Sonoma Spa Safari Style
With a glass of sparkling wine in my hand, I looked out over the vista of the “Serengeti” plain of today's Sonoma Spa: Safari Style.
I watched in delight as white tailed monkeys swung through the air, scarlet ibis birds perched on the top branches of their enclosures, and pink flamingos stood comically on one foot in a shallow pond.
Later, seated at a table made of gorgeous hand-hewed slab wood, I enjoyed my appetizer of local cheeses, nuts, and delicious homemade tomato soup.
This unique property located on the outskirts of Santa Rosa is a one of kind African-style safari experience which is “as close as you can get to Africa without a passport.” Safari West is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and features more than 80 species of animals, the option of overnight stays, and a variety of interesting “glamping” style packages.
On this particular visit my guy and I were sampling the “Romance Package” which included a stay in luxury safari tents imported from Africa, with hardwood floors, handmade wooden furnishings, comfortable queen size beds, and full baths. The package also featured two “en-suite” Swedish massages, a bottle of wine, and chocolates.
The founders of the Safari West, Peter and Nancy Lang, met while on safari in Africa, so they clearly know a thing or two about how romantic the combination of wild animals, nature, and good food and wine can be. The attention to detail throughout the property is simply stunning. I particularly loved the beautifully tiled sinks in the public bathrooms and the wooden art made by Peter Lang that is located throughout the property.
After a walk around the property to get orientated, I returned to our glamping accommodation for my massage. As I lay on the table, gently drifting away while my massage therapist eased me into a deeply relaxing state, I reflected on the power of nature to support healing.
Safari West understands that to really create an unforgettable experience, all of the senses must be nurtured. Receiving bodywork while listening to the sounds of wild animals in the background, as a soft breeze drifted through the tent, was one of the most magical spa experiences I’ve ever had. My therapists’ expert integration of Polarity energy work into the Swedish massage left me feeling perfectly calm and balanced for the rest of my visit.
My safari spa interlude was also the perfect start to an evening that included a sunset glass of local Sauvignon Blanc and a gourmet barbecue dinner served buffet style, which we enjoyed seated on the outside patio in view of giraffes, gazelles and birds of every size, shape and color. As the Langs say, “A sip of chardonnay pairs marvelously with a spot of cheetah!”
The safari trip earlier in the day included an exciting jeep ride through a portion of the more than 400 hundred acres, where our informative, kind, and very patient guide taught us about the personalities and habits of a wide variety of animals that included rhinos (the pair we met loves to get their bellies rubbed), Cape Buffalo (the most dangerous animals on the Serengeti, but the most loyal to their animal tribe, described as the “animal mafia,”) zebras, gazelles, and more.
Our group included eight adults, one teenager, and three children under the age of 6. Our aforementioned wonderful guide did a great job of meeting the needs of this diverse group, expertly fielding numerous questions ranging from the most basic: voiced by the 4-year-old who kept repeating the classic “When are we going to get there?” to the most complex, from a former jungle guide in our group.
Post safari, I spent a little time perusing the gift store and was happily surprised to find items that far surpassed the usual gift store finds at tourist destinations. Everything featured was thoughtfully sourced from Africa and included rare artifacts sharing space with an amazing collection of crystals, rocks, and fossils.
Finely made fair trade crafts were also available, along with affordable, yet well made souvenirs like carved wooden animal pens and colorful jewelry. The gift shop is also the home of a talking parrot who fills the store with the cheerful jungle rhythm of parrot patter.
Everyone who works at Safari West, from the front desk clerk, to the gift store workers, massage therapists, bartenders, and more were exceptionally welcoming, friendly, and patient with the needs of the family centered visitor population that seems to make up the majority of Safari West’s summertime guests.
Although the park still has the benefit of catering to a young crowd with it's child-friendly activities, adults can also easily enjoy a romantic interlude, because when the sun goes down, so do the children.
With wine in hand, we were able to enjoy a very special evening walk around the animal enclosures. During this after-dark visit, we were able get a private view of some of the more nocturnal animals we had missed during daylight hours.
With the ability to meet the needs of a wide variety of guests, Safari West is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, offering a unique window into the lives of animals that most of us rarely have the opportunity to interact with. Sonoma County is privileged to have such a treasure available to share with visitors and locals alike.