We’re leaving on an exciting expedition in 37 days!…

This elephant was a frequent visitor
This elephant is a frequent visitor to Little Governors Camp. Not our photo.

It was a painstaking process to figure out where we could go during the pandemic to have our visas stamped for a new 90-day stay in South Africa. The restrictions were frustrating and prohibitive for many locations. Many countries couldn’t accommodate us under any circumstances.

After extensive research over the past few weeks, it was in the past week that we considered returning to Kenya. The last time we’d been there was in 2013 when we’d longed to experience our first photo safari in the Maasai Mara.

From this site:

“Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in NarokKenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area of the Nile Basin. Their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara” means “spotted” in the local Maasai language, due to the many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

Regularly, elephants enter Little Governors Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, often at mealtime, looking for a morsel to savor off the plates of the guests. Not our photo.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lionAfrican leopardcheetah, and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the Ten Wonders of the World.”

A few years ago, while in South Africa, we booked a fantastic tour in Kenya for which we’d prepaid the entire cost well in advance, at a then cost of ZAR 223225, US $15,000. It was only a few months later that I had to have emergency open-heart surgery when we were only days away from departure for the extraordinary experience.

On such short notice, we lost the bulk of the fare. Thanks to Louise for helping us get a partial refund while I was still in the hospital. We understood that the short-term cancellation had put the host of the tour in a tough spot when it was impossible for him to resell our spot on such short notice. We were grateful to get back the 30% she arranged for us.

We can only imagine the excitement of being back in the Maasai Mara, let alone with elephants visiting the camp. Not our photo.

But, it never left our minds what we missed on that trip. The one venue of most interest to us was a stay at Little Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Nor, did it ever leave our minds how much we enjoyed many safaris/game drives in the Maasai Mara, unlike anywhere we’ve visited since that time in 2013.

At that time, we stayed at Camp Olonono another luxury tented camp where we had an extraordinary experience as we anticipate we will once again. We went out on two game drives each day and couldn’t have seen more wildlife than we did. At Little Governor’s Camp, we’ll embark on two game drives each day, hanging around the camp for what we hope will be a recurring experience that Little Governor’s Camp is known for, elephants visiting the resort/campgrounds, even at times, entering the dining area and picking food off the plates of the guests. Oh, gosh, this will be the epitome of “safari luck” if this occurs while we’re there.

Of course, as always, we’ll prepare ourselves the elephants may not stop by while we’re at the camp. Instead, we’ll revel in the outstanding experiences we’ll surely have while out on the game drives. If someone were to ask us how many times we’ve been out on photo safaris after all these years, it would have to be well over 100. We never tire of the experience.

Governors' Camp | The Masai Mara, Kenya | The Africa Specialists™
We’ll be staying in a luxury tent with an ensuite bath and many amenities. Not our photo.

We still have a lot to do to complete the requirements for this upcoming trip; apply for online e-Visas, apply online for the complicated COVID-19 form required for entry into Kenya, arrange for hotels on either end, get Covid-10 PCR tests before we depart South Africa and arrange a rental car for three months for our return.

So far, all we’ve done is book the multiple flights and book and pay in full for Little Governor’s Camp required this close to arrival time. The camp has arranged for our small-plane round-trip flight in and then out of the Maasai Mara from a small airport in Nairobi.

We’ll report back later as we work our way through the process of wrapping up the tasks required to complete this upcoming adventure. If we had to leave South Africa for this visa thing, we decided that doing something wonderful was the way to go. We’re both thrilled to have this figured out!

Today, we left the house while a few repairs were being made on our bush house. “Little” had made a massive hole in the screen door to the veranda, trying to get into the house and a ceiling panel in the master bedroom had started coming down after weeks of rain and humidity. While the workers were here, we drove around the park, taking some exceptional photos which we’ll begin sharing in tomorrow’s post. Also, we took exciting photos in the garden early this morning, which we also can’t wait to share.

See you here tomorrow! Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2020:

We loved this sign, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the Elderly & Beautiful.” For more photos, please click here.

Day #205 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Done…Done…Done…Consistency…

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.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Finally, we were able to stand at the marker that separates Kenya from Tanzania, a pose worthy opportunity for all of us.

A popular expression, frequently used by Indian people is, “Done, done, done,” when asking them for assistance. They couldn’t be more eager to please. We appreciate them, their kindness, and their great service. Living in this hotel for so long with a frequent turnover of staff, leaving for a break for a few weeks to return to their homes to be with family, it’s no wonder consistency is not always possible.

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.

Has anyone you know lived in a hotel for 205 days, unless of course, they are a celebrity and make a hotel their permanent residency? We are no celebrities. And, if we were, we’d probably be in a much different situation. But, it’s only from the same services over and over, often as a result of the rotating staff that inconsistencies become more prevalent and subsequently, more obvious after such a long stay.

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.

Tom says, “The only consistency is the inconsistency.” I’ve laughed each time he says this, always with the intent of dampening our momentary frustration.

They were increasing in numbers as we approached the border.

In many businesses throughout the world, consistency becomes a top priority. One can always count on the lettuce being in the same spot in the grocery store, the shoes in a specific area in a department store, the sunscreen on the same shelf in the pharmacy, and so on.

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 it’s 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.

In the restaurant business, if you formerly dined at, for example, the Cheesecake Factory for their strawberry cheesecake, you’d expect the same flavor, the same sized portion, the same taste, and at least for a time, the same price.

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

In our almost eight years of world travel, we’ve found a profound lack of consistency in dining when returning to the same establishments for a repeated menu item or, as in the case here in our lovely Mumbai hotel, ordering the same breakfast items and the same dinner items, day after day, which are often different in portion size, taste, and appearance almost every time they arrive by room service.

But if I don’t repeat this exact same order each day, after 205 days, something won’t be right. I’d love to say, “The usual, please.” My order changes from time to time as I fine-tune my diet to keep the carb count to a minimum. So, I realize, I must be very specific in regard to my orders. It’s never the same two days in a row. Breakfast tends to be fairly consistent, although, we often have to remind the restaurant when we call to make the bacon crispy as opposed to it swimming in grease, when half done. Tom orders the exact same breakfast every single day; cheese omelet, eight pieces of crispy bacon, and bananas every day and the same dinner every night.

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).

It isn’t that they don’t want to please. They do more than anywhere we’ve been in the past. It boils down to the person taking the order which varies from time to time and the sous chefs preparing the food. Last night, only having ordered the same grilled boneless chicken legs, side orders of steamed broccoli, and spinach,  night after night, my dinner arrived with only half as much chicken as usual and twice as many vegetables. Go figure.

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.

Tonight, when I order the same dinner again, but this time I’ll mention “More chicken please.” I won’t say “Fewer vegetables, please.” If I do, I’ll get too tiny a portion of each of these two vegetables. Instead, I’ll eat whatever I get.

I’ve stopped requesting my vegetables to be sauteed with garlic. They know I don’t use any vegetable oils and I’ve asked that they only use only butter to prepare my food, but everything was always swimming in butter, maybe the equivalent of three or four tablespoons. Now, I order the butter on the side and use about one tablespoon between my two vegetables.

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

It’s the same thing when cleaning our room. The towel count became consistent after about two months, so we’re good there. I suggested they don’t change our sheets daily to every-other-three days which is fine with us, but they continue to change the sheets daily. I’ve stopped asking.

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

We don’t use their lotion and ask they don’t leave tubes of lotion. The counter space in the bathroom is limited. With no drawers or a medicine cabinet, we leave all of the toiletries we use on the countertop. This will never be resolved.

But, more importantly, we’ve requested with hotel management, that all room cleaners have been staying overnight in the hotel for no less than three weeks. If they contracted the virus on their off days, they could easily infect us, when spending 30 minutes in our small room each day.

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

Invariably, even with their masks on, I’ve learned to recognize their hairstyles (all men), and over and over again, I end up asking, “How long have you been staying in the hotel?” Fifty percent of the time, they say considerably less than three weeks, many less than one week. We prevent those cleaners from entering our room, asking them to find someone who has been here for three weeks or longer. They always comply, eager to please.

Oddly, keeping tabs on all of this is practically a job in itself. We’re desperately trying, after all these months in lockdown, to ensure we don’t become infected. Over and over again, it’s repeated on the local news, that there are no available hospital beds or ICU beds available in any hospital in Mumbai. That certainly is a frightening thought.

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

Today, listening on to a podcast with Minnesota’s well-known virologist, Dr. Michael Osterholm, he said Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin are only days away from running out of hospital beds, the main reason, along with the rising numbers of cases, we have no interest in returning to the US at this time.

Instead, we stay hunkered down in Mumbai, not in a state of angst, but in a state of acceptance, that we could be here for many more months to come. If somehow, we could pin down “consistency,” it might become a little easier…or not.

Be well.

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2019:

Tom’s lunch at a restaurant in Chepstow, Wales. He’d certainly enjoy this now! For more photos, please click here.

Day #203 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More exciting safari photos from Kenya into Tanzania…

Breakfast in the savanna, wild animals surrounding us. Presented by our guide Anderson, 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.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

A cool morning in the bush.

Today’s old post from this date in 2013, made me swoon with delight. Memories of our glorious experience in the Maasai Mara continued which, as shown in today’s photos, a stop for breakfast in the savanna, topped off the adventure in an indescribable manner.

A cool guy in the bush.

To be outdoors in the crisp morning air, in plain sight of lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more, while we both, and our safari-mates were in awe of this exquisite event, simple in its concept, magnificent in its enactment. The thought of being so exposed to nature, most of which were always on the hunt for the next morsel of food, there we were dining on human food befitting a fine Sunday brunch with its many choices.

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

Of course, my way of eating was considered in the chef’s preparation of breakfast with a few items I could eat, including scrambled eggs,  sausages, and real cream for our coffee. Seated on cloth camping stools, we all savored every morsel of our meal while sipping on the still-hot perfectly brewed coffee.

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

Our surroundings were blissful, as we relaxed in the cool morning, knowing full-well that later in the day, the baking of the sun would heat the air along with the vegetation spewed humidity to accompany the heat, for yet another day of scorching temperatures.

