Disney’s Animal Kingdom has several backstage tours, one of them being the Wild Africa Trek. This tour takes you backstage to see a side of Kilimanjaro Safaris you have never experienced before. It’s great for those who have any interest in how Cast Members take care of the animals. It also is very informative for any animal lovers or those who have interest in getting into the field. Throughout the tour, you encounter actual animal caretakers who have daily interactions with these animals. My husband had been dying to go on this tour ever since he saw a tour in progress while on Kilimanjaro Safaris. For his birthday this year, I bit the bullet and booked the tour to surprise him!
Gearing up for your Animal Trek
To start you need to head up to the Wild Africa Trek entrance which is right next door to the standby line to Kilimanjaro Safaris. There you will get the low down of what to expect on your tour and begin the process of gearing up. Since there is only one bathroom stop on this tour it’s a good idea to go to the bathroom before you start your tour.
Then you will get the talk on what you can bring. Pretty much if it can’t be secured in a tiny pouch in your vest or strapped to you it’s a no go. So if you want to bring your cell phone make sure you have a case on it. This way they can attach a strap (which you can keep) and make sure it is secure throughout your tour. You are allowed multiple items so if you want to go all out you can bring a DSLR, phone, and GoPro. As a bonus, you get a free water bottle for your journey that you can bring back home to remember your travels.
Don’t worry about figuring all this out the guides will completely set you up in your gear you just stand and look pretty! First, it starts with a mandatory weigh in and then they can fit you in the proper harness/vest. Then they attach all the items you wish to bring with you. They even secure down those important sunglasses. Lastly, you head back to get strapped in. I will warn you now, you look goofy and it will feel weird but the experience is well worth it. Nothing is overly tight and they will periodically check to make sure everything is just right throughout your journey.
The Beginning of the Wild Africa Trek
Once your whole tour is geared up you will set off to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Despite it being overly crowded due to spring break our guides pointed neat things out along the way. But the real fun happened when we set off the path and went into the back area of the safari.
After a short walk through the woods, we came to one of the hippopotamus exhibits. This is where your vest first come into use! One by one your harness gets hooked up to a system that allows you to get on the edge of the cliff to get a closer look at of the hippos. One of the hippo keepers actually met up with us here and gave us lots of insight into the hippos we were seeing. The two were both male and actually were father/son! I was surprised to hear that in captivity these animals can actually live for up 50 years!
Next, you get a rather interesting view of the female hippo pool followed by some unfriendly faces. This is where you get to cross two suspension bridges and walk right over the animals and safari trucks zipping by below. Once your safety gear is in place and your harness is attached to the system you will individually get to walk across the bridge. One of the guides will cross first so they can capture your terrified faces on camera. The bridge is missing some planks and gets pretty wobbly when you are out in the middle. Of course with netting and being completely harnessed in you are safe. It does leave you with a bit of an uneasy feeling though.
The first exciting spotting was the baby hippo that was recently born here at the Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, the little bugger was hiding in the shade under the trees. While it’s very tempting I recommend not looking down at your feet the whole time. Stop, look up and take it all in! They don’t rush you on this tour, so enjoy.
Next, you get to cross over the Nile crocodiles. They are a little less friendly over here, something about these massive beasts was very unsettling. When we reached the end of the bridge were got to get down and have an even closer look at the crocodiles. One of their keepers was also there to talk a bit more and answer any of our questions.
Touring the Savannah on Wild Africa Trek
Now you can finally take off your vest and board your private truck tour of the rest of Kilimanjaro Safaris. This tour of the savannah is a far cry from your standard ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris. The truck makes more frequent stops and pauses for a longer period of time. They have some special paths for the tour that let you get off the main road and get up close to the animals. When the truck stops in a few spots they actually let you stand up move around and get any pictures you would like.
Stopping for Some Tapas at Boma
This is my favorite part of the tour where you head out to Boma. If you’ve ridden on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, you have most likely seen where you stop for a snack, Boma is the pavilion in the distance. Once you enjoy your snacks I highly recommend using the provided Binoculars and getting that up close look of all the animals around you. Your tour guides will also snap some group shots for you. You get 30 minutes at this stop so take advantage it goes by really quick.
