Stars and Stripes…And, more stripes….Finding ingredients…Off to the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair…

This particular “dazzle” of zebras was all female except for a youngster.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra attempting to climb the steps to the veranda.

We’ll be attending a US holiday 4th of July party at Kathy and Don’s home, overlooking the Crocodile River, in four days.  Twelve guests will be in attendance, with only four actual US citizens; us and Kathy, and Don.

Zebras love pellets, carrots, and apples.

The rest are native South Africans from the UK, all of whom love a reason for a party. Kathy and Don will do their usual “over the top” celebration, often including games, prizes, and unique entertainment and festivities.

As soon as Kathy mentioned this upcoming event, I chimed in, offering to make my former 4th of July US flag cake which I’d make each year in our old lives. I made the offer, which Kathy accepted, starting to “make it small” since most in this group aren’t into desserts as Americans may be. 
In our old lives, I made this US flag cake every year on the 4th of July.

 Plus, with a few of us avoiding sugar or gluten, there’d be lots of cake left even if I made the small version.  Then, Tom would end up eating the leftovers. Not necessarily a good idea.

Of course, there’s often a warthog on the scene, in this case, one of our favorites, Little Wart Face.

The offer of the cake was more for the festivities than the eating, but I was bound and determined to make it, never giving it much thought after my offer. We planned to shop the day before the party to ensure the berries as shown on the cake were fresh. I’d planned to bake the cake the morning of the party.

Three weeks ago, I saw fresh strawberries and blueberries in the market, thinking, “no problem.” But over the next few weeks, there were no strawberries. One week later and there were no blueberries. The markets in Komatipoort receive stock on Thursdays and Fridays for the weekend. They don’t keep. By Tuesday, there’d be no chance of buying fresh berries. 

Zebras don’t stay around too long unless there’s a constant stream of pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

It’s not like the US or many other countries here when there’s usually exactly what one needs regardless of the day of the week. We always shop on Thursday afternoons, but even then, many items haven’t been put on the shelves, and the more popular items are already gone, purchased by the morning shoppers. We’ve learned the drill.

Often, zebras come to visit at night, making us thrilled for a daytime visit.

This may sound disgusting to health enthusiasts out there. Still, to taste exceptional, this particular cake requires Cool Whip, a non-dairy topping heavily sweetened with real sugar that tastes exceptionally good. We’ve seen videos from the US of people eating bowls of the chemical-laden stuff as a treat.

This zebra was licking pellet dust off the veranda tiles.

I must admit that in our old lives, either of us may have at one point or another taken a taste or two with a spoon directly from a plastic container of Cool Whip in the fridge. It was perfect, then. I used to put it on my ice cream with caramel syrup. Oh, good grief! Stop! My mouth is watering!

Well, anyway, this cake requires Cool Whip, which is not available in South Africa, certainly not anywhere we checked in Komatipoort. It made no sense to drive far away, hoping to find it.

This zebra started climbing up the steps to the veranda, but they’re slippery, and she backed off.

A few days ago, I let Kathy know I wasn’t making the cake. There were no berries, no Cool Whip at the market. Since no one in the group was particularly gung-ho for sweets, Kathy said, “No worries, don’t make a cake.” I felt bad since it’s not my nature to offer to do something and then “backpedal.” In this case, I had to let it go.

These two were scrounging for any stray pellets.

Two days after the 4th of July, we’re hosting a dinner party/birthday celebration for Kathy who’s birthday is on the 6th, and Ken’s (of Ken and Linda) will have been on the 4th. Lots of fun reasons to celebrate life in the bush!

As I’m sitting here now, on yet another perfect-weather-day, nine kudus stopped by, all girls, all looking for pellets, apples, and carrots. My favorite kudu, who I can identify by a “u-shaped” notch in her right ear, walked right up to the edge of the veranda and licked my bare toes, as usual. She makes me laugh! 

A third joined them in the search.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll be heading to Henk Van Rooyen Park for the annual Honorary Rangers Winter Fair. This is the same location where Aamazing River View restaurant is located, which we wrote about in yesterday’s post.

Tomorrow, we’ll return with our experiences and photos from the fair. No doubt we’ll run into some of the many wonderful people we’ve met in Marloth Park over this past almost five months. What a ride it’s been so far!
May your day be bright and sunny!

Photo from one year ago today, June 30, 2017:

Look at all that luggage we had back in January 2013 as we prepared to board our second cruise in Fort Lauderdale. We posted this old photo one year ago today when we had purchased two new bags. We no longer have any of the pieces shown here when we’d seriously unloaded “stuff” during our first year or two. For more, please click here.

Restaurant review…Aamazing River View in Marloth Park…

The sunset changed second by second, each scene more beautiful than the last while at Aamazing River View Restaurant last night.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Ms. Bushbuck and her baby stop by every day, sometimes on several occasions.  The baby certainly has grown over these past months.

Before we begin our review of Aamazing River View Restaurant overlooking the Crocodile River and Kruger National Park, it’s important to mention the word “amazing” is spelled with two “a’s”.  Secondly, we must mention we were not “comped” or provided with any special pricing for this review and story.

We’d been to this restaurant a few times since we returned to Marloth Park on February 11th but had only stayed for drinks, later heading home after the sunset to make our own dinner. 

The reserved table was beautifully set.

Aamazing River View has the best views of the Crocodile River and the tall banks along the river in Kruger National Park to be found anywhere in Marloth Park.  Plus, after last’s night dining experience we will undoubtedly return on many more occasions during our remaining months in the park.

Comfortable indoor and outdoor dining is available on two levels.

With a guaranteed stunning sunset on clear or partially clear evenings and the potential to see big game or even the Big 5 if patient and diligent, there’s nothing quite like this special location.

Tom’s pork ribs and chips which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Over these past few months, we’ve noticed some negative comments about this dining establishment posted on Facebook, some actually “hateful” and disarming.  This always shocks us.  If one doesn’t care for a restaurant why not address the issues with the owner and/or management, sharing one’s concerns.

