Part 1…Exciting birthday plans yet to be revealed…This is the fifth time my birthday was spent in the bush!…

We couldn’t believe we could be so close and interact with the two elephants who freely roam in the wild.

As I write this at 8:30 am, soon at 9;15, Louise and Danie are picking us up in their vehicle to take us to a surprise for my birthday. I have no clue what it is, nor does Tom. When we return in the early afternoon, I will finish this post and share with you what we did.

Tonight is my birthday dinner at Jabula, which undoubtedly will be another great time spent with friends. We decided to host the dinner and tell guests, “no gifts” since I don’t have room in my luggage for anything new. When we arrive at Karen and Rich’s house on March 24, a box from our mailing service will be waiting with some new clothes for me, suitable for the upcoming cruise.

The elephant was managed by the handler sitting on top of her. But, these are wild animals, not ridden by guests or managed with any ropes or chains. Once we were gone, the handler got off her, and she wandered back into the bush, returning only when she wanted treats and attention.

I’d ordered jeans, bras, and tops but still have to purchase a few items while we are in Florida. I need a good pair of walking shoes and dressy shoes for the cruise. The shoes I am walking in now don’t provide the necessary support. Tom needs several items as well.

Well, we’re off for the surprise adventure. Of course, I am taking the camera and hope to be posting interesting photos of what we’ve seen and done.

We’re back. It’s 1:45 pm, 1345 hrs, and we had a most extraordinary time. Louise and Danie outdid themselves, and much to our delight, Rita and Gerhard surprised us and met us at the game reserve. We drove for about 45 minutes in their four-wheel-drive vehicle on a pot-hole-ridden road to Jeppe’s Reef to the currently closed game reserve, KWA Madwala.

On my 74th birthday, I was gifted with an opportunity to interact with elephants in the wild. What an extraordinary gift! Thank you, Louise and Danie.

Several reasons resulted in this game reserve being closed. Still, mainly Covid-19 seemed to have the most significant impact when foreigners weren’t flying into South Africa for such an extended period. It’s only now that the possibility of a grand re-opening has presented itself, as more and more flights are coming into the country packed with holidaymakers looking for safari adventures.

The reserve appeared quiet and like a ghost town. But according to the managers who took the time to come and meet us, they will be re-opening sometime in the next three to six months when it will again become a thriving establishment.

The magic of this exceptional property is that a herd of seven elephants, who roam free in the wild, come into the grounds of the reserve and greet visitors after years of doing so, accepting apples and pellets as treats, allowing the guests to interact with them.

The path we walked in hopes that the elephants would be coming to see us. They enjoy playing with visitors!

Getting the elephants accustomed to humans under these circumstances took years of loving and gentle persuasion, all accomplished with food rewards. There are no ropes, chains, or sharp objects needed to entice the elephants to interact with visiting guests.

Based on the fact that Louise and Danie know the managers well, they were able to gain access to the property and see if the elephants would willingly come to an open area to meet us, accepting apples and pellets while allowing us to be close to them, to touch them and be up close and personal. No doubt, it was a remarkable experience, especially knowing they did so of their own volition.

Based on the festivities of my birthday continuing today in a few hours and my need to get my walking done, I will be writing more about this adventure in tomorrow’s post with many more photos. Tonight, we’ll take more photos of my small dinner gathering at Jabula and look forward to sharing more.

Thank you to many of our readers/family/friends who have sent me heartfelt birthday wishes. I wish there were time to write back personally to everyone for the messages I’ve received in my inbox. But, I assure you, I will be reading each message with appreciation.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2021:

We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences, and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.

What???…An elephant in Marloth Park…The missing bag saga continues…

Kathy’s photo of the elephant’s footprint in the Marloth Park side of the fence between MP and Kruger National Park.

Yesterday morning when Kathy sent us photos via Facebook Messenger, our mouths were agape. An elephant had torn down the fence between Kruger National Park and Marloth Park, entered the park, tore down a few small trees, and of course, as they do, let a few piles of dung.

The Big Five (leopard, lion, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo) typically do not live in Marloth Park, although leopards have been spotted regularly at night, and a lion or two from time to time. Warthogs are known to dig under the fence, leaving an opening allowing the cats to enter.

Kathy’s photo of the fence that the elephant knocked down.

The concept of Marloth Park as a conservancy was to include most wildlife, not including the Big Five, for the safety of its residents. Since the fence separates MP from Kruger National Park, it’s to be expected that, on occasion, one or more dangerous animals may find a way to enter.

Generally, they don’t stay long, preferring to return to their familiar territory. Thus, when an elephant tore down the fence yesterday, it didn’t last for long. However, it was long enough to enable many residents walking along the wall for their morning walks to see evidence of the elephant’s visit.

In the year 2000, a flood caused the fence to fall, and for a few years after that, elephant herds were able to enter Marloth Park. During that period, elephants and humans were able to cohabitate without serious incidents. We can only imagine how exciting that time may have been. But now, we appreciate the remaining wildlife that shares their lives with us. It is indeed a treasure.

Kathy’s photo of the elephant dung in Marloth Park.

It is imperative to note that the rangers must be called if any of Big Five are seen in the park or other dangerous animals that may attack, if frightened or threatened, such as wild dogs, hyenas, and of course, venomous snakes. As tempting and “fun” as it may be to see these animals up close and personal, tourists here often have to react around wildlife, and severe injury or death may result. They can be reached at 0828025894.

As for our missing bag, yesterday between Tom and I, we spent an hour on the phone, leaving us frustrated. The bag is currently awaiting pickup at the Airlink office at the Nelspruit Airport. We shouldn’t have to go pick it up and spend half a day driving on the crazy N4. We didn’t lose the bag.

An excellent photo by Maureen, a Marloth Park resident. Thanks, Maureen!

When speaking to United Airlines, they claim it is now out of their hands, stating that Airlink should pay for a courier to deliver the bag. Airlink says United should pay for the bag. They’re responsible for the failure of the bag to arrive in Nelspruit. Neither will budge, and wouldn’t you know, we have to pay for the bag to be delivered, and maybe, just maybe, United will reimburse us when we submit a bill for the inconvenience.

At this point, they are offering to pay for any items we had to purchase to replace the items in the bag before the bag ultimately arrives in our hands. We didn’t go shopping for the missing items. We had many suitable alternatives here at the house as far as the disappeared toiletries were concerned.

Kathy’s photo of more elephant dung.

As far as the clothes and shoes we’d purchased in the US. We couldn’t replace them here in South Africa when no such stores exist in this country, such as Cole Haan, Old Navy, the Gap, and so forth. We chose to shop in the US when we knew and preferred our favorite brands. We decided against taking advantage of this “refund policy” (only accepted with receipts) when it simply wouldn’t work for us.

We both were exhausted and suffering from no sleep for days. We weren’t about to drive to Joburg or Cape Town to shop for replacement clothes and shoes. We only had five days during which we could purchase replacements. We weren’t looking for a windfall of buying more “stuff.” We just wanted our bag back.

The result? We have to arrange and pay for a courier to pick up and deliver the bag to us. We found a woman who offers courier service to and from Marloth Park to Nelspruit. Tomorrow, Leonora will pick up our bag and deliver it for a meager cost of ZAE 150, US $10.27. United may consider reimbursing us this cost, with emphasis on “may.”

On top of that, United  Airlines has agreed to give us some arbitrary credit for a future flight, but only for one of us. They won’t tell us how much this will be until after the bag is in our hands. Go figure. If we accept such a coupon/credit, it forces us to use them again, which we doubt we’d want to do after this bad experience. But, getting in and out of South Africa to and from the US leaves few options. So it goes.

Once we receive the bag tomorrow, we’ll submit a few measly receipts, and we’ll put this experience behind us. It still baffles us how three bags became lost on this round trip to the US. Hopefully, as of tomorrow, we’ll have all three in hand. In any case, we’re glad to be back, be safe, and amongst our wildlife and human friends in Marloth Park.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #131. We walked a portion of this long pier in Chalong Beach in Thailand. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…A memorable evening at the Crocodile River with friends…Our new chairs…

It was quite a sight to see when this elephant sprayed water from his trunk.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 wildebeest
  • 13 warthogs
  • 9 bushbucks
  • 7 kudus
  • 89 helmeted guinea-fowls
  • Frank and The Misses
  • 1 duiker
A pair were walking along the bank of the Crocodile River to their following grazing location. Some elephant species, such as the African elephant, will eat up to 300 kilograms of food every day to sustain themselves. In comparison, a human adult will consume around 1.5–2 kilograms of food per day. In the wild, elephants eat mostly grass, wild fruits, twigs, shrubs, bamboo, and bananas.

I forgot to take photos of the new camping/folding chairs that Rita and Gerhard picked up for all of us in Nelspruit. We arrived at the river where I’d intended to take the photos once the chairs were unwrapped and set up, but no more than minutes after we arrived, the wildlife photo ops were so many, I forgot.

We were all busy spotting wildlife and were distracted. Of course, we love the chairs they selected with human-sized chairs for the boys and smaller, more “girlie” chairs for Rita and me. Now, we have chairs we can take anywhere when at some social events, we’re asked to bring our own.

A playful pair across the river.

However, I just recalled that Rita had sent me photos in WhatApp from the store in Nelspruit so now I have added them here, as shown below. I love the little tray on my chair on which to put food and drinks. In our old lives, purchasing such chairs would not be noteworthy. But, in this life, given what little we buy, it was rather fun.

