Lions on the loose in Marloth Park…We’re missing the adventure!…Photos…

Two female lions spotted in Marloth Park! (Not our photo).

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”
“Ireland
runs under a democratic nation, and established their present constitution in
1937.”

___________________________________________

There’s no doubt about it…we’re missing the excitement over this past month when several lions were sighted in Marloth Park, walking about the streets in search of food.  Surely, they’ve found plenty in the bountiful wildlife reserve.


It would have been quite an experience to be one of these drivers on the paved Olifant road, when these two females, as shown above, sat leisurely on the side of the road oblivious of the cars stopping to take photos.


There were several occasions in the 15 months we lived in the bush, that lions found a way to get into Marloth Park via an opening in the fence, often dug up by warthogs.  Unfortunately, we never had a chance to see them, although we went out looking for them slowly driving from on dirt road to another.


During those periods we could often hear their roaring at night.  Many of our friends in the park are equally excited now, as they see and hear them.  Of course, we could always hear Daisy and Fluffy the two neutered lions who live in Lionspruit, the reserve within a reserve in Marloth Park.


Lionspruit was the location for many fantastic braais and parties we attended at Frikkee’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and many others.  We were aware of Daisy and Fluffy (male) presence in the area but hardly worried about it.


Now the workers, homeowners, and holidays renters are being warned to exercise the utmost of caution when walking anywhere in the park or even in one’s own garden. As always,  there is an after-dark curfew in place which is difficult to enforce when there are no police in the park.  


Through the hard work of local volunteers, the park is “policed” but they aren’t able to arrest anyone.  The three security companies in the park join in the “policing” but here again have little ability to arrest anyone.


Many may dismiss the fear of lions in the park as being overly cautious.  But, while we were in the park, we did a story with photos of Jonas, a local worker, now 20 years later, a popular builder and friend to the park, who was attacked by a lion in Marloth Park receiving horrific injuries.  


Somehow, Jonas survived to share the story and go on to live a productive life.  If you’d like to read the story of Jonas and see photos of his scars from the attack, please click here.


Here’s our photo of Jonas when he and Danie came to visit us so we could share his story along with photos:

Jonas has scars all over his body from the attack from 20 years ago when he was a young man, riding his bike at night in the dark.

Jonas speaks little English but speaks Afrikaans and Danie translated to English for our benefit on that memorable day.  He was so kind to have taken the time to meet with us and retell his shocking story of living to survive a lion attack.  We posted the story on March 11, 2018.


We’re hoping no one will be foolhardy and ignore the curfew and stay away from the lions who aren’t hesitant to be present during daytime hours.  When such warnings were out during our lengthy 15 months stay it wasn’t unusual to see children riding bikes and walking alone on the roads.  Who are these people who would be so careless?

We’ll continue to check out what will transpire until the lions are darted and returned to Kruger.  But, at this point, all efforts have been futile.  We miss the park, always will and hope to return someday soon.

Have a safe and fulfilling weekend!
                        ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 6, 2018:

Mom and Dad were obviously very proud of their family.  Ostriches mate for life.  For more photos, please click here.

Wildlife being darted and moved!…What’s going on?…

From a recent visit to the “hippo pool” in the Crocodile River bordering Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Frank and the Mrs. show up every night at dusk in this little garden area where we give them seeds.  Then, they take off for the bush to make “their noise,” a loud earsplitting call that can last several minutes.

It’s Friday morning, hot, humid and dusty.  Tom’s streaming the Minnesota Vikings football game on NFL GamePass while I’m preparing today’s post offline. 

Frank and the Mrs. on the move to get to the little garden area where we give them seeds each night.  They are always together.

The Wi-Fi signal is too weak with all the tourists in the park for him to stream the game while I’m also online.  No matter.  I’m sitting here watching the game with him while multitasking, arranging photos and preparing the text on Word’s offline blog posting page.


Today is a low key day with little to do other than the matters on hand.  No chopping and dicing today.  Tonight we have a reservation for dinner at Jabula which will surely be yet another enjoyable evening. 

As we mentioned in yesterday’s post found here, sometimes just watching and waiting (patience and perseverance) produces great results.  See below the result of doing so when we spotted this giraffe sitting in the bush.

Right now and over the past weeks the “visitors” to our garden are limited; a few bushbucks, lots of helmeted guinea fowl; with an occasional mongoose or two running through the garden.  We can’t wait to see kudus, zebra and warthogs and more during the daylight hours but that won’t be happening for a few more weeks when the school holiday is over.

We’re happy the holiday ends before our friend Lois and Tom arrive on October 9th.  It would be quite a disappointment for them to come all this way to see few if any wildlife in our garden during the days.  The evenings are better.  Last night, Wildebeest Willie, Tusker and Ms. Tusker (mating pair, it seems), Siegfried and Roy (male warthog buddies), Mom and Baby Bushbuck, Mr. Duiker and Frank and the Mrs. made lengthy appearances, thrilled with less competition for food.  They all got along well.
After watching this seated giraffe for quite some time, a monstrous dad, mom and baby appeared.  Please look carefully to spot the baby.  Could the giraffe seated be there young from last season’s birth?

The previous night Siegfried got into a fracas with Tusker resulting in such loud warthog squeals that Martha came running out from her little house, wondering if everything was OK.  A short time later they returned, none the worse for the wear after the noisy fight. 

It’s easy to see how warthogs end up with holes in their faces when they fight for dominance with such vigor; usually over food and “women.”  Aren’t those the same reasons for starting wars?

After watching further this family of five wandered off together into the bush.

In a local news article, we read that a number of animals are being darted and moved into Lionspruit, a game reserve within a game reserve, located right here in Marloth Park.  Lionspruit is the area where we’ve participated in braais, hosted by Louise and Danie, at Frikkie’s Dam. 

It’s amazing to see how quickly the ostrich chicks are growing.

There are two lions in Lionspruit, Dezi and Fluffy (female and male) who will be happy to see the influx of more possible food for them.  There are adequate food sources for them in Lionspruit but this choice made by locals rangers and veterinarians who will oversee the operation, will add to their fodder.

This option, although daunting, is better than culling when food sources in Marloth Park are dwindling over the years with more and more natural habitat being overrun by the building of bush homes.  Many owners, in defiance of the rules of the municipality, grow grass and plant invasive alien plants which they ultimately enclose in fences. 

They seem to enjoy hanging out with their siblings but once grown they’ll be off on their own to start their own families.

This severely reduces the vegetation coverage from which animals can graze.  We often wonder what the status of Marloth Park will be in 10 to 20 years.  This reality is relevant all over the world when natural habitat is destroyed by human intervention.  It’s a sad situation as we see more and more wildlife becoming extinct.

Apparently, 10 kudus, five zebras, five wildebeest and two giraffes will be relocated, of course keeping the dependent youngsters intact with their parents.  See the information we read on Facebook concerning the move.

Mom and Dad keep a watchful eye to ensure the safety of their chicks.
“The Marloth Wildlife Fund has been in contact with Wildlife Veterinary Services who have proposed a wonderful opportunity to move some of the excess game from Marloth Park to Lionspruit as part of their veterinary training courses. Qualified vets will, for the period of a week, commencing on Monday 1 October, be available to dart and move animals free of charge.

 As no firearms are permitted to be used in Marloth Park, this is an ideal solution to the excess population of wildlife in Marloth Park which are devastating the natural environment.

The population of animals in Lionspruit is at an all time low, and the environment can accommodate more animals. The gene pool of different species is very low in Lionspruit, which, if more animals are not introduced could result in inter breeding and the mutations that result will cause deformities, brain damage etc.

The Marloth Wildlife Fund is concerned about the welfare of the animals, and wants to ensure that they live as natural an existence as possible, have the correct nutrition and build up a healthy population.

This initiative has been approved by the Municipality and we have received the full support of MPPOA, MPRA and the Honorary Rangers.
We appeal to property owners and members of the public not to interfere with the Vets who will be undertaking this task in the coming week.”

