Rental car “safari luck!”…What????…How we’ve changed…Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!!!

This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago but it has continued to heal although he can no longer “perk it up.”  Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda relaxing after eating quite a few pellets.  He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.

Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful.  The traffic was light.  Passing slow moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.

The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.

Neither one of us enjoys long car trips which may seem to contradict our love of travel.  It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic. 


The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal but somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.

It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.

Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa.  We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.

Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to full at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.  

Huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.

Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a little shortage from driving to the rental car return location.  This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).


Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness and possible damages (no issues) Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.

Lots of moms and babies.

As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?”  The rep replied, “Same as this last one.”  I cringed.  
The little car was rickety, noisy and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park.  But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars.  We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.

Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.

The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period. 


We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car is only costing us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no added maintenance expense.

Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.

Last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade.  This time I was going to be more persistent.  When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (a very rare occurrence), they were all over it.


We received a free upgrade for a very nice sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017.  We were thrilled, to say the least.  We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.

One bushbaby contemplating the full cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.

On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing.  And the smooth ride is astounding.  We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. whatever that may be.


The car is a Ford Fiesta.  In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought.  Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me.  It’s amazing how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.

Ms. Bushbuck and baby.  Actually, there are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies with many more to be arriving soon.

I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal.  See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.

Now, I simply have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets of course, as always.

Happy day!

___________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.

Off to Nelspruit…Return rental car for a new one…Still waiting for immigration response…

 
We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas.  See more photos from this scene below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our regular visitor, Medium, got busy with a mature female.  The gestation period is three months.  Mating season is from September to December.  We should begin seeing piglets soon.  They may have from one to eight piglets.

This morning, as soon as we upload this post, we’re off to Nelspruit to drop off the little car and pick up another.  This will be the last car we’ll rent while we hopefully remain in Marloth Park for three more months.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The rental car companies, in this case, Hertz, through Firefly will only rent a car for a 90 day period.  Thus, we’ve had to start over at the end of each period.  

In the past, the rental return has coincided with our travels outside of South Africa to get our visa renewal for another 90 days.  But this time, we’re waiting to hear from immigration if they’ll extend us to February 20th, the day we fly to Kenya for which we’ve already purchased airline tickets.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-grey shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

No word as yet on our immigration status but we continue to check every few hours at this point.  It would have been great if we could have been informed to appear in Nelspruit yesterday, today or tomorrow.  


We could have changed the car rental return to a different day (the fee for doing so is minimal here) and “killed two birds with one stone” as they say, avoiding another long drive to Nelspruit.  

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

It could happen that they’re ready to give us an answer (must appear in person) in the next 48 hours and off we go again on the long drive.  In the realm of things, its an inconvenience, nothing more.

Mom and young giraffe.

On the return drive today, we’ll stop at the bigger Spar Supermarket in Malelane to pick up a few groceries and avoid doing so tomorrow when we return to Komatipoort to visit the eye doctor to pick up my contact lenses and for Tom to select glasses from the supply the doc is bringing from his distant location.


At the moment Tom is at the local car wash.  Rental cars must be returned in pristine condition or additional fees will be levied.  This includes a spotless interior as well.  The car wash at the Bush Centre charges ZAR 60 (US $4.28) for a beautifully hand-done interior and exterior wash.  

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

We’re continually reminded how affordable things are here in South Africa.  Such a car wash in the US would easily be ZAR 351 (US $25).  Once again we’ll experience “culture shock” when we return to the US for a visit in about four and a half months.

Apparently, they’d all jumped the fence at Kathy and Don’s house.

Yesterday was hot and humid with temps running at 40C (102F) and higher humidity than usual.  Although it’s cloudy today it appears it will be another hot and humid day.  Maybe spending three hours in the car in air-conditioned comfort won’t be so bad after all.

A little blurry from Kathy and Don’s garden but I couldn’t resist sharing this adorable impala face.

Yesterday, we did our usual drive, sighting a female lion beyond the fence.  Photos will follow tomorrow.  Today, most likely we won’t return until around 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) after which I’ll finish making tonight’s dinner of iced cold dishes: chicken salad, egg salad and tossed lettuce salad, a perfect meal for a hot day.


We’ll see you tomorrow with more!


Have a phenomenal day!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2017:
There was no post on this date one year ago today.

An outrageous and clever kudu’s dining maneuver…A good night’s sleep makes all the difference in the world…

Wildlife never ceases to amaze us, including this kudu’s clever means of 
eating from the treetops by taking down branches with his massive horns.



“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We couldn’t believe our eyes when this tiny female duiker stopped by yesterday.  Females have the tiny single horn and males have two horns.  So sweet!

Yesterday was a mix of good and bad.  The good, was spotting many special scenes in the garden.  The bad was trying to find a way to relieve some of the dreadful itching I was experiencing worse than any day or night in the past.


After a trip to Daisy’s Den and the purchase of the salve, Zab-Buk, which is known to kill off the larvae left behind by the biting pepper ticks and the body and clothing spray, No-Ticks which is a messy runny yellow liquid to be sprayed on skin and clothing.  

Big Daddy was busy chomping on the two branches he downed using his powerful horns.

I’m wearing long sleeve shirts each day to keep the messy salve from rubbing off on the furniture and also to prevent the risk of getting more bites on exposed skin.  I’m also using mosquito repellent.


All day, I kept reapplying the salve and every four hours Tom sprayed me and my clothes with the runny liquid.  By 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) I was so exhausted I went into the bedroom, turned on the AC and actually slept for almost an hour, a rarity for me.

He stayed busy for quite awhile chomping on the leaves.

Feeling better after awakening, while still applying the salve frequently, we set up the veranda for the evening and dined on the last of the leftovers from Saturday night’s dinner.  I should say Tom ate the leftovers.  During the day I cooked more chicken breasts to have with a salad while Tom went for the full dinner and later on, more pie.


I forced myself to stay awake until almost 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), taking another hot shower before bed and applying more of the Zam-Buk salve.  I never awoke once during the night…another rarity for me.  After almost eight hours sleep I awoke to less itching, swelling, and redness.  The two treatment protocols are actually working!

The two branches resting on his back when he was done eating.  He wasn’t quite ready to let them go.
Today’s a new day.  No doubt, I’ll surely get more bites in these next three months we’re hopefully still here (no word on our immigration status yet) but at least I now know what to do for some relief.

Yesterday, while on the veranda for most of the day, we had a number of excellent sightings including this amazing kudu, hungry from months with lack of rain and little vegetation stopped by for pellets and the tops of a tree in the garden.

These females and a young male waiting in the bush until Bog Daddy was out of sight.  Then, then moved in for the last few nibbles.

The Big Daddy couldn’t reach the treetops so with sheer determination and expert use of his giant twisted horns, he managed to pull down two tree branches, enough to feed him a good sized meal.

He ate so much, he eventually decided to leave with many leaves still remaining.  In the interim, a small forkl of kudus including females and males waited in the bush to see Big Daddy waft away.  Once he was out of site, they moved in to finish off the leaves on the branches.  What a scene to witness right before our eyes!


Then, we were gifted with the sighting of the sweetest young female duiker who may have been no more than a few months old and appeared to be on her own with no doting mother in the wings.  She ran off when we offered pellets but in time she’ll learn how vital our offered food source is during this dry season.

In the early evening, Wildebeest Willie and Big Daddy seemed to get along well while eating pellets.

Actually, its the rainy season now and yet, there’s been little rain so far, certainly not enough to “green” the trees and bush to provide food for the wildlife.  Many are looking thin and hungry.  We’re currently going through one 40kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets every three or four days and will continue to do so.


We’d thought about going to Kruger today but with temps expected in the 40C (102F) range we decided we’ll have more luck driving to the fence at the Crocodile River.  The hot weather should bring a lot of wildlife to the water. Also, it’s very windy and wildlife seem to stay undercover during heat and wind.

That’s all for today, folks. As always we’ll be back with more tomorrow.


Have a superb day!

__________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, November 20, 2017:

Beautiful scene from the veranda in Costa Rica as we wound down our time.  For more, please click here.

Winding down time with friends…Two days until their departure…The activities will continue to the last minute…

A cattle egret standing in shallow water in the Crocodile River.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The monitor lizard in our garden came out from her burrow for a refreshing drink of water from the cement pond.

As Tom and Lois’s time here comes to a close on Thursday when they depart to return to the US, we’re packing in every moment with quality time, not only together as friends but also in taking advantage of every opportunity for them to experience more wildlife.

The monitor lizard took off back into the bush.
This afternoon at 1515 hours (3:15 pm) a safari vehicle will arrive to pick us up for an evening at Kruger National Park which includes an afternoon game drive, a bush braai (dinner out in the open in the park in the dark), followed by another game drive in the dark.

Elephant we spotted close to the fence between Marloth and Kruger Parks.

With a spotlight to help us see, we’ll have an opportunity to see those special nocturnal animals that are elusive during daylight hours including many of which are never seen during daylight.

The sausage tree at the hippo pool and bird blind is bursting with these giant pods which will eventually bloom into bright red flowers.  From this site: “The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.”

We may have safari luck or we may not but in either case, it will be fun to dine in the bush, an experience we had a few times when we were here five years ago. 

Both Toms splurging on strawberry milkshakes at Aamazing (spelling is correct) River View restaurant when we took a break from our usual drive in Marloth to stop for cool drinks.

Those five-year-ago exceptional occasions were hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we cannot expect to match in elegance tonight although based on very positive reviews we’re anticipating a wonderful experience. For details and amazing photos for our former Valentine’s Day bush braai may be found here at this link.

Lois, the two Toms and I had a great break in the action.

Of course, tomorrow, we’ll post photos of tonight’s bush braai and game drives, hoping to share some unique wildlife sightings.  Tonight’s event is hosted by another company, Royal Safari Bush Braai dinner since Louise and Danie no longer conduct these events in Kruger.  

A warthog stops for a sip.

The ease in booking with Royal Safari Bush Braai makes us feel confident this will be an excellent experience for the four of us and any other participants who will also be included.  

A female bushbuck standing in the water on the Crocodile River in Kruger.

Last night we returned to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant for Crocodile River viewing and dinner.  Ordering off the menu wasn’t nearly as good as Thursday night’s buffet dinner. There’s wasn’t much in the way of wildlife viewing but we took many photos of a stunning sunset (photos to follow soon).

Cape buffalo aren’t the most handsome of wildlife but we’re always thrilled to see them.  They are one of the Big Five.

Back at the house early, we prepared the veranda for our usual nighttime viewing but had missed the primetime viewing which is usually before and after dusk.

Two male cape buffalos on the river’s edge.

This morning was quite a treat when 15 kudus stopped by including one “Big Daddy,” four warthogs including “Little and the Girls”, a plethora of helmeted guineafowl and of course, Frank and the Mrs. who’ve yet to produce any chicks.

As I write here now, Vusi and Zef are here cleaning the house and the veranda.  Its been fantastic to have the two of them coming in each day and eliminating the massive amounts of dust that enters the house from the action in the dirt garden when the animals come to call.

Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by.  She puts the pellets on the veranda’s edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.

For the next few hours, we’ll relax on the veranda until it’s time to head out for our exciting upcoming afternoon and evening.

Be well.  Be happy.  

_________________________________________


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

On Saturday night, after dinner, in Managua, Nicaragua, we wandered through the pool area of our hotel.  For food photos from the dinner, please click here.

An outstanding 24-hour period we’ll always remember…

 
This morning, we made this video of 17 kudus in the garden.  Astounding!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
We spotted two rangers on the road with rifles.  We wondered what that was about.  Any comments?

Yesterday was quite a day!  With many of the holidaymakers leaving on Sunday due to the end of the school holiday, the wildlife literally came out from hiding in the parklands.

This morning’s 17 kudus in the garden.  See the above video for details.

Not only did we have visitors from early morning well into the evening, at dusk last night spotted three giraffes in the side yard, after hearing the sounds of branches breaking as they made their way through the bush. When we saw the heads of the giraffes through the dense bush, we took off on foot to check it out.

The kudu standing at the edge of the veranda is the same female that always licks my foot when she approaches.  I can identify her with a little oval notch in her right ear.

We found what appeared to be a mom, dad, and one youngster, most likely around eight or nine months old.  We followed them through the neighbor’s garden (no one was there) and out to the parklands where we stopped to take photos while they were grazing.

Wildebeest Willie and friends stopped by again last night.

The parents didn’t look happy to see us although we were back by at least 10 meters, so we backed off further giving them even more space.  It was getting late and visibility was poor from such a distance as we stayed out of sight as much as possible, taking the few photos as shown here today.

Although not all shown in this photo, for the first time, we had six bushbucks in the garden at one time.

Soon, we were back on the veranda, ready for the evening’s activities all of which couldn’t have been more pleasing.  They came and came and came, one species after another, often sharing the space with several other species, seem to all be getting along.

Last night, we saw giraffes coming through the parklands next to us.  On foot, we rushed to see them up close to take photos.  But, dad wasn’t too happy with us with his young calf nearby.  We carefully backed away.

It’s not unusual to see some head-butting among same species, let alone among two or more species when pellets are offered.  Overall, the most aggression we’ve seen is in warthogs amongst themselves.  After all, they are “pigs,” right?

This may have been the young giraffe’s mom who hovered nearby.

Yesterday afternoon, we embarked on our usual drive in the park and although not effected by the number of tourists in Marloth Park, we saw the most amazing scenes to date on the Crocodile River, photos of which will follow over the next few days.

We knew better than to get too close.

Was all of this “safari luck” or simply a case of the fact that there were fewer people in the park, resulting in more and more wildlife coming out of hiding to wander from bush house to bush house?  We can’t help but assume it was due to fewer cars and fewer people around disturbing the peaceful flow of life in the bush.

It was nearly dark when they visited.

The quiet has resumed.  We don’t hear cars passing on the road very often.  The tar road is quiet and unencumbered and, fewer animals will be killed by speeding motorists.  How long this quiet lasts is unpredictable.  More tourists will be arriving over this next month for the summer school holidays in Europe and other parts of the world.

The young giraffe was preoccupied munching on leaves in the bush.

But, for now, we’re reveling in the quietude precipitating the return of the wildlife to our garden.  It couldn’t be more heavenly.  Even the birds seem happier, singing their tunes and dining on seeds from our birdfeeder.
For today?  We may stay put and catch up on some much needed research to begin filling gaps in our itinerary over the next few years. There’s never a time that we can totally sit back knowing everything we need to plan is in place.

A young zebra in the garden of a house on the river road.

Weather permitting, tomorrow, we’ll head to Kruger for the day.  If so, we’ll post a notice as to when we expect to have the day’s post uploaded, unless I get ambitious enough today to work on tomorrow’s post this afternoon.

This must have been the above baby’s mom resting nearby.

Of course, that’s subject to how many delightful distractions present themselves throughout the day.  We’ll play it by ear, as they say.

Have a pleasant day filled with wonderful surprises.

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2017:

Surprisingly, there are some birds in the desert during the scorching heat of the summer months in Nevada78.  For more photos, please click here.

Two lions sighted on our street last night!…Zebras and kudus stampeding in the driveway!..Video…

We always attempt to zoom in efficiently enough to leave out the fence.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This happened so quickly that we only got the last few seconds of what appeared to be a stampede by zebras and kudus in our driveway.  Stunning, today on the 4th of July!

This morning our dear friend and property manager Louise, sent out this message warning of two lions sighted late last night.  Thanks, Louise for always being on the ball on these important updates.

PREDATOR WARNING:
Good morning. 2 Lions spotted late last night in the area of Swartwitpens, Hartbees, Pappegaai, Woodpecker, and Butterfly. Please take caution as they still might be in the area. Thank you.







We hadn’t heard any more details about the lioness that had entered Marloth Park a few weeks ago prompting everyone to believe she may have returned to Kruger National Park.

We spotted these elephants from Marloth Park across the Crocodile River a few days ago.

There’s no word yet on the gender of these two lions but surely in the next few days, something will be posted on the Marloth Park Sightings on Facebook.  We’ll keep an eye out for updates.

Last night, we didn’t take any photos when I was busy on Skype speaking to son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille and our three grandchildren, Maisie, Miles, and Madighan. 

This parade of elephants consisted of more than 30.

They were camping about an hour outside of Minneapolis and it was fun when Miles carried the phone around to show us photos of their new fifth wheel camper.  In return, I showed Madighan the bushbabies by turning around my computer while she squealed with delight over how cute they are.  Maisie had an opportunity to see a few warthogs in the yard including Little Wart Face. 

It’s not easy taking photos through the narrow electrified fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Having face-time with family is especially fun although due to the big time difference we don’t always have the opportunity to do so.  Its hard to believe that in a mere nine months, in April, we’ll be back in Minnesota to see everyone. 

We got out of the car and moved as close to the fence as possible to get these shots.  In Kruger, exiting a vehicle is strictly forbidden.

This visit won’t be as long as last summer’s six-week stay with only 17 days in Minnesota but we’ll focus on spending quality time with both sides of the family as we did last year.  However, we plan to return in September 2020 which is 16 months later.

In between all of these dates, we have so much planned all the way into 2021, along with gaps we’ll fill during the next year.  To see our most recent itinerary, please click here.  The itinerary is perpetually evolving as we acquire interest and enthusiasm for new and different locations.

Such mysterious and fascinating animals.

Once we’ve upload today’s post we’ll be heading out for our usual drive in the park but this time with eyes focused on spotting two lions and the eight ostrich chicks seen with mom and dad on a nearby dirt road.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t stop to take photos of other wildlife we discover along the way.

As for today, the US holiday, Independence Day, the 4th of July, as mentioned in a prior post, we’re attending a holiday celebration here in the bush at friends Kathy and Don’s home beginning at 17 hours, (5:00 pm). 

The caring these animals feel for one another is always obvious when viewing them in the wild.

Tom’s busy reading up on facts about Independence Day since Don, as always, will have a relevant quiz.  Tom won last time (at their Easter party).  We’ll see how it goes tonight.

May all of our American family and friends in the US and living in other countries have a safe and meaningful Independence Day.  Our patriotism and devotion to our country and to each other is vital to our freedom, our prosperity and to everlasting peace.

_____________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 4, 2017:

With the bright sun behind us, this photo didn’t come out too well plus our plates of food look twice as big as they actually were.  For more details, please click here.

OMG!…It doesn’t get any better than this!…Quite a “Sighting of the Day in the Bush!”…

Soon, there were nine until the tenth arrived.  At this point, the three warthogs were on the scene, a mom, an auntie and a tiny baby. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Today’s sighting of the day in the bush couldn’t be more befitting of what life is like in Marloth Park.  Please check out this video when 10 zebras, three warthogs, and two kudus came to call.


There are definitely fewer visitors over the weekends when tourists flock to Marloth Park, staying in holiday homes or one of many lodges in the park.  They too feed the wildlife that visits their surroundings and often with the extra cars and added weekend noise, many of the wildlife take cover and don’t come around as much.

They don’t waste any time letting us know they’d like some pellets.

Usually, by Monday or Tuesday morning, we begin seeing them again.  That’s not to say we don’t have visitors over the weekend, besides the human kind on both Saturday and Sunday.  Many animals visit us on weekends, just not as many as during the weekdays.

We tossed out a few handfuls and they were all over it.

