Whenever possible garden tours are incorporated into my vacation planning. I have experienced marvelous gardens on the campus of UBC in Vancouver, British Columbia; Flower Forest and Hunte’s Garden in beautiful Barbados; Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens by the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia and the marvelous gardens of Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, Ireland. We have also enjoyed garden tours closer to home.
With strict travel restrictions still in place and some vacation time to enjoy, we decided to do something a bit different, a Scenic Safari at the local Toronto Zoo. This unique opportunity to drive through the grounds on roads normally reserved for service vehicles was developed for visitors to enjoy the zoo in a safe, physically-distanced private vehicle. It also is helping to generate some much-needed revenue for the attraction which recently reopened to visitors on foot after more than three months of closures due to covid-19.
The tour takes about an hour and a half. Refreshments and washroom facilities are available at the beginning of the tour. Ice cream can also be purchased at a couple of stops along the way. Narration is provided by a downloadable podcast or a printable script which provides details of conservation efforts and of the animals along the way.
I was delighted to see some greenery along the way too. There are many lovely gardens planted and tended by Toronto Zoo Horticulture including a beautiful rose garden close to the main entrance. The service roads allow for some wonderful views of the natural landscape of Rouge Valley including hidden creeks, a small waterfall and lush green valley. We were also able to see the Serengeti campground where guests can overnight. The camp is currently closed but with the hot, dry heat, it was easy to image how it might mimic a real experience.
Animal sightings included rhinos, flamingos, watusi, giraffes, goats, lions and monkeys. My favourite was the rare Przewalski horse which is normally only viewable by zoomobile (currently closed). These endangered wild horses only exist in zoos, the Chernobyl exclusion zone and Kalamaili Nature Reserve in Xinjiang, China.
If you live in the GTA, I highly recommended the Scenic Safari. Full details and a links to tickets (pre-purchase required) are available online. If you live elsewhere, I hope you can get out and enjoy a garden centre, zoo, or a beautiful trail close to home. Whatever experience you choose, stay safe.