It may be the best day of my life. After months of planning our route and speculating on the intricacies of our trip, the day is finally here. It’s the crack of dawn, we are on the B1 and on the road to Etosha National Park from Windhoek. 

On the Road

Eager to restrict our journey to the bare minimum of dawdling and arrive as early as possible, we have planned only one pit stop along the way. We reach Otjiwarongo’s Cheetah Sanctuary with time to spare before the next tour of the facility at 10am. The extra time is well spent sipping gratefully on a cup of coffee at the onsite restaurant and a browse in the curio shop.

I am lucky enough to secure one of the latest copies of Dr Laurie Marker’s book on cheetahs. Dr Marker is the founder of the Cheetah Conservation Centre (CCF) at Otjiwarongo, and I look forward to passing time during our safari by feeding off her experiences in the pages of this publication.

Time to Run

The tour of this facility is everything we hoped it would be. It’s a surreal feeling being so close to the centre’s resident cheetahs and I could easily listen to another 14 episodes of the presentation on the work they do here.

The CCF really has every angle covered when it comes to preserving these beleaguered cats – rehabilitation, education, human-predator conflict, research and naturally conservation. There is nothing they will not do.

As a team we decide there and then to sponsor one of the resident cheetahs, dutifully signing the debit orders on the spot. We can’t choose between all the needy candidates so we have left that up to the CCF and as a surprise for us when we get our certificate. Maybe it will turn out to be one of the livestock guarding dogs instead.

Even after months of planning we have not left enough time to see the cheetah run, go on a game drive or watch feeding time. Maybe next time we’ll spend the weekend at their eco-lodge and get the full experience.

Edging Closer

Our lunch at the CCF café is completed at a speed that would have impressed the cheetahs and we are swiftly back on the highway for the last few hours of our journey to Etosha National Park. As we turn off onto the C38, we can sense the finish line up ahead and it’s full steam ahead for our overnight stay at Eldorado Guest Farm.

On arrival, we aren’t expecting much for the price we paid but I fall immediately in love with these cute rooms with their half stone walls and rustic finishes. As far as I’m concerned this accommodation outside Etosha has it all and a walk around the neatly kept premises confirms this.

We take a dip in the onsite pool to refresh our travel-weary selves and make our way to dinner. Here we get our first (literal) taste of wildlife in the form of delectable kudu steaks and then head straight off to bed.

You can bet anything you like we’ll be travelling the remaining 8km to Andersson Gate in the upper regions of the speed limits. It’s our one purpose in the morning to get there as soon as the gates to Etosha National Park crack open. There are exciting times ahead.