Based on the fact we spend 14 to 15 hours a day on the veranda, less our almost daily drives in the park, visits to Kruger (upcoming again this week), trips into town for shopping and appointments, and time spent socializing, the wildlife have come to realize, we’re an easy mark for pellets, apples, and carrots most of the time.

In a matter of moments, more zebras arrived in the yard.  Check out the young one in the back center of the photo.

On a day like today, we’ll be gone from 12:30 to 7:00 pm, for two planned events, both of which we’ll share with photos in tomorrow’s post. Our dinners are already prepared, ready to be reheated, and by 7:15 this evening we’ll be back on the veranda ready to begin “watching and waiting” once again.

This zebra came up to the veranda, licked my bare toe to let me know she wanted more.  I complied, cutting up several apples for her and the others.

For us, avid wildlife observers and obvious commentators in one form or another, we never seem to become bored with this interminable hobby that is a way of life as we live in what we’ll always refer to as “this magical place.”

Their stiff upright manes are an indicator of good health.

We’d love to hear if any of our readers have been to or heard of such a place anywhere on this earth, where one could live for a few months at a time, socializing with wonderful people and embracing daily life surrounding by visiting wildlife.

There was plenty of kicking taking place as they competed for the pellets and apples.

If you know of such a place, please let us know.  We’ll want to go there!  But, as the well-traveled residents of Marloth Park always say, “There is no place on earth quite like this place.”

The three warthogs held their ground, refusing to let the feisty zebras intimidate them.  Tom made sure to toss plenty of pellets toward them.

Sure, many locations throughout the world offer sightings of bears, moose, antelope, whales, endless varieties of birds, farm animals, and on and on.  But, as we perused this world so far (not even the “tip of the iceberg” so far), we haven’t encountered anything comparable to Marloth Park.

The youngest of the dazzle of zebras (yep, dazzle) got in on the action without hesitation.

In a way, it reminds me of when I was a child and we visited Disneyland, only about 35 minutes (much longer now with more traffic) from where I grew up in Long Beach, California.  There was one exciting moment after another and as a kid, it was easy to feel I’d never get enough.

The cement pond is a favorite spot from which to drink after eating the dry pellets.

And, although this place isn’t “manufactured or artificial” (except for the homes, lodges and few shops) this environment of wildlife was here long before the people.  For me, it feels like Disneyland every day, one wonder after another.

The young zebra rarely moved from the others to allow for a good photo.

For Tom, who’s a little more reserved in his outward display of enthusiasm, he too, is caught up in the wonder of it all, especially when a few days ago, he was responsible for discovering and booking the upcoming cruise back to Africa in November/December 2020.  Click here for the details if you missed the post describing that cruise.

Tom mentioned these three had been by earlier in the morning while I was getting dressed.  I was thrilled to see them return to check out the little one.

Coming back here this time, on February 11, 2018, was a gift from Tom for my 70th birthday on February 20th, knowing how anxious I was to return.  But, now returning again in 2020 is not only for me.  He, too, is fully engaged and loving the life we live here.

Two female kudus came prancing into the yard to check out the activity.  When the zebras wouldn’t allow them in on the pellets they left.  No doubt, they’ll return later.

No, we won’t eventually move here as many have asked.  We have no plans to permanently “live” anywhere.  Nor will we stay so long next time.  We’ll stay the 90 days allowed by a South African visa and be on our way. 

This time, we wanted to see Victoria Falls both sides from Zambia and Zimbabwe; safari in Chobe National Park, the Chobe River and, cruise on the Zambezi River.  Mission accomplished.  

When we book plans for our next 90-day required exit in August, we’ll share all the details at the time of booking and while we’re on that next adventure.  However, we don’t need to travel from Marloth Park, South Africa for an adventure. 

The kudus left deciding a few pellets weren’t worth a kick from a zebra.

We need only open the big wooden doors to our lovely holiday bush home on a morning like this to behold a scene such as this morning’s and, the adventure has just begun.

Thank you to all of our readers for sharing this special time with us. All of you have given us such purpose as we document all of these magical moments.  Without YOU, we may have smiled, laughed and taken a few photos along the way. 

With YOU, it’s immemorial, as we feel dedicated and determined to document this life we lead 365 days a year.

Have a pleasant Monday!

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Photo from one year ago today, June 4, 2017:

As we continued to have quality time in Minnesota with family and friends, we added more photos of Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia.  We didn’t want those we love to feel every get-together was a photo op to be posted online.  For more garden photos, please click here.

Ten species visited us in one day…Check out who came to call….

These two zebra boys have now figured out it’s worth visiting us for some treats.  We can hear the sounds of their hooves coming from the bush.  They don’t like sharing with “Little Wart Face” (shown in the background) and can get very pushy with him and with Frank.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A single damaged feather from a guinea fowl I found on the ground.

The majority of the holidaymakers have left Marloth Park, returning to their homes in South Africa and many other parts of the world.  Often, visitors come to Marloth Park for a mere three to five days.  We can’t imagine how in that short period they can reap the benefits of being in this wonderland.



In three to five days, during the busy holiday season, wildlife may rarely wander into their yard or be seen on the roads.  They could literally come here and only see a few impalas, hornbills and perhaps a kudu or two.
Male impalas showed up which we don’t often see in the yard.
But, nothing compares to the activity residents of the park are experiencing now that the bulk of the tourists have left.  Although this could be disputed and, I assure you it’s a topic of conversation in the bush that wildlife may not wander into the yards of bush houses, when so many humans are around.


Some tourists come to relax and unwind in this calming environment, staying up late on the verandas of their holiday homes, talking loudly, playing loud music and drinking alcohol in excess.  This type of noise is not appealing to the wild animals. 
A forkl of kudus and a herd of impalas.
Other tourists come here to utilize whatever time they may available to glean morsels of heaven found in this veritable paradise for animal lovers, sadly going away with having seen very little.


Even trips into Kruger, as we so well know, can be disappointing.  There’s no guaranty one will see more than impalas and birds in a single day’s visit.  Now that things have settled down here, this week we plan to go back to Kruger to see what we can find.
Several handsome impalas stopped by which we seldom see in our yard.  More often we see them on the sides of the road when driving through the park.
However, there’s no shortage of guaranteed entertainment right here on the veranda in the “Orange…More Than Just a Color” house we’ve rented for an extended period. If South Africa immigration allows, we’ll spend a year here until next February or March.


With the crowds thinned out and perhaps only 700 or so people living in the park right now, the wildlife is literally “pounding at our door” all day and evening.  At times, we can barely keep up feeding them pellets, carrots, apples and any raw vegetable scraps from our daily food prep.
Many helmeted guineafowls have become regular visitors.
Yesterday, in one single day, we had 10 different species visit us, some multiple times, some in different groups as appropriately named in our above photos.  As I busily prepared the food for Louise and Danie joining us for dinner,  I frequently stopped what I was doing to cut up apples and carrots for our animal friends.
We couldn’t believe our day when we had the following wildlife visit us in one day:
1.  Kudu
2.  Bushbuck
3.  Impala
4.  Warthog
5.  Mongoose
6.  Francolin
7.  Helmeted Guineafowl
8.  Zebra
9.  Duiker
10.Bushbabies
Frank our resident francolin doesn’t miss a thing!  Sometimes, he brings his girlfriend but most often he’s alone hanging out with the other animals,  Francolins are territorial and he won’t hesitate to attempt to scare off a warthog or kudu.
The most we’d ever counted, including when we were here four years ago was a total of eight.  Of course, we didn’t include the dozens of birds that flew into the yard throughout the day.  We love all of the birds but mention the guineafowl and Frank (francolin) since they rarely fly, spending their days walking about the bush and our yard.


Last night’s dinner was a big hit.  How could it not be when we were with Louise and Danie?  We so enjoy time spent together and never hesitate to arrange another excellent day or evening in each other’s company.
A band of mongoose comes by almost daily.  We feed them water mixed with raw scrambled eggs  Most likely, due to their presence, we won’t see too many snakes around here. 
The previous night, Sunday, we had a fabulous dinner and evening at Sandra and Paul’s home two doors down the road from us.  The food was superb and the companionship delightful. 


Whew!  Our social life is astounding!  But, as typical here in the park, people come and go.  Our friends Kathy and Don are gone now but should be returning in a few weeks.  Ken and Linda are traveling and should be returning in a few months.  Lynne and Mick won’t return until November.  Janet and Steve have company from the UK but we plan to see them soon.
And…here’s our girls…kudus, of course.
Even Louise and Danie will be gone for a week to visit family in Cape Town beginning on Friday.  But, they’ll be back to continue to handle their very active holiday home rental and house building businesses.  We’ll look forward to their return. 
Each night we put out the little cup of peach flavored yogurt on the stand and the bushbabies appear around 6:15 pm, just after darkness falls.
This doesn’t include all the other fine people we’ve met here who are permanent residents all of whom we look forward to spending time with again soon.  We can’t thank everyone enough to show our appreciation for including us in their busy lives. 


Where in the world is it like this?  The only other place we’ve found so easy to make friends was in Kauai, Hawaii.  Perhaps, someday we’ll return for another visit.
Duikers are extremely shy and seldom come near.
For now, we’re looking at our upcoming itinerary and any modifications we are considering.  Today, we’ll be doing some planning and figuring seeing what are our best options for the future.


Have a great day enjoying your best options.  Back at you soon! 
 ___________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2017:


This was a tile roof we spotted in Fairlight, Australia, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Early morning visitors come by to celebrate our anniversary…Not the humankind…

This enormous male kudu visited last night.  Check out this 
video to appreciate his size.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
This morning’s first-time visitor to the yard, a wildebeest.  Never once, did he look at us or pick up has head for a face photos.  But, we were happy to see him anyway!
No more than minutes after we awoke this morning, on this day of our 23rd wedding anniversary, we had visitors galore.  First, we had a herd of kudu consisting of two males and six females.  Then, shortly afterward, we had another herd stop by consisting of one male and six females.


