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.

The Panorama Route…Natural wonders one after another along the highway…God’s Window…

Wow! Bourke’s Luck Potholes was definitely our favorite.
The scenery at Bourke’s Luck Potholes was captivating.
The colorful rock formations, coupled with the water from the Blyde and Treur Rivers at Bourke’s Luck Potholes were breathtaking.

Our three days at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge were so busy, we had little time to relax. I guess that’s what being a tourist is all about, being fearful of missing something one will later regret.

The waterfalls were a highlight at Bourke’s Luck Potholes as well as the unreal rock formations.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes are too beautiful for words.
We hiked the rocky trail to this bridge at Bourke’s Luck Potholes, crossed to the opposite side to take this photo.

We often talk about how we aren’t tourists. We’re travelers, temporary residents in a location in which we’ve traveled.  However, from time to time we don’t mind jumping into the tourist mode to see the sites.

Note:  The photos shown here are not necessarily in the order in which they occur along the Panorama Route.

The sun had peeked out when we visited Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The water was so inviting. Can you imagine the day that Bourke, an unsuccessful gold miner discovered these?  “Essentially, they’re the 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.”
As we made our way out of the Potholes, we were disappointed to leave. But, we needed to get back on the road in order to make the best use of our time.

The crowds, the commercialism, the endless array of hawking vendors, and the waiting behind impatience tourists is definitely annoying. If anything, that’s what may have been instrumental in keeping us away from touristy sites while living in some locations. 

Overcast and hazy when we arrived at God’s Window, we were disappointed that our view would be impeded. This long nicely groomed walkway led to the vantage point. The smell of herbs growing wild in this area was intoxicating. South Africa takes good care of some of its natural resources.
Yes, the haze had an impact on our view from God’s Window.  We could easily imagine it on a totally clear day. 

Luckily, the varied points of interest along South Africa’s Panorama Route were less commercial and crowded than many other tourist locations we’ve visited. With the holiday season over we encountered only a handful of tourists on Friday as we made our way through the various sites.

Darn the haze but, it still was worth seeing God’s Window from several viewing points, this one different from the previous photo.

The vendors had many interesting items, none of which we could justify adding to our baggage load. They weren’t as aggressive as vendors in other countries that we’ve visited

Colorful fabrics are often the focus of vendors in Africa.

At some of the sites, a fee was required to enter. In total, we spent only ZAR $130, US $12.21 which included a few at only ZAR $10, US $.94. Where can one see anything for US $.94 which was the cost to see God’s Window?  Our favorite along the route, Bourke’s Luck Potholes in the main photo and others posted today was the most costly at ZAR $80, US $7.51 for both of us.  It was worth every penny. 

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.
The river views at the Three Rondavels added to the beauty. 

Several of the sites required strenuous walking on rocks, up and down uneven steps and long hilly walkways.  Although some were wheelchair accessible, we couldn’t imagine how a tourist in a wheelchair could manage the steep incline, for example at Bourke’s Luck Potholes.and, God’s Window.

We’d been warned by many locals that it’s disappointing to visit God’s Window on anything but a perfectly clear day. The day we visited was cloudy, and misty with an occasional breakthrough of the sun. We were grateful that it wasn’t exceedingly hot.

 Berlin Falls, along the Panorama Route, presented an impressive view.

Unable to see all of the sites on the Panorama Route due to time constraints (wanting to get back to the Blyde River Canyon Lodge before dark) we chose those that were grouped together. One could easily spend two full days seeing everything unless starting at 7:00 am and ending at 6:00 pm, a schedule that didn’t appeal to us. 

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


Another viewing point from Wonderview.  Although not as astounding as some of the other sites of interest, it was close to the car and easy to access.

Our goal is “stress-free” traveling when we have control over the events of the day. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t quite as stress-free as we’d like when the steep mountains we’d traveled in order to arrive at the Panorama Route. The long drive uphill used so much gas in the little pink car that we were nearing “empty” halfway through the Panorama Route. There wasn’t a single “petrol” station until we reached the town of Graskop where we began our return drive.

 The larger of these two waterfalls, Lisbon Falls was an impressive site.
Lisbon Falls, more exquisite waterfalls in the area.

Over a period of two hours, we anxiously watched the fuel gauge, hoping we’d somehow make it through the sites we wanted to see to avoid the necessity of backtracking. “Safari luck” prevailed and we made it in time with the empty light flashing on the dashboard.  Whew!

Returning to the lodge at 4:00 pm, we had ample time to download our photos and begin writing the next day’s post, all outdoors while enjoying the gorgeous grounds and wildlife visitors playing in the vast expanse of green lawn, running in open spaces.

A lovely couple from South Africa took this photo of us together and we did the same with their camera. We had a great day, minus the low fuel level in the pink car.

With the dense bush here in Marloth Park, we hadn’t had an opportunity to see the Impalas leap through the air or the Zebras running fast as they played together as we dined on the included daily made to order breakfast.

Saturday morning, we checked out of the lodge after yet another chatty visit with the world traveling owner, Vicky, who’d graciously ensured that every aspect of our too-short stay at the Blyde River Canyon Lodge was pleasurable. 

Nearing our lodge the surrounding scenery continued to leave us in awe of the beautiful Blyde River Canyon.
A hazy day, we still had a great time seeing many of these majestic wonders in South Africa.

We’d only wished we’d had more time to relax at the lodge. During the candlelight outdoor dinner each night we were entertained by bushbabies flying about while we had the opportunity to unwind from yet another busy day. It was a heavenly day to say the least. All of it!

Tomorrow, we’ll share the cost of our three-day road trip, photos of the lodge, its lush surroundings, fabulous meals and service, and the wildlife that came to call including a mating zebra couple, a first for us to see.