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Waking up to the sound of Lion’s roaring is without a doubt one of my most favourite travel memories and just one of the many from visiting Lionsrock in South Africa. My love of South Africa has grown uncontrollably over the last few years, but it is safe to say my last visit blossomed the adoration to a whole new level.
I was invited out by animal charity Four Paws to learn all about canned hunting industry which is currently happening in South Africa. Learning about such a horrific industry in such a beautiful setting was quite the bittersweet. For the trip, I was hosted in the magnificent lodges and got to sample what Lionsrock has to offer for tourists who want to come and visit the sanctuary.
The history of Lionsrock, South Africa
Lionsrock, named after the prominent rock in the centre of the area, is operated by Four Paws International, the big cat sanctuary in South Africa resides on a 1250-hectare site. Lionsrock offers lions that were able to be rescued from breeding farms a secure and species appropriate place to live out their lives. In the South African big cat sanctuary, there are lions from both breeding and hunting farms; as well as various cats rescued from other areas around the world. All of which have been saved from situations where they would not have survived otherwise.
At Lionsrock they are given a second chance at life, one where they are given their safety and humanity back.
About Four Paws International
‘A world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding.’
Four Paws uncovers abuses in animal keeping and develops alternatives, calls for species-appropriate living conditions for all animals and a ban on the private keeping of wild animals. Numerous campaigns and targeted enlightenment provide for long-term change for the benefit of all animals worldwide.
In addition, Four Paws projects help animals in need: wild animals from disastrous keeping conditions find a new, species-
appropriate home in sanctuaries for bears and big cats.
The accommodation at Lionsrock
Lionrock Lodge offers a variety of accommodation ranging from luxury en-suite lodges, standard en-suite rooms and self-catering chalets, all of which follow the standard African safari lodge style.
At present, the lodges can hold up to 55 people, ensuring you still get a personal and relaxed feel. Each chalet offers a view out on to the African plains where it is not unusual to see various Antelope and Zebra grazing. Guests also full access to the outdoor swimming pool which also overlooks this area.
With prior arrangement, dogs are also welcome guests at Lionsrock.
I was treated to a luxury en-suite lodge which looked out on to grounds. My room itself had a massively comfy bed, as well as a seating area, TV and all the usual hotel features. My favourite feature, of course, had to be the private patio area where I could sit with a direct view of the ever colourful African sunsets.
Due to the positioning of the accommodation, it is also not unusual for your wake up call to be the roar of the lions which call the site their home. It is truly incredible.
A luxury lodge with buffet breakfast included will cost you, on average, £70 per night, if anyone has ever stayed in South African Safari style accommodation before, you will know this is an extremely competitive price in comparison to some. Plus you get the added bonus of know your money is going towards a good cause, making Lionsrock, in my opinion, the best place to stay in Bethlehem.
Another selling point of Lionsrock is the staff, all of which I found incredibly hospitable, kind and friendly. I love staying in a hotel where you can have a good conversation with the staff who have bundles of personality and genuinely enjoy the chat too. For me, it really makes the difference in creating a lasting impression of a hotel.
There is an onsite bar and restaurant, where you can go for your meals, meaning you do not have to make a journey off site to eat. The restaurant serves a typical South African food, which if you have not had before, includes a lot of vegetable dishes as well as meat-based meals. The onsite bar is a lovely place to chill out in the evenings, and I fully recommend buying an Amarula and sitting by the log fire to warm up after an evening game drive.
Activities available at Lionsrock
Both sunrise and sunset game drives are available at Lionsrock for an additional fee. This gives you the opportunity to jump in a safari jeep and visit a selection of the rescued cats as well as the other species which live at Lionsrock. The drives also give you an opportunity to learn more about each of the cats and at certain times you will also get the opportunity to see them being fed.
I would encourage you to experience both the sunset and sunrise game drives, as both will give you a very different experience.
Private tours at alternative times are sometimes available by request.
Hikes are also available with prior booking. The guided hikes will also give you an opportunity to see the South African bush by foot as well as see some of the smaller wildlife such as the beautiful birds. The hike will take you up the mountain, and can be customised to suit all abilities.
Even if you are not staying on site you can still book on to these activities. Which is perfect if you are looking for day trips from Johannesburg or looking to see lions near Johannesburg.
If you are looking to have a safari wedding in South Africa, Lionsrock can also host you. Not many people will have the chance to say that their wedding march was vocally accompanied by the roaring of lions.
The Cats at Lionsrock
There currently over 100 rescued big cats which call Lionsrock Sanctuary there home, making it the best place to see lions in Bethlehem, South Africa.
While it is mostly Lion on site, there is also Tiger, Leopard, Cheetah and Caracal. As previously mentioned every cat has been rescued from either a breeding farm in South Africa or a situation where they have not been allowed to live a normal and safe life somewhere around the world. For example, Saeed who was rescued from a Zoo in the war-torn country of Syria.
Being here gives them the opportunity to live in safety and free from being used as entertainment.
How to get to Lionsrock
The closest airport to Lionsrock is Johannesburg, from there it is only a three-hour drive to LionsRock. Lionsrock can arrange your transfer We organise from OR Tambo International Airport, the international Airport Johannesburg.
Staying at Lionsrock was a truly magical experience, whether you are looking somewhere to responsibly see big cats in South Africa or just somewhere to relax in nature for a couple of days, Lionsrock will fulfil your need and leave you with memories which will stay with you a lifetime.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Lionsrock as part of a press trip with Four Paws International, as always all opinions are my own.