Cheetahs and Solitaire’s Apple Pies - Day 340
We had a long journey ahead of us, some 200 miles, but much of that along the rough bouncy track. Good job our faithful bus was sturdy. Our guide promised us Cheetahs and Solitaire's Apple Pies today!
We stopped off again at Solitaire, this time having a trip to visit some Cheetahs at the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre (NCCC), just across the road. This is a research and education project formed in 2008 from a partnership between the N/a'an ku se Foundation and Solitaire Guest Farm, and the NCCC aims to promote the rehabilitation and reintroduction of large carnivores back to the wild, provide assistance with mitigating human-wildlife conflict and creating partnerships with universities.
The ten of us plus Moses piled into a large jeep, and our new guide drove us into the first enclosure which was 500 hectares. He explained that the government had audited this area and failed it due to the strict guidelines of perimeter requirement. The NCCC couldn’t afford to replace the whole of the fencing. Instead, they set up a 10-hectare area with the correct barrier. We then entered this smaller area and immediately saw a family of cheetahs; a mother and her four cubs of about two years old, so similar to what we saw in the wild in Botswana.
It did feel sad to see them cooped up here; however, it transpired that the mother’s own mother was killed when she was a cub. This project, therefore, saved her from being killed herself. As she got older and started menstruating, a wild cheetah managed to break into the enclosure (she was in the bigger one at the time) and the result was these four beautiful cubs.
Our guide gave us some great explanation about how much the Cheetahs eat and how long they live for. He pointed out that the mother’s white tip on her tail allows the cubs to spot her in the long grass. While we were there, one of the youngsters saw a squirrel outside the fence and ran towards it instead of crouching and stalking the prey. Sadly, as the mother hasn’t the skills to hunt and kill, she cannot pass these onto her children, so these cubs will never be rehabilitated into the wild.
While we were enjoying watching these beautiful creatures, Alvin bought us all an Apple pie from the Solitaire Bakery. Apparently, these Apple pies are renowned through the whole of Namibia and even actor Ewan Mcgregor in his book "The Long Way Down" talked about meeting the creator of the Apple pie, Moose McGregor, also his namesake. Moose passed away in 2014, so we didn’t get the chance to meet this iconic pastry chef. I must say that his legacy is intact. The pies were yummy.
Our long journey continued. We did have a quick petrol stop at Rehoboth, an interesting town. It is known for a group of mixed parentage called the Basters who trekked out of the Cape in South Africa across the Orange River and were granted permission to settle in this area in 1870. The population rapidly grew from 333 to 1,500 by 1885. This was when a 'Treaty of Protection and Friendship' was signed with the German Empire permitting one of the residents to retain a degree of autonomy in exchange for recognising colonial rule. Since then the town had its fair share of troubles with the colonial forces. It would have been nice to have been able to learn more about this town. Hey ho – we needed to get back to Windhoek.
We said a very fond farewell to the rest of our gang and Moses drove us to our Airbnb. We were greeted by loud barking, and through the gate, we could see three fabulous Boxers – mum, dad and their pup. Lourens, their owner also greeted us warmly and showed us to our home for the next two nights. What a lovely place, a small home resembling a New Zealand bach with a cosy lounge with beautiful antique furniture, a well-stocked kitchen and a separate bedroom. He and his wife Ronelle had also very generously left us some chocolate (will we be tempted?) and some port. I did enjoy a glass of this when we returned for a very nice meal at a local Italian restaurant. The Port did remind me of my old Dad’s homemade wine!!