.... and we're off!! Day 2 of our SA adventure

Trip Start Dec 23, 2010
Trip End Jan 17, 2011

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Where I stayed
Shining Waters Guest House, Wilderness

Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Thursday, December 30, 2010

We woke up around 4am and packed the car with help from Gail and Andrew. Gail also sent us along with some nice "padkos" (Africaans for road food) consisting of homemade muffins, coffee, nuts, boerewors (Africaans for dried sausage- pronounced Bore a Vors), biltong (Africaans for dried meat) and tons of chocolate. I had the luxury of sleeping the whole way while my dear husband drove us to The Crags, which is near Plettenberg Bay. Our first adventure stop was scheduled for 7:30am at Tenikwa Cat Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary. We booked the Photographic Cat Tour which allows you to get a very close and personal look at the cats currently at the sanctuary... personal as in touching them (if the cat allows) and walking around in their semi-natural habitat. This tour came with a ton of disclaimers and rules such as no crouching down in front of the cats, wear muted colors, no children (or very short people for that matter), no dangling camera straps, no looking in their eyes, no walking directly towards them, etc. I thought all of this was very exciting and the said rules seemed to make it even more so.

The weather was nasty, rainy and a little cold and since the sanctuary was located in a remote location down a dirt road so the car got a mud bath from the get go. Thankfully, we arrived just in time to have some nice coffee and tea prior to our outing. We were then outfitted in nice rain jackets and set off to see our first cats- Caracals. We went into their habitat and were greeted by one of the two cats- they were father and son. The son was very friendly but the father stayed quite a ways from us the whole time keeping a watchful eye. It was a little surprising to us that the one immediately came up to us and started rubbing his head against our legs and purring- just like our cats at home! Speaking of, I am pretty sure Luma escaped from this place... maybe we should take him back...

Next we visited the Leopard... what an amazing creature... so incredibly beautiful but so unpredictable as well. It was for this reason that no one is allowed inside his habitat. We were lucky that the only employee "brave enough" to go in with the leopard was our guide that day.

Carrying on we went to see the Cheetahs. When we entered their area our guide asked us if we could spot them, we couldn't, and he replied that they both could see us. It was amazing (and a little scary) how well they could hide in the bush! The first cat we walked towards was sleeping is tall grass and wasn't a prime candidate for a photo op.

The other Cheetah was laying down nearby in an open area and as we approached he watched us without moving a muscle. The guide asked me to move over by the Cheetah, so I did...  then he said closer and closer and closer- now I was right next to him. He then stood up to sit and started sniffing my legs. The next thing I feel is my hand in his mouth and the guide yells "NO DUMO, NO!" to the cat and then the cat stops mouthing me. I think Darron almost died having visions of being wifeless and telling my parents I was eaten by a Cheetah. That moment made me realize that I was showing too much fear and needed
to be a little more confident so I followed the guide's orders by
crouching behind him and petting him!!

It was amazing!! You would think a Cheetah to be soft but their coat is very thick, course and curly in some parts. Darron was next in line to take pictures with the Cheetah and I am very proud to say he did... so brave!

Next we visited the Serval cats. There were 2 adults and 1 baby in the habitat. These were very sweet cats- tons of rubbing our legs and purring. Tenikwa was quite an experience and one we will never forget!

Our next stop was lunch at the Pepper Mill. Darron and I had our first fish and chips- which were huge portions!

After lunch we went down the road to Monkeyland and Birds of Eden. Both are giant enclosed outdoor areas that contain all species of monkeys and birds. We could walk freely in both areas to observe the animals- it was nice but packed full of people on holiday.


Birds of Eden

At this point we were getting pretty tired and decided to move on to Wilderness and check into Shining Waters Guest House . Wilderness is a beautiful coastal town stuck right in the middle of huge forests- really stunning. Once we arrived- completely pooped- we opened all the doors and windows to take in the clean sea air and the sounds of the ocean and took a nice long afternoon nap. Waking up revitalized and hungry we headed off to a local boutique hotel and had a nice dinner at Sails.
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Chuck on

Wow, pics are great! Cold and wet here! I am going over tonight to tell your two kids they have been replaced by much larger versions! Safe Travel!

Gran on

I have been eagerly waiting to hear more.Wow what an experence with the Cheeta!!!!! What an exciting adventure u are having.Photographs are beautiful.Looking forward to the next chapter.

Mom/SIL on

so...Luma escaped and needs to be returned?? Love the pictures, the first two with the cheetah are priceless...don't think I've seen you that timid in a very long time. Keep the pictures and stories coming...love it!!

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