A Sunday drive in the neighborhood…Pinch me, am I dreaming?…

This was one of our favorite sightings of the day, three giraffes drinking together on the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We’ve posted other photos of hornbills in our bird feeder, but we can’t ever get enough of these pretty birds.

After uploading the day’s post and busying myself making a special Sunday dinner, I suggested we go for our drive…in this case, a “Sunday drive.” I recall as a kid going for a drive on Sunday afternoons, and it was extraordinary. 

I grew up in Long Beach, California (except for two years in Boston). A Sunday drive usually consisted of visiting one of many exceptional beaches on the Pacific Coast Highway.

The above main photo is from a distance. 

When Tom was a child, typically, his family would drive from Minneapolis to Winsted, Minnesota (72 km, 45 miles) to visit family. It was often too cool to swim in the ocean in the winter months, but the drive and a stop for an ice cream cone were all it took to make the day special. He, too, had some great memories of those days.

Now, as we’ve aged and are “relatively” retired as world travelers, Sundays are just another pleasant day of the week, especially since we’ve re-instituted our old-fashioned Sunday drive.

Giraffes rarely bend over to the ground other than for drinking. They are highly vulnerable to predators in this position.

However, a Sunday drive in Marloth Park is like none other anywhere else in the world. As always, Tom washed the little car’s windows since, at times, sightings occur in front of us on the road, and we have no choice but to take photos through the windscreen (windshield in the US).

A wildlife wonderland.

We load a newly charged battery in the camera, clean the camera lens with a soft cloth and pack an extra battery in Tom’s pants pocket. We fill our mugs with iced tea, Crystal Lite for Tom, and green tea with cinnamon for me, and we’re off.

Over the past 5½ months, we’ve learned to keep our expectations in check. On occasion, we may see little more than helmeted guinea fowls (of which we have dozens in our garden), impalas, and a variety of baboons and Vervet monkeys.

Zooming in on this “obstinancy” of cape buffaloes, we see where they got this plural name. They certainly do appear obstinate and, in fact, are referred to as the “Black Death” based on the number of people they kill each year.

For first-time visitors seeing the above could be most satisfying. But, now, after a total of 8½ months in Marloth Park, including our prior three months in 2013/2014, impalas, although adorable, guinea fowls and monkeys are seldom subjects of photos unless something is exciting transpiring.

As for baboons, which are destructive and may be dangerous, we have no interest in them at all, preferring to stay away as much as possible. The exception may be if a large troupe came to the garden for a possible photo op. Of course, it’s imperative not to feed them, or they’ll never go away.

In this distant photo, it appeared the many cape buffaloes were piled atop one another.  They do stay close to one another when lounging…safety in numbers.

As for the rest of the wildlife, we’re interested in it all, from the unusual insects to tiny frogs to the massive elephants. I suppose most of the residents in Marloth Park feel the same, except we noticed the next-door neighbors feeding the Vervet monkeys over the weekend. 

They leave for their other home, and then we’re left with the monkeys pestering us. We cannot stress enough how destructive they can be. They can literally destroy every item on a veranda or the inside a house in a matter of minutes.

Elephants are always an exciting sighting.

Side note:  a few minutes ago, a hornbill was sitting on a tree limb squawking at us.  Tom checked and found the birdfeeder almost empty of bird seeds. He refilled it, and moments later, the hornbill was back inside the feeder as content as she could be, with several following her. That precipitated today’s “sighting of the day” photo above.

We began the Sunday drive around 1330 hours (1:30 pm) and never made it back “home” until almost 1600 hours (4:00 pm).  What a day we had while merely on a Sunday drive through Marloth Park, mainly focusing on activity on the river.

As we ended our drive along the river road, we spotted elephants close to the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. This was a first for us, but Kathy and Don’s friends who live on the river road told us this occurs occasionally.

The areas around the bush houses had few animals since many holidaymakers were still here spending a long weekend or more. But, once we reached the river, the sightings were over-the-top. 

We’d drive a short distance with our eyes peeled toward the river, see something, park the little car on the road to walk through the dense bush at times. I was wearing jeans and socks, but Tom was in shorts, scratching up his legs in the process. 

Wildebeests and zebras visiting holidaymakers. They had a small bag of pellets that tourists often buy when they are here for a weekend or longer stay. 

Some indigenous and invasive plants can cause a nasty rash, infection, or even serious injury, so I always make sure my legs are covered. We’d recently read of a woman who died (in another area in South Africa) by a neurotoxin in a plant that had scratched her leg while walking in the bush. 

One can’t be too careful. Next time, he’ll wear long pants. Also, it’s important to wear insect repellent since we aren’t taking malaria pills this year in Africa except for our visa trips to Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

There were giraffes munching on trees in Marloth Park and more drinking on the river.

Anyway, the day was outstanding! We spotted more wildlife in this short period of time than we’d ever seen in Kruger during the same period. It kept coming and coming. Each time we thought we were done for the day, we encountered more sightings. 

Back at our holiday home, a few animals were waiting for us, Ms. Bushbuck and Little Wart Face. We gave them each a little pile of pellets and vegetables in separate areas so LWF wouldn’t chase her away. They happily munch on their treats, both returning in the evening for yet another round.

Yesterday, we saw no less than 100 cape buffaloes at the Crocodile River.

Today, we’ll lay low, enjoying yet another hot and sunny day at 25C (77F) while situated on the veranda, as usual, contemplating our next trip to Kruger and drive in Marloth Park. Of course, we won’t be waiting until next Sunday for either.

Have a warm and sunny day!

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

The lights on the Strip at night are always impressive. It’s hard to believe it was a year ago we were in Las Vegas spending this fun evening, among many others, with son Richard and friends. For more photos, please click here.

A reunion with an old friend with a new family…Issues revealed in getting into Kruger Park during holiday…

Adorable baby Danie with his loving and attentive mom, Okey Dokey. He never stopped smiling and laughing the entire time they were visiting.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus are spectacular animals.  They are gentle and never hesitate to make eye contact. But, those huge antlers can be dangerous for both humans and other wildlife. We stay back when offering food and taking photos.

There are so many people in Marloth Park right now; we’re having trouble with the Internet. I tried downloading today’s photos but wasn’t able to do so for several hours. Now at almost 11:00 am, I’m still busy getting the post ready to upload.

The larger male of the Vervet monkeys troop sits in the tree next to the veranda where the bush baby house is located.

There are 12 national holidays in South Africa, resulting in Mondays as the official “off work” day. As for this current holiday, Tuesday is the official May Day holiday since it’s May 1st. This link will provide you with a list of the South African holidays.

We’ve heard that people are being turned away to enter Kruger National Park during this busy period. Only 600 people are allowed into each of the eleven entrance gates throughout the massive wildlife area. 

He sat there for quite a while, watching us. 

According to our visiting friends Okey Dokey and family, yesterday, people were being turned away without a pre-paid reservation. And even many of those visitors with “reservations” were left waiting for up to two hours to enter the gate. The extra cost for booking a reservation, over and above the usual entrance fees (prices vary), is ZAR 38 (US $3.07) per person.

Once inside, every sighting is observed by dozens of vehicles. Oh, good grief. This enormous natural environment is taken over by commercialism during the holiday, returning to its quiet and enriching status that usually takes one’s breath away.

Soon, he was distracted by the noise his troop-mates were making as they flew through the trees.

Of course, we aren’t going to the park again until well after the holiday when most tourists have left the area. That’s not to say there aren’t others like us who are renting holiday homes during the quieter seasons who will still be here. Hopefully, they, too, like us, attempt to blend in and become a part of this magical place. 

As we enter the cooler winter season, beginning on June 21st, tourism in the area will taper off due to lower temperatures. This morning, both of us were outside on the veranda by 6:30 am bundled up to stay warm. Now, four hours later, we’re back to shorts and tee shirts.

We tried for a better photo of this male bushbuck which is the darkest we’ve seen, but I was distracted with our company and never took the time for a good picture as darkest fell.

The cooler weather will not deter us from spending our days and nights outdoors.  We’ll add more layers of clothing to stay warm. It doesn’t get much below 10C (50F) during most winter months. But, after all of these years of warm weather (except for Antarctica), these temps might feel cold to us.

Before dusk, our dear friend, Okey Dokey, our driver here in Marloth Park four years ago, who remained a great friend these past years, visited us with her husband and baby, both named Dani, for snacks, wine, and beer. We’d never met the two Danis and adored them both.

His coloring was much darker, and he was considerably larger than other male bushbucks we’ve seen so far.

n. It was delightful to meet her two loved ones. It was as if we’d never missed a beat. How fortunate we are to have made such fine friends along the w A third Danie, of Louise and Danie, also joined us since they were also good friends with this extraordinary young woman.

We were sad to see them go. But, adorable little Danie, now almost eight months old, was ready for sleep after they spent a very long day in Kruger, as they explained above, regarding gaining entrance into the park.

I wish I’d taken better photos of our visitors, but sometimes, I’m just more interested in the people than the photos.  Louise is next to Okey Dokey, and Okey Dokey’s husband Danie is seated to Tom’s right.  Louise’s Danie and I were at the far end of the table.

Who knows how long it will be until we see them again? They’ve invited us to visit them at the “farm,” a five-hour drive from here. Perhaps, at some point during our remaining months in South Africa (immigration permitting), we’ll visit them.

Soon we’re off to the little market at Marlothi Centre for a few items for tonight’s dinner and more carrots and apples for our wildlife friends. It will be a quiet few days for us with no plans to travel any further than the little market,  as the holiday season continues through Tuesday.

We hope you have a quiet and pleasant day wherever you may be! 

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

Image result for international date line map
Map of the world illustrating how the International Date Line affects each side of the line. One year ago, we crossed, and we had two May firsts. Please click here for details.

What?…Pirates of Penzance in the bush…Entertainment galore!…

The play was about, to begin with, Don on the left and Ken on the right.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

After Josiah cleaned the pond in the yard, removing all the water and replacing it with freshwater, the animals have come regularly to drink, as is the case for this male impala.

What does the play the Pirates of Penzance have to do with Marloth Park? Last night, quite a bit, when our hosts Kathy and Don put on a taste-tempting spread for 13 of us, while Don and Ken performed their second annual theatrical performance for friends in Marloth Park.

The MP (Marloth Park) players present the Pirates of Penzance.

Their beautiful expansive home in the bush, overlooking the Crocodile River, looked as inviting as we recalled from our many previous visits four years ago. With a third-floor veranda with sprawling views of the river, high enough to deter mozzies, we all settled in at the arranged seating to enjoy the performance by our two brave thespians. It couldn’t have been more fun!

Don’s hysterical toilet plunger wooden leg had us roaring with laughter.

