Arrived in Udaipur after a 16 hour travel day…The latest tiger photos are delayedT…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 really 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 to 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, but 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 sufficient 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 year’s past which was historic with a 1930s decor. We’re quite fine 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 the state of 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 be able to 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 was feeling 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 balancing myself on the outrageously bumpy roads and take photos when we spotted something.

A peacock searching for a mate.

Of course, my eyes were peeled on the surroundings, hoping to spot the familiar stripes of yet another tiger, and yet it was almost equally exciting finding other interesting 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 myself for 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 on my own without him or anyone spotting me which requires very careful maneuvering to avoid injury.

Sambar deer on the side of the road.

The substantial bouncing for 10-hours left me a little stiff and sore, but not unlike the feeling after a good and healthful workout. When we didn’t sleep more than four hours on the last night in Kanah and after the long travel day, I was particularly tired last night. 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!

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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 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 maximum 21,000 mature individuals by 2016. It declined by more than 70% during the last three generations, and is extinct in Sri Lanka and probably also in 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 last 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 were 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 unconscionable, 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 amazing 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 the central India. They can easily be spotted at Kanha, Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, (we’ve been to three of the fore mentioned 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 suiform. 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 that which 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. But I ask what I needed to learn? I already was in awe and grateful. Had I yet a new level of appreciation yet 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 come and for some odd reason, I know I have enough time to bring it to fruition.

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 know. I am at peace.

Just like in Africa, the antelopes and pigs hang out together.
Tomorrow morning 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.

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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 Bandvargarh 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 in 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.
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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 aircon 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 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 line with shops vendors selling fruits 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 woman wear colorful Hindu costumes impeccably draped and pleated regardless of their income level of poverty. The beautiful garb us unike 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 less 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. Its a busy and exhausting day but typical in the lives of wildlife enthusiasts like ourselves.


Have a fantastic day and night!

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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.

A noteworthy artist at Tiger’s Den Resort…A wildlife artist beyond comprehension…Rakesh Prajapali…

Perfection!

Over the past 48 hours at the Tiger’s Den Resort, we’ve been so wrapped up in going out on safari twice a day (8½ hours a day) and dining on delicious food three times a day, we’ve had time for little else.


With the resort’s WiFi connection only available in the reception area, preparing posts in our room using my phone hotspot technology has been slow and laborious. The only post I’d uploaded from here was yesterday’s story after our first tiger sighting. Please click here for details.

Endearing…


However, getting up at 5:00 am and being safari-ready by 6:00, has left me a little weary and preferring to stay in our beautifully appointed room when not in the jeep or dining room.


Today, I decided to bite the bullet and head to the reception area where the signal is perfect. Also, today, after last night’s heavy rain and hail, this morning’s the sightings were few in the safari areas of the park. 


After a five-hour foray of searching for the elusive tiger, after yesterday’s great success, we decided to forgo the afternoon game drive and stay in at the reception area in order to do a post that was nagging at me… The stunning work of Rakesh Prajapali, a young and vibrant wildlife artist like none we’ve ever seen in our over seven years of world travel.

Darling cubs so beautifully represented.

We happened across his fine work by accident. When staying in a hotel or resort, we may breeze through a gift shop paying little attention to the typical trinkets-type inventory offered to impulsive tourists, often overpriced and often unused and unappreciated once returning to one’s country of residence.


When we casually entered the “Souvenir Shop” after dinner our first night here, when at that point, we’d yet to embark upon the first of many safaris and weren’t quite as tired as we are now, our mouths were agape at what our eyes beheld.


There before our eyes lie the most exquisite paintings we’d ever seen of any wildlife, let alone the mysterious Bengal Tiger, only found in India, with only 2500 remaining nationwide. 

Stunning!

Leaning against a glass countertop stood a handsome young man, Rakesh with a tiny paintbrush in his hand, painting an exquisite rendition of a tiger from a photo he’d taken here in the Bandhavgarh National Park with its 1536 square kilometers (593 square miles) surrounding this and other safari resorts.


