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Victoria Falls by the Zambezi team

...launching point for extraordinary safaris into Southern Africa

  • Cub in Tree
  • Thorntree cub
  • Trish getting close
  • cubs at Thorntree - Zambia
  • Lion cubs at the pool
  • Lion encounter - Zambia

Fast Facts

  • Great photo opps!
  • Educational & interactive
  • Mornings and afternoons
  • Zimbabwe and Zambia

Lion Encounters

For the ultimate wildlife adventure... take a walk with lions through the African bush or join us for an awe-inspiring cub encounter

No leashes, no collars, just a natural African wildlife encounter! "The "walking with lions" encounter is an opportunity to interact with the greatest predator of the African bush. The lions are unrestrained and roam free as you join them on a walk through riverine vegetation and African bush on the banks of the Masuwe River in Zimbabwe or in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia. 

These encounters offer the most unique and stimulating opportunity to learn about lions and spend time with the cubs in their natural habitat. Younger children are not allowed on the lion walks, but can take part in an extraordinary "cub encounter" experience with lion cubs no older than 5 months.

As these magnificent wild animals roam free, it is of the utmost importance to observe strict safety measures.  The Lion Encounter Programmes operate under the auspices of the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (  The lion encounters are fully supervised and professionally managed by an experienced and qualified team who've been working with lions for over 20 years.

Find out more about your options, "all the facts" or explore the map below to see where the lion encounters take place.

 Lion encounters are available daily through the year.  

 From Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

 On the Masuwe Estate, only 10 minutes from the centre of Victoria Falls town you'll find a group of lion cubs ranging from 3 to 16 months of age. This operation has been active in Victoria Falls since 2005. The "walking with lions" encounter is an opportunity to interact with 2 or 3 cubs for up to an hour and a half during a single session. These lions are unrestrained and roam free as you join them on a walk through riverine vegetation and African bush on the banks of the Masuwe River. 

From Livingstone, Zambia

Introduced to Zambia in 2009.  "No leashes, no collars, just a natural African wildlife encounter" operating in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park from Thorntree Lodge, 10 minutes from Livingstone. Clients have the unique experience of walking alongside and interacting with the lions for approximately an hour and a half where there's access to the Zambezi River.

Cub Encounters

The "cub encounters" with young lion cubs of up to 5 months old are suitable for younger children. 

Video by Zambezi Memories and Lion Encounter




 Lion Alert Promotional Video


Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, 1755 described lions as "the fiercest and most magnanimous of the four footed beasts"...come and see yourself!


Return transfers between town and Masuwe estate or Mosi-oa-Tunya take place at 6:30am, 10am and 3:30pm.  You'll need 3 hours for the activity. The early morning encounter includes breakfast, drinks and snacks.


The "walk with lions" is available to anybody over 14 years of age, "cub encounters" are available to anybody over 10 year of age. You must stand taller than 1,5m for any of the interactions.

What happens to the cubs?

Lion Encounter operates the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program on behalf of ALERT (African Lion & Environmental Research Trust) -

Given the rapid decline of free-ranging lion populations (between 80% and 90% in the last 50 years), ALERT supports assisted lion reintroduction into specific sites where lion populations have been eradicated. Whenever possible, reintroductions include the release of young adult wild lions captured for the purpose of translocation and release.

Where there is no available source population of suitable wild lions, ALERT instigates a multi-stage program to reintroduce lions originally bred from captive individuals. Captive lions that lack hunting skills are bred in fenced areas. Their offspring is raised around humans and take part in the lion walk program.

Because these cubs are used to humans, it is easier to study their behaviour patterns and learn about the traits necessary to form a successful pride, how they develop various hunting skills, etc.

Once the 'lion encounter' cubs mature and learn to hunt, they're used to form prides designed to maximize the breeding and survival of offspring. These prides are released in large enclosures (10,000 acres plus) with natural game, and carefully shielded from human contact. Their cubs are then released at an appropriate age into the wild.

For more go to the ALERT site.

Holistic Approach

The ALERT Communities Trust (ACT) works with all sectors of society throughout Africa to promote the development of sustainable conservation management plans. ALERT is proud to foster partnerships with local communities that collaboratively develop and implement African solutions to African challenges. ACT promotes community action by raising awareness, motivating and empowering people to protect and restore their environment and improve livelihoods.

Programs operated by Lion Encounter

Release Studies, Hunting success and hunting strategy in lions

The lion release program affords the opportunity to observe lions hunting in a way that is very difficult with wild lions. Such studies will assist in understanding the strategies that lions use whilst hunting; what co-operation is present, and whether individual lions learn techniques or hunting styles. 

Assessment of character traits in African Lions

It is believed that lionesses can take any of three roles in a pride; that of alpha, hunter or mother. Similarly, males can be good hunters, pride defenders or fathers. Given the spectrum of necessary individuals and skills that contribute towards a successful pride, it is important that the prides released into stages two and three of the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program are well-balanced.

Activity budgets in African lions, Zimbabwe and Zambia

An activity budget is based on a simple ethogram and is a way of representing an animal's behaviour by recording the duration of defined activities; such as resting, social behaviours and eating. The primary objective of this study is to identify how age, gender, enclosure size and complexity affect the activity budgets of captive-bred African lions.

For more go to the  ALERT site.

Do you question the ethics of "walking with lions"?  Here's our position on the lion debate.

Enquiries and bookings

Contact the Zambezi team

Please let us have as much relevant info as possible...

The following isn't compulsory but would be very helpful

Packages with lions

Shearwater "tick-it" to adventure

Tick-it to Adventure

Depending on how much free time you have, take a cruise and select extra activities from a list to qualify for several discounts

Zambezi white water rafting

Adventure Pass

Take a cruise plus two other activities: whitewater, canoeing, elephant trail, lion encounter or helicopter flip.

Zambezi rafting

Super deals

Simply pre-book selected activities or a safari to claim a free sunset cruise or qualify for a free helicopter flip over Vic Falls

...wild lion encounters