Part 1…Our six-year world travel anniversary…Final full day with friends…Bush braai in Kruger and game drive…

Giraffes in the bush.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An orange-breasted roller.

Today, October 31, 2018, is the sixth anniversary of our traveling the world. Tonight, we’ll celebrate this momentous day for us with Tom and Lois at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant on their final evening in South Africa.

The Crocodile River from inside Kruger National Park.

Most years, we’ve included many anniversary photos and points of interest in our travels as we celebrate this special day. Today will be different since the past few days have been a series of fun activities we’d like to present as we wind down our time with our friends.

A mom and baby elephant.
On Monday afternoon, we stopped by Rita and Gerhard’s holiday home, which just happened to be the house we’d rented in December 2014 for our first experiences in Marloth Park.  
It was not only fantastic to see them both again (they are the couple that found Marloth Park through our website, which they’d been reading for the past few years) and to walk down “memory lane” as we meandered through the house we’d remembered so well.
Elephant on the side of the dirt road.
From our experience on the veranda when the Mozambique Spitting Cobra dropped from the ceiling to land next to Tom’s feet, to the many great sightings we encountered sitting outside, day after day. Great memories we’ll always cherish as the memories we’ve created here in the Orange house.
Sunset last night in Kruger.
That evening we returned to Ngwenya for another night of wildlife viewing on the river and dinner off the menu.  The food wasn’t as good as Thursday’s buffet, but once Tom and Lois leave, we’ll surely dine there again on Thursdays.  
Another incredible elephant sighting with one tusk missing.
The wildlife sightings were at a minimum that evening. Still, we enhanced our desire to spot wildlife by spending considerable time at “Two Trees,” seeing more lions, elephants, waterbucks, and more.
A bateleur vulture against the sky at sunset.
Today, we had extraordinary sightings of a female lion kill with photos we’re anxious to share in tomorrow’s post.  But, today’s photos are from Tuesday’s late afternoon game drive in Kruger National Park and then a game drive in the dark after the fantastic meal in the bush.
We were hosted by an excellent company, Royal Safaris, which may be found at this link. They offer a wide array of safari options easily suitable for more tourists who desire the whole Kruger National Park adventure.
Another stunning view of the Crocodile River at dusk.
Also, this company provides many other tour options tourists typically seek when they visit South Africa, such as the Panorama Route, the Hoedspruit Day Tour, birding safaris, full-day safaris, and the spectacular bush braai dinners in the wild in Kruger National Park.
A hyena we spotted in the dark in Kruger.

Our 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) pickup worked well for us, and off we went, cameras, repellent, and enthusiasm in hand, prepared for some exciting adventures. Unfortunately, it was a sweltering afternoon with temps in high 30C’s (mid 90F’s), and most animals remained undercover during the heat of the afternoon sun.

Subsequently, we saw very little before the time of the bush braai dinner. After the scrumptious, beautifully prepared, and presented dinner, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post, along with our lion photos, we were able to see more wildlife in the dark. Details will follow.
An adorable bush hare.
In a few hours, we’ll be off to Jabula for the evening for what surely will be another special anniversary and a celebration of this special time we spent with friends Tom and Lois.
May your day and evening be filled with many wonders. Back at you soon!

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

 October 31, 2017, was our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more anniversary photos, please click here.

Winding down time with friends…Two days until their departure…The activities will continue to the last minute…

A cattle egret standing in shallow water in the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The monitor lizard in our garden came out from her burrow for a refreshing drink of water from the cement pond.

As Tom and Lois’s time here comes to a close on Thursday when they depart to return to the US, we’re packing in every moment with quality time, not only together as friends but also in taking advantage of every opportunity for them to experience more wildlife.

The monitor lizard took off back into the bush.

This afternoon at 1515 hours (3:15 pm) a safari vehicle will arrive to pick us up for an evening at Kruger National Park which includes an afternoon game drive, a bush braai (dinner out in the open in the park in the dark), followed by another game drive in the dark.

Elephant we spotted close to the fence between Marloth and Kruger Parks.

With a spotlight to help us see, we’ll have an opportunity to see those special nocturnal animals that are elusive during daylight hours including many of which are never seen during daylight.

The sausage tree at the hippo pool and bird blind is bursting with these giant pods which will eventually bloom into bright red flowers.  From this site: “The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.”

We may have safari luck or we may not but in either case, it will be fun to dine in the bush, an experience we had a few times when we were here five years ago. 

Both Toms splurging on strawberry milkshakes at Aamazing (spelling is correct) River View restaurant when we took a break from our usual drive in Marloth to stop for cool drinks.

