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Roar & Snore Campground at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The Roar and Snore Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was an amazing family experience where we got up close and behind the scenes with animals from the wildlife preserve and got to camp out without having to pitch a tent ourselves.Yvonne and I and both of our families headed south to Escondido one Saturday for an adventure we’re not likely to duplicate anywhere else. The Roar and Snore is a chance to spend the night inside the Safari Park, complete with dinner, an after-hours guided tour, campfire fun, breakfast, and early morning animal greetings.

Roar & Snore Campground at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Pygmy Falcon at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The adventure begins in the parking lot at around 4:15pm, where you check in and hand off all your luggage and gear. The lovely Park employees transport it all to your tent for you, thus saving you from carrying it all the way in. Did I mention the Safari Park is over 1800 acres? It’s big.

Mom and baby elephant at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore

Yvonne and her family are camping pros, but the same cannot be said for me or mine. We don’t own any of the gear, but luckily, the Safari Park took care of it all for us. There are approximately 50 standing canvas tents that each sleep 2-4, and they’re really quite a nice size. There are 3 price levels of tents, and we chose the Premium tents since, as I indicated, I don’t even own a sleeping bag. The Premium tent comes with a bed and 2 cots, plus pillows, linens and electricity. Think “Out of Africa,” but in Escondido. It was fantastic.

Premium Tent Roar & Snore at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
tents overlooking the animal habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore

The other types of tents vary in price by whether they have a view of the animal’s habitat; both have a floor pad and sleeping pads only – you must bring sleeping bags and pillows of your own.Once you’ve “checked in” to your tent situation, the camp dinner is served. It’s nothing fancy – burgers, mac-n-cheese, and iceberg lettuce salad the night we were there. But the upshot was: beer and wine were sold to those who wanted some. And I did, I won’t lie.

Lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore
Lions sleeping in a fake range rover at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore

After dinner, there is a fantastic guided tour of a large section of the park, and the highlight of what our group got to see was the Lions’ section. The Male lion, Isu, was roaring, and I must say I have never heard anything like it. It’s no MGM movie intro, that’s for sure. But it was amazing. I got audio…Once we were done being enthralled by the lions and other animals at night, it was campfire time. S’mores and a drum circle rounded out the night, at which point it was practically 10pm and lights out! No rest for the campers!

I slept pretty well, considering I wasn’t in my own bed, but I did wake a few times and I will say the experience lived up to its name: there was roaring (from the lion) and there was snoring (from the tent next door).

morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore
an animal in the morning light at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore

Morning activities began early the next day, with the first wake-up call at 6:15am and breakfast at 7am. Breakfast was, again, not a special affair, with a menu like eggs, bacon, yogurt – and blessedly, coffee.

sleepy cheetah at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore
rhino in the morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar and Snore

After breakfast we were back out on a guided hike around the park, seeing animals as they woke and learning more about the Park’s 40-year history and commitment to breeding animals on the brink of extinction. The guides were knowledgeable and very good with kids who ask lots and lots of questions.Finally the tour came to an end, around 9:30am, and we were back in the parking lot where we’d started the afternoon before. The employees had brought out our luggage and we collected it and packed up our cars. Some campers drove off right then, but we stayed, because Roar and Snore tickets give you access to the Park the rest of the day.There’s so much more to see at the Safari Park, including the Cheetah Run, the Africa Tram, and the Photo Caravan, which gets you closer access to animals like the giraffes, for an extra fee.

Once we’d had our fill of animals and Escondido heat, we did head back to the car, and back to the concrete jungle we live in, knowing that, besides the food we didn’t especially love, we’d had an amazing family weekend.

{MomsLA was given admission tickets to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Roar and Snore in order to write this review. The opinions expressed are our own.}

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