Last month, the kids and I spent a day at the African Lion Safari in Hamilton, Ontario, located about an hour and 15 minutes from Toronto. Our complimentary package included admission to the park and a ride on the safari bus tour. As much as it is kind of neat to be able to drive through the game reserve in your own vehicle, I was driving the Infiniti I had on loan that week and didn't want to risk any damage to the car. The weather was hot and sunny so it was nice to be in an air conditioned bus and to be able to take photos without having to worry about driving. And boy, did I take plenty of photos! Here are some of my faves:
These baboons had just walked underneath our bus like it was no big deal. I found it strange that wouldn't just walk around but I guess they are used to it. You can see the one on the right is carrying her weeks-old baby who is clinging onto her belly.
There are no shortage of animals who roam freely and approach vehicles without hesitation. I worried a little about the animal's safety but there are zoo rangers in their safari vehicles that patrol the area and also herd the animals if they get too close to the gates that separate the different zones. Be sure to book your departure time before heading over to the bus lineup and leave an hour in your schedule for the actual tour.
Our friends met up with us at African Lion Safari and, once the bus tour was over, it was just after noon. We headed over to Mombasa Market Restaurant for some pizza. I tried to use the remaining balance on my Pizza Pizza gift card but they didn't accept it there, unfortunately. The kids' meal came with a cute little African Lion Safari lunch box, though, which made for a nice souvenir. After lunch, we threw on our bathing suits and headed over to the Misumu Bay Wet Play area. This place was awesome!
The interactive water adventure area has something for kids of all ages. Sprinklers, water slides, and the ominous tipping water bucket. The only problem here is that it is so loud, the kids couldn't hear me calling their names. And I, as a result, was oblivious to the water bucket that was about to soak me and my new DSLR. I guess that father who was shouting, "Watch out!" was trying to get my attention.
With the sun beating down on us and the temperatures rising, we could have stayed at the water park all day. It was pretty crowded for a Thursday, though, and there were a couple of large day camp groups there as well. But we still had yet to head out on the African Queen boat cruise. It was enjoyable but definitely something you can pass up if you're running short on time. I would definitely recommend the Nature Bay scenic railway, however. My son loves trains, planes and automobiles so we definitely couldn't pass this one up.
The train ride was an enjoyable break from walking around in the sun and there were lots of free-roaming animals to see, including a bunch of reindeer that came really close to our moving train.
The entire length of the train ride was about 15 minutes, I believe. It is right next to the Nairobi Fry Hut and near the Samburu Supply Shop. We grabbed a drink, took a bathroom break and then headed over to the super cool jungle playground.
The kids had endless fun at the playground but the mommies were getting a little tired of standing around in the hot sun. Luckily, the Discovery Centre was nearby and wonderfully air conditioned. The kids learned some really interesting animal facts before we headed back outside and sat down for a little picnic. We reminisced about our favourite moments before heading over to the gift shop on our way out.
African Lion Safari is open from May to October. Current rates range from $26 for kids age 3 and older to $33 for adults. This will grant you access to the park, the boat cruise, the train ride and the water park. You can also take your car through the game reserves for no extra charge or pay about $5 extra per person for the Safari tour bus. If you plan to visit after September 2, the general admission rates are lower by about $5 but the game reserves will be closed.
Disclosure: We received complimentary passes and special perks to help facilitate this review. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own.