Spotless, perfect day. Early breakfast and on the road by 9:30. Over the last 7 or 8 days have worked out a routine for stuff that we’ll need and stuff that we probably shouldn’t have brought. Luggage is now divided into two piles and lots of auxiliary bags, suitcases, shopping bags and knapsacks. Terrifying to think that after our next two nights at Lairds Lodge we will have to re-pack and consolidate for our flight to White River. Poor Susie, who is putting us up; not sure if she knows what she is letting herself in for. First stop this morning was a cheetah and white tiger breeding farm. I hadn’t quite taken in how few cheetahs are left in the wild and the future of the species seems to lie with breeding programs around the world who exchange young cheetahs to keep the gene pool as clean as they can make it. The farm that we visited is an example of this and they have exchanged animals around the world including two with Canada. They are absolutely stunning animals and V and I paid to be allowed into a cheetah enclosure with a couple of keepers and 2 two year old cheetahs, who were hand-reared from 21 days of age. One of them allowed us to pat him and his purr was as loud as a motorcycle! Hope Harry doesn’t find out and become too jealous (Harry is our Burmese cat, who I thought was strikingly similar to the cheetah but V claims t was just a sentimental projection). Got some wonderful pictures. Drove over a pass and into the plain that runs between the mountains and the sea all along this section of southern africa. Have hardly seen a cloud for a week and the terrain has been almost universally semi-arid, rocky and mountainous, with sparse vegetation except for the irrigated farms and vineyards and at an altitude in the valleys of around 350 metres. Approaching the final wall of hills and mountains between us and the coast, we could see the tops of clouds piled up on the other side of the hills with very few of them managing to escape over the hills into the semi-arid plateau that we were crossing. As we crossed the mountain pass and down onto the coastal plain, the countryside became green, treed and lush with the ocean spread out in front of us. A country of striking contrasts.
Have settled in for the next couple of days at Lairds Country Lodge between Knysna and Plettsburg. A lovely property; going to enjoy our stay.