Going on Safari – Tampa style

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Have you ever dreamed of going on Safari in Africa to see wildlife roaming in the open fields and not in segregated enclosures?  Well what would you say if I told you that you can have that experience without having to fly to Africa?  What would you think if I told you, you can go on Safari deep in the heart of Tampa?  Don’t believe me?  I have two words for you.

Busch Gardens

That’s right.  Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.  The land of wild rollercoasters and whirling rides is home to one of the first open air zoos in the country.

Opened in 1965, “The Serengeti Plain” started with 29 acres of land dedicated to the animals transferred there and has grown to a whopping 65 acres.

The animals living on the plain are diverse yet compatible.  All are herbivores so you never have to worry about a predator getting the munchies and every female is checked to see if she is in a “dating” mood.  If so, she is separated from the herd and spends her time in the “love shack”. (My words, not theirs)  The love shack must work well because over the years many “kids” have been born at the zoo.  There’s also an “exchange” with other zoos to promote diversity.

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So what animals do you get to see on this safari? How about Zebras, Rhinos, Addax, Bongos, Impalas, Storks, Ibis, and Giraffes?  You get to see all these animals roaming freely around the 65 acre habitat as you ride along in the back of a truck.  A fleet of ford F-350s has been slightly modified for safety and giving the rider the best views possible.  There are fold down benches for those that need them, but expect to stand the entire 30 minutes of the trip.  If you have a large crowd going, don’t worry, the trucks fit 18 people with ease.  (Although I do recommend calling ahead if you are planning to go as a large group.)

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It goes without saying, bring your camera.  There’s lots to see and the picture opportunities are outstanding!

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Also expect some up close and personal attention from the giraffes.  They get that way when they know they are about to be fed.  Did I tell you that you get to feed the giraffes on this safari?  No?  Well you do!

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The guide on the trip will hand out scrumptious green leaves to everyone in the group so they can each have their own one on one time with the giraffes.  Be careful though, some of the older giraffes are tricky and will try to sneak all your leaves so they can get the next persons.

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If the giraffes get over excited and reach a little too far, don’t worry, they can’t hurt you.

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Your hand might get a little wet, but that’s ok; the guides have gallons of liquid sanitizer at the ready.

Besides feeding the giraffes, experts literally climb aboard mid-trip to tell you all about the animals and answer any questions you may have.  A half hour flies by quick and before you know it, you’re back at the station with great pictures, memories, and stories to tell.

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Prices range anywhere from $19 to $39 depending on the season and time of the trip. (They even have a sunset safari for the truly exotic.)

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If you ever wanted to go on safari but can’t fund crossing the pond to do it, come to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and try their Serengeti Plains.  It’s an experience worth having.

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