On our recent trip to Walt Disney world, I felt it was time to do things that I’d always wanted to do, but never got a chance or felt I’d do them next time. Some of these things boil down to cost, but it started to enter my head that, it’s only money. The value of the currency is different within Walt Disney World compared to the… outer areas!! If you looked at the price over the experience you wouldn’t be buying a bottle of wine at $50 in a restaurant or $20+ for a cocktail. This is Disney and it’s where dreams are made and bank accounts emptied.
For my Birthday last year I requested that I would be allowed to do a tour. We never discussed which one, but any tour was my option. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is, in my opinion, the best Theme Park Disney has to offer. Its over looked in its theme design as the majority of guests are looking for fast rides and not experiences. The Africa section just blows me away with the detailing, even down to badly painted signs and lumpy rendering. At the time of my birthday request there was a tour called Wild by Design. The pricing was reasonable and it covered the theming elements that I love, but sadly it was removed. My second choice was Wild Africa Trek. The only reason it was second choice was the price. For a 3 hour experience I felt it was a little steep at $189 for children and $249 for Adults. We may have got an additional 15% discount with our resort / Ticket booking, but I’ll be honest. When the numbers went over 200 I started to blank it out.
For information purposes there are many restrictions guests have to comply with. Weight and Age are just two. For example Children need to be 8 years and over… My daughter was 7 and a half! Ages weren’t checked, but weights were.
The Wild Africa Trek is an experience like not other, its part walking, part dining and part bouncing around in a crate on the back of a truck.
Our trek consisted of 7 guests and 2 tour guides. The guides Moira and Krista were in control of everything on the trek, from kitting us up, safety, informative narration, navigation, photography and Dishing out the food platter.
Safety is a high priority at Disney and this trek was double checked. You weren’t allowed anything on that was loose. Everything had to be removed and stored before you could kit up. Even the fondly attached Magic band had to be removed. Moira helped us into our harnesses and adjusted the straps, before handing over a water bottle, which was then attached by clip and strip to the harness. Our sunglasses were removed and attached to neck strings to prevent them falling off. Even my GoPro (cough cough clone) was attached into a pocket. The disclaimer… You need to sign a waiver before your allowed on the trek, this includes the acknowledgement of potential animal based disease exposure. After looking at the text without my glasses on for a few minutes, I signed and we were shown to the bug spray and sun cream.
Finally we were given ear pieces, for listening in to the tour guides conversation with out them needing to shout. This made the tour feel personal. Unfortunately, My daughter didn’t realise that she was supposed to be hearing the narration and I thought she could hear it, so for the first 15 minutes we followed through chatting and watching the observations.
The Trek starts in the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, which is one of my must do attractions here.
We walked past the Cotton Top Tamarins, who were hiding on their platforms and into the Aviary. One of the many interesting new details for me was these yellow birds. Apparently when they were introduced into the trail, they started nest building. Through out this section you’ll see hanging on branches their weaved nests.
Where Disney would usually get involved to theme a natural environment, they didn’t need to this time. Nature looked after their own building work.
On through the under water observation station. Its not always possible to get a clear view of the Hippo. Some times its almost like playing where Waldo. So, just for clarity The Hippo is stuck to the bottom of this white bird.
Now the exact details escape me now, but this handy map is guiding my a little. Before you get to the Savannah Outlook you take a left up through a locked gate. This is where you start you expedition into the WILD. As we weaved in and out of trees and shrubs, stepping over roots and branches, Moira and Krista kept us informed about the happenings with in the area. We were heading out to Hippo Country and if the schedules lined up we’d meet a Hippo Expert there.
Our hippo expert (I feel bad for getting his name) showed up with veggies for the Hippos. He beat the tub they were stored in to signal feeding time and slowly one hippo showed an interest.
The harness was attached to a rig behind which allowed us to have un obscured viewing s of the Hippos and gave you a feeling of freedom. As you can see here my Daughter is nearly at it’s full stretch, but is clearly relaxed.
The Obligatory photo opportunity was photobombed!
As we walked out of this outlook back toward the shrubs 4 people shouted “ALAN!” from a safari truck. I’d booked Fast passes on Kilimanjaro Safaris about 30 minutes after the Wild Trek started to try and get tour cross over. It worked 🙂
Next up is the most famous part of the trek, the high rope bridge. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how my daughter would deal with this. Particularly as it was “falling to bits” and above Crocodiles!