Why bash a restaurant even if you’ve had a few less than desirable experiences?  It’s our responsibility as consumers to let a purveyor know we aren’t satisfied with the quality of their products and services, rather than spewing hateful comments online for everyone to see.

My plate of succulent grilled calamari steak with a vinaigrette dipping sauce was delicious.  I’d definitely order this again.

Doing so ultimately has the tendency to reduce the number of customers and in the process makes it more difficult and costly for management to make necessary changes to improve the quality of their food and services, if…that’s the case.

We were thrilled to be seated at a comfortable booth with excellent views of the Crocodile River.  When staying to dine, guests can reserve a table with views.

But, at Aamazing River View, last night, without a doubt we had an excellent meal; hot and delicious with the freshest ingredients with exemplary service comparable to any we’ve experienced in Marloth Park or in any dining establishments we’ve experienced throughout the world.  Literally, nothing was wrong nor could we even suggest a change or two.

The restaurants in Marloth Park are all casual.  No fancy attire required!

However, in speaking with management (Elaine) and the owner (Andre), they expressed genuine and heartfelt appreciation of their customers and are open to suggestions if a situation occurs that requires attention.  This should be the case with all restaurants and often is.

However, there’s a faction of people out there in cyberspace that prefer to spew their negative comments online rather than deal with their concerns face-to-face to the appropriate management.  This may damage the future success of a business with the potential to steer other customers away. 

A sunset is always more stunning with a few clouds on the horizon.

Last night’s experience at Aamazing River View only spurred us on to get the word out that local Marlothians need to band together to support local businesses. 

Holiday rentals, restaurants and shops are vital to the financial success of this special community.  In essence, property values are enhanced by the success of every aspect of Marloth Park; the success and harmony of restaurants and shops; the management of holiday rental; the health and well being of wildlife; the removal of alien invasive plants; the control of speeding on paved Oliphant Street and all dirt roads for the safety of the wildlife and humans; the ability to maintain a peaceful and quiet environment to enrich the quality of life for the animals and the humans who reside herein.

What a sight to see while looking toward Kruger National Park across the Crocodile River.

We encourage all of our local readers to give Aamazing River View another try or visit them for the first time. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the view, the food, and the service. And then, if something isn’t quite as you’d expected, quietly and respectfully express your concerns to management.

We’re disappointed to see Facebook become such a place for vitriol and hatred by some individuals. We use it to stay in touch with family and friends while we’re so far away. But, over these past few years, we’ve seen it become a resource for bashing, hating and hurting others.  Why?

What a sunset.  This looked like a bird to me.  Do you see that?

I’d love to see more cute and outrageous animal videos, along with photos of family and friends, and recommendations for the good, the great and the excellent.

Today, we’ll post excellent comments about Aamazing River View on Facebook and TripAdvisor.  Give it a try and you may also do the same.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 29, 2017:

Our waiter took this photo of us on our 26th anniversary of the day we met at this same location, now a different restaurant.  For more photos, please click here.

How did we get so lucky?…Today is special…Everyday is special…

Although this stance seems awkward and cumbersome, they perform it with grace and ease with careful foot placement and strength.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

“The foot of the giraffe reaches a diameter of 30 cm (12 in), and the hoof is 15 cm (5.9 in) high in males and 10 cm (3.9 in) in females. The rear of each hoof is low, and the fetlock is close to the ground, allowing the foot to provide additional support to the animal’s weight.”

I’d expected this 70th year of my life to be very different than what it is today. With a long-term chronic medical condition (since resolved), I’d expected to be living a life of pain, discomfort, and disability. 

They wandered across the road to get to the watering hole.

Always ambitious, I supposed I’d have found a way to be fulfilled within the framework of these limitations but never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine this life…this magnificent life.

There were eight giraffes in the “tower.”

Twenty-seven years ago today, I met Tom Lyman. How that transpired is shared in last year’s post on this date which may be found here, which is also indicated below in the “Photo from one year ago today.”

Giraffes can run at paces of 60 km (37 mph), but their motions appear slow and deliberate when grazing and drinking.

I highly doubt that I’d have shared this morning’s contemplative comments with my husband, partner, lover, and travel companion that quickly crossed my lips while sitting at the big table on the veranda.

“Look at us.  We have eight zebras, two bushbucks, and a warthog in our garden this morning. Yesterday, we encountered eight giraffes, as shown in today’s photos. We’re living in the bush in Africa. How did we get so lucky to have one another, to be here at this point in our lives?”

I was contemplating taking a drink from the waterhole.

We looked at each other and smiled, simultaneously saying, “Who would have to thunk it?” Neither of us ever dreamed of nor imagined this type of life in our senior years or at any time in our lives.

Perhaps, one more drink?

And today, 27 years after we first met almost serendipitously, opposites, headstrong and non-committal, that here we’d be, glued at the hip, as they say, traveling the world precisely as we choose.

They were standing in the queue at the water fountain. The other giraffes in the tower lumbered across the road to share in the drinking from the pond.

We don’t travel to lands where others “think” we should travel. We don’t necessarily visit tourist locations on most traveler’s “bucket lists,” and oddly, we don’t even have a “bucket list.” 

We plan and experience whatever falls into our hearts and minds as the “next place” (as Tom calls it, as his “favorite place” when asked). And essentially, every place we visit is our favorite at the time when we strive to “live in the moment” wherever we may be.

Each giraffe has its manner of bending to drink and is also subject to the surrounding terrain for foot placement.

But this? The memories of these endless experiences we’ve shared here in Africa and all over the world. It’s something special, not only for the “living in the moment” aspect but for the promise that we’ll carry these memories with us until our last breath.

What could this huge bump be?

In a way, the memories we capture in our minds and photos become almost half of the experience in itself. We know that soon, this Africa chapter will end, and a new chapter will begin. A year from now, we’ll be in Ireland for three months. How different could that be?

