Answering the question from readers, “Where should I travel?” Our top 13! Link to our world travel map…

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan after a very long, hot walk. Click here for one of two posts.  This sight made us gasp with our hearts pounding wildly, less from the walk, more from sheer joy!

Frequently, we receive email inquiries from our readers asking for suggestions for the best places to visit in the world based on what we’ve seen to date. 

That’s a tough question to answer.  Its almost as complex as asking a person what they like to read, to eat and what they prefer for recreation.  Its all a matter of personal preference.

Zef, our houseman, held this monstrous insect Tom had fished out of the pool with the net.  Not only did living in Marloth Park include daily visits from big wildlife but also the smaller world of many insect such as this enormous rhino beetle.  For more details, please click here for one of our three months of posts.

Keeping in mind that our primary interests (although we’ve enjoyed many other aspects in the world which we’ll also include here) revolve around observing wildlife, vegetation and naturally created scenery which limits more than half of the popular “places to see” in the world.

With our goal to visit every continent, choosing countries/regions within that continent we strive on making decisions befitting our personal interests.  To date, we visited 49 countries as shown in our map on Travelers Point.  Please click here to see our map.

A container freighter ahead of us in line to enter the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks as we entered the Panama Canal.  See here for one of the posts.

When reviewing our map its clear to see how we’ve yet to visit most of Asia (we’ll be visiting a few Asian countries soon), South America (upcoming in 2017) and Antarctica, upcoming in 2017 or 2018 (cruises yet to be posted).

Sure, we’ve found many big cities interesting, romantic and exciting: Paris, London, Sydney, Vancouver, Barcelona, Dubai, Venice, Marrakesh, Cairo, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Reykjavik, Cork (Ireland) and on and on…too many to list here.

This female lion as all animals in the wild in the Masai Mara, Kenya, is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs.  It was a memorable, life changing experience we’ll always treasure.  See here for more details.

Our readers continue to ask for our favorites and for many of our regular readers you may already be familiar with our preferences. For our less frequent visitors, here are a few suggestions that not only include remote areas of particular interest but also cities/areas we found especially exciting:

1. Marloth Park, South Africa:  Abundant wildlife, friendly people, plenty to see and do, reasonably priced
2. Panama Canal cruise:  Making a transit through the canal is quite an experience.  The cruises include many stops to other interesting countries.
3.  Masai Mara, Kenya:  Photo safari one of the top experiences in our lives; pricey.
4.  Petra, Jordan: Visit the Treasury, one of the most amazing man made structures in the world, breathtaking.  Getting there can be pricey.
5.  The Middle East cruise:  (May not be safe at this time).  Traveling through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal (loved this) and the Gulf of Aden proved to be our most adventurous cruise to date.

After we traveled through the Suez Canal, we entered the dangerous waters of the Gulf of Aden, requiring “pirate drills” and special forces onboard with the “packages” including armory to protect the ship and passengers.  Very exciting.  See the post here.

6.  Venice, Italy:  Amazing, must-see for those who don’t mind “tourist” attractions with huge crowds, long queues, and bumping elbows. 
7.  Mykonos, Greece:  (Sardinia is reputed to be even more exquisite). Mykonos has gorgeous scenery, interesting shopping, great restaurants with many delightful hilly walks.  Expensive.
8. Placencia, Belize (a peninsula):  Our first stay outside the US with a bad start for during the first week in a less desirable house – moved to fabulous property – remote, had an exquisite stay; great people, reasonably priced.  Quiet life with a week or two of sites to see. There are many islands in Belize such as Ambergris Caye that tourists often choose over Placencia.  We prefer more remote locations.  Not recommended for those with precarious health issues when its a rough four hour drive or an infrequent flight on a small plane at a local airport to a hospital in Belize City (city is rough and best to avoid for extended periods). 

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise a the feast before our eyes.  Click here for one of two posts.

9.  Sydney, Australia:  One of the most beautiful cities in the world; expensive, good local transportation, fabulous shopping, hotels and restaurants, lots to see, far to travel from many parts of the world.
10.  New Zealand:  This country has so much to offer one could easily stay busy and in awe for many months touring both the North and South Islands, especially if you enjoy road trips.  For us, staying close to New Plymouth and the alpaca farm has totally fulfilled us, although we plan to do some touring in the near future.  Reasonably priced.


The Harbour Bridge.  Wow!  It was extraordinary.  We look forward to returning to Sydney in 2017 for 40 days to fill a gap in our schedule.  For the link to this post, please click here.

11.  Dubrovnik, Croatia:  The must-see walled city may not require a long stay but a few days to a week could be highly gratifying.  Pricey.
12.  The countryside in France and the UK:  We’ve visited many small villages but will someday return for a more comprehensive tour. Expensive.
13.  Kauai, Hawaii:  Extraordinary island offering the “naturalist” a wide array of sightseeing opportunities, scenery and unique wildlife.  Expensive.



The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.  For more photos of this breathtaking historic city, please click here.

We could go on and on.  We’ve provided a few links in the caption of today’s photos for our visits to these special places. If you’d like to see more photos, please search on the right side of our daily homepage and you’ll find a ‘SEARCH” box directly below the listed archive dates (for more past posts). 

If you’ll type in the name of any of the above cities/countries/locations, you’ll find a list of every post in which we’ve visited these areas.  If you have difficulty with this, please send an email and we’ll be happy to assist in finding the appropriate posts containing many photos.


Not wanted to awaken her/him, I kept my distance although I’d have loved to see more of the rarely seen Hawaiian Monk Sea at the beach at the Napali Coast, Kauai.  Click here for more details.

Actually, it would take writing a comprehensive travel book to describe the details of these experiences and more.  Instead of writing a tedious time consuming book, we’ve chosen to share  our story each day. 

For now, our goal is to assist our inquiring readers on areas they may find suitable for their needs and desires. We hope today’s story helps for those who are considering traveling if possessing some criteria similar to ours.

Have an interesting day whatever you choose to do!

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Photo from one year ago today, February 12, 2015:

A final view of Hanalei Bay before we exited an open house in Kauai.  For photos of the house we toured, please click here.

A compilation of life changing memories…triggered by a stunning documentary…



We took this photo of Mount Kilimanjaro from the window of our tiny plane on our way to the Masai Mara for a photo safari, one of many great experiences in our three years of world travel. 

With no TV and staying “home” on rainy day, its not always easy to entertain ourselves.  Even with the number of books I consume each week from Kindle Unlimited at Amazon for USD $10, FJD $21.46, a month, the all-you-can-read, no-more-than-10-books-at-a-time program, I can only spend so many hours a day reading.

Not one to sit in one spot for hours on end, I find myself busy doing “this and that” when I’m not chopping, dicing or cooking.  With no housecleaning or laundry to tackle, exterior windows to wash or yard to maintain, the days we stay home can easily turn into mindless blur of unimportant trivia. 

With the best of intentions yesterday, I never got around to working on the spreadsheet when more online research for our future foray to the South America distracted me for hours. 