This style is perfect for Rita and me, comfortable, lightweight, and the small table to the right.
It is an ideal chair for men, more comprehensive, and suitable for longer legs.

Once we were all situated, we were squealing with delight over the elephants we spotted across the river. The distance, although quite far from us, allowed me to take the photos included here today. The most incredible thrill of all was when the elephants crossed the river (which we didn’t see) and started munching on vegetation only a short distance from us.

Is it a drink he wants or tossing sand?

As you peruse today’s photos, it’s easy to determine which of our photos were taken across the river and which were taken nearby on our side of the river. Not only did we see numerous elephants, but we also saw several other species, which we’ll share over the next few days.

The trunk is versatile in its ability to serve the elephant’s needs in many ways.

We were so busy checking out the wildlife that by the time darkness fell, we’d hardly had any time to chat. Tonight is Friday, and the four of us are heading to Jabula for dinner for our usual Friday night reservation. Gosh, it’s fun to have a more active social life and continue to enjoy some quiet evenings at our bush house.

Elephants are such majestic animals, mysterious and intelligent.

Yesterday, in Lebombo, we shopped at the market where many locals shop and prices are ultra-low on produce. We purchased two enormous heads of cabbage, two bags of red apples, and a giant bag of carrots. As the bush becomes less abundant for the wildlife, supplementing their diets with fresh fruit and veg is a nice treat.

This could be two siblings born in different years.

Ms. Bossy, our most frequent kudu visitor, was over the moon for all the fresh produce, so much so that she walked right up to me on the veranda while I was seated at the table and stared into my eyes pleading for more. She’s hard for me to resist as she repeatedly licked her lips.

Beautiful bright white, healthy-looking tusks with years of growing to come.

Then, Little showed up, anticipating pellets and looking pleasantly surprised to see the apples and carrots I tossed his way before ever throwing him a single pellet. Warthogs don’t eat cabbage, regardless of how hungry they may be. But, they love carrots and apples, which I cut up into bite-sized pieces.

After feeding the bigger game, including more kudus and wildebeest, I cut up a particular batch of even smaller bits for the bushbucks, who, with their little mouths, can’t handle more significant pieces. Once the pigs leave, hopefully soon, we’ll be able to feed the bushbucks, which the pigs always chase away.

This mom and baby were grazing together on our side of the river.

The hard part is that there is seldom a time there aren’t pigs in the garden, often napping, with one ear tuned to the sound of food hitting the ground. They’ll be on their feet in a matter of seconds when the possibility of food is presented. Tom always says, “That’s why they are called pigs.” I suppose he is right.

Once we returned home last night, we quickly prepared an easy dinner of cheese omelets and bacon when anything else we had on hand would have taken too long to prepare. Since we have no interest in food during sundowners, although we provide snacks for visiting guests, we were starved when we returned.

Later, we watched a few episodes of the Australian series Janet King and finally dozed off to sleep.

It was a good day and an enjoyable evening.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2020:

We love the reflection of clouds in the water as we drive through the countryside in any country. For more photos, please click here.

Prospects for airports allowing us to enter diminishes over time…

A group of five ambitious men met each day to ride the FlowRider on the ship. 
See this link here for that post two years ago.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Most weekdays, Josiah stopped by in the morning to wash and sweep the veranda, rake the garden and clean the pool. No more than an hour after he’d done, the veranda would dirty again with leaves from the trees, pellets residue, and soot from the burning sugar cane a few kilometers away. Tom was constantly sweeping to keep us from tracking the house’s dust, dirt, and debris. By the end of each day, the bottoms of our bare feet were so dirty we’d have to shower again before getting into bed. Today’s photos were from this post two years ago.

Today’s photos are from two years ago today at this link.

With the US closing its borders to all immigrants over the next several months to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we are faced with the reality that many other countries will follow suit.

If we’d been in Kruger National Park, we wouldn’t have been able to gain access to this area.

Currently, almost every country worldwide has closed its borders to international travel and its airports, and travel is at a standstill. Today, I asked Tom, “How long can we hold out here?”

He answered with a wide grin on his face, “With the Mumbai airport closed, we won’t be going anywhere.” 
 

Duh, I get that. But at some point, the Mumbai International Airport will open, and the challenge for us at that time will be where we will be able to go? What country will allow us to enter after living in India for three to six months (or more)? 

Taking photos through the fence in Marloth Park was tricky, so we got what shots we could.  At times, we were pleasantly surprised at the finished product.

It may not be South Africa if they, too, impose a ban on all foreigners entering the country for an extended period. Right now, all we’ve heard so far is May 31st. But we don’t have a lot of faith that they’ll allow foreigners to enter even at that date.

Well, the world is a prominent place. And once the Mumbai airport opens, we’ll let it settle for a few days while we decide where we’d like to go that has an open airport. The possibilities may be few.

