Great Family Adventures: Safari West

Yes, we know: The family vacation is a much-parodied event, and perhaps rightfully so. But fumbles, foibles, and hassles aside, families keep taking them for the same good reason: They’re priceless sources of memories.

    Photo: Roland H./Wikimedia Commons

HIGHLIGHTS: If you can’t afford to get the family to Africa, take them to Safari West instead. This Northern California wildlife preserve keeps a collection of some 700 animals, spanning 100 mostly Serengeti species. During a narrated three-hour tour that starts out in an open-air Jeep and ends up hiking the grounds, you’ll come face to face with giraffes, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, and the scimitar-horned oryx, which is extinct in the wild. After the tour’s excitement, unwind with a massage or a ranch-style meal at Savannah Cafe. Stay the night in one of the property’s tent-cabins (which were imported from Africa) to fall asleep with animal sounds all around. Overnight guests can arrange for private animal encounters or a hike around Watusi Lake. Kids of all ages are welcome—and cell-phone reception is nonexistent, so you’ll have your family’s full attention.

OUTFITTER: Safari West is a wildlife preserve and resort owned by Nancy and Peter Lang (they met on safari in Africa), whose mission is to preserve endangered species through breeding and public education.

ITINERARY: Stays in Santa Rosa, California.

DATES: Ongoing; book anytime.

PRICE: Safari tours start at $68 per adult; $30 per child between ages three and 12; $15 for ages two and younger. Overnight guests get a discount of $10 per adult and $30 per child. Lodging starts at $200 per room per night for two guests; each additional person (except those ages two and younger) adds $25.

INFO: safariwest.com, (707) 579-2551.

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