Day #4, no water…No power?…We knew what to expect in Africa…

A young giraffe and a few zebras blocking the road on our way to Jabula.

Note: All of today’s photos were taken last evening while going to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for our usual Friday night dinner out. It was such fun to see these amazing animals blocking the road while all drivers waited patiently for them to pass. Tom and I both said simultaneously, “Where in the world do you see such a sight?” Nowhere that we know of. What a delight!

We had no delusions about what to expect coming to Africa. Our expectations were low, with poverty, crime, and corruption raging through many African countries, including South Africa. Most tourists come to South Africa to experience its wildlife and beauty and don’t stay long enough to get caught up in its downside.

Power, water, and WiFi outages are to be expected rather than viewed as an anomaly. The time spent by various providers to repair such issues can be far beyond what we may be used to in other countries. It’s unlike anything most of us have experienced in the past.

Everyone waited patiently for the animals to clear the road.

This morning as I first began preparing this post, the power went out. No water. No power. Of course, when the power goes out, so does the WiFi. I suggested to Tom that it would be a good time to drive to the pharmacy in Komatipoort. I needed a prescription for antibiotics filled when the tooth for which I’d had a root canal was still hurting from six weeks ago.

Yesterday, I contacted Dr. Singh, and he wrote me a prescription. I had initially refused antibiotics hoping it would heal on its own. I’d had enough antibiotics for my teeth in the past year or more. But, after six weeks, he said it was imperative. If the drugs don’t work after the five-day cycle, I’ll have to have the tooth pulled. It’s the last molar on the bottom right, and I suppose I won’t bother to get an implant when the missing tooth won’t be noticeable when I smile or talk.

We drove to Komati, got the prescription filled, and headed back home. All the while, we were wondering what we’ll do for dinner tonight. The dishwasher is filled with dirty dishes, and with a single sink in the kitchen, even if we boiled water, it would be cumbersome trying to rinse everything.  I told Tom to forget it. It’s not worth the hassle. We’ll use paper plates or eat out until the water comes back on.

Several giraffes were waiting to make their next move while on the side of the road.

Speaking of dining out, last night we went to Jabula for dinner. The receptionist, Danienne, for Dr. Singh in Malalane, brought the prescription to me since she lives in Marloth Park and, like us, she loves going to Jabula on Friday nights. We thanked her profusely and bought her and her friend a drink.

We ended up dining at the bar we’ve done before when it’s just the two of us. Dawn and Leon were both there, and we had lots of fun with them and other guests while we sat at the bar. Arriving at 1700 hrs, 5:00 pm, by 2030 hrs, 8:30 pm, we were out the door and headed back home for a pleasant remainder of the evening, streaming a few episodes of Netflix series.

Neither of us was in the mood for a day and night without power, water and WiFi. So, this morning when we returned from Komati, around 11:00 am, the power was restored, which made us both very relieved. Now, at almost noon, we are so grateful to have power and WiFi that we aren’t fussing so much over the water.

If it were a nice day, we would have gone to Kruger. But it’s drizzling off and on, and we’ll stay put.  Gosh, it’s hard to believe we’ll be leaving South Africa two months from today to head back to the US once again. If you missed our story yesterday as to why we are returning to the US for a short stint, please click here.

Every zebra has its own unique markings, not unlike a fingerprint. Note the unique patterns around this zebra’s eyes.

A special thanks to many of our readers who have written to us in support of this tough decision, all of which was precipitated by the difficultly of travel throughout the world right now. Sure, it may be easier to travel for a one or two-week vacation, but with us frequently being on the move or even staying in one location for a few months, Covid-19 has certainly put a damper on our desire to visit many countries.

Plus, news about restrictions and quarantine requirements seems to change daily. We are not interested in losing more money due to this pandemic than we already have, which is well into the thousands of dollars.  We’re still hoping our five scheduled cruises beginning at the end of February 2022 will actually set sail and allow us to continue on our world travel path and objectives. Only time will tell.

May your travel goals and objectives also be realized over the next year, when we all hope and pray for a better outcome than being experienced now.

Photo from one year ago today, August 21, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #151. One of many towers at Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens in St. Petersburg, Russia. For more photos, please click here.

A fine evening in the bush with friends..Fun new video!…Check it out!…

Take a look at the new video we filmed yesterday morning.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 wildebeest
  • 6 warthogs
  • 11 helmeted guinea fowl
  • 5 bushbuck
  • 22 mongoose
  • 2 kudus
  • 1 duiker

It’s a glorious morning. The sun is shining. The temperature and humidity are mild with a slight breeze. The animals have come and gone over the past few hours and we couldn’t be more content. Right now they’re all gone, but that’s going to change in a couple of minutes.

Two Go-Away birds drinking from the birdbath. Unlike many of the brighter forest dwelling turacos these are birds of an African open country and have drab gray and white plumage. In southern Africa, these birds are known as kwêvoëls, but they are also referred to as loeries with other turacos. The go-away-birds are named for their raucous “go away” call.

Last night’s dinner with Dawn and Leon was a great time. The food was good, the company superb and the three wildebeest in the garden all evening just added to the entertainment. I’d made an easy steak dinner with sides and spent little time in the kitchen while our guests were here, having prepared everything earlier in the day.

It’s a busy weekend in the bush with many holiday homes booked with guests from other parts of South Africa, few from overseas, due to pandemic travel restrictions in many countries. A band of 22 mongoose just stopped by and we offered them some leftover meat which they devoured.

Three wildebeest lying in the driveway, shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived.

