Part 2…Our six-year world travel anniversary…Final day with friends…Bush braai in Kruger and game drive…

Lilies growing in the Crocodile River as seen in Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Sunset in Kruger National Park.

Our friends Tom and Lois left this morning and are heading back to the US. It’s been an outstanding three weeks spent sharing the wonders of Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, the abundant wildlife, and time spent with other friends as well.

Another scene of a gorgeous Kruger Park sunset.

We dined out a lot and still enjoyed some homecooked meals at the house. We had several outstanding Crocodile River sightings while dining at restaurants overlooking the stunning river. 

We entered the beautifully appointed braai area, presented by Royal Safaris and Tours.

We embarked on several safaris in Kruger, including a few self-drives, and as shown today, engaged in a fabulous bush braai dinner and two game drive with Royal Safaris and Tours who provided an excellent experience.

There were only eight of us and the tables were set up accordingly.

We went on another game drive where we were gifted to see what is called “The Ridiculous Nine” with Kerry from Kruger Pride Safaris who helped this magical event occur in a half-day event.  

The fire was casting a glow into the boma area.

Please click our link here regarding that fantastic safari’s photos and subsequent posts for many days following with what the Ridiculous Nine was all about. Please check our archives for continuing posts.

We hadn’t been able to acquire many great photos from Tuesday’s game drives due to the distance of many of the animals in the dark. However, we had the glorious experience of seeing 15 lions, part of the Verhami Pride, toward the end of the evening.

There were four tables for two, set up in a crescent shape, pretty but not necessarily conclusive for conversation.

Also, we encountered four rhinos on the road in the dark with a youngster who appeared injured and was crying. Our hearts were breaking to hear the suffering of this little rhino and our guide Corey, contacted the Kruger National Park rangers for assistance.  

The food was set up buffet-style.

With the horrific number of rhinos being poached in Kruger each day, helping this baby was of vital importance.  We took no photos to avoid poachers knowing the location of the rhinos.

In all, we spotted four of the Big Five but due to darkness were unable to take any worthy photos. Nonetheless, it was a great experience for all of us, adding to the pleasure of sharing so much with Tom and Lois.

The long row of dining tables.

Last night, we celebrated our six-year travel anniversary at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for yet another spectacular evening at our favorite dining establishment in and around Marloth Park. Simply stated, nothing can compare.

The dessert platter is served after the main course.

Above all, the chatter among friends when Louise and Danie arrived to celebrate with us, as well as the friendship from owner Dawn and Leon we couldn’t have made us feel happier and more appreciative to be among these special people.

Now that Tom and Lois are gone, we’ll settle back into our ongoing lives of adventure, wildlife, and friendship, never hesitating to stop for a moment to bask in our profound sense of wonder and awe over this world we live in, here and now and hopefully, well into the future.

Saying goodbye, our final photo was taken this morning with Tom and Lois! It’s been a fabulous three weeks, we’ll always remember.

Tomorrow, we’ll post the lion’s photos, which we’re anxious to share.

May your dreams be fulfilled.

Photo from one year ago today, November 1, 2017:

Tom by the pool at the hotel in Managua, Nicaragua. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Our six-year world travel anniversary…Final full day with friends…Bush braai in Kruger and game drive…

Giraffes in the bush.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An orange-breasted roller.

Today, October 31, 2018, is the sixth anniversary of our traveling the world. Tonight, we’ll celebrate this momentous day for us with Tom and Lois at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant on their final evening in South Africa.

The Crocodile River from inside Kruger National Park.

Most years, we’ve included many anniversary photos and points of interest in our travels as we celebrate this special day. Today will be different since the past few days have been a series of fun activities we’d like to present as we wind down our time with our friends.

