Finally, we found the ostrich family of many…

Only a few members of the large ostrich family we’ve been longing to see.

We are unable to upload the feature photo right now, due to WiFi issues. We will add it later. Thank you.

Every few days since we arrived, we’ve driven around Marloth Park looking for the ostriches. We’d heard the chicks were huge already but still glued at the hip to their parents.  Here’s some information on ostriches from this site:

“Ostrich Facts: The World’s Largest Bird

Ostriches are large, flightless birds that have long legs and a long neck that protrudes from a round body. Males have bold black-and-white coloring that they use to attract females. Females, on the other hand, are light brown.

Ostriches are bigger than any other bird in the world. They can grow up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and can weigh up to 320 lbs. (145 kilograms), according to the African Wildlife Foundation, and an ostrich’s eye is 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter — the largest of any land animal. The ostrich is the only bird that has two toes on each foot. All other birds have three or four toes, according to the American Ostrich Association.

Several fast-growing chicks close to a house in the bush.

Where do ostriches live?

Wild ostriches live in the dry, hot savannas and woodlands of Africa. They once roamed all over Asia, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, but because they have been hunted so extensively, wild ostriches’ range has been reduced to sub-Saharan Africa. However, ostriches can be found in captivity all over the world.

What do ostriches eat?

Ostriches are omnivores, which means they eat both vegetation and meat. Although they prefer plants — especially roots, seeds, and leaves — they also eat locusts, lizards, snakes, and rodents. They also eat sand and pebbles, to help grind up their food in their gizzard, which is a small pouch where food is crushed and ripped up before it reaches the stomach.

It’s difficult to get preferred photos with ostriches with their heads up when they are constantly pecking on the ground. These are two of the dozen or more chicks.

Mating habits

Male ostriches are called cocks or roosters, and females are called hens. A group of ostriches is called a flock. Flocks can consist of up to 100 birds, though most have 10 members, according to the San Diego Zoo. The group has a dominant male and a dominant female and several other females. Lone males come and go during mating season.

To get a female’s attention, males bow and flap their wings outward to display their plumage. When they are ready to mate, the male’s beak and shins will turn bright red. Sometimes, his neck will change to a red color to match. Females also change color when they are ready to mate. Their feathers will turn a silvery color, according to the American Ostrich Association.

The larger dark feathered ostrich on the right may be the dad. Females have lighter-colored feathers.

Ostrich eggs & baby ostriches

Ostrich eggs are 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and can weigh up to 3 lbs. (1.3 kg). Eggs are laid in a communal nest called a dump nest, which can hold about 60 eggs at one time. Males, as well as females, sit on the eggs until they hatch, which can take 42 to 46 days.

Other facts

It may seem amazing that an ostrich’s thin legs can keep its large body upright. Their legs are perfectly placed so that the body’s center of gravity balances on top of its legs.  Their thin legs give them great speed and maneuverability, too. They can run up to 40 mph (64.3 km/h) for sustained periods of time, according to the American Ostrich Association.

Contrary to popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand, but they do lie down with their heads against the ground when they feel threatened. It only looks like the ostrich has buried its head because its head and neck blend in with the color of the sand.

Ostriches fight with their feet. They kick forward because that’s the direction in which their legs bend, according to the American Ostrich Association. A solid kick can kill a lion.

Ostrich feathers look shaggy because they hang loosely and don’t hook together like feathers on other types of birds.”

It’s such an oddity, that an ostrich’s eye is the largest of any land animal in the world. We often notice their large eyes when we get up close and personal with these peculiar birds which are abundant in Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, and other areas of Africa where they flourish in the wild.

There’s always one or two on the lookout to ensure their safety from predators.

Yesterday afternoon, when the ceiling in our bedroom was being repaired along with the screen door to the veranda, that “Little” had damaged on a recent visit, we decided to embark on what proved to be a two-hour drive over bumpy dirt roads, recently made more difficult to navigate due to the weeks of heavy rains. Now that the skies seemed to have cleared and the road graders have been working on the dirt roads, the roads are better than they’d been a few weeks ago.

It’s hard for us to believe we’ve been here for 50 days so far. Somehow, the time flies so quickly when we’re here, enjoying the many amazing aspects of this wildlife conservancy along with the blissful social aspects. Speaking of which, we have a few busy upcoming social events in a row over the next several days.

Tonight, Thursday, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for dinner with friends Linda and Ken, who will be returning to their home in Johannesburg next Tuesday. Tomorrow night, Friday, we’re hosting sundowners at our house, for eight of us for which we’ll set up another table on the veranda to ensure social distancing. Included in that group are Linda and Ken, Andrew and Lesley, Louise and Manie (a different Louise), and the two of us.

On Saturday night, we’ll be going to Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as Aamazing River View, for sundowners to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary, which is actually on Sunday, March 7th.  After enjoying the views of the Crocodile River, we’ll again head to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant. On Sunday, the actual day of our anniversary, Linda and Ken invited us for some “bubbly” and a nice meal cooked on the braai.

  • As a result of all of these social plans, we’ll be busy over the next four nights. By Monday, once again, we’ll prepare our dinner on the braai and revel in the beauty and magic of the bush, as we spend each day and evening on the veranda watching stunning wildlife in the garden. Life is good.

We hope life is good for you!

Photo from one year ago today, March 4, 2020:

The entrance to the Raaj Bagh Restaurant, which facilitates guests of the hotel and is located across the street. For more photos, please click here.

formerlyat a previous timeMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

We’re leaving on an exciting expedition in 37 days!…

This elephant was a frequent visitor
This elephant is a frequent visitor to Little Governors Camp. Not our photo.

It was a painstaking process to figure out where we could go during the pandemic to have our visas stamped for a new 90-day stay in South Africa. The restrictions were frustrating and prohibitive for many locations. Many countries couldn’t accommodate us under any circumstances.