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

The six of us, determined adventurers, never complained about the outrageously bumpy rides across the savanna when Anderson spotted a point of interest at distance to race across the uneven terrain, crossing over rocks, potholes, and bushes of all heights and sizes. At the end of each day, we were surprised we weren’t achy and in pain having literally exercised rarely used muscles as we bounced about, on the morning and afternoon hours-long safaris each day, except for a lunch break back at the camp midday.

Mom and baby eland.

Later in the day, we made an exceptionally bumpy two-hour drive to Tanzania to hopefully see the tail-end of the Great Migration, as Anderson described, which presented some interesting challenges and surprises we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

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.

As I write here now, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings game on NFL GamePass, the service he pays for each year to stream the games from any location in the world providing we have a decent WiFi signal. The game actually transpires during the night while we’re sleeping so each Monday morning, he’s excited to hook up his laptop to the TV using the HDMI. I do the post, looking at the game’s highlights as I prepare the post, while he’s glued to the screen.

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

He makes a point of avoiding the news and Facebook on Sunday nights since he doesn’t like to know the final score in advance of watching the game. It would take away the anticipation and excitement.

This hyena was curious as to our intentions.

Yesterday, I finished the fifth and final 2000 word post which ended up at over 3600 words. It was an article about how to travel long term with or without medical issues, insurance concerns, prescription refills, emergency solutions, and seeking medical care while abroad. It’s a comprehensive post, centered around our personal experiences after all these years. It will be available tomorrow or the following day.

Cheetah blocking the road.

Now I can get back to editing old posts which easily will take many more months. It’s become a part of my daily routine which honestly I don’t look forward to, but do nonetheless.

Such a relaxing day, lounging with the family!

As for the package, this morning I received an email from FedEx stating the package will be delivered by Wednesday. We’ll see if that will actually transpire.

Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.

Have a great day!

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2019:

We walked in the pouring rain under the Chepstow Town Gate in Chepstow Wales to a restaurant for lunch. We stayed for 11 nights in a holiday home in the nearby village of Shirenewton. For more photos, please click here.

Day #201 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel… Recalling a dreamy adventure…

Upon our arrival at Camp Olonana, now renamed Sanctuary Olonana, we were greeted by a Maasai warrior playing a welcoming tune on his flute, while on the deck overlooking the Mara River. We knew we’d chosen the perfect environment to fulfill our dreams of safari combined with exquisite accommodations, service, and cultural experiences.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Reviewing the photos from seven years ago today from the luxury safari resort on the Mara River makes me swoon over the wonderful memories, open spaces, and cultural mind-blowing experiences. In the blissfully chilly mornings when we embarked on our first safari of the day, usually around 6:00 am, the air was crisp and fresh, free of pollution and free of sounds other than those in nature.

The fast flowing Mara River is muddy due to erosion and lack of man’s intervention. The local Masai tribes are dependent upon its waters as well as the wildlife and vegetation. It is this river that the Great Migration crosses over and again as it makes its way from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara. We missed the crossing of the millions of wildebeest but we did travel to Tanzania in the safari vehicle to see the tail end. By the time we made that journey, we were so satisfied with our safari experience that we hardly gave it a thought.

At 5000 feet, 1524 meters, above sea level, we were embraced in a world unlike anywhere else we’d ever been at that point. This was without a doubt, “the bush,” “the savanna,” the place one who loves wildlife can dream of exploring, and exploring we did with a passion, a fervor with a sense of excitement unlike any other we’d ever known.

Ambrose, our well-trained chef, made meals perfect for me, an appropriate version of whatever Tom and the other guests were having. The food was fresh, hot, and delicious on every occasion.

The unfamiliarity of what was to come was tinged with a little fear and apprehensive which was easily surpassed by our enthusiasm. After the first early morning safari in the open-sided vehicle, all of our apprehension wafted away, replaced only by a hunger for more, more, more.

The all-inclusive camp consists of three meals daily, appetizers, snacks, beverages, high tea in the afternoon, and alcoholic drinks at any time of day or night. Glass bottles of purified water were presented at our table at all meals and in our tent for drinking and brushing teeth. I was so excited I failed to take a photo of our delicious GF chicken curry lunch.

The WiFi only worked in the camp’s main lounge room and the signal was weak, making uploading photos, let alone an entire post seem less of a concern than under normal circumstances. We hoped our readers would wait patiently for the time when we could begin sharing our photos, days later.

All produce at Camp Olonana was organically grown in their on-site garden. A certified ecologically friendly resort, the care was given to the food, and the use of water, fuel, and electricity was refreshing in this distant setting. For example, all electrical outlets were shut off (lights stayed on) from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm and off again during the night. In consideration of our need to recharge our equipment, we were given a power strip connected to the generator that was available 24 hours a day. Many more measures were implemented to maintain the ecological integrity of the camp, which consisted of 14 tents, a spa tent, the lodge, gift shop, offices, and housing for staff.

Somehow we managed to eke out a few posts while we there, by making our way to the lounge room immediately after dinner, while still wearing our dusty safari clothes for the day, which we had no time to change before dinner. We didn’t return from our afternoon safari until almost 7:00 pm each evening with no time to freshen up and change.

