Travel Tips for Wildlife Photographers around the World….

Maasai Mara in Kenya
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot?  We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Note: Today’s lengthy post is #4 of 5 required for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Today’s post is not intended to be a photographic instruction piece. Your personal equipment isn’t a point of discussion for our purposes here. Also, I will preface that I am not a photographic expert, by any means. Preparing 3000 posts over these past years has been our primary focus. As much as we’ve loved sharing our photos, becoming experts in photo-taking simply wasn’t a goal of ours. Others may say it should have been.

But, our worldwide journey has been wrapped around our goal of doing and being whoever we chose to be, at any given time, as we’ve scoured the world, not necessarily doing and being what is expected of us. Sure, great skills in photography would have been an asset, Somehow, my interest in acquiring those skills has not been at the forefront of my mind. We are merely typical travelers, who happen to hold a camera in our hands, excited to share what we see through our eyes, not a perfect, perhaps edited version of what treasures we behold.

More so, our somewhat simple goal has been to share with our family/readers/friends inspirations that which we’ve gleaned from our eight years of non-stop world travel (barring the over six months we’ve been stuck in a hotel room in Mumbai, India while in lockdown, due to COVID-19). Thus, our topic of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is more about the “where,” the “what,” and the “when” to take photos of wildlife, as opposed to the instructive mode of “how.”

older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk
In most cases, we were within 25 feet of any of the animals in our photos. Notice, this older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. Our guide assumed this old male to be around 60 years old, close to his life expectancy. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

No doubt, some of today’s travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world will include a portion of the “how” when positioning yourself and your subject for the ideal shot, not necessarily the perfect shot. It may be a shot that bespeaks your passion, as it has with us, for animals in the wild and then, those that may not be in the wild which are equally fascinating and photo-worthy.

Why write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?…

Unable to take photos these past many months, we’d decided early on in this confinement to take advantage of the thousands of photos we’ve posted throughout the past eight years and share them once again. This provided us with fodder for our daily uploads while fulfilling the expectation of our years-long reader throughout the world. Only early on in our journey in 2012, we failed to post photos, a time when we had virtually no experience in using a camera and little interest in learning to do so.

No more than a few days into our journey, we realized, a few shots here and there, taken using our phones, just wasn’t going to be sufficient. We purchased a small-sized Samsung point and shoot when I thought it was kind of “cute” since the exterior was pink. Over the years, we purchased a few upgrades from the first purchase we made while at a port of call on our first cruise at a Walmart store in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. .Oh, good grief! We had no clue how to use it!

Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites
Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin as is the case of this kudu. Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

Had other world travelers written such a post describing travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, we may have checked it out. But, in 2012, there were few people online doing what we have been doing; traveling the world for years to come, without a home, without storage, with only the items in our then overweight luggage (we’ve since improved that scenario), intent on finding appropriate wildlife subjects in most countries in their itinerary.

Had we discovered such a site that emphatically stated we had to learn all the features of a camera and how to use them, I may have looked the other way, Tom included. Comparable to our lack of interest in bungee jumping, learning the nuances of a camera wasn’t in our wheelhouse. We just weren’t interested.

So, today, for the first time ever in almost 3000 posts, which we’ll achieve in less than 30 days, (within two days of our eight-year travel anniversary), we’ll be delighted to share what we’ve learned for the where, the what, and the when, of taking photos that may not be perfect, but will hopefully fill your hearts with blissful memories of places you’ve been and wildlife you’ve been blessed to see and experience, both in the wild and elsewhere.

wildlife photographers around the world
Finding the rarely seen Colobus Monkey put me on a photo-taking frenzy. The photo was taken in Diani Beach, Kenya.

The “where” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

It’s been these very photos, that prompted us to write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, that may include the more experienced photographer and also those, who, like us at one point, could barely figure out how to use the flash or the zoom, let alone more complicated settings.

When we decided to travel the world early in 2012, ten months later we were ready to go, having sold every worldly possession while booking two years into the future to provide us with peace of mind in knowing we had a place to live wherever we traveled. In the process, we kept in mind our preferences, not only in regard to the type of life we wanted to live, the type of property we wanted to live in, but also the surroundings we craved.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park, South Africa
We waited patiently and mom stood while the baby sat up on her/his hind end, nose touching mom. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

What appealed most to our tastes and desires were a few vital factors:

  1. Beautiful surroundings and scenery, when possible
  2. An abundance of nature within easy reach
  3. Access to experiencing wildlife and other animals on a daily basis, if possible
    wildlife photographer in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
    This Laysan Albatross parent and chick sit close to one another until the chick becomes more confident and the parents feel more at ease. In time, the chick will be left behind on its own to fledge, most likely five to six months later. At five years of age, they will return with a mate and begin the life cycle all over again. The photo was taken in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.

Utmost in our travels, access to wildlife became more and more important to us, as time continued on. We’d seen all the historic buildings, churches, and structures, to satisfy a lifetime. We’d dined in excellent restaurants befitting my way of eating. We shopped in unique local markets, adapting to available foods and resources, We experienced the nuances of cultural differences from that which we’d known in our old lives and met countless people everywhere we traveled.

But, as far as travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, where one chooses to go is of the utmost importance. In Dubai, we were disappointed with little wildlife, other than camels, available for photo-taking, as well as in Morocco. We went wild with delight over the vast array of birds in Costa Rica. We loved shepherding sheep on a farm in England. And, we giggled at a pig farm in Tasmania, Australia.

wildlife photographer in New Plymouth New Zealand
Alpacas are excellent photo subjects. The photo was taken on an alpaca farm in New Plymouth New Zealand.

In Madeira, Portugal, we saw dolphins and whales while on a catamaran tour out to sea. In Hawaii, the birds, whales, and other sea creatures were in abundance. In Antarctica, we were in heaven with the sheer numbers of penguins, killer whales, elephant seals, and birds, let alone the scenery beyond our wildest dreams.

It all boils down to what you’d like to accomplish in your travels. If wildlife is your top priority, it’s important to conduct research to determine if the location you’re hoping to visit has an abundance of wildlife. Many countries we’d assumed would be rife with wild animals were not necessarily the case when the only means of taking photos of very elusive animals was while on a planned safari.

