Getting Close to Nature at Auto Safari Chapín in Guatemala

Located in Escuintla and just a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Guatemala City or Antigua Guatemala, Auto Safari Chapin is a great day trip for families and animal lovers. Whether you are visiting or living there, Auto Safari is one of the best things to do in Guatemala with kids.

Feeding giraffes at Auto Safari Chapin in Guatemala
My girl was feeding giraffes. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Things to do In Guatemala For Animal Lovers

What sets Auto Safari apart from other zoos is that the animals roam freely in large enclosures you can drive through. You feel that you are entering that animal’s world, getting a sneak peek into their lives. Although the sections are big enough for the animals to interact in a natural environment, each enclosure is long but not too wide. The animals are never far away from the car as you drive; getting close to nature was never this easy!

Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala
Blackbuck Antelope at Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

As a kid, I remember going to Auto Safari Chapin a few times, especially when we were on our way to the beach. It’s a great side trip on your way to Monterrico or any other beach on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast. I love animals and have fond memories of visiting Auto Safari Chapín with my family. My favorite memory was holding a baby jaguar at the park when I was about 12 years old. Now, tell me, where else do you get to do that?

bay hippo at Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala
Baby hippo with mom at Auto Safari Chapin, Guatemala. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Incredible Adventures at Auto Safari Chapín

We took the kids to the Safari Chapín for the first time on our recent trip to Guatemala. And they were excited to see all the animals, from  African species like hippos, ostriches, and lions to local animals like whitetail deer and spider monkeys. You can drive with the windows down in most enclosures, except where dangerous animals like hippos and lions exist.

deer herd at Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala
Chital deer herd at Auto Safari Chapin, Guatemala. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Feeding Giraffes At Auto Safari

The highlight of our visit was feeding the giraffes. For less than US $2, you receive a bunch of long branches that you can give the giraffes right from your car. You open your window and stick out the leaves, and the giraffes will take them right from your hand! After going through the enclosures, we returned with the park’s manager. I wanted to take pictures of the kids as they fed the giraffes, so I could not be inside the car.

feeding giraffes at Safari Chapin
My kids are feeding the giraffes. Photos: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

We all ended up riding in the back of one of the park’s pickup trucks and feeding the giraffes. I was amazed at how close the giraffes were and how incredibly huge they were. As I stood next to the truck taking pictures, one of the park’s staff members kept the giraffes at a safe distance from me. A kick from their 7-foot legs would have certainly done some serious harm.

feeding giraffes
My guys were feeding the giraffes. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

It was an amazing experience, and both of my kids were thrilled to be surrounded by giraffes. These majestic animals were coming from every direction, and getting so close to them was an incredible experience.

Looking at the ostrich
My boy is looking at the ostrich from inside the car. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Incredible Wildlife At Your Window

We captured incredible photos of the animals right from the truck. The ride in our own car was comfortable and cool, unlike the weather outside (which was hot and muggy even in December). I was pleasantly surprised to see the zoo in excellent condition. The animals looked happy and in great health.

We saw many animals at Auto Safari; our favorites were the hippos. There was a super cute baby hippo, and we saw them from pretty close. Also, we loved having to stop for whitetail deer or spider monkeys to cross the road in front of the car. And getting so close to the lions, resting just a couple of meters away, was exciting!

lions at Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala
Lions at Auto Safari Chapin Guatemala. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

We also watched as a deer heard jumped over a stream. It felt like you were out on a safari in Africa! Nevertheless, the roads, although in excellent condition, are dirt roads. Sometimes you even have to cross a little stream, which my 7-year-old thought was cool.

deer jumping a creek Autosafari Chapin Guatemala
Deer jumping a creek Autosafari Chapin Guatemala

Amenities and More at Safari Chapín

About halfway through the drive through the animal enclosures, there was a rest stop where you could buy refreshments and climb up observation areas to look at the giraffes. There were also bathrooms and a playground. We let the kids burn some energy on the playground before returning to the car. Once you finish with the drive-through section of the zoo, you arrive at a parking lot and can continue with the pedestrian part of the zoo. You will find local species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  

The grounds weres well taken care of, and you felt like you were in the jungle or an African savanna. The gardens were not well-manicured but had more of a natural and wild look without being overgrown or out of control. In this area, you will also find the restaurant and the dock, where you can take a boat ride around the small lake. So don’t skip the opportunity to watch the capuchin and spider monkeys that inhabit the small islands.

Boat ride
Boat ride. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz, all rights reserved.

Things To Consider When Visiting Auto Safari Chapín

  • The restaurant offers hamburgers, hot dogs, Carne Adobada, and other simple and quick options. The food could be better, but we were not there for the food. Next time, I would pack sandwiches and snacks for the kids and skip the restaurant altogether.
  • It is hot in Escuintla, even in December and January. So don’t forget to bring lots of sunblock cream, a hat, and mosquito repellent!
  • Give yourself at least 3 or 4 hours to see everything. Although the safari is not immensely huge, you’ll need time to stop and appreciate the animals. 

For more information and rates, you can visit the Auto Safari Chapín website, like on Facebook, and follow on Twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Getting Close to Nature at Auto Safari Chapín in Guatemala”

  1. Que buenas imágenes. Hemos visitado varios zoológicos pero nunca hemos ido algo como esto. Debe ser una experiencia única… porque en una oportunidad fuimos a un lugar donde se podía alimentar a los animales y mis hijos no querían irse.


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