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 a fantastic day we had yesterday! We spent the better part of the day in Kruger National Park, had lunch at the Mugg & Bean, and continued 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 harsh grassy environments conducive to other browsers with more selective feeding habits.”

After 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), we 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 a fantastic 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 specifically bred in areas such as the Eastern Cape in South Africa and fetch very high prices.” 

After I typed the above paragraph, Tom 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 several buffalo are more than capable of staving 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 can’t 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 months, we’ll surely bring up elephants shortly.  

“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!

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 a week ago today.

I’m rushing to get done 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 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 exciting for Tom and Lois, who revel in one fascinating outing after another. Of course, we love 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 for chasing their quarry over any distance and will give up if the initial element of surprise is lost and the intended victim gets away.”

Last night we made 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 several restaurants in the area 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 like 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 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 is a five-hour car ride to Johannesburg, and neither of us is 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 to 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 to post them soon. In the interim, I put away the defunct camera out of plain sight and 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!

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 before blooming. It’s 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 combine those we took last Friday and others we’d yet to post from prior visits to Kruger.

The beautiful 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 were grazing together.

Add in the fabulous dinners at a variety of local restaurants and 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 significant to see how much our guests are 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, an incredible 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 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 unique sauces and spices to enhance the flavor.

This shot was taken last Friday during our fantastic 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 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 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 excited and impressed with the experience.  

“Despite 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 before mating.”

It was our second time visiting Deidre at Wild and Free Rehabilitation. Still, 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 Restaurant 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 excellent, the Crocodile River viewing is exceptional, and indeed, once again, the conversation will be lively and animated.  

Too much fun!  We love every moment!

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

We’d heard parrots might 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.

Part 6…Lion Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

Three lions lounging in the shade, always on the lookout for the next meal.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A couple of hippos and a yellow-billed stork at Kruger.

This morning, we’d planned to head to Kruger National Park but when it was raining upon awakening, we all agreed it made no sense to go today. The animals tend to take cover in the rain and we figured we’d be better off going on Friday.

A relaxed female resting in the shade of a tree.

Also, we were concerned we’d have fewer visitors in the garden if we stayed on the veranda all day in the rain.  Tom and I talked and suggested to Tom and Lois that we go back to Komatipoort for pellets and stop for lunch at local restaurant  Tambarina, known for their giant prawns.

Female lions often do the hunting.  The males will steal the kill, leaving the scraps for her and her cubs.

By 11:00 am after I’d done quite a bit of prep for tonight’s dinner including making pumpkin soup, salad, and bacony green beans as side dishes to the flatties we’ll be cooking on the grill soon, we were out the door and on our way to town.

A female resting beside her mating male.

The lunch was good and afterward, Lois and I perused some shops in Komatipoort while both Toms took off to get the pellets. Having completed our errands, we drove to Spar Supermarket for a few items.

Tom and Lois don’t generally eat low carb during their holiday/vacation but we’ve been making some of our favorite meals that fit into anyone’s way of eating.  

Two females and one male lion.

When I made pizza a few days ago, which I no longer can eat due to lactose intolerance, I made a separate meal for myself. Tonight’s dinner will work for me although there are a few items I’ll need to eat in moderation due to the higher carb count, particularly the soup.

Her eyes are always scanning the terrain for a potential m

After we returned to Marloth Park from our pleasant lunchtime outing, we found many animals not only on the roads once we entered the park but also waiting for us in the garden.  

What a beautiful face!

Since we positioned ourselves on the veranda they’ve been coming and coming, from giraffes in the garden next door to Wildebeest Wille to Medium Wart Face to Frank and The Mrs. and many others, more than we can count.

Need I say, our friends are having the time of their lives. Where does one ever go on vacation/holiday and have an experience like this hour after hour, day after day?  

A nice long stretch.

It certainly will leave both of them with wonderful memories and photos they’ll always cherish. For us, it has been a fantastic experience, being able to share our love and passion for wildlife and this magical place, one we’ll always treasure as well.

Enjoy today’s lion photos from our “Ridiculous Nine” sightings last Friday in Kruger while on a game drive. We’ll continue to share the balance of the nine stunning sightings over the next few days.

Such magnificent animals.

Thanks to all of our readers for sharing this special time with us! It means the world to us!

Have a very special day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2017:

Her/his eyes opened and closed periodically while attempting to recover from hitting the glass in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Part 5…Jackal Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“Black-backed jackals are closely related, both genetically and physically, to side-striped jackals. They are leanly built and quite hard to spot in the wilderness as they swiftly move through the terrain into areas of thicker vegetation, with their long, bushy tails bouncing behind them. They are a ginger color below the middle of their sides and shoulders and a mixture of black and grey above this line on their backs (the origin of their name). They are generally smaller than they appear in photographs and weigh only six to13 kg (13 to 29 lb), the same approximate size as most species of dwarf antelope.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom was scanning the view of the Crocodile River at Ngwenya Restaurant.

The captions under today’s jackal photos are from this site.

The sighting of the jackal in Kruger National Park on Friday was so fleeting that we could only take a few photos, which are shown above. The middle photo was taken by Tom, our visiting friend. Thanks, Tom, for the contribution!

We were so excited to see the jackal when they are elusive animals as well as the wild dogs and hyenas, as we explained over the past few day’s posts. Please see those posts here and here.

With so few photos and the information we gathered frothis site, we decided to include the balance of the facts regarding jackals as shown below:


Black-backed jackals have shown substantial consistency in their population over the past decades, something that other carnivores like wild dogs would very much envy. They are classified as ‘of least concern’ and carry no current threat, nor are there specific populations within South Africa that are endangered. They are prevalent across several countries, which protects them from diseases or over-hunting in many aspects. Population densities vary drastically but are at a relative constant of 2 to 3 individuals per square kilometer within the areas of South Africa where they occur.


Over most of the land they occupy, they can be found alongside another jackal species, whether it be the side-striped or golden jackal. They are, however, most common within acacia woodland areas or grasslands, with some of these same trees scattered, which provides some shade from the scorching sun. Oddly enough, they are carnivorous and sometimes forage for food such as insects and are thus not as dependent on the supply of catchable prey like wild dogs, scavenging spotted hyenas, or cheetahs are. When there is prey to be caught, they do, however, take the opportunity and are also regular scavengers alongside vultures and hyenas.

Social Organization

Black-backed jackals are another species that mates for life or is referred to as a monogamous animal. Pairs observed for several years in the Serengeti stayed together for more than two years, with the longest being eight years, and were thought to be divided only by the death of one of them. When this happened, the other would not find a mate. They are also territorial creatures with average territory sizes encompassing an average of close to 2.5 square kilometers. Older young or offspring of previous seasons play an essential role in the caring and survival of new litters and stay on the same territory until they can find or compete for their permanent piece of land.

Social Behavior

Black-backed jackals are one of the three main species of jackal found in Africa, usually patrolling the landscape to scavenge on a kill or find small enough prey to hunt themselves. Lion trails are often followed by the fresh trails of black-backed jackals who pursue them in an attempt to make ends meet by scavenging, something its fellow jackal species are not as profoundly good at. They produce a variety of calls through which they convey messages to one another. They also howl like golden jackals and most wolf species. They are very aggressive animals, and an estimated 38% of their interactions with one another are thought to be of a defensive or aggressive nature.


When the time of the year comes when a pair must or are instinctively ordered to reproduce, they often discourage current pups or young from following them by scolding them or even biting them when they do so. When courtship begins, they go through three stages, starting with scent marking the area. Next, they show very distinct signs of sexual behavior where females lift their tails to reveal a part of their genitals, and males typically rub against them or wag their tails. Other ritualistic behavior also happens at this stage. Genital licking follows along with a few mounts for the next few days, but no complete copulation only follows after this and is repeated daily and frequently. After this, the female finally conceives and will give birth to 3 or 4 pups after 60 to 65 days.

Anti-Predator Behavior

Jackals are not immune to predators and are threatened by several species. Pups are particularly vulnerable and are considered prey to almost any species of eagle, along with sub-adults. Leopards are the primary foes adult jackals look out for. Their only defense or survival option is to run and try to find a decent enough place to shield themselves from danger when a leopard comes around the corner. Still, eagles can generally be chased away by adults when the survival of their young is called into question. There is a fine line between predator and prey in nature, and jackals can be found on either side of that line depending on the conditions.”

“Black-backed jackals are closely related, both genetically and physically, to side-striped jackals. They are leanly built and quite hard to spot in the wilderness as they swiftly move through the terrain into areas of thicker vegetation, with their long, bushy tails bouncing behind them. They are a ginger color below the middle of their sides and shoulders and a mixture of black and grey above this line on their backs (the origin of their name). They are generally smaller than they appear in photographs and weigh only six to13 kg (13 to 29 lb), the same approximate size as most species of dwarf antelope.”

We just returned from an almost three-hour drive in Marloth Park and saw the following:

  • Kudu
  • Elephant
  • Giraffe
  • Impala 
  • Lion
  • Ostrich
  • Cape buffalo
  • Waterbuck
  • Zebra
“In Southern Africa, they range from southern Angola, throughout Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique as well as most of Namibia and the whole of South Africa. Another sub-species of black-backed jackal occurs in parts of Eastern Africa near Ethiopia and Kenya. They are absent from the barren coastline and mainland parts of the Namib Desert mainly due to the insufficient supply of prey. They are, however, very adaptive to human-developed stretches of land and occur close to many rural towns surrounded by farms. They are regular victims of the rifles of livestock farmers because of the way they pester their animals, most often sheep and chickens.”

No words can express how enthused Tom and Lois are over these daily outings where we see so much wildlife, let alone the excitement right here at our holiday home as visitors come in a steady stream.

Tonight, we’re headed to Aamazing River View restaurant for more Crocodile River viewing.  A short time ago, we stopped by the restaurant to make our reservation and select the best table in the house for viewing the action-packed river.

Tomorrow morning, we’re off to Kruger for a self-drive, and depending on whether I have time in the morning, the post will be uploaded a little later than it is today.

Please check back for more on our fun-fill adventures with friends Tom and Lois.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, October 16, 2018:

This is the video we took yesterday when a little Flycatcher hit the glass wall, was knocked unconscientious, and made every attempt to recover. This video is 16 minutes and 42 seconds, so you may want to scroll through it to see the best parts.  For more photos, please click here.


Part 4…Cheetah Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“A cheetah’s food tastes are not as broad as that of the leopard, and it concentrates mostly on small and medium antelope. The cheetah’s diet comprises of the young of larger animals, as well as warthog, ground birds, porcupines, and hares, as well as the smaller antelope.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Stretching cheetah!  

Note:  Most of today’s captions have been taken from this site.

It’s almost 1600 hours (4:00 pm), and I’ve just begun to write the text for today’s post. We’ve had a hectic day. This morning after the four of us was showered and dressed for the day, we jumped into the little car and headed to Komatipoort and Lebombo to shop and have breakfast at Stoep Cafe.
“While the lion and the leopard rely on getting close to their intended prey before breaking cover, the cheetah’s speed gives it an advantage in the more open savanna. Cheetahs are slightly taller than leopards but not as bulky, probably weighing between 40kg and 60kg. Although cheetahs are members of the cat family, they have dog-like non-retractable claws. This limits their tree-climbing ability but gives them a speed advantage when charging.”
We were excited to share the great experience and good dining at this special little place located shortly upon entering the town of Komatipoort. Plus, the trip down the road to Lebombo is culturally enjoyable, as is Komatipoort, jammed with locals, mulling about their day.
“Typically, a cheetah will start a charge 60m to 100m from an antelope and, within seconds, will be racing at full tilt. If the buck is alerted in time, it will attempt to throw the cheetah off its trail by zigzagging and dodging between trees and shrubs. Using its long, heavy tail as a stabilizer, the cheetah will single-mindedly pursue its intended prey, trying to anticipate which way it will turn.”
It appears that most of the local’s activities center around selling and purchasing various foodstuffs, including that which may consist of bartering, negotiating and generally striving to make their purchases affordable.
“At the right moment, it will knock the antelope off balance and grab it by the throat as it falls. Because of the relatively small jaws and teeth, cheetahs are not as effective in killing their prey as quickly as lions or leopards, and it can take between five and 25 minutes for its prey to die.
After the excellent breakfast, we drove to Lebombo to purchase carrots, apples, pears, and eggs for the wildlife. We didn’t have room in the car to acquire more pellets, and with almost two 40 kg bags left, we could have enough to get us through the next several days.
“The element of surprise in hunting is as important for cheetahs as it is for other big predators. While its speed gives it an edge, the cheetah’s vulnerable point is its stamina. It will manage to run at top speed for only about 250m before it needs to catch its breath.”
Tom and Lois appear to be having the time of their lives. It couldn’t be going any better. These past few days, we had the most wildlife visits on the weekend than we’ve had on any weekend since we arrived in Marloth Park last February.
“After a high-speed chase, the cheetah desperately needs to rest for about half an hour – even before it eats its prey. This is when cheetahs are at their most vulnerable. They are often robbed of their kill by lions or hyaenas during this recovery spell. If the cheetah is unmolested, it normally devours its prey at the kill site.”
The animals have been coming in droves in the most literal sense, one delicate species after another. We only need to wait for a short period, and another herd, dazzle, band, flock, harem, etc., will magically appear, leaving us all squealing with delight, cameras in hand as we make the sightings memorable.
“The cheetah’s body is built for speed. Its legs are relatively long compared to its greyhound-like body; it has a big heart and lungs and wide nasal passages. It is the fastest land animal, timed running at speeds of up to 114km/hour.”
Besides all the fantastic companionship, conversation, and laughter, part of the fun of having them here with us is the unmistakable joy of seeing their delight and enthusiasm in having these exceptional experiences one after another.  
“The cheetah’s kill rate is hard to determine, but the consensus is that each cheetah kills between 30 and 150 animals a year, depending on its size, hunting frequency, and the condition of the area. Experts believe a single cheetah ideally needs between one and three kilograms of meat a day to stay in shape.”
We’ve yet to be disappointed in anything we’ve done, except one unpleasant dining experience in a local restaurant/bar on Friday night after our perfect day in Kruger National Park, where we sighted the “Ridiculous Nine.”
“There has been some scientific discussion as to whether they should be classified as part of the dog family because of their non-retractable claws, but they exhibit too many cat-like features, including the ability to purr loudly. Cheetahs cannot roar but growl and spit like a cat, and sometimes they make a peculiar chirping noise.” 
And now, as we continue sharing photos from our outrageous safari, today we focus on Friday’s sighting of two cheetahs that added so much to our breathtaking game drive.  
“Unlike lions and leopards, cheetah don’t define a territory to defend. They have a home range that they mark with urine but will not actively fight off other cheetahs. Socially, cheetahs are somewhere on the scale between lions and leopards. They do not form prides as lions do, but small groups of between four and six cheetahs can be common, particularly groupings of brothers. Cheetah probably lives for between 12 and 15 years in the wild. Unlike most other major carnivores, they hunt during the day.”
This week, we plan to do a self-drive in Kruger, most likely on Wednesday, with a relatively early start to the day once again. This time with no time constraints, we’ll be able to spend more time dining at the Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie and focusing on the wildlife we find most interesting.
“Despite their speed, cheetahs still rely heavily on the element of surprise. Experts believe that a cheetah has a one-in-10 chance of catching an animal that isn’t taken by surprise and that this rises to a one-in-two chance if the quarry is caught off-guard. Cheetahs are the timidest of the big cats, and there is no record in southern Africa of a cheetah ever having attacked a human.”
After we returned to the house after today’s outing and putting everything away, we parked ourselves at the big table on the veranda. At the same time, each of us focused on our photos and documenting our experiences.

Tonight, we’ll dine in, having pizza and salad one more night, a dinner everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, I can no longer eat pizza due to lactose intolerance, so I’d made myself a big mackerel salad consisting of canned mackerel, chopped hard-boiled eggs, onions, celery, red and yellow bell peppers with a homemade dressing. It was delicious enough to keep me from drooling over the smell of the pizza.

