Mount Fuji is a must see for all visitors to Japan; the majestic 3,776-meter mountain is a popular subject of paintings, photographs and even poetry. Now imagine being able to enjoy views of its stunning peaks while on safari! From the comfort of a novelty bus or 4WD vehicle, you can take photos of giraffes, lions and cheetahs against a backdrop of the famous snow-capped mountain. It’s perfect for families, and a rare opportunity not to be missed!
A fun day out for everyone
Opened in 1980, Fuji Safari Park is unique in that you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji as you travel around the park. Going on a clear day is recommended as this will afford you the best views of the mountain. The animals also have plenty of space to run around and look very contented, especially the lazy lions!
It’s fairly straightforward to get there by car or bus, but it’s best to set off early if you plan to see everything. Tickets for the ‘Junglebus’ also sell out quickly during peak season. You can go from Tokyo station to Mishima station by bullet train and then take the Fujikyu bus straight to the park, which will take around 1:45. The cheaper option is to go from Shinjuku to Gotemba and then take the Fujikyū bus, which will take around 2:30 in total and cost around 2,040JPY (approximately 16.40USD). Alternatively, you can go by car which gives you the advantage of being able to drive your own vehicle through the park. Your journey will take around 2:30 if you take the Tōmei Expressway. The park is open all year round from 9.00-5.00pm March-September, although opening times vary for the rest of the year.
Feed fearsome predators from the Junglebus
Once you arrive, you’ll definitely want to head for the Safari Zone, where all the dangerous animals are allowed to roam. The safari zone is separated into 7 parts by huge gates to prevent the inmates from eating one another! You’ll be able to see around 30 kinds of animals, including rhinos, tigers, elephants and bears.
The entrance fee to the zone is 2,700 JPY (approximately 21.80USD) for adults and 1,500JPY (approximately 12.10USD) for over 3s. For extra thrills, you can go for the ‘Night Safari, which is open on weekends and public holidays from 5.30pm-7.30pm in the evening from April to September, and from 5.00pm in October. Not only will the weather be cooler, but many of the animals (especially the tigers) will be more active at night. At 1,700 JPY (approximately 13.70USD) it’s cheaper than the daytime safari, or you can do both for an extra fee.
If you’d rather not drive, the aptly named ‘Junglebus’ will take you on a 50-minute ride through the Safari Zone, stopping so that you can feed the lions, bears and herbivores on the way! You’ll be provided with meat, vegetables and pellets which can be pushed through the barred windows of the bus, which is a wonderful opportunity to interact with the animals. The bears actually stand on their hind legs to take food from you, which is absolutely adorable! This activity will greatly appeal to kids, and they’ll love the buses’ funny animal designs. Tickets cost 1,300 JPY (approximately 10.50USD) per person.
Cruise off-road in a zebra-striped 4WD
If you’d like to take your time going round the park (and have a bit more freedom), you can rent a 4WD ‘Navigation Car’ for 5,000JPY (approximately 40.30USD). This is also more economical than taking the Junglebus if there are 4-7 of you, since the charge is per vehicle. It takes about an hour from start to finish and you’ll be given leaves and wafers to feed the giraffes and mouflons, which are ancestors of the modern sheep. The giraffes reaching their long tongues out for leaves will make children giggle with delight. Remember to drive slowly, or you might find a lion sharpening its claws on your bumper!
Hunt for souvenirs and cuddle cute pets
You can escape from your vehicle and stretch your legs for a while in the Fureai (petting) Zone and Dōbutsu Mura (animal village) where you’ll find ponies, lovable red pandas and white kangaroos. The ponies and miniature horses are the stars of several special events; pony rides, horse grooming and the ‘safari derby’ are sure to please children of all ages.
Near to the restaurant, you’ll see the cat, rabbit and dog houses where you can relax while playing with pets. Each house costs 500JPY (approximately 4.00USD) to enter and is quite cozy inside, so it’s a nice way to wind down after your safari adventure.
If you’re looking for something special to take home with you, the gift shop is enormous. It sells a wide variety of merchandise including cut glass keyrings, cookies and hordes of stuffed animals. The stuffed tiger heads on the wall are very amusing!
Feast like a beast at the restaurant
If watching all those animals eat has made you hungry, there are restaurants, cafes and food vendors near the car park. The Safari restaurant serves noodles, salad and everyone’s favorite, Japanese curry and rice. Curry and rice in the shape of Mount Fuji is recommended, and the animal themed dishes are cute too.
For sunny days, or if you prefer lighter meals, there are several food vendors just opposite this restaurant. Their smoked turkey legs are great with fries!
Visit Fuji Safari Park today!
So, if you’re looking to take some interesting and unique photographs, or you’d like to see wildlife that’s not in cages, make a beeline for Fuji Safari Park. Whether you like powerful predators or fluffy bunnies, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
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