During those periods when our brains are deeply engaged into researching a location for which we’re very passionate, the time flies by.  Before we knew it, 3 pm rolled around. 

We’d planned to watch a documentary we’d recently downloaded, Earth’s Natural Wonders at precisely 3 pm to take a break from the research to become entrenched in one more series that are literally mind blowing in their photography and content.

Most often, we watch David Attenborough’s phenomenal series about life and the mystery of our planet.  With dozens more of his episodes downloaded, we stepped outside the box to check out this other documentary for which we’d recently downloaded two episodes.

In our old lives, we watched similar documentaries from time to time but, not with the fervor we do now.  It was an episode of a Natural Geographic episode that eventually brought us to the Masai Mara and the Serengeti in Kenya to see the Great Migration, of which we only witnessed the tail end, off in our planning by a week. 

We were in awe of this herd of elephants on the road as we drove (self drive) through Kruger National Park.  Seeing animals in the wild has truly changed our lives.

Instead, we spent the most exhilarating days of our lives on photo safari, never for a moment regretting we hadn’t seen more of the Great Migration when nature’s bounty lie before us in the savanna, overlooking the flat topped acacia trees.

As if living in a dream, the Big Five was in our view and in our photos in the first 10 hours riding in the open vehicle with our dear friend and guide, Anderson with whom we’re still in touch with yet today.

As we watched the documentary in high definition scanning the globe, our mouths were agape at how many of the locations and wildlife encounters we’ve had in our travels.

From seeing Mount Kilimanjaro from the scratched window of our tiny plane to the giant herd of elephants we encountered on a self drive through Kruger National Park to another larger herd walking by our open camp at night, while having dinner in the bush, it all remains in our hearts forever.

The series showed the story of the giant California Condors from the egg to fledging the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, bringing to mind our months of taking photos of the growth of the Laysan Albatross in Kauai, an experience we’ll always treasure.

“Pinch me,” I said to Tom as the show ended, who was as equally entranced, “Did we really do all of this?”

He looked at me and smiled that same smile I recall from almost 25 years ago when we first met, “And just think, we’ve only just begun.”

After those few hours of searching (many more hours/days of research to come) for future explorations to Antarctica, the Amazon, the Pantanal, Machu Pichu and more, watching the video further confirmed that this life we’re living is definitely for us.  We long for more and more.

We have no regrets for the many years that came before our travels.  Therein, lies almost a lifetime of experiences and memories.  Leaving that life behind in itself elicits a memory, albeit it painful in some parts, joyful in others. 

How did these two over 60’s individuals, living a relatively “average” life in Minnesota manage to break away from it all as if driven by some unknown force we mutually shared?

To go against everything we knew and loved, to face the dangers and challenges of a life on the move, often to not-so-safe places, still baffles us.  Was it in our DNA generations passed or was the wanderlust embedded in us based on our life experiences in our distant past?  We may never know the answer.

From seeing the newly hatched albatross chicks from the parents sitting on the single egg to them almost ready to fledge by the time we left Kauai after a four month stay, it was an extraordinary experience.

Perhaps, we’ll never need to know the “why” instead focusing on the “how” and the “what” that we continue to find thrilling and exhilarating. 

As we quietly sit here in calm and relatively easy living on a beautiful tropical island, we know more is awaiting us down the road.  After posting the photos of the house in Costa Rica yesterday, we also researched wildlife tours in that country of considerable wildlife and eco diversity.  Surely, we’ll explore while there.

For now, here in peaceful Vanua Levu, Fiji living in a quaint quiet village, with sounds from the rainforest, more than the sights, calling us to alertness many times each day, we easily languish knowing full well what lies ahead.

And most of all, recalling the wonders of these first three years bestowed upon us by good health and good fortune, we continue to feel grateful for every moment of our world travels including these quiet times.

If it all had to end now, we’ve experienced more that we ever dreamed possible, more than we ever expected from our lives, as individuals and as a couple.  For this and more, we are grateful and above all…in awe.

Soon, we’re taking off with Rasnesh, returning with new and fun photos tomorrow!  Please check back.

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Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2014:

We’d made dentist appointments in Maui for teeth cleaning.  But, once we arrived, Tom  felt uncomfortable with the less than professional setup for the dental office.  After asking us to wait for an hour for our two pre-booked appointments, we decided it was an omen that we cancel and find another dentist down the road.  For more details, please click here.

Our new home in Waikiki…Photos…Views…Gruesome photo from one year ago…Life in the wild…

 

Volleyball, sunning and funning on the beach.

The condo in Waikiki, south of Honolulu is small, spotless, and satisfactory for the next 11 nights we’ll spend in Oahu. Based on the price of $2197 for this period and the high cost of hotels in this area, we accepted the fact that this wouldn’t be an upscale rental.

Bride and groom crossing the street on Sunday morning in Waikiki.

When we booked our four vacation homes in Hawaii over the past few years, we realized that we’d need to stay within a tight budget considering our family’s upcoming arrival in December; the cost of their airfare, the two houses, groceries, transportation, and Christmas related expenses.

View from the balcony of the condo.

We decided long ago that if we kept our costs down for these 11 nights, six weeks in Maui, and four months in Kauai, we’d help balance out the high costs for the family get together on the Big Island over the holidays.

Tom is busy in the tiny kitchen making ice tea.
As a result, we won’t whine or complain that this clean, oceanview, one-room tiny space is less than our usual expectations. It has AC, an excellent fan, free high-speed Internet, laundry facilities in the basement, a flat-screen TV and a comfortable bed.
Small bathroom sink.

The lobby and hallways are tidy and well kept. It appears that this building was a hotel many years ago, later converted to a condo complex. Having already met a few permanent residents, they seem happy living here, and for 11 nights, so will we.

Another view of Waikiki beach from the balcony.

Oddly, there are no closets, only a bar, and hangers against a wall in the room. We’ve piled up our clothing on the counters that line two walls with shorts, tee shirts, swimwear, and underwear. Surely, this workaround will be sufficient for this short period of time.

“The unique profile of Diamond Head (Le’ahi) sits prominently near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline. Hawaii’s most recognized landmark
is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views, and military history.”

The bathroom is minuscule with the tiniest sink we’ve ever seen but, the shower is adequate and well stocked with towels, soaps, and basic supplies, all of which will suit our needs.

The Honolulu Zoo is across the street from the condo.  Having spent time in Africa among wild animals in their natural habitat, we’ll never be interested in visiting a zoo.

I doubt we’ll do any cooking here. The kitchen is no more than 3 feet by 3 feet leaving little room for preparing meals of any sort. We’ll dine out when this excellent location offers many restaurants within a 10 or 15-minute walk.

Today, we’ll take a walk on the pier in the right of this scene.

With no sofa or place to sit other than the bed, Tom hauled the patio table and two chairs inside giving us a sense of having a kitchen table where we can work on our laptops and if we choose, eat carryout meals (provided we can find anything that will work for me).