We noticed that three of the mongoose had full pieces of white bread in their mouths which they weren’t eating, but carrying around in somewhat of a frenzy, wondering what to do with it. Apparently, some novice holiday renters have fed mongoose bread, which is not appropriate for their diet. In one instance, I watched a guinea fowl steal the mongoose’s bread and escape.

Sure, animals love “human food”, but in most cases, it’s not safe for them to eat. It’s always disheartening to watch that. Feeding wildlife, especially now that vegetation is diminishing by the hour, is good if it is appropriate for their way of eating. The best feed to supply the animals is game pellets. Fruits and vegetables humans eat may contain pesticides and other chemicals that are dangerous to animals (and humans too).

Wildebeest Willie is drooling over the veranda table begging for pellets.

On occasion, we offer them carrots and apples, which we wash first and cut into bite-size pieces. Imagine a bushbuck or a tiny duiker choking on a big piece of a carrot or apple. It would be horrifying to witness it, but it could easily happen.

Many don’t believe in feeding wildlife. Based on the fact that they are fenced in, living in this conservation without being able to wander towards greener pastures, we feel compelled to feed them. This is a hot issue here in Marloth Park with many different opinions and perspectives.

A hornbill eating out of Frank and The Misses container of seeds.

To cull or not to cull is also a frequent point of contention. We avoid controversy and do what our conscience dictates, which is to feed wildlife, food appropriate to their species. We don’t hand feed nor do we use troughs which are breeding grounds for TB and other wildlife diseases and illnesses which are always prevalent in the bush.

Last night we had good news that Rita and Gerhard will be arriving at Marloth Park on Sunday afternoon and we will all be heading to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner. Gerhard has been chomping at the bit over the prospect of ordering their spare ribs, which Tom eats each time we go for dinner. As usual, we always go to Jabula on Friday nights, which we’ll be doing again tonight and then again, on Sunday night.

A wildebeest resting in the garden, a common phenomenon of late.

We’re so thrilled to see Rita and Gerhard. We hope they will stay for a few months and of course we hope to be able to stay or return after June 30th when our current visas expire. Only time will tell.

A Go-Away bird sitting at the edge of the pool.

That’s it for the day, dear readers. Be safe. Be happy. Cherish every day of life!

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2020:

A small lagoon between Anini Beach and Ke’e Beach while we were in Kauai, Hawaii on this date in 2015. Please see that link here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Gentle musing on a quiet day…I’m often wrong…

This wildebeest looked angry and ready to charge. But, generally, they aren’t aggressive to humans who keep their distance.

At times, my thoughts run wild as to the topic we’ll cover in our post on any particular day. Let’s face it, after over 3100 new posts, the topics may be thin and repetitive. I don’t deny this. How we manage to hold the attention of our worldwide readers often baffles us, a topic Tom and I often discuss based on the sheer wonder of it all.

Although I don’t spend more than a few minutes each morning contemplating the day’s topic, at times, I’m left staring into space, wondering what’s on the agenda today. But, this dilemma is short-lived. I simply press my fingers onto the keyboard and let them, as “they” said, “do the talking.”

The wildebeest was curious about us stopping by.

No doubt, the redundancy is glaring at times. Even I recall a topic I may have written about 2000 posts ago. Somehow they are all emblazoned in my mind, popping into the forefront, the minutes I start to type. Oddly, today’s very topic didn’t precipitate or surface any recall of a former post. But, I could be wrong. I’m often wrong.

Being wrong is the “nature of the beast.” It’s literally impossible to avoid errors, misuse of the English language for which I often zealously assume I have a reasonable mastery. That may be wrong also.

Certainly, I’m known to use the same adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, and so forth, as described here ad nauseam. Oh, my. You must get sick of me from time to time. Even the few “haters” who read our posts, one of which refers to us as a “train wreck” continue to read for whatever perverse satisfaction she may glean from coming back over and over again.

A group of wildebeest is called a “confusion.” Go figure.

Tom, a railroad man for 42½ years, knows what a train wreck is and it is not us. But, perception is everything. I ask the universe if you hate something and have the option to avoid it without consequence, then, by all means, avoid it without consequence. Does she really think that her hateful dissertations in an email or “comments” are really going to change how we do this?

Yesterday, I received a thoughtful message from a reader reminding me that I misuse the word, “alas.” She included the definitions from a reliable online dictionary source and I thoroughly agreed with her. Her message was kind and considerate. I took no offense. Going forward, I will be more mindful of my use of the word, “alas,” thanks to her well-written and well-intentioned interjection in a private email.

Wildebeest crossing the road.

Would I continually appreciate comments and observations regarding words I may use incorrectly or in a slang manner? Probably not. After all, this is not an essay contest. This is a log of our daily lives, both perfect and imperfect and mostly somewhere in between. I dare anyone to write daily, over 3000 times, over eight years and not make verbiage, punctuation, and spelling errors.

At one time in my life, I was a perfectionist. I gave that up when we began this journey, knowing full well that being perfect in this year’s long world journey would not serve me well, only resulting in frustration and stress. Now, I wear the same shirt for two days, misspell words in posts and texts, and haphazardly draw on a disappearing eyebrow, a byproduct of old age,

We spotted these giraffes at quite a distance.

Over the years, I’ve learned that on one’s deathbed, no one will say, they were glad to be a perfectionist. They will espouse love, life, adventures, and contentment of which we’ll have plenty.

Be happy. Be well. Thanks for being here.

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2020:

Beach view in Kapaa, Kauai six years ago today at this link. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Life in the bush during the busy Easter weekend…Happy Easter to those who observe!…

A zebra friend came up onto the veranda to say hello!

We plan to stay put over the busy Easter weekend in the bush. It’s surprising how many vehicles are zooming up and down the paved road in Marloth Park, many with little mindfulness of the precious wildlife often crossing the road. As much as the property owners deserve and appreciate their holiday rentals being booked this weekend, we all hold our breath, hoping everyone will appreciate the majesty and delicate balance in the bush.

We were surprised to see many wildlife visitors this morning, which is unusual during times where many tourists are in the park. Often, they find their way to the bush houses where tourists may (or may not) be feeding them “human” food which like our pets, is often preferred over their species-specific diet, in this case, the vegetation nature has to offer supplemented by ranger approved natural-vegetation pellets.

Zebra’s tails appear to be braided..

Starchy foods like corn, fried potatoes, and chips can be damaging to their digestive systems, let alone candy, and sugary treats. For many, avoiding the cost of purchasing pellets is easily accomplished by feeding the animals cheap human junk food. A 40 kg, 88-pound bag of pellets generally runs around ZAR 250, US $17, more than most tourists are willing to pay.

Smaller bags of pellets are sold at Daisy’s Den here in the park, for considerably less. The larger bags usually last us almost a week. If tourists are only here over the weekend, the smaller bags could easily keep them busy feeding the wildlife during their stay.

Don’t eat the seeds!

I easily recall taking my kids to the zoo, (a lifetime ago) and hesitating to spend ZAR 73, US $5 for a bag of feed for the animals, (but always purchased them anyway). We can only hope the tourists purchase the smaller bags and enjoy feeding the wildlife.

Also, another huge area of concern in the park during busy holidays, as mentioned above, is speeding on the main paved road, Olifant, and also on the uneven dirt roads throughout the park and Seekoei Road, along the Crocodile River.

Each holiday season, several animals are hit by cars resulting in death or the necessity of euthanasia. We can only imagine how horrible this is for the rangers, who work so hard to protect the wildlife, who have to “put down” innocent animals who’ve been injured by careless, speeding drivers. No doubt, accidents do happen, when animals may dart out onto the road, even when drivers are observing the speed limit. We have seen how easily this could happen.

“I want a crack at those seeds when he’s done!”

Last night, Friday, on our return from dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, many vehicles flew by us on Olifant as we slowly meandered down the road on our way back home. With their windows down, loud music blared from one of the vehicles. This is the bush, a quiet place to relax, unwind and be one with nature.

Loud music and noisy talking, imposing on the quiet so many visitors and locals cherish as a respite from life in the big city, doesn’t fit in here. And yet, night after night, especially during holiday periods, property owners are notified of raucous behavior at a holiday rental. Now, fines are being imposed upon by the municipality to the owners when this occurs which may or may not be charged back to the renters.

“Ah, my turn!”

We’re very grateful we’re in a secluded area close to the Lionspruit fence. Not only do we hear Dezi and Fluffy roaring at night, but we rarely hear any loud human sounds. When we lived at the Orange house in 2018/2019, we were often astounded by the noise surrounding us on the weekends, especially during holiday weekends.

Another area of concern is how many drivers allow their children to not only sit on their laps while driving through the park but, at times, we’ve observed pre-teen children and younger actually driving the vehicles. This is not only dangerous for the children and passengers in the vehicle but also for wildlife and those out on walks to enjoy the exquisite nature this unique paradise has to offer.

This zebra’s ankles and hooves appear to be deformed from aging.

It’s not unusual to see vehicles packed with passengers with many riding on the open tailgate. Imagine, the driver having to stop quickly to avoid hitting an animal or human and the risk to those human lives in the process.

Then, of course, this all leads to Covid-19, mask-wearing and social distancing. We hesitated to go to Jabula last night considering the potentially large holiday crowds. Although there was more of a crowd than usual, we felt safe at an outdoor table, distanced from other guests, and with the staff wearing masks properly. We make a point of avoiding the use of the restroom or tight spaces when out.

They certainly enjoyed the pellets in the garden.

Nothing is perfect. We certainly aren’t and don’t profess to be. We can only choose to do our part to protect this special environment for as long as we’re allowed to be here. We chose this magical place, as have many locals and tourists alike, to surround ourselves in the mystery, fascination, and pure pleasure of embracing nature in a way we never dreamed possible.

For those who are here during holiday seasons and all other periods throughout the year, please join us in the commitment to keep this amazing place safe for wildlife and for human life in everything we do.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to those who celebrate. And to our friends in India, may you enjoy observing Ambedkar Jayanti, upcoming on April 14th. Be safe. Be well.

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

Tom in front of the Taj Mahal. For more photos, please click here.

A storm unlike any other…Power stayed on!…Yeah!..Wet, humid and muddy terrain…

Wildebeest Willie, also known as a gnu, gave us quite a thrill when he arrived. In no time at all, two more Willies stopped by. It’s nice to see the animals drinking from the bird bath.

Last night, our dinner reservation at Jabula was canceled via text, due to the outrageous storm that started around 4:00 pm (1600 hours). We hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner, not anticipating we’d be dining at home. With the prospect and the likelihood of the power going out due to the thunder, lightning, winds, and rain, we were at a loss as to what to eat for dinner.

It’s not as if we have a freezer filled with prepared store-bought frozen foods. We only consume fresh, non-processed meals with the exception of a few canned fish, zero-carb condiments such as mustard, and a few spices. We were at a loss as to what we’d prepare. With all the meat frozen it would have taken hours for anything to defrost.

But, they say, “A drink from the pool is quite acceptable.”

The stovetop and oven are electric and with the lights blinking off and on during the storm, Tom suggested we have tuna salad with hard-boiled eggs. The trick would be to get the eggs boiled before the power went out. We hurried and placed six eggs in a saucepan of purified water and put it on high.

If we were able to get a strong boil, we could turn off the burner and let the eggs finish cooking in the pan with its lid on, the method we typically use to make hard-boiled eggs. Thirty-minutes after turning off the burner with the lid on the pan, the eggs would be cooked perfectly. We held our breath while the pan of eggs came to a boil. As soon as the strong boil started, the power went out and we immediately covered the eggs. Whew! We’d have tuna salad after all.

And then, there were three.

We made a huge batch, dividing it between two plates, and enjoyed our dinner inside the house. There was no way we could sit outdoors while the pouring rain continued. Shortly, before we ate, the power resumed and much to our surprise, we had electricity all night. We’d heard several homes in Marloth Park are still without power, yet to be restored. We dodged a bullet.

Tom just read me a message on Facebook from the Marloth Park Municipality stating there’s a water shortage. Apparently, it was a busy weekend with holidaymakers staying at many bush homes in the park, using water resources. We’ve all been asked to reduce our water consumption over the next several days.

They shared the pellets harmoniously.

The property owners and managers have struggled during the pandemic with few tourists booking any of the properties. Many bush homes have sat empty for over a year. It’s been a tough time here as well as all over the world. With Easter weekend coming up soon, there will be more activity in Marloth Park, not many foreigners, but more likely South African citizens.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner arriving at 4:00 pm (1600 hours) for sundowners and starters (appetizers). This morning, while it was still cool and before working on today’s post, I spent time in the kitchen prepping most of the meal. We’ll start with a wide array of starters and finish a few hours later, cooking lemon pepper seasoned flatties (flat cut whole chickens) which Tom will prepare on the braai, along with rice, roasted vegetables, and a green salad with fresh feta and grape tomatoes. We won’t be having a dessert after such a hearty meal.

Other wildlife was on the sidelines, but thought twice before entering the space of this trio.

We’ve had a number of visitors this morning, including more wildebeest which stopped by yesterday before the storm, as shown in today’s photos, Several bushbucks, kudus, and an endless stream of warthogs, commonly seen most days, made a visit. Frank and The Misses have been hanging around regularly, often right at our feet asking for seeds. We don’t waste a moment offering them a good-sized portion.

Speaking of sightings in the garden, last night for the fourth time, Tom spotted the porcupine run across the garden. I have yet to see it, although I look for it many times during the evening. They are nocturnal. We’re considering purchasing a waterproof night-vision trail cam before our shipment goes out in the next few days. Amazon will deliver it to our mailing service in 24 hours in time for the shipment to go out to us. We’ll check this out today and decide on which model to purchase.

A new female warthog we don’t recognize. If she continues to return, we’ll give her a name.

Now I need to get back to work on the treadmill which I avoided this morning while busy in the kitchen and also finish some tasks for tonight’s dinner guests.

We hope you’ll have as good a day as we expect to have. It’s cooler today after the rain, although very muddy and humid. But, that won’t keep us from having a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2020:

What beautiful sunsets over the Arabian Sea while we sat outdoors by the pool awaiting our fate as Mumbai began to shut down. For more, please click here.

Part 1…An exciting opportunity in the bush…

Duikers are shy and elusive, rarely coming close for pellets. This adorable male has stopped by a few times, checking us out, but not quite ready to partake of the pellets.

Last night, while out to dinner once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant in Marloth Park, while laughing and chatting with owners, Dawn and Leon, Leon got a call on his phone from Louise who had been trying to call me on my phone but I failed to answer. For some reason I’d turned off the ringer. But, knowing Louise, she knew where to find us.

She told Leon she had an urgent message for us. We couldn’t imagine what it could be. Quickly, we listened to what she had to say and were surprised when she asked us to come to their Marloth Park Info Centre at 7:30 am tomorrow, Saturday, to be interviewed for radio station in Nelspruit, Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM.

When Louise and Danie, who provide a fantastic resource for tourists at their Marloth Park Info Centre located at 3043 Olifant Drive, asked us if we could come to the centre at 7:30 this morning for an interview with Radio Lowveld, at first we hesitated. It was awfully early to get up, shower, dress and be out the door.

This is newly named, Peter, Paul, and Mary. They have become quite regular visitors to our garden.

But, when Louise explained that the purpose of us being interviewed was to promote tourism in Marloth Park, we jumped at the chance. The early morning time would work fine for us if we managed to leave Jabula early enough to get back to our bush house  and get a good night’s sleep after getting to be at a decent hour.

We continued schmoozing with Dawn and Leon, ate our usual delicious dinner and left before 8:00 pm, with me even leaving an unfinished full glass of red wine, something I’d rarely do. More on my mind, was being fresh and sharp for the early morning interview. As it turned out later in the evening, Louise texted saying we could arrive at 8:15 am instead of 7:30. That helped.

This photo was taken from the car window when we drove along the Crocodile River yesterday afternoon.

Once back at the house, we settled in, watched a Netflix series on my laptop and by 10:30 pm, I was asleep, Tom shortly thereafter. With no time to prepare an agenda for the interview, we realized we’d have no choice but to “wing it” focusing on the reasons why we continue to return to Marloth Park, now for the fourth time, for a total of 20 months, when repeat stays anywhere in the world weren’t on our radar when we decided to travel the world, beginning on October 31, 2012.

