The day of our Safari dawned grey and cloudy with hanging mist and intermittent rain. The access road from the Lodge to the Guest Pavilion crosses a shallow area where water flows across the road sometimes making it difficult to cross after a night’s rain. The staff monitors this situation closely and we got the go ahead to head out.
The herds of deer and addax along the camp access road made our trip to the Pavilion enjoyable. After a good breakfast and a quick trip to the restroom (there are none on the tour), we headed outside to meet our guide. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip with our guide as he was so passionate about the animals and birds at Fossil Rim. The amount of details he gave us about the wildlife was extensive. It made the next 3-4 hours fly by in the blink of an eye. Along with enjoying the area’s natural beauty, we saw nearly all the animals and birds listed on their brochure. All this, despite a cold and rainy weather!
We were all seated in two rows along the length of the van. The guide handed each of us plenty of animal feed to work with. We started with the rest of the Park including the Scenic drive first and then headed to the Intensive Management Area towards the end of the tour.
This tour is limited only to the visitors that stay overnight at the Lodge or the cabins/camps. Given the early hours, we had the Park to ourselves until about 10 am when other traffic joined in. But the park is large enough that it never felt crowded and we didn’t have to wait to see any of the herds.
Watching the animals come close and feeding them was a thrilling experience! So much so for the many children on the tour. Even the timid ones could be seen getting more courageous and eventually competing to feed the animals/birds.
Here are some of the birds we saw:
The emu and ostrich were fun to watch as they pecked away at the food the kids put out. Probably the most interesting were the Attwater’s Prairie Chicken which the Center is helping to protect and breed. There is a whole section dedicated to them.
As for the hoofstock, there were several favorites:
It was interesting to watch the animals follow the food wagon and get ahead in line for their feed. Many followed us down the slopes at times hoping for another chance to be fed. The Giraffe and Black Rhino attracted a lot of attention.
I found the Przewalski Horses to be very interesting. Endangered and the only ancestor of the domestic horse, there is a huge ongoing effort to conserve and breed these horses. read more about them on the website.
The Intensive Management Area is where we saw the Mexican Gray Wolf, what a majestic sight! We caught a brief glimpse of the red Wolf in a different enclosure here. Unfortunately, we could not see any coati on this day but had come across several at the Iguazu National Park, Argentina-but that’s a story for another day. The Cheetah enclosure was another enthralling area. Just seeing these beauties parade across, languid at times, almost insolent at others! I was happy to watch them from behind the safety of the fence.
The Center is doing a very important job education, protecting and conserving animals and birds. Although the overall stay and safari felt a little pricey (and can easily be done for a much lower price on a non Holiday weekend or during the fall/winter), I think the children came away with more knowledge of the dangers to the flora and fauna around us. I hope they have learned the importance of protecting our natural resources in every little way they can. It was also a fun trip, getting our hands soiled with the saliva of different species, getting close to feed an ostrich or an emu, differentiating one from the other, seeing the P horses and the variety of deer and simply enjoying the beauty of the 1800 acres around us.
I hope you will take your own trip one day to enjoy this jewel so close to our home base.
Here are some tips that I hope help you if you are planning an overnight stay.
- Book ahead and reserve a non Holiday weekend for lower prices. If you are willing to travel in off peak times (fall/winter), prices are nearly a $100 cheaper.
- Cabins can only hold two people at a time.
- Most of the guests at the Lodge took a drive through the park after getting there early (check in is at 3 pm). This access is included in the Lodge price.
- Take a good camera.
- Eat a good breakfast (included in the price), take water along and use the restroom before the trip. No snacks/food/candy allowed on the trip except bottled water.
- Dress appropriately for the trip in layers. You do not want the cold weather to stop you from enjoying the trip. Also, get plenty of sunscreen during the summer.
- No pets are allowed.
- There were a couple of food options in town but the only vegetarian one was at the local Sonic. While food cannot be cooked at the lodge, you may use the microwave and fridge for easy reheating/storing.
- The Lodge boasts a fine location and am certain during summer/late spring, the views from the porch are fantastic.