HAPPY NEW YEAR! I can’t even remember the last time I was on my blog. In fact, I spent the last hour trying to attempt to remember my password and then refreshing my mind on how to construct a post. Its been that long but thanks to those that that have kept in touch via other social media platforms.
I recently got back from my adventures in South Africa – visiting South Africa & Zambia (my first home). It was great being back in Zambia after 3 years. This time around I was accompanied by my hubby (yes your girl is officially off the market). We visited a good number of cities and towns whilst in Zambia with Lusaka being one of them. With four days in the capital of Zambia, we had so little time yet plenty of places an people to see. One of the places we planned on visiting was Chaminuka Nature reserve.
Chaminuka is situated about 45 mins away from Lusaka city centre and it is well known for the Cheetah walking experience. They offer plenty more other wild life experiences but this one stood out for me seeing as we had already been on Safari in South Africa, all I wanted to do was to walk with the fastest animal on the planet.
How to book your tickets : Booking our visit was pretty much easy. I simply contacted them via their Facebook page a day before and specified our preferred time for the visit and that was about it really. The fee for the cheetah walking experience was K250 per person and duration was about an hour max.
The cheetah walking experience
When our safari jeep first approached the gates, we were told to leave our fear in the hands of the cheetah handlers. So we did as told and as we walked into the park the 2 cheetahs were just lying down in the middle of the path it was surreal. We all kept our distance initially and gradually creeped closer. Even watching the guards play with the cheetah’s fur was making my heart race!
We met the cheetahs initially by approaching them slowly and sitting behind them for pictures while they lay down. As we pet the cheetah’s they purred their appreciation which was a big surprise to everyone!
Next step was to get the cheetah’s standing up – this elevated everyone’s heart rates even further. But it was time to take the cheetah’s for a walk! We were told to loosely hold the leash in case the cheetah did go running so we didn’t get dragged along the ground… reassuring! At some point one of the cheetahs spotted an antelope and as expected its animal instincts kicked in but I tried my best to keep calm because you are not meant to make any sudden movements. Bear in mind that these cheetahs are still as wild as can be as they are occasionally left to go hunting every now and then.
The ethics of the cheetah experience – Much as I was really excited to try this out, I should be up front here. The ethics here are questionable. It seems everyone in Lusaka has heard a different story regarding how these two cheetah brothers came to reside at Chaminuka. We heard they were orphans and brought to the lodge, to a point were they became so attached to humans they could not return to the world. While I hope this is true, it is still certain these cheetahs aren’t really living a natural life. They spend much of their day posing for photos with tourists or waiting in small holding cages. The limited time they do have to be ‘free’ is still in this fenced in zoo like reserve – though they seem to be healthy looking and well taken care of. It definitely felt wrong to hold a cheetah on a leash, but I’m always trying to experience new things and so I’m still glad I interacted with the cheetahs however morally conflicted I now feel.
Have you walked a cheetah before or been to Chaminuka? Lt me know what your experience was in the comments below.