On the last Sunday of 2013 we went down to the River Safari!
We decided to go down early (the park opens at 9am) but there were already lots of people outside when we arrived at 8.45am.
The crowd at 8.45am!!
We quickly bought our tickets ($25 per adult) and got the last 11am seats for the complimentary river boat ride. There was a long queue (at least 50 meters) outside the river safari customer service booth and we almost mistook it for the queue to get in.
The first part of the river safari housed animals from the rivers – categorised into the major rivers of the world: Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Murray, Mekong and Yangtze. They are mostly crocodiles, fishes and turtles, with the occasional monkey, beaver and stork.
Riding on an alligator snapping turtle
We were lucky to run into an animal petting session, and Samantha got to pet a prairie dog.
The next part of the river safari was the main attraction – the two Giant Pandas! They were housed in a giant air conditioned enclosure that was also home to red pandas and golden pheasants. The red pandas were quite active when we arrived, climbing up trees to welcome us. When we got to the giant panda’s enclosure, only Kai Kai (the male panda) could be seen taking a nap on a giant rock. Jia Jia (the female panda) was hiding in her den (we could still see her through a CCTV).
Kai Kai sleeping
Shh..don’t wake the sleeping panda!
Samantha fell asleep after looking at the pandas (it was already 10.30am, time for her usual morning nap), so the adults went to take the Amazon River Quest boat ride. They said it was complimentary now so I think they will probably start charging for it in the future.
River boat ride entrance
We had a slight hiccup at the entrance of the boat ride – they asked for a thermal printed ticket to prove that we were on the 11am ride, but we were not given any by the ticketing booth (they must have forgot). Luckily they were nice enough to radio the entrance to ask and check against our receipt number, otherwise we would have missed our opportunity to ride on the boat. There was a long queue to get onto the boat (each boat can hold about 10 people only), and we waited for a good 30 minutes before we finally got on.
The ride was pretty uneventful, most animals had gone into hiding (it was almost noon) and all we got to see were some monkeys, flamingos, ibis and the jaguars.
Scarlet ibis lined up
Jaguar taking a snooze
The ride was over in about 15 minutes. If you go there with a child there is a ‘child-swap’ area where one adult can stay behind to look after the children (children under 1.06meters are not allowed on the ride) while the rest take the ride. After these adults return from their ride, the supervising adult can go for the ride too while the rest of the adults wait with the children. The waiting room is a small room with a TV playing cartoons to keep the children entertained, and got quite crowded when we were there.
Because the wait was too long, my Dad (who stayed behind to look after Samantha) decided not to queue up for another 30 minutes to take the boat ride. Maybe the river safari people can consider letting these adults get priority on the boat ride in the future. Take note that if you do not take the boat ride, you will not be able to see the animals on that trail (tapirs, anteaters, jaguars, sloths, flamingos, etc) except the monkeys, which can be viewed later on in the money enclosure that is also seen in the boat ride.
Monkey in the monkey enclosure
The last part of the river safari was the Amazon flooded forest, which is a giant aquarium with fishes, rays and manatees. I’m not a fish kind of person so by the time I got here I was bored to see fishes again. This area is quite similar to the aquarium in Sentosa.
We were done with the park at 12.30pm, and as we walked out I noticed signs saying that all the river boat ride slots for the day were already full. This means, all the visitors to the park from that point on will be missing a third to half of the animals!
Overall, we felt that Samantha had a fun day out to the river safari today! It is a nice place to go, despite being a bit costly. Also, if you don’t want to miss out on the boat ride, go early!
Take note that the boat ride is not open everyday. Check out this link for more details.