Another fabulous evening on the river with friends…

    Two hippos lounging in the Crocodile River.

Note; Please excuse our lack of clarity in today’s photos, taken at dusk and from quite a distance.

With one delightful social event after another, we are reeling from the flurry of activity over these past many weeks. Tonight will be one more enjoyable event with dinner at dear friends Kathy and Don’s home, overlooking the Crocodile River. Soon, they will be leaving to return to their other home in Hawaii. We will miss them.

Many of our friends leave the bush for the holiday season, partly due to other commitments and partly due to avoidance of the heat of the upcoming summer. For some, they leave due to a plan they’ve made to spend many months here and then spend the remainder of the year in their other homes, often located in equally enticing areas.

On average, hippo males weigh 3,500 to 9,920 pounds, 1588 kg to 4500 kg,0, and females weigh 3,000 pounds, 1361 kg.

We’re content we don’t have multiple houses in various locations, leaving us free of concern over upkeep and expenses necessary to maintain another home elsewhere. We love the fact that we don’t have the expense and maintenance of one home anywhere.

Renting holiday homes that include maintenance, utilities, and WiFi costs is a must for us. With nary a thought about how much our utility bills, property taxes, and upkeep costs will be, make our lives all the easier. Oddly, we don’t miss the feeling of being rooted in one location. We never give it a thought.

We realize this life is not for everyone. The only couple we’ve met in years that live like us is Carrie and Jim, who joined us at our house for sundowners over a week ago. After they return from a surprise event for Carrie’s birthday, we’ll be getting together again, meeting at Two Trees on the Crocodile River. The four of us have so many stories to share.

A hippo group is called “bloat.” Often they wander off on their own.

Last evening, we joined Louise and Danie and eight of their family members at the chalet they rented at resort Ngwenya for a week. We were honored to be included for a “family night” and have the opportunity to meet two more of Danie’s grown kids. They were all wonderful. I’d baked two low-carb cheese pies to bring, and they served a wide array of delicious foods and treats.

Not only was it fantastic to commiserate with all of them, all of whom live in South Africa, most from Cape Town. They were all curious about our way of eating, our time spent in lockdown in India, and our overall world travels. They flattered us when saying they hope to travel someday, like us, and of course, we encouraged them to do so if they could.

Another lone hippo, but other members of the bloat are nearby.

When we left, Louise loaded our chill box with a loaf of homemade bread and a popular South African dessert, Brandy Tart, both of which Tom loves and will savor over the next several days.

This morning Tom had the Brandy Tart with his coffee. South African’s love these types of desserts, anything with doughy tarts covered in a caramel-type custard sauce. It’s quite the go-to dessert in South Africa. Of course, I’ve never tasted it, but Tom said it was fantastic this morning with his coffee.

We were fortunate to take some good hippo photos last night from the veranda on their place in Ngwenya. The views from the veranda were outrageous!

This afternoon is easy peasy. It is hot again today but only with a high of 90F, 32C. We can easily handle that without even noticing. It’s funny how we’ve adapted to the hot weather as it’s gradually heated up. Next month and January will be another story.

Have a pleasant day wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2020:

Tom’s beautiful bird photo, a small Green Parrot in Costa Rica in 2017. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day # 233. For more photos, please click here.

Final photos from Livingstone, Zambia…Final Expenses will follow tomorrow…

Zebras were grazing on the grass at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

Note to our readers: Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

Wow! The time has flown by so quickly. Tomorrow morning, we head to the airport to return to South Africa. At the moment, we’re awaiting printed copies of our PCR test results and a copy of proof of our airline tickets proving we are exiting South Africa on January 23, 2022, which may help at immigration if we run into any issues for our short time away.

Our favorite photo is of the sunset from the hotel veranda.

In the past, we only encountered one negative comment from an immigration officer upon return to South Africa, but we were allowed re-entry. However, we felt by showing our airline tickets for January. They may be convinced we’re not “border-hopping.”  We’ll see how it goes.

The past 24 hours have been relatively quiet while we both worked on projects on our laptops. I am working on the corrections fast and furiously and now have less than 19 pages of 20 posts left to correct. At this point, I can correct 30 posts a day when in the beginning, it was slow and cumbersome when I could only get through 15 posts a day.

The spray from Victoria Falls from the Zambia side of the river. We visited the fall on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides last time we were here in 2018.

