Arrived not quite as early as the day before. We met downstairs at 10 AM (this time Grandpa was late!). We set out in our own large van for the Cheetah preserve and Spier Winery. They were at the same place so we only had to park once.
We began with the Cheetahs. They were absolutely magnificent! Watching their bodies move with such precision was an amazing experience all by itself.
Once we were done looking at them we got the chance to actually enter and enclosure and PET one! It was just like stroking a cat (minding that you didn’t touch their head, legs, tail, or stomachs lest they attack you). Their fur was nice and soft and we got to discover that their spotted pattern is based on a gene code whether they had a wild spotted pattern, a king spot, or a mix of the two.
We also learned that it is becoming increasingly hard to maintain the cheetah’s numbers on the planet due to an extremely weak immune system that they have evolved over the years. The preserve we went to works hard to raise money to help care for them and increase their numbers so that they do not become extinct.
This preserve also had Anatolian Shephards, which were HUGE dogs (kept to help control the livestock as the lovely and informative sign put it). These canines were quite the beauties themselves.
After we were done looking at cheetahs and dogs we headed down the path to a gift shop and restaurant.
The restaurant was very lovely, with wonderfully nice waiters and gorgeous African decor. (Even the bathrooms were photo worthy!)
We began our meal with welcome bread, salad, and soup. While we ate these a lovely man came around and painted each of our faces to “enhance our beauty.” After our appetizer we headed to the buffet where a few adventurous folks tried dishes such as antelope and ox tail! The buffet ended with a huge selection of desserts which were conveniently cut into bite sized portions so we could try a little of everything! After all, our waiter did say if we ate until we were full and fell over they would carry us out! The meal also came with wonderful entertainment. We had some lovely drumming as well as a clever pantomime of jazz instruments!
Dinner ended and we headed towards the wine shop, where five members of the family indulged in a lovely wine tasting.
Those of us who didn’t taste went exploring! (or reading as I believe Jane did. I was exploring so I’m not entirely sure but it seems likely). We found some bamboo growing as well as a beautiful view of the vineyards.
There was also some interesting animals hanging around. We found some odd looking birds that made some even odder noises. As well as a couple small cats and squirrels. So half way across the world we stopped to take pictures of house cats and squirrels…of course they ARE South African cats and squirrels!
Once the exploring circled back around most of the troupe stopped to hang out and rest while Ben and I went back out…twice… Of course we had fun exploring the small glades of bamboo and the old Manor house we found which was built in 1822.
We finished our little trip by going back to the preserve to see the birds.
There were eagles and owls out and around for you to see (you could pet the owls which were attached to their perches). The most amazing part though was getting to go into an owl enclosure and actually hold and feed the owls. The handler would give you a chicken foot (it was so gross!) and the owl would come straight to you often times before it successfully passed hands.
Sometimes multiple owls would go for the same foot at once and any given person could have one owl on their hand and one on their arm! These owls would also climb up on your shoulder or even sit on your head! They would stay here for several minutes or sometimes just long enough to eat the chicken foot and leave. I even saw once owl steal someone’s hat!
After the highly entertaining owl adventure we all headed back to the van which would take us to the condo to enjoy a pleasant evening and a little more chess!