Our tent was #4 a short jaunt down this stone-paved walkway. Camp Olonana, was cool at night and had few mosquitoes and insects. The cool nights were heavenly, requiring a down comforter to keep us warm. That was a rather pleasant sensation!

But, this wasn’t an experience of “dressing for dinner,” looking fresh and perky in order to socialize with others. The only socializing we did at Camp Olonana was with the friendly staff, our guide, and our “safari-mates,” the four other people in the six-passenger vehicle we shared each time we ventured out.

The veranda to our tent.  Approaching, it took our breath away.

Anderson, our guide treated us to a hot breakfast in the bush, all prepared suitable for each passenger’s taste and desires. A cooler of canned and bottled beverages including beer was available at any time. During this period, I didn’t drink alcohol and stuck to small sips of bottled sparkling water in an attempt to avoid having to stop too often “to check the tire pressure,” as Anderson referred to as a bathroom break, behind a big rock or bush.

The comfy furnishings made is tempting to lay here and watch the wildlife to saunter or swim past from time to time. Actually, we only had time to sit here for one hour during the three day period.

It was there I learned to gingerly “go” knowing full-well a snake could be in close proximity. It’s so much more difficult for women wearing pants than men. But it was a task that presented itself in many other parts of the world, especially the Middle East, Asia, and Indonesia, where toilets are merely a hole in the floor, not the easiest scenario for women wearing pants.

Although we were escorted to our tent the first time, Tom wanted to handle the long, sturdy zipper to ensure we had no issues. Of course, it was a breeze, opening to a virtual paradise of tent interiors.

But, like everything else in our almost eight years of world travel, we adapted and embraced our surroundings, all the while cajoling ourselves that it all was a part of the adaptation we had to accept as we’ve continued to travel the world. Has that all changed now in light of Covid-19? Only time will tell.

We unpacked, with our equipment plugged in, anxious to write here to begin sharing the experience. With no Internet connection in the tent and neither of our WiFi devices able to connect, we comfortably sat in the lodge to go online to post. As we’d mentioned the connection was poor, preventing us from posting many photos until returning to Diani Beach, where still the connection wasn’t strong. We slept in the bed on the left, keeping our electronics plugged in on the bed on the right.

Certainly, the adaptation required for us to remain in lockdown in a hotel in India for 201 days, has been a true test in itself. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I am not certain as to the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown, but when and if we discover them, we’ll certainly share it here.

Stay safe and healthy.

_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2019:

John and Renate’s 500-year-old farmhouse in Witheridge, Devon, England has been appointed with authenticity in mind. For more photos, please click here.

Day #197 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Seven years ago today…


This is a Topi, only found in the Maasai Mara.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari experiences in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Please bear with us as we share repeated photos as we work our way through October 2013. It was that single experience while on safari many times in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, living in a luxury tent (photos of the tent will follow in a few days), that everything changed for us.

We could sit for hours and watch the antics of the hippos. Their sluggish movement and playful personalities are a pleasure to behold.

In tomorrow’s fourth 2000 word post (only one more to go), we’ll explain this further regarding taking photos of wildlife. It’s a long post to which we’ll be adding more repeated photos but will illustrate how being amateur photographers have enhanced our world journey.

It was seven years ago today that we were entrenched in the splendid glory of being on safari twice a day while never disappointed. Throughout my life, I swooned over photos of animals in the wild, wondering when and if I’d ever had a good fortune or be brave enough to embark on such a journey.

A lone hippo was searching for a morsel on the ground.

Little did I know at the time that bravery wasn’t a necessary element in experiencing the joys of safari. Instead, it is a sense of adventure, which with a professional guide and later on, as our guides, presented little risk with a multitude of thrills. At one point in our posts, I equated it to having an “E” ticket at Disneyland (remember, old-timers, like me?), and the thrills were seemingly never-ending.

Looking back at the photos now, primarily while outrageously confined in lockdown in a hotel in India for 6½ months, these photos still send a rush of endorphins through my bloodstream, making me realize how addicted I’ve become to this incredible rush after all of these years.

We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept on such scenes as a reality of the life cycle in the wild. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle.

Each day on Facebook, I peruse dozens of photos from various safaris in Africa and countless wildlife photos in Marloth Park from the many friends we left behind. Many of us belong to different Marloth Park FB groups, and the photos make me long to return in a way I can barely describe.

I think that perhaps someday soon, we can return to see our animal and human friends, shop in a grocery store, cook our meals, savor a glass of red wine or cocktail at happy hour, and move about freely in open spaces. My heart skips a beat.

The Mara River. Our tent was located on the shore, where sounds of hippos filled the air beginning around 4:00 am as they awoke.

On top of that, at any time we’d like, we can make the 20-minute drive to the Crocodile Gate to enter Kruger National Park to search for the next big rush excitedly; elephants, lions, cape buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, most of which we don’t see as readily in Marloth Park.

The well-rounded experiences of that location are all we could ever dream of and, without a doubt, were where we had the most exciting, enduring, and blissful experiences in our almost eight years of world travel (as of October 31st). Whether it was dinner at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant or dinner at our own table or theirs, with friends, sitting by the braai (bonfire), or even those special times alone on the veranda, just the two of us, reveling in every visitor that graced our garden during the day or evening, it all was extraordinary.

No swimming in this river!

Will we appreciate it more now than we did then, during the entire 18 months we spent in Marloth Park in 2013, 2018, 2019? I don’t think so. We treasured every single day and night, just like we’ll do once again, sometime in the future. When? We don’t have a clue. But, we wait patiently for news on the horizon when borders open, and we can be on our way.

It won’t be easy getting there. It’s a long flight, and most likely with COVID-19 protocols, it will be 35 hours or more from airport to airport and then a five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Marloth Park. The closer (one hour drive) airport of Mpumalanga/Nelspruit/Kruger won’t be opening for some time. Time will tell.

“Please pinch me,” I told Tom at that time. “I must be dreaming!”

Right now, our biggest concern is getting that package delivered. The hotel manager is helping us and working directly with FedEx. Hopefully, today, we’ll hear something. In the meantime, it’s the status quo, same old, same old.

Have a peaceful day, and please stay safe and healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2019:

A goose with a knot on her head on the farm in Devon, England. For more photos, please click here.

Day #196 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…Photos from Kenya in 2013…

Anderson, our safari guide in the Maasai Mara, took us on an unplanned 90-minute safari rather than wait at the airstrip for another couple to arrive on a later flight. This was one of the first photos we took along the Mara River. Our tent was located on the banks of the river where the hippos awakened us with their hysterical morning calls. We couldn’t believe our eyes or ears.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on our first safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

Anderson referred to these ostracized male cape buffaloes (one of the Big Five) as Retired Generals. They’ve lost the battle for dominance and are forced out of the herd to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives. Kind of sad. He gave us a nice pose, hungry not only for vegetation but also for attention.

It was seven years ago today, we embarked on our very first safari, in this case in the wildlife-rich Maasai Mara in Kenya. This life-changing adventure will always remain in our minds as the stepping stone into a world we only dreamed about, never imagining that safaris would become such an integral aspect of our world travels.

I love warthogs. Vegetarians, they amble around for the tiniest morsels. They are delightful to watch.

Also, included in today’s post, are photos from my first experience of flying in a small airplane. I was terrified, but our pilot, Edwin, who reassured me when he spotted the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro when I had an opportunity to take the photo shown here today. Ironically, this event cured me of my fear of flying in small planes.

I was nervous when I saw them, adding fuel to our small plane, which was fueled by using a hand crank, typically used in WW2, according to Tom’s recollection of history.

In our enthusiasm to share these experiences, we’ve probably posted many of these photos on many past posts. Yesterday I finished writing the fourth of the five 2000 word posts I had to do for our web developers who’ve been working on our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to provide us with a better presence in searches on the web, ultimately bringing more readers to our site.

View from the plane after leveling off.

When that particular 2000 word post is uploaded this coming week, I’ll be adding more of the same photos you’ll see over the next few days, as we re-share photos from the Maasai Mara experience as it occurred in 2013. Please bear with us for the repetition.

Seeing Mount Kilimanjaro changed everything for me. The inside of the plane was so small, it was difficult to get a good shot maneuvering around the other passengers since we were on the opposite side.

During these circumstances of COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not easy to avoid repetition, when we have nary a new photo to share of anything in our present-day lives, which for us, like many of you, consists of the routine and repetition of many functions and activities of daily life.

This appeared to be some type of horse farm. Look at the reflection of our plane on the ground! What a sight! I couldn’t believe we were inside that tiny thing!

This morning, I spoke to the hotel manager who has personally taken on the responsibility of getting our package situation resolved. We are so grateful for his help and kindness. He’s even got his wife, who doesn’t work for the hotel, involved in trying to figure a way for us to pay the customs taxes and fees. We’re hopeful.

At the moment as I type, Tom has his laptop plugged into the TV and is watching the Minnesota Vikings game from yesterday. With the huge time difference between the US and India, he can’t watch it until Monday mornings since the game plays while we’re sleeping. I enjoy watching the games so I keep an eye on it as it’s playing. But, the disappointment over their losing record, is discouraging, making me less interested.

After three takes off and three landings, we finally arrived to meet our guide, Anderson who’s lived in the Masai Mara region all of his life. What a guy!  We loved him the moment we met him, spending the next several days with him.

Last night, my dinner was a huge improvement. Most nights, except for the once-a-week tiny piece of salmon I order, I have chicken, usually chicken breasts which I don’t care for. I asked for other chicken parts since I prefer dark meat and they served me a good-sized plate of deboned dark meat in a decent-sized portion. Why didn’t I ask for this in the past?

Well, I tried. In the past, I’ve asked for the dark meat to include chicken thighs and chicken legs. They always stated they didn’t have them, just breasts. Last night when I ordered I said, “I’d like chicken but NO breasts.” Somehow, with the language barrier, this made sense to them, and a plate of deboned chicken thighs and legs arrived, well-roasted and moist, along with a good-sized portion of sauteed mushrooms.