No, the old posts won’t be perfect. It is easy to miss a few corrections on each page, even after reading and re-reading it. Halfway through, I added the paid, highly-rated editing program, Grammarly. But, it, too, like humans, is not exempt from making errors. Yesterday. I did a post that had 126 errors on a post prepared while in lockdown in India. I had all the time in the world to proofread, and yet, I still made countless mistakes, mostly commas, occasionally sentence structure, and less so spelling.

I often say if someone asked me if I’d write an essay every day, 365 days a year, that would be presented to the world online, I would have said they’re out of their minds for asking me to do that, and I would have flatly refused.

An elephant on the opposite side of the Zambezi River, most like more than a kilometer from our view from the hotel veranda.

Weirdly, I am doing exactly that now, 3355 posts later. Good grief! How in the world did that happen? How in the world have I continued to motivate myself to keep doing this, day after day, month after month, year after year? Now, as we approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world, having begun posting on March 15, 2012 (before we left), even I am shocked by how consistently this mission has continued.

The first year or so, we only posted a few times a week. But, as time marched on, we realized we needed to write more often to maintain the continuity of our peculiar lives without a home, without storage, and with only a few bags in our possession.

A bloat of hippos in the Zambezi River, rarely picking up their heads.

Based on interest and comments from readers, they’ve always seemed more interested in the challenges we face daily, not unlike their own. Life isn’t always about famous sightseeing venues and tours. At times, daily life is tough and for many of our readers, seeing how we resolved a particular issue(s) is equally, if not more interesting.

We try to “shake it up” with a mix of exciting events and daily life events. But, like most of you, some days are dull and uneventful. Have you ever wondered what you’d write about after 3355 days of writing a daily essay? It, in itself, is sometimes challenging.

A halfhearted yawn from a hippo.

Regardless of how often my mind is blank when I sit down to begin. Within minutes, my fingers fly across the keyboard as if possessing a mind of their own, and the words flow. Once I start, the rest follows suit. But, the easiest part is writing down the thoughts. The hard part is editing, editing, and more editing.

Then, the photos always take a good portion of the time I spend at my laptop, formatting, positioning, and editing. Although I may do a few photo edits, mainly consisting of brightening or resizing a scene. Remember, I am not a professional photographer and have little interest in pursuing that path when I know how much time it would take to learn more. Gee…I want to have time left in my day to embrace it!

The spray from the falls at sunset.

The concierge just dropped off our negative PRC tests. Tomorrow morning, we should have time to do another post with our expenses for the six days, five nights we’ve spent in Zambia. Please check back for that.

More spray from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.

Happy day and evening to all of you, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in a hotel in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #216. The waterfalls at Vuodomo, Fiji, were still, at quite a distance. We gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall, which is much larger than it appears in this photo. For more photos, please click here.

First trip to Kruger National Park in 2021!!!…New photos!…

It’s estimated an aggressive hippo’s sharp teeth kill 500 people a year in Africa. Hippos can crush a human to death, with their weight ranging anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 pounds. But they are fantastic to see in the wild. Note the oxpeckers on the hide of the hippo on the right.  After uploading the post, I suggested to Tom that we head to Kruger National Park and purchase our year-long Wild Card, which allows us to enter Kruger as often as we’d like for the next 12 months. With most Easter weekend visitors and holidaymakers gone, we figured it would be an excellent time to go.

We could have applied online, but the website was cumbersome, so we decided “the old way” and appeared in person. It proved to be a good decision. We were the only applicants in the Crocodile Gate office, resulting in no waiting. We were well masked, gloved, and brought our pen to fill out documents or signatures.

At the Verhami Dam, we spotted this “bloat” of hippos munching on the tall grass.

Although we were the only visitors in the office, it took at least 30 minutes for the purchase to be completed and for us to head back to our car finally. Of course, with a temporary pass in hand, we decided to go into the park right away. It was midday, and we were well aware the sightings could be minimal.

We hadn’t been in the park since January 2019, before I had open-heart surgery. There was no way I could have been bouncing around on the bumpy roads after the surgery when we finally left South Africa after three months of recovery in May 2019. We’d missed it.

We wanted to yell out, “Pick up your head,” but were satisfied when the hippo in the main photo did so.

Generally, early morning can be the best time to do a game drive, in our case, what is referred to as a self-drive. However, in the car, we weren’t as high up as one would be on a professional game drive vehicle with a guide. We kept a watchful eye as we meandered down the roads to see what we could find. As usual, we weren’t disappointed.