After extensive research over the past few weeks, it was in the past week that we considered returning to Kenya. The last time we’d been there was in 2013 when we’d longed to experience our first photo safari in the Maasai Mara.

From this site:

“Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in NarokKenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area of the Nile Basin. Their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara” means “spotted” in the local Maasai language, due to the many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

Regularly, elephants enter Little Governors Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, often at mealtime, looking for a morsel to savor off the plates of the guests. Not our photo.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lionAfrican leopardcheetah, and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the Ten Wonders of the World.”

A few years ago, while in South Africa, we booked a fantastic tour in Kenya for which we’d prepaid the entire cost well in advance, at a then cost of ZAR 223225, US $15,000. It was only a few months later that I had to have emergency open-heart surgery when we were only days away from departure for the extraordinary experience.

On such short notice, we lost the bulk of the fare. Thanks to Louise for helping us get a partial refund while I was still in the hospital. We understood that the short-term cancellation had put the host of the tour in a tough spot when it was impossible for him to resell our spot on such short notice. We were grateful to get back the 30% she arranged for us.

We can only imagine the excitement of being back in the Maasai Mara, let alone with elephants visiting the camp. Not our photo.

But, it never left our minds what we missed on that trip. The one venue of most interest to us was a stay at Little Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Nor, did it ever leave our minds how much we enjoyed many safaris/game drives in the Maasai Mara, unlike anywhere we’ve visited since that time in 2013.

At that time, we stayed at Camp Olonono another luxury tented camp where we had an extraordinary experience as we anticipate we will once again. We went out on two game drives each day and couldn’t have seen more wildlife than we did. At Little Governor’s Camp, we’ll embark on two game drives each day, hanging around the camp for what we hope will be a recurring experience that Little Governor’s Camp is known for, elephants visiting the resort/campgrounds, even at times, entering the dining area and picking food off the plates of the guests. Oh, gosh, this will be the epitome of “safari luck” if this occurs while we’re there.

Of course, as always, we’ll prepare ourselves the elephants may not stop by while we’re at the camp. Instead, we’ll revel in the outstanding experiences we’ll surely have while out on the game drives. If someone were to ask us how many times we’ve been out on photo safaris after all these years, it would have to be well over 100. We never tire of the experience.

Governors' Camp | The Masai Mara, Kenya | The Africa Specialists™
We’ll be staying in a luxury tent with an ensuite bath and many amenities. Not our photo.

We still have a lot to do to complete the requirements for this upcoming trip; apply for online e-Visas, apply online for the complicated COVID-19 form required for entry into Kenya, arrange for hotels on either end, get Covid-10 PCR tests before we depart South Africa and arrange a rental car for three months for our return.

So far, all we’ve done is book the multiple flights and book and pay in full for Little Governor’s Camp required this close to arrival time. The camp has arranged for our small-plane round-trip flight in and then out of the Maasai Mara from a small airport in Nairobi.

We’ll report back later as we work our way through the process of wrapping up the tasks required to complete this upcoming adventure. If we had to leave South Africa for this visa thing, we decided that doing something wonderful was the way to go. We’re both thrilled to have this figured out!

Today, we left the house while a few repairs were being made on our bush house. “Little” had made a massive hole in the screen door to the veranda, trying to get into the house and a ceiling panel in the master bedroom had started coming down after weeks of rain and humidity. While the workers were here, we drove around the park, taking some exceptional photos which we’ll begin sharing in tomorrow’s post. Also, we took exciting photos in the garden early this morning, which we also can’t wait to share.

See you here tomorrow! Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2020:

We loved this sign, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the Elderly & Beautiful.” For more photos, please click here.

Planning for the future…Uncertainty in times of Covid-19…

It’s surprising how well they get along when sharing the raw scrambled eggs.

Ah, it’s a new day, and it’s more perfect than it’s been in a while. The sun is shining. The temperature is moderate with low humidity. Late yesterday, our site was down for a few hours but now it is working again. Why this happens is beyond me. All I know is our web people quickly respond to resolve it.

My question? Is WordPress unstable? Is our web hosting company Hostinger, a huge worldwide provider, unstable? I can’t seem to get a definitive answer to these questions. But, this continues to happen from time to time. If you see we’re down, please check back later, knowing our web people are working to find a permanent solution. We always know when this happens, since WordPress sends me a message. Immediately, regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, we report it.

Our site is huge with well over 3000 posts and 40,000 photos. This may be a contributing factor. One may say, well, Amazon is a thousand times larger than us and they don’t go down. Well, they are spending millions of dollars a year to maintain their site. Obviously, we are not. Since we make so little revenue from our site, recently we added more advertising in an attempt to offset some of our web-related expenses.

This mongoose must have stared at us for an hour, watching our every move.

Also, we are in the process of monetizing our YouTube page. We’d hoped we’d never have to do this, but with all these added web expenses we had no choice. Of course, none of this impacts our readers, other than an occasional click to rid yourself of the necessity of viewing an ad. You aren’t obligated to use our advertisers, (but we appreciate it if you do) nor do you have to pay to access our site. This won’t change.

You can access our YouTube videos at this link. It’s easy to sign up if you’d like to become a subscriber. You may enjoy going back and seeing our old videos from all over the world. In the future, we’ll be making a concerted effort to try to upload more and more videos.

Right now, as I prepare today’s post, Tom is researching flights for our exit on April 9th for the much-needed visa stamps when our current visas expire on April 12th. We have to leave a few days earlier than our visa ends, since the car rental facilities at the local airport, Nelspruit/Kruger/Mpumalanga, are closed on the weekends. Thus, we’ll leave before and after a weekend.

Tom brought out the pan with the raw scrambled eggs and of course, they gobbled them up in a matter of seconds.

As for what we’ve chosen to do when required to leave South Africa, by tomorrow, we should have a plan in place and we’ll share all the details here.

As we’ve sat here over the past hour, the sun has become hidden behind white fluffy clouds. It may rain after all. We’ve been watching the weather and the condition of dirt roads in order to embark on a drive through Marloth Park and eventually to Kruger National Park.

The outdoor restaurant at Lower Sabie, the Mugg & Bean has been closed for the past few months. When traveling to Kruger it’s a practical spot to stop for a bathroom break and brunch. There are no public restrooms in the park other than resorts, camps, and restaurants. To spend several hours in the park without a bathroom break can be a challenging premise.

They are so cute, playful, and funny, we always enjoy their visits. Besides, they are a deterrent to snakes since they may attack them and are resistant to the venom.

Plus, it’s awfully fun to be on a self-drive in this massive national park and be able to stop at a restaurant overlooking the Sabie River, often rife with wildlife, a view to be savored while dining. Photo ops are abundant in this area. Soon, we’ll go on a day’s outing, as the dirt roads dry up more and more, not only here in Marloth Park but also in Kruger.

Today, we’ll spend the bulk of the day booking plans for April 9th, firming up all the details. A vital aspect of booking any travel plan at this point is to become well aware of Covid-19 requirements and restrictions. No traveler would want to discover, upon arriving in another country, that a 14-day quarantine was required. This would be a fiasco.

They tend to rest piled atop one another with an occasional little head peeking out from under the pile.

Otherwise, all is well. We’re cheerful, although zeroed in on booking the upcoming travels and will feel a great sense of relief once we’ve completed booking every aspect of this upcoming trip.

Enjoy your day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2020:

The bulky gaur, a rare type of buffalo, found in India. For more photos, please click here.

An old friend comes to call…Sheer delight…

It only took me a split second to realize it was Little, not only by how he looked at me but by his funny-shaped little tusks.

Note: We’ve yet to receive the link for the stream of our interview on Lowveld Radio on Saturday. Once we receive the stream for the podcast, we will upload it in the next day’s post. We’ve returned from Malalane after seeing Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon, and for the first time ever, leaving a doctor’s office, I was on Cloud 9.

There is no abscess, nor is there any issue of any kind with any of my teeth or gums. His sophisticated scanning equipment clearly revealed every aspect of my mouth. He stated emphatically that I had the teeth of a much younger person who’s obviously cared for her teeth all of her life. This news made me smile.

Apparently, the pain I had in my check was a result of a sinus infection, which the antibiotics I’d taken may have resolved. What a relief! I was anticipating bad news, not such good news. We’re both thrilled. After we left the dental office, we headed to Click’s Pharmacy, a store comparable to a CVS or Walgreen in the US. Tom waited in the car while I shopped.

Little kneeling on his knees for some pellets. He was in heaven. Me, too.

I loaded up on some much-needed cosmetic items. After all, I hadn’t been to such a store in over a year, back in the US at the end of 2019. Actually, it was fun to load up on some of my favorite items. In my old life, I usually used department store cosmetics. In the past eight years plus, I’ve been content using drugstore items when I’m able to find such a drug store in any given country. It’s not always possible.

After Click’s we drove a short distance to the massive Spar Market, which is twice the size of the Spar store in Komatipoort with many more options and again, good prices. It was more like Sam’s Club or Costco store. I felt like a kid in a candy store, squealing with delight, each time I found something new, befitting of our way of eating.

From there we headed back to our bush house, anxious to unload our “haul” and get to work preparing today’s post with the intent of getting it uploaded before 4:00 pm. Tonight is a cause to celebrate. But, then again, a lot of evenings are worthy of celebration. It’s comfortable and cool today. The WiFi and power are working. We have a great dinner planned and we couldn’t be more content.

Perhaps a nap was on the agenda, not uncommon for Little.

However, something wonderful happened yesterday afternoon while we lounged on the veranda in the early afternoon. A warthog came up to the veranda looking for pellets. Immediately, Tom said, “Oh, that’s the pig that tore a huge hole in the screen door a few days ago,” while I was indoors. He was trying to make his way into the house.

The moment I looked at him, I recognized him. It was, unquestionably, without a doubt, my boy Little. My heart skipped a beat with sheer joy. It was easy for me to recognize his unique features, particularly, his girth and his flint-shaped little tusks, the reason I’d named him “Little.”

I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough. But first, pellets were on the menu. Tom tossed him several containers while happily, I took one photo of him after another. As a matter of fact, just to confirm it was him, for which I had no hesitation, Tom looked up old photos of him for comparison and he too agreed, it was, in fact, our boy Little. Sadly, I’d surmised that perhaps he’d been culled during the last culling  2020.

Napping was elusive when there were more pellets on the ground.

The big question remained… Did he remember me from 22 months ago, the last three of which I spent very little time outdoors while recovering from open heart surgery? I’d been stuck lying on the sofa in the lounge room until I was able to walk after the two leg surgeries began to heal. He continued to visit each day during those long three months. When I could muster the strength and energy, I’d occasionally get up to greet him.

Now, keeping in mind that science states that pigs are even smarter than dogs and, we all know dogs remember those they love, years after they’ve been separated for whatever reason. Why wouldn’t a pig? And Little did. He stopped eating pellets while I called him by name, talked to him and looked into his eyes. If a pig could smile with that goofy snout, he would have been smiling.

But, I smiled for both of us. It took over six weeks for him to come here and find us and I accept the reality that I may not see him for many more weeks or even months to come. Having seen him once was magical. Any more times, will be a bonus. I doubt he and Tiny will get along and one could scare off the other permanently as happened at the Orange house with Tusker and Basket. Basket came after Tusker and dominated the garden. Tusker never returned again after having been a regular in our garden for many months.

