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.
- 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