Take A Drive On The Wild Side At Georgia’s Newest Drive-Thru Wildlife Safari on Lake Hartwell

Posted on |

If you are looking for a wild adventure that you can enjoy from the comfort and air conditioning of your car, the newest Drive-Thru Safari in Georgia is the answer. Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari is a 60+ acre attraction in Hartwell, GA and here’s everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Hartwell, Georgia’s Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari.

Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari

Thank you to Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari for providing us with complimentary admission for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are those of the writer.

Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari in Hartwell, Georgia

Jodi and Jeff Gray are no strangers to animal husbandry. For decades they have raised and cared for exotic animals and taken the animals on the road with Sam’s Path Petting Zoo. The couple was waiting for the perfect property to support Jodi’s vision of the Safari. In 2020 just before the pandemic hit, they found the 70+ acre creekside property that The Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari now calls home. Her hope was to create a drive-thru experience that was not a flat and exposed environment. As you drive through the safari, you’ll notice the habitat is very natural. The Safari includes a small lake where the Bison and Yak love to hang out.

If you have ever traveled to the Reverend Billy Graham Library in Charlotte at Christmas time and seen their Living Nativity, that’s Jodi and a menagerie of their animals. For nearly a month they live on-site, helping visitors ponder whether a kangaroo or a monkey could have been in the manger. If guests are lucky, babies will be born leading up to the Holiday season and will have to tag along to the live nativity. So you never know who you might run into at the Living Nativity! 

The Animals At Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari

The animals at Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari are well cared for, and you can tell that some decisions were made based on the welfare of the animals, not the financial aspect. While I was there covering the safari, a woman pulled up in an SUV with a tiny orphaned whitetail deer. It was injured, and she didn’t know how to care for it. Jodi got some information from her and carried the small animal to the transport trailer to take home with her that night so she could get medical attention. I share this so that you know that a visit to see the animals here is also supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of other animals. 

There are over 20 different species of animals at Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari. When you first enter the safari you’ll receive a sheet with a photo and description of all of the animals in residence. You are free to take as many trips through the safari as you please in an effort to check all of the animals off of your sheet. 

Our Favorite Animals At The Lake Hartwell Safari 

I feel guilty for saying we had a favorite, but the personality of some of the animals definitely shined through. 

Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari Cow

Percy
This handsome young fella was rescued from a dairy farm and hand-raised by the owner’s best friend. He slept on the bed as a calf, and I certainly got the vibe that he thinks he’s a lapdog. Percy was the sweetest and reminded me of my favorite book as a child, Ferdinand. I’m pretty sure he wanted to come home with us, but I felt like that was a bad idea.

Maybe next time, buddy.

So when you go, make sure to tell Percy we said “Hi,” and give him an extra piece of feed for us. 

Zebra at Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari

Taco & Salsa
I’m not sure which one of these cleverly named zebras is shown in the photo, but they sure left an impression. With their head inserted into the window of my car, they nuzzled me repeatedly on the shoulder. It was the sweetest thing, and not something I’ve ever had happen. I leaned away, and as soon as I leaned back, it resumed. It was like a Zebra Massage, and just might be the new Goat Yoga!

We had no food left, and I wonder if that was the Zebra trying to butter me up for a snack. No matter how good your Zebra Massage is, the Safari doesn’t allow guests to feed the Zebras.

An emu at Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari Park

The Emus
You might remember that the last time we visited a drive-thru safari, I likened the Emu to velociraptors. With their crazy-looking eyes, and the way they just lock on you with them. I’m glad to report that the Emu’s here, while still sporting that crazy look, were a lot more friendly. Hand-raised from chicks, they seem to be a little more mentally stable than others we’ve encountered.

Coming Soon To Lake Hartwell WildlifeSafari 

While you are driving through the safari, you’ll notice perimeter gates marked “area of future expansion”. There are still another 10+ acres that the Grays plan to add in the near future. In addition to the expansion of the drive-thru portion of the safari, there will be a gift shop and a birthday party venue area with a party safari bus. 

Georgia law prohibits the camels from being part of the drive-thru portion of the attraction, but there will soon be an option to feed them. As well as the addition of a small petting zoo area. with animals not already included in the safari. 

Things To Know Before You Go To The Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari  

  • The price is per person, not per car load.
    $10 per adult / $5 per child 
  • Outside food is not permitted, for the safety of the animals – Safari Feed is $5 per bag 
  • This a messy endeavor included in admission is the complimentary safari animal car wash (your car will be covered in animal drool). The animals try very hard to drool (I mean “wash” every inch of your car); however you might need to drive through a real car wash afterward. 
  • There are horned animals. Horns have the ability to scratch paint on cars. We were just fine, and have never had anything happen at a drive-thru safari. However, there is a risk so this isn’t an activity for the new family Tesla. 
  • In the event of Inclement weather, call or check the facebook page to see if the zoo is closed. 

Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari
915 Boleman Hill Road, Hartwell GA | 706.961.1364

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

Sign up for our email newsletter.

Comments are closed.