By Mia Myklebust
May 2, 2012 (San Pasqual)--With two wheels on the ground the group speeds forward, smooth cement below and nothing but grass on the horizon. Oh, and a few giraffes. I’m in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and I’m standing on a Segway. An activity I once thought of as daunting and foreign, my Rolling Safari Tour was an easy and exciting way to see the park and get up close and personal with the animals that make it so special.
I had two tour guides for the expedition, Candy and Jim. Both were friendly and knowledgeable about the Segway 2X machines as well as the park itself.
I had a two-step training period before the group was allowed to take on the main roads of the park. This turned out to be an excellent idea. First I zoomed around much too quickly and then overcompensated by creeping forward at snail pace. I quickly realized how thankful I was to have a practice period.
Jim was encouraging, and told me, “If an 80 year old man can do it, you can do it.” After just 10 short minutes I was weaving between cones like a pro.
Next, it was time to take on the wilderness. We began cruising around the park in single file; with the wind in my hair I realized just how wonderfully convenient it is to tour the park aboard a Segway.
First off, these things are fun! They’re a blast to be on, regardless of where you’re riding them. Secondly, the Segway allows you to have the personal control of a walking tour without the hassle of walking long distances.
Our guides allowed us to stop and look at animals or take a photo whenever we pleased. They provided interesting background about the animals and the park and had an answer to every one of our questions.
The tour allowed us to go on a path around the park that is otherwise only accessible by a driving tour. However, being on a Segway provided flexibility that a driving tour doesn’t.
You never know what surprises will be just around the corner on a Rolling Safari Tour. One of the highlights of my experience was the brand new baby rhino I was lucky enough to see. Being on a Segway allowed me to jump off and get up close and personal with the little guy in a pen just a few feet below us.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly San Diego Wild Animal Park) opened in 1972 as an area for exotic animals to have open spaces to roam. The park is known for its interactive experiences such as feeding giraffes or watching a cheetah run 330-feet in four seconds. The Rolling Safari Tour is another wonderful way to experience the park in a safe, fun and hands-on way.
The tour, which opened in 2009, runs twice a day and has room for 10 people in each tour. The tour’s uniqueness makes it an attraction for both local residents and tourists.
There are murmurs of expanding the segway tour to include more areas of the park or making more extensive tours in the future.
The tour is $122 for adults and $80 for entrance ticket holders.
Children younger than 13 or lighter than 100 pounds are not permitted on the tour.
For more information visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park website.