After being engrossed in his work, I asked him if we could highlight him with a story and photos of his actual paintings and, let me stress, these aren’t photos of photos.  These are photos of his actual paintings.


Of course, the tiger is a perfect subject for the skilled and determined artist, but Rakesh has taken this advantage to an incomprehensible level. After seeing hi

Such fine detail.


Today, we share a few of Rakesh’s stunning works (painted, not photos) and invite any of our readers who may so wish, to contact him directly if you’d love one of his masterpieces. 


He ships his works worldwide in a secure cardboard tube for your framing preferences once received. Prices range from INR 5000 (US $70) to INR 75000, (US $1043) plus shipping. The sizes of each original painting vary. Feel free to inquire as to the size of each masterpiece. Many would perfectly encompass a substantially sized wall.


To reach Rakesh, contact him at his email here: prajapatirakesh73@gmail.com

Rakesh paints a wide array of subjects, human and animal, besides tigers. Outstanding work!

As for this resort, Tiger’s Den Resort, we couldn’t be more pleased. The grounds, rooms and public areas represent a vast wildlife and safari persona. The service is impeccable. Monkeys, birds and a few lovely German Shephard dogs protect the guests and yet are friendly and welcoming. The area is safe and unhindered by many risks one may find in more populated areas.


We will leave here tomorrow, but will take with us many fine memories of both Rakesh, Tiger’s Den Resort and its staff.

Happy Day!

__________________________________________
(Today, it is one year ago that I resumed posting after a two week break after open-heart surgery).

Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2019:

Tom had cut several stalks of celery, saving the scraps for the kudus, bushbucks, and zebras, all of which love celery.  For more photos, please click here.

Travel day…We’ve arrived in Bandhavgarh National Park…Here we go eight days of safari in India…


“The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu temples and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh India, about 175 kilometers southeast of Jhansi. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.”

These five or six-hour road trips are teaching us a lot more about India than any other tourist venues we’ve been visiting day after day. Traveling through the countryside of this country with a population of over 1.3 billion is without a doubt eye-opening.


Today on our way to the Tiger’s Den Resort in Bandhavgarh National Park we acquired yet another perspective of life in India away from the big cities we’ve visited to date.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled with our private tour guide, Dr. Anand Tiwari who had a doctor’s degree in Hindu idols. He explained he’d done a tour the prior day with guests on the Maharajas Express! What a coincidence and an honor for us! He can be reached here for tours.

The distance between towns is often as little as two to three kilometers. Then suddenly we were caught in yet another quagmire of horn honking traffic, tuk-tuks, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles, cows, goats and dogs in the streets.


Here again, vendor lean-tos line every possible surface with often impoverished sellers soliciting passersby, particularly tourists like ourselves. The amount of poverty before our eyes is unbelievable and yet these cheerful people seem to take their circumstances in their stride. 

It’s ironic but we visited this historic site on a very special day, the wedding anniversary of the revered Lord Shiva, as part of an annual festival. This stairway to his temple was packed with visitors coming from all over India to honor him.

Sure, there are obvious homeless beggars in the street, but overall the people seem to be preoccupied with their work and tasks at hand, often with a smile on their faces. We are the “odd-man-out” and they may look at us in a state of sheer wonder and curiosity.

The carvings on the temple resulted in many years of work by the skilled artists.

Our India travel agency and rep Rajiv didn’t let us down. Upon arrival at the beautiful upscale safari camp, Tiger’s Den Resort, we were escorted to our beautifully appointed “luxury accommodation” (as they described our room) to find it to be perfect. 


It’s not a tent. It’s a series of rooms, each with its own small veranda connected as duplexes might be by a common wall, each with direct access to the outdoors. The furnishes remind us of India in the 1920’s such as the former retail shop in the US, Bombay Trading Company.

The various temples are breathtaking.

As soon as we arrived, and explained my special diet, our reception host brought my food list to the chef who met with me to discuss options. I made it easy for him. Prepare chicken or fish in butter (not bad oils) with a side of steamed vegetables without starch. Add two hard-boiled eggs at breakfast and lunch, not dinner. Easy peasy.