The guides told me to go first and Imogen to Follow. They were in charge and knew what they were doing. The Wooden board are space at various distances, the longest reach being around half a meter. I kept waiting for that call of “DAAAAD!”
It was around this point that I started to give up with my own photography and video. The trek crew were obviously doing a great job and I felt that I should just enjoy the moment and relax.
Under the bridges were Crocodiles. As I passed over them I spotted splatters of what looked like paint. It remind me of the floor in our house when I’ve done the ceiling! I asked about it.
Apparently when the crocs have been in for a health check they are tagged with paint to identify them. Obvious when you think about it. And there I was thinking it was that they were to close to the rehabs… everywhere else in Animal Kingdom.
Now it was time for the more relaxing section of the trek. The open safari tour. As we settled down into the truck, Krista handed us an amazing treat! A frozen lemon scented face cloth! She told us to fold it into a triangle and lay it over the back of our necks. WOOOOWWWWWW! This was amazing. After trekking and sweating it was exactly what was needed. In fact I enjoyed it a little too much and refused to remove the cloth for the whole day! (Photos to follow)
We drove out onto the Kilimanjaro safari track, but quickly turned off into a sheltered area where we met this Giraffe. There are lots of different types of giraffes. The Reticulated one is the one everyone knows about and this one is…. not that.
It looks a little like a Masai Giraffe, but I could be wrong. The Giraffe had strolled over to this quiet area to relax. Sadly for him these Sable Antelope thought it would be fun to disturb his peace.
The Elephants were cooling off with a mud bath
After about 30 – 45 minutes we headed to the raised dining / observation deck. We were handed binoculars and given a few minutes to look around while dinner was set out. My daughter was given a Childs meal package which we booked during reservation time. The main differences were that the soft brie cheese was replaced with a cheddar cheese. The Trail mix was mainly M&Ms.
Jungle juice was available to help your self to, but to be honest we were glugging back water so much I didn’t even consider trying it myself.
Before we got back into the truck to head back to Harambe we had a look about the station and posed for a few photos. On the back wall was a cabinet full of photos and interesting things. No one else had looked at them so I asked, what they were. Moira got a little excited and started to lift the items out.
Crocodile teeth – The croc has the ability to replace it teeth up to 50 times in its life. The teeth are stacked up like plastic cups in a pull out dispenser!
Bee Hive Fencing – After some research into elephants trampling crops, they found out that elephants don’t like Bees, possibly due to the thought of Bees up their trunks! So Scientists have worked with the villagers and created fences that double as Bee Hives. Which also gives the villagers a source of honey to sell / eat!
We slowly drove on through the safari trail and our guide spotted this Rhino in the bush. She also realised that sitting next to her was baby Kiama who was about 12 weeks old. Today was here first day in to the savannah. As we drove around to get a better view we spotted rangers in a pick up truck keeping an eye on her to make sure the integration was smooth.
Warthogs. They are always sleeping.
Finally it was time to get back to Harambe. We got out of the truck and walked a path via a donation box. We were given a stone to place into a box to choose an area of conservation, that we wanted to aid. Our choice was hoofed animals. We also received a Conservation Hero Badge. The Badge was special to just Wild Africa Trek guests. I also didn’t realise this, but there are several conservation badges specific to certain areas.
“Asante Sana” means Thank you Very Much. As we walked back it started to dawn on me that I should have remembered which locked I stored my stuff in.
So after the 3 hours in the wild, was it worth it? I can’t deny that the trek was a lot of money. $400 for a parent and child on top of theme park admission. However when it boils down to it it was very much worth it. I couldn’t get that experience elsewhere, we ate, were given souvenir bottles and badges, we were given (included in the price) all the photos I used in this article and many many more. I think there was 200+.
Our group was very intimate and it made it feel personal. If you had a question or an issue it was resolved and answered. I loved it so much I would do it over again next time, unlike another tour I did this holiday!
For more information about booking check out the link below.
My only gripe from the whole event was getting through the morning rush crowd to the check in desk at Rope drop. If you’ve been to Disney;s Animal Kingdom for opening you know there is a crazy mass of queuing, followed by a meandering route through the Oasis, before you hit the hub. Combine that with a Full Disney Transport bus from Port Orleans and I was ready for a morning cocktail by 9am (I resisted and enjoyed the water instead)