When we were gone today, Vusi was here cleaning and Little returned and was trying to get inside once again. Vusi suggested we move the big bags of pellets from the lounge to another area. We’ll do this tomorrow.

Ah, yes, I am a died in the wool, animal lover. Some may say I am an “animal whisperer” when so quickly I build relationships with animals, as has always been the case throughout my life. I love them all, big and small, but especially those where eye contact becomes a relevant means of communication, coupled with their response to my high-pitched, yet gentle voice.

We had a great day out and we plan to spend the remainder of today on the veranda, appreciating the cool, rainy weather and the visitors who come to call, hour after hour. Whether it’s Tiny, who usually arrives each afternoon around 4:00 pm, Little, whom we don’t know will return, or the 24 impalas who graced us with their presence only minutes ago. It’ all magical, and will continue to be so for every moment we spend in this life-changing environment.

Currently, we are working on travel options for getting out of South Africa on or about April 12th when our 90-day visa expires. It doesn’t appear there will be a “free” automatic extension for foreign visitors when President Cyril Ramphosa spoke last night, dropping COVID-19 restrictions down to Level 1 from Level 3, easing some restrictions, none of which impact us at this time. As a result, we’ve decided to take a trip out of the country with some exciting possibilities in the works. We will report back once these plans are confirmed, sometime in the next few days.

That’s all folks! Stay safe. Wash your hands. Social distance and for those who can and are willing, get vaccinated.

Happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, March 1, 2020:

The outdoor dining room at Tuli Tiger Resort. It was very cool at night and we had to bundle up for dinner. For more, please click here.

Part 2 …An exciting opportunity in the bush…Postponed until tomorrow…Great evening with friends…

In Sydney, Ken and Tom toasting “James Squire, the Swindler” summer ale in the pub!

We won’t be posting Part 2 from yesterday’s radio broadcast. Apparently, the stream won’t be available until Monday. The broadcast was live, but apparently, the stream hasn’t been set up yet. Tomorrow when we return from Malalane after my dental surgeon appointment and some grocery shopping, we’ll be preparing that post, providing the stream will be available online by that time.

In Sydney, Linda and I toasted to the special occasion.

This is South Africa, not the US. Things move a little slower here. For some reason, I assumed once the live broadcast was presented, the stream would be available. Sorry for the incorrect information in yesterday’s post here.

As for last night’s first dinner party for four since we arrived in Marloth Park, we had a fabulous time with Linda and Ken. It was fabulous to see our old friends. The last time we were together was in 2019 in Wales, UK when we all went exploring the ruins of famous castles. See the photo below. See that post here.

In Wales, Ken set up our camera timers for this photo.

Prior to that time, we saw them many times in 2018/2019 while we were in Marloth Park. And, before that, we got together in Sydney. Australia and met up at the Fortune of War Pub, the oldest pub in the city, had a few drinks, and walked around the fabulous city, and ended up having lunch at a cozy restaurant. See that post here. They, too, like to travel and are feeling disappointed about travel restrictions at this time, due to Covid-19.

Tom and I and Ken and Linda, great friends from Marloth Park who happened to be in Sydney at the same time as us! Small world!

We felt comfortable being with them in light of Covid-19. They, like us, are extremely careful in avoiding contact with possible exposure to the virus. Still, we did our best to be socially distanced as much as we could, until finally, we went indoors to have dinner at the round dining room table to escape the fervor of the awful mosquitoes who have been on a rampage since the recent rains.

Whether it’s concern about getting the virus or possibly contracting malaria from all the mosquito bites, even when covered with repellent 24/7, one can never be too cautious. I have found it necessary to spend a part of each day indoors to reduce my exposure to the bites. At night, it’s even worse, so we end up going indoors shortly after darkness falls when it becomes even worse. Every four hours I load up on the DEET repellent to no avail.

In Sydney, our wonderful friends, Linda and Ken whom we met in Marloth Park in 2013.

In a few months, as it continues to cool down as winter approaches in June, there won’t be as many mosquitoes. Plus, the cool weather is especially enjoyable when sitting outdoors or sleeping. In any case, we’re still enjoying every moment of our time in Marloth Park.

The socialization, the wildlife, the scenery, the people and the most unusual environment in which we’ve ever lived in our years of world travel. In a perfect world, the visa situation wouldn’t be such an issue. Soon, we’ll need to start looking again for some options for a new visa stamp. We have to leave here in only 43 days.

Today, we’ll lay low. The weather is ideal, not too humid and cooler than usual. The Wifi and power are working.  Tonight, I hope for a better sleep than last night when I tossed and turned, awakening for hours during the night. I want to be well rested for the unknown of what is yet to come for tomorrow’s dental appointment at 9:00 am.

Tomorrow’s post will be later than usual since we don’t expect to be back in Marloth Park until 1:00 or 2:00 pm. Have an excellent Sunday!

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2020:

The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite at Tuli Tiger Resort in Kanha Tiger Reserve in India. For more, please click here.

Part 1…An exciting opportunity in the bush…

Duikers are shy and elusive, rarely coming close for pellets. This adorable male has stopped by a few times, checking us out, but not quite ready to partake of the pellets.

Last night, while out to dinner once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant in Marloth Park, while laughing and chatting with owners, Dawn and Leon, Leon got a call on his phone from Louise who had been trying to call me on my phone but I failed to answer. For some reason I’d turned off the ringer. But, knowing Louise, she knew where to find us.

She told Leon she had an urgent message for us. We couldn’t imagine what it could be. Quickly, we listened to what she had to say and were surprised when she asked us to come to their Marloth Park Info Centre at 7:30 am tomorrow, Saturday, to be interviewed for radio station in Nelspruit, Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM.