Those five-year-ago exceptional occasions were hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we cannot expect to match in elegance tonight although based on very positive reviews we’re anticipating a wonderful experience. For details and amazing photos for our former Valentine’s Day bush braai may be found here at this link.

Lois, the two Toms and I had a great break in the action.

Of course, tomorrow, we’ll post photos of tonight’s bush braai and game drives, hoping to share some unique wildlife sightings. Tonight’s event is hosted by another company, Royal Safari Bush Braai dinner since Louise and Danie no longer conduct these events in Kruger.  

A warthog stops for a sip.

The ease of booking with Royal Safari Bush Braai makes us feel confident this will be an excellent experience for the four of us and any other participants who will also be included.  

A female bushbuck standing in the water on the Crocodile River in Kruger.

Last night we returned to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant for Crocodile River viewing and dinner. Ordering off the menu wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday night’s buffet dinner. There’s wasn’t much in the way of wildlife viewing but we took many photos of a stunning sunset (photos to follow soon).

Cape buffalo aren’t the most handsome of wildlife but we’re always thrilled to see them. They are one of the Big Five.

Back at the house early, we prepared the veranda for our usual nighttime viewing but had missed the primetime viewing which is usually before and after dusk.

Two male cape buffalos on the river’s edge.

This morning was quite a treat when 15 kudus stopped by including one “Big Daddy,” four warthogs including “Little and the Girls”, a plethora of helmeted guineafowl, and of course, Frank and The Misses. who’ve yet to produce any chicks.

As I write here now, Vusi and Zef are here cleaning the house and the veranda. Its been fantastic to have the two of them coming in each day and eliminating the massive amounts of dust that enters the house from the action in the dirt garden when the animals come to call.

Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by. She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.

For the next few hours, we’ll relax on the veranda until it’s time to head out for our exciting upcoming afternoon and evening.

Be well.  Be happy. 

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

On Saturday night, after dinner, in Managua, Nicaragua, we wandered through the pool area of our hotel.  For food photos from the dinner, please click here.

A giraffe story unfolds before our eyes…Frikkie’s Dam bush braai…

When we turned onto Swartwitpens Road, we spotted this giraffe with a dilemma when returning from the river. She wanted to cross the road to join her tower of giraffes but could not cross this deep trench.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A young male kudu learns how to be so cute it’s impossible to resist giving him pellets.

It was an excellent Sunday in the bush. We began our day, as always, with coffee and tea on the veranda. I’d gotten up early to start cooking the crustless cheesy sausage and egg quiche to bring to the bush braai at Frikkie’s Dam and made a pan of well-seasoned chicken wings, both of which we shared at the gathering.

The trench was dug to make way for power lines and had yet to be completed from what we understand.

Lois sliced cheddar cheese sticks and brought along crackers for the two of them. We packed the cooler with ice, beverages including beer, wine, gin and tonics, and vodka and Sprite Zero for some options during the day-long event. The two Toms drank Lion brand beer while Lois and I had a few lightweight gin and tonic cocktails and vodka and Sprite.

Her “friends” or family members on the opposite side of the road noticed her dilemma between nibbles on treetops.

After paying the required ZAR 100 (US $6.87) per carload at the entrance gate to Lionspruit, a game reserve within Marloth Park, we were on our way to Frikkie’s Dam down a series of bumpy dirt roads, hoping to see a few of the wildlife that lived therein.

It didn’t appear there was any way they could help, so they went back to eating.

We arrived at the braai area in Frikkie’s Dam to find Louise and Danie had everything set up as usual.  It was a pleasure to have Tom and Lois along with us for yet another fine African experience, unlike anything they’ve ever done in their lives.  

She continued to contemplate a solution.

Who has the opportunity to enjoy lunch among the wildlife in a game reserve in Africa?  It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And for us, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in social events in this magical place, Marloth Park.

The giraffe on the far left seemed more concerned than the giraffe in the forefront.

As for today’s giraffe photos, these were taken on Saturday when we embarked on the usual two-hour drive in the park searching for unique and unusual sightings, along with all the typical sightings we’ve encountered in Marloth Park.

Again, she considered her options. Surely, the crossing could easily lead to a severe injury.

After several excellent sightings, we decided to head back to the house for some relaxation time and shower and dress for our upcoming evening and dinner at Jabula.

Finally, she gave up, considering crossing, and walked along the trench to its end.

Little did we know, we’d encounter the giraffe situation represented today in our photos. Yes, it was a simple situation; a giraffe unable and unwilling to cross a deep trench that had been made in preparation for laying new electrical lines.

