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Walnut Creek Magazine

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ROAM

Oct 03, 2019 06:34PM ● By Pam Kessler

It’s probably the closest to an African safari you’ll ever find without a plane ticket. From ring-tailed lemurs to dazzling zebra, nearly 1000 animals representing over 90 unique species roam the 400-acre nature preserve nestled in the rugged hills between Napa and Sonoma.

Founded in 1989 as a private ranch for breeding and species propagation by Nancy and Peter Lang, Safari West hosts close to 60,000 visitors each year. It’s a popular destination for people of all ages so reserve a tour in advance or run the risk of disappointment.

Hotel-like accommodations greet overnight guests who stay in tent cabins on high wooden platforms with spacious decks. Pale green canvas walls enclose plush beds, polished hardwood floors, ensuite bathrooms with hot showers, and rustic but elegant trappings. It’s glamping at its best, but if you’re a light sleeper consider bringing earplugs, wildlife sounds echo loudly in the night.

Wake up to a day of adventure on a jeep safari searching for herds of wildebeest, romping rhinos, and towering giraffes. A walking tour follows to observe cheetahs, lemurs, colobus monkeys, and fabulous birds such as the Caribbean flamingo and scarlet ibis. Roam the grounds in early evening or relax on your deck with a glass of chardonnay overlooking the valley full of giraffes before a delicious ranch-style BBQ dinner at Savannah Café.

As temperatures cool off, fall is a good season to go and listen to the call of the wild from the comfort of your plush bed — not too far away from the next tasting room. 3115 Porter Creek Rd., Santa Rosa, safariwest.com.  –PK