What a morning!…Many species came to call within a two-hour time frame…Is this real?

This was our first daytime giraffe visit at this house.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebras, helmeted guinea fowl, and of course our boy Tusker, whose quite a regular.

This morning we heard helicopters flying overhead heading to Kruger National Park in search of poachers. A considerable effort is being made to preserve the integrity of our endangered species who are being slaughtered for their horns, tusks, and even the scales of the quickly becoming extinct pangolin (an animal we’ve yet to see and would love to).

Within minutes a second giraffe arrived, and we excitedly photographed them both.

The sun is shining. The temperature is a comfortable 20C (68F) with a mild breeze. Endless varieties of birds are singing, and we even can hear the gurgling sounds of hippos a short distance away on the Crocodile River. .TIt couldn’t be a perfect morning…so we thought.

Giraffes have little competition for food in the treetops other than other giraffes.

Awakening earlier than usual after a good night’s sleep, while Tom was watching the Minnesota Vikings final pre-season game, I interrupted him to ask if he’d like to go to Kruger once I completed the post and he finished watching the game.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see them in our garden at long last.

In most cases, he enthusiastically agrees, but this time, he hesitated to state the weekend was here, and the crowds would be overwhelming in the national park during this busy holiday season.  

This more miniature giraffe may have been the offspring of the visiting female.

I was slightly disappointed but shrugged and went about my day, doing some laundry, chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, and reviewing the photos we had on hand for today’s post. Next week, we’ll surely head to Kruger, having been away for at least three weeks with our recent time out of the country.

Zebras are pretty rowdy with one another when competing for pellets. They don’t hesitate to kick and bite one another.

Little did I know that within a matter of minutes, magic would happen, and visitors came, one species after another, including the very first visit to our grounds by giraffes, who we’d longed to see since our arrival over six months ago.

And then, a band of mongoose suddenly appeared, hoping for raw eggs.  Tom mixed up a bowl full and placed it on the ground.

We’d seen a few giraffes in neighboring properties and taken a few photos, mainly at night and once, several weeks ago, saw one giraffe lingering in our driveway late at night. But, never had any giraffes come to call during the day.

I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough, especially when all at once we had the following:  giraffes, zebras, warthogs, mongoose, and helmeted guinea fowl.  We had visits from bushbucks, hornbills, duikers, and a wide array of bird species throughout the morning.

They are used to Tom bringing out the bowl of raw scrambled eggs and wouldn’t back off while he placed it on the ground.

Tom didn’t hesitate to pause the football game to come outside to revel in the menagerie gracing us with their presence, each on their mission for some treats. Whether pellets, carrots, apples, eggs, or bird seeds, we joyfully shared our recently purchased inventory of things they love.

Unfortunately, giraffes don’t eat any foods we may offer when their goal and physical abilities only allow them to eat from the treetops or vegetation slightly below.  They only bend to the ground when drinking.

They pile atop one another to get a lick out of the bowl of eggs.  It’s hysterical to watch the action.

The morning continued magically, reminding us of how grateful and humbled we are to be in this amazing place, unlike anywhere else in the world, for whatever time we have left to be in South Africa.

Tom finished watching the game; Minnesota won, he was happy. I stayed busy with my various projects, online research, and managing the morning’s photos.  It’s been a great day so far.  Let’s see what rolls out for the remainder of the day.

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2017:

Tom captured this unusual cloud formation in Costa Rica. For more, please click here.

A trip to Komatipoort first thing today…Out of pellets, carrots and apples!!!…A familiar drive reaps rewards…

That littlest one could not have been more than a week or two old.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This male ostrich appeared comfortably seated in the middle of a driveway of a bush home.

Busy since we returned from Zambia and Botswana one week ago, neither had any interest in grocery shopping. We hurriedly purchased enough to last several days. We stopped for some meat and vegetables in Melalane on the return drive from the airport.

Spotting elephants and lions are the most exciting when we make our usual drive in Marloth Park. Yesterday, we didn’t see lions but were thrilled to see elephants again on our first drive in Marloth in over two weeks, after our time away in Zambia and Botswana.
After dining out on Saturday night with Kathy and Don and eating light on Sunday after the braai at Frikkees Dam with Louise and Danie and friends, we made it with the few items we had on hand.
But, when we ran out of apples and carrots on Wednesday, and the pellet supply dwindled to only enough for this morning, we knew it was time to head to Komatipoort to shop for pellets and groceries. 
It was a perfect sunny day, and the elephants graced us on our side of the Crocodile River.
This would include Tom’s usual trip to Lebombo for the carrots and apples for the wildlife, along with eggs for the mongoose who’ve also been stopping by each day.  It’s been rather busy here.
It’s always special to see the babies and how lovingly they are cared for by the entire parade.
We’ve been preoccupied with the immigration thing hanging over our heads, which is yet to be resolved, with only 83 days remaining until our current visas expire.  
We wanted to move it along a little further before we started posting details. We’re almost at that point. We’ll share some other options we’ve been working on in the next few days that may or may not provide a solution.
We spotted around 20 elephants in this sighting.
Restocking food for the wildlife and ourselves made us both feel a little more settled. Lately, everything feels a little “up in the air,” with so little time remaining until we have to leave.
As summer nears in the next few months, everything will be lush and green, providing excellent food sources for the wildlife.
I must admit I’ve struggled to do the posts for the first time since we began posting in March 2012 while so entrenched in the current situation. Usually, we take things in our stride and are easily able to maintain an upbeat attitude.  
If anything, we work on solutions and resolutions that generally only take a day or two at most. But, here we are a week later, without a sense of assuredness as to what will transpire next.
We stayed watching them for quite a while.  It’s not easy to walk away.
Rather than sitting around mopping and worrying, we decided to allocate so much time a day to finding a solution, spending the remainder of our days and evenings doing exactly what has made our past six-plus months in Marloth Park so extraordinary…time with the wildlife and our friends. It helps.
At a distance, we spotted a dazzle of zebras climbing back up the steep embankment by the Crocodile River.
We took off in the newest “little car,” and I mean “little.” It’s a Datsun Go if you know what that is. No offense to any Datsun Go owners out there. It’s an economical and fuel-efficient small car that we have no doubt owners appreciate.  
There are often a few cattle egrets near elephants.
For the entire three-month rental of the little car, it was only slightly over ZAR 14,614 (US $1000), the lowest price we’ve paid anywhere in the world.  The tradeoff is that we bounce around like crazy on these rough dirt roads in Marloth and Kruger Parks.
With the upcoming uncertainty and the expensive Kenya tour in February, for which we’ll be paying the second of three installments tomorrow at ZAR 78,431 (US $5360), we’ve had to tighten our belts over something we could control, the cost of the rental car.
They often stay close to one another for safety reasons, especially when youngsters are in the herd.
Thus, when we took off in search of even more wildlife, we knew it was going to be one bumpy ride, and, indeed, it was.  Thank goodness my back doesn’t hurt anymore.  These rides would be unbearable for anyone suffering from any painful condition.
With much anticipation and enthusiasm, we bounced around Marloth Park, never to be disappointed, as shown in today’s photos.  No, it wasn’t as exciting as a game drive in Chobe or Kruger National Parks, but it certainly was memorable and worthwhile.
A solitary male impala by the river.  Most often, impalas are found in herds.
Now back at the house with everything put away, a new 40 kg bag of pellets filling the big trash bin we keep in the corner of the living room, using the little yellow Tupperware container to scoop out and toss the pellets to the visitors, we feel somewhat back to our enjoyable routine.
Soon, I’ll start cutting apples and carrots for the visitors and begin preparing our dinner for tonight, roast beef on the braai, roasted vegetables, and a green salad with homemade dressing.  Simple. Predictable.  And delicious.
Life is still good.  It’s just a little complicated right now.  We’ll make it right soon.
Happy day!


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

A winking barn owl at a rescue center in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Dealing with “stuff.”…Can’t escape certain issues while traveling…More astounding visitor numbers!…

After our recent record-breaking 20 kudus in the garden, we were flabbergasted when 25 showed up all at once a few days later!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

I believe this is a hadeda bird who makes exquisite sounds flying overhead at dusk.

There’s the issue with our package. It was sent by US Postal Service on May 28th and has yet to arrive. The cost for insurance for the contents was over ZAR 5754 (US $400). We didn’t want to pay this added amount and decided to take the risk. Never again. Not doing so was a big mistake on our part.

We must have gone through 10 kg (22lbs) of pellets while they visited.

In the future, all packages we ship from the US will have to be sent via UPS, FED EX, and DHL while we succumb to paying the outrageous costs for expediency.  In the interim, we continue to track the package which last arrived in Johannesburg where it’s been stuck since June 6th.

After waiting a while for more pellets which we wanted to save until Thursday when we shop, they began to wander off.

Louise, who’s an absolute miracle worker in all areas, hasn’t been able to pin it down to get it here. I called Louise’s contact again this morning pleading for help and offering to pay a fee to have the package brought to us. This may work. We shall see.

“No more food?  We’re off to the next bush house!”

Apparently, there was a post office strike months ago and they still aren’t caught up at the processing center. The box could easily be in a shipping container, yet to be unpacked. Oh, good grief.  

When wildlife, such as these wildebeests lie down in the garden like this, it may indicate they feel comfortable and safe enough to rest for a bit.

Life on the move is often a mishmash of extraordinary experiences interspersed with problematic situations and challenges, some of which can be resolved with persistence, coupled with a degree of patience.  

These could be a mating pair.

This sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not. Kindly persistence is crucial. There’s no room for angry outbursts or threatening tones in one’s voice. As for being patient, once we’ve done all we can do, we must wait.  

A young wildebeest made himself at home in the garden resting after a pellet frenzy.

We remind ourselves, this is Africa, not the US where even there one can encounter endless cases of incompetence and lack of desire to get the job done proficiently. Not every worker is like many of us in our fields of endeavor as we strived to “get the job done” as seamlessly and quickly as possible.

But, expecting such degrees of competence and motivation is not always easy to find and when we do, it’s more glaring than those who aren’t competent. The competent become the anomaly.

Wildebeest Willie hung around for several hours, resting and eating a few pellets from time to time. He makes good eye contact, letting us know exactly what he wants.  Do I detect a morsel of love in those looks? Could be.

Now, as we struggle with our immigration issues we can only hope and pray that as we finalize future plans we can count on the people at the other end who will ultimately be responsible for our comfort and convenience. That’s a big bill to fill.

We often comment to one another how fortunate we’ve been during this past almost six years (upcoming anniversary of travels in 63 days) when each time we’ve paid for and arrived to rent a holiday home, it’s been mostly as described.  

The kudus and the wildebeests get along well.

The only exception to this was the very first house we rented in Belize which turned out to be a fiasco. There was only running water a few hours each day and many more issues. We left in seven days and lost our money. To this day, we don’t know how we didn’t turn back and say we didn’t want to do this after all.

However, without complaining to one another, we carried on as we do now, with the postal service issue, immigration issues, and whatever transpires from here.  Whoever may think that traveling the world full-time is easy is kidding themselves. Like everyday life, wherever you may live in the world, life isn’t easy.

We can choose to embrace it all, figuring out solutions along the way, always striving for resolutions, and also preparing for disappointments.

May your day be filled with happy solutions!

