Jambo and welcome!
This post is about probably my favorite ride at all of Walt Disney World: Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom. This ride is in the far left corner of the park, in Africa. I’ve had safaris at all times of day and in all sorts of weather and really love the variety of animals you can spot each time out – and each time out is an utterly unique experience!
The Safaris have undergone a few changes during their 15 years. Before the park opened to the public, there was a scene with a simulated poached elephant to drive home points about conservation and protection of these magnificent animals. The second incarnation did away with the “dead” elephant due to how upset people got over it, and instead came up with a storyline where guests on safari were employed to help track down and scare off poachers – the widely-known “Little Red” version of the ride. Recently, Little Red moved out and Warden Wilson was cut down to only being in the queue’s pre-show. The new storyline just says that the preserve has expanded – the broken fence through which we used to chase poachers is now the preserve’s old boundary. Zebras were once found beyond this boundary but have been problematic and so are being replaced with addax.
I have an ongoing theory that Wilson was actually leader of the poachers and make a compelling case for this theory any time I feel like messing around on twitter.
I shot these photos over two days: January 2 and March 4, 2013. In January, I was shooting with a 55-250mm lens and in March, I switched to my favorite 28mm to shoot some sweeping landscapes (I hope!). With the 28mm, I also used a fish eye adapter to get some queue shots. A great review of the adapter is available at the Duffyngton Post. All photos were taken with my Canon T3i, and edited lightly in iPhoto for OS X.
I must give credit to Wikipedia for animal names in this gallery. I do not have them all and welcome anyone who’d like to contribute.
Oddly, this sign is not at the entrance to the ride.
After you enter Harambe from Discovery Island, you will see this in the distance.
I recommend riding during parade time, the line can actually be over an hour and well out past this entrance.
In the queue, you’ll see large TV screens explaining the preserve.
Warden Wilson (I think he was the lead poacher) explains the preserve, but is no longer in the ride.
The gloriously empty queue.
At some point in the queue, the ride vehicles pass below you. Look at how completely-themed they are. I love these ride vehicles.
Approaching the safari office in the queue.
Inside the safari office.
No! Hakuna njia.
Once you’re on your vehicle, you can see the rest of the ride vehicle theming.
The driver has his bumpter stickers in his cockpit.
Wave goodbye to civilization, because…
You’re on safari!
Okapi – closest relative is the giraffe, not the zebra.
Yellow-backed duiker – I don’t think he wants to be bothered.
Black rhino – not having a good day.
These are native Florida birds and will be ignored by the safari guide.
Hippopotamus (in the wayyyy back)
The front side of water!
Also, still the front side of water, three months later.
Baobob tree, aka upside-down tree. It stores months of water in its trunk.
Up close and personal with Scott Baiobob.
Savannah wide view. You WILL gasp here on your first ride. It’s striking.
Giraffes in the distance.
An Ankole in the distance.
Baby reticulated giraffe
More termite mounds/elephant scratchers.
Wildebeest, aka gnu.
Termite mounds – hard as concrete and used by elephants for scratching.
The animals get super close on the savannah!
Those horns are up to five feet long, but full of a honeycomb structure meaning they’re quite light.
PERFECT! err.. not really.
Camera? What camera?
My awesome photography skills!
Our safari guide called our attention to “the unusual cloud formation ahead.”
We caught up to a smaller, private tour.
Our safari guide points out a few things.
Road closed, we wouldn’t want you seeing…
ORANGES! Yes, oranges in Africa.
Clay pits dug out by elephants for minerals.
Baby elephant being cute!
Baby elephant getting some milk.
I was looking at the Ankole in the distance…
And didn’t even notice this guy!
They wanted to cross the road after we’d passed through.
Greater flamingo. I believe they used to live in Mexico at EPCOT.
Their island is a familiar, three-circle shape…. any guesses?
Ostrich! Black is male, grey-brown is female or young.
Cheetah – no one plays cards with this guy.
Cheetahs really are just big house cats.
I see a rock formation in the distance…
Getting closer, reminds me of some rocks from a movie…
THAT’S the movie! A male lion sits atop the rocks.
A female lion.
Through a broken fence into a new area of the preserve.
Unfortunately, the zebras are no longer on the safari, their time was short and I believe they’re getting replaced by addax.
A waterfall on the way out.
Back to civilization…