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‘Reverse hotel’ in South Africa
Photograph: @ggconservation

Get in a cage and meet the lions at this ‘reverse zoo’ in South Africa

There’s no risk of windscreen wipers being pulled off at this safari

Written by
Sophie Dickinson
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If looking at caged animals makes you feel queasy, maybe a role reversal could help. 

You can swap places with lions at this sanctuary in Harrismith, South Africa, viewing their 77 animals from behind some (hopefully very strong) Plexiglass. 

For 2,000 South African rand (around £96 or $134), brave nature-enthusiasts get 45 minutes in the cage, which is equipped with holes ‘ideal for phone cameras’. The boxes are designed to hold the weight of an adult lion, which can apparently range from 120 to 260kg.

The sanctuary doesn’t promise the lions will be hands-off. ‘We cannot guarantee how the lions will react,’ the official website reads. ‘But we will endeavour to ensure you have a fantastic experience.’

A lion from within Plexiglass cage
Photograph: @ggconservation

If a particular animal catches your eye – and let’s face it, you’ll be watching them very closely – you can ‘adopt’ your favourite to help fund the sanctuary. 

GG Conservation was founded in 2002, a century after the last wild lions were hunted down in the area. It’s now a non-profit that aims to create a haven for the animals.

Alongside the cage experience, conservation fans can stay the night at the reserve. Rooms are sold on the promise that a lion is never more than five metres away. Which is, we guess, a bit of a thrill. 

For a bit of variety, there are also ​​zebras, ostriches, springboks, waterbucks, black wildebeest and impala, although it’s the lions that are the main draw.

If you want to inject a bit of adrenaline into your next South African holiday, you can book via the GG Conservation website

Looking for more animal encounters? You can sleep next to cheetahs and elephants at this English safari park.

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