This week, every precaution has been taken to ensure the animals at Lion Country Safari are safe. The week we went, however, there wasn't a storm cloud in sight, at least not at first. :) A 600-acre piece of land in Loxahatchee, which is located just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida, this property is unique because a large portion of it is drive-through. That's right, you drive at your own slow speed, through the property, stopping to look at whatever animals tickle your fancy. There is plenty of space for the other cars to go around, so you never feel rushed. I took my youngest son and my oldest granddaughter. We had a wonderful time!
It was really cool to see the animals up close and personal, just doing what they do. It was even nicer that they were able to move about freely and didn't have to live in a small cage!
I was excited to see the Ostrich in the photo above. There were quite a few there, but this one was close to our car. Years ago, when I took my oldest son and nephew to Lion Country Safari, we were held up by an Ostrich who thought it would be fun to put his head on our front windshield. I didn't know if that was unique to him, or if they all did it. I was curious to see!! I guess it was just unique to that one bird because this one didn't pay us any mind at all.
Others were a bit more curious.
The Wildebeest reminded me of Lion King. How could they not? We just saw the movie prior to visiting, but even if we hadn't, the cartoon version from years ago will forever associate the two for me. I think they are fascinating...I guess because they are so rare to see.
As an added bonus, and good to know, if you stop along the edge of the areas where there are no animals to be seen (it just looks like grass or water), you will often indeed find animals who just don't care to be in the limelight at the moment. We saw something big dart by in the background and got interested, but it never did resurface for us to identify
You're not allowed to open your car windows, but honestly why would you want to? Animals are wild, and they certainly don't know who you are, so my motto is always better safe than sorry.
The lions were behind a huge enclosure. They had toys and shade.
This one had a picnic table to lounge on, lol. That's a lot of weight on that table, right there! I for one, was glad we weren't able to drive up close to the lions. Not because they are menacing (and I'm sure they would be if provoked) but because I'm a big chicken when it comes to getting too close to animals in the wild, even though I love them!! I am not one you will find on a true-to-life safari. This one gave me an extra measure of safety because I could stay in my car and still be up close and personal with so many different types of beautiful animals, but if the lions had been on our side of the fence (and they never are), I wouldn't have gotten close to them.
Some animals looked at us while we looked at them. Some ignored us entirely. The only animal I felt like we might have bothered by being there that day was this gorgeous water buffalo. I mean, look at that face. If that doesn't say, 'quit being nosy and move along,' I don't know what does. ;) Or maybe it was my imagination. He (she?) was bigger than my car, and probably stronger too, so I took my cue and moved along. It was probably my imagination, but like I said, I'm a big chicken when it comes to wild things. :)
Not to dwell on this guy, but the bird to your right didn't seem at all bothered by him, and vice versa. You can also see that it probably was my imagination that he was perturbed by our presence because seconds later, as we started to drive away, it appeared he didn't even know we existed.
The speed limit signs made me laugh. It was necessary to mind them though because some animals would get up and walk right out in front of your car!
Seriously, one second they would be resting peacefully, and the next I guess they thought to get up and get something out of the refrigerator because they were up and at 'em, and definitely not looking both ways before crossing.
My granddaughter who is 6-years-old found this Impala to be very hilarious, especially when a group of his friends followed and we could not move for a couple of minutes. I kept saying, 'excuse me, we're trying to drive on this road' which was met with a peal of giggles from the backseat as well, but they simply weren't having it, in spite of my good manners!
I sat fascinated over this Ankole-Watusi who holds such huge horns on his head. I cannot imagine how they can walk around without a headache all of the time!! Word has it those horns are very useful, so I took it upon myself to do a little research. From the Lion Country Safari website we learned that these cattle are native to Kenya and Tanzania in Africa and have horns that can grow to be 8 feet from tip to tip. Blood that circulates through the horns is cooled and returned to the body which helps them tolerate extreme temperatures. Of course too, the horns help protect them against predators.
Seeing who hangs out with who was interesting too. The rhinoceros and zebra seemed to get along quite well, and hung out in groups of several of each in various patches. This guy though, was tired I guess. He was the only one who opted to nap instead of socialize.
It was really quite interesting to drive through, so much so that we were going to do it again on the way out (you can drive through as many times as you like on one admission ticket), but a storm was coming in at the end of the day, so we opted instead to head home.
These kind of views just don't get old. I could sit and watch any one of these animals for hours on end, just to see what they do in a natural habitat. Seeing so many different kinds in their element then, was especially a treat.
Once you leave the drive-through area (or you can go to the walk-through park first, it doesn't matter) you get to the walk-through area. There are also a wide array of animals inside, some of which you can pet or interact with in various ways (shows, feeding, a bird aviary you can walk through, etc.). They also had rides, games and other various things to do that the kids would enjoy.
