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The Ultimate Lion Experience, South Africa


Price above is guide only. Choose start date for your price.



Fancy getting stuck in to life on a lion reserve?

During your time at our lion reserve in South Africa, you'll be given the chance to try out a range of activities to get you involved in the everyday activities around the running of the centre. Life down at the lion centre is laid back - there are lots of hungry mouths to feed and enclosures to clean though, so be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in! 

Trip Highlights:

  • Become an assistant on the reserve, and get involved with looking after the lions
  • Interact with the lion cubs (6 weeks and older), they will have the opportunity to feed and care for the cubs as well as other animals at the park
  • Embrace African life, and see loads of other animals on the reserve too!
  • Interact with the charming cheetahs at the centre too!
  • Enjoy a traditional South African braai (BBQ) to the sounds of roaring lions and hyena calls.
  • Have the chance to see the animals in their natural environment while participating in game drives
  • Experience a night of culture at an authentic African restaurant

Fast facts

Project duration: 
Min 2 weeks - Max 3 weeks
Location of project: 
Gauteng Province, South Africa
Arrival airport: 
Johannesburg (JNB) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Various types of work with park visitors and animals, including helping with feeding and facilities maintenance
Working hours: 
8 hours shifts between 08:00 to 21:00 (6 days per week). Many fun excursions on your time off which are included in your package: - Pilansberg National Park - Elephant Sanctuary - Crocodile Farm - New Lion Park site
Getting to the project: 
Accommodation is on site
Minimum age 18

What's included

Shared semi-luxury tents at project
Breakfast and lunch are included, you will also need to purchase your own food for the remaining meals (budget approximately ZAR800 per week at the park). There will be a welcome braai plus another braai arranged during your stay Vegetarian/Halaal available
Airport pickup: 
Included on arrival date - ask us for details if you're arriving early
In-country orientation
Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24hr emergency support

What's not included

Flights, Insurance, Visas, Return Airport transfer, Local Transport, Food


Day 1 – Arrive into Johannesburg International Airport (airport code JNB)

Today you will be met at the airport and taken directly to the lion centre outside Johannesburg. You’ll need to arrive in before 4.15pm so that you have time to go food shopping for all your supplies needed for your stay. The journey from the airport to the lion park should take around 45 minutes. You'll also be taken on a food shopping trip to buy any groceries that you need.

Upon arrival at the park, you will be met by your coordinator and taken to your accommodation facility. After some refreshments you will attend an orientation where your programme will be explained to you in depth, further you will be introduced to the staff and fellow volunteers. There will be an opportunity to go to a local shopping centre to purchase any personal items or necessities.
To end the day, we treat you to a complimentary light meal on your first night

If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Johannesburg before 4.15pm then we’d recommend you fly in a day early. We can arrange an early airport pick-up for you including one night’s accommodation, give us a call for more information.

Day 2 – It's lion cub time!

Your first day at the lion centre will be all about settling in and getting to know how things work. You’ll get to know the staff at the centre, figure out the rota and start learning your activities. You’ll learn how to prepare food for the cute baby animals in the nursery, as well as in the evening for the larger cubs. The centre works on a system whereby you are either stationed in the nursery for 3 days and then you swap and clean enclosures for three days. This way you can get to grips with the work but you are also given a variety in what you do each morning. You will also help clean out cub enclosures in the mornings; share shifts at the giraffe feeding station, the gate to the game drive and at the entrance to cub world.

Days 3 - 13 - Getting stuck in

As you start to get the hang of life at the park you can spend time learning about South Africa from the centre staff; expect to learn lots about the animals you are working with as well as how the park is run. You’ll get to wear a staff t-shirt , 2 of these shirts will be provided on arrival by your volunteer co ordinator. We ask that all volunteers wear these shirts while working at the centre so you are easily identifiable by members of the public that may require your assistance. You will get to interact with the lions and the visitors to the centre – the best of both worlds! We say the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of this experience!

Day 14 – It's safari time!

We are so jealous - today you will head off for your amazing safari at the Pilanesburg National Park where you will have a chance to spot the Big 5 in the wild. The park is about 2 hours from Johannesburg and is set in the crater of a long extinct volcano and covers an area of approximately 55,000 hectares. If you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of the hippos taking their late afternoon bath! Don't forget your binoculars and your camera! This will be an experience you'll never forget...

Day 15 – Your last day 

On your last day with us, you will not be assigned any duties and can spend the day enjoying your time with the animals and staff.

After saying your final goodbyes; you will receive a farewell pack and then taken to the Airport with our shuttle service. This will be arranged by your coordinator. 

We'd advise that you book a flight home for late afternoon so that you don't have to rush around for a morning flight.

The cost of the transfer to the airport is not included but our friendly staff are on hand to help advise you! Just ask your volunteer co ordinator if you need help to you arrange a transfer for you and they will be happy to help!

Days 16 to 21 - Extra Week - lucky you...

If you have booked to stay for 3 weeks then you will have the next week working with these amazing animals and getting the most out of your time at the project. You will be working Thursday to Wednesday.

Day 22 - Last day

Sadly your last day at the centre has arrived and you will be saying goodbye to all your friends before heading off to the airport for your flight home or for new onwards destinations. The cost of the transfer to the airport is not included so don`t forget to have a chat with the volunteer co ordinator to help you arrange a transfer for you and they will be happy to help!

We'd advise you to book a late afternoon flight to avoid an early morning rush back to the airport - take your time to say your goodbyes! You're going to miss this place so much!


What does the project do?

Our exciting lion centre has created an environment as close to a natural habitat as possible, where the animals may live, be respected and appreciated. They also work to breed the endangered white lions in captivity and to train certain animals for use in movies and adverts. The centre also keeps various other predators such as hyenas, wild dogs, and jackals.

What’s the project like?

The lion centre is approximately 208 hectares, so it’s pretty big! It’s situated in a rural location but has a constant stream of visitors as it is featured in many guide books - and you'll be able to say that you've lived and worked here! The centre is open to the public and visitors can play with baby lion cubs as well as drive through the adult lion enclosures. We don't want to say too much, but we've seen some pretty famous celebrities visit the park too! Shakira, Rod Stewart and Arsene Wenger to name a few...we obviously can't guarantee any celebrity visits though while you are there though..shame.

Why does the project need volunteers?

With so many mouths to feed and with such a big centre, there is a lot of maintenance and management to uphold. Lion cubs alone are demanding and need to be fed every few hours in their first few months! As a volunteer you will assist the staff with daily tasks to help make sure everything runs smoothly. You’ll also bring fresh enthusiasm to the team, which is always appreciated.

Outgoing volunteers with a passion for animals, as well as people, will get the most out of their time at the park, since a lot of the work involves interacting with the public. The more proactive you are, the more you will get out of this experience!

Activities and schedule

You normally work for 12 days at the lion centre, 8 hours shifts between 08:00 to 21:00 (6 days per week) You will of course get breaks during the day!

A normal day might see you cleaning cub enclosures and helping in the nursery in the morning, a 2 hour shift at the giraffe station, then the front gate and finally helping with the evening feed at the end of the day before you fall in to bed!

What we love most about this project is that you can swim with the lions (obviously weather permitting) and also interact with the cheetahs at the centre! You'll remember these moments for years to come!

We ask you to be prepared for the fact that you will sometimes be asked to help cut up meat for the feedings and also to help with basic maintenance duties such as weeding. Everything that happens is with the animal's welfare in mind! If there is also something that you would particularly like to get involved in, then please do have a chat with the volunteer co ordinator stationed at the park and they will do their best to accommodate your request.

Project resources and advice

You'll find everything that you need at this project so there’s no need to bring anything along from home.

Please note that you will be asked to sign a form clearing the lion park of any responsibility for injuries that may be incurred at the park. This does NOT affect your insurance cover.

Please note that the weather can become quite cold during the months of May to September, please remember to bring some warm clothes with you.


What type of accommodation will I be in?

We just love the accommodation you have here! The accommodation is within a secure camp area, a short walk away from the main lion park. You will be staying in spacious luxury safari-style tents which have 4 single beds inside, with lovely mattresses and electricity. The tents have windows and a small porch in front where you can sit and watch the wild game enjoy their dinner.

Accommodation facilities

In your tent you have bedside tables, a lamp and a small heater for the colder nights. All of your bedding is washed and changed by the cleaning staff. The bathrooms are located a few metres away and have powerful, hot water showers. The kitchen is fully equipped and even has a washing machine! There is also a fire pit and BBQ area where you can relax in the evenings. There is also a safe in the main office for you to keep your passport and cash in.

Your stay at the lion park will be on a self-catering basis and we would recommend you budget roughly ZAR 500 per week to cover your dinner at the camp. You’ll be taken shopping for provisions on your arrival into South Africa and you’ll have full access to the large kitchen at the lion park. Food is also available at the centre restaurant (until 5pm) if you aren’t in the mood to cook - you'll even get a staff discount! It's also possible to go out for dinner in the evenings - restaurants are just a short taxi ride away but we'll also organise a shuttle bus for you! 

The Lion Park does have mosquitoes but malaria is not prevalent in the area so a net is not a necessity. However, it is a good idea to bring one if you plan on going travelling afterwards.

There is no access to a phone at the Lion Park but you can easily access both in town. You might also like to bring your mobile phone with you, but we'd advise checking with your provider that you will have coverage and possibly buying an international SIM card. Electricity is available at both accommodations but shouldn’t be relied on in case of powercuts!