The bed is against the sliding door in the small room.

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, to be posted Monday morning, Tom is happily watching the Minnesota Vikings game to which he subscribes, while I’m content running back and forth to the basement doing laundry. 

Tom is munching on peanuts while watching the Vikings game on his laptop. Notice the piles of clothes on top of the counters and the makeshift closet behind Tom.

The front desk didn’t have enough change for us to wash all of our clothing so we left out the jeans and heavy items for another day after we get to change and more laundry soap.  

Closer view of the pier in Waikiki.

Today, we’ll find a post office to mail back the XComGlobal MiFi which we’ll no longer need to use, and to explore the areas after which we’ll start checking out the area.

Only steps from the beach, we’ll enjoy the time here as we often do, wherever we may be. With easy access to local transportation, getting around will be a breeze.

A park across the street from the condo-hotel.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more photos of Waikiki. Thanks to all of our loyal readers worldwide for hanging in there with us while we were only able to post a few photos each day while cruising. Now back on land with an excellent high-speed signal, we won’t miss a beat.

Happy day to all!

                                              Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2013:

This Crocodile has an Impala he killed in his mouth. We shot this photo one year ago today on Day 2 of our safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. For details and more amazing photos, please click here. 

 

Road trip begins tomorrow monring at 8:00 am…Atlas Mountains…Sahara Desert…Time change in Morocco…No clue…

The pointy-toed shoes remind us of magic carpets and flowing gowns typical of the perception of Morocco which is not too far from reality…minus the flying carpet, of course.

This morning, Samir stopped by to discuss our upcoming trip. As a matter of fact, he asked if we knew there had been a time change by one hour, four days ago. We did not know! We wondered why we were called to dinner at 5:30 last night, an hour earlier than our usual 6:30 PM. We proceed to go to the table on several occasions mentioning how nice it was to eat while it was still so light! Go figure. How would we have known?

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, Adil will come to get us to lead us through the shortcut to Mohamed’s awaiting new white SUV who will be our driver over the next three days as we explore the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert.

These shoes looked comfy in soft leather, particularly the rounded toes styles. I’d certainly buy a pair if I had the room.

For two nights we’ll be staying in two different hotels, at varying elevations in the mountains. Although I have no interest in going to the highest points in the mountains at over 13,000 feet, we’ll certainly be at higher elevations than either of has traveled in many years.

Our hope is that we’ll have no trouble adapting to the elevation. But, “they,” say the elevation randomly has an effect on people, some with little consequence and others who become very ill with AMS (acute mountain sickness) when reaching altitudes above 8000 feet, 2400 meters.

This was the pile of belts from which I selected the black one on the top.  The shop owner installed a buckle that I’d chosen from a bag full of buckles. You’ll see me wearing this belt in future photos. I’ve found that a belt and a little costume jewelry can dress up an otherwise boring outfit.

At this point, with Samir making all the arrangements, we have no clue how high up we’ll be traveling.  Tomorrow, we’ll find out how high up we are able to travel. We’ve decided it we become ill, we’ll immediately return to a lower elevation.
 
This morning, it took me all of 10 minutes to pack with only the necessity to add the toiletries I’ll use in the morning. My current minimal wardrobe makes packing easier than ever for such a short trip. The same goes for Tom who is also down to a skeleton clothing supply.

This style of shoe is commonly worn by the locals, ideal for slippers but, there are very thin for walking any distances.

Getting away for a few days will serve us well, as we’re almost halfway through our time in Morocco, a time in all of our two to three months stays, that we decide its time to getaway. This is no different than the vast population who live in their permanent home most of the year, occasionally deciding to go away for a few days.

Over the past week or so we’ve begun booking flights for our 13 family members meeting us in Hawaii in December in less than eight months. With holiday season airline tickets selling quickly, we’ve worked fast and furiously to lock in the flights. So far, we’ve purchased nine tickets with four more to go. It will be a huge relief to have this part out of the way. 

These colorful bowls are often used for serving food.  One might be concerned about lead content when unsure of the materials used in making these.

Next week, we’ll book our flights to Madeira only a month away and also a rental car for our 75 days on the island. With “island” rates comparable to Hawaii (for which we’ll also book a rental car next week), we’ll pay a premium. The house in the hills of the mountainous island of Madeira would make using taxis impractical and cumbersome. 

Right now, we’re experiencing huge expenses: upcoming flights, cars, rental fees, and our trip away for a few days, all of which add up quickly. No less than three or four times a day, we consult our budget, adding new expenses as they occur, checking, and rechecking. 

Outside the Medina, in the new city, we encountered many ice cream shops. The flavors are appealing to me (viewing purposes only). If Tom were to order some, most likely, he’d choose boring vanilla.

Traveling as we do requires constant diligence in planning and documenting expenses, never for a moment feeling we don’t have a handle on our current financial situation. This is not unlike those budget-minded individuals, that may be in the minority, that keep track of expenses in their daily lives.

These creamy swirls made my mouth water.  Tom reminds me that I’m a food voyeur.

Honestly, in our old lives, I didn’t keep track of our day to day expenses on a separate spreadsheet, documenting every dollar spent in every category. I’d set up our bank account to record expenses but not to the finite detail we do now. 

Although, at many times in our old lives, I’d promised myself I would create a budget and stick to it. Ha! How many of us have thought about doing that? Many. How many have actually done it? Few. Very few.

Back at the Medina, we made our way to the souks for our return walk. 

We usually upload a post by noon, our time here in Morocco which may reach you in the morning, depending on your current location. While we’re away, you should be able to see a post by Thursday evening.

In the event there is no post on Thursday, please understand that it may be due to a poor or non-existent WiFi signal at the hotel. We’ve been told the signal will be fine but as we know from experience, it may not be able to upload our site with photos. Even in the remote Maasai Mara while on safari all day we were able to post with photos in the evening.

Hopefully, we’ll “see” you tomorrow!  Until then…
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Photo from one year ago, April 9, 2013:

No photos were posted from one year ago today, April 9, 2013, our travel day from Belize to the cruise ship. Instead, we’re posting a photo from March 8, 2013, which we’d yet to repost. 

Gosh, we were tan! Now, we’re pasty white without a single sunning day in months. This photo is from March 8, 2013, when we’d been in Placencia, Belize for over a month, after spending one hour in the warmth of the sun each day.  For details of that date, please click here.

 

Goodbye Kenya…We’ll remember you always…A few favorite photos…

 

Tom took this photo in the Masai Mara using the little Samsung camera. Wow!

It’s almost 10:00 am Friday. In a few minutes Tom will go with Alfred, the best taxi driver in Diani Beach,  Kenya (click here for Alfred’s email), to the ATM and to drop off the remaining empty water bottles for the refunds at Nakumatt.

We were so close.

The refund on the bottles is KES $1000, US $11.50 (the value of the US dollar declined $.28 since we arrived in Kenya three months ago). With the three jugs, we’ll receive KES $3000, US $34.50 back.

After an exhausting day in the bush, this older elephant was tired of holding up his trunk. So, he tossed it over a tusk to lighten his load.  Sounds like us, attempting to lighten our load.

The packing is almost completed except for the shorts and tee shirts we’re wearing today and the BugsAway clothing we’ll wear tonight for dinner at Nomad’s, our choice for our final night in Kenya. A driver from Nomad will pick us up at 7:00 pm for a leisurely dinner at their oceanfront restaurant. 

“OK, I’ll pose for you!”

Once we return, we’ll pack the clothing we wore to dinner, check our email, and go to bed, hopefully getting a good night’s sleep.

“It’s a birdie day!”

Today, we’ll say goodbye to Hesborn, our houseman for the past three months, Jeremiah, our security guard, and of course, our gracious hosts, Hans and Jeri. Then, of course, our borrowed pups, Jessie and Gucci, who will each get a hug as they offer up a round of “snappy kisses.”   

This cub was at one of the ends of a culvert under the road.  When she got tired of our photo taking, she got up, walked across the road, and re-entered at the other side. What a site!

It hasn’t been easy for us here. Nor was it easy in the heat of summer with the awful biting flies and bees in the mountains of Tuscany, Italy either. But, Tuscany certainly served as preparation for our more trying time in Kenya. How we’ve changed.

Lions in the Masai Mara seldom climb trees.  Anderson spotted this cub and raced across the bush to get as close as possible.  The mother lion and more cubs we lying under this tree.

Had we known how trying it would be, would we have done it differently?  Perhaps. But, we still would have done it. Nothing, and I mean, nothing, will ever match the experience in the Masai Mara on safari or even our three-day experience with the monkey and the snakes at the seaside resort. That is what brought us to Kenya in the first place, the hope of seeing the Great Migration. 

This lion was sleepy after his big zebra meal (behind him).

Not having seen the Great Migration was incidental to the life-changing adventure we had in its place. At this point, we have no need to see it in the future. When Anderson, our guide, took us to the border of Kenya/Tanzania to see the end of the Great Migration, the flies were so bad that we had to cover our eyes, mouths, and faces. You know how I feel about flies.

Only once for a period of 30 minutes, did we have an opportunity to watch the antics of the Colobus monkeys. Many people living in Kenya have never seen a Colobus.  Getting this shot made me want to swing from trees.

And now, we move on to more heat in South Africa (where it will be summer soon), with more bugs (wildlife results in more bugs), and a new sense of caution for the wild animals in our midst at every turn. Tougher now, we aren’t afraid. Instead, we’re mindful and cautious, and, more than anything we’re excited and curious.

Within minutes of entering our ocean cottage at The Sands Resort for our anniversary, holiday, this monkey was peering into the window wondering what we were going to do with our complimentary fruit plate. Many guests feed them putting them on alert each time a new guest arrives. We didn’t feed them.  This photo was taken through the glass window.

Earlier in a post, I’ mentioned that we’d share our total costs for our three months in Kenya. This total includes every possible expense: rent, food, transportation, entertainment, safari, resort stay, taxes and tips, fees and airfare, and overweight baggage fees to travel here. Every expense, however small, was included, such as a KES $260.85, US $3.00 trip to the produce stand, a beverage purchased at the airport, a tip handed to a bellman.

This photo was also taken through the glass (notice reflections) as this young mom came by hoping for some tidbits for her babies.

Our grand total for living expenses for the three months in Kenya was KES $1,388,746, US $15,971.78 which averages to KES $462,916, US $5323.93 per month. We are very pleased with these numbers, especially when it includes the high cost of the safari, our anniversary holiday, and the frequency of dining out.

This winking chameleon made us laugh, especially his funny little mouth.  He appears to be made of quality beadwork. We met him at the Snake Show at the resort. Tom is holding him.

Goodbye, Kenya. Thank you for your friendly people, for your exquisite vegetation, your breathtaking scenery, and for the wildlife that freely exists in your natural environment which your citizens so adamantly protect with grace and reverence. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms, as you proudly release us to send us on our way.

Romantic Lion Couple Mating Ritual…MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN…

It was a perfect morning. The Romantic Lion Couple appeared casual and at ease under the shade of this tree. But, the air was filled with passionate tension.

Billows of fluffy clouds scattered the ocean blue sky. The air was fresh and cool washing a chill over us as we wriggled our butts in the vehicle into in our usual blanket-covered seats with cushy down pillows for back support. 
Dozing off and on, they both were oblivious to us such a short distance away.
Bundled in our parkas, hats on our heads, we were all raring to go. The bush breakfast behind us, our bellies full, “the tire pressure was checked” and a slight buzz of caffeine permeated our eager brains, anxious for another treasure in the bush. 
The female, occasionally opened an eye, checking out his next move.
It didn’t take Anderson long to fulfill our hopes of more wonders, as he suddenly stopped the Land Cruiser with a slight jolt, quickly grabbing his powerful binoculars. Quiet and intense, he searched the horizon, seconds later saying, “We’re on the move!” 
 Although he appeared relaxed, he was well aware of the task at hand, politely awaiting the perfect opportunity.
Minutes later parked 25 feet from this tree, we practically held our breath to remain quiet, keeping our hands and cameras inside the Land Cruiser, willing to wait however long it took for the events to unfold. 

“She likes me.  She really likes me!”  He looked at us as if seeking approval to move along.
There were two or three other safari vehicles for Anderson to maneuver around to get as close as possible. His ability to graciously position us to the best vantage point always pleased us. Once again, we expressed our gratitude to him, this time in whispered tones.
“I think it’s time to get this show on the road!”
Determined to eventually continue on to Tanzania (me, the most excited about that prospect), seeing these two lions gave me a sense that if we would choose to watch this all day, I’d willingly forego Tanzania. 
To be witness to the beauty of procreation in the wild with the majestic lions was not to be missed. Nothing could drag us away.
 Actively engaged in mating before our eyes.
One might assume that to observe this fact of life in the flesh was based on our own voyeurism. Not the case. We watched this event with the same enthusiasm and interest we’d felt watching the hunt, the lion in the tree, the lion family living in the culvert, the elusive rhinos, and more.
I must admit, we all made a few rather hilarious comments in whispered tones as the activities unfolded, none of which will be shared here. We are human after all. David was videotaping while Tom particularly launched a few hilarious zingers which now were on David’s video to later be removed (or not). 
Afterward, he moved back to the tree in his usual spot, perhaps contemplating his next move.

We all had to cover our mouths with our hands to muffle our laughter. Anderson laughed along with us, although most assuredly, he’d heard such comments in the past.

