We headed back to civilization to restock in Swakopmund, the coastal German town wedged between towering sand dunes the frigid ocean. John and I both needed to check email and messages, as we were coordinating the details of our arrival in Juneau. Since we’d left a few days earlier, I had received confirmation on a job offer from Alaskan Brewing. I was pretty excited!
After a hearty lunch at the Brauhaus and a quick trip to the store, we hit the road.
Finally, after another long day of driving we arrived in the Namib desert. John and I had been here twice before, so we really felt like we were able to show Brittany the highlights. We set up camp and settled in for a peaceful evening under the stars.
The next morning, we rose in the pre-dawn chill, the stars still winking brightly in the black sky, and headed into the park to watch the sunrise. On the way, Britt informed us that the cute kitty that we’d befriended had surprised her in the middle of the night by jumping into the back of the truck and peeing on her bed. We resolved to drive the mangy beast out of our campsite when we returned.
We spent our final few days on the road in Swakopmund. Our timing worked out so well that we got to hang with our friends Mark and Jade, which was a wonderful way to end our trip. We wandered the eerily empty streets and stopped in a few shops, including a little antique shop that I’m pretty sure has a whole back room filled with Hitler memorabilia. We had coffee and pastries in the afternoon and later enjoyed sundowners on the pier overlooking the Atlantic. We felt so cosmopolitan after being out in the bush.
Before we left for Windhoek, we stopped by the Zeila shipwreck, just outside of Swakop. Namibia’s coast is littered with shipwrecks, giving it the nickname the “skeleton coast.” The Zeila isn’t anything profound, but it is close to town and fairly interesting.
We also got the opportunity to peruse and buy stones from a few entrepreneurial fellows who had set up “shop” on the beach. I’d had my eye on some gemstones and this seemed like the perfect chance. The guys were sweet and their prices were fair. They also insisted on a photo with John (see below).
Our friends Ryan and Victoria had been recommending we visit this place for months, so we finally made a reservation the week before we left. Naankuse is a conservation organization and wildlife sanctuary. But, most importantly, it’s the place where you can hang out with a real life cheetah.
After we arrived, our small group drove out and dropped us off in an open field where we waited for the handler. A few minutes later, the handler drove up in a pickup with an enclosure on the back. The handler explained the rules as we peered excitedly into the cage. He said that our cheetah, Kiki, was very docile. We could pet her, touch her ears, and sit with her.
He unlocked the truck and Kiki leapt out, stretching out her forelegs as if she were a regular house cat. I was at first a little intimidated. She was bigger than I imagined!
We spent two hours in complete awe of this creature. We stroked her coarse fur. We stared into her amber eyes. We felt her heart beat and her chest rumble with each purr. We watched as she lit out after a hartebeest and disappeared in the cheetah-colored grass.
I highly recommend doing a cheetah walk should you get the opportunity. It is well worth it.
Our whirlwind tour finally came to an end. Although we were sad to leave the wilderness and the open road behind, we were thankful for cold beer, proper toilets and warm showers!