Lions & Tigers & Bears, oh wait!

Despite the fact that that there are no Tigers OR Bears, the Lions in South Africa definitely make up for it! From the Birmingham coalition of brothers lying in wait less than 15 feet from our car, to lion walks, and cub kisses, we really got the whole lion experience! 

Our rockstar guide AK, booked through our Mafigeni Lodge experience (you can read about our experience here) was able to track the Birmingham males with their massive, MASSIVE paw prints. He ended up getting them to come oh so close to us!

At first there was only one sitting and staring at us, but then the other two brothers approached, and they were so surprisingly chill and seriously just wanted to nap. Like, literally, they just plopped down in the tall grass to take a nap. It’s amazing that these nearly 600 lb cats could go from completely visible to gone in a blink of an eye .  Check out the vid on my insta.

My first experience of South Africa, other than landing and arriving at the lodge, was the Birmingham coalition (pictured above), so my expectations were set high for the trip. A few days later we were driving through Kruger National Park and were able to see the lion cubs running around playing through the tall grass which was sooo cute! Later that night we also saw a pride laying out in the open during a night game drive. Although chilly, the night drive was awesome because we saw some of the nocturnal animals meandering around and grabbing “breakfast”. We even saw a bushbaby chillin in a tree, cute stuff.

On one of our last days, we we went to the Predator Park near the Letaba River. They rescue many animals that have been abandoned by their mothers and would otherwise not likely make it. There we saw some coati, which were totally rad. They apparently have no problem with people and are perfectly comfortable hanging out on a shoulder. Naturally my mom wanted one perched up on her. While watching this, I started to feel little legs crawl up my legs and back only to have a long nose start sniffing in my ear. The coati ran across my arm, then back down and finally settled itself INSIDE my jacket.

Later that afternoon we jumped into the good stuff. And by good stuff, I mean I got to hold THREE LION CUBS. They were sooo stinkin’ cute. Honestly, I’m not the biggest cat person (v attached to my pup though!) but these little guys stole my heart. Just check out the pic of the the little lion cub below.

Last but certainly not least was an experience I will never forget. We got to walk with ~4 year old lions. These guys were absolutely huge- one flick of the tail and you had to steady yourself. The people at the park take these lions out once or twice a day to give them extra exercise. Just in the hour walk, you can tell that they have a blast. They gave us very strict instructions- no sudden movements, don’t bend down to tie your shoe, get up with the lion gets up, etc. The lion walk was extraordinary. Terrifying, but extraordinary.  Watching them play and wrestle with each other was fascinating!

The whole lion experience was incredible and is truly humbling. These animals are so majestic and have so much strength, you can’t help but be in awe!