At the Disney Social Media Mom’s Celebration last month, each attendee was allowed to choose one activity on Saturday morning. Among the choices was the Wild Africa Trek — a private guided tour where guests get up close and personal with Animal Kingdom’s wild animals.
Before I had a chance to look at the other options, my good friend and Disney roommate, Melissa, twisted my arm into doing the Wild Africa Trek with her. Nevermind that I have equilibrium and dizziness issues, and there is a swinging rope bridge involved, I agreed to go along for the ride.
Did I mention I’m mildly afraid of heights?
But that’s the kind of friend I am.
Okay, so truthfully? I loved this experience. I loved it so much, in fact, that I plan to take my husband and kids on the Africa Trek when we go to Disney World next fall. So thank you, Melissa, for talking me into this adventure!
Facts about Wild Africa Trek
Since this is a private tour, there is an additional fee. I think it’s around $200 per person.
While you’re picking yourself up off the floor, let me tell you everything it includes.
The tour is 3-hours long, and lunch is provided.
You have two tour guides who are with you the entire time. While you’re on the tour, the guides take a ton of pictures, and you get a photo CD to take home.
Part of your equipment is an earpiece so you can hear the lead guide no matter how far ahead they are.
You also get a nice stainless steel water bottle as a momento of the trip.
To allow you to get right up close to some of the animals, you are fitted with an expedition harness that attaches to an overhead track. Here I am getting suited up.
They only allow 10-12 people on a tour, so you feel very VIP.
Our Wild Africa Trek
Here is a picture of part of our group, waiting to make our way to base camp and get suited up.
After getting outfitted with our vests and a test run on a shallow rope bridge, we headed out.
It’s fun watching the safari vehicles rumble through, knowing you are getting a super special VIP tour.
We were able to walk out onto a cliff and come within just a few feet of this hippo.
There are two rope bridges like this one.
As you can see, it is very safe, but out there in the middle when it started to sway in the breeze, my motion sickness set in and I had to take a deep breath and power through.
The second rope bridge wasn’t nearly as bad as the first, despite the fighting crocodiles in the river below.
After we were all safely across, we were able to climb down close to the water to observe the crocodiles in their habitat.
They were quite active while we were there. Someone asked if they were playing or fighting, and the guide responded dryly, “Crocodiles don’t play.” I certainly wouldn’t want to get in a turf war with one of those guys, I can tell you that.
About halfway through the tour, we were able to shed our vests and board a safari truck to see the savannah area. This is different than the typical tour truck, as we sat around the perimeter of the wagon and got to stop several times along the way to get up close to the animals wandering around.
This giraffe crossed the road right behind us as we were stopped.
This one stared at us for a while and then bent down for a drink.
Then we stopped to watch these two baby elephants play together in the water.
This rhino walked right up to our vehicle. He was so close, I could have reached out and touched him.
I didn’t, in case you were wondering.
Finally we made our way up to the “Boma” where lunch was waiting for us. Unfortunately I didn’t get a very good picture of the structure. I snapped this from our truck as we departed.
Inside, it was decorated with authentic African carvings and artwork such as this one.
And this was our view. I could have sat there all afternoon.
Our African-inspired lunch was provided by Tusker House. Everything inside our tins were edible, including that gorgeous flower.
Everything was delicious, from the curry-chicken salad to the roasted pepper hummus to the grilled shrimp. Oh and those smoked salmon pinwheels were AH-mazing. I’d go on the Africa Trek again just to have lunch!!
Of course, being Disney, they take special dietary needs into account. My lunch was gluten-free, and another woman on the trek had a shellfish allergy so her lunch varied slightly as well.
After a relaxing lunch, chatting and taking in the views of the “savannah,” we piled back into our safari truck and headed back to base camp where we were able to gather our belongings and bid one another farewell.
Disney’s Wild Africa Trek is the next best thing to visiting the continent itself. What really impressed me is that this is more than just a glorified zoo. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a conservation school and wildlife sanctuary. I loved this sign we passed through the tunnel on our way into the Pangani Forest.
You really do get a sense of what it might feel like in the wilds of Africa, with the comforting assurance that you are in no danger and without the uncomfortable trans-Atlantic plane flight. What could be better than that!?
If you’re considering the Wild Africa Trek, here are a few tips to consider.
- You must be eight years old and up.
- You cannot bring anything that is not attached to your person, so make sure your camera has a strap. Lockers are provided for all other belongings.
- If you are terribly afraid of heights or have any medical issues such as high blood pressure, or if you are pregnant, you should not participate.
- You will not be near a bathroom for at least two hours, so make sure to plan accordingly.
- You will be required to wear long shorts or pants and close-toed shoes.
- Consider the weather and time of year when booking your trip. It was about 80 degrees the day we went, and I wouldn’t want it to be any hotter. I’m glad we were there during the morning hours, when it’s cooler and the animals were more active.
I absolutely recommend this attraction if you are intrigued with Africa or enjoy animals or just want a break from all the lovable Disney characters. This is really a one-of-a-kind opportunity. I cannot wait to go back and take my family.