 

We wonder if any of those being moved are part of the many that visit us regularly.  We’ll have no way of knowing if they’ve been moved, injured or passed away from other causes.  But, I assure you, we’ll be waiting to see Wildebeest Willie in the garden, hoping he’s not in the lot that is going to be moved.

More beautiful impalas as mentioned in yesterday’s post here.

Many homeowners are upset by this decision but culling is surely a less appealing option.  At least those who are moved have a chance of a good remaining life if they can avoid being captured by Dezi or Fluffy. 

As mentioned above there are dwindling numbers of animals in Lionspruit. We’ll be paying close attention as to the results of darting and moving the wildlife and subsequently the long-term residual effect.
That’s it for today, folks.  Have a fantastic day!

                    ___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2017:

Long view of the altar at San Rafael in Atenas, Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

We’re busy figuring out our next move…Lots to consider…Another record-breaker in the bush…

A record-breaking 20 kudus visited all at once.  Watch this short video to see all the fun!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Lots of kudus by the steps to the veranda.

The past few days since we returned from Zambia and Botswana have been a blur with social activities and major animals sightings, all the while dealing with our emotions about having to leave South Africa on November 21, 2018, as opposed to our planned February exit to head to Kenya for the upcoming photographic safari tour.

One of the main reasons we’ve planned our upcoming travels years in advance has been to avoid the very situation we’re in now…trying to find where to go, where to live and how to get there with very little advance notice.  After all, we have to be out of here in exactly 86 days, hardy enough time to plan a 90-day trip meeting our criteria.

A giraffe stopped by the picnic site at Frikkies Dam in Lionspruit 
during yesterday’s braai.

Our readers can surely relate to this when you realize how much work and effort it takes, even if working with a travel agent, to plan all the details for even a two-week long holiday outside of your home country.


As a matter of fact, traveling in one’s own country, figuring out where to stay, what to do, and transportation for 90-days is a daunting task.  Over the past four days, we’ve spent all of our free time searching for options. 

Since there are two lions in Lionspruit there a fence around the braai area.  As a result, I had to slip through the slats in the fence to take these giraffe photos.

We keep running into obstacles, the first being, we aren’t interested in traveling to any country that doesn’t allow for a 90-day visa upon entry.  Why would we put ourselves in such a position of having to deal with immigration every 30 days?  We wouldn’t.

We use this online guide we’ve used since the onset of our travels but always conduct further research for any recent updates and changes for any countries we may be interested in visiting.  This particular form was updated as recently as July 2018.

It was Matthew’s 16th birthday (the young man in blue and white shirt) and everyone sang the song, ate cake and wished him well.  He is the son of JJ (in the green shirt behind him) and Flo (not shown in this photo.  Louise and Danie are shown as well.

As we conduct the research, we eliminate one country after another.  We found a house in Namibia that particularly appealed to us.  It showed on the popular holiday home website, HomeAway.com, as being available for our dates.

I contacted the owner asking about the Wi-Fi situation only to discover the house wasn’t available for our dates since they will be living in the property during that period. 

Another outstanding early morning today. This time another record-breaking kudu gathering in our garden, 20 of the magnificent beasts including a few males (whom we call Big Daddy)and many females and their young.

However, they’d made no note or indication on the property listing that it wasn’t available during our dates. It took several email messages over two days to find this out, leaving us frustrated and disappointed when this had appeared to be a great option with Namibia’s 90-day visa policy for citizens with US passports.

Back to the drawing board.  In short order, we gave up on Namibia.  With a low population and little tourism, the holidays homes limited and/or too expensive.  Also, as indicated on the HomeAway and other holiday home sites, there was only 5% to 10% of the available inventory available for our dates.

How exciting to see so many of these exquisite antelope, popular among locals and tourists in Marloth Park.

This is why, dear world travelers, booking well in advance makes all the sense in the world.  This is why, dear readers, that we’ve chosen to book venues one to two years in advance.  We’ve often been asked why we book so far in advance and this particular situation explains it all.  There’s simply not much available last-minute, nor are there any better “deals” to be had last-minute under most circumstances.

