Camping at San Diego’s Animal Park
If you’ve wondered what it might be like on an African safari, camping in outfitter tents with lions roaring in the distance, you won’t have to leave the continent to find out.
A trip to San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, the city’s premiere animal park, provides a variety of tent accommodations — including outfitter tents — and evening programs where you can stay the night and observe the park’s 300 species of animals roam 1,800 acres.
Roar and Snore
Experience San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park in its off hours with guided walks, tasty meals and campfire programs at your choice of Roar and Snore Safaris. The experiences range from adult-only sleepovers to those designed for the entire family, kids only, or all ages. Book a premium tent for the most luxurious accommodations, including electricity, a queen bed, area rug and wooden floor in a roomy 12-by-16-foot accommodation where all linens and pillows are provided.
Smaller 9-by-14 tents have vinyl floors over a dirt tent pad where you must provide your own bedding for the 3-inch sleeping pads. The fun takes place on weekend nights from February through November. Dinner and breakfast are provided.
Kids as young as those in third grade can experience overnight camping with animal education programs and hands-on adventures designed for their age level. Critter Caper Campout gives kids in grades three through six three days and two overnights at the park. The kids investigate animal behavior through activities such as following animal tracks and dissecting owl pellets.
Older kids in grades six through eight get hands-on opportunities to observe and assist zookeepers and trainers at a five-day Animal Care Boot Camp. Kids help feed giraffes and rhinos, monitor animal behavior with a field biologist, and visit the park’s animal hospital to see veterinarians in action. Day-camp adventures also are available at the park.
The Roar and Snore Campground meets ADA guidelines, including wheelchair-accessible restroom facilities. Some behind-the-scenes areas of the park are not accessible by wheelchair. Your service animal is welcome, but cannot accompany you in certain areas of the park.
Kennels are provided on site if you wish to visit these areas, and you can call ahead for someone to assist you in areas where your service animal cannot go. Electric conveyance vehicles and wheelchairs can be rented at the park’s main entrance, and you can ride a shuttle to areas of the park not accessible by wheelchair.
What to Bring
If you are staying in a premium tent, you only need to bring a duffel bag or suitcase with your clothing for the evening and following day. Suggested items include comfortable closed-toe walking shoes, sleepwear, and a jacket or sweatshirt. Insects can be plentiful on summer evenings, so plan on long sleeves and long pants, or bring insect repellent.
If you’re not staying in the premium tent, you also need to bring a sleeping bag and pillow. Expect nighttime temperatures ranging from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Although daytime temperatures generally remain in the 60- to 70-degree range year-round, temperatures as high as 111 degrees have been recorded in San Diego. Remember to bring a telephoto lens for your camera, and a spotting scope or binoculars.