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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Namibia - 23 April, 2001

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo Campsite) S1910.834' E01555.085' 1,116 m
-  Morning game drive
Outjo
Finish Otjitotongwe Lodge - Cheetah Guest Farm S1935.515' E01504.032' 1,312 m 288 km

Total:

37,373 km

16,553 km

 

Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot.  Cool at night.

 

 

Daily Journal Entry:

It is our turn to prepare breakfast today, so we have to be up a bit earlier than everyone else.  This morning we prepare french toast, along with all the other usual stuff.  After having breakfast and cleaning up all the dishes - the worst part of cook group - we pack up the truck and prepare to head off.

 

Namibia01_Etosha3_Drive3_Gemsbok_3061_Web.gif (291126 bytes)

On our way out of Etosha National Park we go on a game drive.  It is quite successful - we see a few animals, including zebra, giraffe, springbok (it is still a treat to see these animals when they run off in their giant leaps and bounds), impala, elephant, a black-backed jackal, wildebeest and, the highlight, a large group of gemsbok.  There must have been about a dozen of them and they were close to the road so that we could get a could look at this elegant animal with their long, straight horns.

 

We exit the park around 9 AM and head onto to Outjo, where we stop for lunch.  We first walk around town as it is still a bit early.  It is a small town, with two main streets, forming a "t" junction.  Nothing much for us, so we head over to the bakery to get some lunch.  And they have some very nice things - just like a bakery in Germany.  After some pies and pasteries, we head over to the supermarket to do some shopping and check on things.  It is a big supermarket and we wander around for a while.  Paolo buys a giant bag (about 4 feet tall) of cheese corn puffs - they are very addictive.

 

At noon we head out of town and carry on towards Otjitotongwe Lodge and Cheetah Guest Farm.  We arrive there early afternoon and what a time we will have there.  We first set up camp and have a look around the campsite.  There is a pool and a platform built high up in a tall dead tree that provides us with a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.

 

At 3:30 PM we head off to the main lodge, where we will start our cheetah experience.  The owner of the ranch had a few years back started keeping cheetahs.  In the old days, he would kill those that threatened his livestock.  He then started to feel that the cheetah should be protected, so he captured some of them himself, including a number he raised from when they had just been born.  He has also bought a number of cheetahs from other farmers who had trapped them (otherwise they would have been killed and their skin sold or they would have found some "big" game hunter who would have paid big bucks to go and shot them).

 

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There are now four semi-tame cheetahs that he keeps at the house - like pets.  Before we could enter the yard we had some instructions, such as do not wear sun glasses, do not touch them on the head, do not touch them without his supervision, always keep an arms length from them and never turn your back to them.  So, with those warnings, we head into the yard to meet the cheetahs.

 

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They are at the front gate, where we meet them and they then follow us to the yard behind the house.  What an experience.  The cheetahs would at times zip around - they are fast.  They would walk in amongst us.  We could go up and pet them.  They are wonderful beasts.

 

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One of the cheetahs stole a shoe off of someone - and would not give them back.  So, in order to have the cheetah give up the shoe, they brought out the meat.  Each cheetah was given one piece, which they spent some time chewing and eating.

 

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The two dogs that also lived there looked on as they licked their chops. Every once in a while they might try to go in and grab some of the meat, but the cheetahs were to fast.  One of the dogs has a nice scar on his face from when he was not fast enough.  We were told that the dogs never learned.

 

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Once the cheetahs had finished their meal, we headed out and got back into the open-backed pick-up.  Also in the back was a big container of meat - a goat that had just been slaughtered.  We are off to feed the wild cheetahs.  We first go to a fenced in area with one mother and two cubs.  They were separated so that the other adult male cheetahs would not eat the cubs.  The sounds that the cheetahs make is amazing - it is almost like the chirp of a bird.  Except when they growl and his and then you know they are part of the cat family.  And every once in a while they would surprise you and race towards you and growl and snap at you, only being stopped by the fence.

 

Then on to another fenced enclosure with about ten cheetahs.  Here we again threw the meat over the fence and watched as they grabbed it and ate it.  Many would quickly run off with their meat.

 

Finally, on to the highlight of the feeding of the wild cheetahs.  We drove the open-backed pick-up truck into one of the fenced enclosures with the raw meat right next to us.  Paolo was given a stick to beat away any cheetahs that jumped onto the roof of the pick-up.

 

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We drove a few hundred meters in the enclosure and as we moved along, the cheetahs were stalking us from the side of the path.  We stopped at a corner and then the feeding started.  The meat would be thrown to them one at a time.  They would jump up and grab the meat and run off with it.  It was amazing watching them grab the meat, sometimes fighting amongst themselves.

 

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During the action, Lars was seated right at the edge of the pick-up next to the box of meat.  He was filming the cheetahs when all of a sudden everyone starting yelling.  He turned around and there was one of the cheetahs - in the pickup on top of the box of meat trying to pull the goats head out.  Lars was now less than a meter from the cheetah.  He struggled to pull the head out of the box, but before he could do so, he was chased away.  What a rush.

 

After all the cheetahs were fed, we headed back to the campsite - and we were treated to a wonderful sunset.  As it was our turn to cook, we got to work preparing dinner - spaghetti bolognaise.  It turned out quite good.  Then after cleaning up, we went over to the bar for a drink.  Chatted with the sons of the owner - quite interesting.  Then off to bed to our tent that was set up right next to the cheetah fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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