The Lion King is, by far, my most watched Disney movie of all time. Every afternoon I’d come home from kindy, pop the tape into the VHS player and watch intently as the animated lions and wide supporting cast of African animals sang, danced, laughed and cried on-screen.
With the release of the new version of The Lion King on 17 July 2019, undoubtedly a new generation of kids will be singing along to those familiar songs, their imaginations sparked by the near-realistic animation in front of them. And for those, young and old, who aren’t content only seeing the king of beasts on-screen, here are 5 of the best places to see lions in the wild:
Found in Tanzania’s famous Maasai Mara, Sir Richard Branson’s luxury tented safari camp Mahali Mzuri is a great base to spot lions from. The Olare Motorogi Conservancy is home to about 60 lions in three prides (one of which even has their own ‘Pride Rock’). Warthogs and red-billed hornbills also regularly roam the area, so keen spotters can see Pumbaa or Zazu in real life too.
Find out more: virginlimitededition.com
Sanctuary Kusini, operated by Sanctuary Retreats, is the only permanent camp in the remote southern Serengeti. For guests, this means an unparalleled experience sighting all kinds of different African animals, including lions in the wild. The area is noted for its vast lion population, which can be seen lounging close to the camp. And for those eager to spot some of Scar’s evil, cackling minions, there are plenty of hyenas that live in the area too.
Find out more: sanctuaryretreats.com
Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
We all remember the scene in The Lion King when Pumbaa strays from Timon, his eye caught by a particularly delicious-looking bug. Nala spots him through the tall grass and gives chase in attempts to hunt the unsuspecting warthog. Guests of the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in South Africa can watch this exhilarating scene play out in real life, as the lions on the reserve regularly hunt the many warthogs who live there. Home to three lion prides, the reserve makes continual efforts towards lion conservation in the area.
Find out more: kwandwe.com
andBeyond – Kings of the Jungle
In celebration of the release of the new The Lion King, luxury travel company andBeyond has put together a special safari itinerary inspired by the film. The 10-day Kings of the Jungle itinerary takes guests on a journey through Maasai Mara and the Serengeti to spot lion prides, warthogs, hyenas and more. Plus, a night is spent in a luxury mobile camp designed to shadow the great migration, giving guests optimal sightings of a horde of wildebeest (which, famously in the film, were the cause of Mufasa’s death).
Money from every andBeyond Kings of the Jungle booking will also be donated to the Lion Recovery Fund.
Find out more: andbeyond.com
Abercrombie & Kent – India Wildlife Safari
Although The Lion King is set in Africa, that’s not the only place to see lions in the wild. With Abercrombie & Kent’s India Wildlife Safari, guests can spot the endangered Asiatic lion in the only place they inhabit anymore, the Gir Forest National Park. As of the last population count in 2015, there are just over 500 of this species living in the park, including just over 200 cubs.
Find out more: abercrombiekent.com.au