There is however access to internet at the lion park, the cost of which is approximately R200 for two weeks. There's also a TV with satellite to keep you connected to the world back home - not that you'll be missing home at all.

Things to bring from home

  • Due to the nature of the project we would appreciate volunteers to wear beige, green or khaki colour clothing. Clothes should be comfortable and preferably clothes you don’t mind getting torn or dirty.

  • Comfortable walking shoes are a must due to working in an outdoor environment. 

  • A raincoat for those wet Highveld thunderstorms in our summer months (September - April)

  • Sunscreen and a sun hat as it gets very hot in the summer months, where temperatures can reach 35C in summer.

  • If you are travelling during the winter months (May-August) you will need warmer clothes as the early mornings and evenings can get chilly.

  • International adaptor plug for charging electronic items.

  • Bedding is provided, but please bring your own towels.

  • Bring along your own camera, iPod and laptop (free wifi available)

  • Toiletries, medicine, personal items.

  • A good quality torch to be utilized in the evenings when walking to and from your rooms

Where is the accommodation?

Whilst at the lion centre your accommodation will be on site. Both your accommodation and project are located in Fourways, a short drive from shopping malls, super markets, restaurants and even a casino!

In your free time there is also plenty to do. You can visit the Lesedi Cultural Village for a guided tour of South African tribal villages. The Montecasino, built like a real Italian village, is close by and filled with a casino, bars, shops and restaurants, which make it a great place to spend an evening - just don't take all your spending money out with you!

How far is it from my project?

The accommodation is on-site, so you'll be waking up to the sounds of the wildlife! Excellent wake up call!

What you get

Next steps

Flights & insurance

Country information

I've done this trip. Write review >
Naomi Foster gives this project
Here is what Naomi had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
5 day-old tiger babies 2 week-old lion cubs generally eye-opening experience!
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
bring many many pairs of gloves sunscreen and bug spray try everything once
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
An amazing experince i will never forget
Rebecca McLean gives this project
Here is what Rebecca had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
working with lion and waking up to a giraffe outside my tent each morning
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
be prepared to work hard ask to get involved in more activities embrace every moment
Stephanie Aitken gives this project
Here is what Stephanie had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Bottle feeding cubs and playing with cubs. Alex going in with Sarmu.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Prepare to get sun burnt, biten and scrathed.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Once in a lifetime opportunity
Rachael Lofts gives this project
Here is what Rachael had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Being with the cubs
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Bring old clothes you don't mind getting ruined.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
My dreams became reality.
Grace Dibden gives this project
Here is what Grace had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Playing with the cubs every day, the cheetah walk, the safari, just the whole thing was great! The staff were lovely especially my in-country rep Ali
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
you dont need too many clothes as you get T shirts to wear get as much time with the cubs as possible get stuck in and try to spend time with the staff and volunteers
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
all the words that have the same meaning as AMAZING!
Amine Fisher gives this project
Here is what Amine had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
getting lots of time with the lion cubs! making great friends from all over including staff and volunteers going on game drives with different staff at the lion park and leaving so many different things about the animals Ali was very helpful, friendly and fun coordinator! meeting and talking with and going on cheetah walks with Alex
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
make the most of your free time at the lion park getting to the other vlunteers and staff spend as much time as you can with the cubs because it will be hard to say goodbye go on as many game drives as you can because everyone has different information to share
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
a very rewarding, educational, fun, friendly, amazing experience!!!
Anette Kristine Michaelsen gives this project
Here is what Anette had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Playing with the lion cubs, walking with the cheetahs and sharing meals with Purdy the giraffe.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Bring shoes and clothes you don't mind getting mined. Warm and waterproof clothes for autumm, in addition to summer clothes. Bring a head torch.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
I'll always dream of coming back.......
Unn-Heidi Ericksen gives this project
Here is what Unn-Heidi had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Lion cubs
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Bring warm clothes
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Nicer kitchen, it was dirty and shot on washing facilities.
Victoria Lamb gives this project
Here is what Victoria had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The 4 youngest cubs falling asleep on me, making friends with a porcupine and the sunrise.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
You are only gang to get out of something as much as you put in to it. Be openminded. Make the most of every minute...time flys!
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
An unforgetable experience that made my dreams come true.
Zoe Brian gives this project
Here is what Zoe had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The Lion Park bottle feeding the cubs, taking the cheetah for a walk. Falling asleep listening to lions roar.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Don't take lots of clothes - talke washing powder. Take a waterfroof coat. Take spare memory cards for camera.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Re-evaluate what is really important in life.

We work in partnership with hundreds of established projects that are run by local communities. The information on our website comes directly from the projects and we work with them to ensure this information is as accurate as possible. However, due to the very nature of the projects themselves the exact details of what happens on a daily basis can change with little or no notice. If you have travelled with us and have any updates to this information, please let us know.