-by Darlin’ Diva
I can’t say enough about how much I love the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition in Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Every time I take a tour around the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, I act like I’ve never seen any of the animals before in my life (and may never see them again). I take a million pictures. As if my life depends on it. Every. Single. Time. In my opinion, this is without a doubt a can’t-be-missed attraction at Walt Disney World.
Once the safari begins, I can’t just sit in the vehicle and happily listen to the guide as we ride along on our exotic animal-spotting expedition. I hear, “Jambo, Everyone!” and I immediately start swiveling and craning, camera ever at the ready – snapping pictures like crazy! WHY!?! What causes this irresistible urge to photograph every single animal over and over again? How many pictures of giraffes eating does one family need? Heart pounding, on the edge of my seat (much to the amusement of my children) – I am completely captivated from start to finish. That, my friends, is what sets this experience apart from the average zoo. The animals are plentiful all along the way – hanging out, doing their thing and looking as happy to be there as I am! You really do get the feeling that you are in their territory on an exciting adventure, ready to expect the unexpected.
TIP: Very young children may feel the most secure one parent away from the very outside seat. That way, mom or dad can point out all the best sights while still allowing little ones to feel safe should an animal wander a bit close.
TIP: If you haven’t yet enjoyed this grand adventure in Animal Kingdom’s Africa section – try to hit it as early in the day as possible while everybody out there on the savannah is feeling perky and moving around. Once in the park, head for the Tree of Life. Once you’ve crossed the bridge onto Discovery Island, keep the Tree on your right as you go back along its left side. You’ll cross one more bridge and then you’ll be in Africa! The line for the Safari moves quickly and is a well-themed, shaded queue. The tour takes about 18 minutes as you wind along curvy, dirt roads – over bridges, through creeks and rocky ravines – all around the 100 acres of African habitat.
If you’re arriving later in the day and miss the early morning opportunity – it’s still a great experience. You may see a few less animals in the heat of the day, but you will still see many different species – it’s still worth trying. I’ve taken the safari at various times of the day and have never been disappointed. And while I haven’t yet had the opportunity to take the safari at sunset, I hear that’s an especially beautiful time of day to see the landscape (if not a bunch of animals).
The variety of animals that can be seen is simply amazing and, if you’re lucky, many of them get pretty close to you as you’re bumping along safely in your open-air tour vehicle. I prefer sitting close to the front (if I can manage it) and at either end of the bench seat (to minimize the number of times I accidentally take a picture of the back of someone’s head).
TIP: Posted at the front of the safari vehicle is a handy animal-spotting guide with pictures and descriptions that help you identify different species while on safari. Your driver/guide will also point out sights and provide interesting facts and information.
Among the many animals you can see (and photograph!) are rhinos, lions, wildebeest, crocodiles, antelope, giraffe hippos, elephants, okapi, mandrills, and many others. Go ahead, take some pictures (or hundreds). I’ve decided that for some of us, that’s just how we answer the call of the wild.
Until next time…Darlin’ Diva