I had a certificate for an overnight stay at Safari West which was almost ready to expire. Of course we being the "non-outdoors" campers we are we actually were greatly anticipating this adventure!
Checked in at twilight so we could get our bearings for the next morning's tour. We were greeted by one of the parks 'rangers' (sorry, his name escapes me, however he has been there about 8 months), a most cordial, outgoing informative young man. He also assisted with our luggage, drove us to our grand tent cabin and invited us to the cafe for the social hour.
We were settling in, prepared for sub-freezing temperatures that night. A quick unpacking and off to the cafe we went. We met a number of other couples from the North bay. Two of them actually had family living and working in Africa so the evening became more interesting as we shared our stories. We gave a memorial toast to Nelson Mandela who we had found out had died earlier in the day.
We also had purchased the optional buffet which was hearty, well prepared and so plentiful. During dinner we also met the proprietor "Nancy" who gave us the background history of just how Safari West came to what we typically credit more for fine wines than an animal preserve. Very moving chronology to say the least.
Dinner over, everyone scurried to their tent-cabins to buckle down for the night. We were advised to allow a trickle of water to flow from the faucets to prevent pipes freezing over. The heated beds were amazingly inviting but the space heaters were no match for mother nature....once in pajamas, only the most brave ventured from beneath the covers. The sounds of 'the jungle' were a constant reminder we were in an oasis of wildlife and their time clocks have no limits. Throughout the night we were wondering what kind of animal was perhaps a few feet away from our 'cabin'. We couldn't identify any of the grunts, coos, snorts, fence testing and were too cold to research anything...constant chatter but eventually we fell into our deep sleep.
Breakfast was as good as dinner the night before with an array of cereals, yogurt, fresh squeezed OJ, coffee, oatmeal, toasted breads, etc. (Sorry, no egg station this 'safari'!)
Next, back to the cabins, gather the belongings and check out and stage for the 2.5 hour walking/safari vehicle tour. Our guide 'Robert' was an 8 year veteran of Safari West and was by far probably the best ambassador Safari West could have the good fortune to have working there. He was a superstar! I won't go into the details however...the time passed so quickly, we were shocked when the tour was concluded. A wealth of information regarding any aspect of this in-depth tour of the extensive compound.
When it was over, a nice visit to the gift shop, thank you's to staff and all of the guests who have been living here for decades scratching our heads and asking ourselves 'Why did it take so long to visit!!!'
That being said, this North bay attraction is now definitely going to be supported more regurlarly by this couple!!
Thanks to the owners for creating such a progressive/open destination, being a world renowned research center, species protector and employing such wonderful, patient and dedicated educators...Bravo!