An up close experience with African wildlife, ‘really’ up close, and exploring the sheer-cliffs of the Colorado river in Traveling Texas.

Barefoot Owner Michael Brister talks about his camp’s accessibility to the Colorado River and the option of exploring long tracks of the river at its edge.
Published: Jan. 29, 2023 at 5:29 PM CST
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BEND, Texas (KLTV) - Almost 5 hours Southwest of us in central Texas off of FM 580 in San Saba county is the small community of Bend. Most knowing it as the location of Colorado bend state park.

Known as an area where nature thrives, its home to beautiful waterfalls and scenic overlooks. But a short distance from the state park is the little known are of Barefoot Camp.

“People have been coming here for a long time just to fish and camp. I have 3 miles of riverfront to walk, and about 12 miles of hike and bike trails,” says owner Michael Brister.

Barefoot offers the option of exploring long tracks of the river at it’s edge, or hiking the trails along the top of the sheer-cliffs.

“I guess I take it for granted. But a lot of people that come from the cities they’re able to, we got some trails where they can get to the edge and look over,” Brister says.

An hour south of Barefoot in Gillespie county, just west of Fredricksburg is a little piece of Africa. ‘Longneck Manor’.

“You love city zoo’s, you have to have them. But a lot of times the animals are 100 yards out. This is right in your face,” says Longneck Manor guide Reid Gardner.

On more than 100 acres in the hill country, it serves as home to giraffes and white rhinos born in accredited U.S. zoos and offers guests a personalized wildlife experience. To pet a 25-hundred pound juvenile rhino, or feed a 16 foot tall giraffe.

“It means more to people when they can get up close and personal with that one on one encounter, actually hands on with a white rhino,” Gardner says.

Not a traditional zoo exhibit where barriers distance guests from personal encounters with the animals, Longneck Manor treats a small number of overnight guests to more of an immersive, exclusive safari experience.

“And I think people learn a lot better when it’s right in front of you, at least I do,” Reid says.

There are even suites you can rent overlooking the animals pens.

“We have some exciting things coming in the future so stay tuned there,” says Gardner.

With both ‘Barefoot” and “Longneck Manor”, owners say check their website for reservations and availability.