Cheetah Sanctuary & Lion’s Head

Last morning in South Africa for Jess ☹ thankfully the rest of us have two more days!

We decided to go check out the Cheetah Sanctuary that we had been told about by one of the girls on our garden route tour. The sanctuary was created to help raise money for the Anatolian dog breeding program. These dogs are given to farmers to help protect their livestock from cheetahs and reduce how often cheetahs are killed by farmers. Cheetahs are not aggressive animals, therefore will only attack animals smaller than them to eat. Since these dogs are large they can scare away the cheetahs and keep the farm animals safe. The dogs are given to the farmers shortly after birth so they develop a connection with the farm animals and want to protect them.

The cheetah sanctuary does tours and interactions with cheetahs to raise money and awareness for this. There are about 500 free roaming cheetahs left in South Africa and about another 800 wild cheetahs in reserves (so not in danger of farmers). The goal is to help keep the number of free roaming cheetahs up.

We started off with a tour of the area. They have 4 retired dogs at the sanctuary, a few smaller cats similar to the cheetahs that also can be harmed by farmers, a couple meerkats, and even a few tortoises! Then the sanctuary has about 6 cheetahs that they use as “ambassadors” for the cause. These cheetahs were raised by humans so are a bit more domesticated and can interact with humans.

After our tour of the sanctuary, we decided to do an interaction with a cheetah. They raise the cheetahs to know that when someone comes in with a collar that there will be other people coming in to interact. The cheetah can reject the collar if they’re not feeling up to it. Also, during the interaction, they leave the space in front of the cheetah free in case it wants to get up and walk away! This actually happened with the first cheetah we went to and we had to go see if another cheetah wanted to hang out instead lol.

Once we found a cheetah that wanted some pets, we got to feel it’s very soft fur. He even rolled over a little to get more comfy while we pet him 😂. Random fun fact about cheetahs- they spend about 90% of their day either laying around or sleeping! Def my spirit animal.

After our interaction, we headed to Gordon’s Bay beach (near the sanctuary) for some lunch and ice cream before heading back to Cape Town.

We tried to go to a market at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, but it closed shortly before we got there. We walked around the waterfront for a bit, but it was mostly a shopping mall and restaurants.

Jess had to head to the airport at 5pm so we decided to leave around the same time and hike up Lion’s Head to watch the sunset! It was a clear day so we figured we would see some views of the city that we couldn’t see hiking Table Mountain because of the smoke!

Google said it took about 90minutes to climb to the top. It definitely did not end up taking that long so we took plenty of breaks as the setting sun was beating down on us for quite awhile while we hiked up.

To get to the very top you have to climb on a bunch of rocks so we decided to spend about 20minutes up there then go down to a lower portion to watch the sunset so we wouldn’t have as difficult of a time hiking back as it got dark. The sunset was very pretty and we saw some great views of Cape Town!

We decided to make some pasta at the Airbnb for dinner to be a little healthier before going to bed- quite an active day!