It has started 2 years ago, when I had my first encounter with real wildlife, America’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks present you a great variety of beasts. Since then, my mind was boggled with the idea of taking this to another level. And Africa was the main destination that I had in mind.
As one wise man once said, all good things come to those who wait, I got a chance to travel to South Africa for a business trip.
Now, the city of Johannesburg is where I am going to spend next 3 months of my life.
So here we are, and given the opportunity of being away from work during weekends I’m going to use my time for sightseeing and of course safaris !
Packed with 10 kilos of photo equipment it’s time see what options we have.
You can visit some sanctuaries where the animals are more or less in captivity or you have the option of visiting Kruger National Park which is a vast territory of total wilderness spread on almost 20 000 square kilometers.
But for warm up I decided to go for something smaller than that, and by doing some research I came across the Lion Park , which seemed to be quite popular in the area.
It is located in 25km from Johannesburg and takes about 30min to get there by car.
In Lion Park you have several options to choose from, first and probably the most desired one is the interaction with Lion cubs, then you can either drive into a safari park on your own car or make a use of specially equipped vehicles with cage. Also you can walk with cheetah, or spend few hours watching the show with a lion.
I was really looking forward to play with the Lion cubs, but unfortunately there were strict rules, we were just allowed to spend 3-4 minutes with them, and you could only touch their back or the belly, no head or tail. By the time we arrived all of the cubs were sleeping, here I learned that in general, lions sleep a lot ! I mean a lot !! But nevertheless they are really cute those little ones 🙂
Word of advise for first time visitors, there are 2 separate areas with lion cubs, but you are only allowed to visit one ! So pick the one where the cubs aren’t sleeping, we were not allowed to enter the second one where they where running all over the place. If you are with children then perhaps the sleepy ones would be the safest.
So after that we jumped into a car and drove into the self drive safari park. You start with herbivore species such as zebras, giraffes, blesboks, antelopes etc..
Giraffes are probably the most friendly ones amongst them, they rush to approaching vehicles knowing that people will always feed them with something.
Zebras are peaceful
Some of the species were not so happy with our presence, like this angry antelope looking blesbok with a threatening face.
We’ve been approaching the gate with big cats, surrounded by tall electric fences and warnings everywhere to wind up all the windows and stay in a car at all times.
And here is the first pride of lions, sleeping as usual, luckily they’ve been moving a bit when the big trucks with noisy engines were approaching. This was the moment when you should catch them at least doing something else than lying in a shade.
Lion prides are separated in from each other, there were 3 or 4 different zones, in this one we met a pride of white lions with their cubs.
This was the last group of lions in the park, and again they were just lying on the ground and doing nothing, just moving from one place to another when some car was passing by.
We drove into wild dogs area but they were too far and not really visible from the car, so we skipped them and passed into cheetah area…
As I already mentioned there is a guided Cheetah Walk program in the park.
A group of 10 people gathered and we took the caged tourist truck to reach the cheetah’s habitat. This was again an area with electric fence, we have stopped near the entrance and were waiting in a truck while the guides where preparing the cat. I was expecting that we eventually will step from the vehicle and go in, but to my surprise they took the cheetah out and put straight into the truck where we’ve been sitting !
This was a bit of a shock for everyone ! But Masai was calm and obviously used to have people around.
He just picked a seat at the back of the truck and we set off to his favorite location to have a walk.
We were amused by the fact of having a cheetah as a passenger, but it was a jaw dropping scene for people that were outside 🙂
Finally we reached our destination and stepped off the vehicle.
Masai was enjoying his time as he was constantly served with pieces of meat, this was a distraction for him so people could touch him without fear of becoming his dinner.
He was surrounded with us and everyone could not wait for his turn to cuddle the cat and take a picture.
This was a great pleasure to have such a gorgeous predator around you, Masai was happy as well as he had his evening walk and meal.
This was the end of a great day in Lion Park, and when we were about to leave the sun was already going down, I was stunned by the look of this African sunset !