Lion Encounter, an Africa-based business devoted to the long-term welfare of lions, offers tourists options to have unique travel experiences while giving back in ways that benefit both wildlife and neighbouring communities.
The company, with offices in Livingstone, Zambia, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, uses its earnings to fund a lion rehabilitation and release program and to fund an associated non-profit, Lion Alert, which focuses on protecting lion habitats, according to David Youldon, Lion Alert’s COO.
For FIT clients or those adding days to packaged tours, Lion Encounter offers 60- to 75-minute walks with lion cubs that are being prepared for release into the wild. At least two strolls are available daily in both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Clients are advised to wear shorts or slacks, to wear neutral colours and not to wear anything that dangles. The cubs, essentially very big kittens, might want to play with a dangling scarf or belt.
For clients with a deeper interest in wildlife protection, Lion Encounter offers two short-term volunteer programs, lasting up to seven days.
One program, devoted to the care of and pre-release training for the lion cubs, takes participants to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park or Zambezi National Park daily, from their Livingstone or Victoria Falls lodgings, respectively.
|Fast facts about Lion Encounter:|
|Number of stages the lion go through before being released into the wild||4|
|Lion encounter offices||Victoria Falls, Livingstone|
|Lion walks||60 to 75 minutes|
|Number of walks per day||At least 2|
|Lion Encounter volunteer programs||2 short term programs, up to 7 days|
In the second, community-focused program, available in both countries, participants work in the schools supporting conservation training, literacy and other educational needs.
Volunteers can include adventure travel components in their packages. Choices include white-water rafting on the Zambezi River; bungee-jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge; and a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls. Youldon said Lion Encounter can organize a client’s entire package, including transfers and hotels, from arrival to departure in either country. Earnings from these activities, he said, are what support Lion Encounter’s and Lion Alert’s wildlife and habitat programs.
Arrangements are customized to each client’s schedule and preferred combination of activities.
By: Nadine Godwin
Date: 26 June 2013