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Girlfriends' adventure begins at Safari Wilderness Ranch

On TV and in the movies, girlfriends are always taking these epic birthday trips: shopping in Paris, diving in the Great Barrier Reef, a South African safari...

I've known my BFF Ashley since her family moved next door to mine when we were 3. Although neither of us has African safari money at the moment, we're both turning 30 this year, and we had to do something special to mark the occasion.

So Ashley and I came up with our own budget-friendly version of a safari: a visit to Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland.

The 260-acre property opened March 1 and is home to herds of exotic animals from around the globe. Take a tour via covered vehicle, horse-drawn carriage or even camel. (Given the fact that I was nearly nine months pregnant, Ashley and I opted for the vehicle tour. It was comfortable, like a school bus without walls.)

On the tour, we ...

• Learned the difference between antlers and horns.

• Fed apples to Haflinger horses.

• Cooed over baby animals, including a nursing lemur and an hours-old nilgai (Indian antelope).

The tour was much quicker (a little over two hours) and more affordable ($70) than an overseas safari. For an additional fee, we could have also hand-fed a lemur, taken a 10-minute camel ride and more . . . and still had money left to buy each other a 30th birthday gift.

Ready to plan a safari with your own BFF? Visit

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Girlfriends' adventure begins at Safari Wilderness Ranch 05/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 11:01am]
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