Go on a jeep safari into the African savanna with a specialist A.C.R.E. conservation team...
|Theme Park||Chessington World of Adventures|
|Opened||27 March 2013|
|Manufacturer||In-house (Merlin Magic Making)|
Zufari takes visitors, as its full name suggests, on a ride into Africa on a safari past animals native to the African savanna.
Guests board thirty seater trucks for their journey, and are driven through open air enclousures featuring several types of live animals that you might expect to see on a real African safari.
The journey is narrated by a member of A.C.R.E. (African Conservation, Research and Exploration), a specialist team of conservationists, who track the progress of the safari using the latest in satellite technology and "remain in radio contact at all times".
The first stop is to take a look at a pat of pink flamingoes, the truck briefly pausing for riders to grab a few photos. As the road sweeps uphill, the truck passes some mysterious ancient rock carvings: the A.C.R.E. guide isn't really sure what they mean but thinks they might be a warning for local tribesmen to stay away from an old cave.
The scenery broadens out as the truck passes by a herd of giraffe, with zebras and scimitar horned oryx visible too. After circling around, the truck driver revs the engine and speeds up to drive through a pool of water and into the next Zurfari area which is home to a group of white rhinos.
At this point, the truck comes up against an obstruction in the road. In the early days of Zufari the truck would drive up to a fallen tree and then have to reverse back, but in later years it now simply continues forward, taking a sharp left hand turn downhill. The tour must return to base via an uncharted route: the truck is soon passing signs saying "Danger: Go Back" as it makes its way towards the entrance to a cave. The A.C.R.E. team lose satellite and radio contact ... the tour party are on their own!
Despite the warnings, the truck enters the cave and comes up alongside a waterfall. Something is disturbed, and the cave begins to flood with gallons of water crashing down around the truck as it accelerates fast and heads for the exit. Escaping just in the nick of time, a few guests on the outside seats may find they have got a little damp as the truck returns to base and the end of the ride.
Zufari is clearly inspired by rides such as Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom. While it can't hope to compete with that vast scale, Chessington's version manages to give a taste of the excitement of an African jeep safari. The flooded cave ending is a little corny, and perhaps it would have been better to ditch this in favour of lingering a little longer for guests to see the real animals up close, but it does act as a nice finale. On a hot sunny day, it isn't too hard to envisage that you're somewhere on an African plain, but on a cold rainy day you'll need to imagine a little harder!
Zufari entrance bridge
Former preshow - guests now walk straight through this area
Onboard the truck
An abandoned ACRE jeep
Mysterious rock carvings
A group of scimtar-horned oryx
Zebra in the trees
Water pouring over the truck
Back to base
Zufari loading station