Today, we are going to take a look at one of Walt Disney World’s signature vip tour options.
Wild Africa Trek is offered several times daily at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. The tour is 3 – 3-1/2 hour experience through several exclusive areas of both Kilimanjaro Safaris and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails. There is also a thrilling surprise about an hour into the tour!
It should be noted, about half of this 3 hour plus experience will be walking through various trails. However, you make plenty of stops along the way and we never felt particular tired at any point.
The tour ranges from $189 – $249 per person depending on the time of year, however we find that they do often run special discounts. For our 2nd trip, we took advantage of a 20% off special, and added our AP discounts and were able to book the tour for around $130 a person.
We have actually done this tour on 2 separate occasions. The first was on our honeymoon in November of 2016. We loved the tour so much that we decided to do it again with my niece Bella in the summer of 2017. This post will include photos from both of our tours. This is why you will see Mary Beth and I wearing 2 different outfits throughout the post, as well as explain the sudden weather changes. We had a beautiful sunny day for our first tour, while the second was cloudy with a light on and off drizzle throughout.
Check-in for the tour is located right outside the regular entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Photo credit easywdw.com
Upon check in, you will be required to sign a waiver which absolves Disney of any blame should you get mauled by a hippopotamus or something!
You are not allowed to bring any loose items at all with you on the tour. You will be assigned a locker to store any items you are unable to bring. Phones and cameras can only be carried along if you have a strap to directly attach them to your body. You will also be forced to weigh in as you must be in between 60 and 300 lbs. They are good at keeping the weigh ins confidential for anyone who may be worried about that.
After you pass your official weigh in, you will bit suited up in your harness for the 1st half of the tour. You will also receive your ear piece so you can clearly hear the guides throughout the entire experience. You will also receive an insulated metal water bottle… think similar to a yeti brand bottle, as well as a name tag.
You start by entering the Gorilla Falls trail. This area is obviously open to all park guests.
You stay on the regular Gorilla Falls trail until right after you exit the little house that houses various exotic animals, which exits right into the first hippo viewing area. It’s here that we take a hard left turn into the Forrest.
We are officially in an exclusive area now and will remain so for the next hour to an hour and a half.
The trail travels perpendicular to the Kilimanjaro Safaris route which allows you get get pretty close to several animal areas. While it may look like the animals along the safari have free roam of area, Disney keeps them in their proper areas through carefully designed landscaping.
The first extended stop on the tour is the hippo area. Here, an animal expert is waiting to answer any and all questions you may have. If no questions are asked they will just give a general education spiel about the hippos.
While in this area, you are attached via bungee cable to a metal track. This allows you to move close to the edge without fear of falling into the animal area.
I won’t go into any of the specific information learned as that’s part of the fun in taking the tour. Instead, I will just say that we learned quite a bit of fascinating information.
We head back onto the trail to make our way towards one of the real highlights of the tour.
One of Disney’s big advertising points for Wild Africa Trek is getting to walk the daunting rope bridges. These bridges can be seen in the distance while taking a normal ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
The bridges travel directly above two different animal enclosures: First the hippos, then the Nile crocodiles.
Notice many floor boards are missing from these rickedy bridges, giving them quite the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom feel. Don’t worry though. As you can see there is a net right below, and your harness won’t let you go anywhere anyway (Its connect to a cable above running parallel with the bridge).
This experience is flat out awesome and a real highlight of the tour.
During our 1st tour, 2 folks did not have the courage to make it across. There were able to be lead by a separate tour guide who came out and picked them up to bring them to a meeting point later in the tour.
That being said, you are paying in a lot of money for the experience and I strongly recommend trying to tough it out at all costs. It’s a thrilling experience that I will always remember. And really, its not scary once you actually get out onto the bridges as you feel secure in you harness.
While some folks were super focused on just making it across safely, I had no issues stopping and leaning over to take photographs.
I’m sure theses crocs are just sitting down there hoping someone’s harness gives out.
I probably included way too many photos from the rope bridge in this post, but it really is worth stressing as a highlight of the tour.
After everyone crosses the 2nd bridge, you will hook up to another metal track to get a closer view at the crocodiles you just walked over.
Again, another animal expert will be on hand to educate the group.
This guy above lost a hand while fighting with another croc. Lucky for him, it will grow back.
After a few minutes learning more about the crocs, we head back to the trail and start to make our way towards the Savanna.
You get some beautiful views of the Savanna through the trees. These area all angles you would never see during a normal safari ride.
Finally, you approach your safari truck. This is different from the vehicle you would ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Instead, this vehicle has seating all along the perimeter of the passenger area. You can ditch your harness at this point as well.
You board your vehicle right at the area where the typical safari reaches the Savanna.
Your ride starts out pretty familiarly as you travel along the same path as the normal safari for the first few bits. The big difference, is that your truck will stop for extended periods of time when you come across a cool animal encounter. You also have your 2 tour guides to give you various interesting facts and answer any of your questions.
Binoculars are also available if you like.
Its so nice having plenty of time to snap all the photos you like without the vehicle moving.
Once you get to the giraffes, things get really cool. We were particularly lucky both of our tours and had several great up close encounters with these awesome creatures.
Here, you will head up a side road into the middle of the savanna. This road is exclusive to tours and it gets your right in the middle of the action. There area literally animals all around you at any given time.
Off in the distance in the photo above, you can see a covered structure. This is where we will be having lunch in a little bit.
I know I’m focusing kind of hard on the giraffes here, but they are just such cool animals.
We head down the road and meet up with the regular safari route to pass the elephant area.
The elephants are perhaps my favorite part of the tour and it was nice to take an extended stop to look at them. All too often during a normal safari ride, the elephants are doing something interesting and you are forced to just keep driving by.
Just past the elephants, we make another hard turn off the beaten path and head up the lunch pavilion I mentioned above.
Here, you get some more unique views of the Savanna you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.
You can also walk down this little boardwalk to another viewing area.
If you have a super zoom lens, you can get some pretty neat shots of the elephants from up here. Baby Stella was still fairly young at this point.
For lunch, you are served 2 metal bowls filled with various snacks.
This included fruit, cured meats, various breads, yogurt, granola and smoked salmon. It was a nice little mix, though it wasn’t particularly filling. The flower is edible as well at least. To drink, Jungle Juice is available. This is a mixture of orange juice, passion fruit and guava nectar. It’s quite delicious!
This lunch break takes place about 2 hours into the tour, and its the first bathroom break which I suppose is worth noting.
After lunch, you head back onto your vehicle to finish the tour.
You will travel along the regular safari route for a bit until you turn off to head towards your tour specific area to exit the ride vehicle.
Much like a typical safari, the last big highlight is the lions. Again, its awesome here to be able to stop for a bit, ask questions and take photos without the vehicle in motion.
After passing the lions its time to exit your safari vehicle. You will then be given the chance to choose which animals you wish to donate towards the preservation of. This donation is included in what you already paid to take the tour.
Your tour guides will bid you “Asante Sana” which is Swahili for thanks a lot.
You can then retrieve your stored valuables from the locker and be on your way. Your name tag and and water bottle are yours to keep. You will also be given a piece of paper with a code on it. This will give your access to download all of the photographs taken by the guides during your tour.
Overall, while it is on the pricey side, I can’t recommend this tour enough. This is personally our favorite tour we have done at WDW and has the ability to be a real highlight of any Walt Disney World vacation! Doing it a 2nd time was even better than the first for us, as aside from the general route, no two tours are going to be just alike. Our tour guides for both trips were excellent!
If you are looking for something special to add to your WDW trip, I strongly recommend giving Wild Africa Trek serious consideration!