When Louise and Danie, who provide a fantastic resource for tourists at their Marloth Park Info Centre located at 3043 Olifant Drive, asked us if we could come to the centre at 7:30 this morning for an interview with Radio Lowveld, at first we hesitated. It was awfully early to get up, shower, dress and be out the door.

This is newly named, Peter, Paul, and Mary. They have become quite regular visitors to our garden.

But, when Louise explained that the purpose of us being interviewed was to promote tourism in Marloth Park, we jumped at the chance. The early morning time would work fine for us if we managed to leave Jabula early enough to get back to our bush house  and get a good night’s sleep after getting to be at a decent hour.

We continued schmoozing with Dawn and Leon, ate our usual delicious dinner and left before 8:00 pm, with me even leaving an unfinished full glass of red wine, something I’d rarely do. More on my mind, was being fresh and sharp for the early morning interview. As it turned out later in the evening, Louise texted saying we could arrive at 8:15 am instead of 7:30. That helped.

This photo was taken from the car window when we drove along the Crocodile River yesterday afternoon.

Once back at the house, we settled in, watched a Netflix series on my laptop and by 10:30 pm, I was asleep, Tom shortly thereafter. With no time to prepare an agenda for the interview, we realized we’d have no choice but to “wing it” focusing on the reasons why we continue to return to Marloth Park, now for the fourth time, for a total of 20 months, when repeat stays anywhere in the world weren’t on our radar when we decided to travel the world, beginning on October 31, 2012.

In fact, early on, Tom and I made a pact that we’d never return to the same location, other than to visit family in the USA, in order to ensure we continually expanded our horizons by visiting more and more countries and points of interest along the way. After all, the world is a huge place.

Hopefully, soon, zebras will come to see us in the garden.

Anytime one does a broadcast interview or a public speech, it’s easy to think back, wishing we’d said “this or that.” In this case, I wished I had focused more on promoting tourism to Marloth Park rather than focus on our personal reasons for coming here again and again.

But, perhaps, that’s what listeners want to hear…why a typical couple, like us, keeps returning to a favorite vacation/holiday spot, regardless of travel goals and aspirations, simply because they want to, as opposed to what one “should do” when traveling. For us, the reasons we love Marloth Park are uncomplicated:

  1. The access to viewing animals in the wild, up close and personal, a rare experience in this world. Who wouldn’t love a traffic jam with six or more giraffes blocking the road? When have you ever had a zebra, kudu, warthog or wildebeest, in your backyard or garden? Who wouldn’t love some of the best bird watching in the world while sitting on your holiday home’s veranda?
  2. Meeting some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals on the planet, based on our past worldwide experiences which provides us with an extensive social life.
  3. Easy access to the Big Five in a short 25 minute drive to enter the massive Kruger National Park at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate which covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west.”
  4. Conveniently located to many other stunning tourist activities, too many to mention here. But Louise and Danie have tons of information available at the Info Centre, conveniently located in the center of Marloth Park on the main paved road.
  5. Fantastic restaurants with great food, conversation and warm welcoming
  6. Local shops for supplies, food, biltong, liquor, with a post office, hair salons, ATMs, hardware, feed shop, fantastic water park ideal for kids and families, and so much more, contained in two easy to access shopping centers
  7. A short minute drive from any direction to see the Crocodile River, which separates Marloth Park and Kruger National Park with viewings of lions, elephants, cape buffalo
  8. Endless options for holiday rentals, including private houses, lodges, resorts and hostels with prices suitable for all budgets, all right within the borders of Marloth Park. For us, Louise and Danie are our chosen hosts for the holiday homes we’ve rented during our four visits over the years providing exemplary services and properties. There are countless other properties, you may choose offered by other property owners and managers.
  9. Visiting a game reserve, Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park with lions, whose roars often fill the air at night, music to our ears.
  10. An easy paced, quiet environment offering the utmost of holiday options in a unique setting unlike anywhere else in the world. This magical place leaves every visitor with stories and photos to share for a lifetime.
Kudus stopping by for some treats and a drink from the pool.

The above reasons are why we chose to return again and again to Marloth Park for some of the finest experiences we’ve had in over eight years of world travel. This visit right now, is by no means, our last. We will continue to break our pact of not repeating locations in our worldwide travels, and return to Marloth Park, over and over again.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll share a link to our interview with Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM. We’re excited to share it with all of you.

Now I need to get back to work preparing tonight’s dinner for friends Linda and Ken, who will be arriving in about four hours.

Have a safe and pleasing day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2020:

Photo taken while on a road trip to our next location on our private tour of India. Please click here for more photos.

Busy weekend plans in the bush…

Ms. Mongoose is expecting. Note her wide girth.

It’s another late start to the day. It’s almost 1:00 pm and we’ve been busy this morning, leaving little time to post. Now that we have power, once again, and I am feeling better, I’ve been able to resume working out on the borrowed/rented treadmill. It feels good to be working out.

Another post from pregnant mama mongoose. She proved to be fast on her feet when we offered her a few whole eggs. She had no trouble ensuring no one else would grab them.

Each hour, I set my phone’s timer to remind me that it’s time to go into the second bedroom, turn on the AC five minutes in advance and get back to work. It’s comparable to the walking I did in Mumbai during those 10 long months, striving for 10,000 steps, 5 miles, 8 km, per day.

Tiny never fails to stop for a visit, pellets, and a rest.

Unfortunately, my Fitbit doesn’t read how many steps I have been doing on the machine since I don’t swing my arms. I keep my hands on the rails to record my heart rate to ensure it doesn’t go too high. The reading seems fairly accurate when I compare it to the reading on the Fitbit.

We call this male bushbuck Torn Ear. His left ear had an injury, leaving a flap of hair and skin. He often visits several times a day.

Another reason to keep my arms on the rails is for safety. Since the two operations on my legs 22 months ago, I am not as steady on my feet as I used to be. It’s for that reason we don’t walk on the dirt roads in Marloth Park. They are uneven, rocky, and riddled with potholes that could easily result in a fall.

Mongoose attempting to drink from the swimming pool. There’s a pond in our garden that most animals use for drinking. But, some insist on drinking the chlorinated pool water. After a few gulps they realize it’s not an ideal water source.

Then, this morning we headed out to the little market in Marloth Park for a few items for tomorrow night’s dinner when Linda and Ken will be joining us. Before we made our way to the market we drove around the park in search of wildlife sightings. We were able to spot only a few and jumped at the opportunity for a few new photos.

A dung beetle with his ball of dung, rolling it across the garden.

A short time later, gingerly, I made my way around the crowded little market, trying desperately to avoid getting  too close to other shoppers. They didn’t have a few items on my list so I had to make do with what they did have on hand. One of the items I was looking for was toothpicks for the few bite-sized starters I’m serving with our sundowners.

Appetizers, called “starters” here in South Africa, are traditionally served with cocktails before dinner to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. I’m supposing this is the reason. This is also a common practice in the US. Tom and I, when it’s just the two of us, never have starters, fearful we’d get “full” even before the main meal is served.

One Wart has become a regular visitor, although he and Tiny don’t necessarily get along.

But, over the years, we’ve made an effort to repeat this tradition with our dinner or sundowners/happy hour guests. Also, for just the two of us, we didn’t/don’t need to consume any more food than that which we have on the night’s menu, which ultimately would result in added weight we always struggled to avoid.

This morning, Tom weighed the same as he had when we were in Belize in early 2013. We’ve both been striving to take extra care of ourselves and to drop some unnecessary poundage. It’s been going well. I’d still like to drop 2 or 3 more kg, five to six pounds, and this last bit is going very slowly. The number on the scale won’t budge for me, but my clothes are fitting so I’m not complaining.

A yet-to-be-named female we’ve only seen a few times.

Tonight, the two of us are returning to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another dinner, after last Saturday night’s birthday dinner. When we saw how careful they are in regard to Covid-19, we feel comfortable returning again so soon. We’ll sit outdoors on the main veranda and avoid spending any time sitting at our favorite spot, the bar.

Those days of gabbing while standing or sitting at a bar, may be long gone, not only for us, but for others all over the world, at their favorite pubs and dining establishments, We’ve always found bars to be a great place to commiserate with the locals in any giver town or city. It’s no different here in Marloth Park. Sadly Covid-19 has changed many forms of entertainment for all of us.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2020:

This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but as most of our readers know, we wouldn’t ride one nor do we approve of elephants in captivity (or other animals for that matter). For more, please click here.

Out! Out! and out some more!!! We’re back up!!…

Mom and Baby Zebra waiting to cross the road.

During the night, our water cooler leaked all the water from a fresh bottle onto the floor. No big deal. Zef was here this morning and fixed the issue. No big deal. This morning at about 7:30 am the power went out. A big deal. Eskom, the unreliable electric company, is supposedly working on it. I won’t blame the workers. They seem to work hard to resolve issues as they occur.May be an image of sky

The above photo was taken from a Facebook post about a monkey that was electrocuted while on a power line, causing a several-hour outage in Marloth Park.

Several hours ago, the WiFi went down. A big deal, for us. Most likely, it doesn’t have anything to do with the power outage since often, when the power is down, we still have WiFi. The service provider is working on it. We shall see how this goes. In the worst case, I will upload a short post from my phone using its pricey data plan through Google Fi. (As I prepare to upload this post, the power is back on!)

It is so hot and humid today, it’s difficult to breathe. An occasional respite in the bedroom with the air-con on, wouldn’t have been possible without power. However, our almost fully charged inverter allowed the fan in the bedroom to work until it runs out of juice. Not knowing when the power will be restored,  we avoided using the fan. We saved the inverter power for recharging our phones and laptops. We’ve been sweating like crazy.

I have to wear clothes with a lot of coverage due to the mozzies. Right now, I am wearing a tee-shirt, jeans and heavy socks. The mosquitoes love to bite my ankles, bare arms, neck and hands, regardless of how much repellent I add to my bare skin several times a day. I am covered in bites from the past several days.

Tiny rarely misses a day visiting us. Each time he stops by, he is tentative at first. But, he becomes more at ease as we talk to him.

Yes, I know. I promised not to whinge (complain about these things) once we got out of that hotel room in India. Overall, we are fine. Tom and I don’t complain to one another about any of these issues. It doesn’t make it any easier if we do. Instead, we find ways to busy ourselves, playing games on our phones which is what I’ll do when I’m done preparing the day’s post while offline to which I won’t be able to add photos and eventually upload until the WiFi returns at some point.

Yesterday, we used the oven to roast a beef brisket that was very fatty and boney but the meat turned out delicious. With the fridge not working due to the power outage, we reheated the meat on the braai to eat it before it spoils. After lunch, we tossed dozens of bones to a 60 member band of mongooses. They love the little bones, eating the marrow and the scrapes of meat and fat. They bang to bones against the wall of the swimming pool in an attempt to “crack them open” for better access to the marrow. It was fun to watch.

A lone frequent warthog visitor, whom we’ve aptly named “Lonely Boy” stopped by for a few hours. He’s easy to identify when one of the warts on the left side of his head is droopy and larger than the wart on the right side. We make a point of remembering little odd markings on the different species, making it easy to identify our regulars. We call them by the names we’ve given them knowing full well at the bush house down the road, they are called by different names, not ours.

No doubt, giraffes like to get a load off their feet from time to time. Giraffes are the tallest land animals. “Female giraffes are up to 4.2 meters, 14 feet tall, and weigh up to 680 kg, 1,500 pounds. Meanwhile, males are up to 5.5 meters, 18 feet tall, and can weigh 1361 kg, 3,000 pounds.”

Any animal could have dozens of names as they wander through their preferred territory. But, oddly, once we’ve called them by a specific name a dozen times or so, they respond. Whether it’s the response to my high-pitched voice or the name we’ve bestowed upon them, remains to be seen. In any case, it’s great for us, to see their ears perk up and see them look into our eyes when we mention their names. It’s all a part of the joy of being in Marloth Park.

Yesterday, we headed to Daisy’s Den, the feed store, to purchase a 5 kg, 11 pounds, bag of birdseed. Frank and The Family have really been enjoying the seeds, stopping by several times a day, squawking, making his loud Francolin noise to let us know he wants more. We enjoy every time he stops by. Even if we’re indoors, we know he is there, by the sounds he makes.

While we were out and about, we drove for a while in the park, looking for photo ops, and found only a few which we’re sharing in today’s new photos. We’ve yet to find the ostrich family, we’ve heard so much about but continue on a mission to meet up with them at some point soon.

Impalas as seen across the Crocodile River.

We’re never disappointed to see giraffes and zebras. Oddly, since our arrival, no zebras have entered our garden. We believe it’s due to the low-lying brush surrounding the property that makes it difficult for them to get through. Nor have we seen any Big Daddies in our garden, the huge fully horned kudu bulls, again perhaps for the same reason.

Driving around Marloth Park provides us with an opportunity to see even more wildlife. At this time, the municipality road workers are busy grading the rough dirt roads to make it easier for cars to pass. It will take a while for this job to be completed. In the interim, it’s really risky to drive the roads with many dangerous ravines, deep trenches, and potholes. Often, when we drive, we have to turn around, unable to go forward without risking damage to the rental car or even getting stuck, neither of which we’re willing to risk.

Yes, it would be more sensible to rent a car with a 4-wheel drive, but based on how long we stay, the cost of such a vehicle is prohibitive. This is a sacrifice we make to keep our costs under control, something we always consider in our world travels.

We can’t resist taking photos of the growing Helmeted Guinea-fowl chicks with Mom or Dad.

Our friends, Linda and Ken will arrive in Marloth Park sometime tomorrow. We’re excited to see them over the weekend. They will be staying at friends Kathy and Don’s home in the bush located along the Crocodile River. Kathy and Don are waiting to get their Covid vaccines in Hawaii, their other home until they head this way. That makes sense. It will be fantastic when we all can be together again, along with other friends who may arrive over the next several months.

I just heard from Louise. The power outage is a result of Vervet Monkeys climbing up an electric pole. Sadly, they were electrocuted resulting in the power outage. They were high up on the pole, It could have been all day before the power was restored. But, as I finish up this post, the power and WiFi are both back on.  What a relief!

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2020:

Perfection! A painting from a local artist we met at the resort at the Kahna National Park. For more, please click here.

Tom’s unique podcast story…Check out this video!…

Listen to the above video with a mention of Tom and his daily participation on the most popular podcast in the Midwest, Garage Logic.

Tom has been listening to a radio show, Garage Logic, in the US, directly from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, his birthplace. In the early 90s, he started listening to the shows, when, at that time, radio broadcasts couldn’t necessarily be streamed hours after a live broadcast. If he was working, during the broadcast, he’d missed out entirely. Episodes may be found here.

A few years later, as the internet became enhanced, he was able to stream the past broadcasts, listening at his leisure to the two to three-hour broadcasts. A few years ago, Garage Logic was no longer associated with KSTP 1500 radio and began to conduct their own podcasts, available on several podcast apps. There was no charge to listen to the shows.

During our years of world travel, Tom rarely missed an episode. If we were on a cruise or during travel days, it was easy to catch up once we were settled in our next location. In most cases, the WiFi signal was sufficient to be able to stream the shows. Over the years, I started listening to it in the background while I was preparing a post. You know, we girls can multitask! But, as Joe says, in reference to wives, girlfriends, and significant others, the CP, the Chief Procurer.

Also, over the years I found the show to be quite entertaining, often leaving us both laughing out loud over the host’s unfiltered opinions and attitudes. Although we don’t always agree with their viewpoint, it’s entertaining listening, as is the case with many podcasts. It’s those differences that often add to the entertainment factor.

Joe Soucheray is the host of the show accompanied by his sidekicks who cover social media, news, traffic, and production, which includes Chris Reuvers,  Matt Michalski, John Heidt, Kenny Olson, and more. The show is newsworthy, funny, and ultimately entertaining. They are able to present information in a manner that doesn’t offend anyone and yet is rich in content and views.

Over the years, on occasion, Tom would email them tidbits from “On This Date in Minnesota History” which they often read on the show mentioning Tom’s name. However, while we were in lockdown in Mumbai, India for 10 months, Tom began sending Joe Soucheray an email with daily updates from the site

Instead of Joe using the site himself directly, he chose to mention Tom’s name each and every day when Tom sent in the information, rarely missing a day. When Joe mentioned this in each podcast, he always said, “Only because they come all the way from Mumbai, India, from our friend Tom Lyman, it was on this day… And then, Joe reads the information Tom sent in, “On This Date in Minnesota History.”

Now that we’re in South Africa as Tom continues to send Joe the newest updates “On this Date in Minnesota History,” Joe says, “Only because they come all the way from Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa, from our friend Tom Lyman, it was on this day…And then Joe continues on with the story.

If you were to click on the February 23rd podcast here and scroll forward to precisely one hour, 18 minutes, 39 seconds, you’ll hear Joe’s mention of Tom. We must admit, we get a huge kick out of this. In addition, they have invited both of us to their studio to record a podcast with them, the next time we are in Minnesota which will be, May 2022. It will be our pleasure. No doubt, we don’t mind a little “press” from time to time.

Have a fantastic day and continue to stay safe.

Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2020:

There was no post on this date one year ago today, based on the poor WiFi signal we experienced while on safari in Kanha National Park in India.

A nighttime, dream-like sighting for Tom…I missed it!…The responsibilities of living in the bush…

100 African Porcupine Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Cape Porcupine. Not our photos. Wish it was!

Last night, Tom was standing at the veranda sliding doors looking out into the garden, he spotted a porcupine, which, the moment he quietly opened the door, dashed into the bush, gone from sight. Of course, the sound of the door scared her/him away. Tom couldn’t have been more excited, as was I, but sorely disappointed I didn’t see it, even yet, get a photo. The likelihood of taking a photo of a porcupine at night, their preferred foraging time, is rather slim.

In 2018, dear friends Rita and Gerhard, who will soon return to Marloth Park while we’re here, managed to get a photo of a porcupine walking across their veranda late at night. We were so excited for them as they celebrated in the unusual sighting. Last night before bed, I must have looked outside 20 times, hoping it would make another appearance. No such safari luck last night.

I went to bed with a smile on my face, thinking sometime down the road, we may be able to see it again. Louise mentioned that porcupine shelters, holes dug into the ground, may have been flooded during the massive rainstorms over the past many weeks bringing them out into the open more frequently than usual.

Wildebeest Willie just can’t help himself. He loves to stop by.

In the past few days, we’ve had minimal visitors with the typical weekend influx of tourists, who often feed the wildlife pellets but also leftover human food. There’s no doubt the animals love eating chips, bread, corn, bagged snacks, sweets, and other such foods which may be toxic to them. This may result in them visiting those tourists as opposed to us. This has been the case over the time we’ve spent in Marloth Park. Weekends are typically quieter than weekdays.

But when unfamiliar and uneducated tourists come to this special area, they may not have the innate desire to keep the wildlife healthy and free from harm, as do those of us who have enjoyed the bush respecting the imperative balance of the wildlife’s diet. They aren’t like us, able to consume unhealthy foods and yet survive. The pellets are made entirely without chemicals and consist of the nutrients and vegetation found in their natural habitat.

Frank and The MIsses trotting over to the veranda for some pellets.

When the wildlife doesn’t have access to pellets, they continue to forage on the vegetation the rains have so blissfully provided to ensure a healthy diet for them. We only feed small amounts of pellets to any one visiting species at a time and often see them revert to their usual sources of vegetation the moment the pellets we’ve tossed are consumed.

Other aspects of impairing the quality of life for the wildlife, are loud music, loud talking and partying, teasing the animals, and most horrifying, speeding and careless driving on the roads. Often during the many annual South African holidays, when normally the park is packed with tourists, an animal will be killed on the road. (Although Covid-19 has definitely reduced the number of tourists during the past year).

Young Mr. Kudu checking out the pellet situation in our garden.

Sure, wildlife often darts out into traffic onto a road with little notice of vehicles on the move, After all, they are animals, not humans, who’ve learned to look both ways before they cross. In these infrequent cases, an animal can be hit and fatally injured or killed.

Then, it is up to the rangers to determine if the animal must be euthanized or can be treated. Most often the end result has been euthanasia. It’s heartbreaking to read about these situations, whether from thoughtless, carelessness, or truly an accident. It’s hard to determine which was the case. If everyone were to drive slowly as posted on the road signs, 90% of these “accidents” would never transpire.

That’s not to say that all tourists fall into this category. There are many, like us, who arrive here with a passion for the care and treatment of wildlife, respecting their way of life and the fact that we humans are intruding upon their habitat, not the other way around.

Handsome kudu.

Also, it’s imperative to respect the many homeowners here as well, many of whom have used their life savings to own a home in this wildlife paradise and struggle to make ends meet, while living on a fixed income as costs rise in the unstable economy in this country.

At times, tourists dump their garbage on the homeowner’s property, left for the monkeys to scavenge and litter the mess throughout the property and the bush neighborhood. At other times, we hear of burglaries in which TVs, computers, and other digital equipment, bedding, and household goods are taken. Most homeowners have security systems, monitored by security companies located within Marloth Park but making sure it is engaged at all times in the responsibility of the owners and occupants.

At night, we take the house keys in the bedroom with us with the red emergency button connected to a local security company. If there were an invasion or issue during the night, we’d need only push the button to set off the alarm. In minutes, the security people would arrive. But, if the keys are in another room, there would be no immediate recourse.

A herd or “clan” of impalas stopped by to check out the situation. They are very skittish and if we make a move, they take off.

Another concern in Marloth Park is the risk of fire. Usually, the bush is arid and dry, and it’s particularly susceptible to an outrageous, fast-moving fire. When visitors come, they must be educated on this matter and all of the above-mentioned items, that yes, bonfires are fun and traditional in South Africa, but extreme care must be taken to ensure they are properly and carefully observed during use, and appropriately doused and put out after use.

Life here in the bush is not as simple as sitting back and enjoying the wildlife. There’s a huge responsibility that goes along with it. We can only hope and pray that this wildlife paradise will still be here in years to come, only possible with the love and support of those who visit and those who live here.

Have a great Tuesday, folks. It’s another hot and humid day here. The mozzies are on a rampage after me so I may need to spend the better part of the day indoors. They are still biting even when loaded up with repellent. Go figure. Why they like me so much remains

Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2020:

Our first photo of the elusive Bengal Tiger in Kanha National Park in India. There she was. We couldn’t have asked for a better vantage point. For more photos, please click here.