What if you could experience the thrill of life out on the Serengeti plains without even getting on a plane? What if you could ride in a vehicle that was part-boat, part-bus and drive past bathing pink flamingos and prowling cheetahs? What if you could wave at the mighty king of the jungle himself, the lion? At Everland’s Lost Valley Safari, you can do all the above and more.
The animal adventure never stops at Everland, which is not only home to a newly arrived giant panda duo, but also a whole range of other animals from all over the world, many of whom reside in the Lost Valley Safari. The theme park, Korea’s largest, is located in the leafy hillsides of Yongin, a 30-minute drive from Seoul. And as well as its many thrilling rides, festivals, botanical gardens and attractions, Everland is also a mecca for nature lovers.
Spread out over 41,000㎡, the Lost Valley Safari is an area devoid of artificial fences or barriers, where some 150 animals from 20 species roam freely in canals, fertile watering holes, open fields and rocky canyons.
The excitement begins when you board the safari’s remarkable amphibious vehicle. A form of transport fit for keen sailors and landlubbers alike, the bus navigates rivers, caves, swamps and hills.
Made of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), the bus stands at 3.85m high and 2.4m wide. Up to 40 explorers can ride in it at once. Riding the amphibious vehicle means you can traverse a whole range of animal habitats.
When traveling through water, over a meter of the vehicle is submerged, and a glass base allows passengers to catch underwater action in the waterways below.
The glass-free window seats on the passengers’ left are the best spots to observe elephants and flamingoes, while those on the right get a better view of giraffes, zebras, rhinos and cheetahs.
The journey begins at the Rock Canyon, a steep gorge where spritely scimitar-horned oryx, Barbary sheep and Bactrian camels skip between rocks and boulders.
From here, the bus makes its way through the Cave of Fire, then takes a plunge into the water, where a canal separates into two very different sections.
On the left side is the Ancient Temple, home to Koshiki, an elephant who has wowed the media and scientists alike with his speaking abilities. The Lost Valley Safari is one of the only places in the world where you can see white lions – creatures so rare scientists say there are only 50 alive today. The Ancient Temple is also home to these elusive lions’ den.
Across from the temple is the Great Savanna. Here you can see some of the most exotic herbivores on the planet. Zebras, ostriches, elands and sable antelopes graze in peaceful settings. This is also where you will find Jangsuni, a giraffe who has mothered a record-breaking 17 calves.
Downstream from here is the Great Waterhole, where lions quench their thirst near a thundering waterfall. Rounding off the watery fun is the Red Swamp, home not only to a flock of flamingoes, but also to vegetation replete with equally pink blossoms.
From here, the bus returns to dry land, to a trail that circles the Hill of Peace, the final attraction on the tour. Cheetahs, the fastest animals on the planet, and rare white rhinos live in harmony on the fertile slopes of this vast mound.
Getting Up-close and Personal
If you would rather travel in smaller numbers, you can take an extended journey on a smaller, open-roofed car with a zookeeper guide. Like the bus, the car is amphibious and follows the same route, but passenger numbers are limited to six.
Visitors on this special tour can stop and join the zookeeper at designated points to help feed the animals. Extended tour visitors pass food directly to creatures as diverse and alluring as rhinos, Bactrian camels, zebras, elands and giraffes, as a part of a unique experience for any safari.
A ride on the bus is free for all Everland visitors, though additional fees apply for the extended tour.
All in all, the Lost Valley Safari is an experience that no budding zoologist would want to miss out on. No matter which vehicle you choose to board, the adventure has something for all animal lovers to cherish.
Going wild has never been this much fun!