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Zoofari Lodge

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by Kaye (subscribe)
I <3 Sydney
Published August 8th 2013
An experience to add to your bucket list
I have always wanted to go on an African safari. Gallivanting through the Serengeti in a Jeep, wearing khaki of some description and getting up close to roaring lions, striped zebras and majestic elephants in their natural habitat.

But like many of us, the realities of life have meant that this dream has remained just that…a dream. So the closest I've come to an African safari (thus far) has been staying overnight at the Zoofari Lodge.

Zoofari Lodge
One of the many African animals we were able to meet up-close

Zoofari Lodge is nestled amongst bushland on the grounds of the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The place provides guests with a taste of the African safari experience right on our door step.

My partner and I visited the Zoofari Lodge after recommendations from several of my colleagues. Staying at the Zoofari Lodge is a unique holiday experience. It is an ideal getaway for a group of friends, couples, and families.

Zoofari Lodge
One of the luxury tents (Source: Zoofari Lodge website)

The accommodation consists of African-style canvas covered luxury tents. There are twelve lodges all up with four people tents and six people tents available. Each tent contains beds, a bathroom with hot water, coffee and tea making facilities, fridge and even a mini bar. The tents also have fans and heated tiles. All bedding, linen and towels are provided. Guests have access to a private viewing area of the zoo's African savannah exhibit.

Zoofari Lodge
Inside our tent

Zoofari Lodge
Fancy a cuppa?

The package includes canapes, an African style dinner and breakfast. Dinner is complimented with a full bar service. All meals are served at the Main House which features a licensed bar, fire place and a swimming pool.

Zoofari Lodge
The Main House (Source: Zoofari Lodge website)

So there is no need to rough it or lug around camping gear or worry about living off canned baked beans.

But the highlight of staying at Zoofari Lodge was undoubtedly the three behind-the-scenes zoo tours included in the experience. Instead of a jeep, the tours were conducted in air conditioned mini coaches. One tour was held in the afternoon, one in the evening (after dinner) and an early morning tour.

The tours gave us an opportunity to get up-close to some of the zoo's African wildlife. And when I say close – I mean close! We were only centimetres away from the animals. We got to watch the zoo keepers feed the animals and were even able to feed some of the animals ourselves.

Zoofari Lodge
Our guide showed us how to make a tortoise come out of its shell

Zoofari Lodge
African wild dogs - it was wise for us not to get TOO close to these canines

Zoofari Lodge
I got to feed these beautiful giraffes. Gosh they have long tongues

The tour guides were friendly and knowledgeable. Group sizes were small enough to ensure everyone had an opportunity to feed and take photos with the animals.

Zoofari Lodge
This tiger was a little camera shy

Zoofari Lodge
It was amusing how interested this elephant was with us because the guide brought treats

Zoofari Lodge
We visited this cheetah during the early morning tour. He was yawning too

The package also includes two day admission to Taronga Western Plains Zoo, two days bicycle hire, and discount vouchers.

The best times to stay at Zoofari Lodge are Spring and Autumn. Zoofari Lodge suggest that families plan their trip during school holidays and couples stay outside school holiday periods.

Since Dubbo is a six hour drive West of Sydney, we felt that trying to fit everything into one weekend was a bit rushed. A long weekend would have allowed us to spend more time exploring the zoo.

Staying at Zoofari Lodge is a little expensive – considering it is an overnight stay in Dubbo. However, the proceeds go back to the running of Taronga Western Plains Zoo. And the behind-the-scenes zoo tours and overall experience make the stay well worth it. It was definitely one of my more memorable holidays.
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Why? Behind-the-scenes zoo tours
When: The check-in for Zoofari Lodge is between 1.30pm and 3.00pm. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open every day of the year from 9am.
Phone: (02) 6881 1488
Where: Taronga Western Plains Zoo - Obley Rd, Dubbo NSW 2830
Cost: Low season off peak rates start from $229 pp twin share (Savannah – Sleeps up to 4 people) / $269pp twin share (Serengeti – Sleeps up to 6 people) / Children from $59 per child (1-3 yo) $155 per child (4-15yo)
Your Comment
Who knew a tortoise liked a tickle behind the ears.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12386) 2140 days ago
I went to Taronga zoo as a kid. I did not know you could stay there. Giraffes are my favourite so I'm super jelly you got to feed them ;) That tortoise is quite exquisite too.
by Katy Holliday (score: 3|1133) 2140 days ago
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