Visitors climbed these steep uneven steps but we opted to observe rather than climb.

We had a nice lunch in the nearby dining room and now we’re situated in our room or outdoors on the veranda until dinner at 7:30 pm. Perhaps we’ll order a glass of wine for me and a beer for Tom to enjoy on the veranda. Humm…sound familiar…just like South Africa.


Tomorrow morning at 6:00 am, we’ll experience our first of six safaris we’re scheduled for during our four days at this camp. Our travel agent booked us for “private” safaris each time, with a driver and a naturalist on board in the vehicle. We didn’t expect this but are delighted. It was included in our package. 

We’re posting only two Kamasutra photos etched into the temples here but they are a part of the history and needed to be represented.

Unfortunately, there’s no WiFi in the rooms so at the moment I’m using my Google World phone as a hotspot and although the signal isn’t great in this area, it’s working. It will cost us quite a lot for the data we expect to use but sometimes, we have to bear such expenses.


Most likely, when we head to our next location on the 26th, there will be more of the same. The only expenses we’ll incur at either of these safari camps will be tips and beverages. Three meals a day are included in the package. A picnic breakfast will be provided when we go on safari in the morning. Nice.

Another hand carved representation of Kamasutra as it was practiced centuries ago. It is no longer accepted based on the polyamory (multiple partners) premise frowned upon by the Hindu people.

So now, I must get to the photos of the fantastic tour we had yesterday in Khajuraho to some of the most stunning temples we’ve seen to date. Again, we don’t have a lot of time until dinner so I need to wrap this up quickly.

This is a goddess surrounded by servants and admirers.

Gosh, I’m excited to be here. It reminds me of Africa and nothing warms my heart more than that! Will we see a tiger? Maybe, maybe not. But whatever we see, we’ll share here with all of you.
Happy day.

Final expenses for Maharajas Express…Safari photos from Ranthambore National Park

Two baby barns owls peering out from the safety of the hollow in the tree in Ranthambore National Park.
Expenses   US Dollar       Indian           Rupee 
Maharajas Express Train
Fare for 2 
$ 11,996.00 857905.94
Tips   $     433.38 30993.60
Taxi   $        –               
Dining Out   $     115.43          8255.09
Visa Fees – India for
 $     120.00 8581.92
ATM fees   $       24.30 1737.84
Total   $ 12,689.11 907474.39
Avg Daily Cost (6 night train-2 nights hotel in Mumbai)   $   1,586.14 113434.30

No, we didn’t spot the elusive Bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India on Friday’s safari when we disembarked the Maharajas Express at the train station.
Nearly dry river bed.

There were several reasons, based on our relatively vast safari experiences, that may have been instrumental in not spotting a tiger. They include:

1.  The driver of the noisy 20 passenger safari vehicle, simply drove too fast through the park causing loud noises that could easily prevent a possible sighting when tigers are elusive and sensitive to loud noises.

Kingfisher.

2.  Driving slowly with all passenger’s eyes on the lookout for a sighting would have greatly increased our odds.

3.  Loud talking: The tour guide, although seemingly knowledgeable about the park, spoke and yelled out in loud tones that would easily have prevented a sighting of a tiger, let alone other wildlife. Often times, the guides were yelling out to one another as we passed along the narrow route.
Monkey searching for morsels of food.

Once we entered the park, Tom and I looked at one another, with the knowledge that it would be highly unlikely we’d see a tiger under the above circumstances.

We don’t blame the Maharajas Express. 
Spotted deer.

Most likely few, if any, passengers, would have voiced these concerns, especially if they’ve never been on safari in the past. The speed at which the driver was maneuvering through the rough roads, make it especially difficult for the senior-aged passengers. 

Wildflowers blooming at the river’s edge.

One kind woman, Carol from Australia, with whom we made a good connection, literally fell out of her seat landing on the floor of the vehicle injuring her hip and breaking her finger. This could have happened to anyone of us when the bumps were so outrageous we could barely hang on for dear life.

Antelopes in India are similar to kudus in Africa but, without the prominent white markings.

