July 13, 2012

Tapping Into My Inner Wild At the Wild Africa Trek

I seriously had the chance of scaring myself crazy, thanks to Disney - with a big LOL, when I took on a daring challenge that I probably would have not taken if it wasn't staring me in the eyes and taunting me, "It's FREE. Take it, take it!". And me thinking, "Man! This Wild Africa Trek costs some serious $$$!" It would have been totally moronic of me if I hadn't taken advantage of it at all. Not to mention the fact that I've heard a lot of buzz about it, enough that I was beyond intrigued to want to try it and see what the rave is all about for myself. Even on the off-chance of possibly being eaten alive by crocodiles for lunch! Yes that.
Walking on the 2nd bridge that leads into the
Harambe Wildlife Reserve and lunch in the open Savanna. 

Don't let the smile fool you! Crossing the 1st bridge to get to the second bridge where crocs and alligators below awaits 
falling objects, aka me, for lunch! Yum.

The Trek
The journey starts at Dawa Bar at the back side of the Tusker House Restaurant in Africa where each trekker registers and signs a waiver. A must-requirement. This is to ensure they know exactly who have fallen over and got eaten by the crocs and alligators while crossing the rope bridges and your family can't sue them for it. "Of course, I'm half-kidding!". The snappers below the second bridge is no joke though. They're alive and real as can be.

Next stop, you go through a private gate just off to the side across the bar into a shed where you get weighed. Yes weighed! Talk about freaking out! I wanted to scream "NO!!! Not my weight!" as I stepped onto the scale. But I was more excited getting geared up that I decided not to scream. Nor dare look at what the scale discovered at the possibility of freaking me out further. After that, you get suited up with a vest and a tight harness, tight to a point you wish you were wearing leggings and not loose shorts or pants that bunches up, resembling an ugly version of Aunt Flo's puffy bloomers after it's all set and done. I dare you ask my trek mates!

Prior to embarking to the real thing, you will get a very-mini-training session walking on a replica rope bridge to prep you. Then you drink up Jungle juice to seal the deal! And the wild herd is set loose...

Trust me, tight harnesses will drive you wild

Your gateway to this wild adventure is located within Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at a discreetly-placed gate off to the side in one of the trail's bend. Prepare to walk. There'd be lots of it. And make sure to hit the restroom before proceeding to the trail. There's no turning back and no pee-stop either beyond that point!

Things to Note to make your experience fun if you ever go:
  • Lockers are provided free so take advantage of it. Well, you really have no choice anyway. You can't carry personal items during the tour, unless they have neck and wrist straps as your DSLR cameras or video cams would, and or any items that can be clipped to safety cables on your vest. 
  • Water and water bottles are also provided for your convenience. So, no worries about dying from thirst during the trek. Although...you may want to take a hard mental note on the next fact below.
  • No restroom in sight for two hours. You might not want to gulp a lot of liquid before or during part of the trek unless you have good bladder control. Then I'd say "go ahead and drink up!"
  • Safety Harnesses at all time. Splurge on the fun side while crossing the rope bridges and on viewing sites. You're fairly safe attached to harnesses on cables, so get on there and explore! 
  • Photographers on demand. Yes, NO need to panic if you run out of batteries or even space in your SD card, yes this is me talking by experience, tour guides double up as photographers and you can request to have your pictures taken whenever, wherever. You're guaranteed to get copies of them via a photo CD sent in the mail.
  • Lunch is provided at the private camp site in the open savanna where you munch on an edible Orchid flower and yummy African dishes while marveling at the animals in their habitat. But eat fast, you've only got 30 minutes to chow down your food.
  • The Outhouse aka the-much-needed-restroom is available and likewise located at the private camp site where lunch is served. Make sure your sprinting skills are good at this point, because this is the stop where you need to put it into action as you do a mad dash to beat the others to the restroom while you are un-boarding the tour truck and screaming, "I need to peeeeee!". Yeah that.

"After lunch it was fairly smooth ride from then on. We spent the rest of the tour exploring the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in the tour truck and getting up close and personal with the wild animals in their habitat. We criss-crossed with the regular Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition routes but with a little perk of stopping longer on certain spots."

Delectable Food in small portions. 
Vegetarian option available by request.

In Review
The Trek wasn't as wild as I expected but rather, a mild thrill with great theatrics and superb presentation along a complementary peek behind the facade that makes up the little Africa inside Animal Kingdom. The forest wasn't much of a forest for my liking, but more of a backdrop to the main attraction depicted on the forefront. Nonetheless, it is a good family fun option if you have the budget for it! Though what I like best of all, away from the Trek, is knowing the work and effort they do to preserve the life of these animals and their existence. And where portion of the tour fee which starts at $189- $249 (depending on the season) is donated to a conservation program of your choice benefiting the animals they serve at the end of the tour. Now that's a good way to make you feel good spending all your hard-earned dollars for a three-hour long tour, don't you think?

We think!

End of Tour. Tired, sweaty and probably stinky... 
but certainly happy to be harness-free!

Personal Note: During this trek, I learned that the 7 white Rhinos they have are ones of the few left in the world. Though recently, an eighth addition was established with the birth of a new female baby as part of their breeding program to eliminate the extinction of this endangered specie. Kendi, the mom, was pregnant and expecting and was in seclusion during this tour. Neat huh?

Well, as for me, I survived the trek and proud of it! I scaled the heights like a pro, with a little trembling on the feet. Should I do it again? Maybe. In the meantime, STAY TUNED for the live video I recorded during the tour. That might give you more idea at what and how this Trek is like.

**Disney covered this tour for me as part of the perks offered to participants of Disney Social Media conference and did not buy my opinions nor my thoughts. They are proudly all mine!**


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