RIYADH: Riyadh Safari is back for a second time as part of Riyadh Season’s events and activities that began on Oct. 20, with plans to extend it long after the season is over.
“We were told Riyadh Safari would be a sub-zone, they thought there wouldn’t be any traffic, but since the second week of season one we were running fully booked every day,” said Abdulrouf Ghurab, Wildlife Parks director.
Since becoming a main zone, Ghurab believes Riyadh Safari will be extended for three to four months past the six-month Riyadh Season.
The zone, one of 14 in the season, is a special destination characterized by environmental biodiversity and rare, endangered animals, including giraffes, ostriches, pigmy hippos, bengal and white tigers, ligers, a golden tiger — one of 34 remaining in the world — African lions, Asian elephants and Arabian oryxes.
“There is a big difference between 2019 and 2021 in terms of the experience itself and the attractions,” he said. “Since Riyadh Safari’s first season, we’ve been focusing on how to have something unique.”
The zone’s capacity has been increased by 40 percent to allow 2,500 to 3,000 people in the park, according to the director.
Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, with the safari tours closing at 5 p.m, tickets for the 11-hour day cost SR55 ($14.60), available on the Riyadh Season mobile application.
Visitors can begin their journey with an open-air tour of the animal conservation area, located 80 km west of the capital, where they can observe wild animals at close quarters but from a safe enclosure behind the partition of the safari unimogs — specially designed desert terrain vehicles, the first of their kind in the region.
Private jeep tours for the safari are a new addition as well.
Ghurab assured Arab News of the high standard of measures the park takes to keep its visitors safe.
“We have the double gate between each enclosure, we have the electric fence and also we have snipers, and jeeps inside the cages that can push the animals away — and Alhamdulilah (thank God) everything is running smoothly.”
For families and individuals, Riyadh Safari offers a number of daily shows, water games at the lake, carnival games and theater performances, in addition to an aviary with more than 250 rare birds, a pet farm, and 24 cafes and restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating.
“Now you can spend around six to eight hours doing a lot of stuff (at the park),” Ghurab told Arab News.
Notable areas to visit are the 13-meter tree tower, where visitors can take selfies or view the entire park using the telescopes located there. This is in addition to the farm, a petting zone for visitors to interact with some of the more friendly animals such as llamas, goats, chickens — and even lion and jaguar cubs under the close supervision of their trainer.
With winter approaching, the weather on a typical day is now perfect for families to spend an entire day outside.