No doubt, we’ve been on safari no less than 100 times over the past years; some guided tours, some with a private guide, and many of our own as “self-drives” through national parks. In each of these cases, one must be prepared to be patient and accept the reality that, at times, you may not be able to take a single photo of the more elusive animals and only see the usual plentiful antelopes and birds.

wildlife photographer in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
We were in a Toyota Land Cruiser with open sides, 25 feet from the lion. Much to our surprise we never felt frightened or at risk at close-range to any of these big animals, including this massive male lion who gave us a great show. In the background in the carcass of a zebra, this lion savored for lunch. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

For birdwatching enthusiasts, almost every country has a plethora of birds presenting countless photo ops. Taking photos of birds in flight requires definitive camera skills, not every amateur photographer possesses as has been the case for me in most scenarios. However, some of our favorite photos are of the Laysan Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, and of course, in the millions of penguins in Antarctica, a photographer’s dream come true.

In researching possible destinations, important travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is to determine how important multitudes of photos are to you or if a select number will satisfy your needs and curiosity. For us, with our daily posts, taking tens of thousands of photos each year, the numbers of decent shots are important. For the average traveler, returning home with 100 good shots may be totally fulfilling. It’s important to decide where you are on the spectrum.

The “what” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

Amid all the decisions in deciding on locations, one must define what is most important for you to see and photograph. If lions are at the top of your list, Africa is by far, the most opportune continent to visit, especially if choosing to stay for a while. But, not every country in Africa is safe to visit, nor is there an abundance of lions easily accessed in some countries in Africa.

wildlife photographer in Atenas, Costa Rica
Tom’s photo. What a shot of the classic “Froot Loops” cereal (per Tom) Toucan, technically known as the Rainbow-billed Toucan, aka the Keel-billed Toucan. The photo was taken in Atenas, Costa Rica.

We chose Kenya and South Africa as one of our many goals in seeing lions. When it came to tigers we knew India was our best option. We were never disappointed in each of these countries. There are 13 countries where tigers may be spotted, but for us, India proved to have the best opportunities to encounter them in the wild.

At this point, we should mention, animals in zoos and wildlife facilities do not fulfill our objectives. If that were the case, one could simply visit a zoo in their hometown or home country. For us, the wild aspect has been a top priority when we have distinct opinions we won’t share here today about wild animals locked in cages or small enclosures.

That’s not to say, many rehabilitation centers throughout the world may have excellent open spaces for wildlife with the intent of eventually releasing them back into the wild, when possible. We have visited many of these, some of which we’ve found rewarding, providing excellent photo ops as shown in our past posts.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park
Impalas have exquisite markings on their faces and bodies. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park.

We’d never have seen a Tasmanian Devil in Tasmania if we hadn’t visited a rehab center, other than the sad roadkill we observed in the mornings. We’ve yet to see one of the more elusive nocturnal animals in the wild, the endangered pangolin. Hopefully, someday we’ll have that opportunity.

Each traveler(s) must decide for themselves, “the what” is most befitting their goals and objectives when returning home, or in continuing on a year’s long journey such as ours with a litany of photos exciting and memorable to savor over the years to come.

The “when” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world…

There are three important questions one may ask themselves in regard to the “when” of taking photos of wildlife. For most, they include:

  1. When is the best time in life to embark on such a journey? Only each individual, couple, or family can make that determination based on specific lifestyle, travel budget, work constraints, and worthy of mention, general health. It’s important to note, that embarking on a safari for hours at a time on bumpy dirt roads with potholes, with fast unanticipated turns could be difficult for some. Also, climbing in and out of the jeep-type vehicles may be extremely challenging for those with certain physical conditions, advanced age, or lack of mobility. This is not an experience for those who could become distressed during a “rough and tumble” experience. Also, individuals with severe back or neck problems could find a safari unbearable. If time is limited, the experience may equally be limited. Many choose a one or two-day safari, as part of a bigger trip and find themselves disappointed, unable to have seen, and taken photos of some of their personal favorites.
  2. When is the best time of the year to see and photograph wildlife? This varies by the area of each country you choose to visit. Research is imperative to determine the best seasons for viewing wildlife. Often rainy seasons are less desirable. Most often the best seasons are during the heat of the hottest time of the year. This is important to know if you are sensitive to the thought of sitting in an open-air vehicle while on safari. Although, there are many safari companies that have enclosed air-conditioned vehicles that may be more suitable for those individuals, although taking photos will be restricted in such vehicles. If you’re interested in the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, that eventful experience only occurs in the fall months and must be timed perfectly to witness the five million animals traversing the Serengeti and the Mara River over and over again. Here again, research is imperative.
  3. When is the best time to snap the shot to acquire the best possible photo? When it comes to taking photos of wildlife, timing is everything. This has been an area we both feel we have found most rewarding, as our skills increased over the years. Patience and perseverance are the keys to this aspect. At times, we’ve sat still quietly for 20 or 30 minutes to acquire the best photo. Also, being aware of when to click the shutter is vital for the best possible photo of your chosen subject.
    the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck
    Notice the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

In conclusion…

Many of our photos posted here today will illustrate, in part, our use of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world. They aren’t perfect, but for us, they have fulfilled our desire to create a memory that will easily endure through our lifetime and for those that follow us, for theirs.

If as a photographer, you’ve been able to learn and develop comprehensive photographic skills, it will only add to your pleasure and fulfillment. Perhaps, in time we may choose to fine-tune our skills, but for now, the spontaneous and heartfelt representations of those animals we’ve discovered in the wild, on farms, and in rescue facilities, has provided us both with exactly that which we hoped to achieve as we traveled the world over the past eight years.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2019:

ocean in Torquay, Devon
It was wonderful to see the ocean once again in Torquay, Devon. For more photos, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Social whirlwind during our remaining two weeks in the bush…A great evening with friends…

 
A barren tree in the middle of the S130 in Kruger created an interesting scene.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two yellow-billed storks and one cattle egret at the far end of Sunset Dam in Kruger.

This morning, we calculated exactly how many meals we’ll have to cook during our remaining two weeks in Marloth Park.  Considering the contents of the chest freezer, we’ll only be cooking dinner eight more nights.  We won’t need to purchase more protein sources.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Kathy and Don are giving us a going-away party next Friday, February 8th at their riverfront home in Marloth Park.  It will be a sit-down dinner party for 12, the maximum number they can fit at their big table on their third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Wildebeest and her calf in Kruger.


Unfortunately, we couldn’t invite everyone we’ve come to know and love in the park so we chose those friends with whom we’ve become closest.  Sadly, Rita and Gerhard won’t be attending the party.  


They had to leave to return to the US in a hurry due to the sudden passing of a dear friend.  They don’t intend to return anytime soon.  We miss them already.  But, Rita and I have stayed in close touch and we have no doubt we’ll be together again, perhaps as early as in the next six months.

Zebras grazing on new growth from recent rains.


Also, next week on Tuesday Kathy is hosting my pedicure at a local spa/resort. Linda will join us after which we’ll all have lunch at the resort.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a girls-only event.  This will surely be quite an enjoyable event.  


I haven’t had a professional pedicure in at least 10 years.  I rarely afford myself such a luxury when generally it just isn’t that important to me.  But doing this with the girls will make it very special and memorable.

Four male cape buffalo lounging at the river’s edge.


Next Wednesday is Leon’s birthday which we’ll attend at Jabula as we had for Dawn’s birthday on Tuesday evening, adding one more event to the social calendar.


On top of that we’ll dine at Jabula the next two Saturdays, this upcoming on our own and the following with Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for our final time together.

Family crossing the paved road.


We plan to dine out one more time in the next few weeks plus spend our last night, Wednesday, February 13th in the bush at Jabula avoiding the cooking and clean-up at the house.  


The following morning we’ll drive to Nelspruit where we’ll spend one night at the Protea Hotel near the airport for our early morning flight on the 15th to Nairobi, Kenya.

A bull elephant we stopped to observe hoping for a better photo.


Yesterday, we made a resevervation at highly rated restaurant, Orange, (coincidentally, like the name of this holiday home) where we’ll dine that evening on Valentine’s Day.  


We informed the restaurant we’ll be writing a review and look forward to an excellent experience.  Currently, this restaurant is listed as #1 out of 89 restaurants in Nelspruit on Tripadvisor.   We’ll write our review here shortly thereafter and also at TripAdvisor.

He moved into a clearing and we noticed he was standing with his back legs crossed.


As for last night, we joined Uschi and Evan at their home for sundowners. As it turned out Uschi had put together a few trays of fabulous appetizers, all of which I could eat.  


We’d intended to stay for only an hour or two but ended up not leaving until 2130 hours (9:30)!  The friendship and conversation was utterly delightful and most assuredly, they’ll be at the party and staying in touch down the road.  

Our dear friends Evan and Uschi on their veranda last night.


The meal we’d left to be cooked went uneaten but tonight we’ll have the easy dinner.  I’ve made a salad and prepared vegetables to be cooked after we just returned from shopping in Komatipoort.

Enjoy some of our remaining photos from Monday’s foray into Kruger.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back with all new photos and more.

Uschi with us at the veranda table.


Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2018:

View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica.  Please click here for more photos.

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 from 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 do finishing doing laundry, preparing tonight’s dinner and perhaps work on some items to be packed for our departure in a mere 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 of us loyal fans came to extend our best wishes and gratitude for the wonderful job she does (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, uproarious laughter and the ease with which everyone in attendance feels welcomed and included is 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 a 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’re 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…

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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.

Part 2…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A heartbreaking sighting…Part of life in the wild?…

 A short video of this gaunt looking lioness.

 “Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A herd of impalas at the side of a dirt road we traveled in Kruger.

We often hear others say, “This is life in the wild.”  Hearing this doesn’t lessen the emotions we feel when we see an animal suffering.  It’s sad to see a human or an animal in pain, ill, or emotionally distraught for any reason.  But, the realities of life doesn’t diminish the emotions we feel when we observe such a scenario when often there is nothing we can do to help.


A few evenings ago, a little male duiker, a very shy member of the antelope family, was trapped inside the chicken wire fenced garden area within our garden.  Somehow he’d managed to find his way inside this lush area of greenery and became trapped when he couldn’t navigate an exit.

It was sad to see the lioness suffering.

We were seated at the big table on the veranda and noticed him ramming his head into the chicken wire trying to escape.  Helping an animal, however small, in a panicked situation such as this could be dangerous.


But, we weren’t going to let him die before our eyes.  We’d seen a photo where a bushbuck died trying to extricate its head from being stuck in a fence in Marloth Park.  If residents feel they need fences they definitely should be a type that prevents wildlife from potential injury or even death.  

One can only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating.

We often wonder why there are hazardous fences in the park.  Don’t people come here to be “one” with nature, not hiding behind fences?  None of the Big Five permanently reside in Marloth Park and rarely does a lion, leopard or cheetah finds its way into the park.  Surely, a fence of any type wouldn’t necessarily protect a human from such a dangerous encounter.



Tom grabbed the long, extendable pole he uses to chase off baboons and monkeys and attempted to raise the bottom of the fence to allow the duiker an exit.  The poor little creature bellowed in total fear while Tom tried to help.

There is a gate to this area and we immediately opened it hoping the duiker would see the open exit.  While Tom tried to help him, I stood at a distance from the exit hoping to see him escape.

We assumed she was ill or injured.

Finally, after several minutes of him running into the impenetrable wire fence in different locations of the enclosure, he spotted the open gate and escaped.  We both sighed in relief. 


He’s a duiker we’ve often fed and wondered what he was after in that area.  Perhaps it was a type of vegetation he particularly liked.  Once he ran off, leaping through the air, we wondered if we’d ever see him again.  


Alas, a few hours later he returned and we tossed him some pellets, small bits of carrots and apples.  (We always cut the veggies into small bite-sized pieces for the duikers and bushbucks.  Kudus and warthogs can handle big chunks but not the small antelope or babies of most species).

Every step she took appeared to be an effort.

We were relieved to see he was uninjured and back to his shy little self, often appearing with a female he seems attached to.  But, the lion we spotted in Kruger didn’t have the potential of a good outcome, after we’d seen her looking so unwell.


Sure, we can say, “This is life in the wild,” but that harsh reality doesn’t insulate us from feeling sad for a suffering animal in the wild.  Nor, in essence, do we ever want to feel less compassionate.  It’s that compassion and love for wildlife that brought us to Africa in the first place.  We don’t want to become “tougher” and more accepting of the often gruesome realities.


In today’s world, horrifying videos portray atrocities lodged upon wildlife, many too horrific to mention.  Is it possible seeing these over and over again can cause us to become immune to horrific scenes that diminish our ability to feel compassion?

She appeared to have made her way under the bridge where we’d no longer able to see her.

Seeing the lion in such sorrowful condition left us feeling in tune and in touch with nature, that even after many such sightings in this past year of living in the bush, we still care, we still feel and we still treasure the beauty of life in the wild.  We remain untarnished by the harsh realities.


In 16 days we’ll leave Marloth Park.  We’re grateful for this life-enhancing year in the bush while looking forward to that which lies ahead of us.


Be well.

