I am not sure how my writing any more than the title to this post will suffice. A walk with lions.

We walked with lions.

I told Chad afterwards that was going to be my new African name, ‘She Walks with Lions.’

I will do my best to recount the morning. We arrived at the main dining room at 7:00, thinking that breakfast started then and we could eat prior to our walk. You know, our walk with lions. We were wrong, however, breakfast did not start until 8:00, but we left for the  driver the lions around 7:25. It is a good thing that we did, because two water buffalo decided it was a good time to walk the route we were driving. They were not in a hurry.

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As they finally walked off the road, we got the look, which is becoming so familiar from the game animals…the look that says whatthefarkdoyouwant or suspiciously watches to see what we are going to do next. Onward we drove to the lion center and we encountered zebra, giving the same look as we received from the water buffalo.

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We felt lucky to catch these magnificent animals out this morning. The water buffalo are quite elusive and last night on the game drive, we could only see them hiding in tall shrubbery. Arriving at the lion center, we met Andre, our guide, and five lion handlers. One was carrying meat and was in charge of training/corralling the lions. We picked up sticks and stuck close to Andre for the duration of the walk. We were lucky enough to walk with Rambo and Gina, a young brother and sister, who were very affectionate and playful.

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Rambo sharpening his claws

They darted about through the bush and we’re all in all very entertaining. As we walked, Andre told us how Botlierskop has been fortunate enough to house six rescued lions, saved from mass breeding and how they work with the lions to make them somewhat accessible to the public {in this walking with them kind of way}. Again, I am grateful to be staying at a place so keenly aware of the need to conserve and preserve the life of many animals. As we came to several points on the walk, the lions knew to sit and stay, while guests crept in close for photo opportunities.

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As we sat on this log, I was a mere inches away from Rambo’s hindquarters. I think this was the first point where I realized how fragile and easy to consume I could be! It was frightening and yet I knew we were safe with the lion handlers.

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I did ask twice if I could hug the lions, but kindly I was told no. It used to be allowed, but it turned out that visitors would tickle the animals instead of giving them a good scratch behind the ears. The tickle would cause the animals to play back, however when a lion plays back it is on an entirely different level. Their paws are strong enough to deliver a swipe that can break a zebra’s neck. Their tongues are so rough they can kick meat right off an bone. So, they had to stop letting people touch the lions.

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Understandable.

{But it was so tempting!}

Our walk continued and we both appreciated the power, grace and agility of these mostly lazy cats. We felt lucky to have walked with the young siblings and lucky even more to have even experienced such an incredible morning.

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