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“Safari West: Take the safari tour, but skip the rest!”
Review of Safari West

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Safari West
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 30, 2012

Safari West (SW) is a great experience for kids and adults alike. We really wanted to splurge so we decided to stay overnight and then complete the safari tour the next day. It's important to note that if you want a couples romantic getaway experiencing animals, then you may want to look a little further! SW for the most part, really packs in a ton of families with very small, excitable children running and screaming about the grounds. It's certainly something to experience once, but a steady diet of it should be left to families with small children.

SW is off the beaten path and is tucked away, so be sure that you get a map and study the directions before going to SW. Once inside the park, you travel on an unpaved road, so be certain not to bring a luxury car or one that doesn't run well as neither will be helpful here!

The reception staff bend over backwards to be polite to register you, but if you arrive right at the requested check-in time, it can be difficult to get a ride up the hills to the cabin. Reason being, there are a very limited number of 4-wheel drive vehicles so you end of waiting for an attendant to give you and your luggage a ride up the hill. Try slipping one of the attendants a tip to get better service and ensure a speedier transport to your cabin or come earlier or a little later than the requested check-in time. SW recently hired a new general manager (GM) who has appeared to understand the need to invest in better vehicles to transport guests to their cabins. Unlike the prior vehicles which slipped out of gears or slid down hills, the new jeep vehicles appear to be much more reliable.

If you stay overnight at SW, here’s some tips to making it an enjoyable stay…

This is an African Tent camp and the room is lined with a heavy canvas with thick plastic windows that form the walls. If you’re staying in the fall or winter, be sure to close the inside tent flaps, turn your heater on low and start your ceiling fan on low before you leave for dinner. This will make the hot air flow down and you can will return back to a warm room. The bathroom cannot be kept warm; so shower in the evening, otherwise you will have icicles on your nose when if you wait until the morning to shower. Also, keep flashlights by your bed to use if you are prone to getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Be sure to bring your own flashlights because the front desk is usually in low supply and/or many of the flashlights are inoperable. Keep the bathroom door closed to avoid having the cold morning draft waft into your room. Finally, before you fall asleep, be sure to turn the electric blankets on, but be aware that there appears to be an auto shut off, so upon waking, you may be shivering due to the lack of heat!

The rooms are nicely decorated but this not the place to get good night's rest. The barking dogs on the property and the dogs brought by other guests can easily start a stir which will wake up the entire lot of animals on the property. Once that is done, then the birds et al will sing all night. Wow! I understand that if you come in colder months, then there is less traffic and you probably won't experience this, but who wants to camp in the winter? Not many of us...

The BBQ dinner was a bit costly but in the past it seemed as though it was a good value. But, on this trip, it appears that SW made a policy decision to modify the menu and the quantity and quality of the food as well. We were told that the appetizers would begin at 6:30 p.m., and that dinner would start at 7:00 p.m. Around 6:55 p.m., the SW crew arrived with four medium sized plates containing: sliced veggies, an artichoke salad with crackers and sliced pork sausages for about 100 guests. So, the line for the appetizers wrapped around the room and outside the door as very hungry guests proceeded to pile small appetizer plates with food. If you didn't get in line right away, then you were out of luck because mountains of children descended on the appetizers getting seconds and thirds even before some of the guests were able to get an initial serving. The appetizers were not replenished, so many of us hungrily sat and waited another 20 minutes until dinner was served. As for dinner, the food was good, but the portions were small and larger portions of the main entree (chicken or Tri-Tip beef) was only provided upon request. The tiramisu dessert which had been served in the past, was substituted for a very dry brownie dowsed with whip cream and that was quite a disappointment. Finally, if you pay a visit to the bathroom after dinner, you'll find toilets that don't flush well and often times a line. Searching around to find another bathroom is a futile exercise as well because you will find either closed facilities or those marked private and the general public cannot enter. One of the staff said there are other hidden bathrooms on the property, but those are for "staff only". So, if you need to really go to the restroom, you have to brave the one with the malfunctioning toilets or hike back to your tent.

Breakfast the next day was not much better than what we experienced with the appetizers at dinner the night before. A continental breakfast of fruit, oatmeal and bread was served, which would have been fine had SW staff replenished the food. Breakfast started at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 10:00 a.m. and for the first two hours, there were hordes of people pushing and grabbing food that it reminded me of pigs at a trough! We tried a few times to get a meal, but it was so crazy that we opted to eat oatmeal bars in our room! Yikes!

The best part of the trip was the safari. The guides are knowledgeable, friendly and know the terrain well. So, take the safari and skip the rest!!