The food they serve is tapas style. It comes in the tins you see above and has little dishes of different items inside. The African inspired meal is prepared by Tusker House but is a menu served exclusively for the trek. Inside for the afternoon trek, you will get bresaola and prosciutto, mixed fruit and curried chicken salad in one; the other tin is the salmon roll with sun-dried tomato hummus and tandoori barbecued shrimp. The chicken curry is seriously the best part of the whole thing. It’s been so popular Disney even released the recipe so you can make it at home.
Last of your Journey on Wild Africa Trek
After you wrap up your time at Boma the rest of the tour goes by fast. You will first stop to get a closer look at the White Rhinos and the Cheetahs. I am all about cats in general so this was a highlight. Just like at my house the two cheetahs were sleeping in the shade together.
Then we were on to some more big cats who were out enjoying their daily naps.
We continued to go through the rest of the safari. Catching some zebras, warthogs, and ostrich. This pretty much wrapped up the tour and they brought us up to where you typically get off the attraction.
They had one last thing before we departed. A portion of our tour ticket price is donated to conservation efforts through Disney’s Wildlife Conservation Fund and we got to choose where it went. As we exited our tour vehicle, each guest got a stone. You choose where you wanted your money to go by putting the stone in a box marked for a specific animal. We got to choose from Big Cats, Elephant, Rhino, or Giraffe, or general conservation efforts.
Also, at the end of your tour your guides will cover exactly how to get all your photos from your tour. It’s no longer tied to photopass and has a separate website with a unique login that allows you to download all your pictures.
Things to Know Before you go on the Wild Africa Trek
In an effort to ensure you have a wild and memorable adventure, please take note of the following:
Due to the safety harness required for this experience, appropriate casual attire is recommended. Please note the following information:
- Closed-toe shoes with a back strap, sneakers, or hiking boots are required to trek. Opened-toe shoes of any kind are not permitted.
- Long shorts or pants with a comfortable shirt are recommended to trek. Skirts and dresses are not permitted.
- Park admission is required for this experience and not included in the price of Wild Africa Trek. At check-in, one adult participant will be asked to present government-issued identification.
- Guests must be at least 8 years of age and be at least 48 inches tall. In addition, Guests must weigh between 45 and 300 pounds. This will be confirmed by scale at check-in and is not negotiable. The harness on this experience may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from participating.
- All guests should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by the adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate.
- Guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
Wild Africa Trek is located in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom next to the Kilimanjaro Safaris Entrance.
- For Guests attending the trek prior to park opening (typically the 8:00 and 8:45 AM departures), a Wild Africa Trek Guide will meet your party at the Main Entrance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Please meet our Guide to the left of the Main Entrance, near the Guest Relations window. Kindly arrive 30 minutes prior to your departure time.
- For Guests attending the trek after park opening, please check-in at the Wild Africa Trek Entrance. Kindly arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your departure time.
- Late arrivals will be unable to join a trek in progress but will be accommodated on the next available trek (space permitting).
Allowable Items on the Trek
- Hats and glasses/sunglasses.
- Cameras or cell phone cameras, provided they can be securely attached with either a wrist or neck strap.
- Medical necessities.
- All items not mentioned above will not be permitted on the trek. Complimentary lockers will be provided to store all additional items for the duration of the experience.
Conclusion on Wild Africa Trek
I have actually now done the Wild Africa Trek twice and both have left me with unforgettable memories. You just never know what the animals are going to do and what special memories they will leave you with. The whole experience is so authentic you may just forget and think you are in Africa instead of Orlando Florida!
Unless you are taking the tour in Florida winter I recommend going for a morning tour. We started our tour at noon because that is when Disney offered a discount. If you have Disney Visa card and plan on doing ANY tour always ask about available discounts because they will save you loads, especially for a pricey tour like Wild Africa Trek. For more on enjoying your day at the Animal Kingdom read Animal Kingdom Must Dos.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!
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