Visiting Gumna Safari Park is a fun way to spend the day, particularly with kids. We went to celebrate our 3-year-old’s birthday and she loved it. Upon arrival pay ¥300 to park in the ample lot. The main attraction is a ride through the safari park. Adults are ¥2600 and kids ages 3 and up are ¥1300. Additionally, it costs ¥500 per person to ride on the zebra bus (no feeding the animals) and ¥1300 per person to ride on the lion or tiger buses. The lion and tiger buses include grass for the grazing animals and meat to feed the lions and tigers. The ride takes about 80 minutes, including a 30 minute stop at a petting zoo. At that stop there are also great opportunities to see big cats, including a glass ceiling walk through with tigers above. The highlight for our family was feeding the lions with tongs that extend out the wire covered windows of the bus just inches from the lions mouth. We also fed antelope and zebras, and saw giraffes, bears, monkeys, rhinos and more. It is also possible to drive your own car through the park. It opens at 9:30am and we spent about 3 hours total. We went on a Saturday and the park was not too crowded. In addition to the Safari Park, there is a very well done gift shop, a restaurant with decent quality Japanese food at about ¥1000 per person, and a small amusement park. Older but fun, there is a carousel, Ferris wheel, swings, teacups, small roller coaster, and a few other rides – good for kids age 8 and under. Each ride cost ¥200.
DIRECTIONS: Turn right out of the terminal gate onto Route 16. Immediately past Costco (9 kms) take the ramp on left labled KEN-O expressway 45 to Iruma. Go about 1 KM, then take a ticket from the toll booth and keep right to merge onto the KEN-O northbound. Go 14 KM and there is a major grouping of exits – exit on the left onto the Kan-etsu expressway in the direction of Niigata. Continue on the Kan-etsu for 50 KM, then merge left onto Joshin-etsu expressway toward Nagano. Stay on that for 20 KM. Take Exit 3 (Tomoka), pass through the tolls (2650yen) and continue north for 1.7km. Turn left toward route 198 for 1.2 km, then turn left onto 198 for another 2.3 km. You will go under the highway, and be following signs with zoo animals on them. Turn left on route 193, go 800 meters, and take a right into the park. We encountered almost no traffic, and the drive was 90 minutes each way. – Amanda Martin, May 2013, Photos by Amanda Martin & Kelly O’Donnell, 2013.
Comments – Linda Bell, May 2013: When we went (May 24 2013), a half price discount was offered from their www.safari.co.jp web page, so an adult entrance fee was ¥1300, junior high school was ¥650. We used google translate to locate the discount.
Our GPS (Garmin) led us astray a little when used the park’s address as the destination, and it did appear they had recently upgraded the roads close to the park. We also didn’t recollect any Safari signs from the expressway. The directions in the outline above would be more accurate.
We’d suggest sitting on the left-hand side of the feeding bus as the majority of the animals were on this side. Once you get on the bus, you first drive past some herbivores, then you get off at a mini-zoo with caged and petting animals. You can buy more feed here for ¥100. After 30mins (the bus driver will hopefully tell/show you a time before you disembark), you re-board the same feeding bus and you pass more herbivores before you enter the enclosure with lions and tigers. Then you exit the safari park through the same herbivore enclosure as you began. Our entire trip took 90mins. The day we went, the feeding bus basically left every hour, on the hour. Strollers are not permitted on the feeding bus, but the park personnel showed us a rather unsecured place designated for their storage.
We spent a bit of time at the mini-amusement park. Good fun for young kids. There is a ~2min pony ride which costs ¥300 at the back of the amusement park. Soft serve ice cream can be purchased down by the pony ride – ¥300 too.
A stroller/carrier would be helpful for infants visiting the mini-amusement park.
There are picnic tables available in a picnic hall. This is located just outside the mini-amusement park and shops. We took our own food.
—-Interested in Safari Parks? Also check out the trip report on Fuji Safari Park.