Antelope Park Zimbabwe
We came into Antelope Park late in the day as is usual when travelling on an overland truck, we had had a long day driving. We had dorm rooms available to us in this camp site, which was unusual, normally we had to put up the tents. Here we also had an option to upgrade if we wanted. I was sharing with a girl called Sarah, every chance we had (if the price was right) we would upgrade. On this occasion we went from a dorm room to a tent, I know “a tent” Yes a tent. This was a tent with a difference though, it had a wooded floor with a proper bathroom and a flushing toilet. Two single beds with electric blankets and a fridge. It also had a veranda with a couple of deck chairs that extended out over the water, all for the ridiculously low price of $20 US. Small price to pay to sit on the deck with a sundowner and watch the evenings activities on the water. Sitting there we listened to the Lions roaring in the distance. It is an experience you will never forget, to hear that primeval sound come out of the night. That deep resonating call of territorial ownership that can be heard from up to 5 miles away.
I mean really, close your eyes and imagine, – you are in Africa, and it is an extremely dark pitch black night. Across the water the sound travels and seeps into your body, instinctively your heart rate increases, your fight or flight mechanism is activated. The hairs on the back of your neck rise up and you listen intently, trying to locate the direction the roar is coming from.
Then you remember it’s okay they can’t get you, you are safe. There is nothing more stimulating, that makes you realise you are alive.
The next day we go for a horse safari, we ride out and become a part of the wildlife, the other animals ignore us thinking we are just another animal, all they can smell is the horse. You can get right up close to the animals before they realise and move on. The heat of Africa is all around you, the smells of the horses and the other animals is in your nostrils, the dust that is kicked up by the Giraffes as they take off into the distance. The grass is a honey straw colour, the same colour as a lion you realise.
On awaking the next day we are all very excited, today we get to “walk with the lions”. We have a safety talk first telling us what to do and more importantly what NOT to do when in the presence of lions. The Lions that we are going to walk with are about eighteen months old they are fully grown, however they will fatten up with maturity. We walk for about two hours following them as they learn the stalking and hunting skills they will need to be released back into the wild.
We get to interact with them and watch them play with their siblings. Later that day we also get to go and assist in the feeding of the older more dangerous lions. These are not free to roam the park they are fenced off from the rest of the Lion Park. It is a scary thing to watch a group of lions savaging a piece of meat these are the lions we had listened to the night before.
That afternoon we get to have an absolutely amazing experience, we get to cuddle and play with the baby lions, they are like big kittens except they can put their claws through your shoes and into your foot, these guys are around 8 weeks old.
Antelope Park has a breeding and release program, with the aim to set the lions free into wild life parks