POSTED ON September 5, 2010 | IN Travel Tips | BY Joe Becerra

You have your kids on your wine trip to the Sonoma or the Napa Valley wine country. What can you do to entice them to behave and be good traveling companions while you visit tasting rooms? Promise them a trip to Safari West on the final day of your getaway. You should be able to get a lot of mileage out of this promise. Safari West is smack dab in the middle of Sonoma’s Russian River wine country and the famed wineries of the Napa Valley. It is located deep in the chaparral forests on the Mayacamus Mountain range between the towns of Santa Rosa and Calistoga. It is an adventure you and your kids will not soon forget.

There are plenty of African animals to see in surroundings that are very similar to their natural habitat. There are moments on this trip that make you feel that you’re truly on an African Safari. The total trip on a jumbo open four-wheel drive vehicle is about two hours. Each vehicle holds about 10 to 14 travelers with four seating on the very top of the vehicle. On our trip with two of our grandkids we saw giraffes, zebras, Watusi Cattle, antelope and much, much more.

On our safari ride the most interesting adventure was when our driver, also our tour guide, stopped next to a small herd of Watusi Cattle. He pointed out the mother of two young calves eyeing us with concern. Then he pointed out the bull among the herd, noting that although he was a king among all the females, he was not the boss. That title went to a large and beautiful female with long horns who strutted with a bit of arrogance. While he was talking about the animals, the small herd slowly surrounded our jeep, sniffing around with curiosity. My, how large the horns of these animals suddenly looked. But soon the head female snorted and lazily the herd rambled off to take cover under an oak tree to get some relief from the sun.

Once the jeep ride was over, we took a 30-minute nature walk. The coolest exhibit here was the African Flamingos. These birds are exquisite. It is amazing how they can twist their long necks and rest their heads on their upper body.

It is often hard to please kids but at Safari West these roaming animals in a natural environment and the jeep ride are sure to provide fun and excitement among kids of all ages. To get to Safari West from the wine country on the Sonoma side in Santa Rosa take Mark West Road east up the mountain for seven miles. From the Napa Valley, just a mile north of Calistoga on Highway 116 take a left on Petrified Forest Road four and a half miles and then a right on Porter Creek Road for three miles. For complete details check the Safari West Website.


  1. Aphrodite Caserta says

    Thanks so much for taking the time to tell our story. Your photos are glorious! This is huge for us, as we don’t use the more traditional, advertorial and advertising methods. We are about making personal connections and encouraging authentic experiences with the wildlife and nature with whom we share this planet.Word of mouth is really important. Thanks for letting others know about our safari adventure!

    • Joe says

      We really enjoyed ourselves. The topper came at the end of the ride when our guide Buddy informed me that I was his P.E. teacher when he was in the 8th grade.

  2. Mary says

    This is so great because I would MUCH rather be in Sonoma than in Africa. I know that makes me tame, but I can’t help it.