Here are a few details on this classic comedy production from this site:

“The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera’s official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, where the show was well-received by both audiences and critics.[1] Its London debut was on 3 April 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for 363 performances, having already played successfully for more than three months in New York.
The story concerns Frederic, who has completed his 21st year and is released from his apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and the two young people fall instantly in love. However, Frederic soon learns that he was born on the 29th of February, so technically, he has a birthday only once each leap year. His indenture specifies that he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his “twenty-first birthday,” meaning that he must serve another 63 years. Bound by his sense of duty, Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.
Pirates were the fifth Gilbert and Sullivan collaboration and introduced the much-parodied “Major-General’s Song.” The opera was performed for over a century by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain and by many other opera companies and repertory companies worldwide. Modernized productions include Joseph Papp‘s 1981 Broadway production, which ran for 787 performances, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical, and spawning many imitations and a 1983 film adaptation. Pirates remain popular today, taking their place along with The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore as one of the most frequently played Gilbert and Sullivan operas.”
They’d learned their lines and were ready to begin.
Don and Ken spared nothing in their gallant attempt to mimic the authenticity of this popular opera. From their homemade and clever attire to their accents, gestures, and acting abilities, without a doubt, these two could easily have been suitable for the “real deal” in major theatre in any big city throughout the world.
They’d even memorized a plethora of lines from the original production, leaving us all in awe of the time they must have spent in preparation. And yet, for such a small group, they never faltered in their enthusiasm and expertise in presenting the results of their hard work and obvious talent.
Don got the authenticity of the pirate down pat with a few clever handmade modifications.
We laughed, howled, and cheered, even exacting the often longed-for standing ovation sought by many live performers. Tom and I both felt honored to be among these fine friends with whom we find we have so much in common…less the thespian skills, of course.
After the performance ended, the food prep on the braai began. We were all seated at their huge table in no time, drinking wine and beer and continually toasting to the festivities, which continued throughout the evening.
Ken was sharp in his performance and also exhibited fine acting skills.
The platters of finely prepared meats, vegetables, and sides made it simple for me to dine with everyone else. The only items I avoided were the roasted potato dish and dessert. The rest worked out perfectly, and I appreciated our host’s thoughtfulness in preparing the food, avoiding starch, sugar, and grains. 
They had a hard time keeping a straight face on several occasions, and we laughed along with them.
We all stayed at the big table until finally, we started collecting our chill boxes with our remaining beer and wine. Linda and Ken are off on Sunday to Australia to visit family and embark on a cruise, so we won’t see them again for several months when they return to Marloth Park again. 
But, you get the drift.  Ken was standing behind Don, using his hands as if they were Don’s.  This was particularly hysterical! It was dark, and I was so entrenched in the activities I failed to adjust the camera settings for better photos in the dark.
Kathy and Don are heading to their other home in Pretoria, South Africa, to work on some projects, hopefully returning soon. Lynne and Mick will be around until March 31st, so we plan to spend time with them. Soon, we’ll see friends Hettie and Piet when they return to Marloth in the next few weeks.
The performance ended after about 30-minutes, and we cheered and clapped, ending in a standing ovation.

And, of course, Louise and Danie, with whom we’ll be tonight at yet another unique and exciting event in the bush, which we’ll be sharing in tomorrow’s post.

After the performance and the meats were being cooked on the braai, we mingled, chatting in small groups while snacking on appetizers.
Thanks to all of our readers/friends who “stay with us” on this seemingly never-ending journey as we not only thrive in our surroundings but also embrace the friendships we’ve made with all of our friends in Marloth Park. Thanks to all of our Marloth Park friends for including us in their social circle.
After the meal, the ritual “drinking from a shoe’ commenced, but we graciously declined to participate in drinking from Micheal’s shoe.  From this site:  “Drinking from a shoe has historically been performed as both a bringer of good fortune and as a hazing punishment. Drinking champagne from a lady’s slipper became a symbol of decadence in the early 20th century. Drinking beer out of one’s own shoe is a ritual sometimes undertaken at parties and events in Australia, where it is referred to as a “shoey.”[Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller celebrated his first premier class victory by drinking champagne out of his shoe, at the Dutch circuit of Assen, on 26 June 2016. Since then, Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, another Australian, has also performed shoeys on the podium.”
May your day be rich in friendship and love.
Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2017:
Wild vegetation growing along the riverbank in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. We were leaving in four days when we posted this photo.  For more details, please click here.

What a night!…Storm over Taranaki!…

The gardens are creatively designed with colorful groupings.

When the heavy glass and metal patio table and chairs had flipped during the night from the high winds and the house was literally shaking, we knew we were in the midst of a huge storm.

Thinking about the alpacas, especially the little crias during the night, I worried if they could blow away. When looking outside this morning as the sky attempts to clear, everyone looks fine.

Its interesting to see the blue flowers.

Soon, I’ll walk down the road for a head count for the herd that is located in a nearby paddock having been moved to “greener pastures” a few days ago. I think it would be hard for me to be the owner of such a herd. I’d always want to put them indoors in storms requiring a huge barn with bales of their favorite hay and water.

Colorful mix of rhododendron.

I guess I’ll never need to be concerned about that. We hardly have a desire to settle down to own a farm or any house for that matter. Often, we’re asked if we’re looking for a place to eventually “settle down.” Who needs to settle down? Not us.

When we first began our travels, we had a romantic notion that somewhere along the way, we find a location that would make us realize we’d want to stop and make a home of our own again. 

Many of the walkways in the Pukeiti Gardens are easy to navigate.

As time marches on, now well into our 40th month since leaving Minnesota, we’ve never felt the urge to contemplate a “permanent” home anywhere.  Sure, I’d like to return to Marloth Park for another 90 day stay at some point which may happen in the distant future on another trip to Africa. 

Bluish purple rhododendron.

