Monday, January 28, 2013

Safari....who knew

I know what you're all thinking.......did I kill anything? No, all the delicious morsels of zebra, buffalo, deer and pot belly pigs are still out there happily going about their lives completely oblivious to the pack of Chief brand curry I keep in the car for emergencies

So yes, the thought did cross my mind.

Just a little more than an hour's drive south-west of Atlanta, hidden away in Pine Mountain Georgia is this place generically named Wild Animal Safari. With the wildly popular Callaway Gardens located just nearby, it's really a shocker that not many people know about this place. For all intents and purposes, the operators have done a decent job trying to replicate what one might expect on a real life African safari.

You really have to start thinking in terms of a cross between Yellow River Game Ranch, and ZooAtlanta (sans the cages). Wild Animal Safari seems like a damn good place to take kids as everything is basically quite tame and mostly harmless and there is an additional walking area with some of the more dangerous safari animals in caged enclosures. You really didn't think they'd let the lions and tigers roam free did you? Yeah I know what you're thinking, I was hoping they would actually..............pity.

Oddly enough, it's the zebras I found to be the most aggressive enthusiastic species around. Individually they were somewhat well behaved but once packs of them started getting together, a mob mentality took over and I eventually had to abandon hand feeding altogether preferring to throw feed on the ground instead. I'd decided to take the cheap route which meant I drove my own vehicle through the park rather than renting one of theirs. A little piece of one of theirs, it only costs $15 to get one of  their little vans for the hour or so it takes to cover the course.

Was my vehicle damaged or destroyed? 

Nope, not at all; other than some giraffe slobber on my seats, and animal drool all over the exterior, my car suffered no damage. But I found it difficult to truly enjoy myself because of the constant fear that something was going to happen. On more than one occasion I saw 1,500 pound buffalo headbutting deer away from food  right next to me. Imagine what it could have done to the car! 

Yeah so next time I'm definitely renting. 

Most of the little bastards will stick their heads completely in the car window so there's some risk that a deer could get caught on a rear view mirror. The park staff  remind you to keep windows either all the way up or all the way down as some animals have been known to get stuck on half-rolled up windows..  

I forgot to mention there is a free bus available but not always. The complimentary shuttle doesn't run at all in January but presumably if you plan your trip out there in the Spring, Summer or Fall, that option should be available. And of course there is also the walking tour for the less adventurous which is set up just like a typical zoo. but with animals you wouldn't normally expect to see. 

Where have you ever seen a Liger (lion and tiger crossbreed)? Lions, tigers, black bears, baboons, a couple wolves and even a pair of hyenas among others rounded out what has got to be one of the best day trips I've had out here in Georgia yet.

I'm thinking of going back there myself but this time with a much bigger crew. Just think, ten or so trinis in a bus, possibly a cooler with drinks surrounded by wild animals.....what could possibly go wrong? 

Just don't be surprised in a few weeks when you get the inevitable phone call for a curry wild meat lime.

Wild Animal Safari, Inc.
1300 Oak Grove Road
Pine Mountain, GA 31822

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