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A Quick Visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo is celebrating its 50th anniversary, which perhaps made it a fortuitous time to pay at least one of them a visit. While The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is larger and likely the better known, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park deep within Escondido holds its share of wonders. I was able to take a trip there this past week, alongside other family members, as a kind of combined birthday present for my parents, and I’ve got to say this place has a lot to offer.

Broken down into several areas, the Safari Park offers a fair balance between different typographical locations. There are free maps located near the main entrance, and several maps on display (alongside helpful staff members) to point visitors in the right direction. To be honest, since my mother needs to use a wheelchair, one of the first things we wanted to try was the tram tour that skirts the African Plains and African Outpost, which entailed a bit of a trip from the Safari Base Camp (basically the lobby area, of sorts). However, that was just fine because it meant we got to stroll past sights such as the lagoon (below).

And there were also detours to make for exhibits such as the Dwarf Mongoose and the Gorillas:

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has some of the more popular creatures found at many zoos, such as lions, tigers, elephants, and giraffes. They even care for two platypuses–reportedly the only two at a zoo outside of Australia. However, one of the most noticeable aspects about this particular park was its wide variety of birds from all over the world. In fact, it would be fair to say this place is a bird lover’s paradise. That is apparent from the first encounter most guests will probably notice on entering the park, which happens to be a Hyacinth Macaw (first on the left), and pressing onwards:

Additionally, it turned out the park used to host regular bird shows at the amphitheater near the elephants, showcasing an even wider variety of feathered creatures than the residents of their current exhibits, but which are still closed due to COVID. Even so, walking through each area and hearing the melodious types of birdsong was a terrific experience.

The tram tour was similarly exciting, and the staff members were courteous in helping my mother board one of the trams and placing her wheelchair off to one side in the loading area. There were various types of tram tours available for guests throughout the day, and that cost extra, but thankfully it turned out the African Tram Tour was a free tour that is about 30 minutes long and covers a pretty significant area.

I do need to make a quick note about accessibility, though. Many of the paths deeper in the park were steep and winding, which made it a bit different to get around for a wheelchair. There was at least one elevator that we came across, but this entailed a rigorous trip up from where we left the African Tram Tour. There were motorized wheelchairs available to rent on a first-come, first-serve basis, but each one cost around $50, which is only a little less than the cost for a regular adult admission $65.

Perhaps if we had planned it out a bit more using the map, we might have been able to navigate an easier route on that front. It’s still something to be aware of, however, and made us grateful for the special cups that we’d purchased from a food stand back at the Safari Base Camp (which were then refillable from any other stand we passed throughout the park).

Aside from the noted exhibitions, where were many fantastic sculptures and quiet sights (including a Bonsai Garden) to enjoy:

We had a fun and thrilling day at the San Diego Safari Park, leaving in the early evening ready to grab some dinner before heading home. Our time there was magical, and it made me eager to visit the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park as well.

Here’s to another 50 years of the San Diego Zoo!

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22 thoughts on “A Quick Visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

      1. Oooh, nice. It might be a while before I could come to Malaysia, but thankfully there are plenty of videos online where I could sneak a peek at its wonders. Thank you for the heads-up!

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      2. We even have a bird park, a butterfly park and even a planetarium over here. Its fun. Last I’ve been to those… were when i was a child lol. Ohh.. yes there is the largest Indoor Aquarium called Aquaria in Malaysia. I miss going there.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful! I’m glad this post spoke to you. I also know Escondido pretty well, but the last time I visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was as a very young child. It looks like the park has grown a great deal since then, and the whole area is gorgeous.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same, too long ago! It is beautiful, and I hope to make it out there again, with my husband this time, one day soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh, I hope you’re able to visit it again soon as well. I went to undergraduate and graduate school in San Marcos, and both that city and Escondido have really grown over the years. It’s just impressive.

        Did you also happen to know about the Sprinter Train system there, beginning at the transit center in Escondido?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I did not, but remember thinking at some point that LA lost some vision back when it stalled public transit in favor of the automobile. I’ve been gone, but also aware of a return to the idea (as we seem to be, ever so slowly, coming around to better ways).

        I looked into the Sprinter over the weekend and was quite excited about it. Thanks for that!

        We also have light rail systems these days around DFW; there’s been some relent in realizing that public transit is beneficial to society on the whole . . . but too few—so much time passes before a new arm is installed. It’s an ongoing effort, thank goodness. Most recent approval in June or July this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hopefully public transportation continues to grow in popularity. I remember being pleasantly shocked just how far you could travel without a car throughout the United States, using trains and buses.

        Have you ever been on the Amtrak, by the way? I’ve heard great things about it from friends and family members.

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    1. Wonderful. I’m glad you enjoyed this trip to the zoo, and that the photographs came out so well. I don’t consider myself the most skillful photographer, but thankfully the park offered so many spectacular views that it was hard not to capture at least a few great shots.

      Liked by 1 person

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