With their two little ones in tow (Jessica is 2 1/2, Christina is 9 months), Carrie and Jeff Knight celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary at Safari West, a 400-acre African wildlife and educational preserve just outside Santa Rosa, California. Giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and 400 species of wildlife roam the grounds, never far from the luxury tent-cabins that have hot-water showers, handcrafted furnishings, and hardwood floors. "There were no telephones, no TV, no cell phone service, no distractions -- it was awesome," says Jeff. "My girls got three uninterrupted days with Dad. That's rare."
Each day there's an adventure in store, especially for the kids. Games and supervised activities include scavenger hunts (locating various animals with clues, such as "I am the fastest mammal on land." The answer: cheetah) and hikes to Catfish Lake. "Wild Kids Night" is a favorite weekend program offered May through September, which includes dinner, games, a wildlife lecture from one of the naturalists on staff, and folktales around the campfire. A teen program can be designed with advance notice.
The Knights took advantage of one of several guided Safari Tours during which they sighted rare and endangered African wildlife and learned little-known facts about the bush from their guide, a botanist whose expertise knew no bounds. "She explained that the striping on the zebras is based on climate, terrain, and survival," says Jeff. The bumpy and often washed-out roads lent the safari an authentic African feel.
Parents can opt for a round of golf, tennis, or full spa treatments while children are engaged in activities provided by the staff. Safari West is accredited by American Zoo and Aquarium.
For information call 800-616-2695 or visit www.safariwest.com.
Continued on page 2: Mission Point on Mackinac Island