Social whirlwind during our remaining two weeks in the bush…A great evening with friends…

A barren tree in the middle of the S130 in Kruger created an exciting scene.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two yellow-billed storks and one cattle egret at the far end of Sunset Dam in Kruger.

This morning, we calculated exactly how many meals we’ll have to cook during our remaining two weeks in Marloth Park. Considering the contents of the chest freezer, we’ll only be cooking dinner eight more nights. We won’t need to purchase more protein sources.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Kathy and Don are giving us a going-away party next Friday, February 8th at their riverfront home in Marloth Park. It will be a sit-down dinner party for 12, the maximum number they can fit at their big table on their third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Wildebeest and her calf in Kruger.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t invite everyone we’ve come to know and love in the park, so we chose those friends with whom we’ve become closest. Sadly, Rita and Gerhard won’t be attending the party.  

They had to leave to return to the US in a hurry due to the sudden passing of a dear friend.  They don’t intend to return anytime soon. We miss them already. But, Rita and I have stayed in close touch, and we have no doubt we’ll be together again, perhaps as early as in the next six months.

Zebras were grazing on new growth from recent rains.

Also, next week on Tuesday, Kathy is hosting my pedicure at a local spa/resort. Linda will join us, after which we’ll all have lunch at the resort. It’s been so long since I’ve had a girls-only event. This will surely be quite an enjoyable event.  

I haven’t had a professional pedicure in at least 10 years. I rarely afford myself such a luxury when generally it just isn’t that important to me. But doing this with the girls will make it very special and memorable.

Four male cape buffalo were lounging at the river’s edge.

Next Wednesday is Leon’s birthday which we’ll attend at Jabula as we had for Dawn’s birthday on Tuesday evening, adding one more event to the social calendar.

On top of that, we’ll dine at Jabula the next two Saturdays, this upcoming on our own and the following with Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for our final time together.

Family crossing the paved road.

We plan to dine out one more time in the next few weeks, plus spend our last night, Wednesday, February 13th, in the bush at Jabula, avoiding the cooking and clean-up at the house.  

The following morning we’ll drive to Nelspruit, where we’ll spend one night at the Protea Hotel near the airport for our early morning flight on the 15th to Nairobi, Kenya.

A bull elephant we stopped to observe, hoping for a better photo.

Yesterday, we made a reservation at a highly rated restaurant, Orange (coincidentally, like the name of this holiday home), where we’ll dine that evening on Valentine’s Day.  

We informed the restaurant we’ll be writing a review and look forward to an excellent experience. Currently, this restaurant is listed as #1 out of 89 restaurants in Nelspruit on Tripadvisor.  We’ll write our review here shortly after that and also at TripAdvisor.

He moved into a clearing, and we noticed he was standing with his back legs crossed.

As for last night, we joined Uschi and Evan at their home for sundowners. As it turned out, Uschi had put together a few trays of fabulous appetizers, all of which I could eat.  

We’d intended to stay for only an hour or two but ended up not leaving until 2130 hours (9:30)! The friendship and conversation were utterly delightful, and most assuredly, they’ll be at the party and staying in touch down the road.  

Our dear friends Evan and Uschi, on their veranda last night.

The meal we’d left to be cooked went uneaten, but tonight we’ll have the easy dinner. I’ve made a salad and prepared vegetables after we just returned from shopping in Komatipoort.

Enjoy some of our remaining photos from Monday’s foray into Kruger. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with all new photos and more.

Uschi with us at the veranda table.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2018:

View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica.  Please click here for more photos.

Part 3…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…Elephants are amazing!…People are too!…A fabulous night at Jabula…

Video #1 – A surprise participant in the background.
 Video #2 – Playful elephants.
 Video #3 – More elephant antics.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A very young impala.

It’s Wednesday morning, a typical day in the bush. Vusi and Zef are cleaning the house. The Mom and Babies (four piglets) are busily munching on pellets at the edge of the veranda. Ms. Kudu left a few minutes ago after she’d had her fill.  

The sky is partly cloudy, and we’re in for another cool day. There are thousands of dead insects on the veranda floor overnight (a daily occurrence). Soon, when the interior of the house is clean, Vusi and Zef will come outside to clean the veranda while we’ll go inside to get out of their way.
The matriarch was watching the youngsters play in the Sabie River.

Once they’re done, we’ll come back outside to spend the balance of the day outdoors, as we always do, busy working on the post and plans for the future. Tom spends some time on Facebook and Ancestry while I work on projects around the house.

Once I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll finish doing laundry, preparing tonight’s dinner, and perhaps work on some items to be packed for our departure in 15 days. Today’s project is neatly folding all of our “bugs-away” and safari clothing I’d washed yesterday and have since dried. Safari in Kenya isn’t too far away. 

It was irresistible…she joined them.

Last night we had a fantastic time at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, celebrating Dawn’s (friend and owner) birthday. It was delightful to see how many loyal fans came to extend our best wishes and gratitude for the beautiful job (along with partner Leon) in making this a memorable establishment with great food, ambiance, and service.

Many brought gifts, hugs, kisses, and warm wishes for Dawn. A table filled with scrumptious-looking appetizers and drinks hosted by Leon added to the festivities. 

They wanted to play with her.

If there ever was a “Cheers” type bar, Jabula fills the bill. The new and the familiar faces, the lively conversation, loud laughter, and the ease with which everyone in attendance feels welcomed and included are unreproachable. 

We met a new couple originally from Germany, living in Marloth Park part-time and soon moving their business to live in Florida, USA. We saw old friends with health challenges possessing upbeat attitudes off to work on the next phase of hopeful recovery.  

Finally, it was time to get out of the river and continue their day.

We chatted with new friends we’ve made this time around, along with old friends from five years ago. Tom and I arrived early to sit at our favorite spots at the bar and eventually ordered delicious dinners, never giving up our barstools.  

It wasn’t the first time we dined at the bar when we were having too much fun to go to a table on the veranda. I can’t recall ever enjoying dining at the bar until Jabula.

The littlest one followed close to the adults as they were on their way.

Leon played the role of DJ, and the music had most of us either dancing in our seats or on our feet to kick up our heels. Women danced with women and men, well, they danced with all of us. It was grand. It was memorable, as were so many nights we’ve spent in this unique establishment over this past year.

When Tom and I danced to a slow song, holding close in each other’s arms, I felt an immense sense of happiness wash over me, coupled with a bit of melancholy. But, the melancholy quickly wafted away when I reminded myself that those arms will still be around me long after we depart Marloth Park, and the memories will always remain in my heart.

Thank you for sharing this special time with us…

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2018:

This elephant seal was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth. A bath would be nice. For more stunning scenes from Antarctica, please click here.

Part 2…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A heartbreaking sighting…Part of life in the wild?…

 A short video of this gaunt-looking lioness.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A herd of impalas at the side of a dirt road we traveled in Kruger.

We often hear others say, “This is life in the wild.” Hearing this doesn’t lessen the emotions we feel when we see an animal suffering. It’s sad to see a human or an animal in pain, ill, or emotionally distraught for any reason. But, the realities of life don’t diminish the emotions we feel when we observe such a scenario when often there is nothing we can do to help.

A few evenings ago, a little male duiker, a timid member of the antelope family, was trapped inside the chicken wire-fenced garden area within our garden. Somehow he’d managed to find his way inside this lush area of greenery and became trapped when he couldn’t navigate an exit.

It was sad to see the lioness suffering.

We were seated at the big table on the veranda and noticed him ramming his head into the chicken wire, trying to escape. Helping an animal, however small, in a panicked situation such as this could be dangerous.

We’d seen a photo where a bushbuck died trying to extricate its head from being stuck in a fence in Marloth Park. But we weren’t going to let him die before our eyes. If residents feel they need fences they definitely should be a type that prevents wildlife from potential injury or even death.  

One can only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating.

We often wonder why there are hazardous fences in the park. Don’t people come here to be “one” with nature, not hiding behind fences? None of the Big Five permanently reside in Marloth Park and rarely does a lion, leopard, or cheetah rarely find its way into the park. Surely, a fence of any type wouldn’t necessarily protect a human from such a dangerous encounter.

Tom grabbed the long, extendable pole he used to chase off baboons and monkeys and attempted to raise the bottom of the fence to allow the duiker an exit. The poor little creature bellowed in total fear while Tom tried to help.

There is a gate to this area, and we immediately opened it hoping the duiker would see the open exit. While Tom tried to help him, I stood at a distance from the door, hoping to see him escape.

We assumed she was ill or injured.

Finally, after several minutes of him running into the impenetrable wire fence in different enclosure locations, he spotted the open gate and escaped. We both sighed in relief. 

He’s a duiker we’ve often fed and wondered what he was after in that area. Perhaps it was a type of vegetation he particularly liked. Once he ran off, leaping through the air, we wondered if we’d ever see him again.  

A few hours later, Alas returned, and we tossed him some pellets, tiny bits of carrots, and apples. (We always cut the veggies into small bite-sized pieces for the duikers and bushbucks. Kudus and warthogs can handle big chunks but not the tiny antelope or babies of most species).

Every step she took appeared to be an effort.

We were relieved to see he was uninjured and back to his shy little self, often appearing with a female he seemed attached to.  But, the lion we spotted in Kruger didn’t have the potential of a good outcome after we’d seen her looking so unwell.

Sure, we can say, “This is life in the wild,” but that harsh reality doesn’t insulate us from feeling sad for a suffering animal in the wild. Nor, in essence, do we ever want to feel less compassionate. It’s that compassion and love for wildlife that brought us to Africa in the first place. We don’t want to become “tougher” and more accepting of the often gruesome realities.

In today’s world, horrifying videos portray atrocities lodged upon wildlife, many too horrific to mention. Is it possible to see these repeatedly can cause us to become immune to appalling scenes that diminish our ability to feel compassion?

She appeared to have made her way under the bridge where we’d no longer be able to see her.

Seeing the lion in such sorrowful condition left us feeling in tune and touch with nature, that even after many such sightings in this past year of living in the bush, we still care, we still feel, and we still treasure the beauty of life in the wild.  We remain untarnished by the harsh realities.

In 16 days, we’ll leave Marloth Park. We’re grateful for this life-enhancing year in the bush while looking forward to what lies ahead of us.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2018:

At lunch that day in Antarctica, one of the chefs prepared a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A few first time sightings…So exciting!…

This was an exciting sighting for us, the elusive nyala which we’d never seen during this past year in South Africa.  From this site:  The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in colour. The rams have long inward curved horns 650 mm (26 inches) and a white chevroned face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 kg (254 pounds) and measures 1.05 m (41 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 kg (130 pounds) and stand 900 mm (35 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-shouldered kite.  From this siteThe black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.
Its late in the day, almost 1600 hours (4:30 pm) and I’m anxious to get today’s post uploaded to ensure we can begin wildlife watching on the veranda by our usual 1700 hours (5:00 pm).
At first, when we glimpsed at these three well-hidden animals we thought they were kudus based on the stripes on their bodies.  But, after further inspection, we realized these three antelopes were not kudus but, the elusive nyala.  

Thus, I’m rushing a little and only sharing a few of the highlights of today’s outing in Kruger National Park, leaving the balance of the exciting sightings for tomorrow.

It was a perfect day to enter the park. The weather was a moderate 26C, (79F), the sky was overcast and cloudy but there was no rain in sight.  These were ideal conditions for wildlife to be in plain view. We weren’t disappointed.
Known to be rather shy it was tricky taking a few photos.
On the hottest of days, the animals often stay undercover from the scorching sun or gravitate toward water holes we’re unable to see from the paved or dirt roads.  With the recent rains many formerly dry waterbeds now have some water to attract the animals.  Considerably more rain is desperately needed to have an impact on the river.  
The Crocodile River we cross upon entry into the park is practically bone dry.  Five years ago during this same time period, the river was practically overflowing as opposed to its current sparse sections of water leaving many animals seeking smaller bodies of water for sustenance.  

It was difficult to take a photo of the three of them together but we waited patiently for this shot.

We took off at 9:00 am, leaving the preparation of today’s post for our recent return. Subsequently, we’re breezing through as quickly as possible and will provide a more comprehensive post tomorrow.

I tried sitting outdoors on the veranda while preparing this but the biting black flies were so bad, I had no choice but to come indoors to finish here.  The sofas and chairs in the living room, although comfy for lounging, are not suitable for working on a laptop.
While we waited we were able to finally able to take a few photos of the individual nyalas.
So i apologize for this quick post but promise more for tomorrow especially since we have some stunning sightings to share that we’ve saving exactly for that purpose.
It was a shame they wouldn’t come out from the dense bush but we did the best we could.
Our plan today was to drive on the paved road all the way to Lower Sabie and to stop for breakfast at the popular Mugg & Bean, one of few restaurants in Kruger National Park. The food was hot, fresh and served quickly based on the fact that we were two of only about eight diners in the entire restaurant.  
After breakfast we were back on the road, taking a dirt road off the beaten path.  It was during this diversion that we saw the two bird photos were sharing today.  We’d previously posted photos of the European roller but never of the black-shouldered kite.
A wildebeest mom and her offspring.
As many of our readers are well aware, we aren’t necessarily “birders” in the truest sense of the word.  However, from time to time when we spot something unique we’re excited to share it with our readers.  Of course, we have a special affinity toward our resident francolins, Frank and The Mrs., and the mating hornbills.
The mom kept a watchful eye on us to ensure we were no risk to her young calf.
There were few tourists in Kruger although at a few sightings, four or five vehicles were stacked up making it difficult to get into a good position for easily taking photos.  

In these circumstances, our mutual patience and persistence pays off.  We picked a good spot and waited for a better position to open up.  Eventually, other observers lost interest and moved on, enabling us to move into a better location.  
This was the first photo we’d taken of a tree squirrel in Kruger National Park.
That’s what self-driving in a national park is all about, having the flexibility to do what’s necessary to take good photos while maintaining a degree of courteousness and kindness – a winning combination.
This evening we’ll stay in, cook dinner and look forward to darkness when the flies seem to disappear but then, the pesky mozzies appear.  Oh well, TIA (this is Africa) after all, isn’t it?
This a a European roller.  From this site:  The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco. They are migratory, wintering in Africa, mainly in the east and south.           

We hope you have a pleasant evening and that all is well in your world!


Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2018:

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking.  For more photos from Antarctica, please click here.

Do they really feel? Do they really care?…It was a mongoose mania morning in Marloth!…Videos!…

Mongoose Mom and Baby.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This was one of the youngest kudus we’ve seen this season.

It’s cool and cloudy again today. The morning couldn’t have started better. Unusual for a weekend morning when there are often loads of short-term tourists in the park, we were pleasantly surprised to find a steady stream of wildlife visitors, including a band of mongooses who entertained us, which precipitated these three included video, each uniquely different!

The neighbors next door are here for the weekend and obviously, have something delicious they are feeding the animals since the animals have been going back and forth between our two houses. They’ll all stay there for 15 to 20 minutes and then, when bored, return to us.

They stayed close to one another except during the egg-eating frenzy.

They are opportunists possessing a bit of flair in their methodology of procuring their next meal. In any case, we’re the recipients of the resulting pleasure of their somewhat obsessive meandering between the bush homes.  

We love every moment, every adorable face, every tongue swiping across their lips in anticipation of the next tender morsel. Whether they love us, like us, or feel any emotion toward us is difficult to determine.  

We can’t help but equate their responses to those similar to dogs we had and loved over the years. In time, they grow to recognize us, respond to us, and often exhibit human-like responses to our obsessive attention to everything they do, each time they gaze into our eyes, each time they exhibit an animated response.

Sure, these visiting animals are not domesticated, such as dogs, but that doesn’t negate their ability and seeming interest in who we are and what we have in the way of sustenance.

Mongooses are trying to crack eggs.

There are many schools of thought on this theory. Do animals really know and love us, or are they simply responding to instinct and a desire for food, comfort, and safety?

Here’s a link to a website that presents an interesting debate on this topic. The bottom line? We each can choose to believe what is most logical to our needs and emotions.  

I choose to believe the more intelligent animals on the planet have the innate ability to communicate with us, which has been proven repeatedly in many laboratory settings.  

Feeding mongoose eggs in a bowl.

Over this past year of spending 12 to 15 hours a day, most days, observing their behavior, I’m hard-pressed to believe it’s all about instinct. But, as humans, we ultimately have the innate ability to choose what we believe, and we may not all agree.

And perhaps, our instincts as humans may be no different than that of animals.  Everything we do, everything we feel, everything we think, and everything to which we respond is based on one sort of motive or another. Do you agree with that?

These thoughts were precipitated by an interesting conversation we had last night at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with dear friends Lynne and Mick, the first couple we met in Marloth Park five years ago, ironically at Jabula. We had a delightful evening with this well-traveled and fascinating couple and so appreciated them hosting the evening.

It was our last time together for a few years, as they too will soon be heading on another adventure in Africa. Undoubtedly, we’ll continue to stay in touch until we return to Marloth Park in March 2021. Besides, Lynne and Mick are true birding experts and often assist me in identifying birds in the bird photos we post.

Mongoose eats a rib bone.

We continue to revel in all the wonderful friends we’ve made here over the years and hope our mutual travels will bring us together at other locations throughout the world.

And, of course, we continue to revel in all the fantastic wildlife friends we’ve made along the way. The big question remains…if we’re fortunate enough to rent this same holiday home in 2021, will they remember us? We’ll let you know.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2018:

This is unreal. The Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a freestanding pod on which they can nest. Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop their elevated nest. That’s amazing! Please click here for more photos.

Hot tub by candlelight…The difference between a frog and a toad…

‘”Hot tub by candlelight” with Little lounging in the cement pond on a hot evening in the bush.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Öne of the four piglets of the Mom and Babies family, gaining some independence, napping alone in the lucerne in our garden.

Today’s heading may have fooled a few of our readers, thinking we may have some suggestive hot tub by candlelight experience to share with photos. Sorry, but it wasn’t us! Our boy “Little” stopped by at dusk for a soak in the warm water in the cement pond after a scorching day.

Our regular Mr. Bushbuck, who visits daily, is sharing pellets with our regular visiting female duiker, who are very shy and skittish around other wildlife.

We have a soaking-type tub in the en suite master bath and have yet to use it. My days of taking baths are long over since I don’t care to use so much water while living in the bush or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. Such a tub requires the use of 302 liters (80 gallons of water).  

We tossed out some lettuce leaves, which they also shared.

What a waste of resources that would be, taking a soak once a day! Doing so would use 110,230 liters (29,200 gallons) per year. Those things should be outlawed unless absolutely proven necessary for certain medical conditions.  Water shortages are evident here in Africa, all over the world, and even in the USA.

Suddenly, they stopped eating when they heard a sound.

Anyway, regarding today’s main photo, we had the table candlelights lit to repel mosquitos and flies that ultimately precipitated the above photo. Each night we make a feeble attempt to keep the flies at bay as we attempt to have dinner before dark.

Ken’s photo of who we call Loud Mouth must be the loudest frog on the planet. When he’s making his noise, we have actually to yell to speak to one another.

If we’d be patient and wait to eat dinner until it’s fully dark, the flies would be gone.  But it’s a toss-up. We’re hungry before dark since we don’t eat much during the day. Why change our dining habits due to some pesky flies?

He’s no exotic frog, only a common tree frog often found near water in Africa.  See the diagram below for the difference between a frog and a toad. (Ken’s photo).

As I sit here on the veranda this morning at 11:00 am, the flies are bombarding me. Also, they are biting flies, leaving a nasty sting that can itch for hours. We assume the flies and the mozzies are a result of the recent rains, so we’ll put up with it.  

We’re grateful for the rain for our wildlife friends, greening the vegetation vitally necessary for their survival. Last night there was a perfect soaking rain that continued through most of the night.

Warthogs enjoy hanging out with other “diners” such as kudus to ensure they get the maximum number of pellets.

This morning, we awoke to many visitors to our garden, waiting for a tasty morning treat. It’s comforting to know that when we depart in 19 days, the vegetation will easily sustain the wildlife that’s been visiting us over the past year.  

Handsome young male kudu requesting more pellets with the proverbial stare.

However, that fact doesn’t diminish the sadness we feel when thinking about them showing up day after day, night after night, and we won’t be here. We knew this time would come, and we’re grateful they will have plenty to eat without our steady stream of pellets, apples, carrots, and other good-for-them vegetables we share each day.

This was the smallest/youngest kudu we’ve seen in the garden.

And so it goes, the days and nights sail by faster than I ever imagined, a giant clock ticking in my head. Yes, I’m treasuring every moment. Yes, I’m looking forward to the next adventure. And, above all, this has been a year we’ll never forget, never to be duplicated, never to be lost among the excitement of other magnificent places we’ll visit in this fantastic world.

Female duikers have one little tuft of a horn while the males have two.

Enjoy your day, your night, and each moment in between.

Photo from one year ago, January 26, 2018:

A small group of Gentoo Penguins heading out to sea for a morning swim and hopefully a bite to eat. For more adorable penguins, please click here.

Five years ago “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”….Social graces…All new Kruger photos…Check out the one year ago photo!!..

A giraffe with two male impalas.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A photo from five years ago today at this link. On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guineafowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings.

It’s uncanny how we can’t stop comparing our three-month stay in Marloth Park five years ago to our current one-year stay. We’d assumed when we returned this time in February 2018 there would be many changes but surprisingly there have been few.

The most significant change has been the enhancement to our social life, in part due to our beautiful friends including us in their social events, and…we’ll take a little credit for being assertive in cultivating the many relationships we acquired in 2013/2014 while building new relationships.
A “confusion” of wildebeest in Kruger National Park.

One of the social perks in Marloth Park and perhaps in South Africa, in general, is the commonality of the reciprocation of following up after being invited to a friend’s home for dinner or a party by asking them or hosting them to a dinner out. Not everyone enjoys hosting dinner parties.  

In other words, those with whom we’ve developed relationships have been exceptionally gracious in good manners and social etiquette. Come to the bush to find an unbeatable social life that compares to none. Who would have thought?

A “confusion” of wildebeest and a “dazzle” of zebras.

Another common practice is bringing one’s own beverages to friend’s home when invited for “sundowners,” dinner parties and gatherings. This takes considerable pressure off posts to accommodate guests’ drink preferences, including types of wines, beers, liquors, and non-alcoholic beverages.

In our old lives, I don’t ever recall asking guests to “BYOB” (bring your own booze) when attending one of our social events, nor do I remember us doing so when attending parties in Minnesota. It wasn’t customary. But, here in South Africa, it is.

Zebras were grazing in the lush greenery.

On several occasions, after we’ve hosted a dinner party in our bush home, we’ve been invited out to dinner by friends who either aren’t here long enough to host a reciprocal dinner party, don’t have suitable space for dinner parties in their bush homes, or simply don’t incline to go through the time-consuming process of preparing a special meal for guests.

Plus, over these past few hot summer months, the weather has been outrageous with extreme heat and humidity. It’s unbearable to spend the better part of a day or two standing in the kitchen in the heat. Homes here do not have central aircon and few have a wall unit in the kitchen. Turn on the oven to bake a dish and the house becomes a veritable hotbox.

Certain animals do well grazing together as is the case with giraffes and impalas.

Never once over the past year have we felt or even thought about not being invited for a meal when we’ve asked others. We’ve loved every evening we’ve hosted, relishing in the quality time we’ve spent with guests over good food and often, their own favorite wine and beer.

Five years ago at the Hornbill house, in which we stayed under two months, we didn’t have the space for entertaining. Once we moved to the Khaya Umdani house (see our link here of this fabulous house), we finally reciprocated guests. 

Wildlife at a distance.

Eventually, we moved again to the African Reunion house (see our link here for this lovely home) and again could invite guests. It was a very special time for us thanks to Louise and Danie’s kindness and generosity in allowing us to experience two more properties in that three month period.

But here at the “Orange” house, once we started seeing the wildlife regularly there was no way, during this entire one year period, that we had any interest in moving to a different house, should it become available.  

Two closely-knit giraffes may be a parent and offspring or mating pair.

This house has been ideal for hosting and reciprocating for dinner parties, house guests and of course, the exquisite day to day interaction with our wildlife friends. It couldn’t have suited our needs or desires more.  

This house may or may not be available when we return but surely Louise will ensure we’ll have a perfect house for our three-month return in March 2021.  (Next time we won’t be staying in South Africa longer than the allowed 90 days due to immigration issues).

Grazing in the treetops.

Today and tonight, we’re hanging out at the house. I’m working on projects to prepare for our departure in 20 days, including scanning one year’s worth of actual receipts with our portable scanner, cleaning out cupboards and closets and going through our travel supplies to determine what we’ll really need going forward.

Have a fantastic day hopefully filled with meaningful social encounters!

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2018:

On our way to Antarctica, at long last, this was our first penguin sighting:  A one or two-year-old Rock Hopper Penguin on New Island in the Falkland Islands yet to grow his full plumage. Click here for more outstanding wildlife we discovered during this once-in-a-lifetime cruise.

Winding down…Three weeks and counting…

Check out this mongoose mom and a tiny baby.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah.  (Photo by friend Ken).

Tom always says counting down the days until we depart the time goes by too quickly. For me, it’s the opposite. I savor each day, knowing there are so few remaining.

Three weeks from today, the next phase of our world journey begins when we drive to Nelspruit on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, to spend one night in a hotel to board an early morning flight to Johannesburg, change planes to then we’ll be off to Nairobi, Kenya.

As I meander through this good-sized house, I see things we need to pack in almost every corner. In essence, the process has started. I’ve already gone through all of my clothing and removed everything I will no longer wear.  
Dad is proud of his fast-growing chicks.

Many items no longer fit with my weight loss of 10 kilos this year (22 pounds). I’ll donate what I haven’t already given away to the sellers on the street to see if they can make a little money on my good-condition clothing.

Doing so leaves me with very little to wear on the upcoming cruise from San Antonio, Chile, to San Diego, California. But at this point, I’m not worrying about what I’ll wear on a cruise ship on dress-up nights. 

For the rest of the days and nights, I’ll wear jeans, shorts and lovely tee-shirts, of which I have plenty of. I still have four somewhat dressier tops, when paired with black pants, can work fine for more formal occasions.

It’s hard to believe these chicks have increased from the tiny little things they were six months ago.

Of my five pairs of shoes, one pair may be construed as a little dressy. Tom has several button shirts to wear to dinner and one white dress shirt for dress-up nights. We’I can add a scarf or costume jewelry for dinners in the main dining room to dress up an otherwise dull outfit. We’ll make it work, as we always do.

When Louise stopped by yesterday, she offered to store anything we may want to keep for our next visit. We may be willing to store a few roasting pans and outdoor lights to watch the wildlife at night.  

Other than that, she suggested we leave any food, spices, canned or bottled items we don’t want in the cupboards, and she can distribute them to their many rental houses for future guests to use or give them to the locals. 

It wasn’t easy to differentiate the chicks from the parents.

As it turns out, many of the food products we use aren’t used by the locals in their cooking method. But tourists from other countries may use the spices and condiments, of which we have many after cooking here for the past year. 

On Tuesday, we went through the chest freezer to inventory precisely what we had left to consume. After doing so, we realized we might not have to purchase much in the way of groceries, especially protein sources, of which we have plenty on hand.

Ostriches seem to love hanging out at this same house we’d observed five years ago.

I’d forgotten we had the frozen filling, already made, for one more pumpkin pie, left from our Thanksgiving dinner party. With it defrosted later in the day, I created and rolled the dough for one more pumpkin pie for Tom (his favorite).  

With the cooler weather, the pie crust came out better than on “pumpkin pie hell day” (click here for details) when we prepared the special meal for 12 of us. There wasn’t enough filling to fill the pie, but Tom loves the homemade crust. See the photo below of the pie I made on Tuesday.

Newly baked pumpkin pie made with a shortage of filling, but it suited Tom just fine!

We also found three large tenderloin steaks, enough for two nights each, so tonight, we’re starting with that, spacing out the balance over the next three weeks. With many upcoming social events and dinners out in the remaining three weeks, we’ll only need to replenish salad fixings, other fresh produce, and a few miscellaneous items such as coffee, cream, butter, eggs, paper products etc.

This morning in Komatipoort, we stopped at the dentist’s office to purchase an at-home teeth whitening product. Next door, I ran into the doctor’s office to make an appointment with the doctor to have my three (non-narcotic) prescriptions refilled for six months (it’s required in SA to see the doctor for refills).  

We can’t help but admire these stunning animals, which have never been domesticated due to their unsuitable demeanor.

The prices for refills are low enough here. It’s worth the office visit cost at ZAR 662 (US $48) rather than ordering them online from my usual supplier (ProgressiveRX).

We each have one more dentist appointment remaining to have our teeth cleaned, at which time I’ll have two remaining amalgam fillings removed and replaced with the safer white material. 

Female zebra grazing in the bush now that there’s so new growth of vegetation due to rain.

At that point, I won’t have any remaining amalgam fillings or teeth requiring any work, which will be a huge relief. I’ve meant to have this done for years. Ironically, we had to come to South Africa to work on our teeth, but the dentist is fantastic, and prices are considerably lower than in the US or other countries.

Back at the house, after shopping at Spar, buying three bags of pellets at Obaro, and Tom heading to Lebombo for carrots, apples, and eggs (for the mongoose), we’re suitable for the next week.

Zebra were looking healthy and well-fed.

We’re staying in for the remainder of today, beginning to work on some other organizing and packing projects. For me, doing a little each day feels more productive than waiting until the last day or two. Tom, on the other hand, prefers to wait until the day before we depart.

It’s all these slight differences between us that make traveling the world together more exciting and entertaining. It would be mighty dull if he was just like me!

Be well. Be happy wherever you may be.

Photo from one day year ago, January 24, 2018:
There were no photos on this date one year ago as we were heading to Ushuaia, Argentina, to board the ship sailing to Antarctica.

Part 2…Five years ago in South Africa…The Panorama Route…Wildlife in Hoedspirit at the Moholoholo Rehab Centre…

The small Serval cat is a vicious hunter in the wild.  We were not allowed inside her habitat.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mongooses waiting patiently for Tom to place the bowl of raw scrambled eggs on the ground.

It was on January 19, 2014, we posted the photos we’re sharing in today’s story of our visit to the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit, South Africa, about a four-hour drive from Marloth Park.

This handsome cheetah was recovering from poisoning, as the result of an attempt to kill him for his hide. He won’t be able to return to the wild due to the risk of being killed by his own species. He’s been made an “ambassador” to represent the rehab center in saving his and other species from becoming endangered.  Watching him through the electrified fencing, we were anxious to get inside for “hands-on.”

In reviewing the photos, it boggles our minds to think this was a full five years ago. It seems like only yesterday we embarked on a three-day getaway to see the Panorama Route as reiterated in yesterday’s post here.

Here is the link from our visit to Moholoholo so many moons ago.

This mating pair of honey badgers were kept together when one was injured.  It was delightful to watch their playful antics. In the wild, they are dangerous animals known to be able to rip the genitalia from any animal in a single bite. Yikes.

As mentioned in a few recent posts, we may be sharing a few repeated posts as we wind down our time in Marloth Park, now only 22 days until departure. Mainly, we decided on this occasional repeat to share past experiences in South Africa in 2013/2014 for our readers who may have begun following us long after this time.

We weren’t allowed to get face to face with this vulture. He offers tourists a stick with the appearance of being generous when in reality, if the gift is accepted through the fence, he’ll bite their fingers off!

Another obvious reason is the fact we’ve been here for so long (a few weeks short of one year as of today) we felt we needed to “shake it up a bit. ” How many warthogs, kudu, giraffe and zebra photos can we post in our remaining time? We realize that it’s become redundant and perhaps boring after so many of the “same old, same old.”

Of course, we’ve yet to become bored with a forkl of kudus, a band of mongoose, a dazzle of zebras or a tower of giraffes in our garden or on the bumpy dirt roads in Marloth Park or even in Kruger National Park. It’s been a constant stream of that which we love, over and over again.

This adorable, yet deadly eagle was more than willing to lower her head for me to pet her.

And yet, it’s about to change very soon and we will bombard our readers with new experiences, new photos, and new adventures unlike many others we may have shared in the past.

Tom volunteered to feed the vultures raw meat. He wore a leather sleeve on his right arm from fingertips to shoulder. As soon as our guide put the raw meat into his hand, several vultures flew at him to grab it, leaving two to fight over it. Exciting, to say the least!

Yes, we’re excited for the future; the upcoming photography tour in Kenya; the March cruise from San Antonio, Chili to San Diego, California; seeing our family once again in Minnesota in April; the cruise in the latter part of April from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Copenhagen, Denmark; and then in May, flying to Dublin and then driving to Connemara, Ireland where we’ll stay for three months until August. And, it goes on and on…The Baltic, St. Petersburg and more.

At times, I feel melancholy about leaving the bush, the wildlife, and friends. But then, I remind myself I’m continuing to travel the world with my husband, lover, companion and best friend and we’ll never run out of the lively conversation, magic moments, and memorable experiences along the way.

This male lion recovering from an injury leisurely walked our way as we approached the electrified fence. I was able to take this photo through an open small space in the fence, using a bit of zoom.  Of course, we weren’t allowed inside his area.

Today, as we share photos from five years ago, we anticipate five years into the future, wellness, and good health providing, when we may share some of our magic moments from this heart-pounding year in the bush.  

In 22 days, I’ll be emotionally prepared to move on, however sad it may be to say goodbye to Little, Ms. Bushbuck, Basket, Tusker, Mom and Babies, Wildebeest Willie, Frank, and the Mrs. and many more.  No doubt, a few tears will be shed on those last days.  

Other wildlife meandered the open areas of the rehab center, which is located in the bush including many vultures, eagles, impalas, and other species. This young impala was enjoying a quiet time in the shade.

Then, of course, is saying goodbye to our many friends in Marloth Park who have welcomed us, once again, with open arms, open hearts and more loving friendship than we ever could have imagined.  

Never a day passes without us acknowledging how we’ve been blessed to live this unusual life, filled with riches that can’t be bought.  We are grateful.

May you have blessings in your life!

Here are the expenses we incurred one year ago today, for the 31-night stay in the Prodeo Hotel in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina: 

 Expense   US Dollar   Argentine Pesos 
 Hotel – 31 nights $                  2,480.00 47,076.69
Flight – Round trip- inc. cruise                   –               –
 Taxi   $                       65.31 1,239.75
 Groceries & Dining out   $                     987.87                     18.752.28
 Laundry  $                        56.00 1,063.02
 Tips for hotel staff   $                     158.05 3,000.19
 Pharmacy & Misc.   $                     477.52 7,157.48
 Total   $                  4,224.75 59,537.13
 Avg Daily Cost    $                     136.28 1,920.55

Please click here for more details.

Part 1…Five years ago in South Africa…Stunning scenery that didn’t include wildlife…the Panorama Route

Wow! Bourke’s Luck Potholes was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Basket the Bully was feeling sad after his right ear was nearly torn off in what must have been as a result of a fight he most likely provoked.  We comforted him with pellets, apples, and carrots before he took his nap in the hay.

Each day, after we upload the new post, Tom reviews the posts of the same date going back over the years reading aloud to me reciting the places we visited and lived during each of the prior years since we began posting in 2012.

The colorful rock formations, coupled with the water from the Blyde and Treur Rivers at Bourke’s Luck Potholes were breathtaking.

Yesterday, when he mentioned we’d done the Panorama Route around this time five years ago, we figured it would be a good new post to review the experiences with our new readers that we’d had in January 2014.

The waterfalls were a highlight at Bourke’s Luck Potholes as well as the interesting rock formations.

The majority of our readers joined us partway into our journey and may have missed the photos from one of the most stunning experiences for visitors to South Africa, the Panorama Route.

The water was so inviting.  Can you imagine the day that Bourke, an unsuccessful gold miner discovered these? Essentially, they are a result of decades of swirling eddies of water where the Treur River meets the Blyde River, the tumult of which has caused extensive water erosion over time. The result is a series of cylindrical rock sculptures that look as though they would be more comfortable on the moon.

From this site, the Panorama Route is described as follows:

“One of the country’s most scenic self-drives, the Panorama Route, explores the Mpumalanga Highlands, or the north-eastern section of the Great Escarpment of the Drakensberg. In these rugged mountains, the plateau comes to an abrupt and dramatic halt, falling steeply away into the Lowveld accompanied by incredible views out over the grasslands of Africa.”
As we made our way out of the Potholes, we were sad to leave. But, we needed to get back on the road in order to make the best use of our time.

To embark upon this route and gain the full depth and beauty of the experience, one must plan for a two to three-day trip with lots of driving and many stops along the way.

The Three Rondavels viewing point was shrouded in haze which prevented a clear shot.  In South Africa, a Rondavel is a traditional beehive-shaped hut built by the indigenous people as their homes.

Weather is a big factor in ensuring the quality of the self-driven tour along with having a full tank of petrol when taking off which we hadn’t done at the time. Since we visited five years ago now there may be more petrol stations along the route.

A lovely couple from South Africa took this photo of us as we did the same for them.

At the time we ended up low on fuel and barely made it to a petrol station before running out. The situation may have put somewhat of a damper on the experience for a few hours until we finally found a petrol station.

The haze had an impact on our view from God’s Window. We could easily imagine its beauty on a totally clear day.  

However, as we stopped at each point of interest along the long route, we forgot about our fuel needs and embraced the magnificence of that which lay before our eyes and the lens of our camera.

 Berlin Falls presented an impressive view.

If you would like to read the post from January 21, 2014, from which we copied these photos please click here.

Another aspect of this three-day road trip was our stay at the exquisite Blyde River Canyon Lodge. The rooms were well-equipped and gorgeously appointed along with the joy of seeing wildlife wandering about the lush property.  

 This was Wonderview.  What appears to be smoke is low-lying clouds on a hazy day.

The owner Vicky went out of her way to ensure we had an exceptional stay as she did for all of her guests. We couldn’t have been more pleased by the choice we’d made in booking this lodge in the Blyde River area.

Lisbon Falls was one of many exquisite waterfalls in the area.

Another part of the tour was a boat ride in the Blyde River Canyon for some of the most gorgeous scenery we’d seen along the way. Sadly, the rain and dark clouds had an impact on our photos which didn’t stop us from having a good time.

The day was cloudy, the air thick was thick with a mist and low clouds obstructed our views of the mountain tops at times.  However, we found the Blyde River Canyon breathtaking for the two full hours we spent on a pontoon with 20 other tourists.

Please click here for more photos of the scenery from our boat ride in the Blyde River Canyon.  

The excitement of the three-day trip didn’t end here.  Tomorrow, we’ll share Part 2 with photos from our visit to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehab Centre with some outrageous photos and experiences we’ll always remember. Please check back for more.

May your day be filled with memories of the wonders you have experienced over the years!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2018:

An adorable little parrot sitting atop a birdbath in Buenos Aires, as we ended our time in the  Palermo district.  For more photos, please click here.