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I'd like to visit the Safari Park (formerly known as Wild Animal Park) in San Diego. I'm debating which lens should I use for it, but that would depend on the distance to the animals.
Does anyone know how close are the trails to the animals (on average)? Since there are wild animals, I would imagine they'd be pretty far from humans.

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It depends on what you do. The park has a variety of "safaris" you can take. Videos of each are on that page. Most get close to the animals, in some cases hands-on. Almost all make stops specifically to photograph the animals, close-up or at the outer edges of the park. The tram safari is pretty well separated from the wildlife. If you're interested in night or early morning photography, you can choose an overnight camping safari. All safaris are priced individually, are in addition to the park entrance fee, and you have to pay the regular entrance fee to take them.

There are also walking paths, which are more like a traditional zoo; you'll be between 3 and 20 feet from the animals in those places.

The Safari Park is open 7 days a week, including holidays. The hours are mostly 9:00-5:00, but it's open later on some days. (The closing time doesn't apply to the overnight safari I mentioned above.) Entrance tickets are purchased by the day. You have to buy at least one full day, but there are packages with different numbers of days. You can come and go as often as you like by showing the stamp on your hand you'll get when you first arrive.

  • one side question. Can I stay how long I want in the park, or is there a maximum amount of time you can visit? – Bob Feb 21 '13 at 0:34
  • The smallest ticket they sell is for a full day. I don't know if you can leave and re-enter, though. – Ben Straub Feb 23 '13 at 14:06
  • Hi Ben Straub! I noticed some dead links. I replaced them, and updated some things which have changed. (For example, none of the safaris come with admission anymore.) That's what I'd usually do in an edit like this, but I added some more information too. Now I see that it was a big edit, and even though I tried to keep it on-topic, I put in things you had purposely left out. I feel bad about that! Would you please forgive me for overstepping, and take out anything you think I did wrong? I appreciate your kindness! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Feb 25 at 0:51
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Here is an aerial view from Google The green areas with a tram around them are the open areas where animals wonder outside of cages. Its about 1000 feet across and fairly long. Often the animals will go fairly close to the tram and the tram will stop at locations for photos to be taken where the animals have gotten fairly close.

There may be some animals in the middle who are not feeling photogenic. Those would be 500 feet away; The Safari Park is an R and R for the animals at San Diego Zoo. They are fairly accustom to humans but sometimes need their space. Some animals will also wonder close to the paths where people can walk to and look at the humans behind the fence.

The lens I would suggest would be a zoom lens with a large aperture, for day time photography. The speed is going to be based on how still you can keep the camera, there is no place for a tripod on the tram.

The caged animals are fairly close but San Diego Zoo provides animals with what looks like a natural setting and provides places where the animals can more or less get out of the view of people. For example the lions may or may not be in a good location for photography, If they are in a good location the background looks natural, not like a cage.

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