On December 30th, we arrived in San Marcos, Texas, which is south of Austin and north of San Antonio. We spent New Year’s Eve in Austin. (You can read about it here.) The next Saturday, we decided to check out the San Antonio area.
Someone had recommended visiting Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, which is northeast of San Antonio. It’s a 450-acre ranch with 40 different exotic, native, and endangered animal species; an “African Safari, Texas-Style.”
The admission price was $22 per adult, which included a bag of pellets to feed the animals. You could buy more food for a price ($3, I think), but there is no need to buy a second bag. We had plenty left over from our one bag. You can also buy a guide with all the animals listed. Personally, I think this should have been included in the admission. Either way, we wish we would have had something to identify the animals as we saw them, so the guide may be worth purchasing if you go.
We saw some giraffes in enclosures as soon as we entered the admission gates. We found out that Natural Bridge has a giraffe conservation program. We loved watching these magnificent creatures. The babies were especially cute.
After going through the admission gates, we parked the truck and checked out the monkey area. There were lemurs on alittle island and some other monkeys in cages near them. Then, we grabbed a quick lunch from the on-site cafeteria before setting out on the safari.
You drive through the property in your own vehicle, so you can go at your own pace. Most of the animals roam free and in their respective sections of the park. First, we saw some mountain goat looking animals – again it would have been nice to have the guide book so we would actually know what kind of animal we were looking at. These guys would come right up to the truck to get the pellets. It was fun to see them so close.
As we drove through the park, we saw many more animals with horns and antlers. We also saw some more giraffes roaming a large fenced off area and a few dozen zebras, that wanted nothing to do with us. In fact, most of the animals just went about their business and really weren’t interested the pellets at all.
One animal that was extremely interested in getting to the food was the ostrich. These guys would come right up to the car. If you didn’t throw food out, they would peck at the windows. It was entertaining and a little terrifying.
I took us a little over an hour to drive through the Safari, and just because we like to make things interesting, we were about to run out of gas the whole time (or maybe it was due to poor planning 😉 ).
We finished the Safari, got gas in the truck, and headed in to San Antonio. We didn’t really have a plan of what we were going to do, so we just did the obvious thing and went to the Alamo.
Mike had been there before, but he was on a work trip, so he just walked past the outside. We walked around the grounds, and went to a small museum, before getting in line to go inside the Alamo. Pictures are not allowed to be taken inside, but let me just tell you, you’re not missing much. It’s pretty much just an old empty building with a bunch of people milling about in it. Mike might have a different take on it, but I was pretty unimpressed.
After finishing up on the Alamo grounds, we headed over to the next obvious tourist attraction – the River Walk. Everyone is always saying, “You have to go on the River Walk!” I guess that kind of thing just doesn’t appeal to us, because, again I was unimpressed. I think I said something like “What the heck, this isn’t even a river, they should call it the Man-made Waterway Walk.”
Anyway, we strolled along the waterway for a while, people watching and trying to choose which overpriced restaurant we would eat at for dinner. We could have done some research and picked a more interesting local place to eat at like we normally do, but we were already in the area, and it was a long walk back to the car.
We went with “Café Ole,” which was an average Mexican Restaurant. I would have enjoyed it more if it wasn’t so cold, and we could have sat outside. When we came out from dinner, it was dark out. I will admit that the area was pretty at night all lit up with strings of lights.
Our take away from the day is that the Wildlife Ranch was a unique and interesting thing to do in the area, but San Antonio is kind of take it or leave it. If we would have had some local knowledge of the area, I’m sure we could have found some cool things to do, but the touristy stuff just wasn’t for us.