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Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2018:

At lunch, that day in Antarctica, one of the chefs prepared a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors.  We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors.  It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Outstanding day in Kruger National Park…A few first time sightings…So exciting!…

This was an exciting sighting for us, the elusive nyala which we’d never seen during this past year in South Africa.  From this site:  The handsome slate-brown shaggy coat is marked with white vertical stripes and spots on the flanks. Rams appear more charcoal-grey in colour. The rams have long inward curved horns 650 mm (26 inches) and a white chevroned face. They have a ridge of long hairs along the underparts, from behind the chin to between the hind legs, they also have a mane of thick, black hair from the head along the spine to the rump. Rams weigh 115 kg (254 pounds) and measures 1.05 m (41 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are much smaller and do not have horns, and weigh 59 kg (130 pounds) and stand 900 mm (35 inches) at shoulders. Ewes are chestnut-coated with even more prominent white stripes on the flanks.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-shouldered kite.  From this siteThe black-shouldered Kite is a small, graceful raptor and the most voracious eater in the raptor family. It needs to consume up to 25% of its body mass every day – that is the equivalent of about two mice. This means each bird probably kills around 700 mouse-sized animals a year.
Its late in the day, almost 1600 hours (4:30 pm) and I’m anxious to get today’s post uploaded to ensure we can begin wildlife watching on the veranda by our usual 1700 hours (5:00 pm).
At first, when we glimpsed at these three well-hidden animals we thought they were kudus based on the stripes on their bodies.  But, after further inspection, we realized these three antelopes were not kudus but, the elusive nyala.  

Thus, I’m rushing a little and only sharing a few of the highlights of today’s outing in Kruger National Park, leaving the balance of the exciting sightings for tomorrow.

It was a perfect day to enter the park. The weather was a moderate 26C, (79F), the sky was overcast and cloudy but there was no rain in sight.  These were ideal conditions for wildlife to be in plain view. We weren’t disappointed.
Known to be rather shy it was tricky taking a few photos.
On the hottest of days, the animals often stay undercover from the scorching sun or gravitate toward water holes we’re unable to see from the paved or dirt roads.  With the recent rains many formerly dry waterbeds now have some water to attract the animals.  Considerably more rain is desperately needed to have an impact on the river.  
The Crocodile River we cross upon entry into the park is practically bone dry.  Five years ago during this same time period, the river was practically overflowing as opposed to its current sparse sections of water leaving many animals seeking smaller bodies of water for sustenance.  

It was difficult to take a photo of the three of them together but we waited patiently for this shot.

We took off at 9:00 am, leaving the preparation of today’s post for our recent return. Subsequently, we’re breezing through as quickly as possible and will provide a more comprehensive post tomorrow.

I tried sitting outdoors on the veranda while preparing this but the biting black flies were so bad, I had no choice but to come indoors to finish here.  The sofas and chairs in the living room, although comfy for lounging, are not suitable for working on a laptop.
While we waited we were able to finally able to take a few photos of the individual nyalas.
So i apologize for this quick post but promise more for tomorrow especially since we have some stunning sightings to share that we’ve saving exactly for that purpose.
It was a shame they wouldn’t come out from the dense bush but we did the best we could.
Our plan today was to drive on the paved road all the way to Lower Sabie and to stop for breakfast at the popular Mugg & Bean, one of few restaurants in Kruger National Park. The food was hot, fresh and served quickly based on the fact that we were two of only about eight diners in the entire restaurant.  
After breakfast we were back on the road, taking a dirt road off the beaten path.  It was during this diversion that we saw the two bird photos were sharing today.  We’d previously posted photos of the European roller but never of the black-shouldered kite.
A wildebeest mom and her offspring.
As many of our readers are well aware, we aren’t necessarily “birders” in the truest sense of the word.  However, from time to time when we spot something unique we’re excited to share it with our readers.  Of course, we have a special affinity toward our resident francolins, Frank and The Mrs., and the mating hornbills.
The mom kept a watchful eye on us to ensure we were no risk to her young calf.
There were few tourists in Kruger although at a few sightings, four or five vehicles were stacked up making it difficult to get into a good position for easily taking photos.  

In these circumstances, our mutual patience and persistence pays off.  We picked a good spot and waited for a better position to open up.  Eventually, other observers lost interest and moved on, enabling us to move into a better location.  
This was the first photo we’d taken of a tree squirrel in Kruger National Park.
That’s what self-driving in a national park is all about, having the flexibility to do what’s necessary to take good photos while maintaining a degree of courteousness and kindness – a winning combination.
This evening we’ll stay in, cook dinner and look forward to darkness when the flies seem to disappear but then, the pesky mozzies appear.  Oh well, TIA (this is Africa) after all, isn’t it?
This a a European roller.  From this site:  The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East and Central Asia and Morocco. They are migratory, wintering in Africa, mainly in the east and south.           

We hope you have a pleasant evening and that all is well in your world!

_____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2018:

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking.  For more photos from Antarctica, please click here.

Part 3…2018, “Year in Review” with favorite photos…They’re back!!!…Six years ago today…Itinerary re-post from one year ago.

We so excited to see the kudus and other wildlife returning to our garden as the holiday crowds dissipate.  

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

One of our two favorite frogs took up residence in this cute little decorative basket near the pool on the veranda.

This morning, two bushbucks, one duiker,  five zebras, and three warthogs stopped by at the same time.  Last night before the pelting rain began, 12 kudus and three warthogs stopped by for a snack.  We couldn’t toss the pellets quickly enough.  

Notice the pellet crumbs on her nose.  Often, there are lots of crumbs in the huge bags of pellets.  Most of the wildlife are happy to lap up the crumbs if we place them on the tile steps.  See more here at this link.

We’re so excited the animals have begun to return to our garden.  After all, that’s why we’re here…the wildlife and the people.  They’re all wonderful and have made this past year fly by in a flurry of activity.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  Please take a moment to watch our video at the top of the page.  See this link here for more.

The now working aircon in our main floor bedroom provided us with a good night’s sleep along with the fact the power stayed on for the past 36 hours.  Add the fact that today, for the first time in days, the temperature is cool and comfortable at 21C, (70F) and surprisingly doesn’t feel as humid as it had over the past several days.  What a welcomed relief!

Louise and Danie joined us for dinner that night at Kambaku, the popular restaurant at the golf course in Komatipoort, as we celebrated their belated birthdays.  We couldn’t be more grateful for all they’ve done for us.  See this link here for more.

