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“Pick the right tent! (NYE party, overnight, safari tour)” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Safari West

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Safari West
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3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
California
Top Contributor
297 reviews 297 reviews
81 hotel reviews
Reviews in 133 cities Reviews in 133 cities
465 helpful votes 465 helpful votes
“Pick the right tent! (NYE party, overnight, safari tour)”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2012

This year we spent New Years Eve at Safari West, and the overnight accommodations sparked a debate between my wife and me about whether this was luxury or hardship. More about that later…

Overall, the experience was wonderful. We arrived in the late afternoon, and the friendly staff checked us in and gave us a ride to our tent. You can’t park anywhere near the tents, so they drive you over there. That’s fine as long as you don’t have any reason to go back and forth to your car a bunch of times.

The tent is an African safari-style tent. It’s really more like a room with cloth walls than what you would think of as a tent. It’s almost as big as a small hotel room, with a solid door, overhead lights, and separate bathroom with shower, etc.

The tents are scattered over a large hill, and there is quite a difference between the various locations. Some of them are way up at the top of the hill, which is near a little lake, but it’s a much longer walk down to the restaurant, etc. Other tents are at the bottom of the hill close to a field where the giraffe’s roam. Personally, I think the ones at the bottom of the hill near the giraffes would are better.

Tents 12, 14, and 15 are down by the giraffes. Tent 18 is slightly higher up the hill and appears to have the best of both worlds. It’s close to the giraffes, but it’s a little higher, so it has a great view.

Different rooms have different bed configurations. Tent 14 has a king and a bunk, which seems ideal for a family. I wish we had gotten that one. Tent 18 just has one king bed, so that’s perfect for a couple. Tents 12 and 15 have two doubles.

The bottom line is that not all tents are created equal! You can enhance your experience by booking way ahead and picking the perfect tent.

Personally, I didn’t think to ask about a specific tent, but our tent was just fine. After we settled in, we went for a walk around the grounds. We had a great time looking at all the animals, including the giraffes and Lemurs.

Oh, the Lemurs are great. They aren’t in a cage. They are just on a small island, and you can get very close to them. I’m sure they could leap off the island, but they don’t have any real reason to. They are safe, well-fed, and happy. Try to be at the lemur island during feeding time, because the lemurs jump around from tree to tree, and it’s really entertaining! (If you’re having trouble picturing a lemur, think of King Julian from the animated Madagascar movie.)

Anyway, after we got settled, we walked around the grounds looking at the different animals. There are many animals you can see without even being on a tour!

For dinner we ate at the on-site restaurant. Actually, since we were there for New Year’s Eve, dinner was part of the organized NYE party. I’m not sure what a regular evening is like there, but the food at the restaurant was great, and I assume that a dinner there on a regular evening would also be good. They did a great job organizing the NYE party with dinner, an entertaining animal presentation, dancing, etc. I would recommend their NYE party, and I imagine that any special event there would be fun.

The next morning, we went on the standard safari tour, and it was fantastic. The tour jeep takes you all through the hills, and you see many, many different kinds of animals. The jeep has a set of upper seats above the driver, which is pretty cool. You can take turns sitting up there. It would be great to be up there when you go through the giraffe area, but that’s not how it worked out for us. In any case, the tour was a lot of fun. The driving tour is just part of it. After that, you do a walking tour around various smaller cages to see other animals like monkeys, etc. I highly recommend the tour!

You could go during the day just for the tour, or you can stay overnight. Either way should be fun, but try to do the overnight if you can. It’s a much more memorable experience! Going just for the day is like going to an animal park. Going overnight is more like a mini safari!

With respect to the tents, as I said above, my wife and I debated about whether it was hardship or luxury. If you compare it to a hotel room, you might feel like it is a bit of a hardship. In particular, the main portion of the tent is heated, but the bathroom is not. The bathroom ceiling is just a net (allowing ventilation), so the bathroom will be the same temperature as outside. Since we were there for New Years, it was actually quite cold outside, so the bathroom was freezing!!! (You need to be pretty motivated to do a middle-of-the-night tinkle!) However, the main part of the tent was quite a bit warmer because of a small space heater.

I imagine that in the summer you might have the opposite problem. Perhaps the tents get very hot. So, from a temperature-control standpoint, and compared to a hotel room, this is hardship. On the other hand, if you compare it to actual camping in a normal tent, this is absolute luxury! You get a real bed, your own private bathroom, electric lights, plenty of space, and a nice deck for enjoying the scenery.

We had our son with us, and we got a room with two double beds. Unfortunately, the beds were just full beds (not queen), so it was a little more cozy than we like. On the other hand, you have to appreciate the fact that this “tent” had real beds. Normally, I’m sleeping on the ground when I’m in a tent! Anyway, my wife thought it was hardship, but I considered it to be absolute luxury. It just depends on your perspective!

No matter what you call it, you’ll definitely have fun, and it’s an experience to remember.

  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SafariMark, Guest Relations Manager at Safari West, responded to this review, February 21, 2012
Thank you Jim and Barbie for such well thought out and kind comments on Safari West. I agree, New Year Eve was magically wonderful.
It was a pleasure to share your comments with our team members.
I agree with you that staying overnight in our Luxury Safari Tents really adds to the "African Experience" in that you have the opportunity to experience the BBQ dinner at the Savannah Grill, the sunset, a large campfire under the bright stars while roasting marshmallows and enjoying a glass of Sonoma, Napa or African Wines, Ports and beers.
The night and morning sounds are very much like that of an Africa Safari Tent Camp. Many of us here at Safari West have including myself visited or lived in Africa and the experience is similar.
We hope to see you again soon. Mark
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118 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (29)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Cameron Park, California
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 22, 2011

We stayed overnight before our safari at Safari West in one of their tents. The tent was great for the 4 of us, 2 adults and 2 kids as it had a King sized bed and a set of bunk beds. The only thing I was worried about it because of them using a regular mattress on the top bunk, there is really no rail, so I was afraid of my kid falling out in the middle of the night. Other then that, the beds were super comfy and because we went in late December I was also worried about the cold. Safari West made sure the no one was cold with space heaters in the room and electric blankets on all of the beds. In the middle of the night, the power went off and I was worried that we were going to freeze but they thought about that too, and it wasnt long before their back up generators kicked in so the cold was never an issue.

The only reason that I couldnt give them an excellent rating is because of the dinner buffet. When you stay there, you pretty much have to eat there as they lock the gate. For 2 adults and 2 kids it was over $100 not including if you wanted a can of Soda with your meal. (Hot Chocolate, Hot Tea, Coffee were included). That was pretty steep for what you got. The mac and cheese was horrible and even my kids wouldnt eat it, the salad was bland, and the tri tip was just okay. For that amount of money I was expecting a much better meal then we had.

All in all, I think that it was a great trip and something we will do again, just make other arrangements for something to eat for dinner. The staff is great and safari and property along with the tents were wonderful!

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2011

My family and I enjoyed a tour and Thanksgiving dinner at Safari West. One of the highlights of our trip was our interaction with the Cape Buffalo. They really don't like stuffed giraffes! We'll be talking about that for a long time. Thank you to Sydney for a great tour!

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Seattle, WA
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 9, 2011

My husband and I stayed in Cabin 30 for one night... Because it's November, I thought we would freeze to death. But Safari West thought of everything! Thanks to two space heaters and a positively delightful electric blanket, we were SO cozy. It was a huge cabin. Very clean, and nicely decorated. We heard the flamingos a few times during the night and it just added to the magic. We really felt like we had traveled out of California and into the wild! The next day, we went on a wonderful safari tour of their immense acreage. We saw an amazing number of animals up super close. Our guide was very knowledgeable and informative. We adored her! We got to see the Giraffes from inches away... They came over to investigate when we drove into their enclosure (which is several acres large) and one almost kissed me on the nose! It was amazing, and something I shall never forget.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2011

I was here 18 years ago and Safari West was a unique and wonderful daytime experience. A truck ride around an area similar to what might be seen in Africa is made interesting by excellent tour guides and plenty of animals. Great for kids, but adults who aren't pleased by screaming children might want to reconsider this, or insist on an adult group if possible.

I was scheduled to stay overnight with other people in a cottage, but made other arrangements when I saw that 6 people were expected to sleep in 3 beds, one double bed and a upper/lower bunk bed. Only one bathroom for 6? In the U.S.? OK, I'm picky, but I thought the cottage was depressing and overpriced and was fortunate to have alternative sleeping arrangements.

Dinner at Safari West was only fair. The chicken was good (dry, but I like that); however, the salad was unimaginative, and polenta and mac and cheese were greasy and probably made a direct trip to the diner's arteries. I had only a taste of each. The apple cobbler dessert was OK, but way too sweet, probably in deference to kids who like sugared-up everything.

So, here's my suggestion: Take the best animal tour. Your guide will be knowledgable and you'll see lots of animals up close (no petting animals on the tour, though). The tour including a short walk to see some caged animals and an aviary takes about 3 hours, and it's 3 hours well spent. It's not cheap: $68 per adult, and $30 per child.

