South Africa - Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre

This was one of our favorite stops - the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
Our breakfast veranda at the guesthouse, tucked way up the hill a long, bumpy dirt road jaunt away from the highway. What an awesome climbing tree, though we didn't do that.  Check out that serious fence in the background; not sure exactly what it's keeping out. That's a boerboel, which is a South African mastiff used primarily as a guard dog.  You would not want to tangle with this guy, it wouldn't turn out well for your limbs. img 0312 Some of the nicely tended, peaceful grounds.
Peek-a-boo view into the valley below. Zoe looking at the flowers just outside our room. Yummy breakfast.  Our travel doc told us not to eat any fruit or drink anything other than bottled water, lest we risk less than entertaining trips to bathroom.  Can you see how many things break those rules?  I count at least 4.  Turns out we ate all of this and were all completely fine. In the morning, we headed over to the Cheetah Centre (let's do the British thing).  First thing up was the running of a couple cheetahs as they went after lures attached to the rope you see in the foreground. And it's off.  Only doing a lazy jog at this point, though still far faster than we could run.
Cranking up the speed for real now. img 0327 Here's the reward for catching the lure. Time for this cheetah to head back. Listening to the guides as they tell us a little bit about the cheetahs.
Next we hopped into some open air bus things and entered where it says "No Entry".  Hmm.... At first we were underwhelmed because the animals (cheetahs, vultures, honey badgers, caracals, hyenas, and African wild cats and dogs) were all behind fences.  Seemed way too zoo-like and not what we'd hoped for.  That was soon to change!  This is a so-called King Cheetah.  The blotchy pattern on it's fur, opposed to the normal cheetah spotting, is caused by a recessive genetic trait. A random shot of the greenery.  Notice the cactus-like trees to the right.  They were bizarre looking. We're finally into an area without fencing.  Here's our first meeting with an ostrich. A female and a male ostrich.  I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which.
A couple African Wild Dogs coming to investigate us as we enter their large enclosed area. Zoe and Gavin got tucked into the middle so they wouldn't be tempted to stick a tasty arm out. The coloration on these African Wild Dogs is beautiful sight to behold.  The high-pitched yipping they make as a pack is otherworldly. img 0439 Bye African Wild Dogs.
Here's a look at the serious fencing used to keep the animals safely enclosed. We've got company... ..and more company... Here are all five cheetahs, about 20' from us. They're incredibly beautiful up close, as we've have reinforced later.
- Kitty-cat lunch time. img 0482 img 0484 img 0493
img 0495 img 0497 img 0498 img 0512 Waiting to meet a cheetah up close.  Gavin and Zoe are focused.
img 0524 - - This was completely surreal.  This cheetah is about as tame as a cheetah can be I suppose, but it still was scary to have our hands that close to some sharp teeth. Smile