The one giraffe continued to follow her with his eyes.

Had she tried to cross the trench, she could easily have been injured, perhaps even breaking a leg or worse.  She knew this was a precarious situation and didn’t want to risk life or limb. She looked at her friends/family members from time to time seeking help, and one of them responded in contemplating what could be done.

He desperately wanted to help.

Realistically, her only safe option was to walk all the way to the end of the trench, cross the road and double back to meet up with her tower of giraffes.

Watching her indecisiveness along with her desire to get across was tender and elicited considerable emotion from all of us.  We were in awe of her determination and innate sense of caution at the same time.

Finally, he took off down to road to see where she went.

Finally, she gave up and decided to walk the length of the road on her side of the trench. When she reached the end, she made her way to the road and surely met up with the remainder of her group. It was a special sighting, one we’ll all always remember.

He was stymied as to where she may have gone.

This morning we drove to Komatipoort from breakfast at Stoep Cafe, which we hope to return to one more time before Tom and Lois depart on Thursday to return to the US.

As soon as we upload this post, we’re on our way for the final time for the four of us to Ngwenya for river viewing and dinner. There’s no buffet tonight, but we’ll all order off the menu after spending time on the veranda perusing the Crocodile River for whatever Mother Nature wants to present to us tonight.

Finally, she made it to the open road and waited for her friends to arrive.  Happy ending. Happy giraffe. Happy us for witnessing this event.

May your day and evening present you with those unique things that make your heart flutter.

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

A massive bull on his way to…who knows what? For more photos from Managua, Nicaragua, please click here.

Part 2, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

The Matsamo village consists of many huts made by the men using straw, wood, vines, and cow dung. They are very well constructed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom and Lois have particularly enjoyed the bushbaby’s nightly visit to the cup of yogurt on the little stand.

Whether or not the villagers of Matsamo live the primitive life they described as customary in these modern times, it was interesting to learn about their history and culture.

There are various boma-type structures to round up the cattle at night or conduct meetings among the tribesmen.

The young man who provided us with a private tour of the village was enthusiastic and dedicated to the customs of his heritage, many of which we assume continue today to some degree.

The chief, our tour guide’s father, was in a meeting with another tribesman.

It was evident by his detailed descriptions that the male members of the tribe supersede the females of the tribe in many ways, except the grandmother, who is held in the highest esteem, even above that of the chief.

The baskets hanging on the side of the boma fence are for nesting chickens.

Women are married at very young ages, and many men take two wives. The first wife will have children, cook, clean, and care for the family and continues to do so until the man decides to take a second wife.

The largest hut was for the grandmother, where all the teenage girls sleep once past seven or eight years old.

At this point, the first wife is “promoted,” and she moves to another hut without a cooking area. The new wife is then responsible for all household tasks while the first wife languishes more leisurely. Interesting, eh?

Note the quality construction of the huts.

There is no limit to the number of children the wives may bear regardless of their status in the family unit. It’s a lifestyle demanding for most of us to imagine, so far removed from our reality.  

The chief’s son, the youngest of his 25 children from two wives respectively, two wives, the first with 15 children, and the second with ten children.

After the tour ended, we made our way back to the car and proceeded to drive back to Marloth Park via the proper roads, avoiding the potholed roads. By early afternoon we were back on the veranda waiting for visitors while Lois and I prepared a lovely dinner for the evening.

This low entrance to the huts is intended to keep invaders out and present a humble entrance for those welcomed.  A large stick is kept by the entrance in the event an unwelcomed visitor intrudes.

Some things never change, especially in our generation of retired seniors, women doing most of the cooking and men taking on other household tasks. For us, traveling the world over these past six years has led us to fall into specific roles and functions based on our skills and interest, more minor on gender identity roles of decades past.

Decorative items to be worn during festivities and when young women are presented to the chief as potential new wives for himself and others.

I prefer to cook. Tom likes to do the cleanup and the dishes. He does the heavy lifting of the 40 kg (88 pounds) pellets while I put away the groceries. I wash the laundry, and if helpers aren’t available, he hangs it on the clothesline.

The husband and wife sleep separately on mats, the man on the right, the woman on the left.  As we entered the hut, we had to comply with this left/right ritual, man always on the right. Hmmm…or did he mean “man is always right?”

In many cultures, established roles and tasks are distributed by a couple, regardless of gender, in a similar manner, based on expertise, ability, and interest. This method works well for us and never, do either of us feel we are locked into a specific gender obligation.

Various baskets were used for collecting water by the young women from the local river.

Yesterday, Saturday, we embarked on the Crocodile River drive in Marloth Park and once again have some spectacular sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  

The village was designed to generate revenue for the villagers, and many areas were modern and tourist-friendly.

As always, last night’s dinner at Jabula was fantastic, along with the fun the four of us had sitting at the bar yakking with Leon, the owner. Dawn, his significant other, and co-owner were out of town visiting family, and we kept him entertained as he did us!

For an additional sum, we could have stayed for lunch.  But when reviewing the online menu, we opted out on this when many of the items were wheat, corn, starch-based, and deep-fried.

Soon, we’re off to another bush braai in Lionspruit, the game reserve within a game reserve where we’ll spend the better part of the day at Frikkie’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and friends. It will be a pleasure to share this delightful event with Tom and Lois as their time here is quickly winding down.  In a mere four days, they’ll depart to return to the US.

Several areas were set up for dining, and many tourists were dining as we walked through the dining area.

Have a fantastic day, yourselves! We’ll be thinking of all of you as we take photos while embracing today’s fun event.

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

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we stayed for two nights, to renew our Costa Rica visas. For more pictures and details, please click here.

Part 1, Matsamo Cultural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

We arrived at the Swaziland border where Matsamo Cultural Village is located, just as the show began.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra was climbing the steps of the veranda for more pellets as we headed to the car to go to Swaziland.

When Lois expressed an interest in attending a traditional African tribal dance, we asked Louise and Danie what they’d recommend. They didn’t hesitate when they suggested the Matsamo Cultural Village Tour located on the South Africa side of Swaziland, a bordering country.

The Swazi performers are very talented in both singing and dancing.

Here’s a map showing how Swaziland, a different country, and how it is situated next to South Africa and bordering Mozambique on the east:

Map of Swaziland.

Had this tour been located in Swaziland, we wouldn’t have been able to attend. While attempting to be granted a visa extension, we were warned not to leave the country, resulting in any stamps in our passports.

Tree stumps were used as seats during the performance.

The website for Matsamo was a little unclear as to whether we’d need to be part of a tour group or if we could show up on our own. We tried calling the contact number to no avail and finally decided to take a chance on the over one-hour drive from Marloth Park.

The men performed a traditional dance.

In looking at a map, Tom and Tom mapped out directions and by 10:00 am, we were on the road, hoping to arrive in time for the posted 11:30 am performance. As it turned out, we barely made it on time when we mistakenly took a shortcut which proved to be the second-worst potholed road we’ve experienced in our lives.

The women also performed a traditional dance and song.

Months ago, we’d made a similar mistake by taking a shortcut and ended up with what is described as the worst pothole road on the planet. Yesterday’s route wasn’t as wrong as our prior experience, but awful. It was quite the adventure for Tom & Lois!

Performing for tourists provides the village with income. The cost of the performance and tour is ZAR 200 (US $13.70) per person.

Finally, we arrived at the village and proceeded to make our way to the activities with the help of a member of the village who directed us down a path to the performance, which was starting at any moment.

Their agility and ability are spectacular.

We found seats in the back row when all the best seats were taken by that arrived earlier than us, but we got good enough seats to take photos and enjoy the 45-minute show with a bit of maneuvering.

The colorful dress of the Matsamo people was bright and appealing.

Their voices and dancing skills were exceptional, and the four of us were mesmerized during the entire performance. After the performance ended, one of the leading performers, a skilled and attractive young man, and the chief’s youngest son, approached us and offered a personalized tour of the village and its customs.

We were thrilled to have him show us around and explain the details of their fascinating culture, all of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

At one point, audience members joined in the dance while we took photos.

Here’s an overview from the Matsamo Tribe’s website located here:

“Matsamo Customs and Traditional Centre Co-operative is a traditional village near Swaziland and a must for visitors looking to experience authentic Swazi culture, which is well preserved in this. It is named after Chief Matsamo, a prominent Shongwe chief and contemporary of King Mswati II. 

As a reward for his loyalty in defending the territory against invaders from the north, Mswati II allowed Chief Matsamo to remain in charge of the region as an eminent member of Swazi royalty. He was the first Swazi chief to reside permanently in the area. Today the part is still under the control of the Matsamo Tribal Authority.

Our tour guide walked down this pretty trail with Lois as both Toms, and I followed behind as we made our way toward the village for the tour. Tomorrow we’ll continue with Part 2 and photos of how the Matsamo people live.

Matsamo Cultural Village offers old folk songs, rhythmic dance performances, including the famous Rain Dance, authentic African instruments, and traditional Swazi cuisine. Visitors can also wander on tour through the village with its many huts and spaces, interacting with the villagers as they go about their daily activities, cultivating their crops, preparing traditional food, and fashioning beautiful craftworks.

Matsamo Cultural Village is near Kruger National Park. It first opened its doors in 2014 and enjoyed tremendous support from the broader community.”

As soon as today’s post is uploaded, we’ll be heading out on a drive through Marloth Park to see what’s happening today on the Crocodile River. Tonight, we’re dining once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, which no doubt will be another excellent evening.

Have an enjoyable and fruitful day!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2017:

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stopped by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree in Costa Rica and proceeded to sing. For more photos, please click here.

Croc shock!…Stunning Crocodile River sightings from Ngwenya…

One mean looking croc!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Last night’s sunset from Ngwenya Restaurant’s veranda overlooking the river.

At times, I almost don’t know where to begin to tell you about our past 24 hours, which is exactly what we share on most days. Sure, we may describe sightings and events that may have transpired on other days, but overall, our goal is to divulge the most recent.

Elephants were making their way toward the sparse water in the Crocodile River.

So, today, as I share the events of yesterday, I can’t help but smile over how Mother Nature (i.e., safari luck) continues to come our way wherever we may be in this utopia of wildlife, scenery, and nature.

What a breathtaking scene as they crossed the dry riverbed!

For example, last night’s photo of the sunset at Ngwenya was genuinely breathtaking. So quickly, it vanishes into the horizon for darkness to fall and a single sentence spoken to each other or our friends, and we’ve missed the entire event.

Moms, the matriarch, and several youngsters, including a tiny baby, made their way to the water.

It also was the case when yesterday, we decided to leave the house for Ngwenya at 1630 hours (4:30 pm) instead of our usual almost 5:00 pm. Had we lingered for 30 minutes, we have missed most of today’s photos. I suppose it’s all about timing and sheer coincidence.  

They kicked up a lot of dust as they made their way over the dry riverbed.

It’s certainly has nothing to do with any skill or innate perception on our part, except for the fact that we’re aware that sightings are better at certain times of day than others.

This baby couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old.

With only six days until Tom and Lois depart to return to the US and only three months and 25 days until we leave South Africa for Kenya (if a visa extension is provided), I’ve begun to feel a sense of loss over our eventual departure.  

When we leave on February 20th, should all go as hoped, we’ll be returning to South Africa on December 2, 2020, a mere one year, nine months, and 12 days, arriving in Capetown by cruise where we’ll spend a few days and then head directly back to Marloth Park.

The mature elephants indeed protect the little ones.

But, so much can change between now and then. The park could be different with less wildlife, and changes could transpire that we can’t even conceive of at this point.  

Life is unpredictable. So much is beyond our control. Merely fantasizing about how we’d like it to be and what it subsequently “will be” can be but a figment of our imagination. The world is rapidly changing. We are all evolving as we age, and no one can predict a few years from now.

Finally, they approached an area with easier access to the river.

In our “perfect world,” we’d still be traveling as we are. We’ll have been to many more places, seen many more wonders, and perhaps even finding ourselves loving other sites as much as we’ve loved it here.

We shall see. Neither of us is caught up in any dreadful type of expectations. We roll with it as we go and strive to do our best to make our ongoing dreams come to fruition. There will never be a time that we’ll stop dreaming.

From quite a distance, we spotted a female lion.

Today, we had another exceptional experience when the four of us took quite a drive to see an authentic African village, outstanding musical production, and learns about the culture. We’ll be sharing that story and photos tomorrow.

Please check back.  We have so much more.

Have a pleasant and peaceful evening.

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

In Kauai, Hawaii, our dear friend Louise wrote to tell us this bird we spotted in the yard in Costa Rica was a Fiery-billed Aracari. What am a fantastic bird!  For more photos, please click here.

There’s no place on earth…

Oh, my goodness…hippo with ducks and chicks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this female lion on the move. What a joy to behold!

With our friends Tom and Lois here over these past two weeks, we’ve been able to see the wonder in their eyes each and every day over the endless array of sightings we’ve been blessed to encounter. From lions to wild dogs, to hyenas to elephants, cheetah, and cape buffalo, we’ve seen it all.

Hippos on the banks of the river.

We already knew and appreciated the magic of Marloth Park/Kruger National Park but being able to hear their excitement in their voices and see their never-ending enthusiasm in their eyes over every sighting has greatly enhanced our own personal experience.

Cape buffalo with an egret on her back along the river.

A week from today they’ll be returning to the USA, to their homes in New Jersey, Florida, and Maine based on the most desirable seasons during various times of the year.

Mr. Kudu at Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

It will be quiet for us when they leave. The whirlwind of added activities has been refreshing for us. We have more plans on the horizon over the next week including tonight’s repeat visit to Ngwenya for more river viewing and buffet dinner; dinner at Jabula on Saturday night and again on the 31st to celebrate our upcoming travel anniversary.

On Sunday morning, we’re joining Louise, Danie, and Rita and Gerhardt (who joined us for dinner last Sunday evening) and other friends for another bush braai at Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit bringing food to share and food for ourselves. It will no doubt be another fine experience for them in the bush (and for us as well). 

Waterbucks are beautiful animals.

On the afternoon of October 30th, we’ll be picked up at 1500 hour (3:00 pm) to begin an evening in Kruger National Park for a braai in the wild, surrounded by elephants, lions, and all the other majestic wildlife in the park and then onto a nighttime game drive to see the nocturnal side of life in Kruger.

Handsome male waterbuck on the banks of the Crocodile River.

At this point, we’ll only be preparing food to take to Frikkie’s Dam for Sunday’s event and then again for Friday evening’s meal, a light meal for Sunday evening after the day at Frikkie’s Dam, and dinner on Monday evening for a total of three upcoming evening meals.

Where on this earth could Tom and Lois visited for a three-week stretch and seen such abundant wildlife and experienced the wide array of activities as we have together during this special time? Nowhere in the world that we are aware of.

Another waterbuck.

Surely, they could have stayed at various bush camps but even so staying at a camp or resort is an entirely different experience. Being here with us, truly experiencing life in the bush, is a unique adventure unto itself.  Where in the world is there such a place like Marloth Park?

We watched this elephant for quite a while.

If we knew, we’d definitely have it on our itinerary. We often search for similar holiday/vacation properties to no avail. The abundance of wildlife as there is here in Marloth Park is simply out of the question in other parts of the world, especially including the comfortable lifestyle we’re blessed with in this magical place.

Over these past few weeks, I’ve been very distracted by them being with us (in a good way) and haven’t given the text in our posts the same degree of attention we usually do. I hope our readers understand that once they depart, we’ll be able to devote more time and effort to creating quality posts.

Hippos staying out of the hot sun.

However, we have been pleased with the photos we’ve added each day when our focus has been on finding the best possible sightings for them during this period of time.  

We are especially pleased to share today’s photos with each sighting creating a high degree of pleasure experienced by all four of us. They return to the US with a plethora of memories and photos they’ll always treasure, as will we as well, having shared this special time with them.

It’s always a treat to see hippos.

Tonight, we’ll have no doubt we’ll treasure more time at Ngwenya as we search for more spectacular wildlife on the river, as we chat and dine on the veranda at the beautiful resort.

There’s no place on earth comparable. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Have an incomparable day!

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

Old sewing machines, comparable to those we’ve seen in our home country at the Railway Museum in Costa Rica. For more details, please click here.

Immigration appointment day…Lunch at the country club and golf course, overlooking the Crocodile River, of course….Superb hippo sightings…

Last night’s full moon.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

When we headed out to the immigration office in Nelspruit early this morning, we saw our favorite bushbuck with her tiny offspring. She’d kept her baby tucked away for a few months to keep her safe and finally brought her around to visit. No wonder she’s been coming to call several times each day over these past few months. She’s nursing and needs nourishment.

We’d been anticipating the return appointment to the immigration office in Nelspruit for the past six weeks.  When we’d delivered our massive number of documents on September 6th, we’d been turned away and told to return on October 24th. We were too early to apply for the extension, as we’d advised by an immigration consultant. 

View from the veranda at Kambaku Komatipoort Golf Club.

We have to make the long drive back to Nelspruit from Marloth Park (103 km, 64 miles), plus the idea of possibly waiting in chairs for hours left us with somewhat of a sense of dread.

View upstream of Crocodile River.

Today at 6:30 am, we were on our way on a beautiful sunny day, hopeful for a good outcome and determined to maintain a positive attitude regardless of any inkling we may receive as to our potential approval or denial to stay in South Africa until February 20th on which our flight to Kenya is booked and paid.

Lush vegetation and birds.

It’s risky. They require us to have purchased final departure airline tickets, which are non-refundable should the extension not be approved. If we’re rejected, we’re out the money for the tickets at the cost of ZAR 16,242 (US $1132) plus the thousands of dollars of expenses we’ll incur to leave the country.