Today, we’ll complete this three-part series of 2018, “Year in Review” and return tomorrow with our regular posts and all new photos as we see more and more wildlife each day as the holidaymakers have begun to drift away.

Our photo of the blood moon taken on July 27, 2018.  See this link here for more.

Holiday times are different in South Africa than many other countries. In the US, kids return to school the first day after the end of New Year’s Day.  But here, the return to school varies from public schools to private schools but may be as late as the middle of January.  This fact determines when many of the holidaymakers leave Marloth Park.

Not a night passes without an opportunity to watch these adorable bushbabies enjoy the yogurt we place on their little stand.  See this link here for more.
However, as we’ve seen from the gradual return of the wildlife to our garden, many may have left right after New Year’s Day.  At this point, we’ll see how it transpires over the next week or two.

What an animal!  We feel fortunate to have been able to get lion photos.  See this link for more.

This morning when Tom was reviewing past posts, he mentioned it was exactly six years ago today that we boarded our first cruise.  See here for the link. (At that time, we didn’t post many photos and didn’t do a post daily). In 80 days, we’ll be boarding our 24th cruise in Santiago Chile, ending in San Diego California.  

Mom and baby love.  See this link here for more.

It’s even hard for us to believe how many cruises we’ve experienced in this short period of time and other than a four-day back to back cruise in 2013, in the Mediterranean, we’ve loved every one of them.  

Every piece of art at WayiWayi Art Studio & Gallery was representative of Zambian culture.  See this link here for more.

The four-day cruise was during spring break and was crowed with highly inebriated, loud, demanding and pushing and shoving passengers.  It couldn’t have ended quickly enough for us.  

We were excited to get a view of the leopard’s face after waiting for a considerable period while Samson, our guide in Chobe National Paek in Botswana kept moving the vehicle for better shots.  Upon careful inspection of this photo, you can see the pads of the feet of her kill in the tree near her head.  See this link here for more.

Below included in our “one year ago today” feature we posted the itinerary which we’d included on today’s date in 2018.  Certain aspects of our itinerary have changed, including the first year that has since passed.  In the next few months, as we add more bookings, we’ll be updating the itinerary and post it here.  

Based on our position in the line-up of vehicles in Kruger our photo taking advantage was limited.  See this link here for more.

As the years have passed, we don’t feel the sense of urgency to fill in the blanks and extend the itinerary beyond two years.  Its less about being lazy and more about feeling comfortable that all of it will work out as we go along.

Stunning female lion – as a part of the Ridiculous Nine we spotted in a game drive in Marloth Park with friends Lois and Tom who visited for three weeks.  See this link here for more.

Tonight, we’ll be visiting Rita and Gerhard at their second condo at Ngwenya where they’re staying until tomorrow.  Then, much to their delight, they’re moving back to the Hornbill house where they lived the first month they were here and will stay until sometime in March when they’ll be leaving Marloth Park.

Tom, Lois, Kerry (our guide) me and Tom after a highly successful game drive in Kruger.  See this link here for more.

We’re hoping to see them in this New Year when they’ll come to visit us in Ireland during our three-month stay beginning in May.  We’re also looking forward to Kathy and Don visiting us in Ireland as well.  How fortunate we are to have made such fine friends.

We encountered this stunning scene of zebras and wildebeest from the fence at Marloth Park. One reason zebras and wildebeest hang out together is that zebras 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. It’s always great to have an ally to warn of any impending danger.  Another reason is zebras and wildebeest prefer to be in the open savannahs…the concept of safety in numbers comes into play.  See this link here for more.

Then upcoming on January 14, friend Linda and Ken will stay here with us for a week.  They arrive from Johannesburg on the day that we’re having a birthday dinner party for Rita. Such good times with friends…we are so grateful.

We’ve so enjoyed spending time with new friends Rita and Gerhard who came to Marloth Park after reading our posts years ago.  Through our site, they found the holiday home they’ve rented and also found Louise to help them get situated.  They’ll be here in Marloth until March.  We look forward to many more exciting times together.  See this link here for more.

That’s it for today, folks.  We’ll be back with more tomorrow. 

May you find your day to be fulfilling and meaningful!

___________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2018:

One year ago today, we posted the upcoming itinerary that included a total of 852 days, which is now down to 486 days since the first year of this itinerary has passed. Since that date, we’ve had a few modifications which we’ll include next time we update and post the itinerary. For details, please click here.


 Location 
Days
 Dates 
 Buenos Aires, AR – Prodeo Hotel 
20
 1/2/2018 -1/23/2018 
 Ushuaia, AR – Ushuaia, AR – Antarctica Cruise 
16
 1/23/2018 – 2/8/2018 
 Buenos Aires, AR – Prodeo Hotel 
2
 2/8/2018 – 2/10/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa – Bush home selected
89
2/11/2018 – 5/11/2018
  Zambezi River Cruise – Victoria Falls 
8
5/11/2018 – 5/19/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa – Rent a bush home
89
5/19/2018 – 8/16/2018
 Uganda – See gorillas and the “Cradle of Mankind” 
7
8/16/2018 – 8/23/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa – Rent a bush home
89
 8/23/2018 -11/20/2018 
 Mozambique, Africa (get visa stamped) 
1
 11/20/2018 -11/21/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa – Rent a bush home
89
 11/21/2019 – 2/17/2019 
 Valparaiso, Chile – Rent vacation home or hotel
36
 2/17/2019 – 3/24/2019 
 Cruise – San Antonio, Chile – San Diego 
14
 3/24/2019 – 4/8/2019 
 San Diego, CA – Fly to Minneapolis, MN – Family visit
13
 4/8/2019 – 4/21/2019 
 Cruise – Fort Lauderdale, FL- Dublin, Ire (1-day hotel stay) 
15
 4/21/2019 – 5/6/2019 
 Ireland – Rent country house – Research Tom’s ancestry 
90
 5/6/2019 – 8/1/2019 
 Amsterdam, NLD – Hotel stay 
11
 8/1/2019 – 8/11/2019 
 Cruise, Baltic – Amsterdam, NLD – Amsterdam, NLD 
12
 8/11/2019 – 8/23/2019 
 England – Rent country home
62
 8/23/2019 – 10/24/2019 
 Southampton, UK – Fort Lauderdale, FL
15
  10/24/2019 – 11/8/2019 
 Henderson/Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA -Scottsdale, AZ 
25
 11/8/2019 – 12/3/2019 
 Ecuador – Galapagos – Rent vacation homes on islands
89
 12/3/2019 – 3/1/2020 
 Peru – Machu Picchu – Rent vacation homes, visit site 
30
 3/1/2020 –  3/31/2020 
 The Pantanal/Amazon River Cruise – Brazil (2 cruises)
30
 3/31/2020 – 4/30/2020 
 Number of days  
852

Part 2…2018, “Year in Review” with favorite photos…An important decision has been made…

Two female rhinos on the trail of a nearby male.  See this link here for more.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We were hopeful on Monday when we had 13 kudus in the garden, thinking perhaps the traffic in Marloth Park was thinning out.  Today, we’ve had several kudus, bushbucks and the warthog mom and four babies.

Yesterday was another hot and humid day, leaving us soaked in sweat throughout the day.  Today, it continues.  Luckily, the power didn’t go out and we slept in one of the upstairs bedrooms with working aircon.

Linda, me and Kathy.  It was these two thoughtful friends that took me to lunch on my birthday, four years ago.  Now, we’ll all be together again to celebrate my 70th.  Wow!  See this link here for more.

We’re hopeful, the repair guy will come today and repair the aircon in our main floor bedroom where we have a dust-mite-free mattress, pillows, and covers.  The bed upstairs is a double and although we’ve slept in double beds throughout the world, a queen-sized bed is much more comfortable, especially when we both have a tendency to hog the center of the mattress.

Ken, Tom and Don making big faces for the camera!  See this link here for more.

We’re looking forward to aircon comfort in our main floor bedroom, hopefully, available by this evening.  From there, we hope the power stays on as it has for the past 24 hours.

We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrated life, health, our experiences and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.  See this link here for more.

This morning, it’ rained, a nice soaking rain needed in the bush at this point.  We were discussing the frustration many holidaymakers must be feeling after they came to the bush with lots of expectations, only to be sorely disappointed by some events that transpired.

While in Kruger, we spotted a rhino mom and her baby, born this season and still closely attached to the mother. See this link here for more.

It’s been outrageously hot, humid and there have been more power outages than we can count.  Kruger National Park has been difficult to enter with the crowds going as far as making reservations for a fee, to enter.  Once inside, they’ve had to deal with all the vehicles blocking the roads during a sighting.

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.  See this link here for more.

On top of that, there has been less wildlife visiting the properties over the past several weeks due to the added number of people and vehicles in Marloth Park, certainly adding to the frustrations.

When “capturing” the Black Mamba it is imperative to immobilize the head close to the ground and raise the tail.  Tom managed to do this while it was desperately attempting to escape during his snake handling experience at Snake School.  The Black Mamba is the fastest snake on the planet.  See this link here for more.

As we often drive around Marloth Park for two hour periods, almost every day, we see few animals in the gardens of holiday homes, other than an occasional kudu or warthog.  

At a distance, they saw Dad coming their way.  The chick’s pace picked up the moment she spotted him.  Look at the far end of the dirt road to see him coming!  His feathers are dark.  See this link here for more.

We can only imagine the frustration of the holidaymakers dealing with these issues, as well as property owners and managers, dealing with the renter’s demands as a result of their frustrations.  It hasn’t been an easy situation. Some tourists have left earlier than they’d planned.

 I awoke Tom when this thing was walking on me.  With the light from my phone, I saw it and must admit, a little scream escaped my lips as I shooed it off my shoulder.  Yucky!  Look at those spiky legs!  Tom captured it in this plastic container and released it outside.  See this link here for more.

Today, we continue on with Part 2…2018, “Year in Review.”  In yesterday’s post, found here, we covered our cruise to Antarctica and the many stunning photos we captured along the way.  It was exciting for us, once again, reviewing each post for favorite photos to share in the post.

This was a common sight in Marloth Park a holiday weekend in April.  It’s packed with tourists sitting in the back of a “bakkie” which is Afrikaans for “pickup truck.”  Very dangerous.  See this link here for more.

Today, we’re including photos and links from the first half of the year up to and including June 2018.  Tomorrow, we’ll add a Part 3 which with so many photos, we found to be necessary.

Adorable baby Danie with his loving and attentive mom, Okey Dokey, our friend and driver from 2013 when she and her husband and baby came to visit.  He never stopped smiling and laughing the entire time they were visiting.  See this link here for more.

Of course, we want to “save” some favorite photos to share on the last few days of our one year stay in Marloth Park, including all the year’s expenses which we’ll include on the last day, February 14, 2019.  On that date, we’ll depart the park to spend the night in a hotel in Nelspruit, close to the airport for our early morning flight to Kenya.

This gorgeous feta, onion and lettuce salad served by dear friends Louise and Danie when they invited us for dinner was enhanced with edible flowers indicative of the attention to detail and creativity these two fine hosts possess. See this link here for more.

We made a very important decision in the past few days…we will return to Capetown, South Africa via a cruise on December 2, 2020.  However, we’ll fly to Namibia from there where we’ll spend three months and then return to Marloth Park.  

Alas, we arrived in Zambia to see the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  Later that day we also went to Zimbabwe to see the falls from that country.  See this link here for more.

By then, the holiday season in Marloth will have passed and we can avoid or at least diminish some of our own frustrations during the holiday season.  No doubt, Namibia will have some challenges but we’ll have an entirely different set of expectations of our own.

None of the six of us or our guide Alfred could believe our eyes as we watched this male elephant build his mud pool in Chobe National Park.  We’ve seen a lot of elephants in Africa but this was a rare sighting for us.  See this link here for more.

As for yesterday and today’s photos, many of our long-term readers certainly have seen them in past posts.  However, we always have a new influx of readers and encourage them to click on the links we’ve provided along the way.

Check out those teeth on a croc we spotted while on the Zambezi River cruise. Crocs are able to replace each of their 80 teeth, up to 50 times in their 35 to 75-year lifespan.  See this link here for more.

It’s been a fantastic year, as we mentioned in yesterday’s post and we continued to smile when we reviewed the year’s posts and see all that we’ve accomplished and experienced along the way.

The harsh realities of the bush – This is a Bovine Tuberculosis infected kudu we spotted only the day after we were educated on this dreadful disease impacting mainly kudus in Marloth Park.  See this link here for more.

And, there’s so much more yet to come in the New Year.  Please stay with us as we continue on our exciting world journey.


 This video will remain as one of our favorites in years to come clearly illustrating the intelligence of elephants during a human intervention in “their world.”  Watch and you’ll see why.  See this link here for more.


Have a spectacular second day of the New Year!

___________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2018:

We set up the tripod to take this photo of us in Costa Rica on October 31, 2017, the five year anniversary of our world travels which was posted in Part 2, our 2017 “Year in Review.”  For more, please click here.