My knees were still a little wobbly from the flights. I was thrilled to be on the ground, meeting our guide Anderson for our time in Onolana. At that point, I knew I’d be less fearful of the return flight.

I’ve been saving two hard-boiled eggs from my breakfast to eat with my dinner since it never was enough. Last night I didn’t eat the eggs when I was full for the first time since I gave up the curried chicken and paneer makhani, several weeks ago to reduce the number of carbohydrates I’d been consuming. The pain in my legs has improved but is not gone. ye. It could take another month or two until I get full relief.

Today, I’ll begin working on the 5th and final 2000 word post. It will be great to have this obligation behind me.

Have a good day filled with hope for the future!

_______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2019:
That morning, at the farm in Devon, when the rain stopped for a few minutes, we walked in the mushy grass to the greenhouse to collect these vegetables and berries we used for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

Arrived in Udaipur after a 16 hour travel day…The latest tiger photos are delayed…The pure joy of safari…

We passed over many sprawling rivers in Kanha National Park.

Note: We’d intended to post the new tiger photos today, but apparently, our order for the camera-to-computer adapter from Amazon India didn’t get delivered. Subsequently, we’re posing other safari photos and will get caught up as soon as it arrives. Thanks for your patience.

By the time we arrived at our hotel in Udaipur, the Fateh Sagar Lake Hotel, it was already 8:30 pm. We’d left the Tuli Tiger Resort at 4:30 am. As expected, we were greeted by a tour guide at the layover point in Mumbai, who drove us to the next terminal and again by yet another tour guide at the airport when we arrived in Udaipur. 

The beauty in Kanha National Park is breathtaking.

This personalized service is slick. We never have to figure out where to go and how we’ll get there. It is all arranged for us, included in our Indi tour package with Tailormade Journeys. Rajiv has done a fine job covering each step of the way. From time to time, we have questions that are responded to quickly and efficiently.

On the first of two flights, I ordered a small container of almonds and a cup of tea. Tom never ate a thing. We’d planned to go to dinner upon arrival, but after being so tired, we decided to go to bed and hopefully sleep by 10:00 pm. For the first time in a long time, I slept through the night. Tom awoke several times but also managed to get sufficient sleep to feel refreshed today.

A pair of Sambar deer.

The included breakfast is served at the hotel’s restaurant, and we both looked forward to a hearty meal to start the day. Although we can’t get bacon or any facsimile, we usually eat lots of eggs with veggies for me and eggs and toast for Tom. It fills us for the day.

The hotel in Udaipur isn’t as plush as we’d expected. Still, it has a view of Sagar Lake, and our room is spacious, clean, and well-appointed with everything we need: good WiFi, air-con, comfortable bed, and good plug-ins for our adapters and converters.

The bulky gaur, a rare type of buffalo.

The hotel reminds me of those I’d visited in years past, which was historic with 1930s decor. We’re pretty OK here. We’re staying in Udaipur for four nights total, and on Thursday, March 5th, we’ll head to Chennai. In the interim, we’ll be visiting points of interest in Udaipur and surrounding areas starting today at noon. We’ll share photos and stories of those visits over the next few days.

But today, we wanted to wrap up our final safari experiences, including the last sighting of a tiger in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh (there are 28 states in India and eight union territories).

Many people live within the national park in modest houses such as this.

At the moment, we’re awaiting the arrival of the SD card adapter. Once it arrives from Amazon India, I’ll download the photos from the camera, which contains all the final safari photos.

On the last day in Kanha, I went on both the morning and the afternoon game drives on my own. Tom felt a little under the weather and is fine now, but he wasn’t quite up to bouncing around in the safari vehicle for 10 hours.

As I sat alone in the center seat of the safari vehicle’s three rows of seats (including one row for the driver and the naturalist) with a park representative in the third row), I felt comfortable and at ease. I had three professional guides to focus on finding a tiger, and all I had to do was balance myself on the outrageously bumpy roads and take photos when we spotted something.

A peacock was searching for a mate.

Of course, my eyes were peeled on the surroundings, hoping to spot the familiar stripes of yet another tiger. Yet, it was almost equally exciting finding other exciting species such as those we’ve included in today’s photos.

Once the safari ended, I found Tom waiting for me in the lobby, where he stayed and worked on his laptop in my absence. It was great to see him, but I felt liberated and pleased with going on safari by myself.
 
After my long and difficult recovery, it felt good to be independent for a day after a year of Tom’s thoughtful and generous hovering. I’d managed to get in and out of the safari vehicle independently without him or anyone spotting me, which requires cautious maneuvering to avoid injury.
Sambar deer on the side of the road.

We didn’t sleep more than four hours on the last night in Kanah, and after the long travel day, I was exhausted last night. The substantial bouncing for 10-hours left me a little stiff and sore, but not unlike the feeling after a good and healthful workout. Today, I feel like new.
Today, we headed out on a much-anticipated exciting tour in Udaipur, details of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Have a fantastic Monday! We’ll be thinking of YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, March 2, 2020:

This adorable female kudu is suffering from TB, as indicated by the tumor on the left side of her face. For more, please click here.

