Some of my friends here invited me to go on a safari with them this week.
A safari? ooooookay, just because it's warm out does not make it a safari, I thought. Besides, this is not Africa - this is the Netherlands.
When we got home, my husband found the safari park's website online, which, admittedly, I did not really click around on. Click here for their link.
Tuesday afternoon came and my friends pulled up in their car with their 2 daughters age 10 and 7. (Perfect, my Dutch language level!) We drove past Breda, near Tilburg, and entered the Safari Park. They went to the ticket counter and got a ticket for me and then we started on the auto tour.
I was amused to see buses with names of various African cities: Johannesburg, Nairobi, etc. It reminded me of my friends in those places. These buses took groups around the park, and wherever one was stopped, I knew there were animals to see.
We first drove through an area with "tamer" animals like zebras and other types of deer and birds. Thus, we could drive with the windows open, which made for better quality photos.
The autosafari continued, and reminded me of what I've seen on TV/movies of "real" safaris in Africa -- only I wasn't in Africa, and this experience probably pales in comparison.
After a kilometer or so (that's a wild guess, as these roads wound around and around), we entered the more "dangerous" area, where signs warned us to keep our windows and doors closed. Wish I had taken a picture of that sign.
We saw a few cheetahs -not your average household kitty - but those were about the only impressive ones I remember seeing in this area.
After this, we came to another parking lot, and this time actually parked, munched on a quick picnic lunch, and then entered the park. Because of herfstvakantie - fall break - the place was packed with people.
The rest of the time was spent wandering through, trying to see which animals were outside. I would've liked to see some of the bears (like the Malaysian sun bear), but no such luck. The signs were mostly in Dutch, but with animal names written in English, German, and French as well. If I understood the park layout correctly, you could walk in one very large loop and see most of the animals that way.
Some of the bird exhibits allowed you to walk through a doorway with heavy plastic sheeting so that you were actually in the same area as the birds. As in, if you hopped over the fence, you could run after the birds and climb their trees. That would never "fly" (pardon my pun) in American zoos.
There were also playgrounds scattered throughout the park, as well as fun kids' activities. I also tried out the "How far can you jump?" activity -- I jump about as far as a frog (2m). Toward the end of the day, the girls jumped on a trampoline while we sat and talked.
Does anyone know if a park like this (with an "autosafari") exists in America? Or are there too many liabilities for American comfort?
I have now visited zoos in almost half of the countries I've visited: Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine, Israel, Turkey, Netherlands!
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