Finally, this morning, photos were taken of one of the lions that have been spotted in Marloth Park over the past few months and subsequently, posted on Facebook. These are the first photos we’ve seen of the lions. I contacted the photographer, Melissa Grobler, who is currently staying in the park for a few months, visiting her mom, a resident, asking if we could use her photos. She was thrilled to share.
After all the comments we’ve read about numerous sightings since the lions were originally spotted, with no supporting photos, we began to wonder if these elusive carnivore beasts were actually staying here. Often, at night, humans perceive certain animals to be roaming the bush, other than those we see regularly, At times, at night, we’ve often thought we’ve seen something when perhaps the light and the night tricked our eyes.
In this day and age, with the advent of rampant cellphone and camera use, we longed to see an actual photo of a lion in the park. It’s not that we doubted their existence here, especially when, in this day and age, rangers and many locals have spotted them, over and over again. But, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and Melissa hit the jackpot this morning.
So, for all the naysayers, here are some good photos of the lions, keeping in mind they don’t care to be around humans and may be extremely poor subjects when hiding in the bush, and mostly making appearances at night in the dark when they are on the hunt for their next meal. Obviously, the pickings are good in Marloth Park with so many animals a part of this unusual wildlife conservancy,
On to other matters…This morning at 6:00 am, I received an email from Expedia, that our flight from Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger to Tampa, Florida had been canceled by Delta Airlines. Apparently, Delta isn’t interested in flying to and from South Africa, in light of Omicron, the newest Covid-19 variant.
Although, so far, reports are showing this variant is no more lethal than other variants, a worldwide panic ensued and many countries locked their borders to South Africa as well as airlines suspending flights. In this prior post, we commented how we’ve canceled our plans to attend our dear friends, Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida on February 11th.
We were sad and disappointed to be missing this event, which after the wedding, we’d planned to stay in Florida for an upcoming cruise sailing out of Fort Lauderdale on April 8, 2022. After a month-long stay with Karen and Rich at their oceanfront home, we’d also planned to spend time driving through Florida, visiting friends that have relocated to various oceanside areas in the warm weather state.
With everyone’s justified concerns about Omicron, we won’t be seeing our friends after all. If the trans-Atlantic cruise actually sails, we’ll come to Florida two weeks earlier and self-quarantine, not seeing any of our friends during this period. From there, we’ll board the cruise. But, by the end of March, new rules may be in place about mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from South Africa, whether US citizens or not. Only time will tell.
When we decided to cancel our trip to the wedding, we left our flight, departing on January 22, 2022, in place. With Delta, we had until the end of December to move the flight to a different ending point and date without penalty. A few days ago, when I’d made a to-do list on this post, it included moving this flight. Now, this has been taken care of by Delta canceling the flight and offering us a full refund.
This morning after receiving the email, I requested a refund for the flight and we’ll book our exit out of here when we know more. Is the cruise going to sail in April? Will there be flights out of South Africa by then? What will we do about our visas expiring on January 24th? This all remains to be seen.
In the interim, we’ll be contacting all of our friends in Florida, telling them not to worry about being near us since we won’t be seeing them after all. Our biggest concern beyond that is what we’ll do about our expiring visas in January? We may have no choice but to return to Zambia for another short stay and another visa stamp. Will immigration allow us to make this trip once again? Or, will President Cyril Ramaphosa issue another visa extension for foreign nationals based on this Omicron situation?
Only time will tell. In the interim, we will stay positive and aren’t as worried as one may think. We’ll continue to enjoy our time in the bush and see how it all rolls out.
Today, we’re reveling in the lion photos and the excitement each day of wildlife visiting our garden.
Photo from one year ago today, December 8, 2020: