El Dorado

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We arrived at El Dorado by mid afternoon and the sun was shining! Unfortunately, our tent was still full of water, so we had to borrow our driver, Vincent’s, tent for the night. After setting up our tents and eating lunch, a group of us followed one of the workers at the campsite to see the daily cheetah feeding!
El Dorado is a campsite / farmhouse. The Dutch family that owns the place allows campers to set up on their property for the evening, while they continue to tend to the animals they own. They have a number of ostriches roaming around, as well as some oryxes, puppies a leopard, and three cheetahs.
When the cheetahs saw us coming they ran towards the fence, eager to be fed. Then they started mewing! They sounded just like little kittens that were hungry. It was the strangest thing. These cats were huge! I would have expected them to roar, or growl or anything except for sound like a small house cat that could fit in the palm of your hand.
I turned to Kelsi, “that’s it, new favourite African animal! Sorry giraffes, you’re out, cheetahs are in!” Then it was feeding time. The guy opened up a large bucket full of raw meat chunks and pulled out a stick. As he skewered a large hunk of meat, the cheetahs went wild with mewing. They jumped up against the fence and pressed their faces as close to the meat as possible. Then the guy pushed the meat into one cheetah’s mouth, it tore it off, and ran off to the side to eat it. Then he fed the second cheetah, and the third, and by then the first one was back to get some more! On the second round, he let us feed them. We each got a turn to give one of the cheetahs some food, take some photos and carry on. It was so much fun.
When our cheetah high was over, it was time for the bar. We heard that El Dorado had a very unique bar, and we were eager to check it out. Turns out, the rumors were true. The bar was really just the living room of the family’s home. They had a little bar set up for travelers to order drinks, then you just sat on their couches, chatted with their children, and socialized. As well, the room was full of animal heads mounted on the walls. Each one had been caught by the owners, stuffed, and set up around the room. There were all sorts of antelope, a lion, cheetahs, leopards. Pretty much everything we had just seen in Etosha. It was very impressive having all these animals staring down at you as you sat and had a beer.
While we were sitting around, we met the little girl that lived at the house. She was very sweet, and almost a little shy, but wanted to chat with us anyways. She proudly brought over a little 6 week old puppy for us to hold. This was the only remaining pup from their litter of 5. The others had either died or already been sold to other families. This puppy was absolutely adorable! “That’s it guys, cheetahs are out, this puppy is my new favourite African animal.” We probably spent more time cuddling this little dog than we did staring at the cheetahs earlier.
Unfortunately, while we were sitting there, the wind picked up and it began to rain. Not again! Kelsi ran back to the campsite to close the tent flaps. When she returned, she was soaked to the bone.
“The tent flew away and I found it in a tree nearby! It’s full of water…”
Great. Two tents down, no more to go.
It took a while for the rains to slow, then we all walked back to the campsite for dinner. We were lucky that we could eat outside. The weather was nice and gave us a half hour window to eat in the fading light without getting wet. Then it started back up.
We were exhausted, and the miserable weather was matching our moods. I was not very interested in sleeping in a puddle two nights in a row.
Nonetheless, we had no other options. So once again, we took our towels, soaked up what water we could, slept as much in the middle of the tent as we could and tried to get a couple hours of sleep.
After another restless sleep, we woke up in a moat. Water was all around the edges of our tent, but otherwise we were doing okay. All of our stuff was safely in the truck, so we just had to dry our sleeping bags out!
Then we found out that the truck had flooded and all our bags were wet as well… There’s just no winning.
So we packed up our wet things and piled back into the truck to try to nap on the next drive!

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