A trip to wine country is for wine tasting, of course. But in between winery visits, there are restaurant stops, perhaps an afternoon at the spa and shopping. Why not go on safari while you are there are well. Yes, a safari, just like in Africa!
Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve located in the heart of wine country in Santa Rosa. Founded in 1993 by Peter and Nancy Lang, Safari West is a privately funded property that focuses on conservation and preservation of endangered wildlife animals. Currently, there are 90 species on property and 900 animals, ranging from giraffes, zebras, and monkeys to hyenas and cheetahs. Except for the international birds, all the animals are originally from Africa.
A visit to Safari West can last a few hours or a few days. A tour around Safari West is approximately three hours long, with a 45-minute walking tour and a two-hour tour by jeep. The guides are all exceptionally knowledgeable about the animals and make the visit informative and fun. There is also a behind the scenes tour to feed the animals.
But, in case you forgot that Safaris West was in wine country, there are a few fun ways to include wine, and beer, into the Safari.
Brews and Buffalo Private Safari
For the beer fans, the three-hour safari includes sampling six to ten brews from Sonoma County and other California breweries while on the trial.
Winos and Rhinos Private Safari
During the three-hour safari drive, stop on a hilltop, relax and enjoy a selection of Francis Ford Coppola wines, as well as the house South African wines, paired with local artisan cheeses and breads.
Cheetahs and Chardonnay Private Safari
This exclusive safari will get you an up-close and personal visit with the cheetahs and their handlers, followed by wine.
Should you want to spend a little more than half-a-day at Safari West, trying something different. Go glamping. Forget the luxury resorts, boutique hotels, bed & breakfasts and motels throughout Sonoma. Safari West has imported 30 luxury tents from Africa and they are built on high wooden platforms with spacious decks, heated blankets, wood floors, a plush bed and indoor plumbing. While staying at Safari West, you will forget you are in the middle of wine country. There is no wifi and quiet time begins at 9:30 pm. At night, you will only hear the sounds of the animals and in the morning, and giraffes are the first you will see in the morning. It is a peaceful and relaxing way to spend a night and you do not have to leave if you do not want to. Meals are available at the Savannah BBQ Grill and while the food is not five-star, it is quite tasty. You will really forget you are in Sonoma.
Take a little side trip from winery visits during your next visit to Sonoma and go on a glamping safari.
Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique marketing, and event-planning agency. Allison is Level 3 WSET Certified from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, is certified as an Italian Wine Specialist from the North American Sommelier Association and has a Master's Degree in International Communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service. As a freelance writer, she contributes to numerous publications while eating and drinking her way around the world.
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