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

From this website: “The owl butterflies, the genus Caligo, are known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls‘ eyes. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America. Owl butterflies are very large, 65–200 mm (2.6–7.9 in), and fly only a few meters at a time, so avian predators have little difficulty in following them to their settling place. However, the butterflies preferentially fly at dusk, when few avian predators are around. The Latin name may possibly refer to their active periods; caligo means darkness.” For more photos, please click here.

The Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia…Challenges of tours throughout the world…

This is a train, a deluxe coach from the 1901 era

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Although his tusks were small, this was the largest elephant we spotted in Chobe National Park.

We’ve been so busy figuring out what our next move will be since we returned from Zambia last Thursday evening, we’ve had little time to return to some of our photos from our tours in Livingstone.

At the entrance to the Livingston Railway Museum in Zambia.

One of the tours of particular interest to Tom, as a retired railroad worker for 42½ years, was visiting the Railway Museum in Livingstone, Zambia, on the day we toured the city of Livingstone.  

The interior walkway of the above coach where the sleepers were located.

Admittedly, Livingstone is a small city, formerly the capital, with few points of interest to most travelers. Most travel to the area to see one or both sides of Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe and safari in Chobe National Park, on game drives and river tours on the Chobe and Zambezi River.

Steam locomotive firebox.

To reach all of the above venues, including visa/immigration processing along the way, within 2½ hours. The tours can run from two to six hours depending on the tourists’ packages based on their budget and available time.

Passenger coach from the 1930 era.

A mention for those who may have a disability. If one has a severe medical condition, the bouncing on the game drives could be prohibitive. If you’ve never been on a game drive, this is a serious consideration.  

This is a crane/”hook” used in derailments, Cowans Sheldon crane #109.

Also, visiting Victoria Falls has some terrain that could be challenging, whether from the Zambia or Zimbabwe sides, each of which is different. We found the Zimbabwe side slightly easier to hike. 

Miniature steam engine (boiler).

We also saw some visitors in wheelchairs managed by strong individuals who could navigate the varying elevations in the walking paths. There are no rough hills to climb other than the gradations in the reasonably level paths.  

This is the balance of the above photo, the tender, and the cab.

As for today’s railway museum was easy to maneuver with level walking areas along the tracks where the trains are located. However, getting up and onto some of those that allowed visitors to board could be highly risky for those with mobility and strength issues.

A steam engine, reminding us of “Thomas” trains, appropriately named, built-in 1919.

Those railroad guys, like Tom, think nothing of the steep climb necessary to board a train after years of doing so. Also, getting into a safari vehicle can be challenging with a steep climb up into the tall vehicle. There are numerous occasions where a tourist will be getting on and off the truck.

This is a 15th class, 4-6-4 + 4-6-4 Garratt, circa the 1950s.

I mention these for those who may be considering traveling to this part of the world for some of the most exciting venues in the world, such as Victoria Falls, as a World Heritage location and one of the Seven Wonders of the World as described here.

This is a 12th class, 4-8-2 #189, circa 1926.

Of course, seniors may hesitate to visit a few tourist attractions worldwide due to health, age, and disability.  Even a few give us pause (particularly with my lousy spine), such as Machu Picchu and the mountain trek to see the gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda.  

This is a 16A class, 2-8-2 + 2-8-2 Garratt #623, from 1952.

But, these two are still on our list of desired spots to visit as we continue in our world travels. After feeling well for the first time a few years after resolving my gastrointestinal issues in June, we consider such plans gingerly. We’ll see how it goes.

A steam engine and tender, formerly part of the Rhodesian Railways (now Zambia).

Even driving through Marloth Park several times a week presents its challenges, which I handle easily, the excessive bouncing on the uneven dirt roads with many potholes and often getting out of the little car to walk through the dense bush to get a better look and to take photos of sightings along the way.

A steam engine and tender.

We had been so busy since our return last Thursday; we’ve yet to take the time to make those beautiful drives through Marloth Park and return to Kruger National Park.

Perhaps, in the next few days, we’ll put aside our immigration issues and search for solutions to continue to enjoy the time we do have left in the bush. In the interim, the beautiful animals have been coming to see us! What a treat that has been, as always!

Steam engine boiler exposed to show interior, #91, built in 1912.

Enjoy today’s train photos with comments from Tom explaining a few details below each image. 

Have a  fantastic day!

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

When this sweet and friendly butcher spotted me with the camera at the Farmers Market, he willingly posed! The people of Costa Rica were approachable and warm. For more photos, please click here.

We’re busy figuring out our next move…Lots to consider…Another record-breaker in the bush…

A record-breaking 20 kudus visited all at once. Watch this short video to see all the fun!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Lots of kudus by the steps to the veranda.

The past few days since we returned from Zambia and Botswana have been a blur with social activities and major animals sightings, all the while dealing with our emotions about having to leave South Africa on November 21, 2018, as opposed to our planned February exit to head to Kenya for the upcoming photographic safari tour.

One of the main reasons we’ve planned our upcoming travels years in advance has been to avoid the very situation we’re in now, trying to find where to go, where to live, and how to get there with very little advance notice. After all, we have to be out of here in exactly 86 days, hardy enough time to plan a 90-day trip meeting our criteria.

A giraffe stopped by the picnic site at Frikkies Dam in Lionspruit during yesterday’s braai.

Our readers can surely relate to this when you realize how much work and effort it takes, even if working with a travel agent, to plan all the details for even a two-week-long holiday outside of your home country.

As a matter of fact, traveling in one’s own country, figuring out where to stay, what to do, and transportation for 90-days is a daunting task. Over the past four days, we’ve spent all of our free time searching for options. 

Since there are two lions in Lionspruit there is a fence around the braai area. As a result, I had to slip through the slats in the fence to take these giraffe photos.

We keep running into obstacles, the first being, we aren’t interested in traveling to any country that doesn’t allow for a 90-day visa upon entry. Why would we put ourselves in such a position of having to deal with immigration every 30 days?  We wouldn’t.

We use this online guide we’ve used since the onset of our travels but always conduct further research for any recent updates and changes for any countries we may be interested in visiting. This particular form was updated as recently as July 2018.

It was Matthew’s 16th birthday (the young man in a blue and white shirt) and everyone sang the song, ate cake, and wished him well. He is the son of JJ (in the green shirt behind him) and Flo (not shown in this photo. Louise and Danie are shown as well.

As we conduct the research, we eliminate one country after another. We found a house in Namibia that particularly appealed to us. It showed on the popular holiday home website, HomeAway.com, as being available for our dates.

I contacted the owner asking about the Wi-Fi situation only to discover the house wasn’t available for our dates since they will be living in the property during that period. 

Another outstanding early morning today. This time another record-breaking kudu gathering in our garden, 20 of the magnificent beasts including a few males (whom we call Big Daddy)and many females and their young.

However, they’d made no note or indication on the property listing that it wasn’t available during our dates. It took several email messages over two days to find this out, leaving us frustrated and disappointed when this had appeared to be a great option with Namibia’s 90-day visa policy for citizens with US passports.

Back to the drawing board.  In short order, we gave up on Namibia. With a low population and little tourism, holiday homes are limited and/or too expensive. Also, as indicated on the HomeAway and other holiday home sites, there was only 5% to 10% of the available inventory available for our dates.

How exciting to see so many of these exquisite antelope, popular among locals and tourists in Marloth Park.

This is why, dear world travelers, booking well in advance makes all the sense in the world. This is why, dear readers, that we’ve chosen to book venues one to two years in advance. We’ve often been asked why we book so far in advance and this particular situation explains it all. There’s simply not much available last-minute, nor are there any better “deals” to be had last-minute under most circumstances.

So the search continues and will continue until we’ve firmed up our plans, paid the deposits, and booked transportation as to where we’ll be going for the 90 day period. We’ll post our decision here once we’ve wrapped it up.  In the interim, we’ll make every effort to keep our frustrations under wraps including in discussing them here. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Wildebeest Willie also got in on the action along with dozens of helmeted guinea fowl.

Yesterday, we had a nice break from this topic when we joined Louise and Danie and their wonderful friends for a braai at Frikkies Dam inside Lionspruit Game Reserve which is located inside Marloth Park. We’d participated in such a party a few months ago and then, too, had a wonderful time.

South Africans like their food and drink so all flowed with fervors as a few different braais resulted in some seriously fine smells and subsequent tastes when everyone shared a little of this and that. As mentioned we’d prepared our usual crust-less egg, cheese, mushroom, onion, and sausage quiche and it was devoured along with the other delicious items.

We picked up the new little rental car on Thursday when we arrived in Nelspruit.

We were back “home” by 1640 hours (4:40 pm) and couldn’t wait to set up the veranda for the upcoming evening’s activities in the bush. Who would stop by to see us this time? No matter than a few minutes after we arrived, the visitors came, some hiding in the bush waiting for us to return. 

Oh, good grief this is beyond description! I want more, more, more!

May everything you want more of, come your way!

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2017:
Due to a Wi-Fi and power outage on this date one year ago, we were unable to post anything but a short blurb describing our plight. As a result, we had no photo on this date.

Social times in the bush…Certain visitors return for a visit…

When it took a few minutes for Tom to mix up the bowl of raw scrambled eggs, they began walking up the steps to the veranda.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

While at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner last night with Kathy and Don, this bushy-tailed bushbaby appeared to eat the bananas they’d left out. This type of bushbaby is approximately ten times the size of the bushbabies we see each night. 

Last night’s get-together with Kathy and Don started at AAmazing River View Restaurant and Bar for “sundowners’ while overlooking the Crocodile River. There’s no better way to see the sunset than this type of setting which never disappoints.  

We didn’t see much wildlife and were so busy catching up with Kathy and Don we never took a single sunset or wildlife photo. Need I say we had an excellent start to the evening.
Yesterday afternoon, shortly prior to leaving for dinner, a band of mongooses suddenly appeared in the garden. They were making their cute little noises, letting us know they were looking for eggs. 

A short time later, we drove our respective vehicles to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for what proved to be yet another exceptional evening and meal while warmly greeted by owners Dawn and Leon.

Dining outdoors at this great restaurant is always a very special experience. Spending time with Kathy and Don only added to the enjoyment of the evening. Dawn always arranges food befitting my way of eating and yet, I always end up with a totally delicious and appealing meal.

It’s good to feed eggs to mongooses.  As carnivores, they kill snakes and venomous other creatures as their primary source of food.

Plus, last night, two bushy-tailed bushbabies made an appearance when bananas had been placed on the railing to the veranda. Of course, all the diners were on their feet taking photos with their smartphones, oohing and aahing, all the while.

As always, the conversation was lively and animated. It’s a tradition in South Africa when a visitor’s holiday stay is coming to a close, for the travelers to host a “going-away” party for themselves and their close friends.  

Lots of squeaking while waiting for Tom to appear.

Since we’ll be leaving in November, Kathy and I discussed that we host a Thanksgiving-type dinner. Kathy will help with finding some of the necessary ingredients in the bigger city of Pretoria when another of their holiday homes is located.

I’ve never seen a turkey at any of the markets but in the past, she’s been able to order them while in Pretoria and bring it here in time for the upcoming party. They don’t have canned pumpkin here but I’ve been able to purchase frozen pumpkin chunks that once partially cooked and thoroughly drained, will work for us to make traditional pumpkin pies.

Finally, they saw him coming with the big green bowl and began to scatter for their treat.

Finding the rest of the traditional items may be somewhat tricky but here in Africa, we foreigners always find a way to swap ingredients to make recipes work.  We’ll see how it goes.

This morning, I jumped out of bed early to begin making our usual egg casserole to bring to the party beginning at 11:00 am at Frikkies Dam in Lionspruit, an enclosed wildlife area within Marloth Park where a few lions reside. Louise and Danie are organizing and hosting as always.  

Check out that tongue sticking out, poised for more bananas.

We can bring our own food and cook on the braai in the enclosed area or, as we’re doing along with others, bringing a dish to share. It’s an easy-going fun experience we’ll certainly enjoy once again as we did several months ago.

Today’s post is a little rushed and I apologize for the lack of more interesting content. But, tomorrow is another day and we still have many more great photos to share. Please check back!

Happy, sunny day to all!

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

These red hairy-looking fruits are rambutan. Atop the rambutan is an adorably decorated squash. For more farmers’ market photos in Costa Rica, please click here.

Immigration realities…Chobe saga continues…More exciting photos…Guest photos…

Holiday home on stilts on the bank of the Chobe River, suitable for the rainy season when the water level rises.

“Sighting of the Day in Chobe National Park”

An old massive elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. We saw this only one other time in the Maasiai Mara in 2013. Here’s the link to that post where there are some shocking photos we’d taken at that time including lions! 

Much to our sadness and dismay, we have to leave South Africa in 88 days on November 21, 2018, unable to complete the remaining time we’d hoped we could stay until February 21, 2019. We’re so disappointed.

Skilled birders, Lynne and Mick, identified this bird as an emerald spotted dove.Thanks, you two, for once again assisting us!

Here’s how it rolled out when we arrived at the airport two days ago and went through the immigration line:

It’s unusual to see a giraffe grazing on the ground.  Also, in this photo are two white cattle egret and a few Egyptian geese.

The immigration officer flipped through our passports and kept saying, “No, no, no. You cannot do this.”  Technically a traveler can only stay one 90-day period in 12 months, not for a full 12 months, as we’d hoped.

Another stunning croc on the Chobe River.

The laws were vague and confusing when we read them. We knew this risk existed but we decided to take the risk anyway. Having made that decision to “wing it” when we first arrived in February, we’re grateful we’ll have had the nine months we managed to stay when all is said and done.  

We’re unable to identify this type of antelope in Chobe.  Any ideas what this may be?

We talked her into giving us one more 90-day period which ends on November 21, 2018. She noted our status on the computer. There is nothing we can do. If we tried one more time, we could immediately be sent out of the country without an opportunity to pack up our stuff and find a place to go. That’s way too risky for us.

A parade of elephants staying cool under the shade of a tree.

Instead, we’ve accepted this reality and last night when Louise and Danie stopped by for sundowners and to say hello, we told them the bad news. They were sad along with us, trying to think of solutions. We appreciate their love and concern. There are no alternatives. We must go.

This monstrous male came out of the bush to check us out.

We have to be in Nairobi, Kenya on February 22, 2019, for our upcoming photo safari adventure which won’t begin until 92 days after we exit South Africa in November. Where are we going to go for 92 days? 

This elephant was not happy this boat was blocking her way to get onto the shore of an island.

Of course, we can always go to Kenya a few days earlier to leave us to spend 90 days in some other African country which we’ll have to do. Most countries we’re considering have 30, 60, or 90 visa limitations. We’d prefer to stay in one country for the entire 90 days.  

Hazy morning view of the Chobe River.

Hopping around in Africa is difficult due to flight hubs requiring many extra hours of travel time, often as long as 24 to 30 hours. There are many countries we won’t consider for this extended period due to political unrest, Ebola, and other risks for travelers, one can only imagine.

Enormous bird nest.

We’ve already visited eight African countries out of 54. You’d think we’d have lots of options. But with our desire to stay 90 days, and find suitable housing to actually enjoy the 90-day time period, it’s not as easy as one might think. 

Hippos napping in shallow water to keep their sensitive skin cool and protected from sunburn.
Hippos grazing close to the shore of the Chobe River.

Thus, fast and furiously we’re researching, narrowing down our options to those that will fulfill our goals while providing us with a great experience to boot. It’s not easy.

Guest photo #1 from Beth Schroeder, a US citizen, working in Dubai who, like us had visited Chobe in May and then again in August.
Guest photo #2 from Beth Schroeder. Thanks for sharing Beth. It was great spending time with you during our game drive in Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River safari.  Great shots of elephants!

Yes, we’re disappointed. We had looked forward to spending Christmas and New Year in the bush with our human and animal friends. We looked forward to seeing the newborns scurrying around the park with their doting mothers (and sometimes dads) on the perpetual search for food, safety, and shelter during the hot days of summer.

To travel from Zambia to Botswana we had to go across the Zambezi River in a small boat. Four countries meet at this exact location: Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The bridge is still under construction and isn’t expected to be completed for 18 months or more.

But, in the realm of things we’ve had our fair share…more than we could have ever dreamed possible. And for that, we are humbled and grateful, leaving here in 88 days with our hearts filled with love and our minds drenched in memories.

Be well. Be happy. Be fulfilled.

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

We were in awe of this view from the veranda in Atenas, Costa Rica, when the afternoon clouds roll in each day.For more photos, please click here.

We’re back!! And they’re back, too!…Final expenses for Zambia and Botswana…Playful Chobe kudu video…

Our most recent bag of pellets contained a lot of dust. As Tom began to sweep the dust from the pellets off the veranda’s edge, these four kudus took a spot to begin licking off the dust.

“Sighting of the Day on the Veranda”

This young male’s horns have started to sprout. How right he is! He was mature and experienced enough to know that looking into our eyes would reap some rewards.

We’d intended to post more Zambia and Chobe National Park (Botswana) photos today but have decided to do so over several days instead. We wanted to focus on the expenses today but something magical occurred this morning. We had a record-breaking 19 kudus come to call including moms and their offspring of varying ages.

There were more out of view of the camera for a total of 19 in our garden this morning, more than our prior record of 17.

There aren’t words in the English language that can describe the joy we felt as one by one they approached the veranda, making direct eye contact with us. Our hearts were pounding with sheer delight. We couldn’t toss the pellets quickly enough.

Sixteen kudus in this photo, with more on the sidelines.

It was great to be back at the bush house in Marloth Park. Louise had arranged a deep “spring” cleaning as she’d done last time we were gone, and the house was dust-free and spotless. They’d even rearranged and tidied the kitchen drawers I tend to make messy from time to time. We couldn’t have appreciated it more.

Kudus are smart.  They sure know how to grab our heartstrings.

Bushbuck and Ms. Bushbuck, Baby Bushbuck and Friend, who must have been waiting for our return. Imagine their curiosity as to where we were for seven days and nights. The three bushbucks are here, content to see we’re still here as I write this now.

 No more than seconds after we pulled into the driveway, we had visitors waiting for us. Shortly after their visit, Josiah thoroughly washed the veranda floor, preventing the spread of disease among the kudus.

We’d planned to go out for dinner after our arrival, but neither of us felt like eating out again. Instead, we stopped at the Spar Supermarket in Melalane while Tom stayed in the car with our luggage while I shopped, buying enough to last until well into next week. This way, we wouldn’t have to leave right away.

They each picked a spot, licking to their heart’s content.

By 1900 hours, 7:00 pm, we were pulling the steaks off the braai, the salad and vegetables were prepared and we were both completely unpacked, sorting piles of laundry to get done today. (As it’s turned out, it’s a cloudy drizzly day and we’ve had to hang all the wet clothes on hangers throughout the house, after we had to bring them inside when it started raining).

Last night, as always, we set up the veranda for the evening and set the table for dinner. We weren’t disappointed when several warthogs, a few kudus, our usual male duiker, and the typical bushbuck family hung around while we dined.  (We never feed them any of the animals our leftover food. They get pellets, fresh raw vegetables, and apples at this location), all fit for their consumption.

A few determined kudus, anxious for some greenery, began chewing on the “house” plants of the veranda.

As for the immigration situation, we’ll share the details in tomorrow’s post after we’d had an opportunity to do some research today. The news is both good and not-so-good. Somehow, we’ll figure it all out.

I’m back to feeling like myself again since the side effects of the malaria pills have finally worn off after stopping them two days ago. After reading about the possibility of long-term side effects after stopping the drugs, I’m relieved to feel great again.

This kudu particularly liked the lemongrass plant.

I was a little queasy and dizzy on the return flight, especially when it became turbulent for a while, but oI felt better once we landed. South African Airways is a good airline, and we feel safe and comfortable flying with them overall.  

They offered a complimentary lunch, but we both declined. We’d have our last (included) breakfast at the hotel and had no problem waiting to eat again until dinner.

A determined oxpecker held on tight while this kudu participated in dining on the pellets.

We’re looking forward to seeing Louise and Danie later today when they mentioned they’ll be stopping by to say hello. Tomorrow night, we’re meeting up with Kathy and Don and friends for dinner at Jabula. As usual, it will be another social weekend with both humans and animals.

We couldn’t be happier, nor could we be more grateful for this beautiful life we live. Sure, it has its ups and downs as you’ve read as they occur and, in tomorrow’s post we’ll share a realistic down we must face going forward.  

This happened so quickly we barely had time to set the camera to video. It was fun to see this Big Daddy having a good time.

But, there’s always the joy of living in the moment, remembering the thrills of what transpired in the past and the excitement of the treasures the future holds.

Here are the expenses we incurred for the seven-night trip to Zambia and Botswana as we continue to strive to extend our time in South Africa:

 Expense   US Dollar   South African Rand (ZAR) 
 Hotel & Flights (rt) 7 nights   $                  2,730.22  $                 39,073.66      
 Tours   $                     968.35  $                13,858,58        
 Taxi   $                       78.90  $                   1,129.18       
 Dining Out   $                     235.07  $                   3,364.21     
 Tip  $                       69.04  $                       988.07
 Visa (Zambia Immigration)   $                     160.00  $                    2,289.85
 Pharmacy & Misc.   $                       41.90  $                        599.65
 Total   $                 4,283.48  $                   61,303.20
 Avg Daily Cost    $                    611.93  $                      8,757.66

Please click here if you’d like to review our expenses for our last seven-night stay in Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. These visa extension trips are pricey, as shown.

May your day bring you joy!

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

We had the opportunity for numerous iguana sightings at the rescue center in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

The Chobe saga continues…Angry elephant and scary looking others…Issues with malaria pills…

This short video clearly illustrates how dangerous an annoyed elephant can be 
when their territory is not respected.

“Sighting of the Day in Chobe National Park”

We’ve rarely been this close to a waterbuck since they remain close to the river, impossible for us to access. What a handsome animal!

Those who have been following us for some time know that we hesitate to mention every little ache and pain or discomfort we encounter in our lives of world travel. We all have some degree of a medical issue on occasion, some noteworthy required medical intervention, and others we can manage on our own.

This elephant was not happy to see ours and another safari vehicle on the road. He started flapping his ears and swinging his trunk, tossing sand. See the above video for details.

Today, I share this with our readers as informational only and do not, under any circumstances, suggest our experience is common, nor are we suggesting any medical treatment or advice. This is an FYI only.

The other safari vehicle was much closer to him than ours. 

Upon the recommendation of a local doctor in Komatipoort with whom we recently updated our vaccinations, we began taking malaria prophylaxis medication one day before departure to Zambia on both this trip and the past three months ago.

And then, it happened.  He approached the safari vehicle, ready to charge. See the above video for more.

We were prescribed to take one tablet daily of the generic equivalent of Malarone (Atovaquone Proguanil), known in South Africa, purchased over the counter at any local pharmacy at the cost of about ZAR 14.35 (US $1) per tablet.

Three giraffes along the bank of the Chobe River.

We started taking the pills last Wednesday, with food, one day before we departed Marloth Park continuing daily during the week in Zambia and Botswana, never giving it another thought with a plan to take them seven days after our return.

We’ve never seen so many impalas on any other safaris in the world.

While in Africa for almost a year in 2013/2014, we took the pills continuously, never experiencing any major issues. While in Zambia for a week in May 2018, we followed the same regimen, never giving it much thought.

Our guide Sampson explained that the only animal that can cause a self-induced abortion by eating a certain poisonous plant does so when conditions are poor, and her calf wouldn’t survive.

(We continued to use insect repellent while taking the pills, which is always a must-do while in Africa and certain other parts of the world).  

Hippo with oxpecker, cape buffalo, and impala all in one photo.

The last time I took the first pill, a few hours later, I had a headache.  I never get headaches. I brushed it off and continued with the pills. While on our first safari in Chobe a few days later, I noticed I had a weird headache-like sensation in my jaw for most of the day. I’d taken the pill on an empty stomach and attributed it to that.

Yellow-billed stork.

After lunch, the headache went away. Thus, it obviously made sense to take the pills with food which we’ve done since. But then again, on Monday morning, while in Chobe National Park on a game drive once again, after taking the pill with food, I noticed that same jaw pain. I reached into the backpack and pulled out a Tylenol, and chugged it down.  

Lilac-breasted roller.

An hour later, the pain was considerably less but not totally gone. At that point, I’d never mentioned it to Tom, not wanting to worry him. We continued and had a great few days in Chobe.

Such a sweet face. Check out those eyelashes!

The second day in Chobe, I noticed my balance was off. I kept bumping into things, not outrageously so but enough to make me notice. On Wednesday night, when we returned to the Livingstone Protea Hotel, I could hardly walk straight. I felt nauseous and horribly dizzy.  

Each day before commencing the game drives, tea, coffee, and muffins were served in the bush.

I didn’t feel like having dinner, but to “tough it out,” I didn’t complain, and we ate in the hotel’s restaurant. I ordered a bit of fish and steamed vegetables, hot tea and drank lots of water.  

The beautiful fish eagle.

By yesterday morning, I struggled to do the post, more than I’ve ever struggled in the past when not feeling well. How I got through it, I’ll never know. By noon with the post uploaded, I was in bed, under the covers with the room spinning, and I couldn’t walk across the room. A few hours later, diarrhea hit hard.

Crocs don’t have sweat glands. If a Crocodile gets too warm, it can only reduce its temperature in three ways: get in the shade, get in the water, or sit quietly with its mouth wide open. This one opted for the latter.

I’d stop taking the pills 24 hours earlier. I knew the pills were making me sick and didn’t think it was something else when I’d read that these two symptoms were common side effects of Malarone and its equivalent.  

A face only a mother could love.

By 1600 hours (4:00 pm), I knew there was no way I could go to the restaurant for dinner, and I knew I had to drink lots of water and should have some easy-to-digest dinner although I wasn’t hungry. Not eating would only make me feel weaker and dizzier.

We watched the sunset from the veranda at the Chobe Safari Lodge.

By 1900 hours (7:00 pm), Tom delivered my plate of grilled chicken breast and a few steamed vegetables. I encouraged Tom to relax and enjoy dinner in the restaurant while I ate half-sitting up in bed.  

Neither of us slept well as typical on the night before we fly away. Fortunately, this morning I’m much better although, still feeling a little dizzy. I’ll be OK to travel today. 

African sunsets are memorable.

After searching online, I found this article from the USFDA on the potential side effects of taking malaria pills. Please click here for details on that report. After reading this and other such articles, I’ve decided not to take malaria pills in our remaining seven months in Africa.  

Here’s an excerpt from that report:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising the public about strengthened and updated warnings regarding neurologic and psychiatric side effects associated with the antimalarial drug mefloquine hydrochloride. A boxed warning, the most serious kind of warning about these potential problems, has been added to the drug label.  FDA has revised the patient Medication Guide dispensed with each prescription and wallet card to include this information and the possibility that the neurologic side effects may persist or become permanent. The neurologic side effects can include dizziness, loss of balance, or ringing in the ears. The psychiatric side effects can include feeling anxious, mistrustful, depressed, or having hallucinations. (For a complete list of potential side effects, see Additional Information for Patients).”

I’ll continue as I have all along, using copious amounts of insect repellent every six to eight hours and keep my arms and legs covered as much as possible. Most often, I get bit by mosquitos on exposed skin, not under my shirt and pants.  

Moments later, the sun disappeared, and we walked to the restaurant across the road for a gourmet meal, as shown in yesterday’s post here.

If I wear my insect repellent clothing all summer long in Marloth Park, I will see when we’re in Kenya at the end of February and early March. This time while staying in Marloth Park, neither of us have taken malaria pills. The stay was just too long to continue taking these drugs safely.

Do we worry about getting malaria? We hardly ever give it a thought when taking sensible precautions, but this is up to you, and your doctor should you visit a malaria-prone zone anywhere in the world. This was the last time we’ll take them.  

Tom’s had no issues and will complete his regime for the seven days once we’re back in Marloth Park, but he too says they present too many risks to our liking. We wouldn’t have taken them to Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe had the doctor not insisted it was imperative for these regions.

On the first safari, when we went through the border between Zambia and Botswana, we had to drive through a chemical that cleans the tires to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease.

Today, we share more of our photos from this week’s four safari adventures: two game drives and two boat rides in Chobe National Park and on the Chobe River.  As you can see, we were hardly disappointed. Many more photos will follow.

Tomorrow, we’ll post our final expenses for this one week in Zambia and Botswana. I wasn’t up to putting them together these past few days, but once we’re back in Marloth Park, I’ll tackle the numbers and share them with all of you.

Soon, we’re off for the airport, and by 1730 hours (5:30 pm), we’ll be back in our own little paradise. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an easy immigration transition in Kruger/Nelspruit/Mpumalanga!

We’ll be back with you soon. Have a great day!

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

Statue in a roundabout on our way toward San Jose, Costa Rica, known as Rotondo de las Garantias Sociales Zapote. For more photos, please click here.

The Chobe saga begins…Good food for the carnivores…

We were excited to get a view of the leopard’s face after waiting for a considerable period while Samson, our guide kept moving the vehicle for better shots.  Upon careful inspection of this photo, you can see the pads of the feet of her kill in the tree near her head.

“Sighting of the Day in Chobe National Park”

Cape Buffalo have a symbiotic relationship with cattle egrets who eat the ticks and other insects off their bodies preventing illness and infections.  Cape buffalo are well aware of this benefit and do not object to their presence. 

With literally hundreds of photos from four safaris in Chobe National Park, two each on land and the river, we almost don’t know where to begin.  Do we share our favorites first and wind down over a number of days to those of wildlife our readers have seen over and over again?  

When our guide maneuvered the safari vehicle for our photos, it was tricky getting into a good position.  There were nine of us in the vehicle and several other nearby vehicles with equal numbers of tourists, we were all jockeying for positions.

Or, do we spill “the best of the best” first and dwindle down to those animals and scenes which may have become familiar to all of you over the years of our wildlife adventures throughout the world?

The leopard was well aware of our presence and kept turning her back to us.

For expediency and perhaps a bit of laziness on my part, we’d decided to attempt to balance it out over this next week (or more, if necessary) with some of our favorites and others we look forward to posting which may not be as spectacular.

Of course, we would have preferred full-on face shots but it just wasn’t going to happen.

Dealing with hundreds of photos to pick and choose is a monumental task in itself.  Writing the text is easy comparatively.  Editing the post with a less than ideal Wi-Fi signal is challenging as well.  So bear with us.  

From time to time, she’d allow us a glimpse of her profile.

We’ll do our best to share our experience with all of you, our loyal reader, our new readers “getting their feet wet” in beginning to read our over 2200 posts and our occasional readers who may attempt to pick up where they left off or not.

But then, she’d put her head back down to nap after her tasty breakfast.

A person asked me, “If you go on safari over and over again, seeing the same animals, don’t you get bored?”

I answered, “If you watch football over and over again, seeing the same players, do you get bored?”

There are many islands in the Chobe River during this dry season.  The elephants swim back and forth from the land to the islands to partake of its rich vegetation.  Elephants are excellent swimmers.

Every time is different.  At this point, we couldn’t count how many times we’ve been on a game drive, either driving ourselves or being driven in a safari vehicle.  It doesn’t matter.  The fact remains, we aren’t bored.

In no time at all, she made her way to the island in the deep water.

No sooner than we climbed up into the safari vehicle or boat over these past days, the adrenaline rush flushed our minds and bodies with feel-good hormones as the sense of anticipation washed over us.

Once on the island, she joined the other members of her family.

A few times over these past few days, I described it to Tom like fishing…the anticipation is 75% of the excitement.  We get that same feeling when searching for wildlife scenes.  

There is varying speculation on how many elephants there are in Chobe National Park.  It ranges from 50,000 to 65,000.  During our four safaris, we saw no less than a thousand elephants.

For us, after many such experiences, the sighting of an impala or kudu may not be earth shattering but an impala attempting to mate or a kudu playfully dancing about is all new and elicits great feelings of pure joy and elation.

This was one of many crocs we spotted on the banks and in the water of the Chobe River.

In essence, that’s what we’re searching for, the unusual and less often sightings but all the while thoroughly enjoying the parade of elephants on an island in the crocodile-infested river or a dazzle of galloping zebras on the savanna.  It’s all quite exciting for us.

Tom’s fantastic dinner at the gourmet restaurant at Chobe Safari Lodge, located in a separate building we walked to in the dark with the sounds of wildlife around us.  There are no fences around Chobe National Park as there are in Kruger National Park.  One could easily encounter wildlife while out at night.

Of course, if you aren’t interested in wildlife, one way or another, none of our recent or upcoming posts over these next seven months will hold must interest for you.  Sorry about that.  As our longtime readers know, our posts aren’t always about wildlife and nature.  A year from now we’ll be at the end of our Baltic cruise…hardly a wildlife-rich experience.

This was the best-roasted leg of lamb in au jus that I’d ever had, moist, tender and delicious.

For now, we’re chomping at the bit to share nature’s bounty over these past several days.  And yes, once we’ve shared all we can, we’ll be back to posting our ongoing day to day adventures in Marloth Park. 

We made new friends while on safari, including Jean-Pierre and Patricia a wonderful couple from Nice, France.  

No words can describe how excited we are to return tomorrow to see all of our friends, both human and animal and to settle back into our lovely holiday bush home, “Orange…More than Just a Colour.”

Yumm…life is good.


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

Tom, walking toward the dental clinic in Costa Rica.  It didn’t seem to be in a great neighborhood with bars on windows and doors but we felt comfortable.  For more photos, please click here.