Settling in for what could prove to be a long wait, once again we all became quiet and entranced in the beauty of nature, our environment, the gift of the opportunity to see such life, and death, around us over these few days. 
 He went back for another round while she quietly cooperated.  Anderson explained this process could go on for hours. We’d anticipated he might bite her, growl, or be aggressive in some manner. But, he quietly and gently pursued her, an exquisite sight to behold. We decided to move along to leave to Romantic Lion couple with privacy and for us to continue with our plans to drive to the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
We were pleasantly surprised when The Romantic Lion Couple wasted no time in giving us exactly what we’d hoped to see, as evidenced in these photos, Mother Nature at her finest, creating life.  
Their tree on the left, we drove away, with those same smiles on our faces knowing that for some magical reason, we had a safari that couldn’t have been more perfect, more fulfilling, more life-changing than the 21 1/2 hours we spent with Anderson in that sturdy Land Cruiser, bouncing too high heaven, feeling lucky, so lucky!
After 40 minutes, we were all ready to move on. Tanzania here we come, flies and all (story and photos shown in yesterday’s post on October 14, 2013).
And we’re still not done…

 

Tanzania…To see the tail end of the Great Migration…

 

It was difficult to fathom the massive size of this older male elephant we encountered as we began the drive to Tanzania
Later, we came across this mom and baby, the smallest of the baby elephants we’d seen in any of the prior days.
The drive to Tanzania offered stunning scenery with low lying clouds.

 

Hanging partway out the window of the sturdy Toyota Land Cruiser, I took this shot as Anderson made our way over terrain definitely not suited for road vehicles.
Gradually, the scenery began to change to include the migrating wildebeest, many of whom had yet to make the journey back to the Serengeti.  Anderson explained they will continue on, instinctively finding their way to the large herds of millions.

 

Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain we did our best to zoom to get the following photos on the remaining wildebeests.


Vultures love the Great Migration for the carcasses more readily available with the massive numbers of wildebeests falling prey to illness, attack, or injury in their lengthy migratory journey.

 

The closer we were to the Kenya/Tanzania border, everything changed; the temperature became hotter, more humid with fewer breezes, the flies clustered around us, the dust blew in our faces and eyes and the landscape became more sparse and unfriendly.

 

The wildebeest grazed for the few remaining green patches of vegetation, soon to realize that they must move on to meet up with their herds.

 

Increasing in numbers as we approached the border.

 

Although the sight of the two-plus million wildebeest would have been unbelievable, I began to wonder if doing so was as important to me as it had been in the past. It may sound as if its a rationalization for not having been able to see it but, the flies were a huge deterrent for both of us. They were flying into our noses, mouths, and ears.  It was awful.
Finally, we were able to stand at the marker that separates Kenya from Tanzania, a pose worthy opportunity for all of us.
Wildebeests, not quite as homely as warthogs held less appeal for us.  Warthogs are playful and funny.  Wildebeests, not so much.

Several years ago, as Tom and I were seated on the comfy bar stools at the  island in our kitchen in Minnesota, we watched a National geographic episode with a stunning video of the Great Migration. 

Yeah, I know I looked goofy with my Bugs Away hat, a scarf tied on my face. Honestly, I didn’t care. If I’d had a paper bag on hand, I’d have worn that. We did everything we could to keep the flies out of our noses, mouths, and ears.

As we watched the two-plus million wildebeest and other migratory animals as they traveled from the Serengeti in Tanzania, crossing the winding Mara River several times, to end for the lush vegetation during the rainy season in the Masai Mara in Kenya, it proved to be a profound experience for me with my lifelong dreams of Africa.

(To see the map of Diani Beach to the Masai Mara Kenya and Tanzania, please click here).

As the show ended, I looked in Tom’s eyes and said, “I must see this in my lifetime.”   He smiled and said, “Yeah sure, Sweetie.”

Tom, Anderson, and me, posing at the Kenya/Tanzania border marker, still smiling but not objecting when it was time to head back to the Masai Mara.

At this point, we had yet to conceive of the idea of traveling the world, not even as a distant thought, never as words spoken to one another. In January 2012, as Tom’s retirement was fast approaching in 11 months, in a single day, in a single conversation, we made the decision. 

Our outstanding guide and new friend, Anderson. His exuded pure joy at our delight and enthusiasm to see what he sees every day, never taking it for granted, which surprised us. 

The next day, the wheels were in motion to begin to contemplate the process of liquidating everything we owned: house, cars, furnishings, clothing, winter coats, stuff, stuff, and more stuff, a lifetime of stuff.

The small herds of wildebeest continued as we worked our back on yet another long rough road back to the Masai Mara.

Night after night when Tom returned home, we sorted out the details as to how this would all transpire. During the daylight hours, I set the plan in motion. To say I worked on my computer for 8 to 10 hours a day was an understatement; searching, researching, finding, booking, committing. Relentlessly. 

No more than a few minutes into the return drive, we spotted another mom and baby elephant, tails swishing batting off the flies. They, too, must feel the effects of the dung of millions of animals.

There were two things we knew for sure:
1.  Tom wanted to sail by ship through the Panama Canal: Done on January 13, 2013.
2.  I wanted to see the Great Migration: Not completely done. But, completely satisfied for now having been on safari this past week and for having the opportunity to see the tail end of the Great Migration when Anderson drove the six of us to the border of Tanzania to witness the stragglers.

Although we were quite a distance from them, we enjoyed this photo of mom and bay making their way up a steep incline.

Cindy and David, a lovely couple, safari mates, had just returned from the full experience. We’d missed it by a week or more. Anxious to hear their reaction, I pumped them for details. Was I jealous? Not at all.   was excited to glean whatever tidbits they’d share of their glorious experience. And they did.

After about an hour into the return drive, we saw the last of the wildebeest stragglers, facing a long walk home to the Serengeti in Tanzania. (80% of the Serengeti is in Tanzania with the remaining 20% in Kenya).

Oddly, they were not disappointed to see a portion of it again when Anderson promised to take us to see the tail end of the Migration on the third day of our safari. 

As the landscape became less cluttered and the flies no longer nipped at us, we were happy to be returning to the Masai Mara.

We’d already found the rhinos Cindy and David longed to see earlier that morning, that we had already seen and photographed the previous day when they weren’t with us. Once they had their photos, having also completed their Big 5, they gladly joined us, a feeling we well understood and appreciated.

And then, there were elephants lumbering across the road only feet from our vehicle.

The border of Kenya and Tanzania was an extraordinarily rough hour and a half drive from our location at the time in the Masai Mara.  No words can describe how rough.  The dirt and rock trail was a far cry from a road.  As the crow flies it may have been a half-hour drive. Anderson masterfully maneuvered the Land Cruiser through rock creek beds, water-filled creeks, up steep inclines, and down treacherous rocky hills.

In my old life, you couldn’t have paid me to ride along on such a road. Here I was, that sh_ _ eating grin on my face, bouncing along with the rest of us, occasionally holding Tom’s hand out of pure delight, with the unfathomable knowledge that we were on our way to another country, albeit only the border, having the times of our lives. Besides, we had the dangerous road in Belize and the more frightening road in Tuscany behind us.  We were now seasoned “road warriors.”

The closer we got to Tanzania, the flies were unbelievable. Imagine the dung of over two-plus million animals as they made their way across the same terrain we were traveling. The flies. OMG! 

The “Retired Generals” lined up to welcome us back to the Masai Mara.

As they attempted to fly into our mouths, our eyes, our nostrils, our ears, I tied my BugsAway hat’s hanging fabric around my face, hoping to offer some protection. For whatever reasons mosquitoes love me, flies love me more. Remember the flies in Tuscany? This was 1000 times worse! I wrapped my hands into the parka I’d worn that morning leaving no exposed skin, except for what remained of my face which you can see in the included photos.

Suddenly, something hit me.  Ah, maybe it was OK we didn’t see the Great Migration in its entirety. With the mind-blowing safari experience these past days, my desire to be in the bush was richly fulfilled, although not ended. Someday, we’ll go back. 

In the end, the flies may deter us from seeing the Great Migration after all.  I feel no disappointment or loss.  Seeing the remaining wildebeest as we neared Tanzania was enriching. Leaving Tanzania to return to the fly-free Maasai Mara was equally enriching. GET ME OUT OF HERE! I didn’t say it, not wanting to be a wimp, but I sure thought it.

The Masai gathered up their cows to return them to the security of the village, close to our camp, away from the risk attack.

By the time we headed back on an alternative equally rough dirt and rock road it was already 2:00 in the afternoon when we pulled into Camp Olonana. Having had breakfast the second day in the bush, I was hardly hungry for lunch, knowing we’d be having dinner after our later game drive, which we pushed to 4:30 pm instead of the usual 4:00 pm. After being in the vehicle for 7 1/2 hours, we all welcomed a little break. 

We were covered with dust and dirt.  We didn’t care.  There was no sense in cleaning up to go out on safari again in a few hours. By the time we returned from the 4:30 drive at 7:00 pm, we were exhausted and hungry, ready for dinner. 

The giraffes walked along the hillside at our camp as we wearily sauntered to the restaurant at Camp Olonana for late lunch, cold beverages, and time to regroup for the upcoming afternoon drive.

We made a quick stop at our tent to pick up our laptops to post photos and to brush our teeth to get the dirt and dust out of our mouths. For either of us not to shower and change to have dinner in a restaurant was beyond us. Somehow, we didn’t care.

Another fine safari day ended.  The next day, we’d return to Diani Beach on yet a tinier plane at 1:30 pm, after our visit to the Masai Village for our tour with Chief Richard.  We’ll share that story in a few days with many photos and surprising facts about these interesting tribespeople, living a sparse and primitive life, far removed from our own reality, to become deeply entrenched in our hearts.

But, Tom and I have decided on one extra post we’ll be presenting tomorrow that we’d intended to include with today’s post. However, after careful consideration for not only our young grandchildren and others who are enjoying looking at the animal photos, we’ve decided to present the “Romantic Lion Couple Mating Ritual.” (How did we get so lucky to observe this event?) with a warning that there are graphic mating photos to be posted tomorrow, October 15th. We’re placing a reminder in the heading should you decide to observe it. 
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Note:  A small number of our readers post comments at the end of any particular post.  You can return to the prior day’s post to read them once I’ve replied, seeing both the reader’s comment and our reply. We respond in each case within 12 hours or less, except on travel days which may require longer.

We appreciate the comments as an opportunity to stay in touch “with the world” but also as an opportunity to respond to questions on the information we may have missed in posting. Feel free to check the prior day’s comment daily (some days, there aren’t any, other days there are several), perhaps inspiring you to comment as well. We don’t care if you misspell or make typos. Good grief, I make my share of typos, writing almost every day! 

 

Rhino day…Lions, and more lion in a tree…Cheetahs…Tanzania tomorrow…

How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot?  I must be dreaming!

I purposely shot this photo to include the window ledge of the Land Cruiser to illustrate how close we were to this female lion. Never once, did we feel at risk during any of our sightings.

The black tear line differentiates in part, the difference between a cheetah and a leopard. 
She just wouldn’t open her eyes in the bright sun.  
Notice the difference in coloration and the lack of the black tear lines, making this a leopard. We spotted this one and a few others at dusk. They are nocturnal, often difficult to spot.

Anderson spotted this scene from afar, taking off on a mad dash to ensure we could get as close as possible to see this oddity, a lion in a tree.

 

 

Lions seldom climb trees in the Masai Mara. Even Anderson, a guide in this area or 14 years, was excited to see this rare find. Actually, he was excited to find all that we were fortunate to see.

 

As the young male lounged in the tree, the remainder of the family engaged in some serious power lounging below him.

 

 We couldn’t have moved any closer as were we all thrilled to be able to get these close-ups.

 

 “What a glorious day! Brother in a tree. Me, under the tree with my mom and siblings.”
 If you have a cat as a house pet, you sure can relate as to how these photo ops present themselves.
 Getting more comfortable in a tree is tricky.
 Finally, the perfect position for the lion in a tree, a rare sighting that we treasured.

As we work our way through the many stories and photos to share of our safari last week, we can’t help but marvel over the amount of action we’d witnessed in the short 3-day safari. Any longer and we’d have been overwhelmed trying to sort it all out.

With over 600 photos taken, approximately 400 saved for review, deciding which photos to post has been challenging. Daily, as I begin to write here, I mulled over those we haven’t posted, reviewing them with Tom for feedback.

Choosing our remaining favorites, our stories evolve along a natural course. At times, I find myself smiling so much that my face hurts.  At other times, tears flood my eyes, tears of joy for the experience, tears of sadness for the hard lives of the animals and their young, and tears of hope to someday return.

In the bush, it became so clear to me about the life cycle, how every creature placed on this earth by God, your chosen higher power or by nature itself, has a purpose and a natural food supply in its nearby surroundings, man/woman, animal, and vegetation;  animals, animal or vegetation.  That’s it.  Nothing more.

It part, it made me laugh since I guess I really have reverted to the beginnings of man/women in my diet.  All I eat is animal and vegetation.  Ironically, the Masai, whose story we’ll share in the next few days, only eating animals, no vegetation. They live very long lives and are slim and fit. 

Today, we continue on, the smiles still on our faces for the dream we chose to chase, for the knowledge we chose to gain, for the people we’ll never forget, for the wildlife presenting itself into our willing hearts and in a small part, for our own desire to put aside fear and apprehension to stretch ourselves to the limits.   

Rhinos are elusive, hard to find. We met several people on the return flight that never completed “The Big Five,” unable to spot the rhino or the leopard.  The animals almost lined up for us to spot The Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari.
Anderson explained that there are 30 rhinos remaining in the Masai Mara with only 10 on the side we were on of the Mara River. During our safari, we photographed 5 of the 10.


When we spotted this mom and baby, we went nuts with enthusiasm, deciding to wait patiently to get a better shot.  At this point, we were about around 100 feet from them.  A skittish male, perhaps dad, took off when he saw our vehicle approaching.


