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“just amazing”
Review of Lion Encounter

Lion Encounter
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Attraction details
Owner description: Africa's first genuine programme to ethically re-introduce the offspring of rehabilitated captive-bred African lion back into the wild, helping safeguard the future of the king of the beasts.No leashes, no collars, just a natural African wildlife adventure operating in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park by Thorntree River Lodge, 10 minutes from Livingstone. Guests will have the unique experience of walking alongside and interacting with the lions as they play, learn to hunt and prepare for release.
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“just amazing”
Reviewed May 4, 2013

You do actually walk and touch the lions, they take your
Camera and take photos of you patting the lions. You can also buy a video of the walk it is very well done

Visited March 2013
Thank microdotty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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124 reviews from our community

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San Francisco, California
Level 6 Contributor
77 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“Amazing interaction!”
Reviewed April 6, 2013

First off, a caveat --> we did not do the full walk because we had limited free time in Zimbabwe. We did the cub encounter which is half the time (about 30 min) and half the price too (about $70US). The cub encounter is a deceptive name --> all lions under 2-3 years are considered cubs. We thought we'd be playing with the young babies we kept seeing pictures of, but they actually don't let you interact with those. We played with the big lions.

For the cub encounter they take you out and first take pictures with the majestic animals. Then you actually do a short walk with them through the bush, and then finish by taking more pictures. It was quite hot in the afternoon when we went so I thought the 30 min walk was long enough for me, but again I didn't experience the longer encounter so I can't comment!

A note on the hospitality --> Because we had limited time, we couldn't do the scheduled morning or afternoon walks. I contacted Anna (and Patience before she left on maternity leave) and they were so gracious in setting up a separate time for us to go in and see the animals. I'm not sure if they always do this, but we really appreciated it! We had to squeeze it in in between a morning falls tour and an afternoon river cruise our tour company already set up. They sent a car to get us at the agreed time and the whole thing took about 2 hours (transit, walk, and a stop at the Big Tree by our wonderful driver on the way back). I was so surprised they would agree to set up the "custom" tour for us since we otherwise wouldn't have gotten to experience it. Again, not sure if they always accommodate people like this, but it can't hurt to contact them and ask!

A note on the Lion Encounter --> I had read a few reviews with concerns about the ethical practices (few and far in between... most reviews were super positive). Having been there myself and talked to them, I don't have any concerns. They're trying to repopulate the African lion population and they're very conscious about doing it the right way. You interact with captive-born lions but at age 2-3, these lions are completely removed from human contact and taught how to hung, and then released into a protected reserve as their own pride. They're not released in the wild since they've been hand-fed as a cub and don't have the natural instincts (or not as astute natural instincts) as their wild counterparts. They're still in a national park reserve so it's not like they're in a zoo. For the cubs born in the reserve, those are raised by their mothers/pride and never have human contact. Those cubs at maturity are then released into the true African wild. I felt like the staff really were making every effort to ensure the well-being of the project.

Of course you're interacting with lions and it's unnatural! That's what you're paying to do!!! The organization is very open that they need the money to support the project. It's no secret. So, if you sign up for this, do it with a clear conscience... if you still have qualms, donate money to some organization and give up your dream of petting a lion! There is no way to be completely natural and still have that interaction with them. This is as good as it gets! And supports an amazing organization!!!

Visited March 2013
Thank Jennifer L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
177 reviews
97 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2013

I would recommend this for anyone. You get up close and personal with the lions and the guides will take photos/video, etc. They explain the process of the 4 phases for the lions in this project. (I hope I have the right attraction - it was Walking with the Lions) They are trying to increase the lion population in Africa. They video tape the entire walk so if you're in a small group, the DVD is worth the buy!

Visited February 2013
Thank Jan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Level 6 Contributor
112 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2013

The way this programme is designed is fantastic. It was amazing to join the lion encounter and to be so close to these wild animals and even being abel to pet them. They are in their natural habitat and are well managed by the volunteers and guides. Keep up the good work!

Visited February 2013
Thank AniqueJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cairo, Egypt
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“The lions are amazing..the organization is still questionable”
Reviewed January 9, 2013

Although we were skeptical of a "lion encounter"...particularly one where they supposedly reintroduce the lions back to the wild, we were somewhat pleasantly surprised (my husband and youngest son really liked it, my daughter older son and myself were not totally sold). First, the plus: The lions were gorgeous and the staff were very friendly, taking multitudes of pictures with our own camera and sharing lots of information about the lions. I did ask the question about how many lions have been re-introduced. None to this point, with 2014 being the target for the first pride to enter the wild. I will be very interested to see if this is done successfully. We were there (Jan 7, 2013). And the obvious negative: We did take note that the guides make a point to tell you the lions are allowed to wander and do whatever they wish..this was not the case, as they were kept on, or very near to, the path the entire time. Not until we nearly completed the walk with the older cubs did we finally see them just wander off a bit and engage in play. At this point, the walk was over, and they seem to sense this...relaxing and enjoying each other. I appreciate the lions for their beauty, but am not completely sold on the purpose of this organization...though I truly hope they do indeed complete their mission of re-introducing these lions to the wild.

Visited January 2013
1 Thank MWZ1963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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