We visited African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario yesterday afternoon. Costco sells park admission passes for $3.00 off the ordinary admission at the gate so we popped into Costco on the way to African Lion Safari. Of course, yesterday was also a holiday in Canada, so we should have known better than to try and take in this visit. Problems started as soon as we got to Safari Rd which leads to the park entrance. It’s abut a mile in to the park on Safari Rd and traffic was bumper to bumper the whole way in. People and cars everywhere! If there is one thing I hate as I get older, it is crowds and traffic jams. We could just as easily have been driving in a business metropolitan area during rush hour. It was absolutely nuts! It took us almost 45 minutes to get into the park. I still don’t understand why they don’t have a dedicated lane to handle cars with prepaid entry passes. Once through the main gate we opted to do the drive through safari in our own vehicle instead of in a park bus. It would have been hard finding a parking spot anyway and the bus line ups were very long. The park brochure suggests allotting an hour for the self drive safari. It took us two hours with all the extra visitors in the park. Thankfully, our air conditioner worked well.
I brought my camera with 70-200mm lens for a few photos. For safety reasons, visitors using their own vehicles for the safari tour are asked to keep their windows rolled up. The sun was high in a cloudless sky making lighting very tough. Chris drove while I tried to get a few shots from the front passenger seat. Of all the shots I took, this lion shot is easily the best of the day. This male was laying under a cement sunshade in the middle of a field about 30 yds off the road. with a steady stream of cars rolling by his position, it took us about twenty minutes just to get within camera range. Lots of cameras and video cameras everywhere. This guy was enjoying his shady spot and looked right into my lens as we rolled by. Don’t tell the ranger vehicles but I had my window down in order to get this shot and a few others. This is about a 40% crop of the original image.
We missed the elephant show as we walked around the main pavilions after parking the Vue but we did manage to see a few of the elephants in their enclosure. You can tell how contrasty the day was from the light background in this photo. There were three elephants in the large enclosure, a larger presumably adult elephant and two smaller, possibly juvenile, elephants. All three seemed to be trying their best to stay cool in the hot sun. Certainly, the straw and dirt thrown on their backs would act to cool them and also keep away insects. There were manmade sunshades in the enclosure for them too but very little water in the moat area which encircled the perimeter of the enclosure. We did see several water hoses though and it looked like the elephants are regularly hosed down as well.
This last guy is a barbery sheep. We saw quite a large herd of them inside the safari area. We sat through a Bird of Prey presentation in the amphitheatre and saw a number of eagles, owls, hawks, etc flying to perches set up around the area. Nothing that could be photographed unfortunately. Too many people and too far away.
We enjoyed our time at African Lion Safari but I’m not sure I would go back again. Certainly not on a holiday weekend anyway. Chris and the kids had a great time though. I’ve got a few more photos to post in another post tomorrow. Enjoy today’s photos!