At the end of last year my brother, his wife and their baby boy surprised my parents with a visit all the way from France. They timed it to be here for my parent’s 40 years of Transkaroo party (see here). On their last day in South Africa before flying back, we played tourist and visited the Lion Park just outside Johannesburg.
This park is neither a wild life reserve, nor is it a zoo. Maybe it is a bit of both, actually. It offers you the chance to go on game drives in your own car through the park and through six carnivore camps. We saw lions, wild dogs and cheetahs, but it was the white lions that really captivated us. It is very thrilling to be so close to these amazing creatures, even though we visited during the middle of the day while most of the lions were lounging in the shade of the trees taking afternoon naps. The other activity that is great (and probably explains why this park is the no 1 tourist attraction in Johannesburg) is the opportunity to interact with the lion cubs. The cubs, aged 3-6 months, are in an enclosure and visitors are allowed to go in and touch them. Giraffes roam the park freely and visitors can feed them (not my cup of tea – that long slimy, sandpapery tongue dripped with drool!!)
Because it is such a popular tourist destination, and since we are fortunate enough to be only a couple of hours away from amazing wild life parks with the change to see lions in their natural habitat, I expected the park to be very touristy and slightly boring. But it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience and we had a fantastic time. It is definitely worthwhile to take your out-of-town visitors there.