So the search continues and will continue until we’ve firmed up our plans, paid the deposits and booked transportation as to where we’ll be going for the 90 day period.  We’ll post our decision here once we’ve wrapped it up.  In the interim, we’ll make every effort to keep our frustrations under wraps including in discussing it here.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Wildebeest Willie also got in on the action along with dozens of helmeted guinea fowl.

Yesterday, we had a nice break from this topic when we joined Louise and Danie and their wonderful friends for a braai at Frikkies Dam inside Lionspruit Game Reserve which is located inside Marloth Park.  We’d participated in such a party a few months ago and then, too, had a wonderful time.

South Africans like their food and drink so all flowed with fervors as a few different braais resulted in some seriously fine smells and subsequent tastes when everyone shared a little of this and that.  As mentioned we’d prepared our usual crust-less egg, cheese, mushroom, onion, and sausage quiche and it was devoured along with the other delicious items.

We picked up the new little rental car on Thursday when we arrived in Nelspruit.

We were back “home” by 1640 hours (4:40 pm) and couldn’t wait to set up the veranda for the upcoming evening’s activities in the bush.  Who would stop by to see us this time?  No matter than a few minutes after we arrived, the visitors came, some hiding in the bush waiting for us to return. 

Oh, good grief this is beyond description!  I want more, more, more!

May everything you want more of, come your way!

____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, August 27, 2017:
Due to a Wi-Fi and power outage on this date one year ago, we were unable to post anything but a short blurb describing our plight.  As a result, we had no photo on this date.

Friendly South African braai in the wild among new friends and the beasts…Frikkie’s Dam, Lionspruit…

Such a funny thing (to us anyway), an oxpecker on this giraffe’s nose.

We were so close to this giraffe it was easy to get this photo.
 
 
After exiting Lionspruit, we spotted this giraffe on the opposite side of the fence.  We noticed an oxpecker on his nose.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
A Vervet monkey in a tree in the yard.

How do we begin to tell the story of friendship and hospitality that surrounds us in South Africa…in Marloth Park?  Sure, we’ve met wonderful people all over the world, on cruises, during tours, and in neighborhoods, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch over these past years, many who’ve become lifelong friends.

The somewhat enclosed braai area offered a barrier between us and the lions in Lionspruit.

We never take for granted the opportunity to meet new people and to build new relationships.  No doubt, such friendships take time to cultivate and when we have time in a location, we relish in these relationships as they mature.

It was a perfect day to be outdoors, not too hot, not too cool.

Some relationships are with couples we meet along the way and others are individuals with whom we find a special affinity when meeting one-on-one or in a group. Such was the case on Sunday when Louise and Danie included us in their “inner circle” (my words, not theirs) of people they’ve come to know and love after many years in Marloth Park.

The covered veranda at Frikkie’s Dam provides shelter in the event of rain.

The commonality they share, as Danie described only this morning when he and Louise stopped by, is their “lack of baggage,” the kind that may make some people judgmental, critical or of a less than warm demeanor and personality. 

From left to right;  Danie, Alison, and Dean posed for a photo.  Everyone works tirelessly and unselfishly for the preservation of Marloth Park.

Over time, this group was “hand-picked” for the special qualities they each possess in their own unique way.  What intrigued us the most was how different each individual is, bringing a wealth of great experiences, education, and backgrounds.

From left to right, Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

Many countries are represented in this group of friends…many cultures, many varying walks of life.  But, the one passion they each share is their passion and love for Marloth Park and their determination and dedication in contributing, however big or small, in maintaining the integrity that so well defines this magical place.

Andre, Cor and Tom.

It’s not that other locals are excluded from this group.  It was by happenstance that over time, they all came together, as friends and…ultimately as “family” when many of their own family members are so far away.

Andre was one of the first residents of Marloth Park in the 1970’s.  He and Cor, to his right, are great friends. Michel is to the left.

