We had the opportunity to take our kids on a mini trip over their fall break this month! My youngest has been asking to see a real life giraffe for months now since she saw a special on tv about them. However, the summer has been very long, and way too hot, so we thought we may escape some of the heat by heading an hour north to Camp Verde to visit Out of Africa, a wildlife park and zoo.
Out of Africa was opened in 2005 and has an impressive assortment of animals. They offer safari tours where you get to drive through and see a variety of wildlife uncaged and roaming free. This is definitely a highlight of this zoo. The animals are very interactive and will come right up to you as you sit in the safety of the bus. For Charlotte, this was more intimidating than she expected, but she got her wish for being up close and personal with a real life giraffe!
Our bus driver and safari guide was very knowledgeable about all of the animals and did a great job of stopping every few minutes and allowing the animals to wander up close to us. She even fed the giraffe by holding a treat in her teeth and allowing the giraffe to come up and lick it right off her face in a big sloppy kiss!
The rest of the zoo is accessible by foot or by taking a free shuttle to various points around the zoo. There are also trolly tours available for an extra fee. Just know before you go that the walk between exhibits is quite spread out and very dusty.
This zoo isn’t landscaped, it just maintains the natural desert landscape that adds to the feeling that you aren’t actually in a zoo, but wandering in the African savannah. I do think they are in need of some maintenance as the pens of certain exhibits were quite dirty and in need of repairs. Fortunately, we saw a construction crew working on improvements in the reptile area during our visit. I am sure being closed for a good portion of the year due to Covid plays a part in why things have fallen behind, since they rely on entrance fees and donations for funding.
Because of all the dust and the lack of shade in most of the zoo area, I would not recommend visiting in the summer months. We didn’t receive the cool down we were hoping for and it was in the high 90s for our visit. We were all struggling with the heat and humidity.
There is one eating area near the tiger splash show where we had freshly made grilled sandwiches at a reasonable price ($9 for the sandwich, chips and a drink), and there are a couple of vending machines sprinkled at a few trolly stops, but no other drinking fountains, so make sure you bring in your own water – you will need it! We also made the mistake of thinking that our 4 year old would be okay without a stroller. Nope! My husband ended up walking her on his shoulders for a good part of the day, so make sure you arrive with a stroller or wagon for the littles, extra drinks, hats and sunscreen!
Despite the few inconveniences of the day, the animals were quite impressive. You really get to see them up close, and they appear to be happy and well cared for with large pens to spread out in. They have even named all of the animals, from Jericho, the southern white rhinoceros, to Diligence, the zebra.
They have an entertaining tiger splash show, multiple animal feeding exhibits, and they also offer ziplining for a fee of $25.
At this time masks are only required for the safari and when you are seated with others on vehicle transport, otherwise they encourage you to enjoy the large amount of space and fresh air! The staff is very friendly and it was a very enjoyable experience.
Save time by buying your tickets online before you go and use the code “VALPAK” to save $4 per ticket. They also offer a $10 entrance ticket if you visit on the month of your birthday. Go to their website for more information. They are open daily from 9:30am-5pm (last admission at 4pm); tickets are $39/adult, $37/seniors, $32/military, and $24/child ages 3-12 (2 and under are free). Tiger feedings, zip lining and other activities are extra.
Out of Africa Wildlife Park
3505 W State Route 260
Camp Verde, AZ 86322
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