Not every tourist that enters the park is determined to see the “Big Five.” Sure, it’s great to spot a leopard, lion, cape buffalo, elephant, and rhino. But, for us, we never focus on such a lofty goal. We’ve seen the Big Five more times than we can count. At this point, although fun to see, it’s not a priority for us.

Zebra traffic on the main road.

We’re always looking for good photo ops, regardless of the species, and for us, it proved to be as productive a day as any. Over the next several days, we’ll be posting our photos and, of course, returning to the park regularly over the following months.

As for the application for the Wild Card, which resulted in a cost of US $352, ZAR 5100, for foreign nationals, the application process had to be completed once back at the house, requiring we call a phone number, speak to a representative and give them the code we got on the receipt.

We waited patiently until they moved over into the grass.

We won’t receive a card. Instead, this morning shortly after I spoke to the representative, we received an email with a confirmation letter that we must carry to enter the park. Plus, each time we go, we have to fill out another form with personal and passport information. Lots of steps.

In any case, we certainly enjoyed driving through the park. Deciding to go on short notice, we didn’t eat lunch at the popular Mugg & Bean, located in Lower Sabi on the Sabi River, although we stopped for a bathroom break and checked out the action on the Sabi River from the restaurant.

It was quite a day for zebra sightings.

We’d already defrosted and prepared bacon-wrapped fillet mignon for dinner and knew, if we ate lunch, we’d never be hungry by dinnertime. We only eat one meal a day, only because our way of eating diminishes our appetites until 24 hours later.

Long ago, we both decided that we wouldn’t eat unless we were hungry. Thirty days before leaving India, Tom began losing weight he gained stuck in that hotel room, eating four bananas, toast, and pasta, day after day.  He has since lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, and I, too, had lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, while in India, after changing our diets further.

Crocodiles are always scary-looking, in the water and out.

It’s hard for us to believe that combined, we’ve lost 50 pounds, 22.7 kg, of unnecessary weight in the past several months, significantly improving our health. We both feel committed to maintaining our current eating, weight, and better health with the new changes. We both feel great and love fitting into our minimal wardrobes.

Soon, we’re off for Komatipoort for grocery shopping and to purchase some pellets. Now that the Easter alcohol ban has lifted, we’ll restock a few items.

More photos from Kruger will be posted tomorrow.

I hope you have a pleasant day and that all is well your way!

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2020:

A Brown Gecko is hanging out in this plant with sharp thorns, a safe hiding spot for sure. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

A close up hippo encounter…A rarity in the bush…

We centered our attention on this particular hippo hoping for a wide opened mouth shot at one point. Unfortunately, he never cooperated, but we enjoyed the close-up photos nonetheless.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

An Egyptian Goose on the far shore of the Sunset Dam in Kruger.

It seems as if each time we visit Kruger National Park, we encounter an exciting scene (to us anyway) that serves as fodder for an upcoming post. Today’s post about hippos proved to fit the bill.

As we drove across the bridge over the Sabie River, we spotted four hippos in the rapids.

As we drove toward the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie a bit earlier than necessary to meet Rita and Gerhard for lunch, we noticed some activity on the Sabie River bridge. We veered off the main road to see what the commotion was all about.

We shut off the car’s engine to avoid vibration, taking photos for quite some time while we decided which hippo provided the best photo ops. It wasn’t these two.

We located a good spot to park the car as close as possible to the edge of the bridge, closest to the hippos, to enable us to take a few decent shots, hopefully. With many other cars on the bridge, we were pleased to get an excellent place to stop.

From time to time, these two hippos moved a little but never enough for unique shots.

While trying to take photos, we’ve found it necessary to turn off the car. The vibration from the running vehicle has an impact on the quality of the photos. I’ve even noticed when Tom moves to get more comfortable. It can have a bearing on the clarity of my photos.

Periodically, our star-of-the-day closed his eyes to nap in the bubbling waters.
In any case, we sat at that location for approximately 30 minutes, reveling in every moment while watching the motion of the hippos in the bubbling river. Others drove by while we sat with cameras aimed at the hippo’s mouth, hoping for the one unique wide-mouth shots.

It never happened. We realized as we drove away that the wide-mouth shot wouldn’t be necessary after all.  Instead, we had an opportunity for the first time to be so close to hippos, hardly needing to use much zoom to acquire the photos we’re sharing today.
It was a hot day, and he appeared relaxed and at ease in the fantastic rapids washing over him.

