Sam Towne takes a walk on the wild side in Zimbabwe
Walking with the Lions
Sam Towne really takes a walk on the wild side in Zimbabwe. Sam visits a rehabilitation program for orphaned lions in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and gets to do a bush walk with the lions. Sam, tell us about your experience.
What an amazing experience! Firstly, we were given an explanation as to how to behave while with the lions. This made each and every one of us a tad nervous about walking alongside these majestic creatures.
We were each given a one metre long stick (I called it a twig!). This is to hold against the neck of the lion should it come beside you and turn to look at you! What, a measly stick to protect me? Just to let you know, these cats are actually wild and are not ever kept in enclosures. They live freely on the reserve and come and go as they please. The lions are unrestrained and roam free as you join them on a walk through riverine vegetation and African bush. It is a rehabilitation program but for orphaned cubs. They grow up on the reserve until they are eighteen months old. They have to fend for themselves but with a bit of help from the men and women who work on the reserve, and then they are released into the wild.
We had to walk to find them but it did not take long. There they were in all their glory, two lions, both ten months old, a male and a female. I don’t know why but I was not at all scared or nervous any longer. Once I laid eyes on these toothy big cats, they just looked so majestic sitting and minding their own business.
We started walking and the lions started by leading the way! They didn’t really care about us being there as they were just having fun. The guide said that when one came beside you, you should pat it! Not a soft pat but to ensure it was a good hard pat on its butt. Everyone seemed a little apprehensive, so I took the lead and as the male lion came beside me, I leaned down as we were walking side by side and gave him a good slap on his bum!
The guide took my camera and said to keep doing it. He also said don’t forget to keep an eye on the lion’s head, if he looks at you, don’t use eye contact but use the stick. I pretty much forgot about the stick in my hand and was willing to go with the flow, whatever should happen! Sounds strange, but I was not afraid of it and was so happy I could have died with a smile on my face even if it did take a bite out of me!
We walked for an hour with the lions, taking photos when permitted, and just feeling so absolutely privileged to be experiencing such a rare occasion with the most majestic animal on earth. I fell in love all over again with the lions of Africa.
To take advantage of this experience, the cost is about $100 USD but was worth every single cent! Most tour companies offer this as an optional extra, so don’t forget to budget for it!
Are you looking for more information about travelling to Zimbabwe or any other African destination? Contact [email]text=Sam Towne[/email], an International Travel Consultant with Student Flights based in Alexandra Headland, Queensland who can be reached at 1300 051 365 or by [email]text=email[/email].
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