Posts Tagged ‘safari’


Location: Susuno, Shizuoka, Japan

Website: www.fujisafari.co.jp/english

Highlights: Safari Drive Through, Walk through capybaras

Photos: July 2016

Children Friendly (7): A fairly child friendly zoo with plenty of options to make your day more suitable for your children. Having half the zoo a drive through you can save the little ones walking and tiring out too quickly. Lots of interactive portions and opportunities for the kids to get up close and personal with the animals. While this is exciting, I did knock off some points as there were a number of petting areas or close encounter areas without enough staff supervision in my opinion.

Animal Diversity (7): A surprisingly wide variety of animals, not just ‘African safari’ but also have a number of more domesticated species, and those from other areas of the world. Mammals are the vast majority of the animals so if you’re looking for reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, fish, etc. this isn’t the best location for you.

Animal Viewing (9): I was extremely surprised by the amount of animals they had on display, especially through the safari. I was expecting a handful of each (lions, tigers, bears, etc) but there were conservatively 20 of each. This meant you were pretty much guaranteed to get a good view of, at least, one from each section. They were fairly close to the driving pathways as well so you didn’t have to manoeuver awkwardly to see them well. We did not take the safari bus but from online photos this is where you are going to have a hindered view. Due to the number of grates and barriers needed for safety you won’t get as good a view.

Animals Happiness (5): While the number of animals is great in terms of spectators, it felt very cramped to me. The large amounts of space in each section was deceiving as they were boxed off by electric wire into smaller sections for individuals. Having so many other members of their species surrounding them, in range of their senses, and being confined to your own area must be a little distressing. The elephant section also appeared rather small with limited enrichment for their residents.

Photography (6): For the majority of my visit the photography was fairly good, lots of animals close by with limited obstructions. This was largely due to my method of travel as we drove our own car through. Taking the safari vehicle or bus would make taking photos of any decent quality virtually impossible.

Layout/Map (5): I found the layout quite confusing and nonsensical. The safari portion is one way with a loop so in that regard it is hard to mess up. The remainder of the zoo however is all over the place with animals not arranged according to anything in particular. There is also limited signage to help you navigate from the parking or between sections. The map is fairly good, with good labeling and definitely helps you find your way.

Hours (9): Pretty consistent throughout the year which is good for guests. I was surprised they are open year round considering the general type of animals they house. Fairly early hours during the peak season and staying open later for a drive through safari style park. Night views increase their hours during peak times as well. I do think they could open slightly earlier or at least keep the walk through section a bit later to increase their hours as well.

Price (7): Quite pricey compared to other zoos in Japan, more comparable to aquarium prices here. That being said most foreigners, at least from Canada or America, would find it pretty standard. Discounts available for children and seniors. Food and souvenirs were decently priced as well as other small features. The bus and safari vehicle rentals were pretty pricey but if you drive your own vehicle that would eliminate that cost. The animal cafes were also an additional cost.

Food (10): I was impressed with the actual number of dining locations throughout the zoo, especially since the non-safari portion isn’t that large. A cafeteria style main restaurant had a wide variety of options ranging from hearty to light, and everything fairly suitable to children or foreign visitors. A number of more sit-down restaurants were also available and had decent menu options with variation between them. Some snack venders were also around selling more of the treat or quick varieties of zoo food.

Website (8): The English version of the website contained quite a bit of information. It was fairly simply designed but got the appropriate information across. Online maps and pictures were a great inclusion at least for their main features. I appreciate the FAQ section and the simple navigation. I do think they could still improve on appearance and information. Especially on events or births which would draw even more foreign visitors I think.

Gift Shop (10): A huge gift shop which was full of every variety of souvenir or gift you could want. Toys, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, clothing, figurines, etc. They really focused on the animals they had there at the zoo and I was impressed that many of the puzzles, toys, and other gifts used pictures of animals actually from the zoo itself. Educational section was well done with books and games and things. Pricing was decent as well on the items. They did have plenty of the more Japanese style souvenirs but they also included quite a few unique ones that I hadn’t seen anywhere else which would be fun to bring home to family and friends (example: animal themed masks for when you’re sick).

Quiet Areas (7): Not too bad in this arena. The confusion about pathways and getting through the zoo did lend itself to this in many regards. There were a decent amount of benches or areas away from crowds, at least when we were there. The cafeteria restaurant was very spacious which meant you could sit alone or away from other groups. On busier days the majority of quiet time would probably be in your own vehicle as opposed to any area set up by the zoo.

Safety/Cleanliness (3): In terms of cleanliness I didn’t find it overly clean. The pathways and bathrooms were fairly clean, no signs of garbage or anything. I did think they needed an update of some sort though to tidy them up or make them look a little more put together. Safety wise I think they needed much more staff monitoring the sections to ensure the safety of both the animals and guests. In the drive through area there were far too many animals per each staff member in vehicles ensuring people were keeping their windows closed/not feeding. In the walk through portions again there was not enough staff presence making sure the animals were well contained or showing guests how to properly feed and pet the animals.

Extras (8): More extras than I was expecting for a seemingly one concept zoo. They had three different animal cafes for an additional price. An option to walk through the driving portion on a special path. Bus tours or safari vehicles for rent. Night time zoo was available on certain days/time periods throughout the year which is an awesome thing to include. Some more educational programing and workshops with be an awesome addition if they have the staff and room to do so.

Overall (7.2): Overall a decent zoo to stop in on. It had a larger variety of animals than I expected and you won’t have a problem viewing them. In terms of a unique Japanese zoo I would chose others instead which feature more native Japanese species and in a more convenient location. If you have the means to get here for the afternoon it is pleasant though and you can come home with a great variety of souvenirs.


Read Full Post »

As you have probably guessed by now, I love zoos. This love started with my love of animals. When I was younger I would copy out animal facts as my made up homework. This eventually turned into a degree in Zoology and a keen interest in wild species throughout the world. Zoos allow me to experience these amazing animals up close, but nothing beats seeing them wild in their natural habitat.

During my final year of school I was able to have the opportunity to go on a research trip to Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. We picked a topic of research and carried it out for two weeks in the middle of no where. I was lucky enough to see the majority of the animals on my must see list: hippos, giraffe, crocodiles, zebra, elephants, and lions. These moments were exhilarating – especially since for the majority of them we were on foot with nothing between us. The sounds of the animals at night would keep us up – the far off (and sometimes not so far off) lions and hyenas, to the warthogs tearing through camp. We learned we had to place our tents in specific spots so we wouldn’t be trampled by hippos when they left the river at night, and that elephants have the best technique of retrieving drinking water. This trip was full of inspiring moments for me and the people I was with…it is so difficult to pick just one. I have always felt inspired to protect the environment and it’s species but I feel that trip showed me how much I took things for granted at home and how much what I did could affect the world.

More than anything my trip inspired me to inspire others to travel. I want others to experience that feeling of making eye contact with a wild lion or seeing a herd of elephants walk by. That feeling you get whether you were a conservationist before or not will change you.

Wild lion in Selous Game Reserve

Wild lion in Selous Game Reserve

Since my trip four years ago, Selous Game Reserve has been placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites under threat. As I mentioned I was able to see most of the animals on my list. I did not see any rhinos, or cheetahs, or painted dogs. An estimated 66% of Selous’ elephants have been poached between 2009 and 2013. Since I know first hand how beautiful this site is I am more inspired to help save it.

Wild elephants like this one may not be seen in Selous if we do not act.

Wild elephants like this one may not be seen in Selous if we do not act.

For everyone who reads these reviews and features I hope one day you take the opportunity to visit these animals in the wild. Truly get to know the dangers they face due to poaching and climate change. I hope in doing so you will be inspired to start taking steps to change it – big or small.

In the meantime visiting reputable zoos in your area is also playing a part. Through introducing your children to animals and conservation issues at a young age you are encouraging greener practices in the future. By seeing the magnificent animals up close you are nurturing a connection with animals within yourself making the news stories hit closer to home. Even the smallest green changes can have big impacts worldwide.

What is one small thing you can do right now?

Watch Contiki Storytellers video on the sea turtles of Costa Rica.


Contiki has partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and agreed to sponsor a turtle to aid in research if this video reaches 250 000 views – we need your help. Show this to friends, family, and neighbours. Not only will this help with Contiki’s goal but you never know who you will inspire to take action.


As part of Contiki’s Storyteller Challenge I would further like to challenge some of my fellow bloggers to share their travel stories!

The Bear Necessities

Travel For Wildlife

The Gut Gazette – hopefully that Alaskan cruise has inspired you!


Read Full Post »

African Lion Safari Rating

Location: Hamilton, Ontario

Website: www.lionsafari.com

Highlights: Elephant swim, Lion cubs, driving through the Baboons

Photos: May 2012, June 2012, July 2013, Sept 2013

Children Friendly (7): Great size zoo for young ones – the walking area is basically one strip. Has a wet play area as well as a petting zoo where you can also feed the animals. A number of shows are put on throughout the day, which are geared more towards the children. Points were lost due to the drive through portion which I feel most children would be impatient during the drive or would not have the best views.

