June 17th, 2014
Ok. I have to write this down coz it’s just so unbelievable. About half an hour ago I left the volunteer house and headed out to the farm. I collected some blankets and a pillow and entered Faith & Eden’s enclosure. They have a little 2mx2m concrete house thing with a heated tile floor. After making a little bed out of hay and blankets I ventured out with a torch to search for the 2 cheetahs that stole my heart last year. They were around 4 months old back then and still slept in Riana’s house. I was lucky enough to spend the last night of my 2013 CE trip sleeping alongside little Faith and Eden…It broke my heart to leave them.
Now in 2014 I’m sleeping with them again. I found them cuddled together along the fence line and I approached them to see if they wanted to follow me back to the shelter. They sat up, purred at me a little and went back to sleep. They seemed so peaceful; I decided to let them be and headed back to the little room. A few minutes later curiosity must have got the better of them…I heard rustling and in walked Eden, not so little anymore, she laid down next to me. A few minutes later Faith came wobbling in, she snuck around the corner, lost her footing and landed right on top of me…she seemed to fall asleep instantly . My legs are going numb right now but I don’t have the heart to move her, she’s purring in her sleep and it feels like its echoing through my whole body. It’s just so bizarre, sleeping in an enclosure with 2 fully grown cheetahs that chose to share their room with me.
Now I’ve got to figure out how to get Faith to move without annoying her, my legs could do with some much needed circulation right about now.
Kelly Perry – Australia
June 12th, 2014
Even though volunteering with animals can be a bit stinky and tiring – and believe me, ive done my fair share in the UK! – I’m one of those people that gets a little more excited about doing chores when a cheetah walks along side your poopscoop or a serval is playing with the water that was meant for the water bowl…. At Cheetah Experience, its long hours and just one day off in two weeks. But if you get your jobs done – who knows – go and sunbathe with the cheetahs or the wolves… tag along on the game drive… play with cubs…. or just bask in the amazement of sitting with a potentially dangerous full grown leopard. Because here… you literally feel like you can do anything! Morning observations were one of my favourite jobs. It meant by the end of my stay, I could name every single animal just by the subtle difference in the shade of their fur, pattern on their tail or the expression in their face. I was terrified that not knowing the animals meant I wouldnt be a good tour guide, but after a week I knew everything about them, not just the facts of the species but also the personalities that I fell in love with! I slept out in the cheetah house with cheetahs laying across me and licking my face on a morning “Wakey Wakey!!!” I got to walk a cheetah and a serval, and babysit young cubs, as jobs! And then do it all again in my free time… Spending time with the young leopard cubs took up the most room on my memory card, they were my favourite before I even arrived, so beautiful! Orion – the only way to describe him is probably just a little bit bipolar? I have photos of him cuddling, licking my face and just looking cute beyond belief – and then others where hes either stalking me or already clawing at my legs! I have scars all over my arms but they couldnt have a better story.. “Oh it was just the time I had to babysit a leopard cub in South Africa” !!!!! I only dreamed of being able to say things like that, and suddenly there I was, hiding from him so he would stalk because I didnt mind the scratches – i just knew that I was having the time of my life! Luna. Nothing compared to Luna. Hours on end I spent in the baby room feeding and playing with her. I watched a fraction of her growth – from the timid leopard cub she first was, to leaping across the lapa chairs and starting to stalk! As little and cute as she was – cuddling up to her toy before bed – she will soon become one of the magnificient cats I came here to see. I cant wait to watch her grow! In my first few days, It was sitting in an enclosure with the animals hiding at the other side. I was a stranger. You need patience, but waiting was my favourite part. I could see how they changed the way they saw me. After days of staring at the sky with the cheetah cubs, Hope would suddenly run up and investigate my foot, then run off again! It was like I imagined it. But by the time the last day came around, I had cubs jumping on my head, cheetahs laying over me, and the Alpha wolf licking my face everyday! I needed longer. Longer to really bond with Eden or the wolves. Longer would have meant seeing Hope and Horizon grow, to see Luna grow! And to have her know and remember who I was. I spent a fortune on my trip, because I went through a company that I now know charged 3x as much as what Cheetah Experience would have. So in that instance, I could have stayed for longer than a month. Regardless of the countless mosquito bites (and a cheetah bite!) I now have an absolutely wonderful family from all around the world that share the same passion for animals as I do. Not just in the animals but my roomates that I will never forget! It is truly amazing, even just for 2 weeks, to see animals become more comfortable around you. Even experiencing South Africa on my own before hand has changed me – I must thank Jadan for forgetting me at the busstop! I am amazed by the things and feelings I have seen and experienced – you would never think that an animal, especially these as dangerous as they can be, could love so much! I will never forget Riana and her accomplishment of Cheetah Experience, and I would not hesitate to return if I could. I bought a candle on my day off at the mall – it had a phrase on it that perfectly describes Cheetah Experience. “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”
Siobhan – UK
June 9th, 2014
There is no place like this, I can’t have a favourite moment because every moment here is special, one day you get to walk a leopard and the next day you get stolen kisses from cheetahs or get Luna loves from our baby black leopard Luna I’ve been here almost a month now and have no idea when I want to go back home, I just can’t imagine leaving here, you meet the most amazing animals and the friendliest people… life is great here at cheetah experience! Fills your heart with loads of love .. J
Jessica Cousins – South Africa