To be included means a lot to us as it has been with all of our friends here in Marloth Park.  We don’t have South African roots, heritage, and culture in our repertoire of world experiences as many of them do.  Even those from far away places have been here long enough to have wound their lives, their existence around a lifestyle and persona that is unique unto itself, unlike any we’ve encountered in these past years of world travel.

Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

They have so much history together entwined in endless stories that made us both realize, should we have the opportunity to be with them again, that in time we’ll collectively build our own stories, our own memories and our own level of inclusiveness that is found in a friendly mélange of locals sharing their lives, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.

Cora, Matthew, Michel, and Andre.

We apologize if we’ve missed including photos and names of everyone present on Sunday’s braai at Frikkie’s Dam.  Hopefully, next time, we won’t be so preoccupied with the wonder of it all, failing to include everyone in our photos.

We brought a gluten-free quiche to share.  Louise and Danie cooked meats on the open fire and others brought their items.

Again, and we mean again thanks to Louise and Danie, and all of our friends in the bush for making this life truly feel like “home.”  Wherever we may travel in the world, our memories will travel with us…in our hearts, in our minds and in our eternal love of Marloth Park, South Africa.

When we return from Zambia, we’re planning to meet with Andre to write a story of his over 40 years in Marloth Park.  He’s holding a piece of our quiche in his hand.

Happy day to all!

_____________________________________

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

Aboard the ship, I made a new friend, Helen.  She and I decided to visit Lahaina Maui for some “girl time” leaving Tom behind on the ship while we browsed the shops.  It was a great day.  For more details, please click here.

Busy morning…Off to a brunch at Frikkie’s Dam, in Lionspruit in the African bush…

Although they all had their backs to us, we were thrilled to see these elephants through the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

“Have you got one more bite for me?” asks Mr. Kudu as he began to walk away.

 It’s 9:50 am Sunday morning and in 70 minutes we have to be out the door to head to Frikkie’s Dam in Lionspruit for brunch in the bush with Louise, Danie and a group of their friends, most of whom we’ve yet to meet.

I prepared a brunch egg casserole (low carb of course) which goes into the oven in 10 minutes and will bake for about an hour which when done, we’ll tightly wrap in foil and bath towels to keep warm until we arrive at the destination.

Several, were off to the side on their own which may have been part of the herd.

It’s a rare occasion I have only 70 minutes to prepare a post but not knowing what time we’d return I was determined to get it done before we leave at 11:00 am.

There’s never a time we’re not excited to see elephants.

There could have been more time to get things done this morning if I’d dragged myself out of bed a little earlier than 7:30 but after a fitful night, I struggled to get up, showered and dressed for the day.

By the time I entered the kitchen at 8:00, I got busy preparing the dish, chopping and dicing onions, garlic and mushrooms to saute in a buttered skillet. 

There were about a dozen elephants at the Crocodile River from our vantage point.

You know how mornings may go…one getting distracted by a variety of tasks around the house; I washed a small load of laundry, set out dishes and flatware for tonight’s dinner and put away dishes Tom had washed that I’d used in the food prep.

We waited quite a while for this hippo to turn around for a better photo but she/he was busy munching on the grass.

Then, I packed a bag with forks, spatula, paper plates, paper towels, bottled water, etc. that we needed to bring along to serve our solitary dish at the outdoor brunch in Lionspruit, the wildlife conservancy located within the borders of Marloth Park. 

Surely Louise and Danie have been preparing food for hours and yet they just stopped by to drop off a pass for us to use to get into Lionspruit.  They’re always thinking of us.  They didn’t want us to cook anything saying they’d have plenty for us.  But, good grief, I had to contribute something!

The elephant on the left appeared much larger than the other.  She must have been the matriarch.

Then, of course, we had two female kudus stop by distracting me for another 20 minutes or more.  Yesterday, I’d cut up tons of veggies for them and wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to provide them with a nutritious breakfast.  They hung around for another half hour looking wondering if we’d come up with more.

But, I wanted to save some of the veggies for later when we return for the evening while we wait for Scar Face to show up.  We haven’t seen him in two days and we became a little concerned. 