Stay at Safari West overnight only if you're comfortable with the limited number of beds and that there's only one bathroom. This is not an accommodation for people who want comfort. So, know what you're buying because the cottages are expensive (see Safari West website) and you might be better off staying at a conventional hotel. Also, while it's convenient to eat there if you're staying there, be aware that the food is marginally good at best, and you'll sit at long dining tables with chairs that are ridiculously low. It's simply not comfortable to eat there in my opinion.

Of course, if you want a great safari-like experience and don't go to Africa, consider spending a day in the San Diego Zoo animal park in Escondido, CA, North of San Diego. There's a train ride through the park that costs less and gives you a similar experience, and there's much more to see as you walk through that park. Most areas in Safari West are for tour vehicles only with no walking because many of the animals are roaming freely and they might eat you. Just kidding........I think.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
safariwinecountry, Guest Relations Manager at Safari West, responded to this review, October 11, 2011
Dear Guest (Love your user name IQuack).

Thank you for your post, I’ll be sure to let guides know you enjoyed the safari tour. The whole experience at Safari West is getting back to basics and enjoying the profound simple pleasures of family and nature that are all too often overlooked.

I hear what you’re saying about the cottage for six people – our one and only cottage is generally meant for guests who are shy of spending the evening in a safari tent.

I definitely recommend the tents - they are so much fun - and they have more in common with a bed and breakfast than a camp ground...just with a view of giraffes! Our tents are imported directly from Africa. We now have 30 tents, several with queen double beds and three tents with full size bunk beds for children. The remainder are 15 King Tents. Beautiful and romantic – but, still just with one bathroom!

However, I understand your family was not comfortable with the lodging and the dining experience. It truly is our desire to achieve 100% guest satisfaction, and I truly apologize your lodging and dining experience was less than you expected. And, you made some very good points - I will speak to the chef about the dinner the evening you arrived. I'm afraid, we can't do much about the safari chairs - they were imported from Africa..albeit, they are a bit low.

Again thank you for taking the time to share your experience – and, we do hope you return for a third visit – and, when we see you again...we shall exceed your expectations!

Cordially,
Aphrodite
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Bay Area California
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2011

As a Nor-Cal native, I cannot imagine how we missed this place. A real African safari just outside Santa Rosa in the Mayacamas mountains. You sleep in luxury tent hotel rooms, all first class. Great food, riding on an "Indiana Jones" Power Wagon through open country, with wild animals coming right up to your open car. Everything was perfect, and we could not find one issue to change. Don't miss this. Great for visiting relatives, children, adults, and seniors. If you are short on cash, do the safari tour without staying overnight, but you'll miss the evening and nights in Africa! Everything but the mosquitoes and malaria!

Room Tip: Every tent bedroom is identical. Choose higher up numbers to sleep farther away from the animal noi...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Karatu, Tanzania
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2011

I was lucky to be invited by a friend to visit this great place. It was so much fun staying in a tent "out of Africa" instead of in Africa. The attention to detail is great, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The food was very good. It does get quite cold at night and in the early mornings but the beds have electric blankets and there are heaters in the tent. The beds were super comfortable and it was lovely to wake up overlooking a small pond in the middle of nature; it's a beautiful environment and the landscaping is so well done. I generally don't like zoos but the animals are well kept here and have the best possible environment out of the wild. The owners have done an amazing job bringing a taste of Africa to northern California. This is a wonderful place to bring children so they can get a glimpse of what a safari would be like and to see animals and birds in an extremely natural setting. I want to return with my family, especially the grand children.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Safari West

Address: 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Location: United States > California > Sonoma County > Santa Rosa
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Santa Rosa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Escape to Africa by way of Sonoma County…Come discover the Sonoma Serengeti.The classic African safari is a trip of a lifetime for intrepid travelers from around the globe - and, it is closer than you think!. Families who are curious and wild at heart can get close to nature...very close! Marvel under the gaze of a graceful giraffe or explore the Sonoma Serengeti alongside romping rhinos. Our guests enjoy enlightening African wildlife safari drives, and “glamping” tent cabin accommodations. The sounds of Africa will echo in your dreams. Stay one night in a luxury safari tent located on Giraffe Alley, meet some giraffes and go on Safari! Is Safari West Family Friendly?The entire Safari West experience is a kid-friendly adventure for families to enjoy together. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Safari West Hotel Santa Rosa
Safari West Santa Rosa, CA - Sonoma County

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