Walking With Cheetahs 2011 travel blog

Today we're off to Monkeyland and Tenikwa Wild Cat Sanctuary. We opted to take a slight detour and check out Plettenberg Bay... again we had been told it's nice and worth seeing.

We followed the signs to the 'lookout' which basically was a dead end that overlooked the channel.. but then again, we only saw the sign once, after that you're on your own so who knows if it was the official look out or not. We drove out of there and came to the first beach.... it didn't look good. It had a boardwalk and a tavern which seemed nice but the beach itself was not too inviting. We followed the boardwalk for a bit and saw in the distance a group of people sitting in a large boat that's still on the trailer and still on shore. We thought the scene appeared a bit odd, even more so when we realised the boat is sitting backwards on the trailer.. we thought what the?? Behind the boat was a tractor. When the all clear was given, the tractor pushed the trailer and boat toward the ocean at great speed. As the trailer entered the water the tractor hit the brakes making the boat slip of the trailer and into the waves... so folks, thats how you launch a boat South African style!!

Determined to find the 'nice' bit of Plet Bay we followed the coast around some more and found another beach... this was the spot. We took off our shoes and wondered onto the beach. The water however was freezing cold but the beach itself was very nice.. better than Gold Coast (almost hehehe). We clammered around some rocks for a bit of exploring before heading back to the car and onto Monkeyland.

Again, we arrived about 10min prior to the next 'tour'. We've worked out you can only see animals in sanctuaries if you go on a tour otherwise, no access. Majority of the monkeys here are those little critters like Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean (you know the monkey from the movies who is also named Jack??) anyways, to tell if the monkey is female, she'll be wearing an Elvis hair do, the boys have 'devil horns' where the hair is parted down the middle making them look like horns. These monkeys were everywhere. Also in this forest were lemurs (ring tailed, all black and black and white), one gibbon, few turtles and a Specticle Monkey (named as such because he has white circles around his eyes making him look like he's wearing glasses).

We followed the guide around in the forest then he led us to... the suspension bridge. They left that out of the brochure!! 120 meters long. We had to break up in groups or families and guess who was made first to cross?? Debra! The bridge was basically made out of bamboo twigs that looked like they would break any minute. The guide described it as walking above the trees and yep, that's how high up you are.. in amongst the tree tops!

Next was Tenikwa Wild Cat Sanctuary which was basically down the road. Again, we had to watch a 5 minute video before being led out by a guide. This time there was only Karen and I so it was like a personal tour. First visit was the leopard. To view him we enter his cage via a caged walk way, kind of like a cage within a cage. Unfortunately, due to the heat that day he had taken shelter under the boardwalk so all we saw was his tail. But if we peered between the gaps of the planks we could see him.. just don't put your fingers through there to pat him, you may not get them back. So in affect we actually walked OVER a snoozing leopard, not something one does everyday.

We then entered the enclosure of the caracals.. been there done that lol

Next we entered the enclosure of servals... these cats are getting smaller!! There were about 5 in this enclosure, 4 boys and one lucky girl. They were quite cute, much like a domestic cat with their size, features and fur. Again, they were all sleeping so we left them as better things were to come...

Next enclosure we entered were two cheetahs.... 9 mths old!!!!!!!! They were still fluffy, playful and sooooooo cute! Temp was getting cooler so they getting quite playful after their nap. To enter this enclosure we needed two staff members (no sticks or rifles or any form of protection). One cheetah started to make his way over to us but the young female ranger who barely reached our shoulders in height (and she was suppose to be our protection??) kept coming in between us and the cheetah steering him away. We thought, come on now, we're seasoned pros with handling cheetahs now, we know he just wants to sus us out all will be fine but they wouldn't allow us to pat them... damn.

Then to finish the tour we entered the cage of the older cheetahs. These guys were about 2 years old, less playful and still sleeping. They woke briefly just to check out the next bunch of tourists coming into their domayne but again it was look but don't touch. It was so hard to resist not patting them especially when we crouched down behind one for our photos.

Overall it was still a good experience as it was more one on one being that we were the only ones in the tour so we had more time in each enclosure, just bummed that we couldn't pat them.

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