Intro / Description
I’d heard about Lion Country Safari and I’ve wanted to visit for a while. Lynn and I finally got a chance to go last week.
“Lion Country Safari is a drive-through safari park located in Loxahatchee (near West Palm Beach), in Palm Beach County, Florida. Founded in 1967, it claims to be the first ‘cageless zoo’ in the United States. In 2009, USA Travel Guide named Lion Country the 3rd best zoo in the nation.” Wikipedia’s Lion Country Safari Page
There are about 5 miles of paved roads running through several large areas divided by water and fences with more than 1,000 animals throughout. I haven’t been to Africa, but it seems like a wonderful place to get a small taste of what safari might be like.
Info for Photographers
Access for photographers is excellent. It’s similar in some ways to Animal Kingdom in Orlando. The photo ops for most of the large African animals are better than the safari ride at Animal Kingdom. At Lion Country Safari you go at your own pace in your own car. At Animal Kingdom, you’re in a vehicle with others that you have no control over and most of the time you’ll have to shoot from the moving / shaking vehicle. That said, Animal Kingdom does have some animals that Lion country Safari doesn’t have and in some cases with much better photography access.
You’re cautioned to drive slowly and not stop too close to the animals. You’re also supposed to keep your doors locked and windows shut at all times. I did cheat and one of the rangers yelled at me on a loudspeaker – “Close your window right now!”. I did, of course and felt a little embarrassed. The ranger probably would have been embarrassed too if she knew she yelled at the Central Florida Photo Ops lead writer!
When we drove through the zebra herd, I was a little leery of stopping behind any of them – I believe they have a very powerful kick. But in general we felt very safe and I didn’t have any problems positioning the car for the shots I wanted.
Tripod/Monopod: Nope. You’ll be in your vehicle – so they aren’t useful.
Lenses: Long lenses are good, although the animals are very close at times. You’ll do fine if you have at least a 200mm equivalent lens. Zooms are also very helpful to frame your composition from inside your car. Unless it’s very overcast you should have plenty of light, but you’ll want to use a wide open aperture to blur out distracting detail (e.g. fences, etc.) and to keep your shutter speed high.
Best time to visit: The animals are most active early in the morning. Plan to drive through at least twice (no extra charge): the light and the animals activities / positions will change.
The entrance fee is $31, although you can find discount coupons on-line. This includes both the drive through safari park as well as the walk through safari and amusement park areas. Lynn and I didn’t really explore the amusement park side, for more info on this, please see the Lion Country Safari web page.
We stayed at Jonathan Dickenson State Park in Jupiter, Florida in one of their small cabins and it made a great base of operations for exploring the area.
Our base of operations at Jonathan Dickenson State Park
We both liked Lion Country Safari. The animals all seemed well fed, healthy, and even interested in the visitors. They do animal rehabilitation, sanctuary, and research and seem to take very good care of the residents. It’s one of the best zoos I’ve been to and I wish I’d gone sooner. You can see more Lion Country Safari photos in this set on Flickr.
|My Gallery / Flickr photo set:||https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157650144549843|
|Address / Phone:||2003 Lion Country Safari Rd
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
|Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:||A Central Florida Photo Op must do!|
On a different subject, this blog celebrated its 8th birthday last week – the first post was published on May 4th, 2007. That’s a long time ago in web years! I hope that my photography and writing has improved at least a little since then. Many thanks to everyone stopping by to read the articles and comment on them. It really helps to motivate me!
Now – go make some photos!
©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.