Shamu, San Diego

by Friday, October 30, 2015

San Diego is California’s second largest city. It has a population of just 1.2 million and shares a border with Tijuana. The two cities grew together during the 1880s land boom. Visitors get a buzz out of visiting two countries in one day, particularly as the contrast between the them is like chalk and cheese.

San Diego has a beautiful coastline with loads of beaches to be enjoyed in a near-perfect climate. Downtown streets are in grid form and the main road, Broadway, runs from the waterfront through the middle of town. The massive Horton Plaza is the centrepiece of the city’s urban development, and the renovated Gaslamp Quarter is the place to go for ambience and entertainment.

Balboa Park is America’s largest urban cultural park. It is home to fifteen museums, performing arts venues, architectural wonders, beautiful gardens and a world-famous zoo.

SeaWorld is a chain of marine mammal parks in the United States. There are over 20,000 aquatic creatures there, including killer whales, sea lions and dolphin shows, and zoological displays featuring other marine animals. You have the chance to meet animals up close, and enjoy your visit below the surface and above the waves.

The park’s biggest drawcard is Shamu, the killer whale. The Shamu Adventure ”Believe” is performed in a 26 million litre stadium.

“Shamu Rocks” is a 20 minute freewheeling musical journey through fantastic natural settings. Four LED moving and rotating screens will capture Shamu’s voyage through killer whale playgrounds around the world. Whale and trainers will wow the crowd with free-flowing behaviours, while on-screen images morph into a kaleidoscope of images, complemented by classic and contemporary songs.

Other attractions are Shipwreck Rapids, Wild Arctic, Skyride, Skytower and Journey to Atlantis.

San Diego Zoo is home to over 4000 rare and endangered animals, representing over 800 species and sub-species. There are exhibits highlighting monkeys, pandas, polar bears, sun bears, flamingos, koalas, reptiles and rainforests.

Just a half an hour away is their other big attraction – San Diego Wild Animal Park, nestled among the hills of the San Pasqual Valley. The park takes up 730 hectares where animals enjoy even freer conditions than those at the zoo. Some are regularly swapped between the two locales to give them a change of scenery.

It is a refuge for wildlife and a safe harbour for species of the plant kingdom. Towering acacias, lofty conifers, prickly desert plants and all things green and leafy and beautiful to behold.

The semi-arid environment’s design was based around a Kenyan village. One of its most notable features is the large Wgasa Railway. Over 500,000 trees, shrubs, flowering plants and ground covers were planted and the park was opened in May 1972.

The Park people worked closely with local garden clubs, botanical societies, specialty nurseries, as well as importing plant specimens, and the result represents geographical areas from all around the world. It has a wonderful array of wild and endangered animals from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and Australia. Cheetahs, antelopes, lions, giraffes, okapis, elephants, zebras, Przewalski’s horses, rhinos and bonobos.

It has a successful California condor breeding program, and an impressive collection of rare hornbills.

Tower 23 Hotel is San Diego’s only luxury lifestyle hotel on the beach. Named for Lifeguard Tower 23 on Pacific Beach in front of the hotel, its location is superb. The resort community of La Jolla is just north of the hotel.