May you have a pleasant evening!
Photo from one year ago today, October 15, 2017:
The hydrangeas in the courtyard of the Costa Rica property were gorgeous. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…African Wild Dog Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“The African wild dog is an endangered species, with only four remaining populations in Africa, one of which is Kruger. Their survival is dependent on the pack. A wild dog by itself is not that much of a threat to other animals, but a pack is a different story.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Not all “Sightings of the Day in the Bush” are heartwarming and happy. See below for details.

Today, this very ill male kudu stopped by for pellets. His legs are deformed, and he’s very ill-looking and undernourished. Most likely, he has contracted bovine tuberculosis.  

“Wild dogs have the most structured social order of the carnivores, living in packs led by a dominant male and female. All other members of the pack play a subordinate role to the alpha pair.”

Immediately we contacted one the Marloth Park Rangers and within minutes a ranger pulled into the driveway.  We were relieved to have a professional come to investigate.

“Wild dogs tend to shy away from areas dominated by lion and hyaena. There are an estimated 200 wild dogs in Kruger, so seeing them is a matter of luck. They can roam over long distances – up to 250 square kilometers – and may travel over 50km in a single day looking for food. They are most commonly seen in the Chobe, Moremi, and some in Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi.”

Once the ranger arrived at our property, Tom and I escorted him to the area where we believe he wandered off.  Through a stroke of pure luck, we spotted him limping through the bush.  

“Wild dogs are masters of the collective approach to hunting. A hunt begins at sunrise or sunset when the dogs perform an elaborate greeting ceremony, sniffing and licking each other, wagging their tails and twittering aloud.”

Fortunately, kudus tend to stay in one general area, so the ranger is confident they will find him. Tomorrow, Monday, the vet will come, and he may be euthanized based on this kudu’s poor condition. It’s sad and heartbreaking but a reality of living among wildlife. 

“They make a range of chattering sounds and have a distinctive long-distance greeting call – a sharp Hoo – that can be heard up to four kilometers away. Occasionally, they hunt at the full moon.’ during the hunt itself. However, they are silent. It reminded us of Scar Face, who we haven’t seen in months. It would be surprising if the injury to his face resulted in his eventual demise. Although we do not touch the wildlife, they become very special to us, each in their unique and special way.
“Wild dogs will fan through the bush looking for a herd of antelope. More often than not, this will be an impala. Once they have located a herd, the most vulnerable member is singled out – usually a female and young antelope.”

As I attempt to complete today’s post (sorry for the delay), Mr. Bushbuck is back here for the third or fourth time today. At one point, he could barely walk, and again we reported it to the rangers.  

“A subordinate male wild dog usually starts the hunt by trying to isolate the animal from the rest of the herd. Once the target has been identified and separated, the alpha male takes over the lead of the hunt, and the deadly endurance race begins.’

They suggested giving this handsome boy time to recover, and now, weeks later, he limps but doesn’t seem to be in as much pain. These amazing animals have an uncanny ability to heal themselves, more than humans seem able to do on their own.

“If this fails, they press on with determination, taking it in relays to increase the pace, nipping and tearing at the fleeing victim each time it slows down. They literally run their quarry to exhaustion. Once the animal collapses, the dogs immediately begin feeding, even before their prey has died from loss of blood.”

Now, we’re back to Part 3 of our “Ridiculous Nine” sighting in Kruger Park on Friday. The four of us are still reeling over our mind-boggling half day on a game drive in Kruger.

“Unlike hyena, which feasts noisily and chaotically, wild dogs are restrained and orderly at the kill. The young feed first, followed by the subordinate males and females, with the alpha pair eating at any time. Each dog awaits its turn, and if there is not enough food to go round, the hunt begins again.

Today, we chose to share the African wild dog story. With a dwindling population of wild dogs throughout the world with an estimated 450 worldwide and approximately 200 in Kruger National Park, it was pure “safari luck” that enabled us to see these endangered animals.

“Subordinate females support nursing wild dog females who remain at the den. They will stuff themselves with food and then go back to the den to regurgitate the remains for the mother and her young to eat.”

The captions we’ve included under the photos are information we gleaned from Kruger National Park’s website.  See here for their link. We feel so fortunate to have spotted these endangered dogs on our special safari day.

As for last night, we all went to Jabula for a fantastic meal, running into friends we’ve made in the park. As always, the conversation, food, service, and ambiance were beyond reproach. Of course, not surprisingly, Tom and Lois loved it. We’ll certainly be returning several times during their three-week stay.

