SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Safari West, one of the North Bay's most popular non-wine attractions, is about to reopen giving visitors the opportunity to see Africa's living wildlife treasures, COVID-19 safe.
The renowned facility has been through recession, fire storms and pandemic.
Having gone on many African photo safaris myself in 6 nations, Safari West is closer and far less expensive.
Safari West is a truly remarkable safari park, home to more than a thousand African animals that live and roam on its 400 acre expanse of Sonoma County near Santa Rosa.
Normally closed in January and February for maintenance and upgrades, founder Peter Lang knew that the shutdown was inevitable.
"We did not even open in the beginning of March," said Lang.
Animal care and ongoing maintenance needs required Lang to retain staff for those functions, but the visitors and their money were completely gone.
However, now, more that five and a half months since it had its last guest, the facility will be open to the public on Saturday for day visits and Friday night for overnight tent stays.
"We, of course, spent the last three weeks getting everything sort of COVID compliant with all the barriers, safety signage," said Lang.
Masks will be essential, plastic barriers will separate folks who would otherwise be in close quarters, the buffet will be gone, replaced by individual table service, and the safari vehicles will have barriers where needed to separate different groups from each other as they roam the reserve.
"I think that everybody will be sort of used to the conditions that we're going to be operating under because they're gonna be operating under those conditions just everyday in their normal life," said Lang. The rules will be enforced for everyone's health and safety.
And, unlike safaris in Africa where you go to specific locations, Safari West brings the animals of from all over Africa to one place.
"You will actually see more species of African animals when you go out on our safaris because we have animals from throughout Africa," said Lang.
Since Safari West announced it's reopening by e-mail to previous visitors, it has already received more than 300 reservations and hopes for many more.