Walking with lions hasn’t been something I would ever imagine doing, not even in my wildest dreams. A short visit to Zimbabwe landed me in Zambia at Mukuni Big 5. Only the almighty knows how that happened.
Mukuni Big 5 is situated only 3km from the mighty Victoria Falls on the road to Chief Mukuni’s Palace in Livingstone. It is the only attraction in Zambia that offers lion walks. If you want to interact with more than just lions, they also offer elephant rides and walks with Cheetahs.
Everyone needs to at least experience walking with the lions once. Not only do you walk with the cubs but you get the opportunity to watch the cubs run, play, and cuddle right next to you. There are no chains or collars involved in walking with the cubs.
What exactly happens at Mukuni Big 5
You need to book in advance for the walk and make sure to get confirmation of your booking as there is a set number of people that can view the lions at a given time. The lions walk happens three times per day, and payments are made on arrival. They do accept both cash and card payments.
Once you arrive at the premises, you will be served a glass of juice or water while filling out an indemnity form. The form is basically you agreeing that the company won’t be held liable in case anything should happen to you.
Once the whole team arrives, you will get a safety briefing on how to approach a lion and pet them. After the briefing, we had to go meet the lions. Each of us was given a stick to hold as we walked to the lions. The stick is used as an extension of the hand in case the lion wants to play with you.
Each of us got the opportunity to go up close to the lion. Once close, you need to go on your knees to approach the lion from behind and then firmly pet it. If you have had enough of the petting you can stand up and walk back to the group. You then get to walk with the cubs for quite a distance. During the walk, you can play with their tails.
At the time of my visit, there were four female cubs we interacted and walked with. The walk in the bush with the cubs last for about 45 minutes. You might be scared at first but it’s definitely an amazing experience you should try.
How often do the lion walks take place?
The lion walks take place three times a day.
How old are the lions?
The cubs are always two years or younger. Once it reaches the age of two it is no longer involved in the walks as it would have started getting dangerous for humans to interact with.
Are there other animals on the walks?
No. It will only be you and the lions. You can always request a separate walk with the cheetahs or elephants.
Have there been incidents in the past?
So far there haven’t been any incidents but we dealing with a wild animal and we can’t really predict what could happen in the future. But there’s a slim chance of it happening.
What is the age restriction to walk with the lions?
The minimum age is 16 for a walk with a lion. Everyone is required to fill out and sign an indemnity form and anyone under 18 years of age would have their legal guardian sign for them.
What is the purpose of the program they are running at Mukuni Big 5?
They are trying to re-introduce the offspring of the lions they have back into the wild.