The Wild Africa Trek gives you the chance to get up close and go behind the scenes and take a walk on the wild side at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Now more than ever is the best time to start planning for your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort and whether it’s your very first trip, or you’ve earned your ears and looking for something extra magical to do, when you take a walk on the wild side you’ll create memories that will last long after the adventure comes to an end.
With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day quickly approaching on April 22, now is the perfect time to make learning about animals and the conversation of our planet a part of your distance learning.
Right now, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is giving at home guests unprecedented access to special behind the scenes looks at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and their very special group of cast members and if you’re an educator like I am, then you know that when you incorporate a field trip into your unit of study, it makes it all come alive and is the perfect culmination, especially when it comes to STEM education.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve shared some of our favorite ways to incorporate our favorites educational resources from and after you’ve taken a deep dive into those, it’s time to start planning your walk on the wild side with the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
In April 2011, Disney opened one of its most exclusive experiences-the Wild Africa Trek in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. During this three-hour tour, safari goers pick their way through the wooded overgrowth, peer over a cliff at pools of hippos, cross a rickety bridge high above Nile crocodiles and dine in a safari style camp on five-star cuisines.
Having always dreamed of being on safari in Africa, for me going on the Wild Africa Trek was a dream come true when I was lucky enough to go on an adventure of a lifetime and one I have been lucky enough to take several times now and each time is better than the time before.
Taking this walk on the Wild Side is perfect for the entire family, the solo traveler and everything in between. Here’s an insider’s view as to what your walk on the wild side with the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will look like.
I like booking the first tour of the day because it allows you entry to Disney’s Animal Kingdom before the park opens. Wandering through the Park with no one else present is an amazing experience all on its own.
Once crossing the path into Africa, you will be directed the check-in right by the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Once checked you will be outfitted with our own personal safari gear complete with water bottles, sunscreen and bug spray, after which you are ready to embark on a trek of a lifetime.
Your journey begins with a quick walkthrough of the Harambe Village and be prepared to be met with the envious glances of the other park guests all wondering what you are getting to do.
Quickly, you find yourself off the beaten path and on the Pangani Forest trail. You are immediately struck by how the outside world all but vanishes, the sudden stillness, and you totally forget that 5 minutes before you were amid the hustle and bustle of Animal Kingdom. Our guides were enthusiastic and knowledgeable. As it turned out, Jenny, one of our two guides was until recently from Sacramento, which is located 90 miles east of me. It truly is a small world after all.
Each trip is tailored to the needs of the individual group, in our case ranging from children to a couple in their seventies and of course my own limited mobility challenges. Even with our diverse group, they managed to find a happy medium of not too fast, but not too slow.
Along the path, you will be educated on the history of Animal Kingdom as well as the animals and wait awaits you ahead.
In a blink of an eye, you will find yourself at the first of two “tether over cliff” spots of the day, the Hippo habitat. Your vest allows you to be tethered to a track, which is fun in itself. Once secured, you are able to literally “hang” out as far as you dare over the river below with your new-found friends smiling up to greet you. Yes, you have actually made it to the backside of water.
At the hippo pool, you will be greeted by a naturalist who along with your guides will educate you on the hippos that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home as well as the ones in the wild. And if you happen to be a Disney regular, then you’re already one step ahead as we all know that you only have to worry when hippos wiggle their ears-or do you…
Next up it’s time to get up close and personal with the Nile Crocodiles. Once again, you will be tethered to a track and yes, you are able to lean out as far as you dared.
Unlike the cuddly hippos, most of us were slightly more cautious approaching the edge to catch our first glimpse of these powerful creatures, especially once we found out that they were only 10 feet below us.
One of the many things we learned about these amazing creatures is that while it appeared that the crocodiles were “smiling” at us, keeping their mouths open was actually part of their natural cooling system. Our guides also joked with us that while we were tethered, it was still possible for us to slip over the edge if we ventured out too far and while the tether would not necessarily save us, it would make it easier for them to remove our remains from the croc pit so it wouldn’t scare the next group of adventurers! You will quickly discover that your walk on the wild side is almost like a real-life version of the world-famous Jungle Cruise with no joke left untold.
A short walk later your adrenaline will really kick in when you are faced with not one but two suspension bridges that were overlooking the hippos and crocodiles. Both bridges span 100 feet in length are 30-40 feet off the ground. The bridges have the feel of an old, rickety and weathered bridge that you are convinced will collapse at any moment. One of the best parts of the Wild Africa Trek is that the guides will be capturing it all for you and at the end of the adventure, you will receive all of the photos taken along the way.
As you can see from the picture, there are missing boards and broken planks. It dawned on me that this is Disney’s way to get you to look down from your unique vantage point and marvel at all it has to offer. It only took a moment or two, and maybe a few jumps up and down, to relax and take in the entire splendor.
Once you have safely traversed the Pangani Forest trail, it will be time to take off your safety vests and board your own open-air safari truck to continue your trek. Within moments, you will find yourself “off-road” through the savannah itself.
Talk about the ultimate in animal adventures! As we drove along on this privately guided expedition, we were so close we could almost reach out and touch giraffes, elephants, and rhinos just to name a few.
One of the best perks of the Wild Africa Trek is that your driver will provide you with many extended stops to allow you to take in all the majesty that is surrounding you and of course take pictures to your heart’s content. And again, your guides will also be capturing your trek which is different each and every time you venture out.
Taking a walk on the wild side means working up an appetite and part of your trek includes dining in the middle of the savannah at your own private overlook area where you will be served an amazing catered meal from Tusker House. As with everything that Disney does, safety comes first and food allergies or special diets are all easily handled when you book your tour to make sure that your meal is one created and prepared with you and your needs in mind.
After a leisurely 45-minute meal, it will sadly be time to complete the last leg of our journey.
Once again, you will reboard your vehicle and you be guided through an area where you discover many more animals from rhinos to big cats and more and again, you will have the unique opportunity to be in the heart of them all.
Disney is meticulous in the camouflage techniques that unless they are pointed out to you, they would be undetectable. Animals are separated from one another by almost invisible fences, rocks, and moats.
All too soon, your truck will be pulling up to the platform where the Kilimanjaro Safari groups also exit their trucks.
One of the many special things that the Wild Africa Trek does is to take a portion of your tour fees and donate them back to various conservation groups to help preserve wild animals and their habitats through the Disney Conservation Fund.
The Wild Africa Trek is truly a once in a lifetime experience. I have done it more times than I can count, and I will be doing it again.
I can’t think of a more perfect “field trip” than to walk on the wild side and get up close and personal and really learn about the heart of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and bring the love of STEM learning to life with the Wild Africa Trek.
For more information on this tour, call 407-WDW-Tour or 407-939-8687 to book your own adventure. Wild Africa Trek is not included with standard park admission to Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom Park and is open to all guests age 8 and older.
Are you ready to book your walk on the wild side? For more educational resources that you can use at home from Disney and other virtual field trips, be sure to check out: