Early Start But Worth It

Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
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Trip End Dec 07, 2008


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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So Steve lit a fire and we had an early night...then the alarm woke us up at 6am as we had to get the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre for a 7:30am cheetah walk. I had in my mind visions of a pleasant morning stroll with some cute cheetahs...reality was a little different and required a bit more than strolling!

We arrived and spent some time watching the birds they have there especially these 2 HUGE marabou storks...they weren't the prettiest of birds and were pretty tame in that they'd come right up to you which scare me senseless given I don't like birds in the first place. Then we met 2 guides and we took 2 teenage cheetah cubs (8 months) out for some exercise. Basically the cheetahs there are bred for educational purposes so people become aware of the threat they face in the wild. The cheetahs we met there don't know how to hunt having been reared in captivity in a semi natural environment but undoubtedly their basic instincts are there. The two we took out, Djuma and Zulu are brothers and they don't just walk, they do like to run and we have to run with them as opposed to pull on the leads so it was warm work. We watched them play for a while in a patch of dry land and they're pretty nifty with a football! They do tire quickly though so the return journey was very much walk two steps then lie on the path and it took a lot of cajoling and teasing with a lion toy to get them back. Definitely an amazing experience though and it was great that there was only Steve and I plus the two guides so we had the cheetahs to ourselves.

After the walk we met the other cats there and many of them weren't as friendly as the two cheetahs we'd spent the morning with.We were warned by the guide not to look them in the eye if the walked past us so that was bit scary. My favourites were definitely the cheetahs we met on the walk but there were also two baby cubs (too small to take for a walk) which we could touch and stroke and also an 18 month old one called Zimbali. She actually has a companion called Chester but he was ill when we were there so I hope he's recovered now. They are such beautiful creatures. Not strictly cats, we also saw some meerkats and one of them kept escaping and the guides would find her in some corner of a pen far far away so they'd pick her up and deposit her back to where she belonged only for her to escape again! Damn those pesky animals!

After this walk on the wild side we returned to Emily Moon where we spent some time by the pool before going for some lunch in Plettenberg Bay. We then drove the Keurbooms River for an afternoon cruise. There was us and an older British couple there who were avid birdwatchers so it was interesting watching them watch birds. We had no idea what they were spotting but it was funny to see them excited about it. Our guide also knew a lot about birds and could do the bird calls. He was also quite a character and set us pop quizzes on what we knew about South Africa. He gave us some time to paddle in the river which was warmer than many of the seas we'd been in at the turn around point. We didn't expect the cruise to be any good and was just something to do for the afternoon rather than sit by the pool again but we actually thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dinner was at Emily Moon again where we had tuna springrolls and Thai beef salad to start. then we both had fillet steak with porcini mushrooms (the chef had gone to pick these the day before) and Steve finished with chocolate torte. Once again extremely yummy. The couple on the table next to us (also Brits) started a conversation and they'd bought an apartment in Plett which they use as a holiday home. Steve enjoyed talking "shop" with him and we ended up enjoying a nightcap with them by the outside fire along with two South African ladies who were visiting the area. Needless to say nightcap = hungover Steve...but that's tomorrow's entry!
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