Give them credit. Disney knows how to show you a good time and the “Wild Africa Trek” at Animal Kingdom is no exception at all.
My wife and I recently took this three-hour tour for her birthday and we came back very impressed.
The tour kicks off near the “Kilimanjaro Safaris” entrance where our small group of twelve met for their 11:45 tour. Once there, we were greeted, asked to sign the standard waivers (it’s dangerous out there after all) and from there began prepping for the afternoon.
For the safety of the animals, the tour only allows you to bring hats, sunglasses and cameras (everything else goes into complimentary lockers). Each guest is outfitted with a harness (more later), given a water bottle (to keep) and directed to complimentary sunscreen and bug spray (which were definitely encouraged).
The tour involves a hike through the woods, walking two rope bridges, more hiking and finally a driving safari similar to the “Kilimanjaro Safaris” attraction, but with some detours and a lunch. As a result of all the activity, you should be in good health and you need to dress appropriately in proper shoes and long shorts or pants.
All and all, the experience was great. Our guides were Lani and Benji, who were quite knowledgeable, in addition to being extremely pleasant. Along the way we encountered a number of other cast members who treated us equally as well.
As seems to always be the case with Disney, the emphasis was on safety and providing a top notch experience. During the first half of the tour, our harnesses were checked regularly as we were frequently attached to safety equipment while we stood over hippos, and crocodiles, or while we had to transverse two long rope bridges. At no time, however, did we ever feel like we were in any danger, which was nice.
They also made sure we were comfortable, offering plenty of water refilling stations, “Frosty Towels” after our hike (which were amazing) and a magnificent lunch prepared by the chefs at the Tusker House.
If you are never going to take this tour, here were some of the educational highlights:
- Hippos are responsible for more deaths each year than lions or elephants. They are very territorial. Do not get between a hippo and its water!
- Florida is the only place in the world to have both alligators and crocodiles (“Yay!” he said sarcastically).
- Giraffes take short naps for only a few minutes at a time. In total, they only sleep for about 1/2 an hour per day.
- Elephants hate bees and farmers in Africa use bee hives to keep the elephants away from destroying their crops
- Poachers make very little money and, in an effort to reduce poaching, many former poachers are being taught to conduct photo safaris or they are being hired as security on animal preserves.
All told this was a great experience, but understand it’s not cheap. In addition to requiring park admission, the tour was nearly $200 per person. In our case, thankfully, there was a deal going for $50 off per person for the summer. I believe I was told this one of the tours which did not offer a discount for annual passholders, but it’s always smart still to inquire.
The cost did include the lunch and you get to download all of the photos they took on the tour for free (unlimited personal use) which are made available later that day on a special website for which you receive an access code. A portion of the proceeds also goes to the Disney Conservation Fund, so all told not too bad.
If you can foot the bill, it’s a good time. As I have always felt with Disney, you do get your money’s worth.
Five out of five rhinos.
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