A mom and baby elephant.
On Monday afternoon, we stopped by Rita and Gerhard’s holiday home, which just happened to be the house we’d rented in December 2014 for our first experiences in Marloth Park.  
It was not only fantastic to see them both again (they are the couple that found Marloth Park through our website, which they’d been reading for the past few years) and to walk down “memory lane” as we meandered through the house we’d remembered so well.
Elephant on the side of the dirt road.
From our experience on the veranda when the Mozambique Spitting Cobra dropped from the ceiling to land next to Tom’s feet, to the many great sightings we encountered sitting outside, day after day. Great memories we’ll always cherish as the memories we’ve created here in the Orange house.
Sunset last night in Kruger.
That evening we returned to Ngwenya for another night of wildlife viewing on the river and dinner off the menu.  The food wasn’t as good as Thursday’s buffet, but once Tom and Lois leave, we’ll surely dine there again on Thursdays.  
Another incredible elephant sighting with one tusk missing.
The wildlife sightings were at a minimum that evening. Still, we enhanced our desire to spot wildlife by spending considerable time at “Two Trees,” seeing more lions, elephants, waterbucks, and more.
A bateleur vulture against the sky at sunset.
Today, we had extraordinary sightings of a female lion kill with photos we’re anxious to share in tomorrow’s post.  But, today’s photos are from Tuesday’s late afternoon game drive in Kruger National Park and then a game drive in the dark after the fantastic meal in the bush.
We were hosted by an excellent company, Royal Safaris, which may be found at this link. They offer a wide array of safari options easily suitable for more tourists who desire the whole Kruger National Park adventure.
Another stunning view of the Crocodile River at dusk.
Also, this company provides many other tour options tourists typically seek when they visit South Africa, such as the Panorama Route, the Hoedspruit Day Tour, birding safaris, full-day safaris, and the spectacular bush braai dinners in the wild in Kruger National Park.
A hyena we spotted in the dark in Kruger.

Our 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) pickup worked well for us, and off we went, cameras, repellent, and enthusiasm in hand, prepared for some exciting adventures. Unfortunately, it was a sweltering afternoon with temps in high 30C’s (mid 90F’s), and most animals remained undercover during the heat of the afternoon sun.

Subsequently, we saw very little before the time of the bush braai dinner. After the scrumptious, beautifully prepared, and presented dinner, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post, along with our lion photos, we were able to see more wildlife in the dark. Details will follow.
An adorable bush hare.
In a few hours, we’ll be off to Jabula for the evening for what surely will be another special anniversary and a celebration of this special time we spent with friends Tom and Lois.
May your day and evening be filled with many wonders. Back at you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2017:

 October 31, 2017, was our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more anniversary photos, please click here.

Goodbye Braai…Both human and animal visitors in attendance…An overnight adventure on the Crocodile River starting today…Back tomorrow to pack…

“Hey, you guys, come on!  They’re serving pellets for breakfast!”
This morning, zebra mom was scolding her baby about fighting for the pellets.

The seven of us and coincidentally, seven zebra visitors had a night we’ll always remember. Even Mr. Tree Frog returned to his perch in the rafters after a 36 hour absence. 

Check out those interesting suction type toes.  Mother Nature certainly provides the appropriate body parts to aid in functioning in life.  Mr. Tree Frog came down from his usual perch to show off for our guests, later returning to his usual spot in the veranda rafters this morning.

Later in the evening, while the festivities were in full bloom, he made a rare appearance on the wall in the veranda enabling me to take this close up of him. This morning he was back on his usual perch, in the exact spot, in the rafters. 

From left to right, Okee Dokee, Louise, and Dawn.
Tom with his hands flying as he talks! In the middle is Danie with Leon on the right.
The table was set and we were ready for our feast.
The zebras visited, hanging around most of the evening. On the left is Dawn and Leon, our friends and owners of Jabula Lodge, as Tom tosses the pellets.
As soon as we ran out of the carrot chunks they looked at us for more. 
Although zebras are herbivores, they enjoyed the fire and the smell of the meat.

How does one become attached to a frog? In reality, it’s no different than the excitement we feel when any visitors come to the yard. They are God’s creatures with their own unique story and purpose in our world. 

Feeding the zebras by hand using a flat palm. 

The party? Stupendous! The food worked out well. It was fun to share an American type meal with our South African friends and they enjoyed it. But, most of all, the companionship, conversation, and laughter was as delightful as it could have been. 

