Looking for a place to go and discover during the long Eid holiday lull? The Nofa Safari and Wildlife Resort is the place to go. I got you. The weather is not so favorable for outdoor activity such as this one. But if you book for the early morning tour or at the latter part of the day, it wouldn’t be that bad. Besides, you are in the desert, what to expect?
The Nofa Safari and Wildlife Center is 18 square kilometer in area. It is vast that you could not see its borders while on the drive. It is about 90 kilometers away from the city center. If you google the place, it should give you how to get there. It is home to about 700 animals, 22 kinds or species. These are not the same animals that we see in Manila Zoo or in Riyadh Zoo. Best of all, we don’t have to go to Africa to see these animals. Many of them are the ones we see featured on National Geographic channel. Except that these, you see them live and side by side by your safari truck. You could even feed the ostrich if you are brave enough to risk your finger.
At the entrance (and the exit as well) we were greeted by these seemingly extra-large satellite-like dishes neatly aligned on the ground. They are actually solar panels which according to the resort manager, supply about 20% of the power requirement of the entire resort. Just in case, you are curious, like me.
These are the solar panels.
We were issued tickets at the entrance but were collected later. Keep it. If you are into souvenirs, take a picture, you will have to surrender it later. There are portable toilets at the back of the entrance. They are clean. The game drive would take about an hour in the desert. It is better to empty your bladder before you take the bus ride that will take you to the pavilion. At the pavilion, there are complimentary water and tea while waiting for the actual game ride. The truck is open top. We were exposed to the heat of the sunshine (the breeze was still cool when we visited) as well as the dust. There are no shades for cover. Depending on the wind, an umbrella may not be advisable. A wide-brimmed hat that fastens to your head may work. My cap was blown away by the wind. Long-sleeved shirts would protect your arms. Don’t forget, most of all, to use sunblock. You are in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Falcon Team wearing American Eagle shirts at the Pavilion. This is where refreshments are served.
The Actual Game Drive
We were driven along a trail that passes through various animal feeding shades. Animals are free-ranged, except those that may be threats to humans. The cheetahs are in large wired enclosures (but enjoying the shades of trees) and the hippopotamuses, which are amphibious, have their own water pool. The driver (a kuya) stops at these feeding stations so you could see the animals up close (and personal) and take pictures of them. Though the driver can drive only along the trail, these animals are not averse to visitors. Some of them have posed long enough for us to get good pictures.
Like this giraffe.
Giraffe: The tallest of them all.
These are the other animals we saw.
This menacing wildebeest didn’t mind us at all.
Blackbucks and a gazelle
The most striking for me was this zebra. It was inside its stable, we heard, for misbehaving. The other one was having a field day outside. I am impressed by its vivid stripes. It was just beautiful.
This ostrich was waiting for me to make one false move and that powerful beak would certainly pick on my arms or wherever it chooses. I was stunned and motionless until the truck drove away.
Then you are transported to the Wildlife Center. The Wildlife Center houses the smaller animals such as falcon, peacock, wild chickens, snakes and other reptiles I have never seen before. More smaller animals such as scorpions area also housed in the center. These pictures speak for themselves.
Here, you can take pictures with some the birds such as the eagle, an owl and a parrot with the assistance of some of the staff. You can also feed some of the animals.
I waited for this peacock to spread out those beautiful feathers but it was so shy.
I learned that porcupines are pigs with feathers (quills) but are actually rodents (rats).
I think the quills of this porcupine would make for a sturdy pen.
There is also a pavilion in the area with comfortable chairs where you can sit and relax. Clean ladies and men’s rooms are available.
From here, buses are waiting which would take you either to the restaurant or to the parking area. (Restaurants are closed during Ramadan).
Some fresh produce are being sold near the exit. Souvenir ostrich egg (empty), sweet potatoes and these mulberries are the things we found on the way out.
Have you ever tried mulberries before?
Suggestions to Nofa Wildlife Management
The experience would have been best if there is a tour guide or staff which would help us identify what kind of animals are we seeing, the origin of the animals and whether or not they are endangered or what is the current population of certain animals in the safari. It would have helped raise awareness of endangered animals. It would have been educational to both adults and children.
This suggestion was in all other blogs that I saw about the place. Looking back now, I think it adds to the wonder of the safari. Long after the trip, I was still thinking of the names those animals. Since I am going to write about it, I had to do research. Next time I go, it’s going to be a test of what I learned.
Overall, it was a good experience. I encourage parents to bring your kids to Nofa Safari. It would be one of a kind experience for all.
Reservations are accepted via email to:firstname.lastname@example.org
The fee is SR105 inclusive of VAT per person. Children below 2 years old are free. To claim for free ticket for infants, guest must produce national ID or iqama or passport.
They may be contacted at 0593255918.
They operate on Saturdays only.
The tour is not yet available for single men. But a group of single men and single ladies can go together.
Ladies may opt not to wear their abayas during the tour. So wear those that you want to be seen in those selfies. Not all the places allow for such.
Arrive at least 30 minutes before the actual tour (drive). You will have time to take refreshment, empty your bladder and be relaxed as you embark on your game drive.
Other areas, such as the lake, equestrian are close to the public.