For now, we have lots of world to see with absolutely no desire to stay anywhere for longer than 90 days.  Upcoming, we have two 60 day stints in Bali with a 60 day gap in between (due to visa status) more from the excitement we felt for the yet-to-be seen property. 

With a map in hand and clearly marked areas, it was easy to find our way in the gardens.

Looking back at that decision, we ended up choosing the two separate stays based on reasons we may need to rethink in the future, anticipating a property to be so irresistible that we need to stay longer. 

We spotted only a few other tourists.

As much as we loved the four months we spent in Kauai, we’ve decided all bookings beyond our current commitments (we’re currently booked to October 31, 2017, the five year anniversary of our world travels) may not exceed 60 days. Soon, we’ll begin booking beyond that date.

A few paths are grassy.

The exception to this would be when we need time to “recover” from a huge expense, such as the cost of the cruise to Antarctica (which we’ll be booking as soon as new postings are listed) and can find an extremely affordable and appealing location such as this alpaca farm where 90 day stay may make sense. 

Pods on an unusual plant with fern backdrop.

I love it when I’m disappointed to be leaving a property and a country, such as in the case of South Africa and now, here in New Zealand. I’ve avoided figuring out how many days we have left here, when every single day is a gift, not only in our daily lives in general but when we’re living in a place that brings us such simple joys and happiness.

Most likely these are Maori translations on this stone tribute.

Each day we’re entertained by the precious animals and we appreciate the comforts and quality of this house and location making daily life relatively easy, a far cry from the four months we spent in Fiji. 

A pretty orchid.

Overall, we had a good experience in Fiji but there were definitely some challenges that made daily life much harder than it is here. This house, with its comfortable bed, a TV, working WiFi no power outages to date, no ants and mosquitos (only sandflies which repellent keeps away) and many modern conveniences have made living easy. Its usually cool here with low humidity, especially now as the summer begins to wind down.

Many area don’t have blooming flowers although beautiful with the diverse greenery.

Bali will present many challenges of its own, comparable to Fiji such as heat and humidity, mosquitoes and ants. The difference will be onsite daily household help to assist with the ants and air conditioning, TV and tons of room in a huge house with the ocean and a pool a step outside the door. 

Another pretty orchid, we’d posted with a bee in yesterday’s post.

Speaking of TV, we currently have no satellite service as of yesterday afternoon when a SKY TV guy came to change out the “box” being replaced by a more updated version. He couldn’t figure out how to install it and we were left with no TV service until hopefully, someone comes soon to fix it today, as promised.

These tall stalks are eye catching.

I’ll admit…we like having a TV for those days and nights when its rained hard and we’re staying indoors. We’re avid Nat Geo, Discovery, History Channel and news junkies especially now with all this US political news keeping us informed, as best as biased news channels are capable of presenting. (No political opinions discussed here). 

Another simple tall stalk.

Also, we love the local New Zealand news with their playful banter, humorous expressions and not necessarily PC comments. With few dreadful murders and riot stories, the majority of the news in New Zealand is light hearted and refreshing. 

A variety of small orchids?

Of course, there’s always the sad, heart wrenching stories when the newscasters put aside their good humor to become sensitive and emotional when sharing those stories. We’ve found the “kiwis” (which they call themselves) as open and loving people.

We’ve come to the conclusion that having a TV helps keep us informed and entertained at times that has now jumped to our list of criteria in future booking. In additions, its important for us to know what happening in other parts of the world which may impact future decisions on where we’ll travel.

Low lying flower beds.

We certainly can watch news online but with costly metered wifi it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have to “pay” for news when most news stations throughout the world can provide us with what we need to know about world and local affairs. 

That’s it for today, folks. Enjoy the remaining photos from Pukeiti Gardens and Rainforest and have an excellent day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 18, 2015:

The rich colors of the rocky cliffs in Kauai. A year ago, we headed out on a mini vacation/holiday to another part of the island of Kauai to spend a night at a hotel for my upcoming birthday on the 20th.  For more details, please click here.

An evening with friends in the bush…A dangerous Black Mamba story…Moving day today…Goodbye Khaya Umdani…An adorable video!

Some years ago, in the evening Linda, alone while sitting on the veranda at their home in Marloth Park, heard what sounded like a scream. She immediately went inside the house, locking the door behind her. The next morning, she wandered through their property to find the remains of this impala, who’d been attacked by a leopard, as confirmed by the Park Rangers whom she called to assist. All that remained of the impala was this skull that they’ve displayed in their yard as a reminder that there are wild animals in this area and one must always exercise caution.

The commonality we share with people we’ve met in Marloth Park is the profound love of nature and wildlife, like none we’ve seen before and most likely, will ever experience again.

Ken lit the fire in the braaii, using a combination of charcoal and wood. After dinner, he added more wood to keep it up like a bonfire while we remained outdoors the entire evening.

Last night this was exemplified while dining at the lovely bush home of our new friends, Linda and Ken. As typical in South Africa, a braai was on the evening’s agenda, only delayed by the constant chatter among the four of us.

In the past year, Linda and Ken found this huge skin shed by the dreaded Black Mamba that was hanging from the thatched roof over a second-story veranda. Up close, we could see it’s head in detail. Yikes.

Ken, a phenomenal photographer made us drool over his plethora of wildlife photos, inspiring us to bite the bullet and purchase a more sophisticated SLR camera and spend the time necessary to learn to use it. 

Linda and Ken like to fill this standing trough with birdseed and pellets for visiting wildlife. Having only returned from their other home on Friday, they’d yet to see many visitors. They explained that once they’ve been back for three days or so, the wildlife comes to call.  As we sat outdoors the entire evening, there was an abundance of birds and toward the end of the evening, we saw a Genet, a cat-like animal we’d yet to see, which moved too quickly for a photo.

Alas, I tried holding up one of his two cameras last night, only to be disappointed, when my bad shoulder prevented me from holding it up for less than 30 seconds. As much as I love taking photos, this is my reality, which I accept, with the hope and expectation that as technology advances, a lightweight, quality camera will become available in a size and weight I can manage.  

Tom and Ken in my blurry photo as they cooked the steaks on the braai. Wish I’d held the camera steady for a better shot.
This morning Linda and Ken stopped by and we proudly showed off Khaya Umdani as we prepare to leave in a few hours. Once again, we instantly engaged in lively and animated conversation, especially when  Louise and Danie stopped by to see how we’re doing. 

That very commonality becomes so clear when residents of Marloth Park meet other residents immediately having this special interest that only this unique area can provide.

Another skull found in Linda and Ken’s garden from a duiker.

Where are we going? Not back to the little house. Our generous hosts, Louise and Danie have opened up yet another fine property for us to enjoy as our time in Marloth Park winds down. How did we get so lucky?

Although Tom isn’t thrilled about moving quite so often, once we’re unpacked and settled in, the sense of comfort and familiarity will appease him, as it always does, putting him at ease. For me, it’s all an adventure and I love every moment. I don’t even mind the packing and unpacking anymore when it creates a familiar sense of organization and order that I gave up so long ago.

Khaya Umdani was an ethereal dream, 10 full days of the ultimate in comfort and style enhanced by the endless sounds and sights of nature at our doorstep as shown in our photos. It couldn’t have been more perfect.  Absolutely nothing was out of order, annoying or difficult. 

At Khaya Umdani, we enjoyed no less than 10 various warthog families, all of which learned to come to the left side of the pool if they were to get any pellet treats. They learned quickly, making us laugh.

Every possible amenity was on hand; the finest of quality, offering the utmost of functionality and an abundance of eye appeal. From the dishes to the placemats to the bedding and towels, nothing was spared. From Zeff’s daily presence, quietly and unobtrusively in the background, every possible need was met with warmth and enthusiasm.

A few days ago we took this adorable video.  Please watch for a heartwarming chuckle!

In a way, it’s not easy to leave Khaya Umdani. But, we know, having previously seen the house we’re moving to, we’ll be equally at home once we settle in. For me, the bigger issue is the reality that we’re leaving Marloth Park in 19 days. Never in the past, when preparing to leave other countries have I felt such angst about leaving. 

The animals, the people, it will be hard to say goodbye. I can only hope that someday we can return to Africa, to Marloth Park, to visit Capetown, to finally see Victoria Falls, and to once again possess this powerful feeling of belonging to this land.

For now, we’re not done in Africa when soon we’ll head to Morocco, expanding our horizons, further building our experience and knowledge of this continent, so far removed from our past reality and today, so forefront in our hearts and minds.

Zebras came to call…Interesting zebra facts…A circle among the stripes…Photos…

Not all wildlife requires a daily supply of water, but the zebra does, never staying further away than 10 meters from a safe water supply, Picky drinkers, they taste the chlorinated pool water, only taking a sip, detecting the chemicals.

Nothing can compare to the appearance of multiple visitors of a species. The excitement of watching them approach our veranda is indescribable. This isn’t to say that we don’t enjoy the “onesies” although it appears that a single animal is more hesitant to approach than several, based on “safety in numbers.” 

Zebras are fascinating but may be taken for granted in the wild for those frequently in their presence. Finding animal behavior interesting to us, having the opportunity to observe them has been more rewarding than we could have imagined.

When we first arrived, we noticed that zebras have a dark circular patch on the inner forelegs which are designed to accommodate the sharp end of the hoof when lying down. The zebra sleeps around 7 hours a night, lying down and these circular patches provide protection for their legs from injury when they’re at rest.

Please click this link for more interesting zebra facts.

Having never been so close to zebras in the past, we were curious as to these black spots on the interior of their front legs.
When we first arrived in Marloth Park, over one month ago, we noticed the circular spots on every zebra, assuming they certainly had a purpose. After researching online, we were pleased to see how these spots protect the zebras from injuring themselves at rest.  
The zebra’s unique stripes are comparable to an individual’s unique fingerprint. The black spots, protecting the legs from injury when at rest are equally as unique.
When this small herd of zebras arrived yesterday, we couldn’t have been happier to see them. Their playful personalities and obvious acceptance of humans in their terrain, make them fun to watch and highly welcomed visitors to homes in Marloth Park.
The mineral lick has been appealing to the zebras and Kudu, so far. Warthogs and other smaller animals have little interest in it.
It’s evident they are used to being around humans. Like many other wildlife, they are quick to run off if frightened by a loud noise or sudden movement. They don’t hesitate to come right up to the railing on our veranda being vocal and making overt motions indicating they are looking for attention and food.
Waiting their turn for a sip of water from the pool, occasionally kicking each other for dominance. All of the zebra visitors we’ve had thus far have been males.
“My turn!”
We don’t hesitate to throw a few handsful of the nutritional pellets, approved by the game reserve rangers, are suitable snacks for the wildlife. With the increased tourist population in Marloth Park during the holidays, it’s evident they’ve been fed, nudging at us for food.
They couldn’t be more adorable.
Hopefully, the tourists have been sensitive in understanding that nature provides an ample food supply during the rainy summer month, lush vegetation for their easy foraging. Any foods other than the mineral licks, fresh vegetation, and pellets aren’t doing the animals a favor. Nature provides for the general diet.
The Zebras seem to like munching on the greenery around this little tree. We’ve learned that wildlife doesn’t graze an area with the intent to “clean it out.” Instead, their instincts guide them to forage in an area for a short period and then move on to another area. Doing so, provides a continuous supply of food, especially during these rainy summer months. In the sparse winter months, the Zebras will dig up the roots of vegetation.
Yesterday, we noticed back leg kicks flying at one another when vying for a spot at the mineral lick or a drink from the pool. Moments later, they’re playing with one another, seeming to hug and groom each other. Watching them is mesmerizing. 
When at last they wander away with the herd intact, we feel grateful they’ve stopped to visit, hoping to see them again in our remaining 56 days in Marloth Park. How quickly the time flies when we’re having fun!

Note:  Typically, the holiday tourists begin leaving the area by January 10th at which point we’ll begin visiting some of the sites in the area. All the sites we’d like to visit are still swarming with tourists. 

Also, it was one year ago today that we left the US (although we did return to various ports in Florida to wait to change ships to continue on our multiple cruises). Click here for the post from the day we left on January 3, 2013, writing about it on January 4, 2013.

A new day… New visitors… A tiny baby… Wondrous!

This baby Mongoose  is sticking close to Mom, who has an egg we left for her, in her mouth as they scurry across the yard.

It’s ironic how our daily lives revolve around the arrival of visitors.  Will we ever be able to stop scanning our surroundings every few minutes with the hope of spotting movement in the bush coming our way?

The baby Mongoose completely tucked under the mom to ensure safety.

Staying as quiet and still as possible, I carefully reach for the camera with the least amount of movement, and we wait.  Most often we’re seated, Tom in his usual pillowed Adirondack chair and me, in my usual equally padded plastic molded chair at the table.  Standing up as we wait is usually not an option.

Louise and Danie suggested that we hold up an egg and show it to the Mongoose which Tom did, placing it on the ground nearby.  Very shy, jerky motion must be avoided to prevent the Mongoose from running off. As soon as the Mongoose saw him put it down on the ground she immediately approached the egg.

With baited breath we wait, when at a distance we spot the most subtle movement, asking ourselves if its only a wisp of a breeze or the guarded movement of an animal on its approach.  

Within seconds of placing the egg on the ground, the mongoose went to work on cracking the shell.
She managed to crack the remainder of the egg by banging it on the ground.  She ate the entire contents including the spilled portion, leaving the shell behind.  Later in day, the monitor lizard slithered by in a flash grabbing the empty shell but it moved too quickly to allow me to take a photo.

With the protective railing around the veranda partially blocking the view, it’s necessary for me to stand to take most photos.  Gingerly, I move one limb at a time in an attempt to stand, almost as if playing “pick up sticks” to avoid a sound or a single jerky motion which could easily scare off the least shy of the visitors.

With the two of us constantly on the lookout, it’s unlikely that we’ll miss an opportunity to view any wildlife in our extensive yard. When one of us goes inside the house for a few minutes, the other remains outdoors continuing the search.  

This Pied Crow stopped by to check out a second, yet untouched egg we’d left in the driveway for the mongoose family, cracking it open with his beak.

We never fail to quietly alert each other of an animal on the move, from the largest Kudu weighing 700 pounds, 318 kg,  to the tiniest unusual insect. I must admit that it’s hard to leave during the day, fearful that the yet to visit wildebeest (other than a fast dash through the yard) or a much longed for a second visit from the giraffe which may occur in our absence.  

A second Pied Crow appeared to keep watch while the first ate the egg.

Silly, perhaps.  But then, living in the bush with the animals is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, unless of course, that someday we’ll return.  I can only hope that we will.  I know that memories of this experience will loom in my mind with much longing for years to come.

Suddenly, a flock of persistent small birds started dive bombing the Pied Crow forcing his friend to fly off to chase the little birds and for him to move to another spot in the yard.  In a state of anger or frustration the Pied Crow “fluffed” the feathers on his chest while making loud noises. A short time later, he was able to return to the partially eaten egg to finish his lunch.

As I sit here now, Tom only feet from me, our favorite warthog family of nne has just departed after yet another laugh inspiring visit.  Each time they arrive, we immediately take a head count to ensure that the seven babies have avoided the interests of a predator.  With a sigh of relief, we chatter at them with our high pitched voices and toss a few pellets their way, both of which they readily respond.

The monitor lizard wanted in on the egg action.  Elusive, fast moving and difficult to photograph, we’re always thrilled to see her.  Check out that tongue.

Surely, as the day wears on, we’ll continue to revel in the wonders of this magical place.  The temperature is climbing and at some point we may be driven indoors to escape the summer heat and humidity. If so, we’ll continue to check the outdoors as often as every 15 minutes to see who has graced us with their presence.

Oops, I’ve got to go! There are zebras coming this way!  

Video…Visitors…Viewing the Crocodile River, impossible with many tourists…

The white below his nose is his mustache, not his teeth. I’d have preferred to get out of the car to get closer to them, but their shyness would have caused them to run off.
Having the freedom to come and go as we please has enhanced the quality of the experience in Marloth Park. If, that seems possible when we’re already having the time of our lives. 
The kudus were so busy chomping away, it was hard to encourage them to look our way.
With the little pink India-made vehicle in our possession for less than two days, we’ve certainly been out and about, spending only a few daylight hours at home, long enough to post yesterday and sleep at night.
The kudus were in dense bush in our yard having their hearty breakfast. We wondered if they would have come closer to us had we been on the veranda. Now, every time we leave we’ll wonder if visitors come that we’ll have missed.
To tell the truth, I’ve already begun to miss our time outside on the veranda, from early morning until dusk, anxiously awaiting the arrival of yet another visitor. From the short periods we’ve been home over the past 2 days, it appears the pace may once again be picking up and they’re returning to visit.

Saturday, while halfway down our long driveway, we were thrilled to see three male kudus happily chomping at the treetops. Although kudus are not as tall as the giraffes, their enormous height makes it possible for them to munch on the tops of many trees. 

While driving in Marloth Park yesterday morning, Tom yelled to me, “Hurry, get the camera.  This dung beetle and his wife were crossing the road with this huge piece of dung. I was able to take this very short video when cars behind us required us to move along. We would love to have seen how they maneuvered the rocks that were in their way.
Yesterday, while we were gone, Louise stopped by to pick up the cooler we’d borrowed, to find our veranda a horrible mess with baboons having taken over. Again, they’d moved the furniture, taking more of the seat cushions pooping everywhere.  
The beautiful Crocodile River.
She cleaned it all taking the dirty cushions with her to be washed. Thanks, Louise! When we returned hours later, apparently the Baboons had returned since she’d cleaned, and left another mess.
Once we put away the groceries, we cleaned the veranda, wrote, and posted it indoors. With many tourists in the area for the holidays, our connection was slow, making it difficult to post our photos, taking twice as long as usual. 
The vegetation around the Crocodile River is lush and green now that it’s summer.
Suddenly, it was time to leave in order to get to the Crocodile Overlook before sunset and later to Jabula Lodge for dinner. To our disappointment, the overlook was jammed with tourists making it difficult to get a good spot along the railing for photo taking. I must admit, the crowd spoiled the experience and we took very few photos.

After New year, the crowds will disperse, and once again, it will be peaceful and quiet in Marloth Park. We’re looking forward to this time, but will make the most of these crowded the next 10 days.
On our way to dinner, we spotted giraffes lumbering into a yard.
Last night, returning after another great dinner at Jabula Lodge, we checked out the pool for the status of the tadpoles. Nothing yet, but we continue to see the little swirls of water where they’re swimming. As we stepped to the side of the pool both using our mini flashlights, we saw a scorpion jump into the pool, a definite suicide mission. Today, he lies dead at the bottom of the pool.
Later today, we’re going on another game drive in Kruger Park with 18 tourists in the huge open-sided vehicle, followed up by another bush dinner. We’ll do our best, taking photos, and sharing our experiences tomorrow.

Guess I’ll be wearing my boots again tonight with my Bugsaway pants tucked tightly into the pants!

Visitors and more visitors…Eight sets in one day…Astounding!…

The following photos were all taken in our yard on Monday, December 9, 2013, between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, during which we counted eight separate groups, none repeats, on that same day from what we could tell. The eight groupings are separated by paragraphs of text for easy viewing.
Various groups of kudu males came to call throughout the day. 
Notice the impalas in the background to the right.
The female kudu’s big pinkish ears perk up to full attention when we moved about taking the photos. We walked softly and whispered to avoid scaring them off.
This shot was taken while we were sitting at the table on the veranda. They were so close to the railing that we didn’t want to scare them off by standing up as they gingerly approached.
Their huge horns are a sight to behold.
She says, “What’s with all the photos?”  Notice the hair standing up on her back.

How can this be? How can we walk out onto the veranda each morning, coffee in hand, to not only find evidence of visitors in the rain-soaked driveway, but a wide array of visitors themselves coming and going throughout the day, often looking directly at us with curiosity? Of course, we return the look without fear in an effort to let them know they have nothing to fear from us, welcoming them to stay for as long as they’d like. After all, this is their home, not ours.

The impalas appear to be the most skittish of all the larger wildlife we’ve seen so far. We hardly breathed, taking this photo.
Blurry and distant, but none the less, in the yard.
We hoped they’d have moved closer to us. We were thrilled to see them.

Most often, they stay for an hour or more nibbling on trees or grass, to finally make their way to “greener pastures,” or, perhaps they are like us humans, making our way through the buffet line, anticipating the best morsel yet to come.

These zebras appeared to be a different group from those that had visited in the past. It’s not easy to memorize the stripe patterns, all different, but we’ve tried.
Many tourists have been known to hand feed the wildlife. As much as we’d enjoy this, we refrain for their safety and ours. Hand feeding them may make it difficult for them to forage for food and become too domestic. We chose to enjoy them in their natural habitat.
It felt as if these zebras were waiting for us to hand feed them, as they patiently stood at our railing. We don’t doubt they’ll return anyway.
They’d pushed the gate open!
Neither of these two zebras seemed to mind being in this photo with me.

How did we find our way to Marloth Park? How did we find this magical location? How was it that it popped up about 20 months ago on my computer screen to leave me anxious for Tom to return from work that evening anxious to tell him what my day of searching had revealed. 

Having gone inside for a moment, we missed the remainder of the mongoose family that ran off the moment we came back outside. Can’t leave for a moment!

At the time he said, “Oh, boy. What are we getting ourselves into?” Now, he says, “Oh, boy! This is unbelievable!” He loves it as much as I do.

This mom warthog is always staring at us with the babies in tow. If we move quickly, she’ll quickly jump away.
Our resident warthog family of two moms and seven babies, never fail to stop by and we never fail to welcome them.
Many visitors enjoy the shade under the carport.

We’d booked Kenya first, from photos we’d found on Homeaway. Once the booking for Kenya was cemented, we agreed, “If we’re going to be all the way to Africa, let’s extend our time there by visiting other countries.”