Finally, at 9:00 pm, we were ready to dine. With starters earlier, none of us minded the late meal. 

Danie managed the braai, making a roaring fire to cook the sweet corn and steaks with Tom at his side.  Once the fire was at a full roar, the zebras appeared, gathering around the braai, two together and another five together shortly after the two departed. 

This morning, the family of five was back including one mom and baby, one pregnant mom and two young males.
“See, I can reach up there for a few pellets.”

What is it about the noise that attracts the zebras? Simple. They associate “partying” humans with treats. Makes sense. Last night, we went through an entire bag of carrots.

Last night, this baby spit out the chunk of carrot. Today, she’s anxious for more pellets.

This morning, we’re busy packing for an overnight stay at a safari camp directly on the Crocodile River that we’ve been invited to by the owners, orchestrated by Louise and Danie. We’ll be sleeping in a tent with AC, a bed, and a bathroom. Sounds good to us.

Mom and baby cuddling.  Zebras are very affectionate with one another.

Our minds, preoccupied with packing to leave in three days, make packing for an overnight trip a challenge. But, we’ve been graciously invited and we accepted. If necessary, we could pack everything in one day. 

Happily sticking out her tongue at the prospect of more treats while making eye contact. 

We leave for the lodge at 2:30 today, returning less than 24 hours later. Once back at the African Reunion House, on Wednesday, we’ll start folding, sorting, and packing. The diversion may prove to be good for us with our minds wrapped around our departure on Friday. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos from a day and night spent living on the shore of the Crocodile River, meeting new people, and tonight’s bush braai at the campsite. Crocs, anyone? 

Okee Dokee displaying this beetle we found inside the house during the party.

A special bush braai to remember…A sunset like none other…And a moon that lit the night…

Excellent stopped the vehicle for us to take photos of this amazing sunset. This occurred at 6:19 pm.
 This occurred one minute later at 6:20 pm.
 This occurred at 6:26 pm. We all agreed that it looked as if the “eyes of God” were watching us. In awe and total silence, we all snapped away.
The moon as it appeared on the horizon. Wow!

Dinner in the dark in the bush is not for the faint-hearted. Although safe with an armed guard on the constant lookout, a cleared area for cooking and table setup, we weren’t traipsing in the tall grass in order to dine. 

The table settings were lovely. Imagine serving a meal for eight guests (and most times as many as 18 guests) in the dark. 
We were so busy having fun, I missed taking a few good food photos and, spent little time making sure my shadow didn’t end up in the photo. The others had sushi while had this appealing and delicious appetizer plate containing everything I could eat.

An enclosed candlelit, toilet area off to the side, partially damaged by rhinos when no one is around, provided ample modesty when a visit was much needed after the long game drive. 

Tom squawks that he doesn’t like salmon. But each time it is presented to him when dining out he enjoys it.  Go figure. Tom’s holding his little LED flashlight in his hand, as shown.
In South Africa, shrimp is referred to as prawns. After consuming these multiple prawns, I could easily have been satisfied to stop eating. We continued on.
This dish took me aback. It was Ostrich Carpaccio, a local delicacy. I thought of our two-time visitor, Clive (aptly named by a Facebook friend), and I had trouble with this item. Tom loved it, eating mine as well.

A roaring fire and our gracious hosts, Louise and Danie, and all their helpers greeted us warmly when we arrived, as the smell of a wide array of foods wafted through our senses.

After we were served the multiple courses, we headed to the table with the main courses, piling our plates with wide a wide array of local favorites.
This plate is pap, a common maize dish in South Africa. In my old life, this would have been a favorite of mine. Now, I had to pass. But, the vegetables on the right become a favorite. The yellow item in the pan is pattipan squash, an item I can have.
This pork dish was made with pineapple.  Danie had left a portion held aside for me without the fruit.
This Greek salad was right up my alley, also a local favorite found in restaurants.

This special Valentine’s Day braai had been postponed by a day due to rain. The eight of us, a small group for this special occasion, were immediately offered beverages, alcoholic and non, easily finding ourselves at ease in this seeming vulnerable location in Kruger National Park, with no fences, with wild animals all around us.

This is a pan of skewered Moroccan chicken. I told Tom, “Get used to it, Honey. You’ll be eating plenty of that soon enough!” It was delicious.
My plate, filled with the above items that I could have, all wonderfully seasoned and prepared.

This has been our third bush braai since arriving in Marloth Park. The first time, I must admit, I was tentative, looking under our table every few minutes for scorpions or snakes and glancing around the lighted perimeter for lions or hippos which we could hear at a distance. But, these next two occasions, I rarely looked down, feeling safe and protected by our conscientious hosts and their staff.

Tom didn’t hesitate to partake of his dessert plate.

Whenever we heard a sound, we all stopped talking as our guards went into action to investigate further. His rifle-armed and ready with ample bullets on his belt, we had little to fear. “Lucky,” our guard was a military guy. He knew what he was doing.

This shot was taken while seated at our table. We felt fortunate to see the breathtaking sunset and rising moon all in one night.

Soon we were seated at our beautifully set tables with comfortable chairs, linen napkins, fine china, silverware, and glassware, it could only be construed as elegant dining in a rather unusual place, for most of us anyway.

Tiffany and John, the darling couple we thoroughly enjoyed on the game drive and at our table during the bush braai.

At our table was the lovely couple from Australia with whom we chatted on endlessly only stopping long enough to savor course after course of delectable delights presented by our hosts. The special dietary needs of both Tiffany and I were honored with great reverence and creativity. Tiffany is a vegetarian and me, well, you know the drill. Not a morsel was presented that didn’t comply with our needs.

What a fabulous group of people.  Four of us were tourists and the remaining are residents of the area.

A bottle of champagne in a silver ice bucket sat unattended on our table. We commented that we hoped that later Louise and Danie would enjoy it in celebration of yet another fine job of entertaining guests in the bush, one of their many specialties. 

Tom took these beautiful sunset photos using the small pink Samsung camera.  The lens was dirty from smudges on the interior of the lens resulting from humidity in Kenya, as is the same problem with my Sony.

After a delicious dinner and dessert (I didn’t  have dessert but didn’t mind at all), a bouquet of red roses and a box of chocolates were presented to the ladies with little liqueur bottles presented to the men, an elegant touch to end a fabulous Valentine’s evening, a special bush braai, a night to remember.

Another similar shot from the Samsung camera. Before my computer crashed, I had an app capable of removing the spots. Now it is gone. Soon we’ll purchase a new camera.

The people were astoundingly fun and playful and  Louise and Danie shared in our merriment. We couldn’t thank them enough for this evening and all they have done for us since the day we arrived.

At different points the group was singing, laughter filling the air. Group photo-taking ensued and when it was time to go, we all hugged one another, none of us want to say goodbye.

An evening to remember in every way added to the surprising number of extraordinary experiences we’ve had in South Africa.  It’s hard to believe that in 11 days, we’ll fly to Morocco. This, dear readers will be a hard act to follow.

Still here at the African Reunion House…New visitor photos…Off to Kruger National Park…Tomorrow photos from the game drive…

This is a Golden Tail Woodpecker which we were thrilled to spot yesterday afternoon.

Thursday afternoon Louise sent me an email explaining that they had rented the house on short notice and if we went back to the little house for two days, we could return to the African Reunion House.

Yesterday, this adorable bushbuck hung around the yard for quite a while. Very skittish, we stayed still and quiet in our seats on the veranda, taking these photos from afar.

Immediately, I started running around picking up our stuff to begin packing. Staying in these two lovely homes, Khaya Umdani and African Reunion House required packing comparable to one going on what may be a two week trip. It was certainly more than an overnight bag.

The wide furry tail swishing wildly every few minutes to ward off the flies. This yard has tall grass, many trees, and lush vegetation that appeals to the herbivore wildlife.

We’d hauled along all of our groceries from the refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets. It was quite a load. Fortunately, the packing and unpacking only required an hour at the most, at each location. 

Bushbuck wander alone unless mating or with their young which makes us feel bad for them. But, they seem content munching away on the greenery.  Notice the open mouth, caught while he was grabbing leaves.

Spending a few hours packing and unpacking is insignificant compared to the pleasure we’ve had in these two gorgeous homes.  Besides, what else do we have to do other than write here, look for photo ops, buy groceries, cook dinner, and now the African Reunion House, do our own dishes five nights out of seven? (Zeff cleans two times a week at this location as opposed to every day at Khaya Umdani. And, with Jabula closed until the 18th, we’ve been cooking more frequently).

Finally, he’d had enough of the yard and wander off into new territory. The water in the foreground is the infinity edge of the pool.

After running around gathering our belongings for the next morning’s move, I took a break from the heat to sit at the table on the veranda to check my laptop. Alas, there was a message from Louise saying the guests had canceled after all. She insisted that we stay. We happily stayed, unpacking everything I’d already packed.

A family of Helmeted Guinea Fowls (Tom calls them guinea hens) is living in a group of scrubs a short distance from the veranda. Yesterday, an eagle swooped down and must have taken one of their eggs or new chicks which happened so quickly we had no time to grab the camera. Collectively, they made their “kek, kek, kek” sound for no less than 15 minutes.

In a funny way, we miss the little house, mostly due to the familiar wildlife that visited.  Here, at the African Reunion House, we’ve had to make new “friends” to warrant daily visits. Day by day, we’ve noticed the number of visits gradually increasing. Certainly, the animals have learned to visit homes where pellets may be offered.

This mom has three babies, as evidence by her three utilized nipples.  Each baby uses the same nipple each time it suckles. Later, when the mom with four babies arrived, she has four obvious nipples. Warthogs have a total of four nipples, rarely having more than four offspring accordingly.  If by a fluke she has a fifth piglet, one may die.

Each morning and late afternoon, we’ve had two Mrs. Warthogs, one with three piglets and another with four.  They stop by with the moms staring at me until I get the cup of pellets. Both moms already responded to my voice. When we see them at a distance, I call them and they come. We laugh every time.

It was difficult to get close enough to get a better shot of this Black Headed Oriole.

A few days ago, a giraffe stopped by to check us out and more days ago, a group of four giraffes made a visit on the road in front of the house. Yesterday, a sweet little duiker stopped over photos of which we’ve included today. 

Over and over I ask myself how I will stop looking for wildlife in the hustle and bustle city of Marrakesh, Morocco, known for its many cats that wander the narrow streets living off of the rodents and food from the vendors. We’ll travel to the desert where we’ll see Camels. Bird watching can be interesting in both the city and outlying areas.

The colorful birds are amazing in Africa, including this Red-Headed Weaver.

With the cancellation of the game drive and bush braai for Valentine’s Day due to rain which has been moved to tonight, last night we were content to dine in, rather than try to get a last-minute reservation in a restaurant. We watched a movie, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” while munching on nuts. It was a fine evening.

For dinner, we had one of our favorites, the Unwich (my version of a copycat from Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, the sandwich we make without the use of bread, wrapping it in lettuce and parchment paper).  Here’s the link with instructions and photos for making the breadless sandwich.  On a hot, humid evening such as it was, a cold meal was ideal.

Today at 3:45 pm, a game vehicle will pick us up to ride along with other guests to drop us off at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate to Kruger National Park for a three to four-hour game drive, followed by a delicious and romantic meal thoughtfully hosted and prepared by Louise and Danie

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our safari experience, which will be our final into Kruger National Park.  As yet, we haven’t seen any lions in South Africa. But, after the daily sightings while on safari in the Maasai Mara last October and the glorious daily sightings of a wide variety of wildlife in Marloth Park, who’s to complain? Certainly, not us!

A repeated photo was taken in October 2013 in the Masai Mara. The fact that we were able to see many lions at that time has prevented any disappointment from not seeing any in Kruger National Park. Who knows?  Maybe “safari luck” will kick in later today!

A tough night…A rainy day…It’s not always easy…Spider bites!…

Tom, comfortably situated in the usual position reviewing his files, a daily occurrence. Later in the day, he checks the stock market when it opens here at 4:30 pm.

On Tuesday night when I crawled into bed, a spider jumped into the air, landing on the back of my calf close to my ankle, biting me. Immediately, I washed the area and placed a plastic bag with ice on the spot.

The chicken wire fence is necessary to keep the Monkeys out of the house. If they enter, they are horribly destructive and poop everywhere, a veritable fiasco.

Although it stung like crazy, it didn’t seem to swell more than a mosquito bite so I didn’t give it much thought and went to sleep. Upon awakening, it was simply an annoying itch with a bit of a stinging sensation. More ice and I’d be done with it.

Tom’s view of the bush today in the rain from the upper-level veranda at the African Reunion House.

Last night when I went to bed, the itching and discomfort increased but still no major swelling. Tired, I went to sleep. Around 1:30 am I awoke to crazy itching in my left elbow and I mean crazy. I could have bit my arm off.  Jumping out of bed I looked for and found a first aid kit. But nothing inside the kit could alleviate that degree of itching. 

Louise and Danie brought us a power reel when we’d mentioned that we’d moved upstairs away from the rain to work on our laptops. As we’ve traveled, Tom has figured out the use of our various adapters, converters, and power strips, handling all the recharging duties each day.

Of course, at the same time, the back-of-the-ankle spider bite was also itching. like crazy. Apparently, in my sleep, another such or similar spider bit me on my elbow. It was definitely not a mosquito bite due to the pain and itching. Was I worried? Not at all. I just wanted to sleep.

The last of the four bedrooms we’ve shown at the African Reunion House. This particular room left us in a quandary as to what bedroom to chose when we moved in on Sunday.  We chose the bedroom shown previously, with its convenience on the main floor. Isn’t that what most seniors would do?

I took a bag of ice to bed, moving it back and forth between the two bites. After a few minutes of icing, it dawned on me to slug down a Tylenol PM which contains Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that diminishes itching and causes drowsiness. Forty minutes later I was in a fitful state of sleep, dreaming of itching. Both bites are better today.

The bedroom, as in the case of the other three, is beautifully decorated with the finest furnishings and amenities. Note the double sinks and corner soaking tub.

We’re living in the bush. I accept this, reminding myself the entire time I was fussing. But no one no matter how long they’ve lived here is exempt from occasional annoyances such as this. In some cases, a sting or a bite is more severe and requires medical care. I’m grateful that was not the case for me.

These two lounging chairs provide a private seating area for guests sharing the house with others.

This morning, we’re situated on the second-floor veranda at the African Reunion House. It’s raining too hard to sit on the first-floor veranda with all of our power cords. Up here, it’s comfortable and dry. 

We’ve yet to use this upper-level living room. We’ve discovered that living rooms in general are not important to most African homeowners when they build a house. They prefer to spend most of their free time outdoors experiencing nature, rather than indoors watching TV or playing video games.

They’ll be no visitors today. They too, prefer to be sheltered from the rain. This is the one place we’ve visited in the world thus far that we welcome the rain which is vital to growing more abundant vegetation for the animals. Also, the clouds and rain create a welcomed coolness compared to the usual sunny and humid heat typical in Africa’s summer months. 

A renowned local artist painted this picture for Louise and Danie, specifically for this house.

All that I say here is moot, based on my aching heart, knowing that in 15 days we’ll be leaving. No, I won’t miss the snakes and poisonous insects. But, they are such a small part of life in Marloth Park. 

This was the second piece of art painted by the renowned local artist.
As we written over the past two and a half months, life here feels comparable to having an “E” ticket to Disneyland (for those of us who remember). The options for thrills and excitement are endless. One only needs to glance around to find an interesting “attraction” to fill the heart with joy, curiosity, and wonder.
This handcrafted art piece is more beautiful in person, in its many details.

Hunkered down for the day, we are hopeful that tomorrow will be dry by late afternoon for our upcoming final game drive and bush braai in Kruger National Park neither of which are fruitful in the pouring rain.

The male version of the above artwork, equally appealing to the eye.

May your day be filled with joy, curiosity, and wonder as you embrace your surroundings, however cold, hot, snowy, or rainy as we attempt to do the same in ours.