Off they went with caution and bulk in search of their next vegetarian meal.

Finally, mom and baby were in view.  My heart was pounding with excitement as I tried to hold the camera steady to get this photo.

 

Suddenly, what may have been dad appeared, rather grouchy and annoyed by our intrusion. We didn’t move or talk, practically holding our breath as she/he moved on.

Either this rhino has a partially pink lip or her tongue was sticking out. Look at the three birds sitting on her. We were thrilled for this close up as Anderson maneuvered the Land Cruiser to our best advantage.

More safari photos and stories…Picnic breakfast in the bush…

A cool morning in the bush.

With a picnic basket sitting on the passenger seat in Anderson’s Land Cruiser filled with wide selection of delectable hot breakfast items for the six of us and Anderson, we took off for our last morning drive at 6:30 am .

A cool guy in the bush.

Oddly, I didn’t feel a sense of dread in it almost being over, since I had chosen to live in the moment, relishing exactly what was at hand, than projecting leaving the next day. 

As we left the area of Camp Olonana, cows were in abundance. In the Maasai, Mara cows serve as food for the Masai tribes. (A story follows soon about their lifestyle and their low carb, grain-free, starch-free, sugar -free diet)!

As we bounced along in the vehicle, animated conversation wafting through the air, I said, “I feel like I have an “E” ticket at Disneyland and the day is just beginning!” Everyone laughed, so in agreement with the joyful anticipation, we all felt. Anderson, who’d never left Africa in his life, required an explanation which I gladly provided.

Hot air balloon rides are common in the Masai Mara.  We’d considered this option but decided we’d rather spend the time on the ground with better up closer photos opportunities with the wildlife.


The view of the hot air balloons made an interesting backdrop for our early morning photos.

With the air nippy early in the early morning at 5000 feet above sea level, we were glad Anderson had warned us to wear jackets. For the first time since leaving the US, we brought out the Scottesvest Parkas, perfect for this chilly environment. 

Unfortunately, my parka was bright blue, my only option in my size at the time of purchase long ago. Blue attracts tsetse flies of which there were none in the Maasai Mara but that we’ll find plentiful soon in South Africa. Tom’s was a perfect Khaki green.

The eland antelope, fairly common in the Masai Mara posed for us in the morning sun.

I’d imagined we’d search for a few morning treasures and picnic by 8:00 am. But, the distractions of the wildlife kept us from wanting to stop until one of our safari mates cried hunger around 10:30 am. We could easily have kept going with little regard for food or coffee.

Mom and baby eland.

 

Anderson busied himself setting up our breakfast only allowing any of us to set up the camp stools.  Notice his well-equipped picnic basket. The stainless steel containers were filled with our still warm breakfast, thoughtfully prepared by Ambrose, the chef, very early in the morning.

But, we were in a group after all and we didn’t protest. We so enjoyed our companions, we didn’t give it a thought, knowing once the food and drinks were set up, we’d join right in.

With room for 4 at the small table, some of us sat nearby eating our breakfast on our laps. There were croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and
a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content. 

Anderson found a perfect spot under a tree where the grass was short, away from any potential danger. Also, the spot he’d picked had a nearby huge rock that provided modesty for all of us to “check the tire pressure” before we’d hit the road again after breakfast. 

Bending over the table was our safari mate, David and to the right were sisters, Susan and Linda, all experienced travelers.

At this point, I’d become rather adept at managing my own “tire pressure checking,” in the wild, a feat I’d never considered before embarking on this experience.  See…we’re never too old to learn new tricks!

From left to right, on the ground first: Tom, Anderson, David, Linda.  In the truck from left to right, is David’s wife Cindy and Linda’s sister Susan.  Obviously, I took the photo.

Anderson had observed the prior morning, that I have asked for “real cream” for my coffee of which there was none.  Here we were, the next morning and he proudly whipped out a can of fresh cream. I couldn’t have been more appreciative of him for remembering. 

Anderson took this next photo of us, a little blurry but worth keeping, the only shot we had of our group of safari mates.

On the road again after breakfast, we had much to accomplish before our morning drive ended.  Anderson had promised we’d go to Tanzania to see the tail end of the Great Migration. 

Beside myself with excitement, I could hardly wait to get back on the road. Tomorrow, we’ll share the photos of another round of rhinos we found that morning and our subsequent exciting trip to Tanzania, another highlight of our adventure.

This hyena, not the cutest creature in the bush, stopped for a morning pose, curious as to our intentions.

 

Cheetah blocking the road.


Patiently waiting for her to clear the road, he meandered to the side of the road, content to watch us as we were only a few feet away.

As we searched for more rhinos (check back tomorrow for rhino photos), we continued to find more awe-inspiring sightings with the help of Anderson, his eagle eye, and his use of the finest pair of binoculars in the land.  We were thrilled when he spotted this lion family lounging under a tree at a distance, as he maneuvered our way for a closer view.
Females and young lions lounging in the shade of the tree.  Our perception had been that the male lions hang out with the family, not so the case.  Once these young males mature they’ll go off on their own to hunt, to mate, and occasionally hang out with their male sons and siblings.
 
Such a relaxing day, lounging with the family!
Watching the lions was addicting. We could easily have stayed there all day but we had to keep moving, searching, and veering toward our goal to travel to the Tanzanian border to see the tail end of the Great Migration.
Taken at quite a distance since we had little time to chase down an ostrich.  None the less, it was fun to see.
At this point, after what we’d seen after the Great Migration had left a week earlier, we were not disappointed we’d missed it. Someday, as mentioned earlier, we’ll return to the Masai Mara planning it to coincide with the two million wildebeest crossing the Mara River, over and again as it winds from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara.  
Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.
 But, having an opportunity to travel by Land Cruiser across the rough plains to Tanzania, was exciting in itself.   It was hard to believe we could accomplish all of this with the day we’d already experienced in the remaining time. Leave it to Anderson to figure it all out for us. Again, we were never disappointed.
Our safari mate, Susan, was so excited to see this turtle.  With hers and Linda’s new giant cameras in hand, none of us minded stopping for a photo op.

Before noon we were on our way to Tanzania with more exquisite sightings along the way. We hope we still have your interest in our safari as we attempt to wind our way down.  Yet to share:

1.  Rhinos and our trip to Tanzania including a few amazing lion photos along the way.
2.  The dinner hosted by Camp Olonana in the bush, a surprise treat, Masai singers and dancers, and a feast pleasing to any palate.
3.  The trip to the Masai village and our visit with Chief Richard, his two wives, and many children and extended family.
4.  The review of Camp Olonana, Sanctuary Retreats, to where we’ll someday return and hoping to visit their other worldwide locations sometime in the future.
5.  Our return flight and musings of our entire journey.

We are holding stories unrelated to the safari that we’ll share as we move along. So far, Africa has proven to be a world unto its own, leaving us breathless and hungry for more. 

It would be worthwhile to go on a bird-watching safari with wide varieties. Focused on the larger creatures, we often missed bird photo ops. Had we more time, we definitely would have taken more bird photos.