A short time later, the solitary wildebeest  appeared as shown above in the “Sighting of the Day in the Bush.” Unfortunately, he never looked up at us, keeping his head down during his entire visit of about 10 minutes.  He ate a few pellets and was on his way.


Yesterday, we had no less than a total of five species of visitors in the yard, one batch after another.  Every time we sat down at the table, someone was here, and we jumped up again with camera and pellets in hand. 
There are two types of kudus, the “Lesser” with 4 to 12 white strips running down it’s torso and the “Greater” with 10 stripes running down its torso.  Otherwise, its difficult to tell a difference.  This massive kudu appears to be a “Greater.”
The various species included mongoose, vervet monkey, kudu, warthogs, bushbuck.  It was quite a busy day.  Midday we headed to Komatipoort for a few items including purchasing another huge bag of pellets, 40kg, (88 pounds) at a farm store.  The cost of the huge bag is ZAR 188, (US $15.90), which will last about two to three weeks.


We try not to be gone long when we shop in town, fearful we’ll miss something back at the house.  But, it’s good to be out and about in the town steeping in culture and diversity.  As much as we’d like to take photos of the people, we hesitate to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.


Here we are, white people in a primarily black town, shopping in many of the markets and shops they frequent.  How intrusive it would be for us to be taking photos of its citizens. 
Got milk?  The intense look from a kudu appears to come from interest and curiosity and less from fear or intimidation.
Instead, we comfortably blend in, as we have all over the world instead focusing on our tasks at hand.  Yesterday’s outing included a trip to the Spar Supermarket for a few items, the pharmacy for repellent and saline, the liquor store for Castle beer, a can “huggie” for Tom, along with a few bottles of wine for me.
Then, we headed to the Butchery for chicken breasts and Boerwars, sausages described as follows from this site:
“Boerewors ([ˈbuːrəvors]) a type of sausage which originated in South Africa, is an important part of South African cuisine and is popular across Southern Africa. The name is derived from the Afrikaans words boer (“farmer”) and wors (“sausage”).
Boerewors must contain at least 90 percent meat, and always contain beef, as well as lamb, pork, or a mixture of lamb and pork. The other 10% is made up of spices and other ingredients. Not more than 30% of the meat content may be fat. Boerewors may not contain any “mechanically recovered” meat (meat derived through a process where meat and bone are mechanically separated).”

He meandered through the yard, interested in the pellets but seems more interested in strutting his big “rack” and stature.

As for the beer and wine, some evenings around 5:00 pm, we have “happy hour.”  I usually have a maximum of two small glasses of dry white or red wine and Tom will have a few beers.


By the time we have dinner around 6:30, we no longer imbibe, instead of loading our insulated mugs with iced tea for the remainder of the evening.  This ritual is new for us since I hadn’t consumed any alcohol for over 20 years.


Now, I’ve found, as mentioned before, I can consume a small amount of wine with no ill effects.  Lately, we’re thoroughly enjoying hanging out on the veranda, without our laptops of phones nearby, chatting and watching nature unfold before our eyes.


In an effort to avoid mosquito bites and the fact we aren’t taking malaria pills this time, in these past weeks, we’ve dined indoors.  But now, after dining outdoors (a tradition most locals prefer), when company came for dinner we’ve found the local repellent good enough to keep from getting bit and we’ve been having our dinner outdoors even after dark, loving every moment.

As he walked to the side yard, where he stayed for some time, he seemed relaxed and at ease.

We’ve found we’re more easily adapting this time around than four years ago.  Today, the temperature is expected to be around 100F (38C) and still, we’ll be outdoors all day.  There’s no point in running AC when we prefer to be outside anyway.


Also, we’ve both become even more tolerant of insects and give little thought to them, other than avoiding bees and wasps which we’re both allergic to.  Last night, during the night I awoke to a bug in the bed.  Yep, I turned on the light, waking Tom so I can shoo it away. 


There’s no degree of adaptation that would make a person comfortable with a bug in the bed.  But, I suppose its how one reacts to the inconvenience which determines their degree of adaptability.


Four years ago, we’d seen a larger kudu than this but so far this time, he’s the biggest we’ve spotted.

Tonight, on our 23rd wedding anniversary (we’ve been together almost 27 years), we plan to dine at Ngwenya, a restaurant located about 10 minutes from here that is situated on the Crocodile River with opportunities to see wildlife and stunning sunsets.

After sunset, we’ll dine, surely reveling in how fortunate we’ve been to not only experience the joys of being together all of these years but also these past almost five and a half years of living this dream lifestyle.
We’ll be back with photos from tonight’s visit to Ngwenya, hopefully with many more photos.
Have a blissful day!  
_______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2017:

During the “silent disco” aboard the ship we both had messy hair from taking the headsets on and off throughout the night.  Tom’s was especially messy from sweating.  His shirt was soaked by the end of the evening.  We had a blast.  For more photos, please click here.

