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by Sine Thieme, a writer and mother of four who is new to South Africa and busy chronicling her experiences on her blog, Joburg Expat.

A great place to visit with your kids if your budget is limited or you don’t have time for a full-fledged safari is the Lion Park just North of Dainfern. You get to drive through the park in your own vehicle (making sure the windows stay up the entire time!) and will get good looks at not only lions but also cheetahs, wild dogs, a variety of antelopes, and a giraffe.

Afterwards, when you’ve seen enough lions (we had the privilege of watching a young white lion climb up and down a tree), observed the wild dogs during feeding, and roused the cheetahs from their nap, you get to enter a special enclosure on foot, where there are more animals. We got to pet and feed a baby antelope, see hyenas and ostriches, and, as the crowning of our afternoon, play with the lion cubs.

They are actually a lot bigger and stronger than you think. Like grown dogs with sharp claws. So they’re not as easy to pet as little kittens, but just as playful. Only smaller groups of people are allowed in the lion enclosure at a time and there are several volunteers to help keep the lion cubs tame. They were kept quite busy as a group of Japanese visitors arrived after us!

A visit at the Lion Park will take you about two hours and costs R130 per adult or R70 per child (discounts for multiple children and children under four free). Just be sure to plan some time (and money) for the gift shop at the end

Click here for more information about the Lion Park

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