The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is huge. With 1,800 acres, first-time visitors can be overwhelmed. Luckily, the actual walking portion of the park is much manageable. Fun Diego Family has put together two San Diego Zoo Safari Park Walking Guides. This is our San Diego Zoo Safari Park Afternoon Tour.
The tour is best done when you are arriving at the Safari Park later in the day. It saves the Africa Tram and Lemur Walk for near the end. This is because the animals will tend to be more active from 4 pm onwards.
If you come early in the day check out our morning tour.
Note these tours do not take into account shows or special events like the Cheetah Run at 3:30. Also, we are not discussing dining options. The good news is that the Safari Park has food options throughout the park. If you get hungry you will never be far from a place to eat.
To make navigation easier, there are 19 locator signs throughout the Safari Park. We will be referring to these locator signs and suggest you also pick up a park map at the entrance.
The initial part of the tour will take you to the higher areas of the park, above the plains. As you enter the park go right through Wings of the World Aviary. This will put you into the Safari Base Camp area. Go past the carousel to locator 2 at the Safari Walk.
From locator 2 heap up Safari Walk to locator 17. Go left towards Walkabout Australia at locator 18. Walkabout Australia is the newest area of the park and is still in development. Be sure not to miss the Bonsai Pavilion, to the left, at the top of Walkabout Australia.
Walkabout Australia ends at a gift shop at the entrance to World Gardens and Condor Ridge. Going left will take you to the World Gardens loop along Garden Trail. Going right will take you to Condor Ridge.
The Garden Trail has been under construction in recent years. This is a scenic area with a focus on plants. There are no animals and it is uphill. So, if you have children consider this loop optional.
Whether you take Garden Trail or not, you will head down Condor Trail to Condor Ridge. The Condor Trail loops downhill towards locator 19. At this point turn left towards Tiger Trail. You can also visit the short Epiphyllum Trail and African Overlook.
Tiger Trail loops clockwise through the tiger exhibit, play area and back to locator 17. Note, halfway through there is a trail that seems to lead downhill towards the elephants. This trail will eventually connect to the lower area, but for now is a dead-end.
From locator 17 you take the short Safari Walk back to locator 2 and the Safari Base Camp. From here head past locators 3 and 4 down Nairobi Walk through Nairobi Village. Nairobi Village has the Bat Exhibit, a petting zoo, a small playground, meerkats and the animal nursery. This is also where the add-on Jungle Ropes Safari is located.
At locator 6, turn right and continue counter-clockwise around the Lagoon Loop which runs parallel to Nairobi Walk. You will cross a bridge over a waterfall and turn right onto Gorilla Trail. Gorilla Trail heads past Gorilla Forest and the Water-Wise Garden at locator 7.
Past Benbough Amphitheater (home of the bird show) you will come to the Samburu Jungle Gym playground. The playground is not easily visible from here so you can safely walk past it without the kids noticing.
From here you are on Africa Walk which takes you to locator 9 which has three walk-in attractions. There is the Hidden Jungle, Lorikeet Landing and the new Lemur Walk. Lemur Walk lets you walk right in the exhibit with lemurs. They are most active from 4 PM onwards which is why we suggest doing this later in the tour.
From the Lemur Walk turn right and walk a short distance down to the elevators. The elevators are situated above the plains of the Safari Park. They provide a great view of the area. Take the elevator down to locator 11. Head a short distance past the Savanna Cool Zone water play area to locator 14. You will go past Cheetah Run and the Lion Camp to point 13 which is the Africa Tram.
At this point, you have several options. The Cheetah Run is at 3:30 and can attract crowds. If you come around 3:30 it can be a great time to ride the Africa Tram. However, as the Cheetah Run show ends, the Africa Tram can get crowded.
Assuming the line is not too bad, ride the 30-minute Africa Tram. This is one of the Safari Park’s premier attractions. It is best done in the early morning and later in the day when animals are most active.
You either get on the tram and follow this trail after you exit, or do the African Loop and ride the tram at the end of the loop.
From the Africa Tram you will exit (or bypass to ride later) and go clockwise through the African Outpost. The African loop goes to Jameson Research Island to locator 12 and ends at locator 10 by the elevators.
Here you can ride the tram if you did not do see earlier. The tram will put you back where you started near the elevators. Either way, you will want to head a short distance past the elevators to locator 14 by the Lion Camp and Cheetah Run.
Take the African Plains Trail counterclockwise to Kijamii Overlook and on to Kilma Point. At locator 15 you will come to the Herb Garden. There are plans to connect this trail with the Tiger Trail and the upper parts of the Safari Park. However, for now, you will need to head back to the center of the park.
From locator 15 you will head past Elephant Valley and Tembo Stadium (once used for elephant shows). This will put you at locator 16. From here you will go under the bridge and up-the-hill to Nairobi Village.
At this point, you will have toured almost all the walking areas of the Safari Park. Turn right down Nairobi Walk to locators 3 and 4 where you can turn left to the exit.
On our way out, we like to stop at the Plant Trader gift shop and check out the talking Cockatoo there.
As mentioned, this is our San Diego Zoo Safari Park Afternoon Tour. When we come to the Safari Park first thing in the morning we reverse things up and take our San Diego Zoo Safari Park Early Morning Tour.
For detailed guides to each area of the Safari Park go here.