Like most men, I’ve always dreamed about embarking on an African Safari. Following native guides down footpaths, stooping low in tall grass, overlooking large and dangerous animals feeding on the plain. Afterwards, we’d jump back in the Jeep and head back to camp, swapping tales of adventure and of our great feats. Yup, that sounds pretty awesome. And now, thanks to Safari Wilderness Ranch, it’s possible to get a taste of that at a fraction of the price. Sound Good? Read on.
Location: 10850 Moore Road, Lakeland, FL 33809
Hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm. Vehicle tours typically leave at 9:00am and 1:00pm.
Vehicle Safari: $90.00 per person | $7.00 Parking Fee ($10.00 for buses)
- While $90.00 a ticket seems steep, this is a great experience. Also, they offer seasonal tours that are shorter and cost less money. For the latest offerings check out their website. They also offer more expensive packages that include more, such as riding camels and kayaking. But the $90.00 ticket is the standard vehicle tour and is the tour that I took when I visited.
- Sometimes you can snag discounted tickets through Groupon. That’s what I did. Click here for the latest.
- If you can put together a group of 20+ people, you can get the group rate which is $45.00 per person.
- Tour must be reserved ahead of time.
The ranch is located in Lakeland on a 260 acre swatch of land. It’s a 45 mile drive from Tampa and 50 from Orlando. It’s filled with African herd animals, some of them being endangered, that coupled with its open setting and narrated tours makes for a very unique experience.
I drove up the front drive–a simple dirt road–and parked in the grass next to the other cars. I handed in my Groupon, checked out the nearby animals, and in general mingled with the other adventurers.
Soon, the driver announced for our group to load up in the canopied safari truck and then set us off on a three hour tour filled with close encounters of zebras, ostriches, water buffalo that eagerly ate out of the palm of our hands, and other not-shy animals. Check out these awesome pics:
Okay, I know, I know. Even though my photography skills are pretty amazing, they still might benefit from a photography course or two. But regardless, what is amazing is the incredibly close proximity of these rare animals to us. We were able to reach out and touch them, pet them, and even get slobbered on as we tried to feed them. (There is nothing in the world quite like water buffalo slobber. I now know from first-hand experience).
The great thing about Safari Wilderness Ranch is that the tour never felt rushed. The guide encouraged us to take our time, feed the animals, and ask questions as we traveled across the 260 green acres. There was never any “we gotta get goin’!” assembly line tour atmosphere. And even afterwards when we pulled back into the station, there was still lots to explore including an aviary and a petting zoo for the kiddies.
So, if you’re like me and want to have your own safari adventure, you definitely need to check out Safari Wilderness Ranch.
The Safari Wilderness Ranch is accredited by the Zoological Association of America and by the USDA.