Safaris at San Diego Zoo Safari Park – prices, duration, timings

Image: Savvycalifornia.com

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a 1,800-acre wild animal enclosure in the San Pasqual Valley area of San Diego, California, near Escondido. 

More than two million locals and tourists visit San Diego Safari Park annually to get closer to wildlife and have animal encounters. 

At this Safari Park, visitors can choose from 13 different safaris, each better than the other. 

This article shares everything about the different kinds of safaris at the San Diego wildlife attraction. 

What to expect


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Free safari at San Diego Safari Park

The African Tram Safari is free with the regular San Diego Safari Park ticket.

The 30-minute guided tour happens in an open-air tram so that the visitors can connect with the San Diego Safari Park’s animals on a closer level. 

African Tram Safari at San Diego Safari Park. Image: Sdzsafaripark.org

The tram takes a 4 km (2.5 miles) long route through San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s field habitats, and you get to see herds of giraffes, flocks of exotic birds, crashes of rhinos, etc. 

African Tram Safaris start from the African Outpost at 10 am and continue till 45 minutes before the park closes. 


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Best time for African Tram Safari

The best time to line up for the African Tram Safaris is before 11 am or after 3 pm because there is no crowd. 

If you reach the African Outpost between 11 am to 3 pm, you may have to wait for a while to board the tram.

Besides the Africa Tram, the San Diego Safari Park admission tickets also include Cheetah Run, tours and attractions, shows, animal encounters & kids playgrounds.

The only experiences NOT included in the regular ticket are the paid safaris.


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Free safari or paid safaris

A visit to San Diego Safari Park isn’t cheap. 

The Safari Park admission costs $60 for all visitors 12 years and above and $50 for 3 to 11 years old visitors. 

This is why many visitors wonder if the free Africa Tram Safari included in the ticket is enough. 

They want to know if it makes sense to book one of the paid safaris as well.

We think the paid safari tours are nice to have. 

If money isn’t an issue, and you have time on your hands, go for them. 

Else, you won’t miss much by just purchasing the regular San Diego Safari ticket and going on the free safari.

Wildlife lovers opt for the 2-day San Diego Zoo + San Diego Safari Park combo, which allows them to visit both the wildlife attractions one after the other. Or if they prefer, they can visit one attraction twice. 


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San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers 11 different safaris, for which visitors must pay extra. 

These are over and above the numerous wildlife experiences that come with the regular Safari Park ticket

You can book these safaris once you reach the Safari Park or call 619-718-3000 in advance.

Even if you book an extra safari, you will need to purchase the regular entry ticket to the park.

We explain all the different San Diego Safari Park tours so that you can decide for yourself. 

Wildlife Safari

During the Wildlife Safari your group of up to six will board an open-air safari truck with an expert guide and explore the expansive savanna habitats.

This is a private tour, and you get to see lots of birds and mammals, including some babies. 

Age Restriction: 3 years and up
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $419 per group of up to six

Night Vision Safari

During the Night Vision Safari you spot rhinos, flamingos, giraffes, and more in the dark. 

Everybody gets a pair of night vision binoculars before they hop onto an open-air safari truck to experience the Safari Park’s multispecies habitats like never before. 

Age Restriction: 3 years and up
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $419 per group of up to six

Twilight Wildlife Safari

The Wildlife Safari at twilight is a great way to get a complete wildlife experience. 

Led by an expert guide, your private group will board a safari truck and roll into the African savanna habitats to get closer to African animals.

You finish the safari by making a stop at one of Safari Park’s breathtaking viewpoints. 

Even as you take in the sounds, smells, and views, you enjoy a glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage and a curated snack box.

Age Restriction: 3 years and up
Duration: 1 and a half hour
Cost: $589 per group

Cabana Safari

This safari is great for a family celebrating an occasion. 

You get a private cabana with stunning views of giraffe herds, iconic rhinos, and a large variety of African wildlife down below. 

A dedicated host who handles all your needs, such as lunch, etc., will be available throughout the day.

