Florida Guide > Animal Kingdom
Hippos cooling off
Here comes the bus
This safari ride is a must for us every time we go to Animal Kingdom.
It is usually necessary to get a Fastpass to avoid the long queues. If you are at the Park when it opens it is best to head straight for Kilimanjaro and get a Fastpass and you usually do not have to wait too long. However we recommend you get your FastPass when you are ready for breakfast or lunch and about the time you finish eating, it’ s time to ride the Safari.
If you have small children the Stroller Park is about half through the queue area, so be prepared to walk with or carry your little one approximately 40 feet.
Guests in wheelchairs should follow the signs to head to the special boarding area. You will need to either transfer from your wheelchair to a seat, or transfer to a standard wheelchair.
Walking through the queue area you find yourself in the Harambe Reserve. Overhead TVs explain that poaching has killed many animals.
We find the best time to ride is in the afternoon, around 2 or 3pm. This is when the animals are most active because most of them are getting ready to be brought into the barns for the night.
The ride vehicle is 8 feet off the ground enabling you to wind your way through the grasslands and waterways of the 100 acre African Savannah. 32 passengers fit in this all terrain truck with a driver for your guide. The drivers are trained to spot the animals along the Safari and point them out to you. Photography, however, is a challenge, as the vehicle stops momentarily at best.
We find if we get a driver from Africa, we ask them questions, most are very happy to talk about their homeland Also although all the drivers have a prepared script they are only too happy to answer questions about the animals.
If you don’ t want a bumpy ride, and it can get very bumpy, ask to sit in the front of the truck. The ride feels bumpiest in the back. Some drivers will hit every pothole in the road, but most will warn you before you leave the dock.
When you arrive at the boarding station you step into your jeep and head into the animal reserve. Your driver begins radio contact with a pilot, and off you and your jeep goes, down the bumpy dirt trail and into Africa.
Your driver will point out the various wildlife for you. Bongos are hiding around the first bend, look quickly or you might miss these shy creatures.
Passing the local watering hole you might see the Black Rhino. On the right, the rare Okapi. Hippos are at the base of cascading waterfalls.
The Vehicle emerges from thick vegetation into the vast savannah grasslands. In this area you might see Giraffes, Thomson’ s Gazelle and Ostriches. The land is very different here and is accented by termite mounds up to 20 feet high.
On the left is a huge rock formation where the Mandrill Baboon family lives. Around the next bend are the Elephants.
The radio contact picks back up as the pilot searches for Big Red and Little Red (elephants). The ancient baobab trees can be found in this area and Pink Flamingoes inhabit a tiny island that legend says is in the form of a Hidden Mickey.
In the watering holes, you might see the white rhinos wallowing in the mud. There are other hoofed animals and cheetahs up among the rocks. I must admit we have not seen the cheetahs on every visit.
Coming around the last bend, your attention will quickly be drawn to the high rock formation on your left, where the King and Queen of the Savannah reside, the Kopje Lions. However they are usually not very active as Lions do spend the majority of their day sleeping
The jeep takes off; you hear gunshots and smoldering campfires. Finally, the poachers are in custody. The pilot waves to you and you’ ll find that Little Red is safe!
This is where your safari ends, as the vehicle rejoins the main roads and the Park Ranger Station comes into view.
Great ride although bumpy and one we return to time and time again.
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