The vast expanse of the African savannah, endless grasslands bathed in the golden rays of the sun, thousands of birds taking flight, and herds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope ambling gracefully to the water’s edge – these are scenes from Disney’s latest blockbuster, the remake of the iconic animated movie The Lion King. Images so captivating that they will undoubtedly create in you a strong desire to embark on an African safari, and live life ‘Hakuna Matata’ style. So what are you waiting for? The magnificent expanses of Africa are calling you to discover a land that is as enchanting and spellbinding as the visuals from the movie itself.
From Reel to Real
The African country that has perhaps most inspired the glorious landscape of The Lion King is Kenya. Silhouettes of flat-topped Acacia trees, the vast plains of the Mara, distinctive rock formations, numerous watering holes teeming with life provide the perfect backdrop for movie.
The magnificent expanses of Africa are calling you to discover a land that is as enchanting and spellbinding as the visuals from the movie itself.
The rocky formations of Borana in Laikipia have been immortalized as Pride Rock in the movie, atop which Rafiki, the mandrill monkey, holds Simba up, introducing the little prince to his subjects, in the iconic opening sequence.
Mufasa’s kingdom – the Pride Lands – draws from Kenya’s two most iconic attractions – the Masai Mara and the Laikipia Plateau (Borana). And you can’t get a more quintessential African safari experience than a visit to the Mara. It’s home to one of nature’s most fascinating annual spectacles – the migration of over two million wildebeest. The Laikipia Plateau is equally popular among safari enthusiasts and nature lovers with spectacular views of the rugged Mount Kenya and unforgettable wildlife viewing experiences.
Kenya’s diverse wildlife is best reflected in the scene when a young Simba and Nala stop by a watering hole frequented by the residents of the Pride Lands busily quenching their thirst, a setting inspired by the Buffalo Springs Shaba Reserve. Located near the foothills of Mount Kenya and part of the Samburu Ecosystem, the reserve is teeming with hordes of elephants, giraffes, grevy zebras, impalas, oryx, cheetahs and lions in and around the river Ewaso Nyiro. An African safari is the best way to see, not just the Big Five, but an astounding variety of wildlife and avifauna. Kenya alone is home to over 1000 bird species.
There’s more to Kenya than vast flatlands and rocky outcrops. Timon and Pumbaa’s little paradise, abounding in lush greenery, is modelled on the Aberdare National Park. With its dense jungles and mighty waterfalls it is the perfect place to forget all your troubles and embrace Timon and Pumbaa’s ‘No Worries’ philosophy of Hakuna Matata.
Hell’s Gate National Park, just a little to the south of Lake Naivasha, is the setting for Mufasa’s tragic death in the movie. Named after a narrow break in the towering cliffs, the park is known for its dramatic scenery and wide variety of wildlife and birds. The park may be smaller in comparison to some of Africa’s more prominent national parks but it’s replete with extinct volcanoes, hot springs and crater lakes, offering the perfect setting for a host of outdoor activities.
The beauty of Africa is not just restricted to Kenya – beyond the flatlands and forests of the eastern country lie the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia and the stark, arid but equally enchanting landscape surrounding Lake Turkana along the Kenya-Ethiopia border – places that inspired the desert that Simba traverses after his father’s death.
The Circle of Life
The concept of the ‘Circle of Life’ and how every living being is interconnected is a key theme in The Lion King. And in the Mara too, life and death are inextricably linked, and the fate of its inhabitants are closely aligned.
Kenya is home to over 50 tribes, most notably the Maasai and Samburu tribes, who have an ancient and deep connect with their lands. You could head out for the unique bushwalks led by the villagers, during which they share their ancient traditions and practices, steeped deeply in the fabric of the land.
A chance to give back
While traveling can be an enriching and life changing experience, one needs to be sensitive to the impact it can have on local communities and the environment. There are a number of ways travelers can contribute positively – from choosing eco friendly accommodations to taking part only in verified and vetted wildlife activities to supporting organizations that are truly making a difference, be it with local communities or conservation. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi offers guests a chance to give back by adopting orphaned elephants. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy has been working towards rhino conservation, and a trip to Ol Pejeta gives you a chance to understand the manifold efforts being put in to save these magnificent beasts and how you can be a part of it.
Click here to know more about our Responsible Travel initiatives and how you can contribute.
We look forward to creating a Lion King inspired African safari tailored to your interests and preferences.