Years and years ago I read about cheetah watching in Namibia. It was a long term dream to see the world’s fastest mammal live and up close. Because they are so fast, they are hard to track and see. I have been on countless safaris down the years including a hat-trick in Tanzania alone. Yet in all that game drive time, I only ever saw ONE cheetah, and they were hiding in long grass in The Serengeti. Two minutes later that cheetah had gone so I haven’t really seen a cheetah at work.
This time in Namibia, I didn’t want to waste time or money hunting down cheetahs and rhinos of hoping for a 2 second shot with no photo proof. I wanted a quick fire guarantee of seeing both of them. Namibia’s rhino tours to Etosha National Park were a joke of a price for not even a guarantee of seeing them. $600 and up in overrated, expensive, self loving Namibia. No thanks. Plan B required.
My friend Russell came up with a better option and a cheetah guarantee. Namibia has a few conservation farms that help maintain cheetahs specifically. They look after cheetahs, help them live longer and reproduce in a natural environment. We contacted Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm and booked a day trip from Windhoek (Namibia’s less inspiring capital city). From my hostel, Chameleon Backpackers Hostel in Windhoek I organised a driver to take me there and back. Thanks for the hostel for helping organise this, no thanks to Namibia for its extortionate prices. My driver was Fernando.
Getting to Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm
In the end, Malina and Russell pulled out but I was not missing out on my long time dream. Sadly, nobody else from the backpackers hostel was doing the trip, and there are no public buses or trains to anywhere near Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm. In hindsight, I should have hired a car and driven there myself. But I thought of that option too late. This meant I had to bite the bullet and pay well over the odds. I am almost shocked to admit that my driver firstly wanted $160 US Dollars for the trip! Yes he did – this is rip off Namibia – a country I sure as hell won’t be back to. I managed to bargain him down to the still rip off price of $120 US Dollars. It was ridiculous and I also paid $20 US minimum for taxis in Namibia (with one exception a 10 minute ride in Windhoek).
I would need to pay to get there and back and pay alone for a one person cheetah game drive. Wallet loaded with far too many US Dollars, I headed north to Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm.
The first part of the road was a good surface, then we veered off and found the first sign for Duesternbrook, this was a little bit “off the wheaten craic”, not near any town or village. We had to open a few gates on route, the first of which told us we were 8 kilometres from the entrance to Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm.
Sleeping at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm
Yes, you can sleep overnight here. Perhaps on a different time of my life, I would have chosen that option. The rooms have a varied range from budget to luxury. You can find more on the website.
The Museum at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm
As a bonus, there is a really great mini museum here. After checking in, taking my medication (anti-malaria tablets) and paying for the tour, I headed to check out the museum, lots of great information here on cheetahs, leopards and other animals. I was to learn from Christian, my driver and cheetah expert, many more facts about cheetahs.
Cheetah Feeding at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm
The highlight arrives. I hop into the safari jeep and am heading on the cheetah game drive with Christian my driver and guide. It’s just me and Christian.
What was interesting is that there were no other animals on route to the cheetahs. No zebras, giraffes etc. The kind I had become accustomed to on all my Africa trips previously. I was also given the option for a higher cost to do a leopard tour as well. I turned it down as I have seen leopards in 3 or 4 different national parks before and I was here to focus on cheetahs. After a while we turn up the lane where two male cheetahs are maintained inside a large fenced off area. Although the cheetahs are somewhere within this perimeter, they don’t immediately notice us or come. Christian has to signal, and of course the cheetahs want food.
Within minutes two cheetahs come over and are ready for the food. I am told these two cheetahs are male, are brothers and named Punchy and Jack. Jack is the lazy one – Punchy seems more lively.
I sit on the edge of the truck right next to the two cheetahs, totally beautiful creatures. I admire, make videos, take photos and of course brought my Travelling Northern Ireland flag for the experience. For now, the photos do justice to this epic trip. It had been expensive and took me years. But finally, this was totally worth it!
The below photo is probably my favourite, the cheetahs right next to us, happy and smiling. Later they also hugged and kissed each other.
After feeding Punchy and Jack we drive past the next area which houses Shasha, the female cheetah. Although we don’t feed Shasha or drive into her lair, we do see her run and she is fast, keeping up with the car and looking at Christian as if to say “where is my food”? Christian explains that they feed the males once a day and the female once a day but at different times. Christian also tells me that a cheetah in the wild will live for 9 years roughly only. Yet by conserving them here at the farm, they can live for up to 20 years, thus places like this double the lifespan of this creature. Probably the tiredness of running and the fact that cheetahs themselves can be victims to lions or leopards can shorten their lifespan. Cheetahs love live recently dead food. They are predators and not scavengers. Once you’re a gazelle or zebra that sees a cheetah coming for you – you are gone…
On the rip at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm
I had come all the way here and was paying my driver way more than expected so there was no way I was letting him waste my time or force me to leave this place straight after the cheetah feeding. I had to milk his extortionate fee, so after the game drive I decided to chill out and have an ice cold beer here admiring the scenery. I also checked out the bar, pool and views.
Although I loved the cheetah farm and a lot of the cool things I did in Namibia, the country is outrageously over-priced and lacking in understanding of tourist or customer knowledge. As a final insult, my $120 US Dollar driver – I asked him to take a photo of me, even telling him his finger was blocking the screen and this was the photo – hence why I stuck to selfies on this trip. Not a country I will miss or ever want to go back to…
Here are the details for booking a tour and a room at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm in Namibia:
Here are some videos from my time at Duesternbrook Cheetah Farm in Namibia: