Happy birthday to the man of my dreams, whose made my dreams come true…The photos below explain how…Yesterday’s safari…

In our travels, we’ve found that “two heads are better than one!”  We were so close to these rhinos that it took our breath away.

Without a card to give to him, a gift for him to unwrap, Tom’s 61st birthday could potentially be a letdown. But, it won’t, if I can help it.

Only minutes after commencing the game drive, we drove over the Crocodile River to spot these Hippos.
Although we were facing the bright afternoon sun, we were grateful to get the Hippos photos.
One last shot as we pulled away.

Yesterday afternoon’s game drive in Kruger Park fulfilled our now deep-rooted expectations after the hard-to-match experience we had in the Masai Mara only a few short months ago. The photos we’ll share today will show why.

A small crocodile in the Crocodile River where no boating is allowed due to the viscous predators.
Throughout the game drive, we saw many wildebeests.

This was the first time we’d seen baby wildebeest.

Kruger Park is very different than the Masai Mara. The regulations require that the safari vehicle stays on the paved or dirt roads at all times, limiting the opportunity to “chase down” amazing sightings while driving across the bush. Thus, one is dependent upon the lucky sighting of wildlife that happens to be near the roads at any given time. Talk about the need for “safari luck!”

An hour into the game drive, we spotted rhinos.
Thanks for turning our way rhino.
The situation with rhino poaching is a serious issue worldwide. In Kruger Park alone, there were 425 killed in 2012 with 2013 stats coming out soon. When a mother Rhino is slaughtered, the babies are left to die. We’ve seen armed guards moving quickly along the roads in the park, on their way to a possible poacher being sighted. They are shot on site, hoping to deter future poachers. It’s been proven that the horn of the Rhino has virtually no medicinal benefit and yet millions worldwide believe otherwise. These amazing animals will be extinct in the near future if their senseless slaughter isn’t stopped.

Our first time in Kruger Park a few weeks ago was disappointing, as we’d posted here a few weeks ago. Expectations were high when sightings were mostly birds. Don’t get me wrong. We like birds. 

She’s got something in her mouth.

Yesterday, once again, “safari luck” kicked in!

Nothing flips our hearts over in our chests more than the sighting of an animal in the wild and the opportunity to take a photo in order to recall the experience at any time in the future. As we began to tour the park in the huge game vehicle loaded with 19 participants and an excellent driver/guide, Dion, we were surprised how few participants were taking photos.

Next game drive we’ll go in a smaller group, allowing ample time to wait for the best photos. I would have waited for this ostrich to pick up its head, but the others preferred to move along.
Then again, few are as driven as we are to document the wonders of nature in our travels with stories and photos. If we didn’t write here, most likely we’d never learn even a little about taking photos and most wouldn’t be saving, sorting, and cataloging them as we do now. Actually, we thank our readership for joyfully inspiring us to capture as much as we possibly can.
We never tire of seeing giraffes and look forward to them visiting our house again after the tourists leave Marloth Park after the holidays. It’s apparent the increased traffic and people have had a bearing on the number of visitors to the houses.
Our guide, Dion, explained that this giraffe was no more than three or four months old. The oxpecker birds take up residence on the youngsters as well.
This female, evidenced by the hair on the little horns, had three oxpecker occupants.
The giraffes graceful legs are surprisingly powerful.
From afar, a lone giraffe against the backdrop of the African bush.

The elegant “bush braai” hosted again by Louise and Dani was as equally enjoyable as the last experience, the food hot and delicious, the wine and beer freely flowing and the service was impeccable. Our table mates were fun and the conversation and laughter never ceased.

As the sun began to set, it became difficult to spot any wildlife. Dion handed out three torches or spotlights handing them to participants who wanted to scan the surroundings for wildlife in the dark.  
We peed in the makeshift outhouse, that was missing a few walls when rhinos had decided to decimate it. We laughed as we checked the ground for scorpion with our little flashlights, as we’ve become more and more at ease with the insects.  
The setting sun in Kruger Park.
Our armed guard wandered about the braai site, ensuring we were never at risk and we never felt unsafe for a moment.  I noticed a few women wearing sandals. Perhaps someday, I will become accustomed to the bugs and not feel a need to wear my boots in the bush. 
These Citronella filled lanterns at the bush braai kept the insects off of our plates and out of our food.

This morning we headed to the Farmer’s Market to pick up our cabbage and carrots, but they hadn’t yet arrived from the farm. This afternoon, we’ll return, hoping they’ll be available.

Check out this creature that joined us for the bush braai.
Closeup, taken in the dark.

With too many photos from yesterday to post in one day due to the Internet traffic, we’ll spread them out over the next several days.

Hope you’re all enjoying the holiday festivities as we rapidly approach Christmas. Stay safe, stay warm, be healthy, let happiness and love envelop your hearts, now and always.

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