Christmas season upon us?..A good trip into Kruger National Park…The suffocating heat continues…

A tired old elephant was resting his trunk on his tusk.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The four little piglets keep returning (with mom, of course) for more fun in the garden.

It’s a little after 11:00 am, and I’m finally wrapping up today’s post. As mentioned in prior posts, I don’t always get it done first thing in the morning as I’d done in years past.

Elephant family on their way back up the hill from the Sabie River. “The Sabie River is a river in South Africa that forms part of the Komati River System. The catchment area of the Sabie-Sand system is 6,320 km2 in extent. The Sabie is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa, with generally good water quality.”

Often, I’ll prep for dinner, wash clothes or work on other tasks lined up for the day to get them all behind me, so my mind is free when I sit down to begin the day’s story.

Waterbuck on the Sabie River.

This morning, I began purchasing some of the six grandchildren’s Christmas gifts, with more to do in a few weeks. Some want specific items we order from Amazon and others prefer Visa gift cards to choose their items. Either way is acceptable for us.

This morning I ordered the gifts for my son Greg’s three children, who had specific items in mind. With the big holiday rush in the US and often special items becoming sold out, I decided to get a handle on it today.
Enormous cape buffalo on the shore of the Sabie River.

Our other three grandchildren prefer the Visa gift cards, so we order those from Amazon about two weeks in advance of Christmas with no worries about them arriving on time.

A face only a mother could love, seem at the Sunset Dam in Kruger.

Tom and I don’t buy gifts for one another, nor do we exchange gifts with our adult children (wouldn’t that be a fiasco with South Africa’s mail service with a backlog of 7.5 million undelivered packages)? This made sense a long time ago when we left the US – no gifts, please.

We often waited for that big mouth open photo, but it didn’t happen.

It’s hard to believe that the Christmas season is upon us once again. We’ve already noticed Christmas decor (which isn’t an issue here in SA) on display in our frequent shops. 

Another adorable hippo face at the Sunset Dam.

Over these years, we’ve become less and less interested in the hoopla surrounding the holiday season. It doesn’t fit into this life of world travel. This doesn’t mean we don’t observe and respect the spiritual significance of Christmas. It simply means it makes no sense to purchase gifts for one another (no room in our luggage), Christmas trees, or decorations.

Nor do I bake cookies and the confections I’d done in years past. We both continue to monitor our low-carb, keto-based diet, attempting to maintain good health during the holiday season as well as throughout the year.

A tower of giraffes crossing the paved road in Kruger.

In reality, it certainly is easier this way. And, considering the awful heat lately, which will continue through the summer, I can’t imagine standing in the kitchen baking and cooking for the holidays.  

A parade of elephants traveling along the river’s edge.

The recent pie-baking-day-from-hell confirmed this when it was 40C (104F) while I made eight pumpkin pies. However, we loved serving our Thanksgiving dinner table for 12, and all the food and pies ultimately came out well, sending everyone home with leftovers and a full-sized individual pie.


Social plans become the highlight of the holiday season in Marloth Park.  We already have plans set for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Now I’ll get to work on deciding what to do for Tom’s upcoming birthday on December 23rd, not the most convenient time of the year to celebrate a birthday.  But, celebrate we will, in one way or another, as we always do.

The hot temperature reading in the red car…40C equals 104F. It will be more desirable today, perhaps 42C (107.6F). We spend the days and evenings in the heat but use aircon in the bedroom at night.

Today’s photos are a few of many we captured in Kruger National Park yesterday when the power was out. We’ll have more to share in tomorrow’s post. As for today, most likely, we’ll make our usual drive through Marloth Park and to the fence at the Crocodile River to see what we can find. Doing so is an excellent respite from the heat of the afternoon when temps are at their highest, and the cooling air in the red car is a huge relief.

An oxpecker was working on a giraffe’s leg.

The rest of this week is socially active, with plans for tomorrow night, Thursday night, and Saturday night. We’ll report details as they occur.

May your midweek bring you many beautiful surprises.

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2017:
On Saturday, one year ago, we had lunch at Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant in Cayman Island with new friends Susan and Blair. For more photos, please click here.

Exquisite scenery from the Marloth Park side of the Crocodile River…Staying healthy, a must for this life!…

It was hard to believe we captured this scene close to sunset.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Notice the appearance of a face in the rocks near the top center of this photo.

It’s almost noon on Sunday and I’m getting a late start to today’s post. Recently, on a relatively strict diet to lose the weight I’d gained these past few years since my gastrointestinal problems began, I’m only 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) away from my goal.  

A pair of retired generals, perhaps?

Once I reach that goal, I will post the details here including what I’ve been doing to lose weight which is difficult with my already strict way of eating, what I did and didn’t give up, my weight at the start, and the final total weight loss.

Zebras were standing in a waterhole drinking and cooling off.

It’s been slow, averaging only a .45 kg (one pound) loss per week but I’m thrilled to be able to fit back into clothes I’ve dragged around the world for a few years hoping I’d fit in them once again.  

A mom and youngster grazing near the water’s edge.

Of course, now I’m stuck with many items that are way too big, which I’ll donate before we leave South Africa, whenever that may be. In the interim Tom who’d also gained a few kilos is now gradually returning to his lowest weight which was when we were in Belize almost six years ago.

This elephant was trying to figure out how to climb these steep rocks. Eventually, she turned and took a different route.

We’re hell-bent on not carrying excess weight when our goal is to stay fit and healthy so we can continue traveling. We’ve both found we feel our very best at the lower end of our weight ranges which like everyone, fluctuates from time to time.

Five giraffes at the river’s edge.

No, we’re not obsessed with the “numbers’ but we’re definitely determined to keep our lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and weight at a level of optimum wellness for our ages.

Zebras coming down the steep hill to the Crocodile River.

No doubt, I’d had my share of medical ups and downs these past several years.  But, now I see I need to pay more attention to wellness and less attention to the vulnerability of advancing age.  

The hot weather brought many animals down to the Crocodile River.

Fortunately, none of my issues had left me wanting to stop traveling. At times, it was difficult to carry on but the sheer love of our lifestyle has kept me motivated to forging ahead. Now that I’m feeling so well I never forget to be grateful each and every day while continuing on the mission to maintain good health.

Giraffes rarely bend to the ground other than to drink.  They are vulnerable to predators in this position.

One’s mental health is equally important in this process and nothing could bring us more joy than the amazing relationship we share as we travel the world.  This extended stay in South Africa, hopefully lasting until February 20, 2019, when we fly to Kenya (providing we are able to get visa extensions) means we only have 150 days remaining until we leave.

A few male impalas and two giraffes could be mom and youngster.

The remaining 150 days constitute a total of four months and 28 days. We both want to thank all of our worldwide readers for staying with us as we’ve continued to write and post photos of some fairly repetitive scenarios.

Giraffes heading back up the embankment while zebras languished in the water.

We present today’s photos with a little different perspective, not just animal photos per se but scenes with the wildlife we’ve been fortunate to see while on the Marloth Park side of the fence, overlooking the Crocodile River, taken on the two outrageously hot days this past week.

A few of the zebras began to wander off while the others stayed behind.

Enjoy our photos and especially, enjoy YOUR day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2017:

Much of the produce at the Central Market in Atenas appears to be imported when it’s perfectly shaped and mostly clean. At the feria, the Friday Atenas Farmer’s Market, the vegetables appear to have been “just picked” with excess leaves and insects still on them. That’s the type of produce we prefer to buy.  For more photos, please click here.

Yikes!!!…Monkey in the house!!!…Quite a sighting on the river…A meaty mishap…

Water spouted out of his mouth after he took a big gulp of water.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An appropriately named Fish Eagle stood to watch over his “catch of the day.”

Each day brings new excitement. Whether it’s the sighting of a new bird, beast, or blooming flower, not a single day passes without one form of adventure or another. It becomes a matter of paying attention more than being lucky. There’s never a shortage of opportunities.

We’re always hoping to have the camera on hand for such occurrences, but sometimes something happens so quickly a photo isn’t possible. This morning was exactly that case.

Last night, while viewing the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park from Serena Oasis, aka Amazing River View, we noticed this solitary giraffe approaching the water.

Tom was outdoors and noticed many Vervet monkeys trying to get seeds out of the bird feeder. When this occurs, he often takes the bird feeder down from the tree, which requires the use of a long pole we keep close to the front door. He did precisely that while alerting me to the monkey’s presence.

I was busy indoors, chopping vegetables for wildlife and to roast for tonight’s dinner. While he was busy in the yard, a monkey ran into the house, onto the kitchen bar stools, perused what was available and countertop, and snatched an apple in a literal second in time. There wasn’t enough time with my wild response to grab anything more.

And respond, I did!  I screamed at the monkey to “Get out!” while yelling at Tom, “Monkey in the house!” There was nothing he could have done that I wasn’t doing, chase the darn thing back outdoors.

Several times, he bent down, preparing to take a drink but hesitated, standing and looking around.

This all transpired in literally 20 seconds or less. Of course, my first thought, once the monkey was back outside, was, “Darn, I wish I could have taken a photo!” 

Generally, while preparing food, I don’t plan for photo ops and didn’t have the camera beside me on the wet granite countertop. But, when I’m not in the kitchen or bedroom, it’s always within a second’s reach. Oh, well, this time, we can only tell, not show, what happened.

We prefer to keep the door to the house open, and while we’re on the veranda, generally, the monkey won’t approach the house. This unique and isolated case of circumstances is just right for the monkey and is not so suitable for us.

Giraffes are vulnerable when they slowly bend to drink when predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and crocodiles attack.

Many people are fascinated with Vervet monkeys and baboons. However, as we’ve mentioned in the past, they are highly destructive and can tear a house apart in a matter of minutes. That’s why most of the houses in Marloth Park have some type of protection over their windows, not necessary screens (which are seldom seen on windows in Africa) but bars and other protective materials.

With my heart pounding, I retold the incident to Tom, and we both chuckled, grateful nothing was damaged and intrigued by this first experience. Luckily, we were out only one apple for the “other” wildlife. We’d never had a monkey in the house. Such an oddity. Have you?

As for last night, we had a farewell dinner with Kathy and Don. They’re on their way to Pretoria on Sunday but fortunately are returning in about three weeks.  We have such fun with these two fine people, and last night couldn’t have been more perfect.

He didn’t stay down for more than a few seconds, fearful of his vulnerability.

We met shortly before five at Serene Oasis, a bar/restaurant located in a local park with outstanding river views from their veranda. They don’t allow visitors to sit and watch unless they purchase a beverage and food. We’d decided to have “sundowners” there and once the sun was set, head to Jabula for the best food in Marloth Park.

It proved to be a perfect plan, after all. Not only did we capture many of today’s photos, but we had a fabulous time sitting outdoors yakking up a storm while enjoying nature at its finest.

Carefully bending his knees, he gracefully dipped for the first drink.

When darkness fell, we drove to Jabula for a delightful evening with great food and again conversation. Dawn, the owner (with husband Leon) her assistant, Lyn, always welcomes us with hugs and kisses and the land’s most satisfactory service and food. 

Now, on to the “meaty mishap.” It goes like this…on Thursday, we grocery shopped, ending up at the butcher when we were done at Spar. We purchased ZAR 798 (US $60.40) in meats, from chicken breasts, beef mince, pork tenderloins, to bacon.

Another quick sip…

Twenty-five minutes after leaving the butchery on Thursday, we were back home putting everything away.  We hadn’t used the little car for 26 hours since purchasing the meat when we left yesterday at 4:30 pm to meet up with Kathy and Don.

Upon getting our seatbelts on, I asked Tom, “What’s that bag in the back seat?”  He turned around and touched the bag.

This morning I was cutting vegetables for roasting when the Vervet monkey entered the house. There were two apples near this pan. He took one of them.

“Oh, no!” he exclaimed, “That’s the bag of meat!”  He had a pained look on his face. “Yesterday, I put it in the back seat, not the trunk, which was already full.  Then, when I brought everything inside the house, I forgot about the bag in the back seat.”