In fact, early on, Tom and I made a pact that we’d never return to the same location, other than to visit family in the USA, in order to ensure we continually expanded our horizons by visiting more and more countries and points of interest along the way. After all, the world is a huge place.

Hopefully, soon, zebras will come to see us in the garden.

Anytime one does a broadcast interview or a public speech, it’s easy to think back, wishing we’d said “this or that.” In this case, I wished I had focused more on promoting tourism to Marloth Park rather than focus on our personal reasons for coming here again and again.

But, perhaps, that’s what listeners want to hear…why a typical couple, like us, keeps returning to a favorite vacation/holiday spot, regardless of travel goals and aspirations, simply because they want to, as opposed to what one “should do” when traveling. For us, the reasons we love Marloth Park are uncomplicated:

  1. The access to viewing animals in the wild, up close and personal, a rare experience in this world. Who wouldn’t love a traffic jam with six or more giraffes blocking the road? When have you ever had a zebra, kudu, warthog or wildebeest, in your backyard or garden? Who wouldn’t love some of the best bird watching in the world while sitting on your holiday home’s veranda?
  2. Meeting some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals on the planet, based on our past worldwide experiences which provides us with an extensive social life.
  3. Easy access to the Big Five in a short 25 minute drive to enter the massive Kruger National Park at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate which covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west.”
  4. Conveniently located to many other stunning tourist activities, too many to mention here. But Louise and Danie have tons of information available at the Info Centre, conveniently located in the center of Marloth Park on the main paved road.
  5. Fantastic restaurants with great food, conversation and warm welcoming
  6. Local shops for supplies, food, biltong, liquor, with a post office, hair salons, ATMs, hardware, feed shop, fantastic water park ideal for kids and families, and so much more, contained in two easy to access shopping centers
  7. A short minute drive from any direction to see the Crocodile River, which separates Marloth Park and Kruger National Park with viewings of lions, elephants, cape buffalo
  8. Endless options for holiday rentals, including private houses, lodges, resorts and hostels with prices suitable for all budgets, all right within the borders of Marloth Park. For us, Louise and Danie are our chosen hosts for the holiday homes we’ve rented during our four visits over the years providing exemplary services and properties. There are countless other properties, you may choose offered by other property owners and managers.
  9. Visiting a game reserve, Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park with lions, whose roars often fill the air at night, music to our ears.
  10. An easy paced, quiet environment offering the utmost of holiday options in a unique setting unlike anywhere else in the world. This magical place leaves every visitor with stories and photos to share for a lifetime.
Kudus stopping by for some treats and a drink from the pool.

The above reasons are why we chose to return again and again to Marloth Park for some of the finest experiences we’ve had in over eight years of world travel. This visit right now, is by no means, our last. We will continue to break our pact of not repeating locations in our worldwide travels, and return to Marloth Park, over and over again.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll share a link to our interview with Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM. We’re excited to share it with all of you.

Now I need to get back to work preparing tonight’s dinner for friends Linda and Ken, who will be arriving in about four hours.

Have a safe and pleasing day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2020:

Photo taken while on a road trip to our next location on our private tour of India. Please click here for more photos.

Due to a glitch from our hosting company…

Frank, fluffing up his feathers to impress The Misses. Maybe it’s time to expand the Frank Family once again.

Yes, it is so frustrating for us when our site is down.. I hardly slept a wink last night when I was trying to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.

It had nothing to do with our web developers and they, too, were at a loss as to how this could be repaired. It looked as if we’d lost everything. Now, our site has been restored, much to our great relief.

Unfortunately, although we are “back up” with the help of Hostinger.com, our hosting company, the actual post from yesterday, February 3, 2021, is gone, gone, gone with no way to restore it.  Thus, this post will constitute the post for February 3, 2021, and we will prepare a new post with new photos for today, February 4, 2021.

If not, we will start anew with a new post to make up for the one we lost. We have no idea why we’ve had so many issues these past many months and apologize for the inconsistency. Some things are just out of our control. If we’d been able to stay with Blogger we would have, but they made some changes that made it impossible for us to continue with the size of our site.

That was why we moved to WordPress and have had to bear the expense of monthly fees, annual fees, and new design fees. It was a costly and time-consuming process during the difficult time of lockdown in India and for all of you, seeking consistency and reliance during times of Covid-19.

Hopefully, going forward, we will be able to offer greater reliance and consistency. But, please know, businesses all over the world are experiencing difficult and challenging times with their support and staffing. In the long run, we’ve all felt the brunt of such inconsistencies of the consequences of these unusual times.

With the most heartfelt appreciation, we thank all of our readers all over the world for staying with us through “thick and thin.” Now, we hope to settle into a peaceful and dependable state as we strive to share our journey with you.

Be well.

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

Both of us, excited to be on our way to the palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India. For more photos, please click here.

Resolving the issue with photos but power is out now…

Cute little warthog resting in the lucerne.

At the moment, “load shedding” is happening and I can’t use my laptop. For some reason, I can’t get my phone’s data to tether to my laptop. I can’t worry about that now Eskom, the power company shuts off power to specific areas at certain times to reserve power resources, an average of twice a day, usually for two to three hours.

Last night the power was out between 1:00 am and  3:30 am. Danie rigged up an inverter for us so we could use two fans to keep cool. Although we awoke when the power went off the two fans served us well. It’s very hot at night in this area. Sleeping is nearly impossible without at least a fan.

Mom and two babies enjoying some pellets.

\We experienced load shedding during our past visits to Marloth Park. We can live with this. It’s a reality of life in the bush, a small inconvenience in the realm of things.

As for the issues with photos not showing in the posts, I believe I have resolved it with a suggestion from our web people. It was entirely my doing. After today, I will replace all of the posted photos with the correct extensions and the photos will appear at these links:

January 14, 2021 link here.

January 13, 2021 link here.

I was uploading photos from my phone without changing the extension as a JPEG. I don’t know how I missed this!

My camera isn’t taking good photos due to humidity issues. We will figure out all of this to ensure we can capture decent shots to upload. It may take a few days, but rest assured, I am working on all of this

Soon, Moses, Louise, and Danie’s electrician will arrive to set up the inverter to work with the router. Once done, we’ll be able to be online during the outages. This will help greatly, especially since I do the posts in the mornings in order to free up my afternoons for other tasks, photo ops, and sightseeing.

It’s been so long since we’ve taken photos we are a little rusty. By no means an expert photographer, it’s always a work in progress.

Two visiting girls.

The wildlife continues to visit with two new species today. We look forward to sharing our photos in the months to come. Due to the fact I will be removing and replacing all the photos from the past few days, I may not do the India expenses today after all. The temps are in the 90F, 38C, range and it’s just too hot to think about numbers.

Thanks for your patience with our photo issues. Hopefully, now it will be resolved.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2020:

Three years ago, Tom and I sat in the hotel bar in Palermo, Buenos Aires watched the Minnesota Vikings playoff game. We were the only patrons in the bar, but had a wonderful evening together. For more, please click here.

Hello, my Africa…It’s good to be back where we belong…

Today’s photos were taken at dusk resulting in less clear images. We work on improving our photos going forward!

What can I say? How we feel is beyond description. At the moment, we’re seated at the big wooden table on the ground level veranda with nary a railing, overlooking the bush parklands, rife with wildlife. No sooner than we opened the screened (yeah!) sliding door, they were here, albeit tentatively, wondering who we are and what we may have in store for them.

We served up treats from a 40 kg, 88-pound bag of pellets already opened last night for the stream of visitors that arrived only moments after we did. Sitting by the fabulous braai, a South African fire pit, we gasped in awe of the treasures our eyes beheld, one species after another, including seven giraffes at our driveway, several kudus, warthogs, guinea fowl, bushbucks, and more.

Then, this morning, they all returned, perhaps others than those from last night, anxious to see who will be their new neighbors. Besides, this is their land, not ours and in reality, we are the visitors, not them. Ah, the number of times, we’ve said in our posts, “Pinch me, is this real?”

And now, I say this again, with as much, if not more enthusiasm than ever. At times, I wondered if the excitement would be as profound as it was in the prior 18 months we spent in Marloth Park over the past eight-plus years. But, if anything, it was more.

The 10 months in the hotel room in India catapulted us to a new level of appreciation and gratitude, one we thought we could never achieve, after all the exquisite experiences since the onset of our travels in 2012. But, here we are now, reeling with pure joy to be back where we belong.

The familiarity we felt as we drove from Nelspruit after our three full days of travel, was comforting. As we began the long final drive toward Gate 2 in Marloth Park, around 3:00 pm yesterday, where the guards at the gate gave us a one month pass to hang on the rearview mirror with offers for more in months to come. We knew we were “home.”

We drove to Louise and Danie’s beautiful Information Center to be greeted with the enthusiasm we so cherish, with them as such great friends for the past seven years, during which we always stayed in close touch when we were away. We sat at their gorgeous bar, commiserating for a few hours until finally, it was time to come to our new home.

We knew the house was small, a single story with two bedrooms, two en-suite bathrooms, a spacious lounge/living room, a dining room with a  fantastic table and upholstered chairs, and a good-sized modern kitchen with a countertop with bar stools, well-equipped with everything we’ll need.

Louise grocery shopped for us, putting everything away as we would have. She knows us so well after all these years. Soon, we’ll prepare our first meal, steak on the braai. Is it any wonder, we’ll be eating beef for the next several days? We weren’t hungry for breakfast this morning and last night, we didn’t bother with dinner. Instead, we had a small plate of good cheeses to share, along with water and iced tea.

We definitely had good luck during the three travel days, which included the following details Tom compiled this morning::

“Three flights; the first from Mumbai, to Dubai, 2 hours 45 minutes with a 16-hour layover. A second flight from Dubai, to Johannesburg an 8 hour 45-minute flight with a 26-hour layover. The third flight from Johannesburg, to Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport), 45 minutes.
Then, the rental car drive, from Nelspruit to Marloth Park, 1 hour 30 mins.
3 flights       12 hours 15 minutes
2 layovers   42 hours
1 drive           1 hour 30 minutes
Total travel time from door to door was 59 hours, which included hotel departures, shuttles, waiting at airports, and spending time working on three months of car rentals at the Budget counter in Nelspruit.
If anyone would have asked me a few years ago if we’d be open to 59 hours of travel time to anywhere, we would have said it was too challenging, even for “sturdy us.” But, as we all know, motivation and purpose are powerful drivers and we’re grateful we stuck to our commitment to return to South Africa, instead of “giving up” and returning to the US at this time.
And here we are, sitting together, in touch with each other’s needs, wants, and joys, as always. Nothing, after those 10 trying months has diminished the strength of our love and commitment to one another. We’re still “stuck like glue.”
Again, thanks to everyone for the endless stream of good wishes. There will never be enough time to reply to each and every one of you, but please know we appreciate every single one of you.
Stay safe. Be well. Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2020:
This hornbill from a photo taken in 2019, decided to look at her reflection in the glass of the little red car, assuming it was another Hornbill, perhaps a possible mate. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Travel Tips for Wildlife Photographers around the World….

Maasai Mara in Kenya
How did we get so close, so lucky to get this shot?  We ended up calling it “safari luck” when we saw the Big Five in the first 10 hours on safari. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Note: Today’s lengthy post is #4 of 5 required for SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Today’s post is not intended to be a photographic instruction piece. Your personal equipment isn’t a point of discussion for our purposes here. Also, I will preface that I am not a photographic expert, by any means. Preparing 3000 posts over these past years has been our primary focus. As much as we’ve loved sharing our photos, becoming experts in photo-taking simply wasn’t a goal of ours. Others may say it should have been.

But, our worldwide journey has been wrapped around our goal of doing and being whoever we chose to be, at any given time, as we’ve scoured the world, not necessarily doing and being what is expected of us. Sure, great skills in photography would have been an asset, Somehow, my interest in acquiring those skills has not been at the forefront of my mind. We are merely typical travelers, who happen to hold a camera in our hands, excited to share what we see through our eyes, not a perfect, perhaps edited version of what treasures we behold.

More so, our somewhat simple goal has been to share with our family/readers/friends inspirations that which we’ve gleaned from our eight years of non-stop world travel (barring the over six months we’ve been stuck in a hotel room in Mumbai, India while in lockdown, due to COVID-19). Thus, our topic of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is more about the “where,” the “what,” and the “when” to take photos of wildlife, as opposed to the instructive mode of “how.”

older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk
In most cases, we were within 25 feet of any of the animals in our photos. Notice, this older elephant resting his trunk on his tusk. Our guide assumed this old male to be around 60 years old, close to his life expectancy. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

No doubt, some of today’s travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world will include a portion of the “how” when positioning yourself and your subject for the ideal shot, not necessarily the perfect shot. It may be a shot that bespeaks your passion, as it has with us, for animals in the wild and then, those that may not be in the wild which are equally fascinating and photo-worthy.

Why write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?…

Unable to take photos these past many months, we’d decided early on in this confinement to take advantage of the thousands of photos we’ve posted throughout the past eight years and share them once again. This provided us with fodder for our daily uploads while fulfilling the expectation of our years-long reader throughout the world. Only early on in our journey in 2012, we failed to post photos, a time when we had virtually no experience in using a camera and little interest in learning to do so.

No more than a few days into our journey, we realized, a few shots here and there, taken using our phones, just wasn’t going to be sufficient. We purchased a small-sized Samsung point and shoot when I thought it was kind of “cute” since the exterior was pink. Over the years, we purchased a few upgrades from the first purchase we made while at a port of call on our first cruise at a Walmart store in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. .Oh, good grief! We had no clue how to use it!

Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites
Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin as is the case of this kudu. Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

Had other world travelers written such a post describing travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, we may have checked it out. But, in 2012, there were few people online doing what we have been doing; traveling the world for years to come, without a home, without storage, with only the items in our then overweight luggage (we’ve since improved that scenario), intent on finding appropriate wildlife subjects in most countries in their itinerary.

Had we discovered such a site that emphatically stated we had to learn all the features of a camera and how to use them, I may have looked the other way, Tom included. Comparable to our lack of interest in bungee jumping, learning the nuances of a camera wasn’t in our wheelhouse. We just weren’t interested.

So, today, for the first time ever in almost 3000 posts, which we’ll achieve in less than 30 days, (within two days of our eight-year travel anniversary), we’ll be delighted to share what we’ve learned for the where, the what, and the when, of taking photos that may not be perfect, but will hopefully fill your hearts with blissful memories of places you’ve been and wildlife you’ve been blessed to see and experience, both in the wild and elsewhere.

wildlife photographers around the world
Finding the rarely seen Colobus Monkey put me on a photo-taking frenzy. The photo was taken in Diani Beach, Kenya.

The “where” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

It’s been these very photos, that prompted us to write travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, that may include the more experienced photographer and also those, who, like us at one point, could barely figure out how to use the flash or the zoom, let alone more complicated settings.

When we decided to travel the world early in 2012, ten months later we were ready to go, having sold every worldly possession while booking two years into the future to provide us with peace of mind in knowing we had a place to live wherever we traveled. In the process, we kept in mind our preferences, not only in regard to the type of life we wanted to live, the type of property we wanted to live in, but also the surroundings we craved.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park, South Africa
We waited patiently and mom stood while the baby sat up on her/his hind end, nose touching mom. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

What appealed most to our tastes and desires were a few vital factors:

  1. Beautiful surroundings and scenery, when possible
  2. An abundance of nature within easy reach
  3. Access to experiencing wildlife and other animals on a daily basis, if possible
    wildlife photographer in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii
    This Laysan Albatross parent and chick sit close to one another until the chick becomes more confident and the parents feel more at ease. In time, the chick will be left behind on its own to fledge, most likely five to six months later. At five years of age, they will return with a mate and begin the life cycle all over again. The photo was taken in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.

Utmost in our travels, access to wildlife became more and more important to us, as time continued on. We’d seen all the historic buildings, churches, and structures, to satisfy a lifetime. We’d dined in excellent restaurants befitting my way of eating. We shopped in unique local markets, adapting to available foods and resources, We experienced the nuances of cultural differences from that which we’d known in our old lives and met countless people everywhere we traveled.

