Editor: Please welcome back guest author Shelley Caran who was gracious enough to step in and cover the media event for the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that was held earlier today.
As I was walking up to the check-in desk for the ‘Wild Africa Trek’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I realized that I had no clue what I was in for!
This three-hour immersive experience challenges you to use all of your senses as you follow your expert guides through the forest, over the jungle, near the edge of a cliff, and in the peaceful savannah.
After you are geared up and observed going over the “kid’s rope bridge” in Harambe, it quickly sets in that this will not to be your typical Disney experience. On the Trek, there is no themed pavement. There are branches, stumps, and loose footings. Nature isn’t created, it is celebrated.
Our introduction into the Trek was a brief visit to the Pangani Forest where we were introduced to the Gorillas and took our first steps off the beaten path.
Leaving the last step of the ladder, we started our walk to a unique view of the hippos. Our on gear was a six foot line that could be attached to a rail, which allowed us to get up the edge of the pools for a viewing of the hippos as they were fed by a researcher.
As we left the hippos, we learned that we would be taking the old rickety bridges over the river.
These old bridges stand tall and maybe not so strong, as there are several planks missing, but they do offer amazing views of the hippos and crocodiles. And when the Safari vehicles pass under your feet, the sway reminds you of just how far above the ground you are as you observe the world below you.
Your trek then takes you further into the jungle, until you stumble upon the edge of the savannah where you get the first glimpse of the vast grassland that lies before you.
Just around the corner from the viewing area, our vehicle was waiting to take us out onto the safari. Since the schedule of the Trek is so full, you do not get to see the entire safari. However, you do get to pull off the path for several stops to observe and photograph the animals for longer periods of time.
Passing through the bao bob trees, you see your next stop of the Boma Platform where you will get the chance to catch your breath, have a sampling of foods, and an opportunity to view the savannah from this elevated station.
I have to say that the Boma platform was the highlight of the trek for me. Sitting back enjoying a late breakfast, as I watched giraffes, elands, flamingos, and elephants in the distance was absolutely breathtaking.
When our time at the platform came to close, we boarded our vehicles and finished up our safari with an interesting twist.
As we headed back to where our tour started, we were told that part of the fee for the ‘Wild Africa Trek’ would be going to the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Yet we would have a say in where the money from our Trek would go by voting in a traditional African Way. We were given the option of choosing either Big Cats, Elephants, White Rhinos, or to the general Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Overall, the experience was amazing! The main selling point was the guides. They are thoroughly trained and knowledgeable about the animals that you encounter, but they are also super personable and ready to do any and everything to make sure that you have an amazing time on the Trek!!!
If you have been to Animal Kingdom and experienced Kilimanjaro Safaris, the ‘Wild Africa Trek’ is the cherry on top experience. Since Park admission is required, but not included in the tour I would definitely recommend keeping your budget in mind if you hadn’t already planned on visiting Animal Kingdom.
A few little tidbits and tips…
- You will not be allowed to bring much on the Trek, and anything that you do bring must get tethered into the harness vest. This does include cell phones, cameras, and video cameras.
- Tour groups are small, maximum of 12 trekkers per safari, which allows you to really interact with your guides and researchers you encounter along the way.
- Included in the price of the tour is a photopass CD and on the trek the guides will take pictures of you doing things like donning your gear, crossing the rope bridges, and being out on the safari. So, take the time to put your cell phone down and enjoy the tour.
- Remember that you will be going over and under things, so make sure that you wear appropriate shoes and clothing. You don’t want to be out there in a skirt and heels. But on the other hand, don’t feel like you need to wear anything crazy or camo!
- Branches and limbs will be rubbing your arms and legs as you travel through the forest, so if you are sensitive to that sensation you may want to wear pants and long sleeves.
- There really isn’t a chicken out option on the two rope bridges, so if you or a member of your Trek gets nervous there are a few options. However if you are not able to cross the bridges with assistance, you will be escorted to an area to wait for the rest of your party to complete the Trek.
- The tour goes rain or shine, and is only canceled in situations when there are either heavy winds or extreme lightning.
- Around 10 days before your tour, you will be contacted by a guide to go over general information about the Trek and to see if you have any special dietary needs.
- There is no bathroom for about two hours, so keep that in mind before you get geared up. Bathrooms can be found once you reach the Boma Platform.
Now for the details…
The ‘Wild Africa Trek’ runs daily on the hour from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm, with a break at 11:00 am. The introductory cost of the tour until February 26, 2011 is $129 per person, and after that date the cost increases to $189 and does not include admission into the park which is required for this adventure.
Reservations for the ‘Wild Africa Trek’ can be made for guests ages 8 and up by calling (407) WDW-TOUR (939-8687). For more information, visit www.Disneyworld.com/disneyafricatrek.