South Africa was a last minute plan. Literally the last minute. My husband was going to Johannesburg on a long work trip, and I thought it would be a good idea to tag along. The only problem, VISA ! Like, oh my goodness, its a nightmarish feeling to just wait and wait for it to come.
Luckily for me, the visa arrived 6 hours before the husbands’ flight was to take off. I had it in mind that this plan was not coming through, and when I got the visa, I just jumped. After booking the flight just 4 hours before its take off, I just dumped anything and everything in a big suitcase, and before the feeling could sink in I was on my way to a new continent !!
It’s a surreal feeling. It takes time to sink in what you are about to experience. In my case, I had just not planned. Since its summers in Delhi, I had almost all of my winter clothes neatly dry cleaned and tucked away under the bed somewhere, and there was just no time to take it out. So, all I had was summer clothes, and boy was I in for a shock when I landed.
To be honest, Johannesburg was pleasant climate wise throughout. A little chilly in the mornings, but for the most part…I could bear with their “winter”.
We landed on a Friday I think, slept for the most part of the day, and then planned for the weekend. First stop – Safari Weekend Lion Park. If you are in Africa, no matter where which country, wildlife has to be on your number one priority list. I for one have always loved exploring national reserves, forests etc…so naturally Safari weekend Lion Park was our first destination.
Distance from Johannesburg
Roughly about 70kms ~ say 1 to 1.5 hours away from the city. Uber is expensive. But there is no other way of getting there, unless of course you hire your own rental car for the trip.
We got up early and were at the park by around 10 am. We were like two kids running around in excitement. We ran towards the ticketing counter and grabbed one of the brochures. You see, at the park, there are a lot of activities and everything comes at a (steep) cost. So one has to think it through for a second before going ahead. That + the time to actually be able to enjoy the activities.
Activities at Safari weekend Lion Park
- Animal Interactions – Cheetah & Lions
- 45mins – 1 hour Walk with Cheetah & Lion
- Self Drive Safari
- Safari Tours – 1 hour/ 1.5 hours/ 3 hours
- Lion feeding tour
We ended up going for the 3 hour flagship safari tour + lion & cheetah interactions. The safari included seeing the lion feeding as well as seeing the big 4 out of 5 African wildlife. So it was a pretty sweet deal.
First Stop – Caged Wildlife Beauties & some Window Shopping !
We saw porcupines, meerkats, crocodiles and of course the wild cats. I think I had the most fun looking at the family of Meerkats. Meerkats are super fun, playful animals and they are quite active. As a rule, one of the family members is always on guard for danger. Everyone keeps taking turns to stay on guard and the shift changes quite often. It was amazing to get to see it.
That one time when the giraffe became my friend !
This was probably one of the most fun things at the Lion Park. They have these big open spaces where friendly giraffes just walk around and you can pretty much coax them with food etc to come and be friendly with you. We were at the restaurant when one giraffe showed up, and boy oh boy, did we have fun. I had never seen a giraffe before and they are so adorable.
Next Up – Close to 4 hour long Safari
We went for the 12pm safari ride. Ours was a small jeep in which 9 of us sat. I was quite happy with my ride. We were caged at first when we were taken to see the lions. It was their feeding time, and what we saw gave me goosebumps. There were so many prides together. I have never seen so many lions and lionesses together before. It felt unreal. Some of them were roaring, some were playing, the lions were more or less sleeping but they were beautiful !
One could even take their own car and go as close to the animals as they liked. I saw little toddlers sitting safely in their cars while the beasts lived their own majestic life around us. For once, we were the ones in the cage, and in their territory.
The safari was a good understanding of the animals behaviours. We had an excellent guide who kept the conversation going all the time joking about some weird, funny trivia about these beasts.
We stopped over for a quick snack break organized by the park overlooking a beautiful river and got a good chance to soak in the beauty of our surroundings. It was eerily peaceful there even though from far we could hear faint roars coming from the lions.
Next Up – Lunch followed by Animal Interactions
We got done from the safari around 4pm. I was dead hungry. Like starved. We ordered some appetizing Italian food and chattered all about our day. It was magical. Throughout the safari, I don’t think we had the time to exchange our emotions or excitement about anything. There was just so much happening all around us, it was unbelievable.
But the animal interactions were yet to come, and I was scared, excited, nervous all at the same time. For a person who jumps when a dog or cat comes too close for comfort, going up close and personal with a cheetah and a baby cub was no easy task.
But I have no idea from where I could muster up the courage, the minute I got into the animal interaction area, there was just no looking back. The animal interactions lasted for a few minutes each but it was every penny worth it. It’s something I am going to cherish for a lifetime.