Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are you WILD About Animal Kingdom?

Have you done the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom?

When I first saw the buzz about Animal Kingdom’s new tour on the Disney Parks Blog a couple years ago, I knew I wanted in!  I immediately grabbed the phone and called, hoping there would be a Wild Africa Trek tour available for our February 2011 trip! We were told to arrive outside Tusker House Restaurant at 9:45a sharp with photo ID and be dressed ready to hike.

We arrived at Animal Kingdom for park opening at 9am that morning.  We took a few Photopass pictures and meandered through the park. We arrived at Tusker House and were directed off to the side, behind the restaurant. We checked in and were sent to our pre-tour bathroom break. There are no bathroom stops for the first half of the tour so things were feeling very authentic from the start!

Upon our return the rest of our group was gathering together and we were all asked to sign waivers.  We were given  lockers to leave our personal belongings.  All we took with us were our sunglasses and our digital cameras. We were then outfitted with vests that had belay hooks (which we were discreetly weighed for us to size) and shown how to clip ourselves into our gear.  We were given canteen water bottles so we wouldn't dehydrate out there on the savannah!

As we waited for the whole group to be outfitted we were given the famous “Jungle Juice" from Tusker House! We learned to clip our harnesses into a cable line and walked a practice bridge in prep for the excursion. Things were starting to get real!

We met our two tour guides and our Wild Africa Trek officially began! We headed through the park towards the Pangani Exploration Trail.  We stopped to explore some of the trees and other flora in the park and headed right into the Gorilla Sanctuary. 

We hiked for a few minutes and then stopped to view a hippo skull. Next we came upon a crocodile skull and our awesome tour guide gave us some facts about these beasts.
After hiking a little farther, we came out on the water overlooking the hippo area of Animal Kingdom’s habitat.  The hippos were not on our side of the water but we got to practice hanging out over the water for the Nile crocodiles that were up ahead.  We got some really cool photos of ourselves behind the scenes at Kilimanjaro Safaris.  The ride was heading right on through and we got to practice our Disney prince and princess waves!

We then headed back in for a short hike which brought us to our first of a bunch of bridges that suspended us over the hippos, and then the crocs! This was so amazing I can’t describe it.  We were harnessed and hooked into cable lines and went out over the Disney swamps individually.  We were given instructions before hand and felt completely safe.  We had plenty of time to stop, enjoy the views and take pictures if we wanted.  (No more than 2 people were allowed on the bridge at once.) 

We spent about twenty minutes to a half hour exploring the different rope bridges and learning about the different habitats and the Nile crocs!  We then got up close and personal while leaning over the crocodiles below.  This was an incredible once in a lifetime experience!  Crocodiles look incredibly prehistoric and it was crazy how scary they truly are up close. They honestly were so slow moving they didn't look real.

After we left the crocs we hiked back towards our VIP safari.  On the way we saw some animals and took a couple more group photos before un-harnessing and leaving our vests behind to board our vehicle.
Once on board we placed our water bottles (ours to keep!) under our seats and grabbed the provided binoculars.  We were wowed by the amazing animals on the savannah.  We saw antelope, giraffes, wildebeests, elephants, and a bunch of African cattle whose names I can’t remember.  I was in awe at all the animals we were able to see that day!  We were able to pull over in multiple areas for better viewing as we made our way around the Kilimanjaro Safari! Seeing the baby elephants was a highlight for us!
We made our way towards our “Boma." A Boma is a structure on the savannah that sits high enough to see the flora and fauna. We were able to view animals and enjoy our meal.  The Boma was an interesting piece of architecture made of hand-carved wood and a thatched roof. Our food was served in an impressive steel tiered canister.  The food was great.  This was my favorite lunch of our entire trip! There was all sorts of safari fare including fresh melon, dried apricots, brie, prosciutto, salmon stuffed with creamy dill, sweet bread, and pita pockets.  I took the beautiful edible flower and promptly stuck it in my hair.

After our meal, we piled back into our tour vehicle for the last leg of our tour.  More fabulous animal viewing were to come.  Ostriches, rhinos, lions, and more cattle appeared for our pleasure.

Some may consider the rest a spoiler so read at your own risk…

We were given Conservation hero pins (these are the somewhat generic pins that they give you when you donate to the Disney Conservation Fund) and told that a percent of our tour price was going toward the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.  The pins we received were Animal Kingdom specific.  I like these pins.  We turned ours into magnets and I smile when I see them on the fridge.  We were able to choose which animal we would like our donation to go to which I just love.

As the final piece of the tour, we were given a certificate and a Disney Photopass card.  The Photopass card had all the images of our tour! The certificate was a code to receive a Photopass CD with all the images on it for free!  Isn’t that wonderful?

The Wild Africa Trek is well worth the price tag.

All images (c) to Picturing Disney and/or Disney's Photopass.  Images may not be used without express written permission. 

1 comment :

  1. Awesome review! This is on our Disney bucket list!