I’ve had the pleasure of trying a few trolley tours in areas like Savannah, Georgia, so I was thrilled when I heard Bend Oregon would be getting one of its own.
When I learned Bend Trolley would have a Wild Animal Tour on its list of offerings, I may have actually turned a cartwheel in my office. (We’re going to go ahead and pretend the pulled groin didn’t happen).
I had no idea what to expect on the Wild Animal Tour. Would we be feeding Cheetos to ground squirrels, or experiencing something a little more exotic?
Exotic is an understatement.
Our first stop was a ranch I never knew existed just a few minutes outside Bend. Our whole crew hopped off the trolley and onto a tractor-drawn carriage for a spin around the ranch. Things started off fairly tame, with some interesting breeds of pigs, sheep, and chickens.
Then came the buffalo. Oodles of buffalo, with several breeds represented and a number of baby bison frolicking around our carriage. This wasn’t just a “stare at the animals and nod dumbly” tour, either. Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge about everything from the buffalo breeding to the health properties of their meat.
Next up was a drive through a pasture filled with Tibetan Yaks. There were 130 total, the largest herd on the West Coast. I have to confess, I’d never seen a yak up close before, and was amazed at what beautiful animals they were. (I’m not ashamed to admit I immaturely nabbed a photograph of a yak peeing. You’re welcome).
Once we had our fill of offbeat livestock, we loaded back onto the trolley and headed north. I’ve lived in Bend for more than 14 years, and never had a clue there was someone local who raises big cats. Indeed there is, though the property isn’t accessible to the public. Currently, Bend Trolley is the only group taking tour groups to the facility.
Our guide led us around the grounds to see lions, tigers, panthers, cougars, lynx, and more. Though sturdy bars kept the big cats at a safe distance, we were still able to get closer than I’ve ever been to these amazing animals. A staff member entertained us for awhile with the antics of a playful female lion, while peacocks strutted and screeched nearby.
At the end of the half-day tour, I felt like I definitely got my fill of exotic wildlife, and our mode of transportation made the whole thing fun and unique.
The cost of the Wild Animal Tour from Bend Trolleyis $65 for adults, and $55 for kids 17 and under. The tour is offered Thursdays from 9:30-1 p.m. A separate Big Cat Tour is offered on all days besides Thursday for $40 per person. A minimum of 10 people is required to book either tour.
Regardless of which tour you pick, you’re bound to enjoy the mode of transportation. It’s an original 1800s trolley with oak bench seating and open-air side panels (though you can also keep it closed up and run the air conditioning or heat, depending on weather and where you’re headed).
Overall, this is a fun new tour option for Bend visitors and locals alike. For more info, visit Bend Trolley online, or call 541-771-1800.