Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland is a sister attraction of the Giraffe Ranch in Dade City, and it offers some of the same experiences, like feeding lemurs and riding camels. However, it has its own diverse animal collection, focused on hoofed stock that ranges from antelope to zebras to African cattle. You can see them in the slideshow accompanying this article.
At the Giraffe Ranch, you get to feed the namesake animals. At Safari Wilderness Ranch, you’ll meet water buffalo face to face, and the gentle creatures will take treats right from your hand. I met these large but sweet animals, and many others, on the latest stop on my Chevy Cruze Eco road trip, which features many animal-related attractions.
When you arrive at Safari Wilderness Ranch, you’ll be in awe of the space. Owner Lex Salisbury calls it an epic version of the other, much smaller ranch. The animals are divided into herds that mimic what they’d form naturally in the wild, based on sex and number of animals. This means you see the same types of natural behavior you’d witness in their natural habitat.
The ranch is an eco-tourism attraction, nestled in the Green Swamp a little less than an hour away from Walt Disney World. You have to make reservations in advance, since the number of visitors is limited.
Most people take the safari in a bus-like open-air vehicle, but you can also do it on camel-back, just as you can at the Giraffe Ranch. Salisbury points out that you can get much closer to the animals on camels as compared to the bus.
Even in the regular vehicle, you get right into the middle of the herds. The highlight is feeding the friendly water buffalo, but you also get very close to many of the other animal residents.
You also stop by the aviary, which is also home to a family of lemurs. You can pay extra to feed them or just walk through and see them. If you have kids, they’re going to clamor to do the feeding, and I recommend giving in because they’ll love it. You can read more about this experience in my related article.
You can also do a ten-minute camel ride to see what it’s like to perch on the back of one of these desert-dwelling creatures. You’ll probably notice their eagerness when you see them standing at the loading platform.
The ranch is open year-’round, but it’s an especially good experience in the peak season when theme parks are crowded and lines are long. The limited number of guests at the ranch means you’ll never be stuck in a crowd or have to wait in line.
Get more information on the Safari Wilderness Ranch website.
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