Although it’s best known for its onsen (hot springs), Beppu is also known for having a little piece of Africa that is easily within your grasp.
The African Safari Wildlife Park, just a few miles outside of the city, offers an experience similar to those found in Africa. Rather than strolling around a zoo and observing animals in cages at your own leisure, here you’ll be seated in a fully enclosed vehicle and driven through the park while you watch the animals in their natural habitat. Even more novel is the fact that you’ll be given a pair of tongs and food to feed the animals! Keep in mind that this opportunity only exists if you decide to ride in the park bus. If you opt to drive your own car, you’ll have to keep your windows up and doors closed at all times.
Although the tour is entirely given in Japanese, it’s fun to feed the animals and watch them up close. From being able to come in contact with lions, elephants, giraffes, and more, this is an opportunity that won’t come regularly in Japan.
It’s easy to combine a visit with the Hells of Beppu nearby. The bus from Beppu Station to the safari also stops at Kannawa, where you get off for the start of the Hells tour.