Safari West in Sonoma


Safari West giraffe

03.1.12

From the issue Overnight Originals

Out of Africa

Sleeping in the wild among cheetahs, giraffes, and rhinoceroses doesn't require a ticket to Africa. Safari West is an African wildlife preserve and luxury tent camp nestled right in northern Santa Rosa. Privately owned by Peter and Nancy Lang, who met on an African safari and share a passion for conservation through education, the 400 acres here allow you to come face-to-face with many of the habitat's 700 exotic, endangered, and extinct-in-the-wild species. The two-and-a-half-hour safari includes a section of foot travel, passing four cheetahs (don't worry, they're enclosed), and getting right up to rare birds like the neon pink scarlet ibis and the roseate spoonbill. Then it's time for you and up to 11 others to hold on tight, hitting rugged terrain aboard a vintage Dodge Power Wagon M37. Guided by a trained naturalist, you'll meet a few of the usual suspects—zebras, giraffes, rhinoceroses—as well as exotic animals like the majestic blue wildebeest shaking his shaggy mane, and the elegant dama gazelle, the tallest and rarest gazelle in the world. After seeing where the wild things are, unwind in one of Safari West's 30 luxury tent-cabins bordering the preserve. (The safari is year-round but overnights open in March.) Imported from Africa and raised on high wooden platforms, the rustic yet lavish quarters are all the same size and come with hot showers, hardwood floors, copper basins, and hand-hewn quilts. Dinner is a ranch-style barbecue at the on-site Savannah Café, featuring a changing menu of favorites like Moroccan spiced chicken or flank steak and mac 'n' cheese. Pair it with a South African Sabeka Cabernet-Pinotage as you gaze at a backdrop of trolling impala and a pond of pink American flamingos. Later swap stories by the bonfire and listen for the sounds of the wild. They're very close. Hakuna matata!

BONUS: Check out Safari West's website for extra specials, like Full Moon Madness, where room rates are discounted 50%. Wild!

Safari West runs safaris year-round by reservation only and opens for overnights March–December. Safaris, meals, and overnights are sold separately, but overnights include a continental breakfast. Dinner is a flat-fee of $29 for adults, $17 for children 4–12. Drinks not included. Basic tents accommodate four to five people, while the cottage can hold up to six. For pricing, tour schedules, and more information, visit safariwest.com. No dogs.

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