It was getting pretty busy as we walked through Harambe Village. The line for the Safari was 60 minutes, which again, is like a normal afternoon in the summer. We really were expecting it to be a great deal busier generally, but it had been quite manageable today. Not that it mattered now, we were going to be on a private safari for the next three hours! We checked in easily and were given a million and one waiver forms to sign ‘we can’t claim off Disney if the crocodiles eat us’ etc. Now, if there’s one thing Disney likes, it’s safety. We were strapped into our harnesses with military precision and then checked, double-checked, and triple-checked by different cast members. The harnesses are necessary for several reasons, which will become apparent later. We met up with the other family that was doing the tour with us, a group of five, and they were lovely. I think the maximum participants you can have on this tour is 12-15, and we were a group of nine, which was lovely.
We met our tour guides, Tiffany and Anna, who got us rigged up to their listening system. You get an earpiece so you can hear them both at all times. During a lot of the experience you’re in single file lines going through woodland, so it would be hard to hear otherwise. Although, most of the tours have these earpieces now. I remember when we did Keys To The Kingdom years ago, we were the first ever tour to try them. Today, mine didn’t want to work though, and I had to swap quite a few pieces of equipment around. Ava couldn’t get on with the earpiece as her ear was just too small, so they gave her normal headphones, which was much better.
We set off through the Gorilla Falls exploration trail, and even though we weren’t going to the gorillas (this was a short cut to get to the Safari), the guides stopped and talked us through what we were seeing. There were so many people staring at us, wondering what we were doing. To be fair, we did all look rather ridiculous in all our gear! We found our short cut and were soon backstage, walking through a heavily forested area. This is not a tour to do if you have any sort of mobility issues whatsoever. The terrain is rough, and by that I mean properly rough, not Disney rough. Our first stop was the hippos. If you’ve ever been on the Safari, when you get to the first hippo area, look to the back and you’ll see a long metal rail. That’s what we were attached to. It almost looks like a bungee cord on the back of our harness, but it meant we could go right to the edge of the hippo enclosure and look down on them safely. We had another guide join us at this point, who was one of the hippo keepers. He was incredibly knowledgeable but kept it fun as well as informative. We found out that two males lived in that enclosure, a father and son. Apparently it’s rare for males, even family, to be able to live together, either in the wild, or in captivity, so these were two very special hippos. They were absolutely massive, although the son wasn’t fully grown. They were being fed while we were there and oh my goodness, I wouldn’t have wanted to be much closer, those mouths and teeth were very scary looking!
We moved on through the forest, and at this point our guides reminded me of us on a school trip, one at the front and one at the back. It was actually really good though as whoever wasn’t leading at that point had a camera and was snapping away the whole time. It was great as it meant you didn’t have to think about taking pictures yourself (although we took the camera for our vlogs).
Next, we came to one of the highlights of the tour, the rope bridges. Cue our harnesses and gear being checked another billion times. On the Safari, there is a huge crocodile enclosure, next time you’re in that area, look up and you’ll see two massive rope bridges, that’s what we went across. I really like how authentic they’ve made it. It purposefully has massive gaps and broken wooden planks. They also encouraged us to make sure we stopped as we were going along and have a really good look around. They also told the kids they wouldn’t get told off if they had a little bounce on there. Well, you didn’t need to tell Ben twice, he was desperately trying to bounce me off that thing! Ava meanwhile, in her usual style, was waving at the Safari trucks going past, and making sure they all waved back at her! It really is amazing, you get to walk right over the crocodiles, and it’s a really special experience. Loved it!
After we’d all been unclipped from the rope bridge we got clipped onto another rail as we went right out above the crocodile enclosure, this time much lower down. We had another keeper there to tell us all about them and all the fights they have! Some more trekking through the forest was next, and then it was time to remove all our gear. It was a moment of ‘ahhhhhh’, as it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to wear.
We boarded a special Safari truck and went out onto the main savanna. We had the advantage of being able to pull off to the side many times, so the guides could tell us all about the animals we were seeing. Their favourite was called Ben (coincidentally), and he was a type of antelope (I forget which). Apparently he likes to make crowns out of grass and wear them round his horns, which we did actually see him do. It was so funny! We spent a lot of time around the giraffes too. We found out that giraffes usually sleep standing up, and only for around a minute at a time, so they can be alert at all times. Only if they’re completely comfortable and feel safe do they sit down, which we saw them doing here. We also saw one stand up, which is perhaps one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!
Next was another highlight. We were taken to a special overlook, or Boma, for some snacks. Now, when I say snack, it was more of a meal! You get a two layered tin (it had a special name, which I’ve totally forgotten). In there were several little tins with some yummy food. Ava had a kids one which had cheese, fruit, a cheese and ham wrap and one full of M&Ms and dried fruit. I think there were a few other bits in there too. Anthony and Ben had spiced chicken (which was essentially coronation chicken), a salmon wrap, shrimp, hummus and pita, fruit and a few other bits which I’ve forgotten as well! I have an allergy to scallops, so if I’m not at home I tend to avoid shellfish altogether – just in case. So instead of the shrimp I got a chick pea and quinoa salad which was absolutely delicious. I also got a bean salad instead of the salmon wrap (I guess they were just being cautious), but that was really good too. The wonderful thing about being here is you really can see the entire savanna, and they provide you with binoculars as well. I think we were up there for 40 minutes or so. We had a great view of the elephant area, and the baby was so cute!
When we finished, we got back in the truck and went to see some more of the savanna. We spent a long time with the white rhinos and were told that their real name was never meant to be a white rhino…as they’re not white. They were meant to be named wide rhinos due to the size of their jaws, but in Afrikaans the word wide is so similar to the word white that it got confused over the years and became the white rhino instead of the wide rhino. Sometimes you’ll hear about that on the main Safari, but they went into it in more detail for us. We then went round to the cheetah area and parked up. Cheetahs are my absolute favourite animal, but since they’re so reclusive, you rarely see them. Not so today! There were three of them, and they were so active, running around and sitting right up close! It probably had something to do with the antelope that were walking very close to the trail! Although they couldn’t get to them, they were very interested!
We spent the next half hour or so stopping at various points on the Safari, before heading back to base. Never has three hours gone so quickly. It’s not a cheap tour by any means, but it really is one of the best and a real must for anyone who enjoys Animal Kingdom and the Safari. Our guides were incredible and made it relatable for all the age groups that were there.
Click the following link for pricing and more details for the Wild Africa Trek VIP tour at Animal Kingdom.