By the time the short two-hour safari came to an end, we were all rattled after the extraordinarily bumpy ride. Oh, as our readers know we’ve been on many safaris over bumpy roads, but nothing and I mean nothing, compares to that outrageous ride for two hours.

Termite mounds, considerably smaller than those in Africa.

The early morning was chilly. The train staff provided us with woolen blankets. Although both Tom and I were bundled up in our warmest clothing and the blankets, our hands and faces were cold as the safari vehicle ripped through the jungle.

Banyan tree.

We still have four or five more game drives scheduled during our 55-night tour of India, but this time, we’ll be on our own with the guides and surely will provide some input as to how we’d like the safaris conducted. This is not meant to be arrogant, by any means. But more so it’s an attempt to improve the odds of spotting wildlife we long to see in India.

Crocodile on the bank of the river at the Ranthambore National Park.

Today, while in New Delhi, we were out on a tour with a driver and our own personal tour guide, Subi, in both the old and the new Delhi. We visited some outstanding venues and look forward to sharing them with all of you over the next few days. Our hotel, the Metropolitan in New Delhi is excellent.

Shallow river in the national park.

Whew! We’ve had quite a busy schedule since we left Arizona, 11 days ago and there’s more than we can imagine in days to come. Please stay tuned.


Have a pleasant day and evening.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 9, 2019:

The four piglets certainly have grown over the past six months.  They are so fun to watch. For more phtotos, please click here.

Part 9…Cape Buffalo Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

A group of cape buffalo may be called an “obstinacy.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is an African Hawk-Eagle.

What an amazing day we had yesterday!  We spent the better part of the day in Kruger National Park, had lunch at the Mugg & Bean and continued on to the Sunset Dam for more spectacular sightings.  

“Buffalo herds can have a significant ecological impact on the veld. Being a bulk grazer, they are responsible for converting long grasslands into short grassy environments conducive to other browsers with more selective feeding habits.”

With finishing the day’s post utmost on my mind in the afternoon, we headed back to Marloth Park by 1400 hours (2:00 pm) arriving about an hour later.  We planned to arrive at Lisa’s house in time for “sundowners” (happy hour) and to see her adorable rescued bushbabies. 

In the next week, we’ll be posting photos from our visit to both Wild & Free locations, at the main facility in Hectorspruit with Deidre and Marloth Park at Lisa’s house.  Both experiences were such a delight to share with Tom & Lois. 

“An inhabitant of woodland savannas, large herds of African Buffalo are encountered in the Kruger National Park, with smaller herds in Zululand and the Eastern Cape.”

By 1900 hours (7:00 pm) were returned to the house, hustled around preparing great leftovers for dinner and did the usual “night on the veranda” thing with many visitors arriving throughout the remainder of the evening.

“A large and powerful bovine, the African Buffalo reaches shoulder heights of up to 1.5 m and a mass of 750 kg. Both sexes have horns, those of the bulls are characterized by a heavy boss and upward curved horns.”

We’ve spent this morning on the veranda, with fewer visitors than usual due to weekend holidaymakers and the drizzling rain.  Once we upload today’s post, we’ll be heading out for a drive along the Crocodile River to see what we can find.


This morning Tom and I went to Daisy’s Den to pick up more handmade placemats and linen napkins for tomorrow night’s exciting dinner party with Louise and Danie coming and a special couple we’ll tell you more about after the party.  It’s quite an amazing story we look forward to sharing next week with considerable enthusiasm.

“Buffalo are inherent carriers of viruses fatal to domestic stock, and for this reason, disease-free Buffalo are being specifically bred in areas such as the Eastern Cape in South Africa and fetch very high prices.” 

After I was typing the above paragraph, Tom had noticed a posting in Marloth Park Sighting Page on Facebook that a pride of lions had been sighted at the Crocodile River.



We all drop what we were doing and took off for the river within minutes.  Following where all the cars were driving and eventually parked near the “Two Trees” location it didn’t take more than a few minutes to spot the lions.