Part 1…2018, “Year in Review” with favorite photos…

It was fun to hold up our US flag on the ice floe in Antarctica. See the link here for more.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Perhaps the holidaymaker’s are beginning to leave the park when yesterday we had no less than 20 kudus stop by throughout the day, including this adorable young male.

This has been one of the best years of my life.  The adventures were many the challenges endless, and the opportunity to see parts of the world we only dreamt of.

A one or two-year-old Rock Hopper Penguin on New Island in the Falkland Islands yet to grow his full plumage.  See this link for more.

Tom always says, “The best year of my life is yet to come.”  OK, I’ll go along with that premise as well.  

  Closer view of King Penguin with a chick.  See this link here for more.

But, how in the world can we possibly top this past year visiting Argentina, Antarctica, spending a year in Marloth Park, and twice traveling to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe…Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls and cruising on the Zambezi River?  (More photos will follow in Part 2 tomorrow).

Tom certainly got it right when he captured this Black Browed Albatross chick with what appears
to be a smile. See this link here for more.

Today, included in our photos is a focus on our Antarctica cruise, surely one of the highlights of both of our lives.  We left Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 23, 2018, to head to Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southerly city in the world, to board the ship, the Ponant Le Soleal.

It was stunning to see all these Albatross atop these pods in their massive nesting grounds.

When the cruise ended on February 8, 2019, we returned to Palermo for two more days before we flew to Marloth Park on February 11, 2018, to begin this year-long stay, ending on February 14, 2019, in a mere 44 days.

This elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island didn’t care for our photo taking antics.  See the link here for more.

Going from the cold and ice of Antarctica to the heat and dust of Africa was quite an experience in itself.  But, in no time at all, we adapted to our new life for the year to come.  And, its been a grand year we’ll always treasure.

This is unreal…the Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island, remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a free-standing pod on which they can nest. Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop her/his elevated nest.  That’s amazing!  See the link here for more..

By far, that cruise was the most expensive cruise or venue we’ve experienced in our six-plus years of world travel.  We doubt we’ll embark on such a costly expedition in years to come.  It proved to be well worth the expense and we have no regrets.

Standing among the King Penguins was an experience we’ll always remember.  See this link here for more.

Last night we brought in the New Year at Royal Kruger Lodge, a four-star safari resort and spa here in Marloth Park.  Our host, Flo, and JJ did an exceptional job at making us feel welcomed. We been to several social events with Flo and JJ over the past year and found them to be a very special couple, with three children, teenage daughter, and a son and, a college-age daughter, all of whom attended the party.

This has got to be one of our favorite Antarctic photos, a Chinstrap Penguin lying on the rocks for a short rest with what looks like a winsome smile on his face.  See this link here for more.

Louise and Danie, longtime close friends of theirs ensured we had an invitation, along with Rita and Gerhard.  We couldn’t have had a more enjoyable New Year’s Eve.

We had to keep our distance from this delicate structure which would be a disaster for us in the small boat, where it to collapse near us.  See this link here for more.

Also, we knew a number of other guests in attendance of the party of 30 to 40 guests, staged poolside, at their stunning property, surely one of the most beautiful resorts/game lodges in Marloth Park.

There we were, sitting on a Zodiac boat in Pleneau Bay sipping on French champagne.  Was that ever fun!  See this link here for more.

We returned to the house at 1:00 am but didn’t fall asleep until after 2:00 am.  Fortunately, we both managed to get some sleep even without working aircon which hopefully will be repaired in days to come.  Also, we were thrilled to find we had power and could at least use the portable fan.

Both of us raising a glass in celebration of this special occasion.  The ships staff created an ice bar on a small ice floe.  We used the Zodiac boat to arrive at the floe, all set for French champagne.  See the link here for more.

Today, we’ll lay low and have a nice dinner on the veranda, hoping we’ll see as many visitors as we did yesterday before we left for the party close to 1900 hours, (7:00 pm).  

Both of us holding the “I crossed the Polar Circle” sign.  See this link here for more.

We had no less than 20 kudus stop by; Little and his best friend; warthog friends Mike and Joe;  numerous bushbucks, and both female and male duikers.  Even Frank and the Mrs. made an appearance.  We hadn’t seen either of them in over a week.  I suppose holiday traffic has an impact on francolins (birds).

A face only a mother could love.  See this link here for more of our favorite photos from the  Antarctica cruise.

We’re wishing every one of our worldwide readers has an exceptional New Year, filled with the riches of life that even money can’t buy…the joys of nature and our surroundings, free for the taking, fulfilling in many ways.

Happy New Year to each of YOU!

___________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, January 1, 2018:

Us, one year ago at the boutique hotel in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina where we awaited the Antarctica cruise beginning on January 23, 2018.  For more details, please click here.


Hot, hot, hot…And, the beat goes on…WiFi out all afternoon…

Even the minuscule amount of rain brings greenery to life.

“Sighting of the day in the Bush”


Baby impalas, sheltered from the heat of the midday sun, guarded by one of the attentive moms.

What can
I say to avoid sounding as if we’re complaining?  We’re not.  Instead,
we consider today’s comments as an observation…it’s hot, hot, hot. 
Today’s high temperature was 42C ,(108F) which it has reached now at
1700 hours (5:00 pm).

Most
often, the peak temperature for the day occurs around 1500 hours (3:00 pm) and
begins to taper off an hour or two later.  The evenings aren’t nearly as
bad but it’s impossible to stay indoors in the living area of this house.  The
massively high ceilings contribute to a level of heat indoors that is hard to
take.
An awkward sitting position for a female ostrich.  Could she be on her nest?
It’s like
an oven with no way to cool it off even late into the evening.  We run a
fan in the living room but all it does it is blow hot air around.  Thank
goodness we have aircon in the bedroom but even that chugs along in
this intense heat.
Over the
next few days, even higher temperatures are predicted.  How much hotter
can it get? We heard from locals that in 2016, December highs were in the 50C
range (122F). 
Cape buffalos on a hill on the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park.
We recall
it being hot here five years ago but not quite this hot day after day.  It
has a tendency to make one feel exhausted and listless although we both make
every effort to go about our days as we would during cooler periods.
Now, we’re
having wi-fi issues due to all the “extra” people in Marloth Park
during the holiday season.  The system can only handle so much. 
Fortunately, the load shedding power outages are on hold at the moment. 
We’ll see how that goes over the next few weeks during the holiday season.  As I write on an offline app, I realize I may
never have an opportunity to upload this post before the day’s end.
Two male cape buffalos, who most likely were ostracized from the remainder of their “obstinacy” when a bigger or stronger other male won the favor of the females.  These males form groups for life since they’ll never be allowed to return to the herd.
In South
Africa, the school holiday ends on January 9th when most holidaymakers will
leave Marloth Park, their holiday having ended when their kids return to
school.  That’s almost three weeks from today.
We
understand and respect the importance of tourists coming to the park to
generate revenue for shops and homeowners of holiday properties but even they,
fully grasp how everything changes when the tourists are here.
Baboons and monkeys are our least favorite animals.  Due to their intellect, they are crafty and dangerous and can literally destroy a house or garden in minutes searching for food or merely being destructive for entertainment.
We won’t
be able to go to Kruger for the next three weeks either.  We’ve already
heard about the delays at the Crocodile Bridge and soon, guests will have to
pay a fee to enter at a specific time of day on top of the regular entrance
fees.  


