The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of the best zoos in the world. Many long-time San Diego residents visit on a regular basis. For those wanting a more in-depth experience, the Safari Park offers a wealth of additional activities. This is our guide to San Diego Zoo Safari Park Add-On Activities.
NOTE: These are add-on options. Make sure you read our guide to basic tickets as well.
Upfront, I will say we have collectively visited the Safari Park many times in its history and have never gone beyond the basic admission activities. There is plenty to see and do already included. Basic admission includes the Tram Safari which has always kept us happy. However, if you want to take your experience to the next level, there are many options.
Most of the add-on options are called safaris because they allow you up-close animal interactions, much like you would experience on an African Safari. The original safari is called the Caravan Safari where you travel in the back of an open truck. However, the Safari Park has since added some less expensive safaris.
Note prices for safaris vary based on time of years and the prices listed are minimums. Also, the prices do NOT include basic admission.
Balloon Safari (prices vary, generally around $20, ages 11 and under require adult)
The Balloon Safari is by far the shortest and least expensive experience. The balloon is tethered to the ground and carries up to 30 passengers 400 feet into the air. Obviously, this gives visitors a great view of the park and surrounding landscape. The entire ride takes 10 to 15 minutes. Usually, it is not very crowded.
Caravan Safari (starting at $125, minimum age is 6 for Caravan Safari Kids, 8 for the regular Caravan Safaris)
The Caravan Safari is the longest running and most popular safari. It is a 2-hour ride in a safari truck where you get up close with the animals. This includes an opportunity to feed giraffes and rhinos. During summer months there is also a Caravan Safari Twilight. There is also a 3.5-hour Caravan Safari Deluxe that starts at $175 a person.
Cart Safari (starting at $54, all ages)
The Cart Safari is a substantially less expensive 1-hour tour in a cart. You can choose from either the Cart Safari Africa or the Cart Safari Asia. This is more like an enhanced version of the Tram Safari that is included with admission. It is good for families with small children.
Cheetah Safari (starting at $59, ages 10 and up)
The Cheetah Run, daily at 3:30, is a prime attraction. However, it can also get quite crowded. The Cheetah Safari allows you to get up close reserved seating. After the run, you get a meet and greet photo-op with the cheetah and its trainer. Note the basic admission includes the Cheetah Run. This simply gives you up-close access.
Jungle Ropes Safari (starting at $54, ages 7and up)
The Jungle Ropes Safari is a 90-minute adventure climbing through rope courses. You are harnessed in and walk across obstacles including tightropes, swinging platforms. There are three different trails to choose from. This is a much-enhanced version of the Sky Ropes on the beach at Belmont Park. We have not done this course, but we have done similar ones. My main comment would be that it can seriously freak out younger kids. Make sure your kids are prepared. Also note ages 7-15 must be accompanied by an adult age 18+.
Flightline Safari (starting at $79, ages 8 and up)
Taking it up a notch is the Flightline Safari. You actually have two zip lines. The short Fledging run prepares you for the main zip line. This 2/3 of a mile zip line starts at the top of the hill by Condor Ridge and goes right over the prime animal habitats. Ages 8 to 15 must be accompanied by a paid adult over the age of 18.
Behind-the-Scenes Safari (starting at $89, ages 3 and up)
For a closeup interaction with a specific animal, the San Diego Safari Park has several behind the scenes safaris. Each one is 2 hours long and starts at $89.
The Behind-the-Scenes Safaris include:
- Elephants and Friends
- Roos and Mates (in the new Walkabout Australia)
- Rhino Rescue Center (ages 6 and up)
- Tiger and Friends
- Lion and Friends
- Cheetah and Friends
- Veterinary Medical Center (ages 6 and up)
Roar & Snore Safari (starting at $140, ages vary but the minimum is 3)
The Roar & Snore Safaris offer a chance to camp out at the Safari Park. This is a popular outing for school groups and scouting groups. However, there are also options for families and some dates are reserved for only adults age 21 and over.
The camping tents are relatively luxurious and overlook the giraffes on the African Plain. You can upgrade to a Vista Tent with a view for $40 more per person. A more luxurious premium Tent with a queen size bed and electrical outlets is available for $220 per person.
The price includes dinner, breakfast, a snack, guided walks and campfire programs.
Ultimate Safari (starting at $690, age 2 and under is $50)
The Ultimate Safari allows you to build your own adventure for either 5 or 8 hours. Basically, you get your own guide and plan what you want to do. This means you could try and do abbreviated versions of all of the above safaris (except Roar & Snore). Of course, the age minimums for each activity will still apply.
For more information on the basic attractions at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and suggested ways to plan your visit go here.