Room Tip: Please see the review for tips; there are quite a few!
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank Hottie2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
safariwinecountry, Manager at Safari West, responded to this reviewResponded October 8, 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Please know that we appreciate every single guest that visits our wildlife preserve and their comments, both positive and negative. To address your specific issues: Our owners wanted to create an African Safari Tent Camp – they wanted to bring Africa to you! With that in mind, we are not a typical hotel or motel and honestly, our guests do sometimes experience a short wait to be shuttled up to their rooms upon arrival, but again that is part of the experience – luxury tent cabins located on our preserve, many of which are on tucked away in beautiful spots hard to reach on foot (especially with luggage!). Also, we do provide an in-room tips guide on how best to enjoy your stay. We appreciate the comment on flashlights and are working to ensure all flashlights available to guests are fully charged and ready to go (they are provided at the front desk upon arrival). We are very sorry you experienced problems during your meals and are working to address the issues mentioned. As for the restrooms, again, our apologies; however, we take pride in keeping our restrooms clean, open and operating smoothly and the overwhelming majority of the time, long lines and restrooms under repair are not an issue.

Thank you for the kind comments about our tours, and about the issues you encountered, it helps us improve our services to the public, which is a critical part of our ongoing mission.

We do hope you return one day soon so we can meet you in person and personally see that your visit exceeds your expectations....

All My Best,
Aphrodite Caserta
Director, Safari West

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137 - 143 of 189 reviews

Reviewed September 24, 2012

My husband and I spent one night (midweek, 9/5/12) at Safari West to celebrate our 29th Wedding Anniversary. We arrived at 3pm to check into our cabin. The sleeping area was decorated nicely and the bed was firm, but comfortable with plenty of blankets, including an electric blanket. The canvas walls were thick and sturdy with windows so you could see outside. A floor heater was available, if needed. The bathroom area, separated from the bedroom via a door, had a net/screen-type of ceiling with canvas over the top, so the outside air moved about freely. It was a bit cool, but we got used to it. We did not purchase the BBQ dinner (which looked delicious), but brought dinner with us. We had plenty of time to kill before bedtime - exploring the grounds and seeing the animals in the caged areas. Plenty of animal noises throughout the night, which added to the stay. We saved the Safari Jeep Tour until the next morning. Great tour guide (I believe his name was Travis), saw quite a few animals from Africa and other places and met some nice people. It was a bumpy ride, but fun nonetheless. Continental breakfast included in the morning. A bit on the pricey side, but for the unique experience and special occasion, it was worth it.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank k2d2California
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2012

Just had one of the most awesome and memorable experiences ever at Safari West! Not sure why more people don't know about it, but it is an absolute must do! Put it on your bucket list!

A group of us stayed in the luxury tents. I was concerned about how nice the accommodations would be because I am not a camper. It was the perfect blend of rustic and classy, with an unbelievable and once in a lifetime view. How often can you sit on your balcony, with a view of giraffes?!

Beautiful setting and the safari was fabulous. The guide was very informative. I learned a lot about the animals, their strips and camouflage, which are aggressive (surprisingly zebras are aggressive) and how they protect themselves. I never felt endangered even though we got very close to the animals.

The staff were all so nice and accommodating. The food was great, the fire pit was a great setting to hang out with friends. They have a bar and apace that was much better than I had anticipated.

I'd highly recommend you stay over night if you go, but even if you just go for the safari, it's worth it. The only thing I really didn't like was the cold bathrooms. The bedroom areas were very nice, incredibly roomy and comfortable. They had electric blankets and space heaters to keep the room nice and toasty. But, the bathrooms are vented to the outdoors. Otherwise the bathrooms are very nice, but rustic.

Be aware that there is no cell phone service up there. There are no TV, radios, or internet service in the rooms. You really disconnect from the hustle and bustle of normal life. They are very generous and allow you to use the lobby phone to call home. And, in the cafe, there is Internet service available, but it helps to really stay in the moment when you don't have many distractions.

Can't wait to go back. Make plans today!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled on business
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1  Thank Tracy J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 23, 2012

We did the safari only, but the accommodations looked like fun, and those who stayed overnight raved about the experience. All the Safari employees we interacted with were friendly and professional.Our guide, Mark, was very informative and we learned a great deal while seeing so many beautiful animals roaming around. We ended up on an all adults jeep, and were able to take the time to just sit in absolute quiet and observe. It was also a plus that even the animals that like to stay away from the trails made appearances on our 2pm tour. The price was a little high, but seeing the well maintained grounds, how the animals are cared for, the staff and animal handlers, and how much we enjoyed the tour made it worth every penny.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank FancyToes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 26, 2012

Our family of 5 (kids ages 8, 6 and 2) stayed here in June. It was a fun adventure (and very comfortable too). We arrived around 1 and had a 2pm jeep ride (which worked out perfectly). We checked in and put our things in our tent before the tour. The tour was very extensive and you get to see all the animals up close. The guide was very knowledgeable and there are a lot of animals to see. I loved the giraffes and zebras while my kids took a special liking to the baby monkeys. Truly a wonderful experience!