There’s nothing like a handsome face!

But for now, we celebrate this life, this time, this place with one exception. Today, we celebrate 27 years ago when we first met an unlikely couple who somehow found their way together in this unparalleled existence of pure and unmitigated joy in the world’s endless offerings.

Thank you, dear readers, for being on this journey with us and your inspiration for our unstoppable commitment to continue documenting every day.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2017:

This was Tom around the time we met in 1991. For more details, please click here.

Our wonderful helpers in the park…A stroke of good luck saving us lots of moolah!…

A tattered ear on an old elephant.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Three little pigs…

Update:  There’s a good possibility the “lioness on the loose” has returned to Kruger National Park via the same means (or other means) by which she entered a week or two ago.  She hasn’t been sighted in the past few days.

A few wildebeests with a zebra in the background.

Currently, in South Africa, kids are off school until July 17th for the “school holiday.” The reason we knew this particular date is that Marta, our housekeeper, who lives in a tiny house on the property has a few of her kids staying here with her until the holiday ends when they’ll return to school to stay with other family members in a nearby town. 

A large bull at the side of the road.

This scenario is typical for the local workers in Marloth Park.  Many of them come here to work and walk to catch buses that pick them up to return them to various towns surrounding the area.  Many others stay in Marloth during the week living in small houses such as Marta’s here on the grounds and return to their families on their days off.

Elephants crossing the road.

It’s not an easy life and we appreciate them all including Marta and Josiah who cleans the pool, the grounds and the veranda on most weekdays.  Then, there’s Vusi and Zef who attend to replenishing our bottled water and bottled gas.  Many areas of the house use bottled gas such as the water heater, oven, range, and gas braai. 

Wildebeests, zebras and an impala sharing their food sources in Kruger.

Typically, they all cover for one another if one is ill or unable to work.  Of course, Louise and Danie oversee the efficient running in all of these areas, ensuring the work is getting done proficiently and in a timely manner.

Giraffe preparing to cross the road.

As for our “stroke of good luck,” well, Tom couldn’t have done a better job at saving us over ZAR 14,893 (US $1100) on an upcoming cruise we’d already booked.  The cruise sails on October 24, 2019, beginning in Southampton, England and ending in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 8, 2019, at which time we’ll fly to Nevada (and later drive to Arizona) to see family for a few weeks.

As we zoomed in on the above giraffe, we noticed this round patch which must be a result of some type of injury.

As we’ve mentioned on many past occasions, by watching cruise fares almost daily, when there’s a price drop, all we must do is notify Vacations-to-Go, a company we use exclusively for booking cruises.

They’ll verify the price drop with the cruise line and issue us a new “cruise confirmation” document showing the new pricing. Tom had been able to get a ZAR 4062 (US $300) price reduction on this same cruise about a month ago. 

Cape buffalo grazing along the edge of a waterhole.

Yesterday, he contacted Vacations-to-Go again when he noticed another price reduction at Celebrity’s website for another ZAR 10,831 (US $800).  With these combined price reductions we saved ZAR 14,893 (US $1100).  This is more than a 25% reduction from the original cost of the cruise.

It’s this type of diligence we maintain, individually and collectively to ensure we’re always getting the best possible pricing for everything we do.  In doing so, it allows us to spend a little more on quality properties wherever we may travel in the world.

We’d hoped to go to Kruger today but have heard there’s a long wait to enter.  They only allow so many visitors inside the park at one time.  We’ve heard it is a maximum of 600 visitors per day at each of the nine entrance gates to the vast national park.  We’ll wait until the holiday season winds down.

Have an excellent day and evening!


Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:

Vincent caught his first fish of the day, tiny but gratifying.  The hooks are carefully removed to avoid injuring the fish and the fish are tossed back into the lake.  The kids have no interest in eating the fish they catch nor do any of the adults care to fillet small sunfish or crappies (pronounced, croppies).  For more photos, please click here.

Twelve animals hit and killed the roads in Marloth Park in past two weeks…

This hippo was very far away from us when we took this photo. It was only after we uploaded it that we noticed how many oxpeckers were on his hide.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this ostrich family near this vehicle. It was over four years ago we saw our first ostrich in the wild in Marloth Park. It was on December 7, 2013, that we’d spotted an ostrich standing next to this exact vehicle at this same property, looking at himself in the window of the car. See the photo below from that date! Click here for that post.
From the December 7, 2013 post: “While on a walk in our neighborhood, Tom spotted this ostrich that had wandered into a homeowner’s yard, appearing to be fascinated by looking at himself in the window.”

It’s heartbreaking to see in a post for Marloth Park on Facebook that 12 wild animals have been killed on the roads in the park. Indeed, some of these horrible incidents have been unavoidable. But, the remainder may be attributed to visitors driving too fast on the tar road that runs from one end of the park to the other.

There are two 24-hour a day guarded gates to enter into Marloth Park, the only access points. Entering via Gate #1 requires a very long and bumpy ride on a dirt road from the N4 highway but is technically shorter (distance-wise, not time-wise) than driving the extra distance on the road to Gate #2. Rarely do any locals attempt to move to Gate #1? 

Each time we’re near the Crocodile River, we see waterbucks. They live in herds of 6 to 30 animals, with one male who defends his territory.

It’s hard to say who these careless drivers may be and how they’ve entered the park. They could be renters living in a holiday house or others entering the park to explore and see wildlife or…others with dinner reservations at any of the local restaurants or…could be troublemakers up to “no good.”

With all the traffic and noise we heard last night, loud voices, loud music, and engines revving, we can’t help but wonder if they have somehow made their way into the park with little to no regard for the quality of life here.

We’ve been lucky to see elephants along the river road. Most days, we go out for a drive. Yesterday was no exception.

In yesterday’s post, we addressed some of these issues that crop up during the busy school-holiday season and other holidays. Please see this link here.  The commotion may continue until well into August. 

