Not too long ago I checked my roster and was delighted to see somebody had accepted my swap to get rid of my Casablanca – I was going to Johannesburg! My first new destination in quite a while, and one I was very much looking forward to visiting.
All of the crew who fly to Joburg visit the infamous Lion Park at least once – it’s got to be done! So of course I emailed the ex-crew Noel who organises the tour and arranged a time for him to pick us up. During the flight (which was an overnight flight which meant all of our business class passengers slept the whole way!) I got chatting to the rest of the crew to see who wanted to come with me.
As we landed into Joburg around 6am, we all headed to the hotel for a little nap before the adventure in the afternoon. A few hours later, nicely refreshed, four of us met in the lobby, and luckily it was a beautiful sunny day.
Noel drove us down to the Lion Park, which took around 30 minutes.
Once we’d bought our tickets, in we went. The first area has lots of wild animals such as impalas, springbucks, zebras, etc. There’s also a lion enclosure and cheetah area where you can go in and stroke the animals.
But first up – the giraffe! There’s a feeding station where you can climb up to the giraffe’s level and feed and stroke it.
Having done our fair share of feeding and stroking, we wandered around to have a look at the rest of the animals. There’s even a baby giraffe who was too young to be fed.
We were so lucky with the weather as the forecast wasn’t great, but it stayed nice and sunny the whole day.
Next up was something slightly more adventures. The park offers a new experience, which is to stroke a cheetah! Never before had I even thought about stroking a cheetah, so on a whim we paid the extra 50 Rand and went in to the enclosure. You only get around 2 minutes with the animal so we wanted to make the most of our time.
The cheetah was very friendly but we had to make sure to stroke it from above, only touching the back and making sure to avoid the legs and face.
The trainer took him up to a platform, guiding him along with a piece of (horse) meat in his hand!
Once our incredible cheetah experience was over, we wandered on to the next enclosure, where the baby lion cubs were. They sleep 16-20 hours a day (sounds like cabin crew to me!) but luckily were just waking up as we came in.
We stroked them as they were lying down and all got some pictures, then the cubs decided it was time for a stretch!
They climbed up onto the mound in their enclosure, which we were also able to climb up onto, and had a little play and stroke.
Group shot of the gang – Mauritius, Germany, Thailand, England … and a rather majestic lion cub!
After having managed to stroke all of the incredible animals, we headed back out to meet Noel who’d been waiting for us. The next part of our adventure was a drive around the grounds, where we could spot more of the amazing wildlife.
I think I’ll leave the pictures to do most of the talking, as it was just such an incredible experience getting to see so many animals up close. The sun was just beginning to set as well which made a beautiful backdrop.
This adorable little baby zebra was only around 7 weeks old! Luckily her mum was right by her side watching out for her.
As you can see the day ended with the most stunning sunset! It was definitely a day to remember, one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in a long time.
I would highly recommend visiting the Lion Park if you’re going to Joburg, especially if it’s just a 24 hour layover like mine! Here’s hoping I get to visit South Africa some more in the future!