“Mainly preyed upon by lions. When a herd member is attacked, others will rush to its defense. Collectively a number of buffalo are more than capable to stave off an attack by an entire pride of lions. A wounded buffalo bull is regarded as most dangerous by hunters and is one of the reasons why this animal is included in the so-called ‘big five’. This trait is the origin of many hunting adventures, myths, and legends.”

We were all enthralled by the sighting, taking as many photos as possible.  Our one camera doesn’t have the capability to zoom to the distant locations of the sightings but as always we did the best we could.


We’ve decided to wrap up the “Ridiculous Nine” sightings from last Friday with today’s post.  We haven’t included elephants but after many stories and information on elephants over these past many months, we’ll surely bring up elephants in the near future.  

“Mating occurs between March and May. The gestation period is 330 days. Single calves are born between January and April, with a distinct peak in February. African Buffalo are strongly gregarious. Stable herds of up to several hundred are often observed, but which fragment into smaller herds in times of drought.”

Tomorrow, we’ll be sharing today’s photos of the stunning sightings on the Crocodile River including a lion cub that took our breath away. Please check back then.


Enjoy your day and evening!

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

This pair of Inca Doves returned for another visit at the villa in Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 8…Leopard Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“Leopards are capable of carrying animals heavier than themselves and will often drag their prey into the fork of a tree several meters off the ground. This tree “lardering” protects the carcass against scavengers and allows a few days of undisturbed feeding.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Southern ground hornbill on a walk in Kruger. “The southern ground hornbill is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (yellow in juvenile birds), which are generally believed to keep dust out of the bird’s eyes while they forage during the dry season. The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic. The beak is black and straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female southern ground hornbills are smaller and have violet-blue skin on their throats. Juveniles to six years old lack the prominent red pouch, but have a duller patch of grey in its place.”

Most of today’s photo captions were acquired from this site.
It’s 1500 hours (3:00 pm) and we just returned from Kruger National Park for our self-drive for the four of us.  We piled in the little car and headed to the park with reasonably low expectations after our “Ridiculous Nine” adventure week ago today.

I’m rushing to get done in order to leave in a little over an hour to go to Lisa’s (from Wild and Free Rehabilitation) property here in Marloth Park  where we’ll have sundowners with Lisa and Deidre (whom we visited with yesterday at the rehab center in Hectorspuit) and see the rescued bushbabies.  

“These big cats eat a variety of food, from wildebeest to fish, but most of their diet comes in the form of antelope. Baboons and leopards appear to be ancient enemies. Leopards will often stalk baboons sleeping in the trees at night, and try to carry off one of the troop. There has been a case recorded in which a leopard that tried to attack a baboon in broad daylight was torn to pieces by the rest of the troop, which quickly came to the shrieking primate’s defense.”

This will be more excitement for Tom and Lois who are reveling in one fascinating outing after another. Of course, we’re loving every moment as well.
Our day is Kruger was excellent as we’ll be adding to our bursting inventory of photos we’ve yet to post.

The days and nights have been more action-packed than our usual schedule but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the activity and look forward to more during our guest’s remaining 12 days until they depart to return to the USA.

“The leopard’s hunting technique is to either ambush its prey or to stalk it. In either instance, it tries to get as close as possible to its target. It then makes a brief and explosive charge (up to 60km/h), pouncing on its prey and dispatching it with a bite to the neck. Leopards do not have the aptitude to chase their quarry over any kind of distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.”

Last night we did a repeat dinner at Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant but ran into a major snafu on my part.  I must explain how this all came to pass by backtracking to last Saturday night.

Lately, I’ve been drinking low-alcohol wine which is readily available in South Africa by a few well-respected vineyards. Both the very dry red and white wines appeal to me but there are several restaurants in the area that don’t regularly have these on their menus.

“The leopard is a graceful animal with an elongated body, relatively short legs, and a long tail. After the lion, it is the next-biggest African cat with an average body mass of between 60kg and 70kg, standing about two-thirds of a meter tall at the shoulder. Leopards in the wild may live up to 15 years. Unlike the lion, the leopard is a silent creature, only occasionally emitting a cough-like call.”

