Part 2, Kruger never disappoints if patience prevails…I’m here now…

 After many elephant sightings, we’d never seen anything like this…please take a moment to watch this short video which will leave you as amazed and in awe of these majestic beasts as we are.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This frog was swimming in our pool at night and jumped out to be on its way.

It was a spectacular day in Kruger National Park on Wednesday, leaving us with enough photos to share for days which we’ll include with other posts over these next few weeks.

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

The vast array of wildlife, each with its own distinct and diverse qualities, always finds us longing for more and more information about each species.  The learning curve on wildlife behaviors can take a lifetime to achieve, and over time, we whittle away at an undertaking we’ll never accomplish in our lifetimes.

I believe this is a grey heron we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger.

Part of me had wished that I’d have pursued an education and career in the field of wildlife, conservation, and animal behavior many years ago. But that time has long since passed, and at the time, I had other responsibilities to attend to, none of which I regret.

Giraffe with a pretty sky in the background.

As we age, we can always look back at our lives and wish we could have done things differently or better; be a better parent, a better child, a better friend, work harder, work smarter, take better care of our health and the list goes on and on.

From this site: “The stomach of the giraffe is also very sophisticated as it has four chambers as all ruminants. They chew the food, regurgitate it, chew it again, and then pass it to the stomach. This organ can digest food very well, so most foods are used positively for the body.”

Yesterday was my long-since-passed mother’s birthday. In the last years of her life, during which I was actively involved in her care, I’d often visit her daily at her assisted living facility in Minnesota. In her later years, she developed dementia to the point she didn’t recognize me at times.

Nothing beats stopping traffic in Kruger.

On many occasions, she’d snap at me, saying, “I hadn’t seen you in weeks (or months)” when I’d been there the previous day. This hurt me so much at the time until a kindly nurse said to me, “Ignore her comments that she hasn’t seen you in a long time. Instead, say, “But, Ma, I’m here now.

Elephants form a line to stop traffic.

This stuck in my brain, and each time she accused me (wrongfully) of not visiting, I said, “But, Ma, I’m here now.” And that’s how I look at my life…I’m here now….with no regrets, no wishing I’d pursued different career choices, no sense of loss of what “could have been.”

And now, the fulfillment and fruition of what had been a lifelong dream to visit Africa are right before my eyes. Here we are, after five months, with seven more to go. It couldn’t bring me more joy.

We waited patiently, and finally, they began to disperse.

Each day delivers a new experience, a new adventure, and a new challenge.  Whether it’s searching for the lions in Marloth Park or the noisy frog in the garden at night, it all matters.

From this site:  “The most awesome of all cape buffalo facts is that they are so dangerous they are referred to as “the Black Death”! Highly prized by big game hunters, these incredible creatures are members of “Africa’s Big Five” – the five most difficult African animals to hunt on foot.”

For Tom, who’d never dreamed about coming to Africa, due to a certain degree of fear and apprehension, now embraces it with a passion and interest he never expected.  When we were here 4½ years ago, his fears dissipated, and he also fell in love with it. Coming back this year further illustrates how much it meant to him as well.

Sure, I could say he came back for me, which is entirely possible in his realm of love and kindness but, he loves it too. And in 2020, we’ll be back again.  Africa does this to many visitors. It draws you in amid its valid reasons for fear and apprehension, but it “draws you out” of your hesitancy and your fear.

From this site: “Monitor lizards are large lizards in the genus Varanus. They are native to Africa, Asia, and Oceania but are now found in the Americas as an invasive species. A total of 79 species are currently recognized. Monitor lizards have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. The adult length of extant species ranges from 20 cm (7.9 in) in some species to over 3 m (10 ft) in the case of the Komodo dragon. However, the extinct varanid known as megalania (Varanus priscus) may have been capable of reaching lengths of more than 7 m (23 ft). Most monitor species are terrestrial, but arboreal and semiaquatic monitors are also known. While most monitor lizards are carnivorous, eating eggs, smaller reptiles, fish, birds, and small mammals, some also eat fruit and vegetation, depending on where they live.”

So, what could have been or should have been years ago, becomes a reality today, and every day we continue on our search, our hunger, and our passion in embracing every possible aspect of this incredible life.