Ducks on the river.

Well, there’s so much more to it if we’re refused, but we won’t get into that again today. We were told to check the website in about three weeks to see when our next appointment is scheduled. Now, the waiting game begins.

A bloat of hippos on the bank of the river.

Back at the house by 10:30, much earlier than expected, Tom and Lois were relaxed on the veranda, enjoying the few visitors that came to call. Today for an unknown reason, is a surprisingly quiet day in the bush.

We couldn’t get over how relaxed they were in the sun. Hippos have very delicate hides subject to sunburn, which attributes to their need to stay submerged in the water.

Yesterday, we decided to have lunch at the Kambaku Komtipoort Golf Club situated on the Crocodile River in Komatipoort. With an entirely different perspective of the river from this location, we were able to take many of today’s photos, particularly enthralled with the bloat of hippos as shown.

The river continues to provide a wealth of sightings, day after day, always presenting unique and exciting sightings we never tire of. As soon as I upload this post, the four of us will take off in the little car to see what today’s river views have to offer.

Two hippos were resting away from the remainder of the bloat.

Tonight, we’ll dine in for the second evening in a row having homemade burgers and chips (fries). I hadn’t cooked homemade fries in over seven years since I began this way of eating.  

Peaceful river environment.

Of course, I won’t be eating any of them, but Tom undoubtedly is enjoying this rare treat. Instead, I’ll have lettuce wrapped burger with tomato, sauteed onions, and mushrooms with homemade sugar-free ketchup while Tom adds bacon to his burger (without the bun).

Vegetation on the shore of the opposite side of the river from our vantage point.

We’ve been eating more than usual with our friends here but will quickly readjust after they leave in eight days.  After all, they are on holiday/vacation, and food often becomes an essential part of the experience for travelers.  

We’ve been dining out three or more times each week since their arrival, having had great meals at all but two local establishments. As a result, we’re doing several repeats of their (and our) favorites.

When the rains come, this area will be covered in water.

We promise to do the same! Have a fantastic day and evening! Everyone’s anxious to get going, so I’m wrapping this up now.

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

Insulators for telegraph of electric wires at the Railway Museum in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Scenes from a day in the park with friends…More lions…

Elephants crossing the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We wondered why this female kudu has black around her eyes when the others don’t.

The time is going too quickly.  In nine days Tom and Lois’s three weeks with us will end and they’ll head back to the US. It’s been such a pleasure having them here. We’re busy planning how we’ll spend their remaining days.

A family crossing the river together.

So far, we have an evening bush braai in Kruger dining among the wildlife, a Sunday morning bush braai at Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit with Louise, Danie, and friends, our six-year anniversary celebration at Jabula Lodge, several evenings out at favorite dining spots and more and more wildlife viewing.

Elephants walking close to the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

In addition, the time came quickly for us to return to Nelspruit for our immigration appointment. Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am we’ll drive to Nelspruit in order to arrive at the immigration office by 8:00 am when they open. 

Single file, from matriarch to baby.

We won’t have an answer as to whether or not we can stay until the middle of November or later. We’ve decided not to worry and just continue to enjoy each and every day, especially as we wind down our time with Tom & Lois.

Yesterday afternoon we took off for the river in the afternoon, not expecting to see much. As we drove through Marloth Park on a lovely day we spotted very few animals until we reached the area near Two Trees.

Climbing back up the hill from the river.

Often, from the fence, we can see elephants, cape buffalo, impalas, and in every case, we spot waterbucks who thrive on living on the banks of the river. As we drove the long distance along the river, we stopped several times for photos and viewing.

With fewer tourists in the park at this time, we couldn’t be dependant upon “following the crowds” to see if anyone has spotted lions across the river. Instead, we were on our own, perusing the riverbank to see if a lion or two was on the rocks or under the base of trees.

Giraffe on the river bank with dark spots.

We were all thrilled when Tom zeroed in on a few lions on the hunt in the late afternoon. Although they were quite far from us, even after we moved along the fence to be as close as possible, it was tricky taking photos from such a distance. Thus, our few lion photos aren’t as clear as we’d prefer.

Large male lion at quite a distance.

Last night, we dined at a local restaurant with disappointing service. It took about an hour for our food to arrive which was mediocre at best but the atmosphere was pleasant and as always we had an enjoyable evening.

As soon as I upload this post we’re off for Komatipoort to have lunch at the Komatopoort Golf Course restaurant which overlooks the Crocodile River. From there, we’re heading to the grocery store for tonight’s and tomorrow’s dinner.  