But, the magic of our lives is the fact that we can go anywhere we’d like that will be open to our arrival, which we’ll confirm in detail before we book a flight and accommodations. 
Male elephants are kicked out of the herd (parade) when teenagers.  When we saw large numbers, many were unlikely males except for those youngsters yet to reach maturity at 13, 14, or 15 years of age.

We can pack and be out the door in a few hours. We both believe that we’ll have some options within three months if South Africa isn’t one of those. We can always go there later when the airports open.

Oddly, we have an Azamara cruise (690 passengers) booked for November 10th from Lisbon to Capetown. If things improve and we aren’t yet in South Africa, we may make this cruise. The question will be, where will we wait for the cruise in the interim if we can leave Mumbai.
 

Tom’s dear sister Colleen kindly offered her place in Arizona if we returned to the US. However, as we’ve mentioned many times in past posts, we have no interest in returning to the US at this time. 

A mom was fussing over her offspring.

Even in months from now, the virus in the US will still be rampant, nor do we want to live in the high heat in Arizona during the summer and fall months, there again, stuck inside all day. 

As mentioned in several posts, I am very high risk with asthma, heart disease, and age, and our health insurance can only be used outside the US. We don’t want to take any risks being in the US at this time. Then again, how would we get there with no airport open here?
 

There are many other countries we’ll be able to travel to at some point. Fortunately, as much as we don’t like wasting valuable time as we age, we are prepared to stay in Mumbai as long as necessary to get us to a suitable location where, perhaps, it will feel more like a continuation of our world travels than trapped in the lockdown.

Neither the elephants nor the waterbucks seem to mind one another’s presence.

Oddly, we are OK, as we’ve mentioned. Nor do we expect our emotional state to change as time marches on. We are doing what many are doing now; reading, watching the news, streaming shows, listening to podcasts: and for me, exercising throughout the day while eating a healthy diet

Tom has been eating a high carbohydrate diet and, for now, isn’t gaining weight or suffering any ill effects at this time. (We don’t have access to any snacks or alcohol). Once we get somewhere when I can cook again, he’ll get back to eating a diet similar to mine. 
 

For us, accepting the realities of this dreadful virus and the consequences facing all of us has provided us with a sense of peace while reducing stress and worry. 

Each day these two females stop by several times with two piglets, most likely several months old.  The two females may be sisters, a mother, and a daughter from a prior litter or, who knows, another relative of one sort or another.  This particular morning the two of them played a nose-to-nose game while the two piglets busied themselves with pellets.

Now that DIL Camille is on the mend and sister Susan has been allowed to stay in her assisted living facility (for now due to COVID-19), I can breathe a sigh of relief and make every attempt to live in the moment.

Our hearts go out to all who have lost loved ones during this trying time, either through COVID-19 or other illnesses, and to all of the millions of citizens who have lost their jobs, businesses, and sources of income. 
 

What are you doing today to bring you comfort and reduce boredom? We’d love to hear from you!

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2019:

An elephant in the bush was watching us take photos. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…Elephants are amazing!…People are too!…A fabulous night at Jabula…

Video #1 – A surprise participant in the background.
 Video #2 – Playful elephants.
 Video #3 – More elephant antics.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A very young impala.

It’s Wednesday morning, a typical day in the bush. Vusi and Zef are cleaning the house. The Mom and Babies (four piglets) are busily munching on pellets at the edge of the veranda. Ms. Kudu left a few minutes ago after she’d had her fill.  

The sky is partly cloudy, and we’re in for another cool day. There are thousands of dead insects on the veranda floor overnight (a daily occurrence). Soon, when the interior of the house is clean, Vusi and Zef will come outside to clean the veranda while we’ll go inside to get out of their way.
The matriarch was watching the youngsters play in the Sabie River.

Once they’re done, we’ll come back outside to spend the balance of the day outdoors, as we always do, busy working on the post and plans for the future. Tom spends some time on Facebook and Ancestry while I work on projects around the house.

Once I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll finish doing laundry, preparing tonight’s dinner, and perhaps work on some items to be packed for our departure in 15 days. Today’s project is neatly folding all of our “bugs-away” and safari clothing I’d washed yesterday and have since dried. Safari in Kenya isn’t too far away. 

It was irresistible…she joined them.

Last night we had a fantastic time at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant, celebrating Dawn’s (friend and owner) birthday. It was delightful to see how many loyal fans came to extend our best wishes and gratitude for the beautiful job (along with partner Leon) in making this a memorable establishment with great food, ambiance, and service.

Many brought gifts, hugs, kisses, and warm wishes for Dawn. A table filled with scrumptious-looking appetizers and drinks hosted by Leon added to the festivities. 

They wanted to play with her.

If there ever was a “Cheers” type bar, Jabula fills the bill. The new and the familiar faces, the lively conversation, loud laughter, and the ease with which everyone in attendance feels welcomed and included are unreproachable. 

We met a new couple originally from Germany, living in Marloth Park part-time and soon moving their business to live in Florida, USA. We saw old friends with health challenges possessing upbeat attitudes off to work on the next phase of hopeful recovery.  

Finally, it was time to get out of the river and continue their day.

We chatted with new friends we’ve made this time around, along with old friends from five years ago. Tom and I arrived early to sit at our favorite spots at the bar and eventually ordered delicious dinners, never giving up our barstools.  

It wasn’t the first time we dined at the bar when we were having too much fun to go to a table on the veranda. I can’t recall ever enjoying dining at the bar until Jabula.

The littlest one followed close to the adults as they were on their way.

Leon played the role of DJ, and the music had most of us either dancing in our seats or on our feet to kick up our heels. Women danced with women and men, well, they danced with all of us. It was grand. It was memorable, as were so many nights we’ve spent in this unique establishment over this past year.

When Tom and I danced to a slow song, holding close in each other’s arms, I felt an immense sense of happiness wash over me, coupled with a bit of melancholy. But, the melancholy quickly wafted away when I reminded myself that those arms will still be around me long after we depart Marloth Park, and the memories will always remain in my heart.

Thank you for sharing this special time with us…

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2018:

This elephant seal was so relaxed, a bit of drool dripped from her mouth. A bath would be nice. For more stunning scenes from Antarctica, please click here.

The escalating cost of feeding our furry visitors without rain…

There were several elephants very close to the road, allowing us to acquire these close-up photos.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Many species visited our garden in the early mornings; kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, and duikers.  What a great start to the day!

Finally, the hot weather has ended for the moment, and we’re currently sitting outdoors on the veranda feeling cooled and refreshed. Several days of extreme heat plagued this area, and finally, we got a breather for a few days.

Even some of the dry bush has some nutritional value to the elephants. Rain is desperately needed for the wildlife.

We’re hoping the cloudy sky will bring much-needed rain for the vegetation and, subsequently, the starving wildlife. If it doesn’t rain soon, many animals could die of starvation when many are herbivores and omnivores.

Giraffes were making their way up a hill.

The constant feeding we’re doing in the garden of our bush house surely is helping some of the animals with a modicum of nourishment but certainly can’t comprise their entire diet.

Hippos rest close to one another while in the water for added safety.

We’re currently going through a 40 kg (88 pounds) of pellets every three days, which has increased over the year. At this point, at about ZAR 236 (US $17.21), we’re spending upwards of ZAR 2360 (US $172.10) per month on the pellets.

A parade of elephants on the move near the Sabie River.

In addition, we’re spending another ZAR 658 (US $50) for pears, apples, and carrots for a total of ZAR 3018 (US $220.04) to feed the wildlife each month.  Once the rains come and the vegetation is lush, we’ll be able to cut back on the feed as they go about their search for nutrition provided by the bush.

Giraffes have the advantage of not having to share the treetops with other wildlife other than other giraffes.

Do we mind spending this much to feed the wildlife? Not at all. It’s part of the reason we are here in Marloth Park, not only to enjoy the beauty of the bush but to play a small role in providing nourishment for these stunning creatures during this difficult time.

Two hippos and two cape buffalos were cohabitating peacefully at the river.

Of course, we can feed any single animal an entire day’s dietary needs. Even the delicate bushbucks who chew slowly and deliberately could eat us “out of house and home” if we gave them all they wanted. Their needs are substantial.

We were so close to these elephants we didn’t use any zoom on the camera.  

The pecking order prevails in this situation. The warthogs scare off the bushbucks, the wildebeests scare off the pigs, the zebras scare off the kudus, and it goes on and on. All we can do is continue to pay attention to those who haven’t received any sustenance and try to single them out with extra pellets.

They were packed in tight into this good spot for dining.

Sadly, we have a few injured warthogs coming to call, particularly Wounded right now, and we do admit to going overboard to ensure he gets a larger share than some. He looked very thin when he initially appeared, but now he seems to be filling out a little.

Knowing we may play even a small role in helping them during this dry season means a lot to us both. Some locals feel the animals should not be fed and to let “nature take its course.” We understand both sides, but we had to choose one, and we opted for feeding as many other residents have.

They were so busy eating, they barely noticed us.

Some say there are too many animals in Marloth Park to sustain itself, and we also understand this. Of course, if the rain would come, this would alleviate a part of these concerns.  

Plus, with the desirability of this magical place, more and more new homes are being built, which ultimately impacts the size of the bush where the animals can graze. It’s a vicious cycle, but we don’t get into politics.  

The size of these elephant’s feet is astounding.

We don’t own a house here, nor will we in the future, and in reality, we have no right to impose our opinions on others. We can only make choices that feel right for our beliefs and our passions while we’re here.

We’re hoping the rains will come over these next few months to gradually reduce feedings to encourage the wildlife to forage as nature intended.

Such fascinating beasts must be revered and respected.  Sadly, their numbers are dwindling in many parts of Africa due to poaching.

Last night we had a fabulous dinner at friends Jan and Steve’s house with Rita and Gerhard in attendance as well. Perfect food, beautiful people, an ideal setting, and conversations. We’re so fortunate to be among these fine friends, such pleasing surroundings, and the paradise where this wildlife exists.

We’re thankful, so very grateful!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 29, 2017:

Some freighters can carry as many as 18,000 20-foot containers. This freighter was being guided through the Panama Canal at the Miraflores locks. For more photos from the Panama Canal, please click here.

Rental car “safari luck!”…What????…How we’ve changed…Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!!!

This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago, but it has continued to heal, although he can no longer “perk it up.” Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda, relaxing after eating quite a few pellets. He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.

Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful. The traffic was light.  Passing slow-moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.

The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.

Neither one of us enjoys long car trips, which may seem to contradict our love of travel. It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic. 

The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Still, somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.

It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.

Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa. We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.

Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to complete at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.  

They were huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.

Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a slight shortage from driving to the rental car return location. This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).

Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness, and possible damages (no issues), Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.

Lots of moms and babies.

As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly, I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?”  The rep replied, “Same as this last one.” I cringed.  
The little car was rickety, noisy, and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park.  But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars. We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.

Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.

The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period. 

We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car only costs us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no additional maintenance expense.

Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.

The last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade. This time I was going to be more persistent. When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (an infrequent occurrence), they were all over it.

We received a free upgrade for an adorable sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017. We were thrilled. We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.

One bushbaby contemplating the entire cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.

On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing. And the smooth ride is astounding. We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. Whatever that may be.

The car is a Ford Fiesta. In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought. Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me. It’s incredible how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.

Ms. Bushbuck and baby. There are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies, with many more to be arriving soon.

I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal. See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.

Now, I have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets, of course, as always.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.

An adorable face and a 40-minute traffic jam in Kruger…A story unfolds..A sad visitor to the garden…

It’s a rarity for us to see impalas in the garden, but several stopped by to partake of pellets. No doubt, they are hungry this time of year, put aside their apprehension of humans, and came to call. This adorable girl was chewing pellets when I shot this photo. Too cute for words!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We are saddened to see who we now call “Wounded.” He was stabbed near his eye by another animal’s horn or tusk.

It was a rare occasion when a herd of impalas, one male, and 12 females, stopped by to see if we had something for them to eat. Of course, we did! It’s tough for the wildlife this time of year when the dry bush offers little sustenance for the hungry animals.

We were on a dirt road in Kruger making our way back to the Crocodile Bridge entrance to the park when we encountered this elephant blocking the road.

There’s a lot of controversy about feeding the wildlife in Marloth Park but most residents have a hard time resisting giving them the nutritional pellets (made from plant matter) when we see how hungry they are, especially before and in the early part of the rainy season.

We got as close as was safe.  He wasn’t about to move for us.

Well, the rainy season has begun, and we see tiny buds on the dry bushes and trees, knowing full well, in due time, leaves will blossom, and Marloth Park will be rich in healthful nutrition for the many herbivores and omnivores that dwell herein.

He was enjoying his meal of dry bushes and wasn’t about to move over for us.

Last night, it rained throughout the night, what seemed to be a good soaking rain, precisely what is needed now. Hopefully, this will continue to ensure a food-rich environment for the wildlife.

We didn’t hesitate to remain at a distance to ensure our safety while we waited patiently.

In some years past, many wildlife didn’t survive during droughts, but those in Marloth Park had a better chance of survival when residents and visitors faithfully fed the animals that came to call.  

While we waited patiently, we took the time to observe some of his features through the camera’s lens.

It has been a dedicated process for us, and I must add that we believe it has been the right thing to do, although some don’t always agree. We’ve been going through a 40 kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets every four to five days at the cost of about ZAR 223 (US $16) per bag.

We noticed as we waited, that he had a hole in his ear which could have been during a fight or damage from a tree or bush while grazing.

We easily rationalize this expenditure. If we lived in the US we’d be spending a lot more than ZAR 1395 (US $100) a month on some form of entertainment. (Gosh, while in the US, we went to one movie and spent ZAR 698 (US $50) for two tickets and snacks. That’s for two hours of entertainment.

The diameter of his foot was astounding.  An elephant’s foot can range from 40 to 50 cm (1.31 to 1.6 feet in length.  

This expenditure is for the great pleasure of feeding hungry animals and lasts for 16 hours every day. No comparison, is there? For us, the entertainment factor is a piece of the experience.  

We kept in mind that this is his terrain, and we respectfully waited to avoid upsetting his meal.