Leap year then and now…Travel day tomorrow…We’ll post during layover…More tiger photos coming!…

A gaur was crossing the road. “The gaur (/ɡaʊər/, Bos gaurus), also called the Indian bison, is the largest extant bovine. It is native to South and Southeast Asia and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global population has been estimated at a maximum of 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations and is extinct in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In well-protected areas, it is stable and rebuilding.”

It’s leap year day. I don’t have a “year ago photo” since there was no post on February 29th last year. But we’ve added a photo from the previous leap year four years ago, on February 29, 2016.

I recalled last year at the end of February like it was yesterday. I’d been home from the hospital for only three days, and my legs had yet to become infected but were very sore from the incisions from my ankle bones to about eight inches above my knees.

A pair of gaur, a rare sighting in the national parks, was a thrill to see.

I’d been walking around the house every hour or so, hoping to speed my recovery but sensing I was making little progress.

The pain was excessive, my breathing sketchy and inconsistent, my wounds so raw I didn’t dare shower, doing sponge baths instead fearing infecting myself with the less than clean water in Marloth Park, South Africa. It happened anyway.

A black eagle.

Even the smallest of tasks required hours of recovery. Tom did it all along with the help of our fantastic household staff, Zef, and Vusi who handled all the housework. I languished in my awful state of being, wondering if it would ever end.

And now, one year later, I am in India, getting up and dressed for the day to head out on safari twice a day, beginning at 5:30 am.
A sambar deer. “Sambar deer is found in almost every corner of India, But it is mainly found in central India. They can easily be spotted at Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh (we’ve been to three of the aforementioned national parks in India) Gir, Dudhwa, Manas, Kaziranga, and Sariska. Habitat: Sambar deer prefers marshy and wooded areas to live.”

It’s 10 hours a day of bouncing so hard in a safari Jeep that my FitBit measures 10’s of thousands of steps and hundreds of flights of stairs from the violent jostling about on rough roads.

I love it all. I am alive. And I am grateful every morning when I awaken to face yet another day, braced for adventure, braced for excitement, expecting the most but accepting when it’s less.
Young wild boar. “The wild boar (Sus scrofa), also known as the wild swine, Common wild pig, or simply wild pig) is a suid native to much of the Palearctic, as well as introduced numbers in the Americas and Southeast Asia. Human intervention has spread its distribution further, making the species one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widely spread uniform. Its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability mean that it is classed as least concern by the IUCN, and it has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. The animal probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and out-competed other suid species as it spread throughout the Old World.”

What’s next? Another month and a few days more of India, the vibrant rush of colors, and its equal passion for life.

I feel at home here in this culturally and diametrically diverse notion of life from what we knew in the past, embracing that which I know now, from that which I’ve learned from adversity.
Kanha Nation Park is truly beautiful with a wide range of types of scenery, all exquisite.

Everything happens for a reason. I was already in awe and grateful. But I asked what I needed to learn—had I yet a new level of appreciation to discover, yet to conquer?

I am still trying to figure this out. Surely during whatever time I have left in this world, it will come to me. I wait patiently. I know it will go, and I know I have enough time to bring it to fruition for some odd reason.
A sambar deer on the side of the road.

At the moment, I am sitting outdoors in the resort in Kanha National Park, in India, with the sounds of nature surrounding me, her magical arms holding me close to her heart.

It’s not perfect. Like life, it is flawed. But I open my arms and welcome her in knowing full well that therein lies the answers to the mystery of life we all so long to learn. I am at peace.

Just like in Africa, the antelopes and pigs hang out together.
Tomorrow at 4:30 am, we’ll embark on yet another six-hour drive to a distant airport to head to an all-day flight with layovers to Udaipur. I will complete tomorrow’s post during our 3 1/2 hour layover. We’ll prepare tomorrow’s post during the layover.

See you then, my friends. We’ll see you then.

Photo from the last leap year, four years ago on February 29, 2016:

View of Mount Taranaki from a walk in the neighborhood while we lived on the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand. For more photos, please click here.

Photos of Tuli Tiger Resort inside Kanha Tiger Reserve…

 
The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite.

We’re having some technical issues. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and purchased another Windows laptop instead of a Chromebook. As it turned out in my haste to order, the HP Chromebook I ordered doesn’t have a slot for an SD camera card.

A small, casual bar in the dining area.

Subsequently, I’ve had to use my phone to take photos and although many come out well, using zoom is a missing aspect of using a smartphone as a camera. Now that we’re in the midst of another nine safaris after nine at the last location in the Bandhavgarh National Park, today I broke down and used the camera, getting many better shots than ever possible using the phone.

Now, I’m left with no way to load them. A few minutes ago I purchased an adapter from Amazon India with a proposed receipt date of Monday, March 1st, the date we arrive at our hotel in Udaipur. Hopefully, once again a shipment within India will work out as well as the last.

The spacious pool is near the dining and bar area.

As a result, in the interim, I will be uploaded only those photos we’d taken on our phone while continuing to use the camera. Once the adapter arrives on Monday when we’ll have more time, I’ll be able to share the many fine photos we took at Kanha Tiger Reserve.

