Zoofari Lodge at Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the perfect way to go behind the scenes in style.
I love zoos but find that I spend most of my time trying to spy a sleeping animal at the back of its enclosure and often come away disappointed. When I heard about the Zoofari Lodge overnight experience at Dubbo Zoo, I knew I had to fork out the extra bucks and give it a go.
The Zoofari Lodges offer 15 luxurious African-style lodges located right on the zoo grounds. When we arrived in the early afternoon we checked into our lodge and immediately I knew this was going to be different from any zoo experience I’d had before.
Our lodge was aptly named the Giraffe Lodge and directly faced the African Savannah where I could see giraffes strolling about only metres from our deck. A couple of curious kangaroos hopped over to check us out. Antelopes, ostriches, zebras and more were all roaming about before our eyes. The lodge itself was also impressive, with a rustic safari style but with all the mod cons including ensuite and air-conditioning. That’s what I call glamping!
WHEN I FINALLY MANAGED TO PULL MYSELF AWAY FROM THE AMAZING VIEW WE HEADED OVER TO THE GUEST HOUSE TO ENJOY A COUPLE OF PRE-DINNER DRINKS BEFORE A DELICIOUS AFRICAN-INSPIRED BANQUET DINNER.
Then it was time to get down to business. Our first behind the scenes tour started off as the sun was going down and we jumped on board the Safari bus. I have to say that exploring the zoo in the dark by torchlight while listening to the roar of lions in the distance is simply thrilling. Each stop of the tour involved up close and personal interaction and lots of feeding. After the tour we headed back to the lodge where I drifted off to sleep to the calls of the wild and imagining myself in Africa.
IN THE MORNING WE WERE UP BEFORE THE SUN FOR OUR NEXT TOUR WHICH WAS JUST AS HANDS ON AND EXCITING AS THE NIGHT BEFORE. BETWEEN THE TWO TOURS WE GOT TO SEE ALMOST ALL THE ANIMALS AND CERTAINLY ALL THE SHOW STOPPERS. ELEPHANTS, HIPPOPOTAMUSES, RHINOCEROSES, LIONS AND WE FINALLY GOT TO MEET THE GIRAFFES UP CLOSE AND EVEN HAND FEED THEM SOME CARROTS.
After working up an appetite it was time for a huge buffet breakfast which I devoured more eagerly than some of the animals. After checking out we took a bicycle ride around the zoo. All the animals we just had just met up close were hiding or sleeping and it really brought home just how special the experience was. So our advice? Go west my furry and ferocious friends!