The Lion Park is located in Lanseria, about 45 minutes drive north west of Johannesburg. It gives visitors the chance to drive through a rather small reserve in which you can see big carnivores (white lions, cheetah, wild dog and hyaena) up close, as well as the opportunity to pet lion cubs. Another big drawcard is the tame giraffe whom you can feed by hand.
We visited a couple of years ago when we had a colleague visiting from overseas who had very little time, but wanted to see wildlife. It is probably elitist, but having been lucky enough to see these animals in the wild, I found the whole experience rather 'canned' and very expensive. To my mind, it is a tourist attraction rather than a genuine contribution towards conservation and education, and, much though my daughter (then 3) and I really enjoyed the lion cubs - particularly the giraffe encounter - I can't say that I'd rush to return. If you're serious about wildlife and interested in carnivores, I would rather suggest that you visit the outstanding Ann van Dyk Cheetah Breeding Station in the Magaliesberg, which isn't too far away, and will give you a much more authentic experience (but no lions). Just be warned that the Anne van Dyk centre is only open limited hours, so check my travel tip (under Pretoria) for the website details, where you can get the most up-to-date information.
It's also worth noting that there is immense confusion between the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve and the Lion Park. They are actually separate facilities, but are fairly close to one another and offer some similar attractions, such as the opportunity to play with lion cubs. If I might be a real conservationist 'stick in the mud', I would also ask you to consider where all those lion cubs go after they've passed the 'cute and cuddly' phase? As a general comment, lions are in oversupply in South Africa's national parks and reserves, and my concern is that they may end up being sold into the çanned hunting' trade (where animals are shot at close quarters by trophy hunters) - although I should add that I have no particular evidence to suggest that the Lion Park or Rhion and Lion Nature Reserve are involved in this practice.
A great thing to do is go to the Lion Park. By the time you get there, spend a couple of hours, play the lions cubs (which are so cute) grab something to eat it should fill up your time. There are organised day trips you can do, but it will probably be cheaper to catch a taxi there and back. We just walked around, but the taxi driver can also drive you through the safari park. Also some taxis are not licenced to go to certain areas so make sure they know you want to go to the lion park when you book.
Lionk park is for the intrepid businessman who has no time to go to Kruger or other real parks. It is a notch up from a zoo but does the trick. One advantage is the option of cuddling with lion cubs - not a mundane task. The white cubs seem to be testy while the golden ones are rather happy-go-lucky. Highly recommended experience!
The Lion Park, situated just north of Johannesburg, 40 minutes from Melville, and only 20 minutes from the Sandton CBD, is not a game park, nor it a zoo, though it has elements of both.
The park is home to approximately 80 lions including a pride of rare white lions as well as to a pride of magnificently handsome Namibian lions with dark manes and visitors can drive by and view them all, or take a guided tour with a presumably knowledgeable guide.
Sundays, at noon, is the most popular time to visit, because this when the lions are fed. Our guide advises us that lions have very slow digestive systems and only need to eat once a week. This is apparently not strictly true as lions in the wild will usually feed more often in times of plenty. Feeding time affords visitors a very close up view of these animals. One is constantly reminded that these are dangerous animals, and their loud roars, presumably of contentment as they’ve just been fed, strike fear into hearts supposedly protected by the wire separating the visitor from the king of the beasts. We watch as the lion chases a lioness away from the food. Presumably she was unduly cheeky because the other lioness is allowed to feed while the males are still busy. The cubs have to wait. It might not be the open plains of Africa, but the hierarchy remains intact. There is a slight traffic jam on Sundays at noon at the enclosure, and parking is at a premium on Sundays, but on other days it is easy to navigate the park.
The 8 kilometre long guided drive takes one past the herds of impala, blesbok, gemsbok, wildebeest, springbok (South Africa’s national animal), zebra, and round the enclosures where herons, egrets, cheetahs and hyenas are kept. The hyenas stink. I hope to hear one laugh, but the tourists are obviously not amusing. They turn their backs on us in disgust. At each stop the guide explains the peculiarities of the various animals. Wildebeest herds can survive without water for a month, and blesbok for two months. Springbok never run, they only jump, and typically will jump three metres forward with each bound when they are fleeing. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, with a speed of about 100 kilometres an hour. One is not likely to outrun a lion either as their speed is 35 kilometres an hour. Cheetahs are not true members of the cat family because their claws cannot retract, and because of this weakness they cannot take big prey, typically living on a diet of large birds. They’re apparently particularly fond of chicken.
There are also night drives. I wonder if this would increase one’s chances of seeing the incredibly shy wild dogs, which are mainly nocturnal. I have never seen wild dogs and would love to see a pack.
Back at Cub World, behind the reception area, restaurant and curio shop, there is an opportunity to see jackals and wild dogs, ostriches and giraffe, and to play with the young lion cubs. I take the guide’s advice not to touch any part of the cub except its body. Some of the playful cubs swipe at visitors jeans requiring the intervention of the watchful guide to ensure that no damage is done. Visitors are advised that these cubs have been rejected by their mothers and their only hope for survival is with the human intervention which places them in this position. However, a game ranger at one of the big parks advises me that the reality is economic. Lions which are used to humans and will allow them to wander around them fetch much, much higher prices than real wild lions and hence the habituation to humans. The latter does actually make more sense to me.
The highlight of the visit for me, however, had nothing to do with the king of the beasts, or his offspring. It was the opportunity to feed Purdy and Gambit, the two giraffes who live at the park. Purdy, at seven years old, and Gambit, at eight, are really beautiful. As they curl their black tongues delicately into proffered hands to pick up the dietary balanced pellets it is easy to love these huge, graceful animals. The guide informs us they can actually kill a lion with their kick, although in the wild they are often prey for a pride of lions.
The Lion Park restaurant offers a buffet braai (barbeque) on a Sunday and public holidays, as well as an a la carte menu.
This is a wonderful outing for both local and international visitors, providing one with an opportunity to interact, up close and personally, with nature for just a while. Moments of African wildlife tranquillity just minutes away from Africa’s most cosmopolitan city.
The Lion Park is open throughout the year from 08h30 to 17h00 (later in summer).
If you’ve been on a Safari and were not lucky to see the wild cats, Lion Park is a good alternative. Not really a game reserve, but far more than a zoo. Here, a conservation program for south african lions is run. The park is divided into two areas: One, where animals live a a small, caged area – and another, larger one where the adult lions live. The latter one can only be visited with your own car. There, you drive through different lion enclosures and watch the lions doing their favourite pasttime: Sleeping. In another enclosure,well separated from the lions, you can see more peaceful animals like ostriches, impalas and zebras. The caged area is somewhat like a petting zoo. OK, some of the wild cats are caged here, but you have the chance to touch and feed giraffes like big goats. Perhaps the biggest attraction is playing with the lion cubs. But here again, their favourite pasttime is sleeping (lions sleep up to 20 hours a day!), so the baby lions are not in the mood for playing. Students, many of them being exchange students, work here on a voluntary base and assist you while you are in the cage with the lion cubs. Here’s also your chance to ask everything you wanted to know about lions.
If you do not have the time to head to a game reserve - why not visit the Lion Park in the West of Johannesburg. Here you can do a short game drive, seeiing lion and a few antelopes, zebras and giraffe. Also the part gives the opportunity to "cuddle" baby lions - surely the closest you will get to lions!
The Lion Park offers terrific close-up views and other experiences with lions, as well as rare white lions. Other animals in the Park include cheetahs, brown hyenas, striped hyenas, spotted hyenas, wild dogs and jackals. Superb filmimg oppurtunities are slod possible.
WARNING: Do NOT under any circumstances leave your vehicle. A few years ago, tourists decided to get out of the car to have a picture taken with them patting a lion. WELL, they never got that picture!!
This is a great little game reserve close to Johannesburg. I think it would be a most interesting place to take the kids and adults would also benefit from seeing a wide variety of animals. We saw lions, buffalo, springbok, zebra, wild dogs, albino lions, warthogs, and more.
The roads are good although dusty and there are bathroom and refreshment facilities.
The Lion Park is a little like a zoo, with enormous enclosures. We have taken a self-guided drive through the various enclosures to see lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, hyena, and variious buck. This costs R80 for adults, and R55 for children 4-12. Guided drives are available, but we have no experience with them.
The lions look lazy and fat, and deceptively slow, but do not be conned into a false sense of security that they will not be able to attack you if you get out of your car in the lion enclosure. There have been some incidents of tourists getting out for photo opportunities, and being munched.
After the drive, it is possible to pet a lion cub and have photographs taken with them, and to feed a giraffe from a platform as high as the giraffe's head. Food and drink is available.
We only had a few days in South Africa, and there was unfortunately not enough time to visit a game reserve and see some animals. But, we did have a couple of hours spare to visit the Lion Park, which is located about 30 minutes north-west of Jo'burg.
The Lion Park is kind of like a zoo, but still gives you the chance to get up close to some wild animals. Upon arrival, first stop for us was "Cub World", where we were able to pat a lion cub! We then headed over to the giraffe feeding area, where there is a "feeding station" that puts you at eye level with these gorgeous animals. The giraffe that was there was obviously very used to being fed by tourists and would wait impatiently for the next group to come along with some specially purchased food. We also got up close with some nosy ostriches and their chicks.
After that we took a 'Game Drive' in our car. First we drove past zebras, then various antelopes (springbok, blesbok etc), and black wildebeest. Then past the hyena and cheetah camps (both fenced in).
Last stop was the four Lion prides, where you could drive right past lots of lions of all ages. Some were running around while others where resting in the shade. At one stage a helicopter went over-head and several lions ran up into a tree for a better look. There were a couple of gorgeous white lions too.
We initially laughed at a warning sign which advised you to remove your spare tyre cover (if you had a 4WD) before entering the lion camps, but then we saw a lion playing with one that she had taken off someone's car!
Admission was R80 for adults and R55 for kids (Nov 2007) and covered all of the above.
Some general info on the park.
Price R 65 per adult and R 45 a child (under 12). More expensive than Pilansberg. But taking into consideration that they have to feed the animals it's not so bad. It's open from 09:00 till 17:00 in the winter and till 18:00 in summer.
There is a restaurant (more info under restaurant tip), curio shop and kiosk as well as well maintained toilet facilities. There is also a baby changing facility. I always notice this because I can remember when my children were babies this was always a problem.
I found the items in the curio shop very nice, great little stuffed lion cubs etc,but a bit expensive for my liking. If you have dollars or pounds i suppose it is quite reasonable.
If you cannot make it to the KNP or Pilansberg's game reserve and you want to experience a bit of the wild life this is it. Just 30/45 min away from the airport (give an hour or more in peak traffic) you can spent a night in their tent camp. Hear the lions roar and the hyenas laugh. the camp is semi-luxurious and sleeps four people in a tent.
This is more of a park than a reserve but not a zoo. The lion's are kept apart from the antelopes and get fed. The lion camps are not to small but it is not the same as in the reserves where they roam freely and are responsible for their own survival.
How would we know if they are happy?
This is great place to go to get a close up of the lions. Besides the lions , there is various other animals like cheetahs , wild dogs , hyaensa and many more.
The Entrance fee is R65 per Adult , Children between 4-12 is R40 and Children under 4 is free. This includes a drive through the park.
Game Drives is R100 per person and Night Game Drives is R300 per person.
If you plan on taking your kids to a place whereby you can get close to the Lions then the Lion Park is your place.
Be sure to checkout my travelogue of the Lion Park
I do not consider the Lion Park to be a real game park but rather a safari park. It is only about 30 minutes drive form Johannesburg on the Lanseria road. There are four prides of lions, of various ages, this small game area also has a number of rhino as well as other herbivores. The lions are enclosed in a high-security area while the greater park area is given over to the other animals. The entry fee is R60 for adults and R40 for children