In Sonoma County
Look at the horns!” exclaims my husband, Glenn, pointing at a scimitar-horned oryx. We’re in Sonoma County —less crowded than the Napa Valley—enjoying wineries and a memorable overnight experience at Safari West, a wild-animal preserve.
The preserve, one of only six private-facility members of the prestigious American Zoo and Aquarium Association in North America, offers safari tours in authentic open-air vehicles. Visitors view zebra, Watusi cattle, Cape buffalo, gazelles, impala, wildebeest, springbok, elands and the extinct-in-the-wild addax.
Of their 350 species of creatures, the mammals are all African, and many wander freely in breeding herds. Less peaceable creatures such as the cheetah, porcupine, black rhino and warthog are in secure enclosures. Gorgeous birds wander the grounds, although some must live in a free-flight, walk-in aviary, for their protection.
Overnighters stay in luxurious canvas safari tents, each with hardwood floors, bath with shower and a deck for viewing wildlife or the private lake. (We recommend Cabin #18 for its grand views.) Handsome handmade wood furnishings include either a king or two double beds with a cozy electric blanket for cool fall or winter evenings. Falling asleep to the exotic sounds of the wild creatures is an incredible experience.
A wood fire for dinner is started mid-afternoon with Delilah, an African hornbill about 35 years old, keeping a sharp eye on the grill. I later had to conduct a good-natured duel for my dinner with Delilah. Outstanding local wines are available.
Tour options include a full safari tour, a shorter
safari trek and private or photographic safaris.
Special programs include “Wild Kids Night” for children ages 6 to 12, holiday parties and benefit events for the animals.
This is a special place for birthdays, anniversaries
or other celebrations.
Safari West, 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa, Calif., is at 707-579-2551