We’re busy figuring out our next move…Lots to consider…Another record-breaker in the bush…

A record-breaking 20 kudus visited all at once. Watch this short video to see all the fun!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Lots of kudus by the steps to the veranda.

The past few days since we returned from Zambia and Botswana have been a blur with social activities and major animals sightings, all the while dealing with our emotions about having to leave South Africa on November 21, 2018, as opposed to our planned February exit to head to Kenya for the upcoming photographic safari tour.

One of the main reasons we’ve planned our upcoming travels years in advance has been to avoid the very situation we’re in now, trying to find where to go, where to live, and how to get there with very little advance notice. After all, we have to be out of here in exactly 86 days, hardy enough time to plan a 90-day trip meeting our criteria.

A giraffe stopped by the picnic site at Frikkies Dam in Lionspruit during yesterday’s braai.

Our readers can surely relate to this when you realize how much work and effort it takes, even if working with a travel agent, to plan all the details for even a two-week-long holiday outside of your home country.

As a matter of fact, traveling in one’s own country, figuring out where to stay, what to do, and transportation for 90-days is a daunting task. Over the past four days, we’ve spent all of our free time searching for options. 

Since there are two lions in Lionspruit there is a fence around the braai area. As a result, I had to slip through the slats in the fence to take these giraffe photos.

We keep running into obstacles, the first being, we aren’t interested in traveling to any country that doesn’t allow for a 90-day visa upon entry. Why would we put ourselves in such a position of having to deal with immigration every 30 days?  We wouldn’t.

We use this online guide we’ve used since the onset of our travels but always conduct further research for any recent updates and changes for any countries we may be interested in visiting. This particular form was updated as recently as July 2018.

It was Matthew’s 16th birthday (the young man in a blue and white shirt) and everyone sang the song, ate cake, and wished him well. He is the son of JJ (in the green shirt behind him) and Flo (not shown in this photo. Louise and Danie are shown as well.

As we conduct the research, we eliminate one country after another. We found a house in Namibia that particularly appealed to us. It showed on the popular holiday home website, HomeAway.com, as being available for our dates.

I contacted the owner asking about the Wi-Fi situation only to discover the house wasn’t available for our dates since they will be living in the property during that period. 

Another outstanding early morning today. This time another record-breaking kudu gathering in our garden, 20 of the magnificent beasts including a few males (whom we call Big Daddy)and many females and their young.

However, they’d made no note or indication on the property listing that it wasn’t available during our dates. It took several email messages over two days to find this out, leaving us frustrated and disappointed when this had appeared to be a great option with Namibia’s 90-day visa policy for citizens with US passports.

Back to the drawing board.  In short order, we gave up on Namibia. With a low population and little tourism, holiday homes are limited and/or too expensive. Also, as indicated on the HomeAway and other holiday home sites, there was only 5% to 10% of the available inventory available for our dates.

How exciting to see so many of these exquisite antelope, popular among locals and tourists in Marloth Park.

This is why, dear world travelers, booking well in advance makes all the sense in the world. This is why, dear readers, that we’ve chosen to book venues one to two years in advance. We’ve often been asked why we book so far in advance and this particular situation explains it all. There’s simply not much available last-minute, nor are there any better “deals” to be had last-minute under most circumstances.

So the search continues and will continue until we’ve firmed up our plans, paid the deposits, and booked transportation as to where we’ll be going for the 90 day period. We’ll post our decision here once we’ve wrapped it up.  In the interim, we’ll make every effort to keep our frustrations under wraps including in discussing them here. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Wildebeest Willie also got in on the action along with dozens of helmeted guinea fowl.

Yesterday, we had a nice break from this topic when we joined Louise and Danie and their wonderful friends for a braai at Frikkies Dam inside Lionspruit Game Reserve which is located inside Marloth Park. We’d participated in such a party a few months ago and then, too, had a wonderful time.

South Africans like their food and drink so all flowed with fervors as a few different braais resulted in some seriously fine smells and subsequent tastes when everyone shared a little of this and that. As mentioned we’d prepared our usual crust-less egg, cheese, mushroom, onion, and sausage quiche and it was devoured along with the other delicious items.

We picked up the new little rental car on Thursday when we arrived in Nelspruit.