Baby warthogs in the hole while lions waited…A kill….More photos and stories on safari…

This scene taken at quite a distance is so depicts Africa, the scattered flat-topped acacia trees in the sparse landscape, mountains at a distance, and nature as the focal point. This landscape was in an area used in a scene in the movie “Out of Africa” which I had watched many years ago, dreaming of someday being in these breathtaking surroundings. Visiting the Masai Mara to go on safari with Tom at my side was more than I could ever have imagined occurring in my lifetime. 
Warthogs, rather humorous characters, kneel on their front legs while grazing. 

Some may say that warthogs are not worthy of many photos, but our safari group found them to be interesting, attentive, and totally fearless of us as provided we didn’t make sudden movements.
Early in the morning, we spotted this mother warthog nudging her babies along.  We squealed with delight along with them as they scurried along.  Anderson stopped the vehicle so we could watch, as we noted a few lions in wait in the directions she was headed. At this point, we were quite far away resulting in a less than perfect shot.
Each morning at 6:30 am sharp, we’d pile into the Land Cruiser without a plan, Anderson at the wheel, to go on the search for the next great sighting, the next great photo. With a cooler filled with chilled beverages, including beer, and on two mornings, a picnic basket filled with scrumptious breakfast goodies made fresh only minutes ago, off we went, expectations at peak levels.
Up and over a hill they went, mother warthog yet to see the lions that watched from afar.

We were never disappointed, especially not after seeing that which we’ll continue to share over the next several days including, our warthogs/lions story with photos today.

This young male lion lay in wait as he kept his eye on the warthog babies, a more manageable meal than the adult warthog.
The air was cool and crisp at 5000 feet above sea level this early in the day.  We’d brought along jackets, putting them on only minutes into the drive as the cool wind whipped in our faces as we bounced along the rough roads. 
Anderson explained that the female lions do most of the hunting to later have their kill taken over by a nearby awaiting male. Fortunately, when no male is within sight, she can keep the kill for herself and her cubs. The male lion after mating leaves the female to continue his life, although he may hover in the area of his family in order to partake of her kills.
I wore a BugsAway hat while on safari for a few reasons, one to keep my hair from obstructing my view and two, to keep insects away from my face and neck. The entire time in the Masai Mara both Tom and I wore our BugAway clothing
day and evening.
Difficult to see all the action, the mother warthog pushed her babies into a hole in the area of these bushes, often left by aardvarks. Mother warthog couldn’t also fit in the hole, thus she stood back a distance from her secured babies.
Complimentary laundry service was provided by Camp Olonana allowing us to wear fresh clothing each day.  Covered with dirt and dust by the day’s end there was no way to wear the same pants and shirt more than once. Freshening up before dinner each night wasn’t an option when we returned to camp around 7:00 pm. We just stayed in our dusty clothes from the safari, wearing fresh the next day.
Mother warthog stood back a safe distance from the lions, hoping her little ones would be spared if the lions were eventually distracted by a more meaty opportunity. Anderson explained we could wait all day to see what would transpire. Note the two other safari vehicles in the background, its occupants also entranced by this worrisome event. Both Tom and I had accepted that we may see an actual kill in the wild, which we eventually did realize it’s all a part of the life cycle.
Dressing up for dinner wasn’t important to us.  All we wanted was to be on safari, eat when necessary, sleep enough to refresh us, post what we could get online, and revel in our surroundings every single moment.  That’s exactly what we did.
” I’m getting bored sitting here waiting for these mere appetizers. Let’s move onto something bigger and juicier,” lion says.
The female lion scans the area as she waits for the baby warthogs to reappear.
 
The male lion continues his wait for the warthog babies to appear.
 The female lion never loses interest in the possible kill while the male languishes appearing bored and disinterested until there’s some “real action.”
Many others hadn’t been out for as many hours as we had. Anderson was determined to give us the time of our lives.  Most visitors went on a three-hour morning drive and a two-hour late afternoon drive. 
“I’ve had it,” the male lion says. “You’re on your own, Misses.”
This schedule left the guests time for lounging by the pool, sitting on their verandas overlooking the river, and dining on three meals a day of fabulous food. We barely had two meals a day and, the entire time at Camp Olonana, we rested on our veranda for less than one hour total. We didn’t care.
We never failed to be excited to see an elephant, their massive size and majesty continuing to astound us.
Elephant family on the move. Mom is holding up the rear, keeping a watchful eye on her offspring.
For us, it was almost eight hours each day on safari, a rare treat, appreciated by our safari mates, of which there were two on one day and four on the other days.  None of us couldn’t get enough. 
  Male lion taking a break from his zebra meal.We shot this photo within 25 to 30 feet.
We were the only pair in our group never missing a game drive, except for the commitment we’d made to visit the Masai Village at 10:30 in the morning on the day we flew back to Diani Beach. 
An extraordinary experience in itself, we’re grateful we didn’t miss the visit with Chief Richard and his extended family. (We’ll share photos and the story of the Maasai’s sparse lifestyle in the next few days, for which I wrote notes on my smartphone while flying back on the tiny plane to ensure I didn’t forget a tidbit).
  He opened his eyes, giving us a toothy grin. He didn’t seem concerned, we were close, but we were quiet and nonthreatening.
The story of the warthogs and lions will be told in the captions in the photos included here. 
 Zebras are common in the bush. We’ll have plenty of Zebra photos when we live in South Africa in less than two months, where they’ll visit almost every day.
 We often saw giraffes hanging out in groups.
 
Occasionally, we noticed a lone giraffe, perhaps hoping to find the others in her group.
Another cape buffalo, a Retired General, abandoned by the herd when he didn’t win the battle for dominance, left to his own devices. These lost souls, all bachelors, hang out in numbers for safety from lions.

 

A male impala based on the black striped on its hind end, a graceful animal, one of many in the deer/antelope family. There were many varieties, often hard to distinguish one from another.

Later in the day,  from a distance, we spotted a pride of lions, a mother, and her cubs lounging under the shade of a tree. Little did we know until Anderson drove us within 20 feet, that they had a kill they were voraciously working over. 

Mom growled in seeming happiness over her successful hunting day, without a single male in view to confiscate their meal.
We must have stayed in that spot for an hour, quietly savoring every moment of the manner in which they shared their meal, the way the mother tended over her cubs with her own needs secondary as well as the playful demeanor they exhibited when taking a break.
Life is good.

 

The cubs took a break to relax.

 

Moments later they were back at their meal again.

 

The cubs enjoyed the meal while mom stayed back keeping an eye out for danger.
“Eating is exhausting.  I think I’ll rest for a minute or two.”
Finally, mom steps in for a bite.

 

Is someone coming to steal the kill? Mom constantly stays on the lookout.
Cubs sharing.

 

Tom was having a beer in the late afternoon, in awe of what we’ve experienced, having never expected it to be so rewarding and fulfilling in many aspects.