As a result, I asked to pay a corkage fee and bring the low-alcohol wine for my consumption bringing home whatever is left in the bottle after my few glasses.  This has been well received by the restaurants.  

Generally, the corkage fee has been around ZAR 30 (US $2.09), not per glass but per evening.  Since I don’t drink soda and don’t care to drink plain water, this choice of wine, although not very strong in alcohol content, makes me feel as if I’m joining in the “sundowner” festivities.

Last Saturday night, with the four of us out to dinner at Jabula, I brought along an unopened bottle of Four Cousins Skinny Dry Red, my favorite.  Once we were all seated at the bar, Lyn, our hostess explained they now were carrying this same wine.  I was thrilled.  

We’d keep the bottle I’d brought along in my cloth grocery bag where I had the camera and a few odds and ends, never giving it another thought.  When it was time to pay our bill and end the evening, I accidentally placed the bag on the floor with a little too much vigor.  The wine bottle broke.

“Leopards are the least social – and perhaps the most beautiful – of the African big cats. They usually keep to themselves, lurking in the dense riverine bush or around rocky koppies, emerging to hunt late in the afternoon or at night.”

If that’s all that had transpired I wouldn’t have given it much of a thought.  But, alas, the camera was in the bag and was totally destroyed by the red wine.  It was undoubtedly damaged beyond repair.

We had two identical cameras.  The one I destroyed was the older of the two.
We need two cameras since Tom has become more and more proficient at taking photos and we are often in situations where we’re both taking shots simultaneously.

I left the destroyed camera on the table in the living room with both the data card and batteries out to at least ensure those weren’t ruined.  I never gave it another thought other than to wonder how and when we’d replace the camera.  It’s not as if there are many camera stores within any decent distance.  

Our friends, Lois, and Tom from New Jersey, USA, whom we met two years ago on the 33-night cruise that circumvented the continent of Australia.

The closest camera store in a five-hour car ride to Johannesburg and neither of us are interested in such a long distance drive.  We’ll figure something out and report what we’ve decided at a later date.

So, last night, as we prepared to go to Ngwenya for another evening of river viewing, I grabbed the camera and off we went.  Little did I realize that I’d accidentally picked up the “dead” camera.  

Nor did we expect or know that there would be four rhinos in plain sight at the river from the veranda at Ngwenya.  I was heartsick.  Rhinos are hard to spot and there I was without a working camera.  Tom and Lois used an iPhone for photos and it doesn’t have the long-distance capacity for these distant shots.

I asked a lovely woman at a table with her family next to ours if she’d send me a few of her photos.  I gave her our business card and she kindly complied.  She even went as far as handing her camera over to me so I could take a few shots myself.

Tom and I with friends Lois and Tom at Aamazing River View restaurant, overlooking the Crocodile River.

Hopefully, it will work out for her to send me the photos so we can post them soon.  In the interim, I put away the defunct camera, out of plain sight and will rely upon the camera we have left until we come up with a solution.

Oh, well, so it goes.  It’s pointless for us to complain when we’ve had nothing but one great experience after another.  We’re very grateful.  We’ll live with it.

It’s time to get ready to go to Lisa’s home to see the bushbabies and share some sundowners with her and Deidre who’ll also join us.  We’ll be back with posts regarding our experiences with Wild and Free at both of these rescue locations.

Have a fantastic evening!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2017:

Although this Flame Tree appears to be sprouting bananas, these yellow pods are actually the flower prior to blooming.  Its a favorite spot for birds that stop for a visit including another variety of the popular flycatcher.  For more photos please click here.

Part 7…Rhino Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“A rhinoceros, commonly abbreviated to ‘rhino’, is one of any five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae, as well as any of the numerous extinct species. Two of the extant species are native to Africa and three to Southern Asia.”
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
“Here are five interesting facts about them: These huge birds of prey have a wingspan of up to 2.4 meters, with the females larger than the males. African fish eagles are very efficient hunters and only hunt for about 10 minutes each day. Besides fish, they also eat young birds, monkeys, baby crocodiles, and frogs.”