Unbelievable sighting in our yard…You must see this!…Look below!…Fabulous evening with friends…

Please take a moment to watch our video of mongoose visitors in our yard last night!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Finally, my favorite, warthogs, stopped by for a lengthy visit.  More on this tomorrow.

I don’t know where to begin first, the outrageous sighting in the yard shortly after our friends arrived for dinner, a stunning sighting for all of us or, the exceptional evening we spent with four of our friends.

Ken, Tom and Don making big faces for the camera!

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!
During the day we had no less than eight visitors all at once from three different species that sent us into a tailspin of pure delight. That event in itself was beyond our wildest dream, this early in our stay. We’ll share those photos tomorrow.
At first, we only saw a few of the mongooses but the rest were on their way into the yard.

We only arrived a week ago today and yet we’ve seen every species that resides in the Conservancy and beginning next week, we’ll head to Kruger National Park hoping to once again see the Big Five; lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhino, and leopard.

Our guests arrived promptly at 6:00 pm and we were ready for our guests.  When we’d made the invitation to the four of them for dinner, we realized we had enough food on hand for the meal without the necessity of heading to the market.

Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus, and the only species in the genus SuricataSuricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English.”

We made the following (all the meats were cooked on the grill):
1.  Pork Chops
2.  Lamb Chops
3.  Boerewors (sausages) – “The many varieties of boerewors include specialties such as garlic wors, kameeldoring (camel thorn), Karoowors (sausage from the Karoo region in South Africa), and spekwors (made with extra cubed pork fat). Other ingredients include cheese and chili peppers.”
4. Cauliflower Mash
5. Pureed Pumpkin
6. Sauteed onions, garlic and portabella mushroom (to top the seasoned meat)
7. Cabbage Salad

Suddenly a baby was on the scene.

We’d purchased beer and wine but they insisted on bringing their own beverages, a tradition when visiting guests in the bush.  We had purchased a lighter red wine for me with less alcohol and tannins which have a tendency to keep me awake at night after a few glasses.  It wasn’t as good as a regular Cabernet or Merlot but I drank it anyway.  Tom had Castle Beer, manufactured in South Africa and a local favorite.

Mongooses love raw eggs.  When we spotted them, Tom ran inside bringing out an 18 pack of fresh eggs.  He laid one on the ground and this is what happened.

Although we’d seen Linda and Ken in Sydney 11 months ago, we hadn’t seen Kathy and Don in four years.  It was Kathy and Don who’d invited us for Christmas Eve when they’d never met us.  We’d met their mutual friends, Lynne and Mick at Jabula Lodge a few days prior to Christmas and they hooked us up.

During the period of time they were in our yard, Tom placed four eggs on the ground for them to quickly fight for and devour.  It was quite a scene.

Lynne and Mick were leaving Marloth for the holidays but wanted to make sure we had something wonderful to do on Christmas Eve.  And indeed we did, spending the evening at Kathy and Don’s beautiful bush house bordering the Crocodile River.  Here’s the link to that story.

To know that soon we’ll all be together again (also with other dear friends) at my birthday party in two days fills my heart with so much joy and love.  How did we get so lucky? 

Once the rest of them realized we had eggs, they piled atop one another.

The evening flowed with considerable ease when we’d prepared all but the meat in advance.  I heated the side dishes in the microwave and then popped them in the preheated oven.  With the homemade dressing ready to go I tossed the salad. 

“Mongooses live in southern AsiaAfrica, and southern Europe, as well as FijiPuerto Rico, and some in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands, where they are an introduced species. The 34 species range from 24 to 58 cm (9.4 to 22.8 in) in length, excluding the tail. Mongooses range in weight from the common dwarf mongoose, at 320 g (11 oz), to the cat-sized white-tailed mongoose, at 5 kg (11 lb).”

Tom, Don, and Ken fussed over the grill and by 8:00 pm we were all seated at the outdoor table, meats cooked to perfection and we dug in for a hearty meal (minus gluten, grains, starch and sugar).  No one even noticed we didn’t have rice, potatoes or bread. 

The lively conversation continued through the delightful evening.  We all have so much in common in our love for Marloth Park, traveling and being engaged in lively and exciting times at this point in our lives.

In a split second, they were all over the eggs.  See our above video for details.  “Mongooses mostly feed on insectscrabsearthwormslizardsbirds, and rodents. However, they also eat eggs and carrion. The Indian gray mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, particularly cobras. They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom.  However, they typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat.”

So yesterday, enriched by our friend’s visit and the many wildlife “visitors” it was quite a special day.  Enjoy our photos and please take a moment to watch the video.  You won’t be disappointed!

Be well.  Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 18, 2017:

Although overcast in the Huon Valley Tom had a great day fishing and taking photos while boating with Anne and Rob.  For more photos, please click here.