Up Close and Personal with Wildlife @ Olympic Game Farm, Sequim, Wa

What will you do when you find yourself trapped inside your car in between two wild yaks on a narrow hill? You cannot drive back up nor move forward as one of the old guy’s tail is in the way. For first timers like us, this little adventure made me feel like we were in National Geo’s Exploration in the wild. It was nerve wracking and adrenaline rushing, but was certainly a lot of fun.

Unlike other safaris, wherein you ride on their trams,  Olympic Game Farm is a self-guided/drive tour. It gives you the opportunity to explore the wild in the comfort of your own vehicle. But as you enter the 84 acres farm, you risk your vehicle being scratched, and if you don’t follow the rules, you might get bitten by aggressive animals. So it is of utmost importance to follow the rules of the farm such as staying completely inside the vehicle, driving slowly at 10 mph, only side windows are allowed open, and feed the animals with wheat bread to avoid them getting sick (wheat bread could be bought with your ticket entry).

We started off our adventure by driving up the narrow hill. To our surprise, we were met by a herd of yaks along the way. The road was too narrow (with no guard rails) that it seemed quite impossible to get by this herd of animals. This made us nervous. One of the yaks on the driver’s side was just hanging out and seemed comfortable in his sitting position, his tail was in the way, and he had no plans of moving. The one at my side (passenger’s seat), was nudging his head against my window, asking for food. We couldn’t back out as there was a car behind us . We were stuck! My husband, the driver, was trying to figure out how to get past them without running over them. For some reason, we hurdled the challenge and moved forward without causing any harm to the car nor to the animals. Hu, our first challenge caught us by surprise and freaked us out. We were wondering what’s going to be next.

As we drove through the farm, we spotted exotic animals that you can only see in the zoo or National Geo channel. We were approached by llamas, elks, zebras, different types of deer, peacocks, etc. These animals are already used to people visiting them so they slime on your window trying to get a piece of bread or it’s probably their unique way of welcoming their guests. Predators like bears, wolves, foxes, cougars were fully enclosed. For the first time in my life, I got to see Kodiak bears in action, up close and personal. Enclosed with a low electric fence, they were just a few meters away from our car that we got a good view of them and had the opportunity of taking close up photos. The farm boasts itself for having these “waving bears” as they wave back at you after feeding them. They didn’t wave back at me though. They probably sensed that we were nervous.

Halfway through our exploration, we were approached by caribous, licking our windows from my side, asking for a treat. It’s a delight to see their beautiful antlers as I imagined them pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. Though they looked so cute, I was a little intimidated to feed them as they tried to stick their heads in the car. To stop them from bugging me, my husband attempted to throw a piece of bread from the opposite side. Unfortunately, the piece of bread landed in the middle of our car’s hood. The poor guys tried hard to stick out their tongue, reaching out for their treat but couldn’t get it. Meanwhile, I saw a huge bison from a distance sensing the piece of bread and heading towards us. This instantly gave us a red alert. We had to make a quick decision to take it out of the way as this 500-600 lbs guy might scratch our car or worse, dent it. Before the tour, we were warned not to feed the bisons as their horns can cause damage to your vehicle. So my husband got out of the car and took that piece of bread before the bison would snag it. It was a race against time (and the bison). Luckily, he did it before the bison arrived.

During the entire tour, we saw patrol cars roving around the farm. It gave us a sense of relief knowing that there are people who ensure the safety of both humans and animals in the farm.

Our first visit to Olympic Game Farm was indeed a nerve wracking activity but surely was a lot of fun. It was a rare opportunity to come up close and personal with the wildlife. We left the farm with a lot of slime on the windows, and drove down to our next stopover feeling grateful for the wonderful experience and more mindful than ever of the need to cherish and preserve wildlife.

 

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