Ligers, Tigers & Bubbles
For a break from all that craziness along the beach, animal lovers should check out the two unusual attractions offered by Myrtle Beach Safari (tel. 843/361-4552; www.myrtlebeachsafari.com). The main event is the Wild Encounters Tour, a guided walk through a 50-acre preserve of 60 big cats and other exotic creatures. You can meet and play with great apes, watch tigers swim and run at full speed, hold a tiger cub, and meet “Bubbles” the African elephant. This is also the only place in the world where you get up close and personal with a Liger (a mix of tiger and lion). It’s not cheap: tours are $239 per person (the minimum age for the tour is 6), though purchasing a photo at the Preservation Station in Barefoot Landing gives a $40 discount on the tour fee. Tours run 3 to 5 days a week from mid-March to mid-October, beginning at 10am and lasting approximately 3 hours. The preserve is 17 miles south of Barefoot Landing, but for the privacy of the animals, exact directions are only given to those who have tour reservations.
Alternatively, you can visit the T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station (tel. 843/361-4552) at Barefoot Landing, 4898 South Highway 17, North Myrtle Beach. Here you can also meet some of the animals up close, typically tiger cubs or young chimps and orangutans. Entrance is free, but photo sessions are $79 for any group of up to five. All proceeds from photo sessions and portrait sales go directly to support international wildlife conservation projects through the Rare Species Fund (www.rarespeciesfund.org). The station is also open mid-March to mid-October, though times vary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.