After going out on four safaris as of today, with two more remaining tomorrow that encompass 10 hours of each day, we decided to split up today with me taking the 5:30 am session and Tom out right now on the afternoon session.

The grounds are filled with named indigenous vegetation befitting this type of resort.

Doing so left me with time to post today’s story and photos and to work on the Amazon order which is trickier than compared to ordering supplies from the US.

The bathroom is small but nicely appointed.

Since we don’t have a tremendous number of tours during our three nights in Udaipur, we’ll have time to upload the camera’s photos and get more caught up posting.

Plus, the WiFi in both safari resorts has been sketchy at best, in each case, off and on all day and only accessible from the reception office. Not being able to put up my feet and relax while preparing a post is a bit annoying, but soon we’ll be in a hotel with good service in our room (so says the online information).

There are several seating areas in our suite.

This resort is beautiful and well-appointed otherwise. Besides Tom’s disappointment with the food, we’re enjoying our time in this premium property.

So far, our 55-night tour of India is going quite well and we have a fabulous company, Tailormade Journeys continuing to work with us for any questions or concerns. We’ve been very pleased with their service working with rep Rajiv and his support staff in making this a seamless series of events, a highly complicated scenario for this extended period. They can be reached as follows:

Rajiv Wahie
Tailormade Journeys Limited
25 Grangewood , WEXHAM , SLOUGH , SL3 6LP , South Bucks. United Kingdom.
United Kingdom Tel : 01753 577330, 01753 201201 Mobile: 07739716978.
USA & Canada Toll Free : 1 – 855- 9 – 526526 , Canada :416-619-7795
Australia : 61-2-86078986Emailgreat-vacation@btconnect.com
The king-sized bed is very comfortable.
Well, that’s it for today folks. We’ve included photos of the lovely Tuli Tiger Resort. We’re looking forward to sharing more photos soon.
 
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2019:

Mom and Babies hanging out by the recently cleaned cement pond. For more photos, please click here.

Wednesday was a travel day…Now amid more safaris at Kanha National Park…

Note: All of today’s photos were taken from the car on yesterday’s road trip. No captions needed.

Yesterday, as I wrote this post we were in a crisp clean white SUV with air-con comparable to other vehicles that have been transporting us from one location to another.

It was travel day once again with an expected 5½ hours drive time until we’d reach our destination and yet another safari camp, Tuli Tiger Resort, this time to Kanha National Park where we’d be spending another four nights with two game drives each day.

The drive is interrupted every three or four kilometers by small towns lined with shops and vendors selling fruit and vegetables, clothing, and a variety of tourist goods and household goods for the locals.

Cows, dogs, and goats wander through the streets aimlessly in search of the next meal and women walk with baskets of food and other items atop their heads, while men congregate in small groups discussing the events of the day.
The women wear colorful Hindu costumes impeccably draped and pleated regardless of their income level of poverty. The beautiful garb us unlike any other we’ve seen in the world. Although each town may have its own personality the premise of the Hindu philosophy is evident in every aspect of creating a certain familiarity from town to town.

Once back out on the highway, the landscape is brown and somewhat desolate, scattered with trees and vegetation of one sort or another.
It’s winter time here and until the monsoon season arrives everything the grasses remain brown and less hearty for the cows and other animals in search of good grazing fields.

With nary a patch of green for meandering cows and sheep, they often seek out public areas in hopes of food donations from the locals who appear at times to be very generous with their sacred cows. Hindus have a love of all creatures, both human and animals.

People often smile and wave as we pass through. School children in freshly pressed school uniforms play together in the streets without a toy or a ball and yet seem happy and content in their lives.

Their simple life is accepted with a powerful faith not so much as a religion but as a way of life leaving them grateful and accepting of whatever lifestyle they’ve been provided.

We are humbled and in awe of their dedication and their strength as they work their way through any obstacles life presents them. Many have no access to medical care, modern conveniences, clean water, and in many cases such taken for granted commodities such as electricity.

These individuals and families work together however they can to create the best life possible without complaint, without disharmony and without a longing for what could have been.

I often think of all the times I’d grumbled when making a call for customer service to end up with a heavily-accented Indian person on the line, often working in a hot uncomfortable boiler room taking calls for various digital and computer equipment companies all the way from India to provide customer service for companies in the US. Now, I have an entirely different perspective.

In a land of 1.3 billion people there’s is little to no government subsidies such as welfare, food stamps or government assistance. Overall, Indian people are on their own.

We’ve seen fewer homeless people here in India in the almost month we have been here than we saw in an equal time in the US. That speaks for itself and the powerful work ethic and life values imposed by their Hindu strength and principles.

This morning at 5:30 am we began our first morning safari from the resort. We didn’t see any tigers yet but we have five more safaris scheduled at this location, including another today at 2:30 pm. 

By the time we return for the afternoon game drive at 6:30 pm, we’ll freshen up for dinner, dine at 8:00 pm and head to bed shortly thereafter. It’s a busy and exhausting day but typical in the lives of wildlife enthusiasts like ourselves.

Have a fantastic day and night!

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2019:

The kudus give us “the look,” which means “more pellets please.” For more photos, please click here.