“The average litter size for the wild dog is between four and eight puppies. They suckle for the first three months of their lives before being taught to hunt.”

Tonight we’re staying in on a very cool evening and enjoying our low-carb homemade pizza with a salad and yet another surely delightful evening on the veranda.

“Wild dogs hunt every day as they require more meat relative to their size than lions do. Eighty percent of their diet consists of impala, but they do attack bigger game as well, including wildebeest, kudu, waterbuck, reedbuck, and sometimes zebra.”

With the holidaymakers gone from the bush, we’ve experienced the biggest influx of wildlife visitors we’ve ever seen on the weekend. Tom and Lois love every moment as we are as well.

“Wild dogs have often been regarded with horror by humans because of their seemingly cruel hunting techniques – death does not come quickly to the victim, which will first be run to exhaustion and then die from a loss of blood while being devoured.”

Tomorrow, we’ll all head to Komtipoort for breakfast at Stoep Cafe, shopping and showing Tom and Lois around the town and surrounding areas. No doubt, it will be another wonderful day!

May your day be equally wonderful!

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2017:
This is a Clay Colored Robin, the national bird of Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Hyena Day!…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

“Hyaenas are mostly social, living in clans of between 10 and 40 animals, led by a dominant female. However, social structures can be quite loose with clan members shifting allegiances, breaking up, and reforming. They are territorial, marking their hunting ground through communal defecation. Their territories vary in size depending on the amount of prey in the vicinity and the number of competing clans. The territory itself is not vigorously defended, but hyaena clans will respond aggressively to other predators moving into their area.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A white-backed vulture.

Each day, over the next week or so, we’ll be highlighting the fabulous sightings of the “Ridiculous Nine” we spotted on safari yesterday in Kruger National Park. Yesterday, we posted photos of the nine beautiful animals, and now, beginning today, we’ll be sharing our photos of the wildlife, one by one, day by day.  

“Hyaenas are capable of short charges of up to 50km/h and can maintain a steady, fast pace in pursuing prey over several kilometers. Their prey usually succumbs to exhaustion and is pulled down and disemboweled by the pack. Hyaena goes for the big game in packs – wildebeest, zebra, kudu, and, very occasionally, buffalo. When they hunt alone, they go for smaller animals such as baboons, guinea fowls, ostriches, snakes, and tortoises.”

As shown, today is hyena day (spelled “hyaenas” in Afrikaans), and these photos are a combination of both mine and Tom’s photos. He took many of today’s great shots.

“The spotted hyaena hunts and scavenges by night and is closely connected in African folklore with the supernatural world. Anyone who has heard the sound of hyaenas in full cry around midnight would understand the animal’s association with the dark arts.”

We’d never seen a hyena in Kruger before yesterday, although they are relatively prolific in the national park.  Undoubtedly, we were all very excited when we spotted them and spent a reasonable period taking many photos. 

“There is no love lost between lions and hyaenas. Each will attack and kill the other’s cubs or elderly or sick individuals. Hyaenas seem far less intimidated by lionesses than by lions and are occasionally bold enough to try to bully lionesses off a kill if there are no males around.”

We found them shortly after we’d completed finding The Big Five, which in itself was quite an accomplishment.  But, from there, magic happened, and over the next few hours, we completed what the rangers and guides call the “Ridiculous Nine.”

“Unlike the honest, authoritarian roar of the lion, which resonates with purity and strength, the “laughing” hyaena’s utterances are hysterical and mocking, an eerie human-like giggling shriek that would not be out of place in a mental asylum. Its body parts command a premium price on the local muthi market, particularly the tail, ears, whiskers, lip, and genitals.”

The name is appropriate in describing how utterly ridiculous the prospect of sighting these nine magnificent animals in one day:

Most of today’s hyena captions are from this site.

The Big Five:  Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and Cape buffalo
The Ridiculous Nine: Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo and cheetah, wild dogs, hyena, and the jackal for a total of nine.

“As a general rule, hyaenas hunt more when they are the dominant carnivores in any particular habitat and tend towards scavenging when there are lots of other predators around. They are chancers of note, often taking great risks to snatch meat away from lions and often being mauled to death in the process.”