Our tent was great too. We has a king and bunk beds (we brought a pack and play for our youngest). The beds were comfy and had electric blankets, which came in handy as it was a bit chilly that weekend. The only issue I had was that the top bunk, although beautiful and hand crafted, had no railing so I didn't feel comfortable putting my son up there (so I slept there instead).

Dinner was good. There was BBQ chicken and ribs with lots of side dishes. I wouldn't call it amazing but it was good. The wine was excellent! The kids also had fun roasting marshmallows. Breakfast was fine too. It was a basic continental with oatmeal.

Overall we really enjoyed this trip and I would highly recommend Safari West. It was a bit expensive but the experience was worth it and your money goes to a good cause.

Room Tip: Ask for a tent overlooking the giraffes.
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank lenals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2012

Great accommodations, great safari. Food (BBQ) was fine, but nothing special. Staff is very good.

Room Tip: The tents are luxury rooms with canvas walls. Giraffe alley location is closer to the animals and l...
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank WizardGJM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2012

We stayed one night at SW (along Giraffe Alley), took a tour and had lunch at the onsite restaurant after our tour. When we checked in, someone gave us and our luggage a ride to our assigned tent cabin (tent 20), pointing out the amenities and telling us the cafe and restaurant hours along the way. As we waited outside reception for our cabin assignments we were greeted by other staff members who asked if we needed a ride. It was a great reception to SW! The cabin was really great. It had canvas walls and roof, screens for windows, wood floors, a large attached bathroom with a shower, flushing toilet & sink, a comfortable bed with an electric blanket, a heater, and a cooler. Reception will provide ice upon request. There was a fan in the cabin which was nice because it was warm when we first arrived. Lighting in the cabin was provided by a hanging light and two lamps. The doors do not lock but that didn't bother me. The water pressure in the shower was pretty bad. The shower head was directly overhead, but fortunately a shower cap was provided. I would hate to have to take a shower here when it is really cold. I noticed they had board games at the restaurant but did not ask whether they were available to check out.

One of the giraffes came up to a small tree near our cabin and tried to reach the leaves. It was really neat to see the giraffe up close. After dinner we walked around the property and it was nice to see the various birds walking around. There were marshmallows for roasting and a toasty fire, coffee and hot chocolate at the restaurant in the evening. The animals were loud throughout the night. They made quite a racquet in the very early morning. Some in our party were unaffected by the cacophany but I benefited from using earplugs. Since we were there in June the cooler evening temperature was very nice and helped us fall asleep. In the morning, we had breakfast (toast, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice) at the restaurant.

Our tour was excellent. Our tour guide Alex was great with the children in our group, very knowledgeable about SW and the animals and very easygoing. We were all very impressed by the amount of information he knew and communicated to us. There was a lot of ground that we covered and lots of animals to see. The kids really enjoyed sitting up top and going over the bumps! The tour started with a 30 minute walk through an aviary and then by various enclosures, followed by a roughly two hour ride in a safari jeep. The lunch buffet was great, especially since we were hungry by the end of our tour. The fare was good (BBQ pulled pork sandwich, Caesar salad, potato salad, Mac n cheese, bean salad, BBQ chicken, and rice pudding for dessert).

There were some missteps, however. There were supposed to be 2 futons in our cabin. There was none when we arrived. The staff member who gave us a ride to our cabin promised to bring the futons, but it took staff about an hour (following a walk down the hill to reception to enquire about the status of our futons) to bring the promised futons. A staff member told us there would be a feeding at lemur island at 8:30 pm. But we waited and waited and there was no feeding. Someone walking by told us that all staff members went home and there would be no feeding. We were disappointed and not happy about the misinformation. My last gripe is that they only provided water with the $15.00 per person lunch buffet. One would think that a drink (soda or juice) would be provided for that price.

Overall, I would rate SW very good because it is a unique experience, the grounds and accommodations are well thought out, and the staff is very friendly. I would suggest more lighting in the cabin bathroom and better water pressure for the shower. There was a single light in the bathroom and it was a challenge to put my contacts in and put on makeup because the light was near the center of the room. A light by the mirror would have been helpful. These are just minor things that did not detract from our overall enjoyment of our visit to SW! Well done SW!

Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
6  Thank avidtravels19
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 reviewResponded July 21, 2012

We are happy you enjoyed your stay and many thanks for your detailed comments. We truly strive hard to make all our guest experiences exceed their expectations and your comments are very helpful to us, we are looking closely at each one. I thank you for your time. Have a great summer, Mark

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Additional Information about Safari West

Address: 3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404-9655
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: $322 - $483 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Safari West 3*
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 
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Also Known As:
Safari West Hotel Santa Rosa
Safari West Santa Rosa, CA - Sonoma County

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