Lately, we’ve heard about major criminal incidents in and around the area. We stay on constant alert to protect ourselves and our belongings. Luckily, most homes have alarm systems like ours, but we all know they can be compromised.

Whether we spot one or 30 elephants, it’s always awe-inspiring.

We can only hope and pray that those who’ve rented holiday homes will offer the utmost kindness and concern for the peaceful and pleasing way of life only found in Marloth Park.

While driving along the river yesterday afternoon, we spotted a five or 6-year-old kid steering an SUV while sitting on his dad’s lap. What was this guy thinking?  This scenario could be one of many careless cases and causes of wildlife being killed on the roads. Careless driving.

“The elephant’s trunk can sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object. An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water, then pour it into its mouth. Elephants cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh. Elephants can swim – they use their trunk for breathing like a snorkel in deep water.”

We apologize for continually bringing up these topics for our worldwide readers, not in this area. We’re hoping that if only one person staying or visiting Marloth Park sees our posts, maybe one animal will be saved.

On a lighter note, we’re doing quite well. With a 90% improvement in my health since eliminating dairy from my diet several weeks ago, I am literally on Cloud 9. To finally not have an awful stomach ache after over two years, I’m enjoying everything we do 10-fold. 

“There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and African elephant, which are the forest and savanna elephant species.”

As we drove through Marloth Park yesterday, I described to Tom how wonderful it feels to be free of the constant pain and discomfort while riding on the very bumpy dirt roads in the park. Also, the freedom of not constantly worrying over what the problem could be has been equally liberating. 

“The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months, longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kg (7 pounds), while a new born elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kg (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born.”

In addition, as of today, after one month, I’ve lost 3.6 kg (8 pounds) from eliminating dairy while watching portions, and my clothes have begun to fit better.  

Cape Buffaloes may be referred to as the mafia, not only because of their strong character but because they never forgive and almost always seek revenge. They have been recorded seeking revenge on someone years after being threatened by them.

I plan to continue on this path of a slow weight loss so that by the time summer begins on December 21st, with temperatures in the 40C’s (104Fs), I’ll finally fit back into all my shorts. It’s too hot in the summers here to wear Capri-length or long jeans all day while sitting outdoors on the veranda.

This appears to be a blooming aloe vera plant.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

As for today, soon, we’ll head to the post office with our tracking number to see if they can track our missing package. It was sent on May 23, 2018, and has yet to arrive. This is not unusual as we often find ourselves waiting for a shipment for upwards of two months.

After the post office, once again, we’ll drive through the park, continuing our search for the lion (to no avail, thus far) and, of course, any other wildlife that graces us with their presence.

Have a peaceful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2017:

One year ago today, I joined Maisie, Madighan, and daughter-in-law, Camille, at The Stages Theater in Hopkins, Minnesota, where the four of us saw a local production of Shrek. For more photos, please click here.

Attention guests and visitors, like us, to Marloth Park….

Yesterday, as we drove along the Crocodile River in Marloth Park, we spotted this parade of nearly 30 elephants enjoying their time in the river. Notice the littlest one!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our resident francolin, aptly named Frank, stopped by the pond contemplating taking a drink.
Moments later, he bent down and took a long drink. We love Frank and the Mrs. who spend their days and nights in our garden, loudly squawking at sunrise and sunset,

We are visitors, renters, tourists, or whatever you’d like to call us to this magical place, Marloth Park, South Africa. We have no specific rights or privileges beyond what our rental agreement provided to us through the landlord, property manager, or owner. 

We pay an agreed-upon rate, and with it comes specific amenities, often including the use of household goods, utilities, cable TV, Internet, appliances, and in many cases, housekeeping services in varying degrees.

It is a privilege for us to be here. It never does one day pass without us realizing and appreciating the opportunity to partake of this unique, enriching, and charming environment.
It’s always enjoyable watching the young calves playing in the water, discovering the wonders of their trunks.

Over these past few days, the summer holidays (it’s winter here now) for visitors from the northern hemisphere have begun, and we see an influx of visitors and cars in astounding numbers.

As we drove through the park yesterday afternoon on our usual almost daily drive to spot wildlife, we saw more walkers, bikers, and vehicles near the Crocodile River than we’ve ever seen in the total of over seven months we’ve spent in Marloth Park in the past four-plus years.

One can easily look online to read the “rules of Marloth Park” at several websites, some that apply to all occupants, whether owners or holidaymakers and many that specifically apply to ownership of property in Marloth Park.

We felt so fortunate to see this, which only enhances our love of Marloth Park.

However, today, we won’t list those rules, and if you’d like, you can look for them here at this link. Instead, we’d like to post our perspective from a “renters point of view” as to the responsibility we all have in maintaining the integrity of what this outstanding conservancy is all about, a harmonious and thrilling environment where wild animals freely roam the gardens of houses, parklands, and roads throughout the area.

It’s truly a privilege to be here. As we’ve traveled the world over these almost past six years: homeless, no car, no storage, and with minimal possessions in our few pieces of luggage, we’ve never heard of nor seen anyplace in the world like Marloth Park, nor do we ever expect to do so.

Back to yesterday afternoon, as we drove on Seekoei Street that runs along the Crocodile River, we encountered dozens of tourists walking, jogging, and riding bicycles. In one instance, we were shocked to see a man riding a bike while his two young children were riding bikes at a distance behind him.  

We couldn’t take our eyes off of them as they basked in the river.

He seemed oblivious of cars coming up behind them or the fact that there’s a lioness loose in the park. Only months ago, we wrote the story of Jonas, who was attacked by a lion while riding a bike (see that story here) here in Marloth Park.

Often, people feel they are invincible. It simply won’t “happen to them.”  But one only needs to spend a few minutes watching videos on YouTube to see lions in Kruger National Park attacking tourists “in their vehicle” while their windows were open to taking photos. These are wild animals, and unpredictably is a part of their demeanor.

