Kya Sands is home to The Lion Park in Jozi – just 30 minutes drive from Melville. Great news! We took friends that were visiting Jozi for the weekend, as we wanted them to see some animals but had too many people in the car for a game drive at Pilanesberg. There is another lion park in the Cradle of Humankind, but the Lion Park in Kya Sands has white lions, which we really wanted to see. Driving there, I was amazed at the sky that day – it was bluest blue, but full of these really substantial fluffy white clouds, that we don’t usually see in Jozi. Everyone was uploading instagram pics of the sky like crazy on Facebook that day!We arrived, purchased our tickets and then got in the car and drove into the reserve. There were zebra, a couple of giraffe and some horned beasts that I cannot identify (kudu? impala? Who knows!). It felt a little Disney-like (staged) and there weren’t many. We then saw a sign to the lion camp and headed off that way. I didn’t have high hopes to be honest
There are 5 camps, which are basically fenced but large area’s, giving the cats the room to roam around, but separating the territories of the different prides. As soon as we drove into camp 1 we saw a small pride of lions chilling in the shade! Straight away my gut feeling was proven wrong. We drove right up next to them. They were not bothered at all – it was lunch time so the sun was blazing, and they were just trying to keep cool and snooze, like cats everywhere in this heat! There are signs everywhere that tell you to keep the windows closed, but I needed pictures! I cracked the window half way to get my camera lens out there, but I had decided that if the lion looked at all like he was going to attack, then the camera would have to be sacrificed with the electric window zooming up as soon as I could make it. There wouldn’t be time to pull the camera in! Luckily, the lions were all too sleepy from the sun and just lolled around, acting like perfect models for my photo shoot
We drove around the other lion camps and stopped to snap pictures. At one point if I had opened my car door it would have hit a lioness lying down in the grass. She lazily watched me snapping away from inside the car, but struggled to keep her eyes open as she was so sleepyThe lions and lionesses were absolutely stunning. You could just tell they were absolute power-houses, and I was in awe of them. Luckily for us they were not riled up and let us go about interrupting their midday nap
We drove through another camp with 2 cheetahs lying in the shade. They were beautiful – so different looking than the lions, but equally as impressive, although I think the young white lion males were my favourite. They have this sleek, slim body – not yet thick and muscly, and then a huge mane. I’m a little bit in love with themThere is a camp for wild dogs too, which are a rare sighting in the wild here, but unfortunately they were too far away to see, also seeking shade from the burning midday sun
Next stop: the cub enclosure. Excitement! I have seen pictures of my friends holding cubs in SA, but was disappointed upon arrival at the pen that you were only allowed in there for 2 minutes, and you were only allowed to pet them on their body – not on their head or tail. This meant that there was definitely no holding! I later found out that they want the lions to be as wild as possible, otherwise they can’t release them when they are older. The tame cubs usually end up on those awful game hunting trophy farms. I wish they explained this at the Lion Park as I would have been much happier that we didn’t handle them then. Instead I was just disappointed. The cubs were very cute – all napping in one big bundle of lion cub! We petted them and moved on – the website said you could feed the giraffes and I was dead set on this
Well, if I was disappointed about cubs, then I don’t know what the word is for how I felt about the giraffe feeding. There are 2 giraffes there, but as they are not in a pen (which is good), you can only feed them if they are interested enough to come up to the fence (which is bad). Obviously they were nowhere near the fence as I wanted to feed them (Sod’s Law). There were some ostriches desperate to be fed, but it is not the same, so I poutily went and bought an ice cream from the cafe as a booby prize (for me, not for the ostriches!). Today I found out that another friend got to feed the giraffes when she visited! So annoyed they weren’t playing ball whilst I was there. Don’t they know I have a blog to write?!
There was a small pen with the cutest little meerkats in. There was an adult with a baby and then some young meerkats rolling around and play fighting. It was too cuteAll in all, we all enjoyed the lion park, but I don’t think I would go again. After seeing a real game park I think that you are spoiled as to how many animals there are. This place is well set up, and I think that kids especially will love it. It’s a nice couple of hours to spend if you have a time limit but want to see some lions whilst in Jozi. I would suggest going there early, or as late as you can, so that the animals aren’t so sleepy from already being fed or the heat. Actually, thinking about it further, do you want the lions to be more alert?! Maybe not!