraffes and go on Safari! Is Safari West Family Friendly?The entire Safari West experience is a kid-friendly adventure for families to enjoy together. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Safari West Hotel Santa Rosa
Safari West Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA

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