But, in the process, we learn so much and look forward to sharing it with all of our worldwide readers who may never be up close and personal with African wildlife.

The end of the elephant’s tail has hairs that act as a small brush, suitable for swatting flies, bees, and other insects.

So when the 13 impalas stopped by, we squealed with delight over the “honking” sound made by the females announcing their arrival and desire to be fed. It was enchanting.

Another elephant stayed away from the road while grazing.

In the process of enjoying them, I took today’s main photo, smiling all the while over their adorable and whimsical faces. Often, visitors dismiss the impalas since they are so abundant in the bush. But, we’ve both taken an affinity to their beauty and nature and truly appreciated their visit to our garden.

Can we even imagine the strength and weight of these massive feet?  An African bush elephant can weigh up to 6000 kg (13,228 pounds). The average automobile weighs 2268 kg (5000 pounds) for comparison. 

A few days ago, we continued our 40-minute delay in Kruger when an elephant blocked the dirt road preventing us from safely passing. Please read the captions under the included photos to see how the story unfolded before our eyes.  

Finally, after no less than 40 minutes, he crossed to the other side of the road as we watched hoping he’d move into the bush.

In today’s “Sighting of the Day in the Bush,” we’re sharing a sad photo of a warthog who’s had a severe injury to his eye. We can’t tell if he was blinded in the eye, but it’s easy to see he is suffering.  Because warthogs are in significant numbers in the bush, no efforts are made to treat them for illness or injury. This is a hard reality.

He’s come by each day for the past several days, and we freely feed him as much as he wants to, including fruits and carrots. Hopefully, over time he’ll heal and be able to live an entire life in the bush. Many of these animals are very resilient in healing on their own.

It was at this point that we were able to pass. But, the 40 minutes of observing was well worth the wait.

It’s raining off, and on today, so we’re staying put. After a stormy night’s sleep, a nap may be on the agenda.  I’m not good at dozing off during the day, but on a rare occasion, I drift off for 15 to 20 minutes, all that’s needed for either of us to feel revitalized.


That’s it for today, folks. Have an excellent day and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 7, 2017:

The adorable costumed girl waved when she spotted us with a camera at the Metrocentre Mall in Managua, Nicaragua. For more photos, please click here.

There’s no place on earth…

Oh, my goodness…hippo with ducks and chicks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday, we spotted this female lion on the move. What a joy to behold!

With our friends Tom and Lois here over these past two weeks, we’ve been able to see the wonder in their eyes each and every day over the endless array of sightings we’ve been blessed to encounter. From lions to wild dogs, to hyenas to elephants, cheetah, and cape buffalo, we’ve seen it all.

Hippos on the banks of the river.

We already knew and appreciated the magic of Marloth Park/Kruger National Park but being able to hear their excitement in their voices and see their never-ending enthusiasm in their eyes over every sighting has greatly enhanced our own personal experience.

Cape buffalo with an egret on her back along the river.

A week from today they’ll be returning to the USA, to their homes in New Jersey, Florida, and Maine based on the most desirable seasons during various times of the year.

Mr. Kudu at Sabie River in Kruger National Park.

It will be quiet for us when they leave. The whirlwind of added activities has been refreshing for us. We have more plans on the horizon over the next week including tonight’s repeat visit to Ngwenya for more river viewing and buffet dinner; dinner at Jabula on Saturday night and again on the 31st to celebrate our upcoming travel anniversary.

On Sunday morning, we’re joining Louise, Danie, and Rita and Gerhardt (who joined us for dinner last Sunday evening) and other friends for another bush braai at Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit bringing food to share and food for ourselves. It will no doubt be another fine experience for them in the bush (and for us as well). 

Waterbucks are beautiful animals.

On the afternoon of October 30th, we’ll be picked up at 1500 hour (3:00 pm) to begin an evening in Kruger National Park for a braai in the wild, surrounded by elephants, lions, and all the other majestic wildlife in the park and then onto a nighttime game drive to see the nocturnal side of life in Kruger.

Handsome male waterbuck on the banks of the Crocodile River.

At this point, we’ll only be preparing food to take to Frikkie’s Dam for Sunday’s event and then again for Friday evening’s meal, a light meal for Sunday evening after the day at Frikkie’s Dam, and dinner on Monday evening for a total of three upcoming evening meals.

Where on this earth could Tom and Lois visited for a three-week stretch and seen such abundant wildlife and experienced the wide array of activities as we have together during this special time? Nowhere in the world that we are aware of.

Another waterbuck.

Surely, they could have stayed at various bush camps but even so staying at a camp or resort is an entirely different experience. Being here with us, truly experiencing life in the bush, is a unique adventure unto itself.  Where in the world is there such a place like Marloth Park?

We watched this elephant for quite a while.

