Walk with Lions

lion cubs africa image
Out come the cubs to play

ENGLISH-speaking South Africans often refer to predominantly Afrikaans-speaking cities or suburbs as being ‘behind the Boerewors Curtain’. The word ‘Boerewors’ referring to that uniquely South African beef and pork sausage; while the sentiment hints at a certain introversion, perhaps even a cultural exclusivity jealously guarded and hidden from inquisitive eyes.

And you won’t go any further behind the Boerewors Curtain than in Pretoria. A city shunned by most international visitors who cannot get shut of South Africa’s historic executive capital fast enough on their way to the wonders of the Kruger National Park or one of the myriad game reserves that enthrals tourists.

Which is a pity, really.

Pretoria is not the place to find air kisses or false modesty

Because what they don’t realise is that the Boerewors Curtain hides a hardy and uncomplicated people as honest as they are straightforward. Pretoria is not the place to find air kisses or false modesty. What you will find, if you seek it with an open mind, is down-to-earth hospitality and lifelong loyalty for those who pass the bullshit test.

lion cub africa image
Get up close and personal with a lion cub

Those who venture behind the Boerewors Curtain are also charmed by a thriving and dynamic suburbia raised from the ashes of a decrepit central business district, the imposing Voortrekker Monument, and Rietvlei – the largest urban nature reserve in the world. As if that’s not enough, within half an hour’s drive from Pretoria, you’ll enjoy the exotic experience of a lifetime… Walking with lions!

Horseback Africa, north-east of Pretoria, specialises in horseback safaris in a private game reserve. Superbly led by the gregarious Brandon MacRae, or one of the other friendly and experienced guides, the horses get very close to zebra, giraffe and a variety of antelope species. However, it is Horseback Africa’s work with lion and serval conservation that really offer visitors the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the magnificent king of the African savannah.

serval kitten africa
Horseback Africa is closely involved with serval conservation

Joining Dr Colin MacRae on an interactive and educational date with two young lions is an unforgettable experience! His knowledge of these beautiful felines is matched only by the thrill and excitement of grabbing onto their tails and letting them lead you through the sparse bushveld of the Northern Transvaal.

A visit to the MacRae family is often rewarded with impromptu meetings with other wildlife on rehab at Horseback Africa. Cuddling lion and serval cubs under the hot African sun will forever remain one of the highlights of my life!

Watch the video!


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  1. Johan, it was absolutely wonderful to have you with us walking with lions at Horseback Africa. You are as passionate as we are about lions, and we need the world to know what is happening so that slowly things will change for the better. Thank you for including us in this blog!!

  2. Awwww…I am featured in a movie – albeit the slimmest of cameos : )

    The video is heart warming and brings back such special memories.

    Thank you, Johan, for the heartfelt write-up of special people who live in a special place that we call home.

    Theony and family were gracious and kind and I highly recommend a visit to their lovely farm with its unique attractions.

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