Weekend Getaway to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

By Jackie Devereaux

By Jackie Devereaux

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the blazing desert heat, then a trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido should be on every family’s summer vacation agenda.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a quick two hour drive from the Palm Springs area. The park is located at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road in Escondido, just 30 miles north of downtown San Diego in the San Pasqual Valley. The 1,800-acre Safari Park is home to more than 2,600 animals representing more than 300 species, many living in wide, open field enclosures.

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African Giraffes frolic at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, California.
(Photo by Jackie Devereaux)

The Africa Tram takes guests around the park’s field exhibits featuring herds of giraffes, rhinos and flocks of exotic birds in an open-air, soft-wheeled vehicle inspired by the legendary safari trains of Africa. The experience brings visitors to eye level with animals such as Cape Buffalo, Grant’s Gazelles, African Crowned Cranes and more. The tour vehicles run on biodiesel and travel 2.5 miles around the park’s expansive African field enclosures totaling 213 acres.

Jungle Ropes Safari is a daring experience that offers three courses, each one containing more than a dozen elements. With rope bridges to cross, aerial tightropes to navigate, swinging log steps to negotiate, short zip lines to soar on and moving platforms to cross. Jungle Ropes Safari is perfect for adventure seekers ready to try out life in the treetops. Guests must be between 50 and 250 pounds and be at least 55 inches tall to go on the Jungle Ropes Safari.

Flightline Safari, a zip-line adventure, allows guests to soar like a condor over the Park. Riders soar more than 2/3 of a mile over the Asian and African field exhibits full of exotic animals including giraffes and rhinos. Riders must be at least 10 years old and weigh between 75 and 250 pounds.

Caravan Safari offers guests an adventure inside the Safari Park’s field habitats in open-air trucks. Take a photo of a loved one feeding a giraffe or watch the mating rituals of exotic deer and antelope. A tour guide explains the interesting, natural behaviors of the Cape buffalo, wildebeest, and even East African crowned cranes hanging out in the huge fields. For ages 6 to adult.

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African Lioness basks in the sun at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Lion Exhibit.
(Photo by Jackie Devereaux)

Roar & Snore Safari is an overnight tent-camping experience that overlooks the plains of “East Africa,” the Safari Park’s largest field exhibit, inhabited by giraffes, rhinos, antelope and more. Campers enjoy walking tours, a campfire program, meals, animal sounds and up-close animal encounters. Roar & Snore is offered seasonally and includes themed events.

The new Cheetah Run, located near Lion Camp, is a unique, jaw-dropping experience. During Cheetah Run, the spotted sprinter races on a straight 330-foot-long track that allows the cheetah to really stretch her legs and reach up to 70 miles per hour in just four seconds while chasing a mechanical lure attached to its favorite toy.

Animal shows, exhibits and adventures await guests at the Safari Park. See lions close up at Sylvia G. Straton Lion Camp, hand-feed a colorful bird at Lorikeet Landing or meet an exotic animal such as a cheetah during an Animal Encounter.

Special Events include the African Summer presented by Living Social June 29 to Aug. 18.  This festival celebrates Africa with music and activities. The stars of last year’s summer season, the exciting African Acrobats, are coming back.  Extended hours apply.

Kids Free Days, throughout the month of October, children 11 years old and younger receive free admission. Kids’ Free Days are designed to give children an opportunity to visit the park and learn about the Earth’s creatures and conservation efforts underway to save them.

Opens daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours seasonally. Admission is $44 for adults; $34 for ages 3 through 11; ages 2 years and younger are free. Parking is $7 per vehicle for members, $10 for nonmembers; $12 per RV for members, $15 for nonmembers. Call 760-747-8702 or visit www.sdzsafaripark.org for more information. The price of admission benefits the conservation of species in 22 countries around the globe.

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