We were back “home” by 1640 hours (4:40 pm) and couldn’t wait to set up the veranda for the upcoming evening’s activities in the bush. Who would stop by to see us this time? No matter than a few minutes after we arrived, the visitors came, some hiding in the bush waiting for us to return. 

Oh, good grief this is beyond description! I want more, more, more!

May everything you want more of, come your way!

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2017:
Due to a Wi-Fi and power outage on this date one year ago, we were unable to post anything but a short blurb describing our plight. As a result, we had no photo on this date.

Friendly South African braai in the wild among new friends and the beasts…Frikkie’s Dam, Lionspruit…

Such a funny thing (to us anyway), an oxpecker on this giraffe’s nose.
We were so close to this giraffe it was easy to get this photo.
After exiting Lionspruit, we spotted this giraffe on the opposite side of the fence. We noticed an oxpecker on his nose.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
A Vervet monkey in a tree in the yard.

How do we begin to tell the story of friendship and hospitality that surrounds us in South Africa…in Marloth Park? Sure, we’ve met wonderful people all over the world, on cruises, during tours, and in neighborhoods, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch over these past years, many of who’ve become lifelong friends.

The somewhat enclosed braai area offered a barrier between the lions and us in Lionspruit.

We never take for granted the opportunity to meet new people and to build new relationships. Undoubtedly, such friendships take time to cultivate, and when we have time in a location, we relish in these relationships as they mature.

It was a perfect day to be outdoors, not too hot, not too cool.

Some relationships are with couples we meet along the way, and others are individuals with whom we find a particular affinity when meeting one-on-one or in a group. On Sunday, such was the case when Louise and Danie included us in their “inner circle” (my words, not theirs) of people they’ve come to know and love after many years in Marloth Park.

The covered veranda at Frikkie’s Dam provides shelter in the event of rain.

The commonality they share, as Danie described only this morning when he and Louise stopped by, is their “lack of baggage,” the kind that may make some people judgmental, critical, or of a less than warm demeanor and personality. 

From left to right, Danie, Alison, and Dean posed for a photo. Everyone works tirelessly and unselfishly for the preservation of Marloth Park.

Over time, this group was “hand-picked” for the special qualities they each possess in their unique way. What intrigued us the most was how different each individual is, bringing a wealth of great experiences, education, and backgrounds.

From left to right, Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

Many countries are represented in this group of friends…many cultures, many varying walks of life. But, the one passion they each share is their passion and love for Marloth Park and their determination and dedication in contributing, however big or small, in maintaining the integrity that so well defines this magical place.

Andre, Cor, and Tom.

It’s not that other locals are excluded from this group. Luckily, they all came together over time, as friends and ultimately as “family” when many of their family members are so far away.

Andre was one of the first residents of Marloth Park in the 1970s. He and Cor, to his right, are great friends. Michel is to the left.

To be included means a lot to us, as it has been with all of our friends here in Marloth Park. We don’t have South African roots, heritage, and culture in our repertoire of world experiences as many of them do.  Even those from far away places have been here long enough to have wound their lives, their existence around a lifestyle and persona that is unique unto itself, unlike any we’ve encountered in these past years of world travel.

Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

They have so much history together entwined in endless stories that made us both realize, should we have the opportunity to be with them again, that in time we’ll collectively build our own stories, our memories, and our level of inclusiveness that is found in a friendly mélange of locals sharing their lives, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.

Cora, Matthew, Michel, and Andre.

We apologize if we’ve missed including photos and names of everyone present on Sunday’s braai at Frikkie’s Dam. Hopefully, next time, we won’t be so preoccupied with the wonder of it all, failing to include everyone in our photos.

We brought a gluten-free quiche to share.  Louise and Danie cooked meats on the open fire, and others brought their items.

Again, and we mean again, thanks to Louise and Danie and all of our friends in the bush for making this life genuinely feel like “home.” Wherever we may travel in the world, our memories will travel with us…in our hearts, in our minds, and our eternal love of Marloth Park, South Africa.

When we return from Zambia, we plan to meet with Andre to write a story of his over 40 years in Marloth Park. He’s holding a piece of our quiche in his hand.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2017:

Aboard the ship, I made a new friend, Helen. She and I decided to visit Lahaina Maui for some “girl time,” leaving Tom behind on the ship while we browsed the shops. It was a great day. For more details, please click here.

