After 3 nights at Anderssons Camp, it was time to say goodbye to Etosha.
Our plan was to drive South, taking photos of all the different road signs as we went, down to Africat in Okonjima. The plan was, we were going to see cheetahs in rehabiliatation, since we didn’t see them in the wild.
Then we were going to stay one night at nearby(ish) lodge; Franz Indongo, and then head back down to Windhoek to fly down to Cape Town in South Africa.
We made such good time on the sealed roads that we were on track to turn up at Africat an hour earlier than our scheduled slot; this was not ideal. We considered dropping our stuff at our accommodation first but it was going to add an hour to our travels. So we had a nosey through our guide book and decided to visit a nearby crocodile farm instead!
We saw big crocodiles and little ones, and some medium sized ones. Apparently different aged crocs are used to make different items: shoes, belts, bags etc. The kids got to pat a 6 month old croc firmly held by the guy showing us around. They may be little and surprisingly soft but can still bite.
There were also koi carp and bunnies to feed, after which we were introduced to some African snakes and lizards. The Otjiwarongo Crocodile ranch helped us while away a spare 40 minutes or so but I’m not sure the smaller kids really understood what a crocodile farm produced. DD1 certainly did as she’d ‘accidentally’ eaten crocodile earlier during our holiday; it took her a while to recover from the trauma.
Then it was 42kms south to Africat. Entry is by ticket only and there are armed guards at the gate who confirm you are expected before they let you in. It’s a 20 min drive on gravel roads, through various enclosures and and up to the Day Centre. You can also stay at camps within the reserve with older kids than ours, and go out tracking some of the cats that have been released into the reserve.
For the day centre trip, we were driven into a smaller enclosure with three older cheetahs who were unable to be released. They weren’t tame as such, but happy to be approached on a vehicle and we got to get very close to them. We also saw a ‘wilder’ cheetah in an adjoining enclosure. It was lazing in the sun and eyeballing the cheetahs we were visiting with.
Later on, we got to see the clinic and some of the equipment used to handle the cats, then walked over to some other enclosures. One had some extremely contented-looking caracals in it, and the other had a bunch of cheetahs named after the Adam’s family. These cats had been delivered from their dead mother’s belly after she was killed by a farmer and so missed out on learning important lessons enabling them to survive in the wild. Therefore they are another group who can’t ever be released. They have a large area to roam in but as soon as they saw our kids, they ran over and began rubbing themselves against the wire fence and purring. It was hard to resist stroking them. In fact, we were told we could have a little pat of their coats safely away from the ‘business’ end.
Visiting the cheetahs at Africat was a pretty special experience. DH and I felt that the first encounter from the vehicle, with the three older cheetahs, was a little lame but the kids loved it and we got some great photos. However, the second cheetah encounter, face to face through chicken wire was amazing and worth every dollar. And the food at the day centre was good and cheap as well as having an amazing view and friendly staff, so even if you weren’t lucky enough to find the Adams cheetahs down the right end of their territory, it would still be a good visit.
Our evening at Franz Indongo was very pleasant, although the dinner took ages to be served and poor old DS was asleep by the time pudding rolled around. We had two huts with three beds each, and everyone slept well.
The next day was an easyish drive back to Windhoek. The weather was a bit grim and we could see a rather impressive electrical storm ahead of us as we drove, but by the time we got to the airport, it had disappeared. We dropped off our filthy car at the car hire place and checked in our hold luggage in record time. Next stop was Cape Town for 4 nights.
We didn’t really know what to expect; the weather looked a bit iffy and we were all sad to be leaving Namibia. Maybe 4 days in a big city would be a mistake after the relative isolation we’d enjoyed for the last couple of weeks. However, Cape Town was already booked, so we boarded the plane and off we went.