Tom shot this distant photo of a female lion.  

We’ll make enough food tonight to last for leftovers for tomorrow night so we won’t have to do much prep when we return after the appointment in Nelspruit. Tom and Lois will stay behind while we’re gone. We’re hoping to return by 1400 hours (2:00 pm) or so at which point we’ll do the day’s post.

Have a great day and we’ll “see you” again tomorrow after we return.

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

This style of feeder attracted plenty of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation…Rescue and release…Last night’s dinner party for eight

Deidre feeding one of the tiny rescued genets at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is the adorable bushbaby, named Doc which I fed by hand in June. See the links included here today from the prior posts to see me feeding him.

Several months ago, we wrote a two-part series on Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hectorspruit, South Africa. Those stories may be found at this link for Part 1 and this link for Part 2

Wild ducks found a home at Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
With friends Lois and Tom here, we thought it would be a rewarding experience for them to visit the facility with us, meet director Deidre, and experience the wonders of the work done by Deidre and her staff of volunteers who are committed to working with her in her unfaltering dedication to “rescue and release.”
These two tiny genets, only a few months old, require Deidre to feed them every two hours around the clock to thrive.  

Visiting with Deidre and her precious little creatures, all of whom who’d never have survived without her care, love, and attention, proved to be more rewarding than we expected.

Lois, holding one of the baby genets while standing next to Linda, one of Deidre’s new volunteers.

As a repeat visit for Tom and me, we found ourselves reveling in the wonder of this extraordinary place, especially when we had an opportunity to share it with our friends.  

Several peacocks are residing at the property.  This particular bird was intent on making lots of noise and showing off. 

The following afternoon we headed to Lisa’s home in Marloth Park for a second visit to share the value and reward of rescuing the precious bushbabies with the same plan for eventual release into the wild once they are well and able to thrive on their own.

The peacock flew into a tree to make some serious noise to entice us with his majesty further. 

We shared some wine with Lisa and visited Deidre, who lives in Marloth Park, and heard wonderful stories about wildlife, rescues, and releases. It was, again for us, a significant and interesting visit.

Deidre is currently caring for six jackal pups which will eventually be released into Marloth Park to balance the ecosystem.

We encourage anyone who loves wildlife to consider donating, even the smallest amount, to help support this worthy cause by visiting Wild & Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre  Facebook page, where amazing photos and information may be found.

What a view of the Crocodile River at this location, with many opportunities for wildlife sightings.

From there, we began getting ready for Sunday night’s dinner party for eight, which included the four of us, Louise and Danie, and a couple to whom they’re renting the same house we rented five years ago, Rita and Gerhardt, who are from the USA and Germany.

There were two tortoises at the facility who’d also been rescued and rehabilitated.

Much to our delight, Rita and Gerhardt had found out about Marloth Park from our website, which they began reading a few years ago. When they saw our endless posts of how much we love it here, they decided to come for a three-week stay.

The next day we visited Lisa at her home in Marloth Park, where, as a volunteer with Wild & Free, she rescues and releases bushbabies. Such dedication.

They contacted Louise from references on our site and eventually rented the house we’d enjoy so many years ago. As we had at the time, they’re seeing plenty of visitors in the equally conducive environment.

It was fun talking to Rita and Gerhardt about their travel lifestyle through Europe with their vehicle, the equivalent of a very sophisticated motorhome. They have a home in the US in Oregon, where they often travel a lot as well.

The bushbabies live in a bushbaby villa in Lisa’s closet in her bedroom. Nocturnal, the bushbabies can now go out into the wild at night through her open bedroom window, and they experience life on their own.

The food worked out well when we’d made a pumpkin soup, low-carb chicken pot pie, broccoli salad, lettuce salad, and ice cream bars for dessert. Rita is also gluten and lactose-free, so the meal worked well for her.

Lois, holding a newborn bushbaby Lisa had recently rescued.  All the bushbabies will eventually be released except for one named “Special Needs,” who has brain damage from hitting his head on a ceiling fan when kept as a pet. Lisa’s cared for him for the past few years and will continue to do so when he isn’t able to make it on his own in the wild.

As soon as we’ve uploaded today’s post, we’re off for a drive in Marloth Park to hopefully spot more of Mother Nature’s wonders, ending with a stop at the local market for a few items for meals for the next few days.

Tonight, we’ll dine out at yet another local restaurant as we strive to provide Tom and Lois with a wide range of experiences in Marloth Park.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

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

Close up of an iguana face at Zoo Ave in Costa Rica, a rescue facility. For more photos, please click here.