Over these past six years, three months, we especially took an interest in getting closeups of animal’s faces.  There’s something magical about the intensity of their looks, expressions, and demeanor that reveals so much of who they are and perhaps, if we’re lucky, how they feel.

As we reviewed these photos, we couldn’t help but find a bit of whimsy in these faces, oddly faces of one of the most dangerous animals on the planet, killing many humans as follows from this site: “Ungainly as it is, the hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa. Hippos are aggressive creatures, and they have very sharp teeth.”

From this site:  “The hippopotamus, commonly referred to as the hippo, is a round, bald, cantankerous herbivore with a semi-aquatic lifestyle and a fearsome reputation. At 14 to 16 feet and 4,000 pounds, they are as long as a car. The 3-foot skull houses huge, protruding canines, called tusks, contained in a broad, cavernous mouth that can be opened to a gape of 150 degrees – 3 times wider than the human jaw.”

As dangerous as they may be, for the safari-goer/tourist, they are fascinating animals to observe in the wild, and we’re grateful for the experiences we have had over this extended period spent in Africa.

The hippo’s skin is gray to brownish-red with pink areas around their ears and under their chin. They have very few hairs on their body but do have stiff whiskers on their broad lips that feel like a broom and a small amount of fuzziness around the edges of their ears and on their tail.

Today, we had yet another fun party to attend, a bush braai at Frikkees Dam in Lionspruit, a game conservancy inside Marloth Park. We dined on fantastic food with about a dozen in attendance, including a traditional potjie Danie and Louise made with seafood. It was divine, comparable to fine seafood chowder.

Earlier this morning, I made a big pan of an Italian dish for tonight’s dinner. Now, back at the house, none of us are hungry, so we’ll play it by ear. Maybe by 7:00 or 7:30, we will be hungry again.

“Ah, that splash feels good,’ he moans.  Hippos don’t swim, although they spend nearly 16 hours a day wallowing in rivers and streams. When not strolling along the bottom, they propel themselves by pushing off the riverbed, or rocks, driftwood, or other hippos, and gliding along for a distance before pushing off again.

Linda and Ken are leaving tomorrow. Their week with us has sailed by, and we look forward to seeing us again in February when they return to Marloth Park from Johannesburg for our upcoming going away party, hosted by Kathy and Don. At this point, we’re leaving MP in 25 days.

Have a fantastic evening!

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2018:

Fancy chalk graffiti on the exterior of a cafe in Buenos Aires. For more photos, please click here.

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.

Nothing compares to you…Each and every one of you…

We encountered this stunning scene of zebras and wildebeest from the fence at Marloth Park. One reason zebras and wildebeests hang out is that they love to eat the taller grass and wildebeest the shorter grass – it’s a type of symbiosis. There is no competition regarding food. Also, wildebeests have a better sense of hearing, while zebras can see very well. Another reason is zebras and wildebeest prefer to be in the open savannahs…the concept of safety in numbers comes into play. It’s always great to have an ally to warn of any impending danger.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Hippo being escorted by a family of Egyptian geese.

It’s Thursday afternoon, and we just returned from a shopping trip to Komatipoort. With plenty of meat, chicken, and fish still on hand in the freezer, we only needed to round out our meals for the upcoming week.

Wildebeest are so expressive. They literally stop whatever they’re doing to make eye contact.

On November 17th, we’re hosting a small dinner party for 10 to 12 friends to celebrate US Thanksgiving, which is actually on Thursday, November 22nd in the US.

Originally, we planned this event as our “going away” dinner party for close friends when we thought we might have to leave South Africa due to visa issues.  

“The hippopotamus is often cited as the most dangerous large animal in the world, killing an estimated 500 people a year in Africa.”

However, after we recently applied (and are awaiting a response) for an extension, we realized we might be able to leave and immediately return if our extension isn’t approved. We should have a response in the next two weeks.

Having an opportunity to takes photos of these unusual animals is exciting.

Thus, we decided to go ahead and have the Thanksgiving dinner party anyway for friends who are currently in the park and played a significant role in including us in their social life over almost nine months we’ve been in Marloth Park.

The typical Thanksgiving meal is relatively easy to make since most cooks have all the recipes for the traditional items in their heads. There’s no need to look up and follow complicated recipes.

“Unlike most other semiaquatic animals, the hippopotamus has very little hair. The skin is 6 cm (2 in) thick, providing great protection against conspecifics and predators. By contrast, its subcutaneous fat layer is thin.”

