During my Great Canadian Road Trip, I was travelling along the road between Niagara On The Lake and my lodgings in Fort Erie when I saw a sign for Safari Niagara. I quickly pulled into a nearby parking lot to grab some Internet and a coffee. I have always been a sucker for wildlife experiences but have learned it's always a good idea to do some research to ensure I am contributing my time and tourist dollars to ethical conservation and care.
I was very impressed with what I discovered. This is a privately-owned 150 acre enterprise dedicated to conservation and education for all ages. There are wonderful programs throughout the day, playgrounds, cafés, a splash pool, ropes course, and bouncy pad as well as fishing and paddle boating on their small pond. The website also shows a myriad of choices of concerts and other special events. The animal exhibits include more than 1,000 exotic and native species in a natural environment. Most importantly, it has an excellent reputation for animal care and wildlife education. It seems that I found the perfect way to spend the rest of my day.
Safari Niagara is located in Stephensville, about a 20 minute drive from Niagara Falls, just off of Queen Elizabeth Way (locally known as "the QEW"). Unfortunately there is no public transportation, so visitors will need to hire a taxi/Uber, rent a car, or join one of the many tour bus trips offered. Parking is free and even in August there was plenty of room
The website is comprehensive and regularly updated throughout the year (reopening post-covid May 14, 2022). Many events and exhibit tickets can be purchased separately or visitors may choose day passes. As I checked out their website, I also discovered that they periodically offer discounts and online coupons, sell reduced-rate tickets at Costco, and hold regular promotions. If you are looking for budget options, definitely check around before purchasing.
I was travelling alone and was focused seeing the animals. The animals at Safari Niagara are well cared for and some of them are very friendly as well. The staff was incredibly accommodating and polite. The animal exhibits are grouped into different sections as visitors travel along the perimeter pathway by park bus or your own vehicle. I chose to use the park bus to see and photograph the animals safely.
I saw an incredible variety of animals from an entire section dedicated to Big Cats (with four white lions!) and another area dedicated to Rhinoceros and a Hippopotamus. The various enclosures were large and allow a lot of room for the animals. Giraffes, monkeys, ostriches, and native moose and elk can all be seen in this safari experience. Vending machines with specific food for each animal are located randomly in areas with safe animals. Kids of all ages can get close and interact with these animals.
Likely my biggest surprise was the quality of the food. I hadn't planned to stop and soon realized that I had missed lunch. I tend to be very wary of park food, which tends to be rather blah. However, at Safari Niagara, the concessions were plentiful and reasonably priced, and surprisingly good.
This is a fabulous day trip from Niagara, especially for families and wildlife enthusiasts. With so many exhibits and activities, there is sure to be something to please everyone.
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