on July 21, 2006
After being out in the expansive game reserves like Kruger Park, it was a little odd coming to Lion Park, just outside of Johannesburg, relatively close to the posh suburb of Sandton. Lion Park is more like a zoo or smallish (200 hectare) game farm. It has two main parts: The game camps that you drive through and Cub World, where you get to have close encounters with a few animals. Cub World is what makes Lion Park a unique experience--you get to go in a small fenced area and actually pet lion cubs, including white lion cubs. They also have other animals and cubs such as cheetah, hyena, and jackals in penned areas. There was a pen for a leopard cub, but we were told he gets moved to a different, unseen area on weekends because the crowds prove too stressful for it. Also within Cub World is an platform where you can feed giraffe (they sell bowls of giraffe food for a few rand). In the game park part of Lion Park, you drive through fenced fields containing assorted antelope, zebra, and a couple ostrich. Then you drive past some smaller (zoo sized) fenced in areas which are their hyena and cheetah camps. The highlight of the game drive area are their lion camps. They have four different prides of lions in separate areas that you get to drive into. You drive into each pride's field, and get to observe the lions very close up (as in walking right up to the cars). They have some very handsome lions, including black-maned ones and white lions. We got to see a couple of the lionesses climbing a tree.We visited Lion Park on our last day, when we still had our rental car, before we had to head to the airport for our end of the day flight home. It was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, and the experience of petting the lion cubs was unforgettable. Still, we did feel a little hypocritical visiting the animals in such a zoo-like setting after seeing their freedom in the wild in the big game preserves.Admission was 70 rand/person (about $10-11), including Cub World and the self-driving part. There was also a small restaurant and picnic area on the grounds.There is another Rhino and Lion Park a little further west and south of this Lion Park. It sounded interesting and a little bigger with a few more things to do (caves, etc.). We initially started towards it, but decided to go to Lion Park when it seemed it was going to take too long to get to Rhino and Lion Park.
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