Since we both avoid “blaming” in such situations, my thoughts revolved around trying to make him feel better and not beat himself up. It could have been a lot worse. In the realm of things, it’s no big deal. Sure, no one wants to be out the money, and it’s only a minor “hit” and not worth stress or frustration.

The monkey didn’t have time to grab any of these grape tomatoes I’d washed with me, shooing him outside while yelling all the while.

Soon, when we’re done here, we’ll head to the butcher store, another branch of the store in Komatipoort, and re-purchase the items we lost. We found a dumpster and unloaded them before we entered the restaurant for fear the smell might attract wild animals while we were at dinner. 

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be posting but doing so earlier than usual. We have an exhilarating day planned. We’re meeting up with friends Cathi and Rick in Kruger National Park, whom we met in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015. (We’ve booked another trip and will share details). 

This big bowl of vegetables, for the wildlife, also caught the monkey’s eye, but he opted for the big apple as I shooed him outside. 

Avid photo safari enthusiasts, having been to South Africa in the past, we thought it would be fun to meet up in Kruger rather than some other location. They have other friends with them. Otherwise, they’d have stayed with us for a few days.  But, seeing them for lunch tomorrow in Kruger will be such fun.

If we leave by 10 am and take our time driving in Kruger, we’ll easily contact our prearranged destination in Lower Sabie, where there’s a popular restaurant. It will be excellent for all of us to be driving through the park seeing wildlife on our way to our get-together.

On Monday, we’ll report back with photos and details!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, June 9, 2017:

Perfect pink orchids at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. For more photos, please click here.

Perseverance and passion determine good photo ops…We’ve got plenty of both!…

This was a “tower” or “journey” of the eight giraffes who made their way to the only paved road in Marloth. Note the eighth giraffe is to the far right in this photo.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
This little mongoose was the lucky one of many and got to eat the raw eggs. Notice egg dripping off their mouth. 

Based on the number of new photos we post each day, it may appear all we have to do is sit back and wait for wildlife to come to us. Sometimes, it’s that easy for many of us in Marloth Park and visiting wildlife-rich national parks.

This was the scene that frightened Ms. Kudu while standing in our yard, causing her to thunder off.

However, photos such as those we’ve recently posted from Kruger National Park and through the electrified fence between Marloth Park and Kruger required an eagle’s eye and the patience to wait for the exact right moment. It’s not as if the wildlife is waiting there for our arrival. 

They make their way through a path they’d used in the past. There are countless such paths in the bush that many animals use.

Most animals are continually on the move, foraging and hunting for their next meal. They rarely remain in one location for any time as the resources become scarce after a while.  Hunger (and thirst) is a huge motivator for them to move along.

They moved so rapidly we’d never been able to keep up on foot.

Speaking of thirst, we’ve discovered many animals only need water from time to time while others must find water almost daily. Those that consume a considerable portion of their diet from consuming leaves on trees and plants generally receive a good portion of their water needs from that vegetation.

This fact is not unlike humans. We’ve been “told” by the media that we must drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. But, this doesn’t consider the water we derive from eating vegetables, fruits, and other sources in our diet. The same is true for most wildlife.

With a person walking along the road, this giraffe ran for the safety of the tower and the trees.

Thus, as we sit here each day, waiting for visitors, part of the process is beyond our control…if they come, they come. But, the other part is enticing them to visit by dropping pellets in the yard and, most of all, continually scanning the bush every hour of the day to see if any animals are nearby.

Some will come near with the most gentle of sounds from our voices, while others prefer we stand perfectly still and quiet, allowing them to decide their next move. That move is to walk away at times, and no voice or pellet offering will draw them near.

These two stopped for a few minutes to nibble on the treetops.

As for Kruger and the fence, there’s no enticing we can do.  It’s all a matter of luck (safari luck in our case) that allows the diligent scanning of our eyes, that we see a tail, hear a sound or spot a massive creature at rest.

Last week when we spotted the rhinos sleeping under trees, they easily appeared to be large dark rocks. But, we’ll chase down a rock if there’s even a remote possibility it might be something more interesting, and that’s exactly what we did a week ago when we captured the rhino photos.

A few of the eight giraffes were stragglers, but eventually, all caught up.

