San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, CA. Tel: (760) 747-8702. sandiegozoo.org
Long known as Wild Animal Park, the branch of the San Diego Zoo in Escondido changed its name to Safari Park to reflect the conservation and ecology focus, said park officials.
COST - Open daily to the public.
LOCATION - Due to some odd zoning situation, the Safari Park is in the city of San Diego approx. 35 miles north of downtown San Diego. However for all practical purposes, you are heading for Escondido, the inland city that's normally around 10-15 degrees warmer than oceanfront San Diego where the San Diego Zoo is located.
When you go- It is generally less crowded in the fall, winter and
spring or the months of October through February. The zoo is not a traditional
safari park where guests can drive their cars through the park. It includes
paths to walk and trails for renting and riding Segways. You can also book
special Photo Safaris with guided drivers. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
exhibits resemble savanna grasslands of Asia and Africa where animals mingle.
The 1,800- acre attraction serves both as a research institution for the
care and rehabilitation of some endangered animals into the wild, and as a theme
park for the public to get a glimpse at these otherwise illusive or wild animals
that span the globe.
Average daily high & low temperatures in Escondido are shown, though we've generally experienced warmer temps in the June - Aug. than stated.
RIDES - Among its tours and attractions are photo safaris that take guests in trucks up close & personal to the wild animals. Tours and Safaris such as Rolling Safari or Photo Caravan Tour provide opportunities to take great photos not usually possible on the standard tram tour which circles around the animal displays at a distance.
You can also soar over the animals on Flightline which involves wearing a harness and riding from a ridgetop along a cable approx. 2/3 of a mile over exotic animals and open exhibits. It is similar to zip line rides but involves only one "flight" with greatly discounted 2nd & 3rd trips. Plan to spend about an hour for the complete Flightline experience from orientation to final landing.
The Rolling Safari is a 2 hour Segway ride around the zoo. There are age and height restrictions.
What's in the Safari Park?
There are approx. 10 major areas to explore at San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. They include:
Africa Tram Safari which is a tour to see animals in the African field exhibits. The ride is included with admission and takes you on a tour of the park that lasts approx. 30 minutes. Antelope, giraffes, rhinoceros, elephants, ostriches, and other large animals are usually relaxed and not incredibly active during the daylight hours as you pass by and see them from a distance (bring telephoto lenses for cameras if you have them.)
Nairobi Village includes a huge waterfall, the centerpiece to the shops, restaurants, small animals, and activity centers.
Condor Ridge includes North American habitats of bighorn sheep and California condors.
Lorikeet Landing is the habitat of the green-nape lorikeet which is a bird larger than a parakeet. This rain forest aviary provides an opportunity to feed the birds a cup of nectar you can purchase. Lorikeets come in many varieties and vibrant colors ranging from bright red & blue to lime green.
Wings of the World Aviary is an enclosed free-flight aviary with over 140 birds of 40 species. It's a noisy, busy place where birds seem to chatter and cheep away the day. Lots of shade is provided on the days when it gets hot in Escondido.
Lion Camp provides a glass window and viewing of the lions that sometimes lounge around and sometimes are active beyond that safety glass and viewing spot where you stand.
Heart of Africa is an African-styled forest and savanna where you'll experience the giraffes, warthogs, ground hornbills, kapis, and cheetahs.
Elephant Overlook provides an elevated walkway where you can see elephants and some babies, as well.
Hidden Jungle is a tropical greenhouse habitat of exotic birds, insects, and plants, home to an annual, popular Butterfly Jungle event that lasts for several weeks.
Harter Veterinary Medical Center allows visitors to see an animal hospital-- considered the largest and most sophisticated in the world.