Safari Wilderness Ranch: Fun animal encounters off the beaten path in Central Florida
Welcome to Safari Wilderness Ranch, a Central Florida destination that runs daily tours through their property, featuring everything from Alligators to Zebras. They even have a ZeDonk (half zebra, half donkey — see the last picture in the photo gallery at the bottom). Reservations are necessary, as the number of visitors are limited due to impact on the area.
On my recent tour, or natural adventure as they call it in their brochure, I really enjoyed seeing and even getting to feed animals right from the open safari vehicle.
The ranch is located in Lakeland, which is basically the half way point between Orlando and Tampa and is easily reachable from both points. When you arrive you see a large gate surrounded by grassy areas and cypress trees. You check in for your adventure at the small gift shop within view of the zebras and then get seated on the safari vehicle, which has stadium seating for easy viewing. On this tour, the first animals we ran into were Watusi Cattle — there were quite a few of them and fun to watch as they interacted with each other with those very large horns! Then we saw Barbary Sheep which look like mountain goats, and Asian Water Buffalo which turned out to be very friendly and approached the truck to get fed some treats the staff provided. We also saw Water Bucks and different types of Deer and Antelope, Warthogs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and various birds such as the Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, and the Roseate Spoonbill.
The tour is narrated and we were told a bit about each animal as we saw them. It took over an hour and half, there was plenty of time to take as many pictures as you wanted, and ask any questions you had. The property is picturesque; it is surrounded by the Green Swamp, an important environmental area for the Florida water supply. The tour is also offered by horse and carriage, and entirely by camel!
Add-ons to the regular vehicle safari can be a 10-minute camel ride or a Ring tailed Lemur feeding. The Lemurs were quite cute. We were given grapes to feed them and told that the Lemurs would approach and grasp your hand lightly to get to the grape before eating it. They were very friendly, or maybe they just love grapes but having them grasp your fingers to get to the grape was quite endearing.
I had never ridden a camel before, so I also did the 10-minute camel ride which was an enjoyable way to end my “adventure”. They have platforms from which to get on and off the camels and they have saddles for comfort.
Pricing and scheduling information can be found at safariwilderness.com or by calling 813-382-2120, which is the number to call for reservations as well. I found Safari Wilderness to be a great way to spend a morning or afternoon where the deer and the antelope play.
Safari Wilderness Ranch – photo gallery
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Safari Wilderness Ranch – map
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