Santa Rosa, California
The brainchild of Peter Lang, Safari West is a wildlife sanctuary with a twist; it also boasts an African-style tent camp. This 400-acre game preserve is home to a bevy of exotic animals and birds, most of which roam free inside the gated compound.
Visitors can take a safari tour or stay overnight in a luxury tent cabin; or both. It’s almost like visiting Africa; except you don’t get jet lag, you save about $4,000 and you can do it in a weekend.
Accessible parking is located near the office. There is an accessible pathway to the office from the parking area, and a lowered check-in counter in the office. Safari West has two accessible tent cabins to accommodate overnight guests. Just like the upscale safari camps in Africa, they have hardwood floors, canvas sides and tops, indoor plumbing and electricity.
Cabin 1H is closest to the restaurant, primate enclosures and flamingo terrace. Access features include an accessible parking area just outside the cabin, a ramped entry, wide doorways and ample room to maneuver a wheelchair. It is furnished with two 25-inch high double beds, with wheelchair access on both sides. The roomy bathroom is equipped with a roll-in shower with a fold-down shower seat, a hand-held showerhead and grab bars. The toilet grab bars are located on the back and right walls (as seated), and there is also a roll-under sink in the bathroom.
Cabin 2H is located directly above Cabin 1H. It has the same access features, but it is a little further from the public areas. An accessible pathway runs down to flamingo terrace from the cabin, so it’s easy to roll down and enjoy a drink, or have a bite to eat in the nearby restaurant.
Both of the cabins have a roomy porch with great views of the compound. It’s the ideal place to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of wine. Plan ahead and bring the fixings for a picnic dinner. It’s a fitting way to end your African safari day.
There’s nothing better than going to sleep listening to the sounds of the jungle. You’ll hear rumblings all night, but that’s the fun of it all. The tent cabins are very luxurious, but the bathrooms are vented to the outside, so those early morning showers can get chilly during the winter months. Fall and spring are ideal times to visit, but if the weather turns chilly, electric blankets are available.
Because of recent access improvements, Safari West is suitable for wheelchair-users as well as slow walkers. If you can’t do distances, Cabin 1H is the better choice, as it’s closer to the public areas. A loaner wheelchair is also available on a first-come basis. Safari West is a great choice for families, animal lovers and anybody who has ever wanted to visit the Dark Continent.
To be honest, most people stay at Safari West to enjoy the animals in the compound, so in a sense the preserve is the main attraction. Although overnight guests are welcome to walk around the primate enclosures and check out lemur island, an accessible safari tour of the compound is available for an additional charge.
The one-and-a-half-hour-tour is conducted in a lift-equipped bus that can accommodate two wheelchair-users and three able-bodied passengers. The first part of the tour features a drive through the gated compound, where watusi cattle, cape buffalo, gazelles, zebras and giraffes roam free. The drivers are well versed about the habits of the animal residents and are happy to field questions, and stop for photos.
The walking part of the tour covers the primate enclosures near the tent cabins, in the main area of the preserve. The total distance covered is about a city block, and the pathways around the enclosures are paved and level. This part of the tour is excellent as it includes a look at the cheetahs and lemurs, and a stroll though the spectacular open-air aviary.
At least two weeks notice is required for an accessible safari tour, as it’s conducted in a private vehicle, and an extra driver must be scheduled. The folks at Safari West have consistently worked to improve access since they first broke ground, so don’t be afraid to let them know if you have any special access needs. This little piece of Africa really is accessible to everyone.
3115 Porter Creek Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404