I took my first trip to South Africa last week. I visited Cape Town and Johannesburg. While in Johannesburg I took a trip to the world famous “Lion Park.” I was intrigued by the chance to see animals such as Lions and Cheetahs up close and personal. An experience you can’t get at a zoo. The news story of a woman being killed at the park by a lion did not deter me. The unfortunate death happened due to the woman not listening to the rules of the park by not keeping her car windows up. You can choose to do a self drive in the park or be given a ride in a caged vehicle.
So I took about a 40 minute drive to the park from where I was staying. The park is open everyday from 8:30 am to 9 pm. I had a flight 7:30 pm that day so I got there 9 a.m. I booked the “Cheetah walk” “Lion Walk” and the “Photographic Tour” in a silent electric vehicle. The total for that was 1750 rand which equals $130. You can see the full list of prices HERE.
So I hopped into this caged vehicle to be taken to where I would walk with a Cheetah. A station wagon was driving in front with the Cheetah in the back of the vehicle. After about a seven minute drive we got to the area where the Cheetah walk would take place.
To my surprise the trainers didn’t have any guns on them. He nonchalantly opened the back of the station wagon and let the Cheetah loose. At first I was a little hesitant to get near the Cheetah but as time went by I got more comfortable. The trainer told us information about the animal and answered any questions we had. They also made sure we got whatever pictures we desired.
The Cheetah was pretty much in its’ own world roaming around. It didn’t really interact with the people there besides going after some food the trainer had. It was a dope experience to see this beautiful and powerful animal up close.
Next up was the Lion Walk. While I was expecting one animal like the “Cheetah Walk” there was going to actually be two lions. The lions were more active and playful than the Cheetah. They were also much bigger.
The trainer with his bucket of snacks seemed to always be in control of the situation. He was very playful with the lions and had an assistant along with the park’s photographer with him. At no point did I feel afraid of these huge mammals.
We got a chance to take a nice walk and take various photos. The trainer made sure to ask us if we were satisfied and if we wanted more photos.
Even though the lion is looking at me like lunch in this above photo I never felt like I was in danger.
It was then time for my last experience for the day, the photographic tour. I entered the back of the this vehicle and then we took off. First we roamed around the park seeing various Antelope, Zebra, Ostriches and a Giraffe. With this tour the driver gets extremely close to the animals.
After seeing those animals we went to where the lions were held. I got to see a few prides from very close.
The driver gave info on the animals and answered any questions I had during the tour.
At this point one of the lions jumped at me. I was appreciative of the cage to say the least lol. It was surreal to see lions inches from you. They are nocturnal animals so for the most part they are resting during the day in the shade.
After seeing a few prides I got a chance to see some wild dogs. They might look cute, but they are Vicious.
To end the tour I saw once a gain a Cheetah.
The park has other activities such as a night safari, feeding animals and playing with cubs. The Lion Park staff was amazing and very professional. This was an experience I recommend for anyone visiting Johannesburg. Definitely something you will always remember.
Feel free to leave any comments and/or questions!