Australia’s own Safari experience at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
What do you get when you combine a zoo and a safari? A Zoofari of course!
Imagine waking up to the sounds of birds chirping, only to look outside and see giraffes roaming the fields directly outside your lodge.
If you’re wanting a safari experience without the long haul flight to Africa, then the Zoofari experience at Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo is perfect.
Where is Taronga Western Plains Zoo?
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo, central west New South Wales Australia. It is around a 5 hour drive from Sydney.
Zoofari Lodge accommodation
Location: Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia
Room: Zoofari Lodge
Perfect for: Romantic getaway and African style safari experience
What’s included in your accommodation package
You get so much included in your package, we were impressed! Not only do you get some incredible accommodation, but you also get the following included in the room rate.
- Two day admission to the zoo
- Behind the scenes tours with a Zoofari guide – one evening tour and one morning tour
- African style canapés, a banquet dinner and dessert
- Full buffet breakfast
- Bicycle hire for the two days
- Plus you get 10% off at the souvenir shop, cafe and all additional animal encounters
Our welcome experience…
We arrived at the visitors information centre at the zoo to check in. The process was quick and simple and the staff very helpful. We had pre arranged an animal encounter as well so we picked up the paperwork for that to save time the next day. We picked up a couple of bikes and explored the zoo. Or, you could hire a cart to get around with!
We were provided with maps of the zoo as well as directions on how to get to the Zoofari Lodge.
We were shown to our lodge by the zoofari guide, Emma, and were explained the safety rules and where everything was. We were given the Giraffe lodge (Giraffes happen to be Jenna’s favourite animal so this was perfect!).
When you walk up to your lodge, open the doors and see the room… you have that ‘wow’ moment. It was spectacular. The lodge is a giant heavy duty tent built with extreme luxury in mind, air conditioning, sliding glass doors and fly screens.
The bedroom was spacious with a king bed and a sofa along with a wardrobe (with additional pillows, ironing board, robes and slippers), a mini bar and some complimentary water.
The bed had a mosquito net which you could pull down of an evening if you wanted to, we didn’t have any issues with actual mosquito’s inside, but it certainly added to the atmosphere.
Behind the bed is bifold mirrors which are open to the bathroom. Given you’re in a tent, the bathroom is out of this world!
The spacious bathroom included a giant tub a separate shower and two sinks. It was incredibly spacious.
You also have your own private patio with a lounge, table and two chairs overlooking the Giraffe enclosure. It was nothing short of spectacular, to be able to watch the sun go down while enjoying watching the giraffe’s have their dinner so close to you and all from the comfort of your own lodge.
Take a look for a walk inside of the lodge.
Meals and the Main House…
After check in and enjoying a relaxing bath, it was time for us to head to the Main House veranda for some more relaxation. We picked up a couple of cocktails and played some chess. Canapés were served which consisted of some cheese, crackers and buffalo (which was delicious!!).
In the wintertime, it would be perfect to sit in front of the fire pit!
After canapés were served, there was complementary wine tasting before dinner.
All meals were prepared by Chef Nan who has been with Taronga Zoo for many years and has recently been awarded the Taronga Zoo’s highest honour, the Directors Award.
Dinner included a variety of different dishes each shared amongst your table. We had the following:
- Home made pumpkin damper
- Organic chicken thighs
- Garden salad
Each of the meats were served with vegetables or other side dishes such as cous cous.
Dessert was a choice between chocolate torte and panna cotta.
The menu does change daily but it is safe to say there is something for everyone on the menu! The meal is complimented with an excellent range of wines as well as full bar service.
Following an early rise for the spectacular morning tour, a tasty full buffet breakfast awaits. Breakfast included a variety of juice, yoghurt, muesli plus the usual hot breakfast goodies.
Our evening tour started after dinner. We met at the zoofari lodge bus stop and hopped on board.
Our first stop was with Cuddles. Cuddles is 46 and is the only African Elephant at the Zoo. She hears the bus coming and she starts walking down through her enclosure to meet us for some treats! It is really quite spectacular watching her come all the way down. Emma gave us a lot of information on Cuddles, it was good to get to know Cuddles.
We then popped on over to the hippos, they were enjoying a snooze on the cool concrete area.
Then we moved to the incredible 2.5 tonne white rhino. No photo did him justice! He was massive and you get to stand very close to him.
Another interesting animal we saw on the evening tour was the Bongo. He has such interesting markings on his back and also loved to use the tree as a scratching board
The morning tour kicked off with what Jenna would say was the best part of her trip! Feeding of the giraffes.
It was amazing! Two beautiful giraffes came over to the fence, we could then take two carrots each and feed these guys. We were lucky enough to have left over carrots so we got a second go!
Here is a close up of these guys being fed!
Then we were off to see the Black Rhino. Much smaller than the white Rhino, we got to know this guy and watched him eat his breakfast. Such a beautiful creature!
These guys are the smallest little things, they scurry around and then stand on their hind legs like they own the place! They are very entertaining to watch!
Across from the Meerkats are the Wild Dogs (not Hyena’s!). They had quite a big litter recently so there were a few pups around!
We watched Emma feed the Lemurs. There were two of them in their area which is an island near the information centre. They love their banana!
Across from the Lemurs were the White Handed Gibbon. They were enjoying the morning sun!
Our last stop on the morning tour was behind the scenes at the elephant enclosure. We watched as the keepers hosed down one of the elephants and checked his feet. These guys are adorable and very well trained! It was nice to see what happens each morning and how they go about keeping these guys clean and check on their health etc.
At the time we visited the zoo, they had a 3 week old Asian Elephant, although we didn’t see him as part of this morning tour, we enjoyed watching him in the zoo grounds. If you want to see a baby elephant run, check this video out!!
Good to know…
Although the staff has mosquito repellent for the evening tour, it might be worth taking some with you and applying it before you leave for the evening tour!
Checking out was quick and easy. Your bill is left on your table at breakfast time and you can settle it before you leave at the guest house.
There is a pool outside the guest house and is a perfect way to cool off after exploring the zoo in summertime.
Also, there are barrows available to help transport your bags to and from the carpark – these come in pretty handy!
Above and beyond…
Our Zoofari guide, Emma was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful throughout our stay from checking in to checking out.
The not so good…
Nothing to report in this section! There was nothing I could fault!
We absolutely loved our stay at the Zoofari Lodge. While I have been to Africa and Jenna hasn’t, this was a great sampler! Waking up to birds chirping and the giraffes grazing is absolutely magical and highly recommended!
Take a look at our short video…
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” – Lillian Smith