On my recent trip to southern Africa, I had the very special opportunity to go on a walk with a family of lion cubs! It was during my brief time in Zimbabwe and, though I was very nervous at the prospect, it turned out to be one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. On the morning of our date with the lions, we woke early and went to the ranch where they live. We were given a thorough briefing by the security rangers, who advised us on how to interact with the lions – as you can imagine, I took careful mental notes during the lecture! I shouldn’t have worried, though, because I felt extremely safe the entire time. After the briefing, our group of 12 people and a few rangers set out with the cubs for an hour-long walk through the bush. At the conclusion of the walk, the rangers played with the lions, tickling their bellies until they rolled over in delight. At this point, when the lions were tired and relaxed, we all had an opportunity to pet and have our photos taken with them. Though my nerves kicked in and I only tentatively patted one lion’s back the excitement and adrenaline from being so close to them – literally feeling their warm breath on my arm and smelling their shaggy, matted fur – was an experience I will not soon forget. I would be thrilled to include a walk with the lions into your southern Africa itinerary so please ask me about it!
– Natalie Nevares