While at Sondela Nature Reserve my mom and I decided to walk with lions. My mom has walked with lions before and played with tiger cubs and I have always longed to do that. We arrived early and met with the 2 handlers who would take us for the walk. They called the 3 lion cubs who knew exactly what activity was up next. They ran excitedly out of their enclosure and lead us on our walk (occasionally getting a little distracted by more interesting things in the long grass).
These 3 lion cubs are 3 months old and were abandoned by their mother. The rehabilitation centre is raising them. The cubs are 2 sisters and a brother. While on the walk I kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe I was walking with 3 lion cubs – up close and personal! They were quite happy to let my mom and I scratch them, tickle them and talk to them.
At the beginning of the walk we were warned that they could bump us over. The looked so cute and fuzzy and were about the same size of my two dogs. I didn’t believe they would knock me over as my dogs can’t. Well I got such a surprise when one ran into me and I nearly fall on my tooshie. We were also told that if they tried to bite us or jump on us we were to smack them on their nose. They took a liking to my mom’s leggings and jumped up on her a few times.
We walked for a while and then stopped to give them some water. They lapped it up and then ran to the shade. Two of them enjoyed chewing on the branches of a thorn tree while the third one enjoyed jumping up and down a sand mound.
This mindblowing experience was so much fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone who goes to Sondela. We paid R100 (about USD10) which really was affordable and the money goes to the rehabilitation centre where they live.
In February my mom and I packed the car and headed out to Sondela Nature Reserve, near Bela Bela, for a week in the bush. All we wanted to do was get out of the city for a bit, put our feet up, read, do arts and crafts and do some animal watching. We’d had such a crazy busy week before we drove out on Monday afternoon and on the drive there we couldn’t wait to get there and have a G&T. We stayed in a gorgeous chalet and made ourselves at home immediately. The patio was my favourite and where we spent most of our time relaxing.
We couldn’t get over how tame the animals were! On our first night there the Nyala females walked right up to us and I fed them pellets that the reserve had left in the chalet for us. The next day my mom and I bought some more pellets in anticipation of many more visits by the Nyala. It was such an awesome experience as they ate right out of my hand! The animals all came right up to the patio and during the heat of the day would sleep under the trees surrounding the chalet.
We had a few other visits from a family of warthogs, male nyala and some birds. It was extremely hot there and the one morning the cleaning lady filled a bucket of water and put it outside. When I asked her what she was doing she said she was giving the Nyala some water to drink. As she walked away from the bucket the Nyala walked right up to it and started having a drink. I am sure they were only too grateful for that in the heat. We went for a drive through the reserve but found that we saw more animals while sitting on our patio.
At night while we sat on the patio we could hear all the sounds of the bush especially the zebra calling out to each other. The bush sunsets are breathtaking and the peace and quiet so relaxing.
Another mindblowing experience for me was walking for an hour with 3 lion cubs! I have ridden an African elephant as well as an Asian elephant, walked with a baby hippo and held a vulture and bushbaby. I grew up in the bush and was exposed to many amazing animals. I’m going to do another post all about walking with the 3 lion cubs with some great pics.
The week away was exactly what we needed and when it got to the Friday we wished we had one more week there. I will definitely head out there again before the end of the year.