A few weekends ago, Mom and Dad took a weekend trip to our home in central Virginia so Mom could visit one of her favorite Virginian destinations: Safari Park!
Just a few miles from Natural Bridge (a remarkable landmark all Virginians and lovers of awesomeness should visit), Safari Park is home to all kinds of animals – not your run of the mill zoo. This experience was far better! Why?
- The weather was perfect.
- Everyone in our party actually wanted to be there.
- The park was not overly crowded.
- Many of the animals roamed free on the premises and walked right up to us.
- A giraffe – GIRAFFE – ate from my hand!!! His tongue felt like a slimy loofa! So yucky and so cool! ~smile~
This experience began about a month ago when Mom and I were wracking our brains trying to think of a memorable 60th birthday activity for her. Eric and I had planned to come visit her, but Mom is not much of a party-person and just could not think of anything fun she wanted to do near home. (This is an unbelievable thought to me seeing as how she lives less than an hour from the beach! There is always something fun to do near her home. Even in January, you can go look at the beautiful water, sit in a beach chair, cover up in three heavy coats, and read. It is the beach! It is beautiful year round! – Can you tell I love the beach? ~smile~)
But, what can I say? The world’s wonders are often wasted on the wrong people. Take me for instance. I live near the mountains but find little treasure in them. Some find them beautiful. All I see are curvy roads and barf bags.
So, after spending a week hemming and hawing about where to go and what to do, she suggested a birthday trip to Safari Park. It sounded great to me! Something exciting for her birthday and a new experience for me!
So, arrangements were made and they came to our place for a quick forty-two hour visit. They arrived on Friday evening around 6pm. We had a quick dinner, came home and visited a bit, and then we were off to bed in anticipation of an early morning.
To Throw Up or Not to Throw Up? That Is the Question
Speaking of mountains and barf bags, we visited Natural Bridge several years back and took the horrible, windy, 501N route (i.e., Satan’s driveway); and, the thought of traversing that road again had me completely stressed. The day before we went, I bought peppermint oil, ginger gum, Bonine, and sea bands in an attempt to ward off any motion sickness; however, thanks to Eric’s research, we were able to locate a much calmer path. It added an extra half hour to the trip each way, but that was no problem!
We Made It! Let the Fun Begin!
After my obligatory, “We are going to be late!” panic session, we got on the road, drove to the park, and made it in time to secure tickets for the first wagon ride of the day. Woot woot!!! After a bathroom break and a quick glance in the gift shop, we started walking through the park. It felt like an actual park. The weather was cool, but not too cool. It was the kind of place you would want to spread a picnic blanket and hang out – if you do not mind some mild animal fragrances. ~smile~
First, there were goats. Some of the cutest little goats you ever did see. Then we saw potbelly pigs and small camels. There were several snakes on the trail (in cages, thank the Lord!) – one HUGE python I hope I do not see in my dreams. It was my wish to hold a snake today – and, in doing so, mark something else off my bucket list; but, alas, I must save that fear conquering session for another time. For whatever reason, no one removed the snakes from their cages today.
After the snakes, we saw monkeys, peacocks, tortoises (tiny, medium, and huge ones!), kangaroos and their joeys, a variety of beautifully colored small birds, peacocks, tigers, and finally, giraffes!
Giraffes are AMAZING!
To get to the giraffes, you first climb a hill and then another hill onto a pavilion. Then and only then do you find yourself face to face with several giraffe heads. ~smile~ If you are not that enamored with giraffes, it is probably because you have never looked one in the eyes. They are gorgeous animals. We purchased some special giraffe feed and I could not resist having them eat it out of my hand. It felt slimy and disgusting – and I had to come back later in the day and feed them again! They have beautiful, stunning eyes and long eyelashes. Gentle creatures, but they were not interested in being petted. Food please, no hugs. ~smile~
Llamas, and Buffaloes, and Camels, OH MY!
Other than the giraffe display, the highlight of the day was the wagon ride. We loaded up with about twenty-five other people. Each passenger was handed a bucket of feed, and the wagon tour guide led us up a road covered in llamas, deer, camels, buffalo (you have not lived until you see buffalos running towards you), and several other animals of the wild variety. I lost my bucket to a hungry, stealthy camel! I offered him some food and he ripped the bucket right out of my hand! (To be fair, I had been warned they might try that – and to hold on tight! ~smile~)
We were accompanied on the ride by a girl scout troop of second graders and they enlivened the adventure up all the more. “He is pooping!!! He is pooping!!! He is pooping!!!” There is nothing more exciting/disturbing to a seven-year-old than seeing wild animals poop, right?
After the ride ended, Dad and I went back to see the giraffes one more time while Mom and Eric went to feed the goats and pigs. After that, we were all pretty tired. Our time in the park totaled about four hours and that was perfect for our group. ~smile~
I give this experience two thumbs up and I definitely plan to go again someday. Here are my recommendations if you consider visiting Safari Park:
- Get there when, or shortly after, it opens. It is far less crowded and much easier to get tickets to the wagon ride of your choice (your choice being the time of day when it leaves its station).
- If you want to do the drive-through experience in your own vehicle, expect a big mess in your car. If you do not mind a big mess… you will love it!
- Make sure you do one of the above; otherwise, you will not get the full Safari Park experience.
- Even if you are a little nervous, pet the animals as they come up to you. Leave the zebras alone, but the llamas are extra soft and fluffy. ~smile~
- Go earlier in the year before the noonday sun gets extremely hot (unless you prefer the heat).
- If you have any motion-sickness concerns (like I do), find a non-curvy route and take it even if it adds some time to your trip. It will be worth it, my friends!
Not sure what the next experience to blog about will be, but I hope it is as fun as this one! Animals make my heart smile. If you feel the same, you will probably love Safari Park!!!
Are you ready to feed some camels, buffaloes, llamas, and giraffes?!?!