Unfortunately, finding ingredients for those items is a pointless task. The local stores don’t carry turkeys, let alone the canned pumpkin for the pumpkin pies and many other ingredients I used over the years.  

 “When hippos sleep in the water during the day, they generally prefer to sleep in areas of shallower water. … Hippo, as mentioned, are very closely related to whales and dolphins, and similar to these other aquatic animals, hippos sleep with only one half of their brain at a time.”

So, we have to improvise: stuffed chickens instead of turkey, frozen cranberries, not fresh, local sausage for the stuffing instead of sage flavored sausages found in the US.  It goes on and on.

Tomorrow, I’m making a “test” pumpkin pie using the only pumpkin we could find, which is frozen. I’ll defrost it, thoroughly drain it, and put it into the food processor to see if I can get the proper consistency. We’ll report back on how this goes.

“A good point of distinction occurs around the differing geographical distribution of the Cape buffalo and Water buffalo. As its name suggests, the African buffalo is distributed throughout the African continent, whereas the Water buffalo is native to Asian countries.”

Of course, Tom will be the sole taster and recipient of the “test” pumpkin pie. As a picky eater, I assure you that everyone else will as well if he likes it. As always, the pie crust will be made from scratch, but there’s no rolling pin anywhere to be found. Do people roll dough anymore?

A tower of giraffes on the Sabie River embankment.

Instead, I’ll wash the exterior of a wine bottle and use it as the rolling pin. This definitely will work but will require a little more enthusiastic rolling. I’m good at this task.

Thanks to Louise, who picked up frozen cranberries and spices in Nelspruit this week, and friend Kathy (of Kathy and Don), who made multiple trips to various markets in Hawaii, California, and Pretoria, many of which will fill in the blanks on many of the side dishes.

Mom and baby hippo grazing along the river’s edge.

Authenticity?  Not so much. In reality, the Pilgrims didn’t make many of the side dishes that have become traditional in the US. Over the past centuries, recipes have been passed down from family to family and have become a part of the standard and traditional Thanksgiving meal items.

The challenge of making this meal both traditional and delicious clearly fits into my wheelhouse. Hopefully, everything will be as close to the traditional meal as possible, and if not, the new tastes act as good alternatives.

Next week, I’ll post the menu for our Thanksgiving meal, and if time allows, take photos of the meal on the day of the party and post them here the following day.

A female lion is on the lookout for the next meal.

This afternoon, we’re beginning the process of researching for future travel plans.  We have several holes to fill in our itinerary, but over these past 9 months, we’ve been preoccupied with “living in the moment” in this magical place. It’s time to get back to it!

Tonight, we’re heading to Ngwenya with new friends Rita and Gerhard for the Thursday night buffet and back to Jabula with them on Saturday night.  

Unfortunately, they’ll be gone for a few weeks and won’t be able to join us for the Thanksgiving meal. After living in the US for the past 30 years, this surely was a tradition in their home.

Have a special day filled with wonderful surprises.

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

One must walk carefully on the uneven sidewalks in Atenas, Costa Rica, and many other towns worldwide. 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.

Hippo Day!…First time sighting since our arrival…Exceptional dinner party…

At first, with the naked eye, we thought this was a rhino from way across the river. Tom looked through the binoculars while I zoomed in for a photo to delightfully discover it was a hippo, the first we’d seen since our arrival. That’s a cattle egret near their head.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Gecko on the orange wall at night.  Check out the “red-eye.” Where’s the tail?

With company coming for dinner and with most of the food prepped, we decided to take a drive to the Crocodile River since, after the rains, we’d hoped to see more wildlife.

In my old life, I’d never have taken the time on a day company was coming for dinner when I’d be too busy to take a few hours for frivolities. This life is different, allowing me time and motivation to do exactly whatever strikes me at the moment.

We took off in the little blue car after stopping at the petrol station to add air to a low tire (which seems to be holding up OK), and off we went on the outrageously bumpy dirt roads that take us to the river.

Since hippos stay close to the water and the river so low recently, we hadn’t expected to see any hippos, not from Marloth Park or Kruger National Park.

It was hot, humid and the air felt thick.  Bugs congregated around us each time we stopped and got out of the car to scan the riverbanks for possible sightings. We stopped at the usual brick overlook structure but didn’t see a thing. 