Our annual “Wild Card” doesn’t
afford us any extra privileges.  We’d
also have to pay additional for a “reservation.”  Only 600 cars are
allowed into the park at a time at any of the many entrance gates.
An elephant family drinking from the river.  The drought continues relentlessly.
Over the
past few days, to cool off, we’ve driven through Marloth Park looking for
wildlife photo ops but more so to stay cool for a few hours during the
day.  

This morning at 7:30 am we headed to Komatipoort for my dentist
appointment at 8:00 am.  After the appointment, we walked
the short distance to Stoep Cafe for breakfast, grabbing our favorite table on
the veranda. 
Eating a
hot breakfast in the heat proved to have been a bad idea.  We were both
“sweating up a storm” while we ate and foolish me had ordered hot
tea.  
By the time we finished our meal
and headed back to the air conditioned comfort of the car we were literally
drenched in sweat.  I don’t usually sweat
much but the humidity, coupled with the high temps, has changed everything.
Two males impalas stop by for food and a rare visit.
We remind ourselves, over and over again…this is Africa and we chose to be here.  Most of the time, its been a glorious experience.  And we face the reality, that along with amazing adventures of our lives, there is a price to pay, beyond money, beyond mere inconvenience…it’s all part of the experience.

So today, as we wait for the temperature to drop and the WiFi to come back on, we look forward to our evening on the veranda tonight, as always, hoping a few, if only a few of our wildlife friends will stop by.  

Last night we had 10 warthogs come to call.  Let’s see if they return tonight.  We have pellets, a fresh batch of lucerne, ice cold carrots, apples, celery tops and lettuce, and we’ll be waiting for them.

Have a great holiday season evening.
_______________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2018:

Stunning view of Ushuaia from the veranda while on the cruise in South America.  For more photos, please click here.

Immigration process on the move…Let’s see what happens next week…More photos from Marloth Park…

Big Daddy by candlelight after dark.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We see this same gecko almost every day on this same area of the tree in front of the veranda.  It appears to change colors from time to time

On October 24th we drove to the immigration office in Nelspruit to file our request for a visa extension, having no idea whatsoever what the outcome may be.

Kudus by candlelight by the cement pond, stopping for a drink.

When we left after a second lengthy visit to the facility, we were told to begin checking their website every day once three weeks had passed.  We actually began checking after two weeks figuring it was better to be proactive than wait.


Things do not move quickly here, as is the case for many government facilities all over the world.  One never knows what to expect.  Patience and perseverance are vital in working one’s way through any type of governmental agency, as we all know from personal experience.

Giraffe in the neighborhood.  We never tire of seeing these wonderful animals.

Three weeks passed and nothing.  Finally, at the five-week mark, two days ago, we noticed a change in the online information when we entered our ID numbers and surname on the “check your application” page.  

A determined walk along the fence by the Crocodile River.

It appeared our file had been moved to Pretoria, one of the three capital centers in South Africa.  Why does this country have three capital cities?  The answer is here from this site:


South Africa is amongst a minority of countries that do not have a single capital city. Instead, South Africa boasts three capital cities, one for each branch of government. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. Cape Town is the legislative capital. And Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

When the Union of South Africa was created, different parties had different views on the appropriate city for the capital. Some expressed concern that allowing a single city to hold all branches of government could lead to too much power for one place. Thus, the developing nation placed the three branches of government in three different capital cities.”

The Crocodile River after the sun has set.

This morning when I checked again I found a new vague response, different from that of a few days ago, prompting me to call to determine what the distinct message will be when it’s time to drive back to Nelspruit to get the answer from a sealed envelope, opened in front of us, if we have to leave or can stay until February 20, 2019.


It kind of feels like a game show…open the envelope for the answer.  But, who’s to say how this particular process was developed and why the necessity of the sealed envelope becomes the means of notification.

A beam of light reflected off the camera at sunset on the river.

If we have to leave, we’ll have 10 days to clear out.  If not, we’ll go on about our enjoyable lives in Marloth Park for the duration.  We’re trying hard not to speculate anything other than a positive outcome.


Should we have to exit, we’ll have 10 days to come up with a plan and leave accordingly.  We’ll keep all of our readers posted on the outcome as soon as we know.  

Mom and four piglets have been stopping by several times a time.

Most likely, we’ll be heading to Nelspruit by next Friday or Monday, December 7th or December 10th based on the fact the rep I spoke to today stated we’ll know something in five business days.


We’re anxious to get this behind us, one way or another and be able to fully relax during the holidays with many plans on the horizon and during whatever remaining time we may have in South Africa.  

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  

Last night we had another excellent evening with Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya.  The sky was clouded so we missed the sunset nor did we see anything of significance on the river.  But, as always the conversation flowed with endless stories the four of us thoroughly enjoy sharing.


Tonight, after being out the last two nights, we’re looking forward to an evening on the veranda once again.  We’d had numerous visitors so far today and anticipate it will be no different tonight when they seem to arrive as soon as we set things up. 

Tom took this photo early this morning of a wound on yet another warthog which appears to be healing.  These are sturdy and hardy animals that often survive serious injury without any intervention by humans.

It’s bun-less burgers on the braai tonight with homemade ketchup, sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese (for Tom) and of course, crispy bacon to top it off.  A lettuce salad on the side with homemade salad dressing and we’re good to go.


Have a great weekend wherever you may be, doing exactly what you love to do!

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Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2017:

While off on a self-tour in Manta Ecuador, we noticed Panamanian hats were a popular tourist purchase.  For more photos of our day, please click here.