Walking with the Lions

Antelope Park, a game reserve with a resort-like touch, offers something very, very unique: a “Walk with Lions”! Expecting cubs, as promoted on the website, we were rather surprised to find two large lionesses lying in the grass. The trainers introduced them as 20 months old cubs (!) A bit embarrassed by their slackness the trainers explained, “They had just been fed and are a bit lazy“. Trying to make the lions rise, they pocked them with wooden sticks, which only triggered repeated yawning, revealing a set of mighty teeth. With the powerful fangs clearly visible, we certainly did not mind the big cats being lazy and sleepy!

There are a few rules that the trainers instilled with such vigor that we still remember them: you can pet them, but hard, so they won’t mistake you for flies and go after you. Never face a lion and crouch to eye level. This would invite them to show their dominance… And last but not least, never run!

The trainers have become experienced photographers and took some real cool photos with our cameras, from unusual angles and perspectives. In addition, one of us was shooting away till we ended up with more than 400 (!!!) photos. So attached we were after two hours that it was almost hard to say good bye to the two lionesses as they trotted off to their enclosure.

Our little excursion brought to light another interesting side business of Antelope Park: chatting with one of the ten young volunteers who tagged along, some equipped with charts, others only with cameras. We learned that an incredible 44 of them stayed at the game reserve at that particular time, providing another substantial source of income for the park!