Perhaps no production has done more to excite children's wildlife imaginations than The Lion King. While the movie is an animation, it's all inspired by the safari destinations of East Africa, such as the Serengeti (Pride Lands) and Olduvai Gorge, where Mufasa was trampled. This family safari follows the journey of the boy who would be king, revealing all the iconic settings. Featuring eleven days of safari, it's a charming immersion in the wildlife world behind the fiction.
Kilimanjaro Region – Inspired by the Opening Credits and the Circle of Life
The movie's opening credits reveal three of Africa's most remarkable landscapes. Birds flutter above Victoria Falls, mammals march across the Okavango Delta, and elephants roam beneath the snow-capped volcanic peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. The first two settings are actually in Southern Africa, far from the landscape that the Pride Lands are based upon. But Kilimanjaro immediately inspires, causing a gasp as your family lands at Kilimanjaro International Airport and gazes across at the summit. There are few better introductions to Africa's wonders. You're greeted at the airport and transferred to a nearby lodge, where the calm and exotic gardens help everyone recharge after the flight. Dinner at the lodge is included.
Ngorongoro Crater – Hakuna Matata – The Carefree Land of Simba and a Warthog
Olduvai Gorge to Serengeti – Where the Wildebeest Trample Mufasa
Day 4 - 6
Serengeti – Beautiful Family Safari in the Pride Lands
Serengeti to Nairobi – A Final Day in the Pride Lands
Nairobi – Meeting Giraffe and Elephants Who Could Have Been Extras
Day 9 - 10
Hell's Gate National Park – Walking and Cycling Safari in the Park That Inspired the Animators
Hell’s Gate National Park to Nairobi – Departure
- Visit all the famous destinations that inspired The Lion King, enjoying a family safari that feels as surreal as the big screen animation
- Spend three days in the Serengeti, the landscape that the Pride Lands are based upon, which provides a wonderful showcase of lions in their kingdom
- Enjoy game drives that reveal lion prides resting on rocks, epic grasslands filled with life, plus the laughter of hyenas
- Visit Olduvai Gorge for the unforgettable scene where Mufasa gets trampled by a huge herd of wildebeest
- Explore Ngorongoro Crater, the utopian world where young Simba meets Pumba and the animals live out a hakuna matata carefree life; note that lions and warthogs are so common they might even be seen around your lodge here
- Spot some of the epic shots from the movie's opening credits and hum the Circle of Life as snowy Kilimanjaro dominates the horizon
- In Kenya's capital, Nairobi, the children can meet some of the giants from the big screen at the Giraffe Centre and Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
- Complete the family safari in Hell’s Gate National Park, the place where the movie's animators spent two weeks to gain inspiration for creating the animal characters; here you'll go on walking and cycling safaris for close-up encounters with zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, and a variety of antelopes
- Meet the real-life Rafiki by watching dozens of vervet and colobus monkeys swing past you at Lake Navaisha
The Lion King is real. Stories of boys who would be kings play out across the Serengeti. Wildebeest trample big cats on the plains. Utopian craters provide a haven for big animals living a no-worries lifestyle. Sometimes the landscape descends into drought, and you see the tense emotion and worry across animals' faces. In areas of plenty, you watch the mammals play, gazelles skipping along and elephants trumpeting their way through the forest. This famous animation is based on the safari wilderness of East Africa, and the locations are instantly recognizable. One glance and the whole family will see that The Lion King was based on a very real world in Africa.
This family safari travels across Tanzania and Kenya, recreating the famous scenes from the movie. You'll see most of the real-life characters; charismatic monkeys swinging through trees (Rafiki), warthogs (Pumba) scurrying past young lions, growling hyenas, cast-out male lions (Scar), plus almost all the other animals that featured on the big screen. These 11 days of safari will also reveal which animals are out of place in the movie and purely figments of the writers' imaginations. You'll discover the landscapes that inspired the backdrops, marveling at the distinctive panoramas that are far more real when seen first-hand. Experience the Pride Lands, the gorge where Mufasa was trampled, the world where Simba meets Pumba, elevated rocks that lions really do sit upon, and the water where Simba sees a vision of his father.
This famous movie has done so much to ignite children's imaginations. This safari itinerary takes it much further, revealing a surreal realm that responds to the most outlandish of young imaginations. Hear lions roar at night, watch elephants and hippos march across the grass, recognize the personality traits in various animals, and discover how so much of the movie comes from East Africa (most of the characters are named after local Swahili words and Hakuna Matata really is a phrase that means no worries). An expert family safari guide leads the journey, and some of the camps provide additional activities for children, like introductions to animal tracking and a lesson on how the circle of life dictates everything in wild Africa.
The 11-day safari starts with a night beneath Kilimanjaro, enjoying one of the incredible shots from the movie's opening credits. Spend the next day in Ngorongoro Crater, an Eden of life that resembles the carefree life the young lion experiences after he is banished from the Pride Lands by his uncle. The following day reveals the cradle of humankind and World Heritage Site Olduvai Gorge, where the oldest records of early human civilization have been found.
The heart of the safari is spent in the Serengeti, where there will be countless encounters with the running wildebeest. This is the landscape that the Pride Lands were modeled upon and the centerpiece of the movie. Vibrant grass plains cascade beyond the horizon, evoking the old king telling his son, “Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Random clusters of yellow rocks rise above the plains – known as kopjes – and you'll spot lion prides resting upon them as the survey their world. The Serengeti is one of Africa's most inspiring safari destinations, and you'll encounter the full suite of wildlife here, as well as find predatory cats in hunting mode.
Nights eight and nine are spent in Nairobi, where visits to a giraffe center and elephant orphanage allow the children to meet some of the giants. Spend the final two days in Hell’s Gate National Park, the place where Disney's animators stayed when getting inspiration for the story and the characters. This park doesn't have big cats, so you're able to go on walking and cycling safaris, both an opportunity to get closer than ever to wild animals. It's all very safe, and local guides lead the adventure. Like each destination on these 11 days, the big screen transforms from fiction to a reality that seems just as unreal: untouched Africa.
Note: Zicasso and “From Mufasa to Simba: The Lion King Inspired Safari for Families” are not affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Walt Disney Pictures, and Buena Vista Pictures.
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