Camp Verde is an easy day trip for families–about 90 minutes from most of the East Valley. Out of Africa is not your average zoo–they specialize in large animals–lots of lions, bears, giraffes, etc.
Contributor Jessica, with elementary aged twin boys, and Amy with a wild three year old toddler, are both sharing tips and tricks for maximizing a day trip to see large animals up close.
Keep reading for more hacks, ways to snag discounts and helpful tips for visiting Out of Africa with kids.
East Valley Moms
When to go and what to pack
Camp Verde is 90 minutes away from the East Valley, but in the summer that’s only about a five degree difference. Out of Africa’s campus is pretty spread out, and there isn’t much shade, so it’s a cooler weather destination. The pathways are also dirt paths, so you will get dusty and a bit dirty after a day spent here. Play clothes for the kids and athleisure clothes for moms would be our recommendation.
If you’re on the fence about bringing a stroller or wagon, bring it! Even kids who like to be independent will end up hitching a ride on parents here, it’s a lot of walking (although not steep!).
Food and beverages are sold at the park, but they’re spread out, and there aren’t a lot of water stations. Bring extra waters, and lots of snacks. We ate in town before heading to the zoo, but they do serve basic sandwiches in the park during certain hours (and other snacks). A heads up – the food stations do close prior to the park closing.
How to snag discount tickets
Contributor Jessica snagged a deal on Groupon for admission, but there’s a few other tips to snag discount tickets year round.
For birthday months (with ID proof), admission is only $12 at the door.
You can also use promo code AFRICA for $2 off each ticket when purchasing tickets online.
What to do at the park
General admission includes a trolly tour where visitors can feed giraffes from your hand–it was the highlight of our experience. It lasts about 40 minutes, and was a nice break from the dusty walkways, too.
The trolly guides are engaging, sharing jokes and animal facts throughout the trolly ride.
Mom hack: If you purchase tickets at the gate, they give you a wristband and a ticket. Hold onto the ticket– that’s how to get on the trolley, but us, plus a few other families were unsure, as it isn’t explained at the gate.
There are different shows on different days at the park (check the website for up to date shows/times), but everything is run on a tight schedule.
Amy and Mav chose the predator feeding (only offered three days a week): We thought this was worth planning the day around. Zoo staff meet visitors at the lion’s cage and give presentations about how each animal eats before throwing raw meat (the day of our visit they were feeding the animals turkeys and horses) into the cages. They go cage to cage through the entire upper portion of the zoo for visitors to witness wolves, bears, tigers and other carnivorous animals meals.
I was a little worried if this experience would be bloody or gory, but it wasn’t at all. The meat served to the animals was just like butchered meat from the grocery store, and the animals didn’t tear up the meat grotesquely.
With her two elementary aged boys, Jessica’s family spent about five hours at the zoo; Amy and her toddler spent nearly three. With some planning, you can make a great day trip out of visiting Out of Africa with kids!