Later in the day, more impalas arrived to partake of the abundant greenery in the yard.
This impala posing made me jump for joy!

It was only a week or two later that I literally stumbled across Marloth Park. At the time, I felt that choosing Marloth Park was one step down from Kruger Park, a short distance away, which has hardly proved the case. This is definitely paradise. The price and private house with its many amenities was appealing. But, above all the lure of the wildlife roaming free around the house cinched the deal for both of us.

This appeared to be a separate grouping of males that visited later in the afternoon.
The kudu’s markings are consistent on the face; a white chevron on the bridge of the nose as well as an adorable white mustache.
Using a gentle voice they move closer to us.
Their spindly legs are well-formed and strong.
This amply horned male stood proud for us. No zoom was used in this photo.
We’ve developed a special affinity for these majestic animals weighing as much as 760 pounds, 366 kg. The biggest known kudu in Marloth Park, which we’ve seen once so far, is “Kevin” as named by the locals. We posted Kevin’s photo on the December 6, (click here to see) when we’d gone on a local game drive with Leon, the owner of Jabula Lodge.
One of the kudus is always on watch as the others nibble on bits of vegetation. They seem to love the greens at the base of this grouping of a few trees.
These young males practicing for next spring’s dominance to impregnate females. Sadly, on occasion, the male’s antlers may become locked. Unable to separate, they eventually die of starvation.

Now, having been to Kruger Park with its many lodges and resorts we know we’ve made the right choice for us. It was unaffordable to stay in a lodge for three months. We don’t care for camping. And, Marloth Park has proved to be beyond our wildest dreams. 

Although this photo is similar to another we posted a few days ago, this was from our eight group sightings on Monday, December 9th when later in the day the second group of zebras visited. The attendance of this young male prompted us to determine that these were new visitors.
This zebra was pushy, making light taps on the railing to get our attention.
Two heads are better than one.
“We love it under the carport! My turn!”
Zebras seem to be the most curious and fearless.
Unprompted by any noise or distraction by us, they decided it was time to leave our yard. As we’ve seen with other wildlife, the biggest male seems to “hold up the rear.”

Each new day brings an entirely new day of wonderful surprises that we’ll never tire of in our three months in Marloth Park, a much longer stay than most travelers.  But, it’s a pittance compared to the many homeowners that live here full-time or have made this area their second home which they visit several times each year.

Thank you, Louise and Danie, for providing for the comforts while we’re here, and thank you, wildlife, for gracing us with your presence. We’ll never forget.

Nelson Mandela, a life lived for peace….Another separate post for today follows this as we appreciate his homeland…

SA National Parks mourns the passing of #TataMadibaSouth African National Parks (SANParks) joins the world in mourning the death of world iconic former statesman, Dr Nelson Mandela. The Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda passed on his condolences on behalf of SANParks. “It is befitting to pass our heartfelt condolences to Madiba’s family and the country as a whole.”Dr Mabunda said, the former statesman played a significant role in the formation of the Transfrontier Conservation Area concept and personally agreed to be a special patron of the Peace Parks Foundation which saw the establishment of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area linking, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Gonarezhou National Park, Manjini Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe as well as the Makuleke region of South Africa. Nelson Mandela, speaking at the handover of 1000 elephants on the border between South Africa and Mozambique in 2001, said in a world beset by division, he knows of no philosophy or ideology that does not agree with the Peace Park concept. "It promises to bring a better life to some of the poorest citizens of southern Africa… in many ways the project is a demonstrable manifestation of the African Renaissance," he stated at the time.Dr Mabunda recalled the former South African President Nelson Mandela saying that the elephants were part of his "lobola" after he married Ms. Graca Machel. “Our deepest condolences go to the Mandela family and every single South African in this dark hour. May we all be reminded of the sacrifices that Madiba made in shaping the future of our country Lala ngoxolo Tata Madiba.”
Nelson Mandela.

The following is an email we received, as visitors from South Africa, as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5, 2013.  We feel fortunate to be in his homeland as the celebration of his life and mourning for his loss become part of the culture we experience first hand in our midst. His contributions to the conservation of the wildlife of South Africa and Africa as a whole, allow us to participate in its vast wonders.

May he rest in peace having left a legacy that will remain in the hearts of many all over the world, forever.

Here’s the message we received: 

South African National Parks (SANParks) joins the world in mourning the death of world iconic, former statesman, Dr. Nelson Mandela.

The Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Dr. David Mabunda passed on his condolences on behalf of SANParks. “It is befitting to pass our heartfelt condolences to Madiba’s family and the country as a whole.”

Dr. Mabunda said, the former statesman played a significant role in the formation of the Transfrontier Conservation Area concept and personally agreed to be a special patron of the Peace Parks Foundation which saw the establishment of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area linking, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Gonarezhou National Park, Manjini Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe as well as the Makuleke region of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela, speaking at the handover of 1000 elephants on the border between South Africa and Mozambique in 2001, said in a world beset by division, he knows of no philosophy or ideology that does not agree with the Peace Park concept. “It promises to bring a better life to some of the poorest citizens of southern Africa… in many ways, the project is a demonstrable
the manifestation of the African Renaissance,” he stated at the time.

Dr. Mabunda recalled the former South African President Nelson Mandela said, that the elephants were part of his “lobola” after he married Ms.Graca Machel.

“Our deepest condolences go to the Mandela family and every single South African in this dark hour. May we all be reminded of the sacrifices that Madiba made in shaping the future of our country Lala ngoxolo Tata Madiba.”