Their peaceful grazing and the way they honor one another is a sight to behold.

Last night at dinner at Jabula with Kathy and Don and their friends Jill and Beau we all discussed the fact that we’d only seen wildlife yesterday morning but none in the afternoon. 

That seems to be the case most weekends when there are more visitors in the park, more traffic and more noise keeping some of the wildlife undercover in the bush.  Maybe we don’t need to worry about Scar Face.

After the drive along the river, we decided to stop by and see the house on Hornbill that we rented four years ago. 

We had an excellent evening at Jabula.  Dawn and Leon, owners and friends of the best restaurant around, always fuss over all of us making the evening extra special.  Of course, the food is consistently exceptional.  Tom had the ribs and chips (fries) and I had grilled chicken breast with creamed spinach (no flour added).  We brought home the bones for Scar Face in a doggie bag. 

Last night, dear friend Don told us his story of spotting a leopard in Marloth Park on his daily walk.  I must admit we were jealous.  That would be quite a sighting!  Perhaps, one day soon we’ll spot it too.

It brought back a lot of wonderful memories of our first time living in the bush.  Now, here at the “Orange…More than Just a Colour” we’re building new memories.

We apologize for today’s less than perfect photos and fast story.  The photos were taken at a distance our camera cannot easily handle nor can I, without the tripod with me.  I guess we should start taking it with us when we go for our almost daily drives in the park.

We’ll be back tomorrow to review the news regarding the earthquakes and erupting Mount Kilauea on the Big Island in Hawaii.  We were there in 2014/2015 when we had the unbelievable opportunity to see lava flowing when our family visited for Christmas.  The lava was flowing toward the town of Pahoa where our holiday rentals were located on the sea.  More on that tomorrow with links and photos from our original story.

Have a peaceful and fulfilling day, dear readers!

_____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2018:


One year ago today, we arrived back in the USA via the Big Island, Hawaii as we continued on the cruise.  For more details, please click here.

Coincidences…Hilarious video interaction…Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve…Busy weekend ahead…

For a good chuckle, watch this video.  At about halfway through
you see a funny interaction with this warthog and mongoose.
 
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

These tusks on this female warthog that visited with babies are the largest we’ve seen since our arrival.

Upon entering Lionspruit, we had to sign a waiver stating, “Entering at our own risk.
Our lives are filled with coincidences, of dates, people, and things.  We’re always amazed as we look back at the year-ago posts how often we encounter patterns of dates and events.  I suppose with the diversity of our experiences, this can happen.

Today is February 23rd which brought to mind the coincidence of the 23rd of the prior several months.  For example on November 23rd, we embarked on the 30-night South America cruise.  On December 23rd, Tom’s birthday, the cruise disembarked in Buenos Aires where we stayed for 31 nights.  Then, on January 23rd, we flew from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina and embarked on the cruise to Antarctica.  These are quite coincidental dates filled with considerable adventure.

Today, we’ve posted a video you must watch if you’d like a chuckle. About halfway through (watch carefully) you’ll see an interaction with a warthog and mongoose that we watched over and over again, laughing each time.

This sign, written in both Afrikaans and English warns visitors about entering.  We had no intentions of getting out of the vehicle at any time.

While filming the video we had no idea this happened.  It wasn’t until we watched the video after uploading it to YouTube we realized this funny split-second-long event.

Yesterday morning Louise and Danie stopped by to leave a “cool box” (cooler) with us and a pass to get into Lionspruit Nature Reserve, contained within sprawling Marloth Park.

With very few visitors, it’s a long day for the guard that manages the gate.

With social events both tonight and tomorrow night where we bring our own beverages, it was thoughtful of them to loan us a cool box for our lengthy stay at “Orange…More Than Just a Color,” the name of this lovely home in the bush. 

Although the house is well-equipped, Louise has rousted up some additional items I needed; sharp knives, measuring spoons and cups (most tourists don’t cook much), mixing bowls and other odds and ends.  Now, we have everything we need.

There were numerous impalas beyond the entrance gate but we didn’t see much as we traveled on the dirt road.