We were giddy from there when in actuality, we also spotted hippos, crocodiles, wildebeest, giraffes, kudus, impalas, zebras, and many birds included the southern ground hornbill.

“Almost all hyaenas in Kruger are the spotted hyaena. They are found throughout Kruger, and the best places to see them are southwest Okavango, Savuti, and Linyanti. The brown hyaena found in southern Africa’s more arid environments.”

Today is a cloudy day and very cool. However, at the moment, the four of us are seated at the big table on the veranda, everyone chatting endlessly while we wait for one species after another to stop by.  

“Hyaenas are known for their cunning. They reputedly watch the skies for circling vultures to help them locate kills.  They follow the path of least resistance in getting food and, as a result, have become quite ingenious – they’ve been seen trying to scoop out fish at drying water holes during times of drought.”

So far today, we’ve had the following visitors: mongooses, kudu, bushbucks, wildebeests, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, Frank and The Misses (who, much to our delight, has since reappeared), along with many other birds.

“Spotted hyaenas have the reputation of being scavengers, but studies have shown that, in Kruger, they tend to hunt more than they steal. Indeed, they are the second major group of predators in the Park after the lion, probably accounting for more animal kills than leopard and cheetah combined.”

As for the remainder of the day, it looks as if everyone is entirely content spending the rest of the day on the veranda until around 1700 hours (5:00 pm), when we’ll be getting changed for the evening to head to Jabula for dinner.  

“Although hyaenas sometimes hunt alone, they mostly hunt in packs. They have an almost uncanny ability to seek out the most vulnerable animal in a herd and isolate it from the others. Hyaenas are designed for the long haul, and, as Kruger mammal expert Heike Schutze says, “they are high-stamina hunters relentless in the pursuit of their prey once they have tasted blood.”

We made an early reservation, knowing we’ll enjoy time spent in Jabula’s fantastic bar, mingling with owners Dawn and Leon and any other friendly people we may meet along the way.

“Hyaenas have tremendously powerful jaws, capable of crushing the thigh bone of a buffalo in one movement. If they are hungry, they will gorge themselves, eating up to a third of their weight (15kg) at a single sitting!”

None of the four of us can stop talking about our phenomenal experience on our game drive yesterday. None of us will ever forget this most remarkable experience and having had the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime game viewing safari.

Two hyenas were howling in the wind.

In the future, has this experience spoiled us for future visits to Kruger National Park or even safaris in other countries? Perhaps, a little. Our expectations in the future could easily be tarnished after such a spectacular day.

They were sniffing the ground when they’ve picked up a scent.

But, when the visitors came to call this morning, we were no less enthused to see every one of them than we’d ever been in the past. It’s all magical, it’s all breathtaking, and for our visiting friends, Tom and Lois, it’s the stuff great memories are made of.

From this site“The hyaena is a shaggy, untidy and opportunistic carnivore with a distinctive, sloping back. It is a dog family member, weighing around 60 kg (males can be heavier) and standing at about 80 cm at the shoulder.”

Have a memorable day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2017:
Handmade masks for Halloween and other festivities at the railway museum in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…If you think the Big Five is something…How about the “Ridiculous Nine!!!…Day spent in Kruger with friends!

Stunning female lion – #3 (second lion photo in today’s post)

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Spoon-billed storks, our first-time sighting in Kruger National Park.

It was 5:00 am this morning and the four of us, (including friends Tom and Lois) were dressed, lathered up in insect repellent, with cameras and binoculars in hand, and ready to head out the door.

#1 – Elephants

Louise and Danie had bid and won an auction for a six-hour morning safari with a guide in a traditional nine-seat safari vehicle to Kruger National Park and they insisted the four of us take it when they didn’t have time to use it due to their busy schedule. Part of the safari included breakfast at the Mugg & Bean (at our own expense).  

#2 – Rhino
Yesterday, we had a fantastic day at the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park overlooking the Crocodile River. Photos will follow from that exceptional experience sometime over the next few weeks.

It was definitely an early start to the day for us but fortunately, after retiring early, we all had a good enough night’s sleep to make awakening so early easier than anticipated.
#3 – Lion

Another couple staying in Marloth Park was already situated in the furthest back and highest situated seat of the vehicle when Kerry from Kruger Pride Safaris arrived in our driveway. We all hopped in, with Tom and I in the front seat behind our guide with Tom and Lois behind us.

#4 – Leopard

As always, our expectations were low. If we didn’t see much, we’d accept it and enjoy the good time we knew we’d be spending together. By 5:30 am, we entered the park as Kruger opened its gates to visitors.

#5 – Cape buffalo

No more than 10 minutes into the drive, we spotted a rhino. We hadn’t seen a rhino in the past few months when they appeared at the loop close to the Verhami Dam. Please click this link for the most recent rhino post.

We weren’t able to get a perfect photo of the rhino based on her/his position but we were content to have seen one of The Big Five and wondered if somehow the day would bring us sightings of the remaining four animals: lion, leopard, cape buffalo and elephants.

#6 – Jackal

The day continued blissfully. We couldn’t have planned it more perfectly. Within the first few hours, we’d accomplished The Big Five. We were all giddy with excitement.

#7 – Hyena

From there, magic happened, one sighting after another, far surpassing any sightings we could have ever imagined. Our adrenalin was pumping while our expressions of sheer delight sent each of us into a frenzied level of enthusiasm.

#8 – Cheetah

Charles, in the way-back, had an eagle’s eye and was able to spot the wildlife we were searching for when Kerry was notified by other guides using the app, Whatsapp, informing her of sightings they’d encountered along the way.

Kerry was masterful at quickly getting us to the relevant locations and maneuvering the vehicle in such a way we were able to take the best possible photos. Although many of the animals were at quite a distance, we were thrilled to get those we did.

#9 – Wild dogs

As we saw more, Kerry informed us of other categories beyond “The Big Five” all the way from the “Sensational Seven” to the “Ridiculous Nine.” In fact, if there had been a category referred to as the “Exception Eleven” we could have easily included it after the “Ridiculous Nine” which would have included, beyond the nine…hippos and crocs.

And even further we could have included giraffes, impalas, kudu, wildebeest, warthogs, and an endless variety of birds, one species of which is included in today’s “Sighting of the Day in the Bush.”

Tom, Lois, Kerry (our guide) me and Tom.

“Pinch me,” I asked.  Is this really happening? Is this the epitome of “safari luck” perhaps inspired by the attendance of our friends Tom and Lois who may also be recipients of safari luck as well?

Over the next several days we’ll be adding Part 2, Part 3, and so on as we’ll continue to share many more photos of the above shown “nine” while we revel in the excitement of this very special day.

Sorry for the late post.  But as you can see, it was quite a spectacular day!

Be well.

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

Puente Ferrocarril Rio Grande Museum in Atenas, Costa Rica. or more details, please click here.

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

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

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

The black tear line differentiates in part, the difference between a cheetah and a leopard. 
She just wouldn’t open her eyes in the bright sun.  
Notice the difference in coloration and the lack of the black tear lines, making this a leopard. We spotted this one and a few others at dusk. They are nocturnal, often difficult to spot.
Anderson spotted this scene from afar, taking off on a mad dash to ensure we could get as close as possible to see this oddity, a lion in a tree.
Lions seldom climb trees in the Masai Mara. Even Anderson, a guide in this area or 14 years, was excited to see this rare find. Actually, he was excited to find all that we were fortunate to see.
As the young male lounged in the tree, the remainder of the family engaged in some serious power lounging below him.
 We couldn’t have moved any closer as were we all thrilled to be able to get these close-ups.
 “What a glorious day! Brother in a tree. Me, under the tree with my mom and siblings.”
 If you have a cat as a house pet, you sure can relate as to how these photo ops present themselves.
 Getting more comfortable in a tree is tricky.
 Finally, the perfect position for the lion in a tree, a rare sighting that we treasured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, mom and baby were in view.  My heart was pounding with excitement as I tried to hold the camera steady to get this photo.
Suddenly, what may have been dad appeared, rather grouchy and annoyed by our intrusion. We didn’t move or talk, practically holding our breath as she/he moved on.

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