Animal Diversity (7): Having the name African Lion Safari you would think it would have large African animals and that’s about it – but the safari actually has a larger number of species than you’d expect. With a variety of animals from different parts of the world you do get not only the major African animals but also some others including kangaroos, bison, and a variety of birds of prey.

Animal Viewing (6): With the main attraction being the drive through portion, this is actually where most of the points were lost. With the animals free to move around your vehicle this makes it both great for viewing the animals if they’re close, but when they’re hiding you are not able to manoeuvre to different angles as you are not allowed off the path. On slow days animal viewing is great…but in the summer when most people visit it is difficult to change lanes to get better views and you end up missing quite a bit.

Animals Happiness (7): The safari does get major bonus points for the style of the exhibits, with the animals being ‘free-roaming’ and the visitors being ‘caged’ in vehicles. This is excellent for most animals such as the antelope, baboons, and bison; they have more room than most zoos to move around and interact with other species. Some species (especially the cheetah) exhibit a lot of pacing behaviour showing boredom. As well certain sections do not provide a lot of shade during hot summer months.

Photography (7): With some animals coming right up to your car, the proximity to the animals can be great depending on the day. However, being inside a vehicle is a difficult challenge (even more so if you haven’t cleaned your windows before hand!). Throughout the drive through portion all windows and doors must stay closed so you are constantly fighting the glare or raindrops depending on the weather.

Layout/Map (8): The layout in the safari is slightly miss-matched due to changing of animals over the years…but it does make sense generally overall. Having a one way path through all the sections it also allows you to skip sections you don’t wish to drive through which is nice. The rest of the park is also spaced well with minimal probability of guests missing exhibits. The map however is slightly confusing especially through the safari section. The proportions are off making it confusing.

Hours (7): The hours are generally good during their open season. Extended hours during the summer months and on weekends during the spring and fall. Also the main park area is open later than the safari as well which is a nice feature. This zoo is only open from the beginning of May until Thanksgiving.

Price (6): I feel this zoo does have a very high admission price – especially when it doesn’t include anything else! If you do not wish to take your own car through the safari you have to pay to be on a tour bus, and even if you do take your own car you still have to pay for gas! The seasons passes are worth it even if you just go twice, but I still feel they are a rip off.

Food (7): Standard fast food options. I don’t feel there are as many healthier options here as other places I’ve been to.

Website (9): Overall the website is great. It sticks with the theme of the zoo very well and provides videos and pictures of the type of experience you will have. It has lists of animals you will see and has great directions for visitors coming from every which way (even the US). A couple other features could be added such as if there are any babies or events.

Gift Shop (8): Larger than some other gift shops I’ve been in, and has quite a bit of specialized souvenirs. Also having two gift shops across from each other is nice to help traffic flow through them and prevent over crowding.

Quiet Areas (7): Outside of the safari there are quite a few areas you can sit and regroup. A lake along the one side of the parking lot provides a great spot for picnics and lounging after lunch. Throughout the safari however there is no rest stop or area to exit the car and stretch or use the washroom – so make sure you’re all set before entering!

Safety/Cleanliness (6): There a couple reasons I give this a lower rating. First is the nature of the park in general. IF (and that’s a big if…) all customers follow the rules of keeping windows and doors closed at all times while staying on the designated roads throughout the safari then yes I feel it is a safe and enjoyable experience. HOWEVER, due to the photography issues mentioned above it creates the temptation for many customers to disregard safety in favour of a slightly better photo. As well the elephant swim portion I find a huge liability as well. Although the elephants are well trained and are used to the routine – the public are not. The elephants walk right through the parking lot and entrance way to the small lake where they have an afternoon swim in the water. The viewing is again amazing, however if they were ever spooked or a guest was not paying attention to their surroundings this could be extremely dangerous.

Extras (7): The safari does have extra shows and displays besides the safari portion. Elephant and bird shows as well as the elephant swim take place a number of times each day. As well there is a boat tour of islands which showcase lemurs and monkeys. As far as events go it seems there are very few scheduled throughout the season – and those scheduled are for companies.

Overall (7.1): Overall it is a fun place to go which has a nice twist on the typical zoo experience. Potential up close views of some great species is a major draw if you’re willing to spend the money. With your own car it is suitable for all age groups – but I highly suggest taking the bus if it’s the summer and you do not have air conditioning!

Read Full Post »