A group of tourists relaxed on the tiered seating having lunch and drinks. It’s always busier on these roads and overlooks on the weekends when many South Africans from other areas flock to Marloth Park for a few days of “holiday fun” among the precious wildlife, often retreating from the “extra” humans in the park.

We’ve noticed that generally, we have fewer visitors to our house on weekends. The only thing we can attribute this to is the added cars and people visiting. Could the wildlife prefer to stay “undercover” when there are so many humans milling about?

The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal from this site. The hippo is considered the most dangerous mammal in Africa. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour, and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20-inch canines.”
I suppose the longer we’re here; we’ve become protective of this unique location, preferring it to stay natural and unencumbered with the likes of too many tourists coming and going, often staying for only two or three days.
Then again, the revenue generated by tourists is vital for many of the shops, lodges, and homeowners renting their properties to incoming tourists.

Sadly, some tourists ruin it for everyone, disturbing the quiet and easy flow of life in this veritable paradise for animal lovers and those seeking the serenity of this magical world, so far removed from everyday life.

We watched for some time, attempting to get a better photo of this hippo with a few oxpeckers on them, clearing off the insects.

As we drove along the river, eyes searching to the distant shore, we spotted something dark and mysterious across the river. Keeping in mind, we could be talking about a distance of up to one kilometer (.62 miles) from our vantage point, making photo taking with our less fancy camera a bit tricky to get a clear shot.

Tom maneuvered the car into a perfect place to park while we got out and walked through brush and grass to get as close as possible. Getting closer by 15 meters (50 feet) is nothing compared to the distance from the sighting, but we forged along anyway.

It was challenging to get a more explicit photo at such a distance, but we were nonetheless thrilled to get these photos.

The perception that moving even such a short distance closer would enhance the quality of our photos, spurred us on. Batting off flies and other insects, we steadied ourselves as much as possible to take today’s hippo photos.

We’d love to have seen more hippos like we had while in the Masai Mara, Kenya, in 2013. But, with the inaccessibility of the Crocodile River, we happily take what we can get, always thrilled in the process.  Here’s a photo of hippos we’d taken while on safari in Kenya:

We captured this “bloat” of hippos along the Mara River during our first hour on safari in Kenya in 2013.  Here’s the link from that date.

The above photo doesn’t in any manner make us feel, “Oh, that was then.  This is now.” Instead, we think in terms of our collective worldwide experiences. Africa presented these experiences to us. When?…is irrelevant, so it’s easy for us to revel in one hippo knowing we had the above opportunity long ago and perhaps will have more in the future.

Here’s another photo we posted on Tom’s birthday, December 23, 2013, of this glorious hippo at sunset as we crossed the Crocodile River:

As the sun went down, the reflection on this hippo in the Crocodile River on Tom’s birthday in 2013 was unique.  For the link from that date, please click here.
Yesterday, as we continued, we were breathless over other encounters on the road back to our property, photos which we’ll share in the next few days.  Each time we embark on a drive, we have few expectations, and, in one way or another, we’re always pleasantly surprised. This upcoming week, we’ll head back to Kruger, this time staying on the paved roads.

As for last night’s dinner party of six, it was delightful.  Our friends Lynne and Mick and Janet and Steve were here for what proved to be a near-perfect evening. As always, the conversation flowed with ease, and the pace was low-key and stress-free. 
Each time we go to the river, the first animal we long to see is an elephant.  We’re seldom disappointed.

We were pleased they enjoyed our meal of mozzarella stuffed meatballs, topped with homemade marinara and two kinds of cheese along with a side of bacony green beans and salad. For dessert, we served ice cream bars and coffee with cream. After they left, at almost 11:00 pm, Tom had a lot of dishes to wash, but together we cleaned up and awoke to only a few things left to do this morning.

In yesterday’s post, I mistakenly mentioned Janet and Steve would be away for some time. As it turns out, they’ll be back in Marloth in no time at all, and we look forward to seeing them again soon. 

This big guy took water into his trunk and sprayed it on his back to cool off on a scorching day.

Lynne and Mick return to their home in Jersey (UK) for many months in a few days. We won’t see them again until November other than to run over to their home this afternoon to say goodbye and see their newly thatched roof (almost done). Later we’ll return “home” to some mighty fine leftovers.

Last night’s sunset, after our guests arrived, was hard to see through the trees.

That’s it for today, folks. Of course, we’ll always be on the lookout for more to share with each of you every single day! Have a great day!

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

Volleyball competitors are warming up for tournaments in Manly, Australia. For more photos, please click here.