Note:  Some of today’s photo captions were taken from this site.  Today’s rhino photos are a combination of those we took last Friday and other’s we’d yet to post from prior visits to Kruger.

The wonderful adventures continue with friends Tom and Lois.  Every day is action-packed with a combination of sightings in the garden, Kruger National Park and the Marloth Park fence overlooking the Crocodile River into Kruger.

Two rhinos grazing together.

Add in the fabulous dinners at a variety of local restaurants as well as right here at our holiday home as we make good home-cooked meals, we couldn’t all be enjoying ourselves more.

Rhinos grazing in the grass in Kruger.  (Photo was taken a few months ago).

It’s especially meaningful to see how much our guests are totally engrossed in the wildlife.  We had no idea it would mean so much to the two of them, as they revel in every aspect of life in the bush, a totally unexpected experience for them both.

“The White Rhino is the third largest land mammal. Massive, stocky, and with a reputation of being not quite as aggressive as the Black Rhino. The two distinctive horns are in fact very densely packed fibers, and materially not really horns. The record horn length is 1.58 m. Bulls, weighing up to 2 000 kg, are larger than cows which weigh up to 1 800 kg. Bulls are 1.8 m at the shoulders. The grey skin is almost hairless. They have a square-shaped, wide mouth. White Rhinos have a hump on the neck. The penis points backward and testes are located abdominally.”

Last night we dined in and cooked chicken “flatties” on the braai which are simply whole chickens cut by the butcher to make them entirely flat.  Then, they are seasoned in special sauces and spices to enhance the flavor.

This shot was taken last Friday during our amazing safari day.

With a wide array of spices used for this purpose, we had three distinct flavors:  Portuguese, Sweet and Spicy and Garlic, all of which were excellent.  With homemade soup, salad and an Asian green bean dish, dinner was perfect.

This morning we had no less than 20 animals from four species in the garden.  We all were enthralled with this great turnout as we snapped photos right and left.  

“The White Rhino is strictly a grazer. Favoring short grass, but will feed on taller grass when short grass is not available. The wide mouth enables adequate intake with each plug harvested with the upper and lower lips.”

Guest Tom loves taking videos to put up on his Facebook page and did quite a few excellent representations.  After coffee and breakfast, we headed out to see Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation and show Tom and Lois the wonders she’s performing in returning ill or injured animals to the wild.

“Even though most conceptions take place during the wet season, this huge mammal is not a strict seasonal breeder. Calves are born early in the dry season after a gestation period of 16 months and stay with their mothers for a period of two to three years until she gives birth to her next calf. Cows start breeding at about eight years and bulls reach sexual maturity at 10-12 years. During mating, sexual activity can last more than an hour.”

We’ll be writing a story soon with many fabulous photos from our visit to Hectorspruit to the facility.  Tom and Lois were totally excited and impressed with the experience.  

“In spite of their bulk and short stubby legs, White Rhino can run remarkably fast, but only for very short distances. Dominant territorial bulls occupy mutually exclusive areas of two to five square kilometers, but one or more subordinate bulls may share the territory. Female ranges may overlap those of several bull territories. A territorial bull will attempt to confine a receptive cow to his territory and will join her for five to ten days prior to mating.”

It was our second time visiting Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation but we loved it even more than the first knowing the wonder of hers and her staff’s commitment to rescuing wildlife, dedicated to healing them and returning them to the wild.  Please keep an eye out for our latest story over the next several days.

“Formerly widely distributed throughout the bushveld regions of South Africa. In the 19th century, it was exterminated by hunters, except in KwaZulu-Natal’s Umfolozi region. Although now thriving where it has been re-introduced into parts of its former region, it still suffers from poaching.”

Tonight, we’re heading back to Ngwenya Lodge and Resturant once more for the Thursday evening buffet dinner where pricing is based on the weight of the food on one’s plate.  The food is great, the Crocodile River viewing is exceptional and surely, once again, the conversation will be lively and animated.  

Too much fun!  We’re loving every moment!

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

We’d heard parrots may be seen in the trees in this park in Atenas, Costa Rica.  We’d visited several times to no avail. For more photos, please click here.