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When my friends and I were planning our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we realized we could take advantage of the introductory rates for a new backstage tour being offered called the Wild Africa Trek. We were all really excited to participate since the tour started the month before with rave reviews from guests. The trek is an experience guests may reserve for an added cost (depending on the season) which brings up to 12 people back stage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Before I get to all of the fun details about the tour, there are few things people should know about it.
Folks who are considering the tour should be forewarned there is quite a bit of walking on uneven pathways. There is also a weight limit in order to ensure your safety using the harness equipment (the cast members will weigh you at the start of your tour). If you have a fear of height, you may not want to sign up for the trek. Everyone must walk across rope bridges along the way. Once you have decided to sign up, make sure you dress properly with sturdy sneakers, sunscreen, and all that good stuff. One last tidbit: there is no bathroom access for a couple of hours so watch your liquid intake that morning. Now that we have all of those warnings out of the way, let me tell you all about my Wild Africa Trek.
Our tour began before the park opened for the day. We had a car so we did not have to worry about the bus schedule. If you opt to use Disney transportation to get to the park, you may consider taking a cab at that hour of the morning to eliminate any added hassle. Since we arrived before park opening, a guide was waiting for us at the main gate to take our names and then escort us to the area where the trek begins. This area includes lockers where guests can stow their stuff they won’t be taking on the actual tour. You should know you are not permitted to take anything which you cannot attach to your body due to the psychical activity required (you may take your camera if you can clip it onto your provided vest or wear it around your neck). Bulky items like backpacks will also not be allowed to come with you since they would get in the way of your harness equipment.
After stowing your belongings, you will be fitted with a harness for the first half of the trek. It is not flattering, it isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it is for your safety. When you are all suited up in your harness, you will be asked to take a practice run on a small rope bridge. Your guides will try to get to know you a bit at this point before you begin. One of these guides will have a camera and will photograph your group throughout your tour. A great feature of the Wild Africa Trek is that guests are provided a code for a free photo pass CD with all of the photos the guide takes.
The first portion of the tour is dedicated to the jungle. Like most things at Disney World, there is a storyline for the tour. If you are familiar with the storylines associated with the Pagani Forest Exploration Trail and the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, the spiel given by your guides will sound familiar. After walking through the African village of Harambe, guests are lead into the Pagani Trail to get a closer look at a few animals like gorillas before heading backstage. Here there is a bit of a hike through a wooded area with a stop to look over the edge of a small cliff at the hippo habitat. There is a bit more hiking until folks arrive at one of the highlights of the day: rope bridges over the hippos and Nile crocodiles.
There are two bridges guests must cross to continue on with their journey. They are made of rope and wood planks which are designed to look weathered and worn. Your guides will give you some safety instructions, assist you with attaching your harness to the safety equipment, and then you’re off! The bridges give you a great view of the animals if you are brave enough to look down. It was a blast to watch my friends cross the bridges, especially those who were a bit afraid. With some encouraging words, everyone made it across!
After the second bridge, the jungle portion of the tour begins to wind down and eventually guests are led to a truck waiting to take them out into the savannah for the second portion of the tour. We were able to get a great view of several animals on the savannah that day. Our guide stopped on occasion so we could take pictures and ask questions. There were also binoculars on board the truck for us to use to get a better look at some of the more reclusive residents of the Animal Kingdom.
Here are some pictures of my friends and I crossing the bridges:
Photos from our savannah vehicle:
After cruising around the savannah for a while, we were brought to the Boma (an area to take a break, have some food, and use the rest room). This structure offers fantastic views of the savannah! We were able to relax for a while, enjoy some yummy food, and take in the beauty of our surroundings. Our time here was really enjoyable, especially since we were lucky enough to have a gorgeous day. Food brought in from the Tusker House restaurant is provided at the Boma. The African inspired menu changes based on the time of day. Since our tour started early in the morning we were given a selection of breakfast items. While there were a few things that were not my favorite just based on personal taste, I thought the food was great! If you are a light eater, you could probably make a meal out of the trek’s munchies, but others may find their stomachs grumbling a couple hours later.
After our snack we were able to hang out and enjoy the view of the savannah for a while longer before piling back in the truck, checking out a few more animals, and returning to the area where we started. When we arrived back at the beginning, we were informed a donation to the Disney’s Wildlife Conservations Fund would be made on our behalf which I thought was a nice gesture. After retrieving our belongings for the lockers, we took one last group shot before wrapping things up.
Our trek lasted about three hours when all was said and done. I really loved this experience! Our guides were fun, kind, and knowledgeable and they really added to our tour. The opportunity to get a better look at some of the animals seen on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction was a real treat. Adding in the adventurous elements of hiking and tackling the rope bridges made this an unforgettable morning. With all that being said, I’m not sure I would pay $249 charged during peak season. If your travel plans are flexible enough, I think the regular $189 price tag is reasonable especially since a photo pass CD is included.
What about you? Have you tried the Wild Africa Trek? Dying to try it? Let me know what you think!
If you’d like to see more pictures of the Wild Africa Trek check out our blogger JL’s post about her experience!
Next week I’ll be back to discuss preparing for a trip to WDW since I’ll be in the midst of getting ready for my next one!