Age Restriction: None
Time:  Daily during park hours
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $250 per group of six

Sun Up Cheetah Safari

This San Diego Sarafi Park tour happens before the attraction opens for regular visitors. 

An experienced guide takes you on an early morning stroll through the Safari Park.

Besides strolling from the Park entrance to Shiley’s Cheetah Run and Kijamii Overlook, you also witness a cheetah run at top speed.

Since the ticket booths will be closed early in the morning, you must book this safari at least one day in advance. 

Age Restriction: None
Time: 8 am, Thursday to Sunday
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $99 per person

Did you know that San Diego Zoo is home to more animals in a smaller space? Some visitors prefer to read our comparison of San Diego Safari Park and Zoo before booking their tickets.

Cart Safari Africa

You sit in a private safari cart and enjoy a 60-minute guided tour of the park’s spacious African savanna habitats.

The expert guide shares stories about the plants and animals in the park.

Age Restriction: None
Time:  Daily during park hours
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $318 per group of six

Behind-the-Scenes Safari

During the Behind-the-Scenes Safari tour, you embark on a 90-minute private adventure to see animals up close and listen to wildlife stories.

A guide escorts you around the park in a deluxe cart and shows you areas that aren’t open to the public. 

There are three types of Behind-the-Scenes Safari – 

Aussie Surprise: This is an early morning safari in the Walkabout Australia section of San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Visitors will see animals such as Kangaroo, Platypus, wallabies, etc. 

Elephants and Friends: During this guided tour, you go behind the scenes at the Elephant Valley and learn what it takes to take care of a herd of African elephants.

Rhinos and friends: During this safari, you will visit Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, a 3.5-acre state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the conservation of white rhinos.

Age Restriction: None
Time:  Daily during park hours
Duration: One and half hours
Cost: $522 per group of six

Flightline Safari

During the Flightline Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, you will soar as high as 130 feet above the ground and take in a bird’s-eye view of rhinos, giraffes, and other wildlife in the savanna habitats.

The tour includes:

  • An orientation on the tour and safety equipment
  • Brief interpretive tour
  • ‘Preparator flight’ on a smaller zipline
  • Trip by a safari truck to the final launch platform
  • The final zipline flight of two-thirds of a mile

Age Restriction: 8 years and up
Time: Daily during park hours
Duration: 1 hour, including training
Cost: $308 per group of four

Roar and Snore Safari

This experience is an excellent sleepover adventure at the Safari Park.

All sleepovers include activities at the Roar and Snore camp, an after-hours wildlife exploration, dinner, an evening snack, and breakfast the following morning.

This wildlife experience can be booked as a family or as a group of adults. 

Age Restriction: None
Duration: Overnight, 4:15 pm to 9:30 am
Cost: $149 per group of six

Ultimate Safari

Aptly named the Ultimate Safari, this is perhaps the best safari at San Diego Safari Park.

This experience gets customized for your needs and interests with the best of habitat areas, animal interactions, and even a sit-down lunch. 

This five hours long safari needs reservations (minimum 72 hours ahead) and is subject to availability. 

Age Restriction: 3 years and up
Duration: 5 hour
Cost: $675 per person

Balloon Safari

San Diego Safari Park’s Safari Balloon takes off in the background. Image: Sdzsafaripark.org

The Balloon Safari is modeled on the hot air balloon tours of the Serengeti.

The tethered helium balloon rises silently 400 feet, and you get to spend 10 to 12 minutes up in the sky, gaining a birds-eye view of the park.

Since animals are most active early in the morning, the best time to be up in the air is 9 am to noon.

Popular attractions in San Diego

# San Diego Safari Park
# San Diego Zoo
# Legoland California
# USS Midway Museum
# SeaWorld San Diego
# San Diego Harbor Cruise

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Shobha Mahapatra: She loves traveling in groups - of friends and relatives. The destination doesn't matter much as long she has her fun group around. She loves to try the local cuisine and clothes and also builds friendships wherever she goes. Favorite Cities: Istanbul, Hanoi, Cape Town, Singapore

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