If we knew, we’d definitely have it on our itinerary. We often search for similar holiday/vacation properties to no avail. The abundance of wildlife as there is here in Marloth Park is simply out of the question in other parts of the world, especially including the comfortable lifestyle we’re blessed with in this magical place.

Over these past few weeks, I’ve been very distracted by them being with us (in a good way) and haven’t given the text in our posts the same degree of attention we usually do. I hope our readers understand that once they depart, we’ll be able to devote more time and effort to creating quality posts.

Hippos staying out of the hot sun.

However, we have been pleased with the photos we’ve added each day when our focus has been on finding the best possible sightings for them during this period of time.  

We are especially pleased to share today’s photos with each sighting creating a high degree of pleasure experienced by all four of us. They return to the US with a plethora of memories and photos they’ll always treasure, as will we as well, having shared this special time with them.

It’s always a treat to see hippos.

Tonight, we’ll have no doubt we’ll treasure more time at Ngwenya as we search for more spectacular wildlife on the river, as we chat and dine on the veranda at the beautiful resort.

There’s no place on earth comparable. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Have an incomparable day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2017:

Old sewing machines, comparable to those we’ve seen in our home country at the Railway Museum in Costa Rica. For more details, please click here.

Immigration appointment day…Lunch at the country club and golf course, overlooking the Crocodile River, of course….Superb hippo sightings…

Last night’s full moon.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

When we headed out to the immigration office in Nelspruit early this morning, we saw our favorite bushbuck with her tiny offspring. She’d kept her baby tucked away for a few months to keep her safe and finally brought her around to visit. No wonder she’s been coming to call several times each day over these past few months. She’s nursing and needs nourishment.

We’d been anticipating the return appointment to the immigration office in Nelspruit for the past six weeks.  When we’d delivered our massive number of documents on September 6th, we’d been turned away and told to return on October 24th. We were too early to apply for the extension, as we’d advised by an immigration consultant. 

View from the veranda at Kambaku Komatipoort Golf Club.

We have to make the long drive back to Nelspruit from Marloth Park (103 km, 64 miles), plus the idea of possibly waiting in chairs for hours left us with somewhat of a sense of dread.

View upstream of Crocodile River.

Today at 6:30 am, we were on our way on a beautiful sunny day, hopeful for a good outcome and determined to maintain a positive attitude regardless of any inkling we may receive as to our potential approval or denial to stay in South Africa until February 20th on which our flight to Kenya is booked and paid.

Lush vegetation and birds.

It’s risky. They require us to have purchased final departure airline tickets, which are non-refundable should the extension not be approved. If we’re rejected, we’re out the money for the tickets at the cost of ZAR 16,242 (US $1132) plus the thousands of dollars of expenses we’ll incur to leave the country.

Ducks on the river.

Well, there’s so much more to it if we’re refused, but we won’t get into that again today. We were told to check the website in about three weeks to see when our next appointment is scheduled. Now, the waiting game begins.

A bloat of hippos on the bank of the river.

Back at the house by 10:30, much earlier than expected, Tom and Lois were relaxed on the veranda, enjoying the few visitors that came to call. Today for an unknown reason, is a surprisingly quiet day in the bush.

We couldn’t get over how relaxed they were in the sun. Hippos have very delicate hides subject to sunburn, which attributes to their need to stay submerged in the water.

Yesterday, we decided to have lunch at the Kambaku Komtipoort Golf Club situated on the Crocodile River in Komatipoort. With an entirely different perspective of the river from this location, we were able to take many of today’s photos, particularly enthralled with the bloat of hippos as shown.

The river continues to provide a wealth of sightings, day after day, always presenting unique and exciting sightings we never tire of. As soon as I upload this post, the four of us will take off in the little car to see what today’s river views have to offer.

Two hippos were resting away from the remainder of the bloat.

Tonight, we’ll dine in for the second evening in a row having homemade burgers and chips (fries). I hadn’t cooked homemade fries in over seven years since I began this way of eating.  

Peaceful river environment.

Of course, I won’t be eating any of them, but Tom undoubtedly is enjoying this rare treat. Instead, I’ll have lettuce wrapped burger with tomato, sauteed onions, and mushrooms with homemade sugar-free ketchup while Tom adds bacon to his burger (without the bun).

Vegetation on the shore of the opposite side of the river from our vantage point.

We’ve been eating more than usual with our friends here but will quickly readjust after they leave in eight days.  After all, they are on holiday/vacation, and food often becomes an essential part of the experience for travelers.  

We’ve been dining out three or more times each week since their arrival, having had great meals at all but two local establishments. As a result, we’re doing several repeats of their (and our) favorites.

When the rains come, this area will be covered in water.

We promise to do the same! Have a fantastic day and evening! Everyone’s anxious to get going, so I’m wrapping this up now.

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2017:

Insulators for telegraph of electric wires at the Railway Museum in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.