All the animals in Marloth Park are wild and generally are safe “at a distance.”  But, unintentionally (or otherwise), a male kudu with massive antlers can easily injure or permanently maim an unsuspecting tourist attempting to hand feed these gigantic animals. A mere nod of his head can poke out an eye or cause a fatal injury.

Not all of the elephants nearby are shown in these photos.  We counted almost 30.

Some of the animals in Marloth Park carry diseases such as Bovine Tuberculosis (not necessarily transmittable to humans) and rabies. Why hand feed when it’s so easy to drop the “approved” pellets onto the ground? These animals are used to “eating dirt” and also dead plant matter when they forage. They don’t mind eating off the ground.

Also, we don’t use any trough or large containers to feed the animals.  Diseases such as TB are transmitted through their saliva dropping by the use of such containers. Would you want to eat from the same bowl others from which others had eaten (who possibly have a disease)?

Sure, it’s fun for kids to hand feed an animal. But, it’s common to see a wild animal in the park licking their own behinds or the behinds of their young to make one not so interested in hand feeding. Fecal matter can contain salmonella and an endless array of medical conditions, many of which may be life-threatening. 

With the electric fence between Kruger and Marloth Park, taking photos requires carefully getting the shots between the barbed wire strands in the fence.

Simply telling a child to “go wash your hands” after hand feeding is almost pointless. Have you ever watched your child wash their hands, especially when they’re anxious to get back outside and see the animals? Even adults can be lax in this area.

As for the wildlife feeding, we’ve heard stories of tourists (and some locals) feeding the wildlife potato chips, corn (which can be fatal), popcorn, leftover bread, sweets, and their leftovers from the restaurants or home-cooked meals. Most wildlife cannot digest these types of foods, and feeding them may result in illness or death.

Most of the animals in Marloth Park are either omnivores (plants and small animals) or herbivores (plants only), where they consume the leaves of plants, trees, and some roots (warthogs) and a variety of creatures such as insects and rodents. The few carnivores in the park may include mongooses, civets, genets, wild dogs, birds of prey, and more.

They stood in this same area for quite some time.

These carnivores (meat eaters) don’t need to eat (and shouldn’t eat) our leftover cooked, sauce-covered, seasoned braai chicken, pork, or beef. It is not natural for wildlife to eat cooked or spiced foods.

The two types of monkeys most prevalent in Marloth Park are the Vervet monkeys and baboons. These monkeys are very destructive and will do anything for food. They even eat the birdseed from our birdfeeder. We have to make a special effort to ensure no food is left on the ground or elsewhere for them when feeding other wildlife.

A few weeks ago, I left the door to the house open while I was cutting apples and carrots. A Vervet monkey ran inside onto the kitchen counter and grabbed a whole apple, and ran. I learned my lesson…keep the door shut when monkeys are around and never leave the door open unattended.

Well, some may think this is cute, but a monkey (or baboon) or more can wreak havoc in a house tearing everything apart while defecating everywhere while inside or even outside on the veranda. We never leave food on any plates or bowls anywhere which the monkeys may be able to access.

Often, when we experience such a sighting, a few people are observing along with us. Yesterday, there were dozens of holidaymakers taking photos as well.

A rule that has been disrespected by some has been bringing pets or other animals into the park. The animals in this special place can easily be contaminated by diseases carried by non-indigenous animals. 

Speaking of non-indigenous, one of the most prevalent concerns in Marloth Park right now is alien invasive plants, some from natural occurring means and others brought in by homeowners or visitors “decorating” the house or gardens.  

These plants are destroying the natural food sources for wildlife which ultimately could result in the loss of life for the precious animals we so love. Its imperative no visitors, owners, or renters bring any plants into the park. This is a “wild” habitat. Decorative plants defy the true meaning of the “bush.”

Also, a significant area of concern is the alien invasive plants presenting a substantial risk of fire. Invasive trees and plants can burn hotter, higher, and faster than any native vegetation. 

Care must be exercised in making and putting out fires for the braai.  We heard recently that a tragic fire could have destroyed Marloth Park when hot embers from a braai were dumped into a dry side garden. This place could incinerate in a matter of minutes, not hours, with all the dry brush and invasive plants and trees.

In the past week, it has been reported that several wild animals have been killed on the road by fast-moving vehicles. Yes, it’s possible a driver following the speed limit could accidentally hit an animal that darts out onto the road at night. Visibility is lacking on the tar and dirt roads throughout the park.

But, we all must take the responsibility of driving as if a child could dart out into the road at any moment, slowly and with the utmost of caution. Plus, driving slowly both during the day and at night is an excellent opportunity to spot more wildlife. Nothing is more exciting than stopping for a “traffic jam” of several giraffes (or other animals) crossing the road.

The wildlife is more likely to visit when noise is kept at a minimum. We make every effort to speak in normal tones and avoid loud bursts of sound to prevent frightening the wildlife. Of course, loud music or loud partying is prohibited in the park.

Please forgive us if we sound as if we’re “preaching.” That’s not our intent.  Instead, we want to ensure Marloth Park is as excellent in the future as it is today. We plan to make regular visits in years to come as we continue in our world journey.

Marloth Park is the only place in the world we’ve returned to visit in all these years of world travel. In many ways visiting this magical place has shaped us, changed us, and made us grow in our desire and passion for protecting and preserving wildlife and our surroundings wherever we may go.

Please join us in this mission while you visit, along with us, cherishing the gift Mother Nature has bestowed upon us humans…the joy and beauty of wildlife and our surroundings.

Enjoy your holiday time, as we will, in this extraordinary place.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2017:

Margie, Tom’s sister, with one of her two birthday cakes. This photo was taken by nephew Joe’s wife Donna before our arrival around 4:30 pm. The party had started at 2:00 pm, and by the time we arrived the cake was cut.  Thanks for the excellent photo, Donna!  For more photos, please click here.

A delicious and entertaining dinner in Marloth Park…See “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”…Language barriers and adapting…

For the first time, last night at Jabula Restaurant, we saw a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby. These are huge compared to the tiny bushbabies, the “Lesser Bushbaby,” which we see each night on the little stand where we place the little cup of fruity yogurt.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

From this site: “Thick-tailed Bushbabies have caused alarm for many visitors to the wilderness areas of Africa with their child-like screams during the night with some visitors complaining of child abuse among staff members at lodges. The Afrikaans name for bushbabies is nagapies which mean small night apes.”

Last night’s dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant couldn’t have been more fun.  Sitting at the bar, Tom having his usual brandy and Sprite Zero on the rocks while I had my new favorite low alcohol red wine I’ve been enjoying lately (South Africa’s Four Cousins Skinny Red).

The environment at Jabula Restaurant is comfortable and inviting. We usually dine outdoors on the veranda, but we had fun with owners Dawn and Leon last night. We ate sitting at the bar for the first time.

This wine tastes great (now that I’ve acquired a taste for it), and with its low alcohol, low carb content with reduced tannins, it doesn’t cause the potential for aftereffects some of us suffer from when consuming a few glasses of red wine in an evening.

We both perused Jabula‘s expansive menu for quite a while as we sat at the bar, chatting back and forth with Dawn, Leon, and their assistant Lyn. The bar was packed when we arrived, while the locals enthusiastically watched a rugby game on the flat-screen TV, which ended, unfortunately, with South Africa losing to moans and groans in the audience.

The bar at Jabula Restaurant where Dawn and Leon chat with their guests.  It was an enjoyable evening.

Suddenly, we heard a commotion on the veranda. Guests dining outdoors had spotted a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby on the thatched roof. We’d heard a lot about these huge bushbabies but had yet to see one in our “garden” at night. I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough and was thrilled to get these photos in the dark of night.

Speaking of “garden,” I will stop using the word “yard” in our posts. Here in Marloth Park and South Africa, they don’t use the word “yard” or “backyard” about their lot included with their home. Also, in South Africa, they don’t call a piece of land a “lot.” It’s called a “stand.”

Tom ordered Eisbein, a fried pork knuckle that is unbelievably delicious (I always take a few bites of this monstrous item).  We brought the bone home for the warthogs. They don’t like the meat, just the bone. Tom splurged and ordered the “chips.” The food and ambiance were exceptional as always.

Henceforth, when writing our posts and in speaking with others locally, we’ll use the local verbiage as a “garden” instead of a “yard” and of a “stand” instead of a “lot.”  We try to fit in. 

It’s bad enough that the locals have to speak English when around us when most native Caucasian South Africans speak the Afrikaans language. It amazes us how well they speak English as a second language, even in conjugating verbs and understanding slang and euphemisms.

But then, he splurged further and ordered a giant plate of fried onion rings. I didn’t complain. He eats healthy meals when I cook and splurges when we dine out.

As a result, we need to make every effort to blend in, not only in our behavior and interests but also in our acceptance of words they’ve incorporated in their use of the English language.

When we return to the US for a visit in nine and a half months, we can re-do our language to fit into the expectations of conversing in our native language.  There are always adjustments such as these when we live in a country for several months.

My grilled chicken breast, steamed spinach, and carrots.

And such was the case last night at Jabula. The bar, filled with locals, chatting to other locals in their Afrikaans language, never made us feel “left out” of the conversation. On a dime, any one of them would quickly revert to speaking English for our benefit.

But, this is how it is here in Marloth Park, friendly, open, and easy to make friends with. I should qualify this and state that not all locals in Marloth Park are from South Africa. Many homeowners here in the park are from many other parts of the world, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe.

Tom gave me his salad which we ordered without the feta cheese when I no longer eat dairy products.

The only Americans we’ve met in Marloth are friends Kathy and Don.  Kathy grew up in California like me, and Don was born and raised in Kenya. They have homes in other parts of the world, including Hawaii and South Africa, spending part of the year here. Other than the two of them, we’ve yet to meet anyone here from the US.

Today is another perfect weather day, sunny, comfortably warm. After we upload the post, we’ll head out to see what we can find, again, hoping to spot the lioness. It will undoubtedly be a good day.

May you have a good day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2017:

Last year on this date, Tom and son TJ hung out together at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, where TJ had his 1954 Buick Special on display next to his canopy set-up at the “Back to the 50’s” annual event.  For more photos, please click here.

Lion on the loose in Marloth Park…Hippo Day!…

A lion photo was taken by a local across the Crocodile River, but not the lion spotted on Leeu Street.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We’d never seen this warthog until last night when he stopped by.  The left wart appeared injured and infested with maggots.  Since warthogs are so abundant in Marloth Park, nothing is done when they are injured. Veterinary care is expensive. Nature takes its course.

Yesterday when we received a notice from Louise that a lioness was on the loose in Marloth Park, a chill ran up our spines. Not only were we excited about this event, but we went on a mission to see if safari luck would prevail, and we’d spot it and have an opportunity to take a photo.

Hippos lounging in the Sabie River in Kruger.

The likelihood of finding her in this vast expanse of 3000 hectares (7413 acres, 11.5 square miles) is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack. Once the post was uploaded, we headed out with extra fully charged batteries. I wanted to have to camera turned on at all times, just in case.

“The name hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek ‘river horse.'”

We followed the roads where she was last seen on the street called Leeu, weaving in and out of all possible routes hoping for a glimpse. Well, we didn’t expect to get lucky, and we weren’t. 

“An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe.”

We saw elephants on the river, giraffes on the savanna, and an ostrich under a carport, but we stopped for nothing, fearing that one minute’s change of plans could cause us to miss her. Of course, this concept can go either way…stop for something else, and then…we’d see her. 

“Hippos bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is a skin moistener and sunblock that may also protect against germs.”

After two hours, we gave up and stopped at Daisy’s Den for birdseed when Mark, the shop owner, told us his mother-in-law saw the lioness chasing a young kudu across the tar road. Nature can be cruel, but that’s the reality of life in these parts.

“Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun most humans. Hippos have been clocked at 30 km (19 km) over short distances.”

Everyone in this little holiday village is alert based on warnings to avoid walking, especially at night. One must pay special attention, getting into and out of cars, shops, restaurants, and their own homes. One cannot assume that walking from a restaurant to their vehicle is safe at night or during the day.

Thanks, Louise Barnfield in Kauai, for identifying this bird…a reed cormorant.

Are we scared? Not at all. Nor does it affect our sitting on the veranda day and night. The veranda is six steps up from ground level. It’s unlikely a lion would climb the steps to get to us when there’s usually much more readily accessible wildlife nearby. 

A giraffe’s neck contains huge amounts of muscle. But that is not what is holding its neck so high. It is a band of elastic tissue, a ligament that runs from the top of the neck to the start of tail vertebrae.

We do not doubt that a few of our visitors may already have fallen prey to the lion’s appetite.  Even with few predators in Marloth Park itself, most of the wildlife’s instincts will drive them to run as fast as they can if they hear or spot a lion. 

“Gnus, or wildebeests, are large African antelopes. Wildebeest is an Afrikaans name that means “wild beast.” Gnu is a derivation of the name used by native Africans. The names are used interchangeably. A gathering of gnus is called a herd.’

The acuity of the hearing of wildlife in the park is incomprehensible to us, but outrunning a lion would be difficult when bush homes and other man-made structures impede their ability to run at their top speeds.

Calf nursing in Kruger National Park.

This afternoon, we’ll head out once again with hope, albeit foolhardy, of spotting the lioness and taking our photo to share here with all of our readers.

“African fish eagles are very efficient hunters and only hunt for about 10 minutes each day. Besides fish, they also eat young birds, monkeys, baby crocodiles, and frogs.”

Thanks for stopping by, dear readers. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2017:

After the boat ride on Father’s Day, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot. For more photos, please click here.

The winter solstice and holiday season begins again in the bush…Taking care in Marloth park

This male was “standing watch” so the others could relax and nod off.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Playful warthog antics always make us laugh.

Yesterday was the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. It’s hard to believe it’s winter here when the temperature is in the 30C (86F) range most days. Henceforth, the days will be getting longer.

We’ve had a handful of very cool days but overall, few requiring extra warm clothing. Mornings and nights are very cool, often requiring we bundle up. But, once the sun begins to shine almost every day, it warms up sufficiently for shorts and short sleeves.

Last night, shortly before dark, we encountered this “confusion” (yep, that’s right!) of wildebeest in front of the property along the river. 

When summer arrives on December 21st here in the southern hemisphere, it’s an entirely different story. The thoughts one conjures up about heat, humidity, and dust flying through the air will be exactly what we’ll expect.

We remember these difficult conditions when we were here over four years ago during December, January, and February. There were more insects, more dust, and more sweaty days and nights. Thank goodness for air con in the bedrooms. 

We haven’t had many wildebeest visitors at our house, making it especially enjoyable to see these last night.

We’ll do the same as we do now during the days, spending our days and nights on the veranda regardless of weather conditions. The only conditions that drive us indoors will be rain with wind. Otherwise, we’ve learned to tolerate temps in the 40Cs (104F) while being outdoors under the protection of the veranda roof from the scorching sun.

For now, we’ll enjoy the cooler days and nights as we continue to spend our days and nights observing the world around us, which never disappoints, as evidenced by our daily photos.

We always stop to observe these magnificent animals.

Now that it’s summer in the northern hemisphere, we’ll begin seeing more and more tourists in Marloth Park, particularly tourists from Europe who find this environment ideal for their summer family holidays. 

Before too long, perhaps beginning this weekend, we’ll see families with children in their rented four-wheel-drive vehicles driving through Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. 

Often, we spot one lone elephant, often a young male, off to the side away from the rest of the “parade.”

The number of vehicles on the roads definitely has an impact on the number of visiting animals.  We’ve noticed this each time it’s been holiday time. They seem to stay undercover or are preoccupied with tourists feeding them, hopefully, the healthful pellets, fruit and vegetables, and not biscuits, cookies, and potato chips.

Unfortunately, a handful of tourists aren’t respectful of the wildlife, feeding them foods they cannot digest, which may result in illness or even death. Also, Marloth Park is a highly flammable environment with a lack of rain and dry brush surrounding us. 

Elephants grazing on the bank of Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. There’s always a few cattle egret nearby.

We can only pray that visitors will be mindful of the high risk of fire due to the vast amount of alien invasive plants that exacerbate fires in an incomprehensible and ultimately terrifying manner. (More on this later).

The moment I said to Tom, “We often see giraffes on this road.” Just like that, we spotted this giraffe.

Ensuring that no hot coals, embers, or fires are dumped into any areas within the park and all braai fires or bonfires are completely out before retiring for the evening is of the utmost importance for the preservation of human and animal life in this magical place.

Originally Marloth Park was intended as a holiday destination. Over the years, many holidaymakers found it irresistible to be here, deciding to build a retirement or seasonal home here. This building continues within the park, causing quite a bit of controversy as more and more wildlife habitat is lost to construction. It’s quite a debate we won’t get into here. 

A “forkl” of kudu, boys, and girls, also referred to as a harem.

After all, we’re only visitors ourselves making every effort to leave as light a “footprint” as possible in hopes that in years to come, Marloth Park will continue to thrive and welcome our return as our schedule allows.

A happy band of mongoose lapping up raw scrambled eggs we put down for them in a flat bowl.

Today, we’ll embark upon one of our usual drives before the roads become too crowded over the weekend as we continue to search, appreciate and admire the nature surrounding us.

Have a lovely weekend as your summer or winter has begun…

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2017:

Southeast Steam Plant, aka Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant. For more photos along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, please click here.

Our new itinerary!!!…With a few gaps…In time, we’ll fill them!…

Upcoming Itinerary – June 21, 2018, to March 1, 2021
 Marloth Park, South Africa  56 6/21/2018 – 8/16/2018
 Zambia – Chobe National Park – Chobe River  7 8/16/2018 – 8/23/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89 8/23/2018 – 11/20/2018 
 Leave South Africa for visa – not booked 7  11/20/2018-11/27/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89  11/27/18 – 2/21/2019 
 Marloth Park SA to Kenya – tour booked 15  2/21/19 – 3/8/2019 
 Valparaiso, Chile- hotel stay – not booked  15  3/9/2019 – 3/24/2019 
 Cruise – San Antonio, Chile – San Diego  14  3/24/2019 – 4/8/2019 
 San Diego – fly to Minnesota – hotel stay 17  4/8/2019 – 4/25/2019 
 Cruise – Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen  16  4/26/2019 – 5/12/2019 
 Ireland – Connemara – house rented 90  5/12/2019 – 8/9/2019 
 Amsterdam – hotel stay – not booked 2  8/9/2019 – 8/11/2019 
 Cruise – Baltic – Amsterdam to Amsterdam  12  8/11/2019 – 8/23/2019 
 England – rent countryside house – not booked 62  8/23/2019 -10/24/2019 
 Cruise – Southampton to Fort Lauderdale  15  10/24/2019-11/8/2019 
 Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA – Scottsdale, AZ  22  11/8/2019 – 12/3/2019 
 Ecuador – Galapagos – rent a vacation home – not booked 89  12/3/2019 – 3/01/2020 
 Peru – Machu Picchu – rent vacation home, visit site  30  3/01/2020 –  3/31/2020 
 The Pantanal/Amazon River Cruise – Brazil (2 cruises)  30  3/31/2020 – 4/30/2020 
 Gap – to be booked  134  4/30/2020 – 9/11/2020 
 Minnesota – family visit – not booked 14  9/11/2020 – 9/25/2020 
 Gap – to be booked  46  9/25/2020 -11/10/2020 
 Cruise – Lisbon to Cape Town  22  11/10/2020 -12/2/2020 
 Cape Town/Marloth Park   90  12/2/2020 – 3/1/2021 
 Number of days   983

 *Cruises are indicated turquoise shading

“Photo of the Day in the Bush”

At night, Little Wart Face lies down for a nap, exhausted from eating pellets and his busy day.

A few days ago, when we mentioned we’d be updating our itinerary and posting it in the next few months, we became motivated to get it updated now rather than wait. 

We attempt to post a recent itinerary every six months, but it doesn’t always work out that way when plans are still up in the air.  Although we have several gaps and un-booked events listed in the above itinerary, we aren’t concerned about booking these now, especially those out more than a year or two.

Lots of zebras in the yard after dark.

It’s possible but tricky to book anything two years out, other than a few cruises here and there, as indicated above. Most owners of holiday/vacation homes prefer not to commit to a booking so far out, mainly when we often request discounts based on two factors: one, our long term stays and…two, the frequent online exposure of their property, which may result in more bookings for them from our worldwide readers.

We fully understand the hesitancy. When we find a possible holiday/vacation home, we’re interested in renting, if the owner says, “Check back in a year,” we seldom check back. When we’re ready to book, we’re ready to book and prefer not to spend time “checking back.”

The same goes for cruises. When we find a cruise we’d like, we usually book it within 48 hours of discovering it to ensure the choice of our preferred cabin and to take advantage of any early booking promotions that may be offered at the time.

After the zebras left, female kudus and youngsters arrived.

The good thing about working with Vacations to Go is they offer the lowest possible price (with perks) up until the final payment date, which is usually 75 to 90 days before the “sail date.”

As we’ve mentioned in prior posts, Tom checks prices for any cruises we’ve already booked almost daily. If he finds a cruise we’ve booked at a lower cost and with better “perks,” he’ll contact Vacations to Go to request the price adjustments. Once completed, we’ll receive an entirely new “cruise confirmation” document with the latest pricing and perks.

Cute young kudu.  Note the bushbabies knocked over their cup of yogurt on the stand above.

This process has served us well. Over the years, we’ve saved thousands of dollars on cruises making the almost-daily extra effort worthwhile.  But many cruise passengers don’t bother to check (or their agency doesn’t offer this feature), and the cruise line will not do the checking for you.

Contact your travel agency or however you’ve booked the cruise for the price reductions. Again, many travelers don’t take the time to check frequently enough for “daily specials.” Once the special offering is gone, one may not benefit from its price changes.

This morning, baby zebra nursing.

Fortunately, price increases do not have any bearing on existing reservations. As for the six/seven cruises, as shown above, we have not yet booked the Amazon River and Pantanal cruises which we’ll book within a year.

As for the other cruises as indicated above, most will stay in place. We’ve yet to cancel a cruise we’ve booked. On a few occasions, the cruise line has canceled a cruise we’d booked, and we had to make other plans with little compensation for the change.

Cruising is an excellent option for us for many reasons. Generally, it’s a cost-effective opportunity to see more of the world, rather than flying from place to place. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to sail between countries than fly on airplanes. Often, we use cruises to get us from one country to another where we may stay for some time.

The zebras also stop by during the day, more frequently in this past week.

As for yesterday, we attended an excellent presentation at the home of friends and Marloth Park Honorary Rangers, Uschi and Evan that we’ll soon share in detail. It will take a few days to prepare the comprehensive post.

Today, we’re off to Komatipoort and Lebombo to the grocery shop. Tom always drives to Lebombo for carrots and apples for the wildlife while I shop at the Spar Supermarket and the meat market in the Spar Centre. This way, he doesn’t have to spend so much time grocery shopping with me, which isn’t fun. I’m a slow and deliberate shopper.  Can you imagine that?

We’ll be back with more tomorrow and wish all of our readers an excellent day and evening, wherever you may be, whatever you may do.

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2017:

Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp in Minnesota. For more photos of the cardboard camp, please click here.