Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Africa, Animal Kingdom Park

  • Land: Africa
  • Type: Exhibit
Where: Africa
Experience: Fun For Everyone, Outdoor
Duration: 20 minutes

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a self-guided walking tour of native African wildlife in Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Pangani means "place of enchantment," and this exploration trail is an enchanting adventure into a lush, tropical forest and a verdant valley that are right out of the heart of Africa. Take a leisurely walk in search of rare African animals such as gorillas, hippos, okapi, naked mole rats, meerkats and many species of exotic birds.

The first observation post on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail provides the opportunity to observe Stanley Cranes; Okapi, the only known living relative of the giraffe; and Yellow-backed Duikers, a member of the antelope family. Next, enter a hut where you can watch a fascinating colony of naked mole rats in their underground burrows from a glass observation area.

Continue into an aviary filled with many species of rare African birds such as African pygmy geese, great blue turacos and bearded barbets. Some birds fly freely about, while others are ground-dwelling and roam freely on the floor of the aviary.

As you amble along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, don't miss the hippos! See these colossal beasts move through the water with effortless grace at an underwater glass viewing area. Leaving the aviary through a screen door, you pass into another open air shelter with a dam on the far wall with a large panel of inch-thick glass, holding the pond. The pool is home to a trio of giant hippopotamus. This is a great underwater viewing area. The Hippo is a river dwelling mammal from tropical Africa and is related to the pig. Males are approximately 5 feet tall and can weigh five tons. The hippos will spend most of their time in the water but can relax on nearby boulders, particularly in cooler weather.

Another popular animal to observe is the Meerkat. Meerkats which delight children and adults with their sentinel behaviors. Meerkats are found in Southern Africa and the Kalahari Desert. They are 12 inches tall and have tails that can grow 8 inches long. They are very territorial and can often be found standing erect, guarding their space. Meerkats have an interesting diet which includes scorpions (they are immune to their venom) beetles, spiders, centipedes, worms, crickets, small mammals, small reptiles, birds, eggs, and roots. Check out the Meerkats' antics as you overlook an African grassland savanna that is also home to several types of grazing animals such as marabou storks and Gerenuks. Back on the trail you will come to a thatched roof structure and a large Savannah overlook into the grasslands. Tiny dik-diks, Gerenuks, and others are seen grazing in knee-high grass. The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri walleri ) is sometimes called a gazelle-giraffe because their long neck is similar to the giraffe and they have a gazelle-like body shape.

One of the major highlights of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail comes towards the end of the trail: an encounter with a troop of Lowland gorillas. Following the leafy trail is the Gorilla Research Camp. As you enter, you'll find everyone pressed up against the glass viewing the gorilla family. Two young females and a silverback (adult) male and a baby or two may come into view. Gino, the silverback, is the head of the family troop and came from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Gino's family as of July 2007 was a 12-year old male, 9-year old male, and 6-year old female along with the breeding female. Cast members in this area will be glad to answer any questions you may have./p>

View these magnificent creatures up close from one of several viewing areas that overlook the multiple habitats for these endangered species. Be on the lookout for the massive silverback males and their families. As your visit to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail draws to a close, you will indeed have experienced a wondrous "place of enchantment."

Touring Tips

  • The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is located in the Africa area of the Theme Park. It begins near the Kilimanjaro Safaris and ends near the Harambe station of the Wildlife Express Train.
  • Your journey through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail takes about 20-30 minutes. It is a natural flow along the path as you exit the Kilimanjaro Safari. If you are interested in the gorillas, be sure to check out the research training station at Rafiki's Planet Watch where you can learn about Disney's behavior gorilla training program.
  • Your only real chance for enjoying it is to walk through before 10 a.m. (i.e., before the safari hits full stride) or after 2:30 p.m.
  • There are plenty of viewing areas for kids and lots of educational opportunities too.
  • Another strategy, especially if you're more into the wildlife than the thrill rides, is to head for Kilimanjaro Safaris as soon as the park opens and get a FASTPASS instead of riding. Early in the morning, the return window will be short, just short enough in fact for an uncrowded, leisurely tour of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail before you go on safari.
  • Open for Morning Extra Magic Hour.


  • The attraction was originally known as Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail but the name was changed in August 1998.
  • It is about three-eighths of a mile in length. There are "research students" positioned at most locations to give information about the animals and answer questions.
  • Native African interpreters are at many viewing points to answer questions.
  • The hippos are actually the same ones you will sometimes see on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride in the savannah. The hippo barn resides in between Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and the savannah river.


En route there are viewing points where you can watch a beautiful rare okapi (a member of the giraffe family) munching the vegetation, a family and a separate bachelor group of lowland gorillas, hippos (which you usually can see underwater), comical meerkats (a kind of mongoose), graceful gerenuk (an African antelope), exotic birds, an antelope species called the yellow-backed duiker, and a bizarre colony of hairless mole rats.


  • African Bullfrog
  • Gorilla
  • Kenyan Sand Boa
  • Keri Bustard
  • Meerkat
  • Naked Mole Rat
  • Nile Hippopotamus
  • Stanley Crane
  • Tarantula


  • African Grey Parrot
  • African Hoopoe
  • African Jacana
  • African White-backed Duck
  • Amethyst Starling
  • Bearded Barbet
  • Black Crake
  • Brimstone Canary
  • Carmine Bee-eater
  • Emerald Starling
  • Golden-breasted Starling
  • Hadada Ibis
  • Hammerkop
  • Hottentot Teal
  • Lake Victoria Cichlids
  • Magpie Shrike
  • Marbled Teal
  • Olive Pigeon
  • Pygmy Goose
  • Snowy-headed Robin Chat
  • Superb Starling
  • Taveta Golden Weaver
  • White-backed Duck
  • White-bellied Go-away Bird
  • White-collared Kingfisher