As for elephants, they move more quickly than one perceives, as shown here from this site:

6.9m 8t 40km/h 10.4km/h
Elephants swim well but cannot trot, jump, or gallop. They do have two gaits: a walk; and a faster gait that is similar to running. In walking, the legs act as pendulums, with the hips and shoulders rising and falling while the foot is planted on the ground. With no “aerial phase,” the faster gait does not meet all the running criteria, as elephants always have at least one foot on the ground.
However, an elephant moving fast uses its legs much like a running animal, with the hips and shoulders falling and then rising while the feet are on the ground. In this gait, an elephant will have three feet off the ground at one time. As both of the hind feet and both of the front feet are off the ground simultaneously, this gait has been likened to the hind legs and the front legs taking turns running. Although they start this “run” at only 8 km/h, elephants can reach speeds up to 40 km/h (25 mph), all the while using the same gait. Most other four-legged creatures are well into a gallop at this speed, even accounting for leg length. Spring-like kinetics could explain the difference between the motion of elephants and other animals.”
It’s astounding how these stunning animals came to be with their usual features. The soft tissue horns on the top of their heads are ossicones.

As a result, spotting elephants is one thing…being able to get close enough for decent photos is another. Oh, don’t get me wrong. As I’ve mentioned many times, I am just a mediocre amateur photographer who gets lucky from time to time to capture a near-perfect shot.

In our perseverance and sheer determination, we continually scan our environment, looking for movement in the bush, an unusual shape at a distance, or tails swishing amongst the trees and bush. 

Whenever we take photos of larger wildlife, there’s always a warthog in the photo, as was the case yesterday as we followed the giraffes.
Yesterday, we had the most unusual opportunity for a sighting than we’ve ever had in the past, not in these past 23 days since our arrival, nor in the three months we spent here in 2013/2014.

It was around 11:00 am. As usual, we were seated at the big wooden table on the veranda, fan whirring in the background. It was a very cloudy, hot, and humid day. Tom was researching while I was busy preparing the day’s post.
They were on the dirt road near our house.
A lovely female kudu, a regular as shown below, had stopped by for her usual visit, often eating out of my hand and staring at us when we stopped offering the pellets. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed her almost daily visits, especially when she’ll hang around for an hour or more, often foraging on nearby vegetation.
Ms. Kudu stops by almost every day.  It was her that alerted us to the nearby giraffes. We’d have missed it without her warning.

Yesterday, after nibbling on the pellets, she sharply turned her attention to the left side of the house, where there are more open spaces that giraffes prefer as opposed to the dense bush. The look in our visiting kudu’s eyes was one of sheer terror. 

In a flash, she took off in the opposite direction at a pace we’d yet to see a kudu run, who can run at 70 km (43 miles) per hour, the sound of her thundering hoofs practically shaking the ground.

This road is very near our house.
Immediately, we both jumped up and headed on foot to that side of the yard to see, at a distance, the long legs of many giraffes.  We had to make a quick decision. Do we run on foot with the camera in hand, hoping to catch up with them or, do we jump in the car and follow them?
They were dashing through the trees to make their way to the open road.
Giraffes can run at 60 km (37 miles) per hour. And, although it was possible they were coming our way, we didn’t want to take a chance. We jumped in the car, knowing we’d never be able to keep up on foot. It proved to be a wise decision.
Once they reached Olifant, the paved road, they stayed together while a few others caught up with the tower.
Over the next 30 minutes, we followed them. They seem oblivious to our presence since we kept our distance and stayed in the car. Once they reached Olifant, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we weren’t the only ones watching them, but none stayed as long as us.

We did our best to get photos, and with considerable enthusiasm, we share them with our readers today. If we hadn’t picked our heads up at the exact moment Ms. Kudu reacted, we’d have never seen them.
Traffic jam on Olifant Road.

Serendipity?  Perhaps. May it also come your way! Toss in a bit of perseverance, patience, and passion, and as always, “safari luck” prevails.

Photo from one year ago, March 6, 2017:

Do you see the rainbow in the background in this shot of New Caledonia? Our ship had spent the day in this port, but we had to tender to the shore.  For more photos, please click here