Four huge lions are inches away from us. We can almost hear them breathe – that’s how close we are. One of them gallops towards our car – I’m shocked at the fact that Vid is clicking photos of the lion instead of rolling up his window.
Then, less than a metre away from us, it stops. We sit transfixed, hearts beating faster than ever, cussing ourselves for ever coming to The Lion Park. The lion is now close enough for us to make out every hair of its mane. We stare, fascinated and scared at the same time. Then in one ravenous stroke, it swoops to pick up a giant piece of meat lying right next to our car. That’s when it struck us – the lion wasn’t interested in us. It was there for the meat.
That’s how we lived to tell this tale….
The Johannesburg Lion Park is home to a number of predators including lions, leopards, and cheetahs. It is possible to drive through the park, watching the animals go about their routines, and ‘interact’ with them. As you can guess, our first ‘interaction’ was surreal, to say the least. After all, who wants to be gobbled up by giant cats on their first week in South Africa. Having said that, the experience of being this close to such big cats was second to none.
A few deep breaths later, we started to savour the experience of being at The Lion Park. We saw a number of animals as we drove around on the dirt track. Few leopards lazing in the afternoon sun, wild dogs, lions, and cheetahs chasing each other. At one point, we had to stop our car for over 10 minutes to let a lioness drink water from a waterhole and amble across the track – the animal reigns supreme here.
The Lion Park experience is unlike that of a safari – the thrill of ‘spotting’ the animal is missing because the animals are right there for visitors to see. However it is possible to get much closer to the animals here and that feels pretty darn special.
In fact, we even got up close and personal with tiny lion cubs. Yes, you heard that right. We played with feisty lion babies and it was so much fun. Look how cute they are:
Next we wandered off to the area reserved for herbivorous animals and spent our afternoon spotting zebras and getting our palms tickled by giraffes’ tongues.
The Lion Park is a good day out in Johannesburg. We preferred the open areas to the enclosures. In fact, we might go back to volunteer at the park and make friends with those giant cats someday 🙂
- The Lion Park is close to both Johannesburg and Pretoria
- It is possible to opt for a self-drive or guided tour. We really enjoyed the self-drive option.
- The self drive tour costs 150 RAN (£10/$15)
- It is the perfect day our for families as well. Kids seem to love the giraffes.
- There is a traditional South African Braai (Grill) and cafe at the Park.
- More information on their website: www.lion-park.com