Busy morning…Off to a brunch at Frikkie’s Dam, in Lionspruit in the African bush…

Although they all had their backs to us, we were thrilled to see these elephants through the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

“Have you got one more bite for me?” asks Mr. Kudu as he began to walk away.

It’s 9:50 am Sunday, and in 70 minutes, we have to be out the door to head to Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit for brunch in the bush with Louise, Danie, and a group of their friends, most of whom we’ve yet to meet.

I prepared a brunch egg casserole (low carb, of course) which goes into the oven in 10 minutes and will bake for about an hour. When done, we’ll tightly wrap in foil and bath towels to keep warm until we arrive at the destination.

Several were off to the side on their own, which may have been part of the herd.

It’s a rare occasion I have only 70 minutes to prepare a post, but not knowing what time we’d return, I was determined to get it done before leaving at 11:00 am.

There’s never a time we’re not excited to see elephants.

There could have been more time to get things done this morning if I’d dragged myself out of bed a little earlier than 7:30, but after a fitful night, I struggled to get up, showered, and dressed for the day.

By the time I entered the kitchen at 8:00, I had got busy preparing the dish, chopping and dicing onions, garlic, and mushrooms to saute in a buttered skillet. 

There were about a dozen elephants at the Crocodile River from our vantage point.

You know how mornings may go…one getting distracted by a variety of tasks around the house; I washed a small load of laundry, set out dishes and flatware for tonight’s dinner, and put away dishes Tom had washed that I’d used in the food prep.

We waited quite a while for this hippo to turn around for a better photo, but they were busy munching on the grass.

Then, I packed a bag with forks, spatula, paper plates, paper towels, bottled water, etc., that we needed to bring along to serve our solitary dish at the outdoor brunch in Lionspruit, the wildlife conservancy located within the borders of Marloth Park. 

Indeed Louise and Danie have been preparing food for hours, and yet they just stopped by to drop off a pass for us to use to get into Lionspruit. They’re always thinking of us. They didn’t want us to cook anything saying they’d have plenty for us. But, good grief, I had to contribute something!

The elephant on the left appeared much larger than the other.  She must have been the matriarch.

Then, of course, we had two female kudus stop by distracting me for another 20 minutes or more. Yesterday, I’d cut up tons of veggies for them and wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to provide them with a nutritious breakfast. They hung around for another half hour, looking wondering if we’d come up with more.

But, I wanted to save some of the veggies for later when we return for the evening while waiting for Scar-Face to show up. We haven’t seen him in two days and we became a little concerned. 

Their peaceful grazing and the way they honor one another is a sight to behold.

Last night at dinner at Jabula with Kathy and Don and their friends Jill and Beau, we all discussed the fact that we’d only seen wildlife yesterday morning but none in the afternoon. 

That seems the case most weekends when there are more visitors in the park, more traffic, and more noise, keeping some of the wildlife undercover in the bush. Maybe we don’t need to worry about Scar Face.

After the drive along the river, we decided to stop by and see the house on Hornbill that we rented four years ago. 

We had an excellent evening at Jabula. Dawn and Leon, owners and friends of the best restaurant around, always fuss over all of us, making the extra evening special. Of course, the food is consistently exceptional. Tom had the ribs and chips (fries), and I had grilled chicken breast with creamed spinach (no flour added). We brought home the bones for Scar Face in a doggie bag. 

Last night, dear friend Don told us his story of spotting a leopard in Marloth Park on his daily walk. I must admit we were jealous. That would be quite a sighting!  Perhaps, one day soon, we’ll spot it too.

It brought back a lot of beautiful memories of our first time living in the bush. Now, here at the “Orange…More than Just a Colour” we’re building new memories.

We apologize for today’s less-than-perfect photos and short story. The images were taken at a distance our camera cannot easily handle, nor can I, without the tripod with me. Let us start taking it with us when we go for our almost daily drives in the park.

We’ll be back tomorrow to review the news regarding the earthquakes and erupting Mount Kilauea on the Big Island in Hawaii. We were there in 2014/2015 when we had the unbelievable opportunity to see lava flowing when our family visited for Christmas. The lava was flowing toward the town of Pahoa where our holiday rentals were located on the sea.  More on that tomorrow with links and photos from our original story.

Have a peaceful and fulfilling day, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2018:

One year ago today, we arrived back in the USA via the Big Island, Hawaii, as we continued on the cruise.  For more details, please click here.