If you are looking for a wild adventure that you can enjoy from the comfort and air conditioning of your car, this Drive-Thru Safari in Georgia is the answer. Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari is a 60+ acre attraction in Hartwell, GA. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Hartwell, Georgia’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More at Lake Hartwell WildlifeSafari
In addition to the drive-thru safari there are opportunities to walk through to see, pet, and interact with animals.
These include the Budge Experience and tortoise lane. (Extra $3 fee.)
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 Lake Hartwell Safari facebook page to see if the zoo is closed.
Lake Hartwell Wildlife Safari
915 Boleman Hill Road, Hartwell GA | 706.961.1364
Here’s our huge list of Zoos and Aquariums near Upstate, South Carolina.
They make an awesome family day trip!
This article was originally written by Melanie Coblentz and has been updated by the Kidding Around Team.