From this site: “The elephant’s trunk contains over 40,000 muscles, divided into as many as 150,000 individual units! Compare that to the human body, which contains a paltry 639 muscles, and you start to get an idea of how intricate the appendage is.”

When we leave Africa in a mere seven months, we’ll carry with us everything we’ve seen, everything we’ve learned, and that which we hope to learn in the future, with us in our hearts and minds forever.

We’re here now…we’re living in the moment.

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2017:

While in Las Vegas last year, I frequently visited my sister Susan and her chubby dog Owen who’s since passed away. He’d often sit up like this when he saw me. For more, please click here.

Part 1, Kruger never disappoints if patience prevails…

We laughed so hard when we saw this baby baboon grabbing its mom’s hair to hold on while sitting in this unlikely pose.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

These are the nests of Red-billed Buffalo Weavers seen on a tree growing in the water at Sunset Dam.  Thanks to our friend Lynne for identifying these nests.

Each time we go to Kruger, the same thing transpires. While about an hour into the drive, we both resign ourselves that we’re going to come up empty-handed with few sightings and even fewer photos to share.

Proud wildebeest.

Actually, during many visits to the national park over this past five months, we’ve yet to come up empty-handed. In each case, continuing to drive, we encounter one magical moment after another. 

It’s exceptional to have zebras visit us in Marloth Park as well as spotting them in Kruger.

We always laugh at the irony of the situation. Are we saying the day will be a dud to alleviate any potential disappointment? Or do we believe it?  Invariably within minutes after making such comments, we come across something extraordinary.  

An “implausibility” of wildebeest in Kruger.

Yesterday’s trip to Kruger National Park was no different than usual…the abundance is mindboggling. With all the holidaymakers in this area right now due to the school holiday ending on July 17th, we anticipated a huge queue awaiting entry to the park.

Yesterday, we encountered more wildebeest than in any past trips.

Alas, we were pleasantly surprised when we were second in line, not that being second is a quick process. Most visitors to the park don’t have the “Wild Card” year-long pass that we purchased when we arrived. 

It was a perfect day for a self-drive in Kruger National Park.

Thus, the process of registering new visitors is long and laborious and can take as much as 15 minutes for one car to pass. This was the case yesterday but knowing we were up next was comforting. Even with our passports, the required form completed, and our “Wild Card” pass, it still takes a good five to seven minutes during our turn.

There were numerous sightings of giraffes on the side of the paved road.

We anticipated an hour-long wait at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate, where visitors are processed from their vehicles. Once we were on the paved road, we sighed with relief that we could get going in under 20 minutes. 

The black spot inside a zebra’s leg is intended to protect the legs from their sharp hooves when at rest. Please click our post here from January 3, 2014, with this and other exciting zebra facts for more on this topic.

Also, we expected a lot of vehicles on the road. Still, surprisingly, unless there was a spectacular sighting tying up traffic, such as dozens of elephants crossing the road, there were no more cars than we’d seen on prior non-holiday visits.

Throughout the day, we spotted no less than 100 elephants at different points along the road.

We decided that Wednesdays may be the best day of the week to visit when many holidaymakers arrive for a four or five-day weekend visit. This makes Wednesdays the perfect day in between those visits.

Cape buffalo, one of the “Big 5,” hanging out near the Sabie River.

We’d hoped to return in time to do the day’s post. Typically, we allow ourselves about four hours in the park plus driving time to and from the gate from Marloth Park when we’ve often left too early in the morning to complete the post.

Sunset Dam is located on the road beyond Lower Sabie, where we stopped to enjoy the scenery and wildlife, of which there was plenty, including these hippos lounging in the water with impalas in the background.

It all worked out well when we arrived back at the house at 2:30, even after a stop at Daisy’s Den to purchase repellent oil for our outdoor lantern, leaving time to complete the post and get things ready for dinner.

Another “bloat” of hippos! 

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Part 2 of “Kruger never disappoints…” when we’re looking forward to sharing an exciting video and more photos. Please check back then! 

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2017:

We dined at this restaurant when they had several options that work well for my way of eating. For more details, please click here.