Chantelle had two days off during the entirety of my December holiday, so of course when she did finally have a day off to join us for some family fun, we immediately decided to head out for an adventure! After quick consultation, Jessica agreed – today was the day for LIONS!
From their site: “Drakenstein Lion Park was established in 1998 to provide lions in distress with sanctuary, where they could live in safety, free from abuse and persecution, and be treated with the compassion and respect they deserve. The Park is situated in the scenic Cape Winelands and comprises of 50 acres of sprawling lion habitat.
The Park is actively involved in improving the quality of life of lions in captivity, locally as well as internationally, either by offering these animals a lifetime home or working in conjunction with other animal welfare organizations to secure a safe future for individual animals in dire need.
The Park is not involved in commercial breeding or trade and offers lifetime care to all of it’s animals. All the animals brought to the Park are captive bred / hand reared and cannot be rehabilitated to the wild. The animals at the Park are assured a chance of living out their natural lives in an enriched and safe environment.”
Pleasingly, what they say on the website is what you see in real life. Just outside of Paarl (in fact, just down the road from Butterfly World), lies the Drakenstein Lion Park, which features seemingly endless natural habitat enclosures, populated with all manner of lions – literally from right across the world!
You can walk around for quite a long time around the park, and the organisers have seen it fit to place loads of benches, tables and umbrellas all around the place, allowing you to leisurely rest and take in as much of the lions in their natural habitat at whatever pace you choose – a nice touch if you ask me. Feeding time is at 16:00, so that’s a particularly good time of the day to go, and of course, try to avoid arriving in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest – unless you really, REALLY enjoy watching sleeping lions lazily lying under the plentiful trees of the park.
(Plus, they also have an enclosure with two Bengal tigers running around, not that we saw them of course, what with us having opted to arrive at the park in the middle of a hot day. See the previous point as to why this isn’t the best of plans for lion viewing).
Finally, in case seeing lions in the wild starts getting perhaps a little too boring for you, they now also feature Chimp Haven, a home for all the chimpanzees and a few other small animals that became displaced following the closure of Tygerberg Zoo a couple of years ago. (We skipped this one having just been to Monkey Town a few days ago, so I can’t really comment on Chimp Haven in the slightest. Just in case you were wondering).
If you haven’t seen many lions in real life before, then this park is definitely a treat. If you have, then you’ll probably not get quite as much out of it, unless you are there to grab some really good lion photos. Also, I have to say, its immense size and in a way, lack of variety, means that it isn’t the best of outings for small children. Certainly Jess became bored (and tired) pretty early on.
Nevertheless, you can see that the lions are well cared for and that the park is well run, and if you haven’t been there before, then it is definitely worth the visit – even if it is just to support their noble cause.
As for some photos, I did manage to grab a few with my phone, but if you really want to make the most of your visit, you need to take something a lot better along! :)
(Oh, the final few pictures were taken at the Jungle Leaf Cafe in Butterfly World. We had promised Jessica a pink milkshake after all!)
Related Link: http://www.lionrescue.org.za/