As for the pass to Lionspruit…last time we were here, four years ago, we’d considered visiting this small (compared to Kruger National Park) wildlife reserve but for some reason, never got around to it.  When Louise and Danie offered the pass, we decided to go.

Image result for map lionspruit
Map of Marloth Park and Lionspruit Nature Reserve.

Here’s a map of Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park. Lionspruit is 1500 hectares, equivalent to 3707 acres, or 5.8 square miles.  In comparison, Marloth Park is 3000 hectares, equivalent to 7413 acres, or 11.6 miles


We’d heard the roads inside Lionspruit were uneven with lots of rocks and potholes but thought we should finally give it a try.  If we didn’t find it navigable, we’d turn around and leave.  Not so simple. 

Most of the roads are one-way.  It proved to be like a maze and although we were never lost, we found ourselves in a quagmire of never-ending mud holes, water holes (not knowing how deep they were) and rocky pits and ruts from rain and erosion.


As it turned out, this reserve is not the place for a regular, especially tiny car with small tires, like our rental.  Surely, a four-wheel drive would have been more appropriate.

When we started out the dirt road didn’t look bad but once we were 10 minutes into it, everything changed.  It had rained quite a bit lately.  We probably should have waited for a drier spell to enter Lionspruit.

Once we got going, there was no turning back.  At several points, we certainly anticipated getting stuck in the mud or ruts and having to call for help.  Luckily, I’d brought my phone with the number for Field Security in the park that will come to the rescue in any type of emergency.  We hoped “safari luck”
would prevail and we’d see a lion but instead “safari luck” saved us from getting stuck.


There are only two known lions in Lionspruit but we could have done a number on ourselves, anticipating being stuck and spending the night in there, or in attempting to walk back to the single entrance.  Oh, good grief.  This could have been quite the story for an episode of 48 Hours, Dateline, or other such sensationalized TV programs in the US.

Luckily, we both stayed calm, even when we approached the scary huge water holes in the narrow dirt and rock road.  Although, we both were running the possibility of getting stuck in our minds we avoided mentioning our concerns to one another.

“The southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a hornbill found in southern Africa. Yellow-billed hornbills feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders, and scorpions. This hornbill species is a common and widespread resident of dry thornveld and broad-leafed woodlands. They can often be seen along roads and watercourses.”

Tom, a highly competent driver was a little hesitant at times but maneuvered our way through some of the toughest roads we’ve navigated in our travels.  Each time he made it through another frightening patch, we both sighed in relief.

It was so tense, I failed to take photos of the water and mud holes, which now that its over, I wished I had done.  Just picture a water hole of unknown depth covering an entire dirt roadway…we made our way through many of these.

More impalas tucked away in the bush.

With a manual transmission, Tom used first gear during most of the entire long drive.  It took us two hours to return to the entrance gate, after which we returned the plastic-encased map back to the guard joyfully waving goodbye.

We never spotted either of the two lions in Lionspruit, nor did we see much wildlife, other than a few as shown here today.  We see more wildlife sitting at the big table on the veranda than we did there. 

Impalas are shy and tend to back off from humans.  Plus, they are huge targets for lions, leopards, and hyenas so they’re always on the lookout.

Next week, we’re heading to Kruger National Park (25 minutes to the Crocodile Bridge entrance) on a self-drive on their easy-to-manage paved roads.  In comparison, Kruger is over 2,000,000 hectares, 4,942,108 acres, and 7,722 square miles.  Having visited Kruger many times during our last stay, we’re looking forward to returning.

There are many hornbills in this area.

Tonight at 6:00 pm, we’re off to a musical party at friends Kathy and Don’s home here in Marloth, where Don and Ken (of Linda and Ken) have a performance planned, followed by food, drinks, and most certainly more lively chatter. 

What a fabulous social week for us with more excitement upcoming tomorrow night which we’ll write about tomorrow. 

Have a blissful weekend whatever you may do!

______________________________________


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

Caravans parking in Franklin, Tasmania for summer activities in the Huon Valley.  For more photos, please click here.