Almost everyone who visits Johannesburg comes home with extremely cute photo’s of them and the baby lion cubs that live at the Lion Park. If I had visited recently I would have had hundreds of photos to capture the moment (quite literally knowing me), but 9 years ago when my trip took place my technological and photographic skills were somewhat limited (thank goodness times have changed!). Therefore, I have only a few photos taken from a disposable camera and my fond memories.
I have so many memories of my travels. The things I have seen, the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met. My trip to South Africa back in 2007 was my first ever long haul trip and very much the beginning of my worldwide antics, and thus leaves me with fond memories that will always be locked away in a special place in my heart. I had many exciting and new experiences in SA, but one of the most memorable and one that I share with many fellow travellers, was my visit to the Lion Park.
I arrived with a friend of mine and we decided to do a self-drive around the park. This was really cool! Although we were in fact in one of the busiest cities in the world, it felt as if we had slipped into a parallel universe. The noisy traffic had faded into the distance and the high rise buildings were nowhere to be seen. All of a sudden we were in the bush, doing what felt like a game drive, surrounded by nature.
The park was exactly how I would picture ‘the bush’ to be. There was waist high yellow coloured dry grass filling the fields around us. Trees were scarce and lacking colour. It was hot, and dry. It was really amazing to drive along and all of a sudden have to stop because a zebra is blocking the road ahead. Antelope and springbok were in abundance. Giraffes stood tall and could be spotted from the other side of the park.
All of this is fairly common in SA and can be seen when driving along many roads in the country. But the difference this place had was the lions. The lions seemed to congregate all in one area of the park, and when we discovered them we drove very, very slowly so as a) not to scare them off and b) to give us more time to observe.
There were different breeds of lions here, including the famous white lions. They chilled out, lying under theshade of the trees near the edge of the park and cleaning themselves. It was truly spectacular to be able to see these lions, in a semi-natural habitat (natural apart from the obvious fence enclosure), completely in-different of our presence. The lions looked incredible; their fur thick and soft in appearance, their broad, muscular bodies stretched out across the grass. It was simply amazing to be in such close proximity to something so potentially dangerous. It was exciting.
Aside from the self-drive, there was an area with caged animals that we could wander around. Looking at the website now it looks as if they have much more there since I visited, but during my time I can just remember seeing a few random animals such as ostriches and smaller field animals, and then of course the cubs!
Getting to go into the enclosure and play with the baby lion cubs really was an experience of a lifetime! We were able to play with them, cuddle them and feed them. Feeding them with a baby bottle was sooooo adorable!!! They really were like big kittens and it is so hard to imagine that they will grow into the huge animals that I had just seen out in the park.
This was such an amazing day and it is such a shame that I don’t have many photos to remember the moment. So I figure there is only one solution to this problem- I need to go again! And one day I definitely will…. And this time I will take hundreds of photos of be ‘hugging a cub’!