Tag: St. Lucia

Big Cats

While we were in the St. Lucia area with Ted’s parents, we had the opportunity to visit The Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre to see some big (and not-so-big) cats up close. Animals end up there for a variety of reasons – some were orphaned at a young age and would not have survived alone in the wild, some were injured, some were born in captivity, etc. The ultimate goal is that the (capable) cats will be treated and released, but there are a few that won’t because after being raised in captivity they just couldn’t hold their own in the wild.

We got to meet several different kinds of cats – many which are very difficult to spot in the wild. Our guide was the cats’ care-taker and he knew everything about where they had come from, how long they had been there, if they would ever be released, etc. He also knew the animals’ personalities which allowed us to enter their cages and even pet some.

African Wild Cat

Caracal (Lynx)

Caracal (Lynx)


The highlight of the day was definitely the cheetahs. Raised by our guide from a very young age, the two male cheetahs that we got to “meet” were very comfortable with visitors. Though our safety had been guaranteed, I have to admit that I was still a little nervous to be voluntarily walking towards two large, male cheetahs with the end goal of petting them.

Ted and his mom, however, had no such qualms. While Rob and I were content to pet the things and take their photos, Ted and Sarah happily sat down and allowed the cats to sit and purr on their laps, petting their rough coats while being licked by their even rougher tongues. Ted compared the licking to running sandpaper over his skin – it’s no wonder cheetahs are able to keep their coats so clean just by licking!

Petting Cheetahs

Getting licked by Cheetahs

However, the cats weren’t all fun and games. Within minutes of leaving the cheetah pen, both Sarahs had intense allergic reactions. Sarah (Ted’s mom) broke out in a rash all over her arms from where the cheetahs had been licking her. Though she is allergic to regular house cats, she had never experienced the intense physical reaction that she did from the cheetahs and it lasted for several days. I too am allergic to cats and was quite miserable with traditional allergy symptoms from itchy eyes and throat to sneezing and congestion, but mine only stuck around for a couple hours.

So, for future reference, we can vouch without a doubt that if you are allergic to house cats, that same allergy also applies to cheetahs!

Picture of the Week

Petting cheetahs.  You know, a regular day in Africa. :)

Petting Cheetahs

Petting Cheetahs

The Elephant Coast (via Swaziland)

Swaziland is a teeny, tiny little country in Southern Africa that most people have never heard of – look on a map and you’ll see that it is nearly encompassed by South Africa. They have a much-loved King (with many wives), their own currency, and a lot of national pride. We didn’t get to experience much of what Swaziland has to offer but we did spend a night there and enjoyed the beautiful green hilly scenery from the car on our shortcut through the country to get from the Kruger Park area to South Africa’s Elephant Coast.

Swaziland's green rolling hills

Swaziland from the car

Spanning the northeastern seaboard, the Elephant Coast is a popular vacation destination for JoBurg folks looking to escape the big city. St. Lucia is the main hub around these parts and thanks to its location on the Indian Ocean (rather than the Atlantic), the water temperature is much more inviting for swimming than we’d experienced at the other beaches in South Africa.

Elephant Coast

Elephant Coast

One of our favorite days with Martens was a bush-to-beach-to bush experience. At the iSimangaliso Wetland National Park, you have the opportunity to self-drive your car through an incredibly beautiful and world-renowned wetland landscape, where you see everything from kudu, to zebra, to rhino, to hippos – only to end up on an amazing strip of white sand beach where you can swim, surf, and snorkel. We picnicked along the beach and then took turns swimming in the beautiful blue water and snorkeling along the small reef near shore. When we’d had enough sunshine for the day, we piled back in the car to look for more animals as we headed towards town.


Picnic on the beach

Cape Vidal

Bush to Beach to Bush

I can’t imagine there are too many places in the world where you can see a rhino in the morning, eat lunch with monkeys in the trees overlooking the beach, swim with fish, and then spot dozens of zebra and warthogs on your way home. What a day!

Family photo

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