Our children are big fans of all kinds of animals, and after seeing some of the photos of the African Safari アフリカサファリパーク, we decided that we would definitely need to go, time and weather permitting. It is apparently the largest safari park in Asia (so it says somewhere online, don’t hold me to it).
The drive from Beppu town to the safari was quite winding and took us almost 45 minutes on small roads, which is pretty long considering it is only a 2 hour drive from Beppu to Fukuoka on the highway. Actually most of this journey along the small roads follow along an expressway, I wonder why they don’t just open up an exit at the highway? Anyhow, it was a pleasant and easy drive.
When we got to the park at around 11am, we were not sure if we wanted to drive through or take the bus. I wanted to take the bus because their buses are so cute! We were driving a rental car, what if it got hit by some animals?? When we went to the Bangkok Safari, we were in a van, so we naturally figured that a bus would allow you to stand or move around and see more since the bus is larger and higher.
However, driving by yourself is cheaper. So when we asked the lady at the ticketing booth, she said the bus was better, so that was settled! We were given the 11:25 am bus and by the time we parked it was 11:05, which was just enough time to go to the toilets and leisurely wait for the bus.
Once we got on the bus, we were given a sheet of written English instructions and the driver pulled down English-Chinese-Korean list of safety rules while the rest were given a safety briefing in Japanese. Once you sit down you aren’t allowed to move around, but there isn’t a need to because the animals will be on both sides of the bus.
The driver was also doing a commentary for the entire trip but this was in Japanese, but then again the rest of the visitors on the bus were entirely Japanese. If you drive in on your own, you don’t get to feed the animals. So the bus is definitely worth it!
Then we were off! We drove into different enclosures to see the various animals. This aspect is similar to the Bangkok Safari. At each enclosure there is a specific spot where the bus will stop and the animals are ready and expecting to be fed. I am not sure if cars are also allows to stop at these spots but I suspect not, and think they would probably have to give way to the buses.
Each enclosure also has a ranger in a 4×4 close by, watching closely. In one of the deer areas, the ranger had to rev his jeep a little loudly to get the deer to back off from the bus so it could move off.
It was great fun for everyone, and we were really so close to the animals we could have almost petted them. But these are wild animals ok, so please exercise caution.
Treatment of animals
If you have read my previous post on the Bangkok Safari, I wrote about how I did not like the animal shows or the exploitation of some animals there. Here at the Beppu African Safari, it looks like the wild animals were being conditioned to expect food, and I am not sure if that is a good thing. But then again, don’t most zoos do that? I would love to have a chat with some WRS people about that one day! However, I am not a vet nor an animal activists, but the lions looked old. They didn’t look neglected but I’ve watched enough nature shows to think that these lions looked relatively happy, but old like they wouldn’t survive in the wild alone, and probably starve to death or get killed. Maybe this is like the nursing home for animals. Whatever the case, none of the animals are made to perform any tricks and all are free roaming and have plenty of space to run about, so I did not have any guilt patronizing this park.
The safari park is situated on a hill and very picturesque. From afar you can sometimes see the upcoming enclosures. The entire drive through took us about 45 minutes, which I feel was just nice for the kids.
Apart from the drive through safari, there is also a large petting section. There are Fallabellas which you can ride for a fee, a “Dog Salon” where you can pay to enter and pet all the small yappy dogs you want (sorry not a fan of small yappy dogs!), a Cat salon which we didn’t go to otherwise we’d never be able to leave, a monkey aviary, a kangaroo park and the kids enjoyed this little house where you could sit and pet Guinea pigs, rabbits and porcupines and also housed some meerkats and what looked like tarsiers to me. We had to drag the kids away.
Apart from the safari, there are SIX eating establishments (kiosks included), although we did not have our lunch here. You will never go hungry anywhere in Japan.
All in all, I would highly recommend this if it’s on your way! We left at around 1pm for a late lunch but the kids could have spent more time here if given a choice.
On the way back to the town, we stopped by a view point. There are some really lovely viewpoints of Oita bay everywhere!
The African Safari is not far off from a Hello Kitty land (of sorts?) in case you are interested in that.
Up next – our adventures in Fukuoka city! Mostly eating. What else, right?? 😀
Here is the rest of our Fukuoka trip that you might be interested in: