Safari West: The Sonoma Serengeti!

Maverick Kelly’s 52 Day Trips
7 min readMar 15, 2020

Today, our mission to take 52 awesome Bay Area day trips brings us to Safari West, a true safari-by-jeep experience. We get to see hundreds of animals normally found in the Sahara Desert of Africa!

Where is Safari West? It’s at Franz Valley Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404. That’s just a 90-minute drive from San Francisco/Oakland and a 17-minute drive from Santa Rosa’s downtown area!

This is also a great day trip from wine country: It’s a 25-minute drive from Napa; 15-minute drive from Calistoga and a 19-minute drive from Sonoma.

Here’s a pic of a jeep of other Safari guests (yes it was chilly that day — they provided blankets).

Safari West tickets were $93 per adult and $45 for our 4 year-old. An awesome deal.

Walking Tour First (Before the Safari-by-Jeep Ride)

Before getting in the jeep, we first went on a walking tour to see some of the smaller game. Here are animals we saw:


Lots of Cool Birds!

And Their Nests


Monkey (Black-and-White Colobus)

Check out the foot grip:


I had never heard of this cat. Pretty.


I’m glad the fence was between us. Constantly on the prowl.

Fennec Fox

This little guy was tiny (just a couple of pounds, but this is no stuffy — it’s got razer-sharp teeth):

Safari by Jeep

Now we began the safari jeep tour. Here’s the jeep we were going to get on.

Here are some highlights of animals we saw on the safari part of the tour:


We saw about a dozen:


This guy came up to our jeep and start pecking at our guide Jeff’s backpack.

Part of the fun of Safari West is the beautiful scenery (even without animals):

But let’s get back to the animals:


Water Buck




We learned that there is no predator to this 4,000 pound beast! No wonder it can just chill out and sleep much of the day:

Snacks before

Eating after

For a post-safari lunch, you can request to have a special South African Braai (pronounced “bry,”) BBQ. The cost for lunch is $18 per adult (13+ years) and $13 per child (4–12) + tax. Dinner is $29 per adult (13+ years and $17 per child + tax. We didn’t plan ahead on the Braai BBQ but wished we had.

Here are some pics of the indoor/outdoor areas you can eat:

Here’s the Braai BBQ:

Here are the sides:

We had a great time. Here’s some other info on Safari West that might help you:

  • What animals are at Safari West? — Check out to see a full list of their animals (our pics above show just a fraction).
  • Safari West Yelp — Yelp reviewers give Safari West 4.5 stars. Check out the 797 reviews for great pics of animals and the experience (including the overnight stay stuff which we didn’t do)
  • Trip Advisor Safari Park West (4.5 stars and 1,777 reviews) (They rank Safari West as the #1 of 74 things to do in Santa Rosa)
  • What’s the best seat on Jeep? The seats on top and the back row.
  • Who gets to sit on top of the jeep? Everyone can (if you’re tall enough) — you take turns.
  • Can kids sit on top of the jeep? Yes, but only if they are 45 inches or taller.
  • Is Safari West safe? We felt safe the whole time. The Guides are sharp and you stay in the jeep when you’re on the safari with the big game.
  • Do you get wet if it rains? You don’t have to. They have light rain jackets you can use for the walking tour. And you can sit under cover on the jeep. Or just bring rain gear!
  • How long is the tour? It’s 3 hours long. It breaks down to Walking tour (60 minutes); Food/bathroom break (they have a snack bar) (20 min); Safari Jeep Ride (1 hour and 45 min.)
  • Are there Safari West discounts? — The weekday prices are discounted slightly from the weekend prices. We didn’t see any other discounts/coupons/promo-codes online
  • Safari West Fire — There are a lot of rumors that the California wildfires affected Safari West. Our guide said they were all rumors. The animals did not have to evacuate and there were just some small fires that had to be put out. Interestingly, Safari West was protected from the fires because the animals graze on the grass so it’s a natural barrier to stop the fire!
  • Safari West Palm Beach — In researching Safari West we learned of a similar safari in Palm Beach Florida that looked cool: Safari West Palm Beach Drive-Through

Lunch Afterwards at The Charter Oak Restaurant in St. Helena

Since we flaked on making a reservation for the Safari BBQ, we chose to eat our late lunch at this tasty venue in St. Helena, Napa (about a 25 minute drive from Safari West).

The Charter Oak Restaurant has a grand entrance:

The place was lively with many locals:

Cool open flame wood fire heating up proteins!:

Creative feature at each table — drawers for each person that open up with napkin and silverware:

We had a friend chicken dish with rice (yummy):

And a kid’s burger and local greens salad (yummy as well):



Maverick Kelly’s 52 Day Trips

Hi! I’m Maverick. My mommy, daddy & me are on a mission to take 52 day trips around the San Francisco Bay Area! Thx for joining in the fun!