I rented a stroller for my granddaughter. She's big enough to walk, but enjoys that I still get her a stroller (and I enjoy the extra space for my camera, her water bottle, a change of clothes for the water park, etc.).
If you wanted to take a boat ride, you could. I was all in, but the kids had a different kind of boat in mind that was in the same area...
the kind that you paddle with your feet. :)
What I loved most in this area was the birds, especially the Flamingos which I never get to see in the wild. My 2nd oldest just took a trip where they run as common as our geese do here and he sent pictures. I imagine it would be hard to pull myself away from that if I were there too because they certainly held my attention. I didn't even know I had a 'thing' for them until I saw them this day. Aren't they just beautiful?
Not everything we came across was as lovely, but it definitely was still interesting. These big guys here are waiting to eat, as you can probably tell. Food was for sale in machines next to the water for a minimal price (I think it was just a quarter).
The kids enjoyed the rides (my son too, though he's probably officially outgrown this one). My grandbabe liked that it went up and down in the air, and she most certainly has not outgrown it as a means of delight and fun. :)
The care taken in the scenery all around, even in this area where the rides were was lovely. The lily pad area was pretty, even though I knew those fish were just underneath it. ;)
Some of the rides we rode more than once. The Merry-Go-Round was empty the first time we happened by it, so we rode several times. When we came back around to head to the water park area, it had quite the line, so I guess we just got lucky the first time. :)
We came across some memorable things on our way to cool off, including some prehistoric beauties lurking in the brush.
Let me just say that Florida has the best trees. I've been taking pictures of them since 1986. I truly never get tired of them, and could not resist getting a picture of this one in a rest area.
The Fun Slide is next to the big water slides, but word to the wise, ride this one first because you have to be 100% dry to get on it. Then head over to the water slides right beside it (You're welcome. We did it the other way around and didn't get to ride).
My granddaughter was too little to ride the water slides (or if she wasn't, I wasn't going to chance it, I honestly didn't even check...these are just too high in my opinion for her, so I kept her close to me). Little one and I got a Sno-Cone and enjoyed the cool flavored ice while my son rode them both.
Then we headed to the splash pad where she was ALL in. This area was a lot of fun for both of the kids, but she was getting a little pink so I took her aside, re-slathered her with sunscreen, put a shirt on her (just in case) and we headed over to the bigger water park that was just built this year.
This area had a big dump bucket and lots of seating under umbrellas for the grown ups, or kids who needed to rest.
Little Miss went right to the little water slides, which are always her favorite, and then set out to find her uncle.
Squirting him with streams of water turned out to be a favorite thing to do. He kept going back for more, so I guess he didn't mind all that much. ;)
The boy got a kick out of squirting unsuspecting parents walking by with their littles. He's a stinker that way.
This addition to the park is fantastic. It is the perfect way to cool down on a hot day, and in south Florida, every summer day is a hot day (not complaining, I love it, just saying).
It was great to be able to let the kids go and run around and still be able to see them no matter where they were or what they were doing.
The sky started to get gray, so I told the kids it was time to head out. We passed this 'little' beauty along the way.
While we were walking, the skies seemed to clear up a bit (if you have been to Florida, you know this is normal) so when we passed this sign, I asked the kids if we should give it a try (to try and get some more things in before the rain came). Of course they were full of 'yes' 'yes' 'yes' and I was glad I listened because it ended up being just as great as any other area of the park we'd been in that day.
Playing putt-putt was a good way to air dry while we continued to monitor the skies.
This guy was pretty beautiful, and pretty old too. We see some pretty big tortoises running around down here, but none quite this size.
The Safari Maze was pretty easy to navigate, which led my granddaughter to believe she was quite brilliant because she was in charge of finding the way out (and I do attest, she is quite bright). :) My son pretended to be lost which made her feel even more happy and proud to lead the way for him to exit. Here he is pretending to be oh so relieved to find his way back to being maze-free. :)
The petting zoo was nice, and became quite comical when one of the big goats decided to lie down in front of the gate so the kids couldn't get out. With no food to bribe him, he wasn't moving for anything. We fixed the challenge by going 'in through the out door' (cue Led Zeppelin).
A little mining for gold,
If you get hungry there are food stations all around and a restaurant at the opening (or closing, depending how you look at it) gate where you can go inside and sit down for a meal. You'll find souvenir shops all around, and places to buy ice cold water. There are also free cool down stations where you can stand and be misted with water.
We didn't get to do everything the park offered, but we got to do a lot of it. We'll return again when the kids have some time off of school. It's worth the drive for us, and the memories we made were priceless.
Learn more about Lion Country Safari by visiting their website. You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram and/or YouTube.