With a short pit stop in Outjo to pickup some kudu steaks (this and other game meat is available from Delarey Meats) we’re soon at our destination, Cheetah Park in Otjitotongwe. This non-profit organisation was born out of a need to care for three orphaned cubs which in turn began a breeding program that exists today. The first part of the experience is to hang out shitting yourself as three of the fully grown cheetahs eye up who has the tastiest looking legs.
The standard photo opportunities arise though it’s difficult to get your time alone with one of them when our group of six has been swamped by 25 Dutch. We eventually push our way in and snap some stroking the surprisingly coarse hair as the cheetahs purr with delight. Matt and one cat seem to have some kind of special bond as it singles him out from across the backyard and stalks over.
‘Now shit gets interesting’
Debating whether to run, play dead or throw the camera at it, it’s too late and the cat’s upon him proceeding to lick him to death with its sand paper rough tongue. Moving around to the back of his leg it’s time to stop though trying to get a large cat who can rip your hand off to stop doing what it wants is not something Matt’s had to do before.
Feeding the cheetahs we leave them to it for the second part of our visit. Loading us into the back of a utility truck and trailer we head out to the large enclosure where the ‘wild’ ones reside. The cheetahs know what time it is and begin to appear from everywhere following the scent of the fresh meat. We stop at two places to feed two different groups who whimper with excitement before competing for the tossed meat.
Back at camp we grab some pool time in a converted old cow water chill out on the nearby tower with its fantastic vantage of the surrounding landscape. That night the girls manage to get a simple pesto pasta dish completely wrong having us eating 2.5 hours past tea time. Yep, our guide sure won’t let us cook again!
Morning greets us and we pack up camp to get on the road. But not before Sarah gets slobbered on by a lone female cheetah too tame to be at the house and not wild enough to be with the others. Turns out she hates children but loves a good morning scratch behind the ear.
Unlike our previous village tours meeting the Himba tribe was one of the most pleasurable interactions of the tour. Firstly we are given a tour of the village where we meet some of the locals. An explanation of their ohcre encrusted hair styles that the women wear leaves Matt a little jealous at the beauty of their locks, though not the three days it takes to prepare them nor the butterfat used in the mixture.
Taken into the holy house with it’s holy flame which is never extinguished, there’s time for a Q&A and it’s back out to the tribe of kids who, with cheeky grins, begin hanging off us. A huge pen of goats hints at the wealth of this particular tribe though it’s amazing that in an environment like this they do not use the goat skins for anything. The best part was that no one followed us around hounding us to buy things which in turn had the group purchasing more than usual. It’s s shame when we are told that the government wants to bring them into the modern era by removing them from their villages whilst the Himba simply want to carry on their traditions much the same way as ever.
After more dirt roads we take a left at the mining town of Uis stopping into the local shop owned by the local redneck racists. The looming Brandenburg Mountain off in the distance, Namibia’s highest, used to be part of the tour for its famed 2,000 year old White Lady painting though it was decided to drop it in favour of more time at Spitzkoppe. Arriving in mid-afternoon the red granite rock formations, rising sharply out of the flat landscape, are reminiscent of those found in Australia, hardly surprising when at one stage both continents were part of the giant super continent Gondwanaland.
Pulling into another remote camp we pitch our tents at the bottom of the dramatic Rock Bridge formation. There’s many walks to occupy us for the afternoon and a quick jaunt up one of the small peaks gives us a commanding view over the breathtaking surrounds. That night we throw a few kudu steaks on the barbecue and over a red wine or two we enjoy this spectacular location.
Ignoring the rumors of nocturnal snakes and scorpions, and perhaps encouraged by the wine, we decide to brave the evening up on the rocks. Dragging up our sleeping gear, some music and a couple of burning logs the two of us and our German mate Frank dance the night away all tribe like around the fire for a once in a lifetime experience under the stars.