But, as far as travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world, where one chooses to go is of the utmost importance. In Dubai, we were disappointed with little wildlife, other than camels, available for photo-taking, as well as in Morocco. We went wild with delight over the vast array of birds in Costa Rica. We loved shepherding sheep on a farm in England. And, we giggled at a pig farm in Tasmania, Australia.

wildlife photographer in New Plymouth New Zealand
Alpacas are excellent photo subjects. The photo was taken on an alpaca farm in New Plymouth New Zealand.

In Madeira, Portugal, we saw dolphins and whales while on a catamaran tour out to sea. In Hawaii, the birds, whales, and other sea creatures were in abundance. In Antarctica, we were in heaven with the sheer numbers of penguins, killer whales, elephant seals, and birds, let alone the scenery beyond our wildest dreams.

It all boils down to what you’d like to accomplish in your travels. If wildlife is your top priority, it’s important to conduct research to determine if the location you’re hoping to visit has an abundance of wildlife. Many countries we’d assumed would be rife with wild animals were not necessarily the case when the only means of taking photos of very elusive animals was while on a planned safari.

No doubt, we’ve been on safari no less than 100 times over the past years; some guided tours, some with a private guide, and many of our own as “self-drives” through national parks. In each of these cases, one must be prepared to be patient and accept the reality that, at times, you may not be able to take a single photo of the more elusive animals and only see the usual plentiful antelopes and birds.

wildlife photographer in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
We were in a Toyota Land Cruiser with open sides, 25 feet from the lion. Much to our surprise we never felt frightened or at risk at close-range to any of these big animals, including this massive male lion who gave us a great show. In the background in the carcass of a zebra, this lion savored for lunch. The photo was taken in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

For birdwatching enthusiasts, almost every country has a plethora of birds presenting countless photo ops. Taking photos of birds in flight requires definitive camera skills, not every amateur photographer possesses as has been the case for me in most scenarios. However, some of our favorite photos are of the Laysan Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, and of course, in the millions of penguins in Antarctica, a photographer’s dream come true.

In researching possible destinations, important travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world is to determine how important multitudes of photos are to you or if a select number will satisfy your needs and curiosity. For us, with our daily posts, taking tens of thousands of photos each year, the numbers of decent shots are important. For the average traveler, returning home with 100 good shots may be totally fulfilling. It’s important to decide where you are on the spectrum.

The “what” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world?

Amid all the decisions in deciding on locations, one must define what is most important for you to see and photograph. If lions are at the top of your list, Africa is by far, the most opportune continent to visit, especially if choosing to stay for a while. But, not every country in Africa is safe to visit, nor is there an abundance of lions easily accessed in some countries in Africa.

wildlife photographer in Atenas, Costa Rica
Tom’s photo. What a shot of the classic “Froot Loops” cereal (per Tom) Toucan, technically known as the Rainbow-billed Toucan, aka the Keel-billed Toucan. The photo was taken in Atenas, Costa Rica.

We chose Kenya and South Africa as one of our many goals in seeing lions. When it came to tigers we knew India was our best option. We were never disappointed in each of these countries. There are 13 countries where tigers may be spotted, but for us, India proved to have the best opportunities to encounter them in the wild.

At this point, we should mention, animals in zoos and wildlife facilities do not fulfill our objectives. If that were the case, one could simply visit a zoo in their hometown or home country. For us, the wild aspect has been a top priority when we have distinct opinions we won’t share here today about wild animals locked in cages or small enclosures.

That’s not to say, many rehabilitation centers throughout the world may have excellent open spaces for wildlife with the intent of eventually releasing them back into the wild, when possible. We have visited many of these, some of which we’ve found rewarding, providing excellent photo ops as shown in our past posts.

wildlife photographer in Kruger National Park
Impalas have exquisite markings on their faces and bodies. The photo was taken in Kruger National Park.

We’d never have seen a Tasmanian Devil in Tasmania if we hadn’t visited a rehab center, other than the sad roadkill we observed in the mornings. We’ve yet to see one of the more elusive nocturnal animals in the wild, the endangered pangolin. Hopefully, someday we’ll have that opportunity.

Each traveler(s) must decide for themselves, “the what” is most befitting their goals and objectives when returning home, or in continuing on a year’s long journey such as ours with a litany of photos exciting and memorable to savor over the years to come.

The “when” of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world…

There are three important questions one may ask themselves in regard to the “when” of taking photos of wildlife. For most, they include:

  1. When is the best time in life to embark on such a journey? Only each individual, couple, or family can make that determination based on specific lifestyle, travel budget, work constraints, and worthy of mention, general health. It’s important to note, that embarking on a safari for hours at a time on bumpy dirt roads with potholes, with fast unanticipated turns could be difficult for some. Also, climbing in and out of the jeep-type vehicles may be extremely challenging for those with certain physical conditions, advanced age, or lack of mobility. This is not an experience for those who could become distressed during a “rough and tumble” experience. Also, individuals with severe back or neck problems could find a safari unbearable. If time is limited, the experience may equally be limited. Many choose a one or two-day safari, as part of a bigger trip and find themselves disappointed, unable to have seen, and taken photos of some of their personal favorites.
  2. When is the best time of the year to see and photograph wildlife? This varies by the area of each country you choose to visit. Research is imperative to determine the best seasons for viewing wildlife. Often rainy seasons are less desirable. Most often the best seasons are during the heat of the hottest time of the year. This is important to know if you are sensitive to the thought of sitting in an open-air vehicle while on safari. Although, there are many safari companies that have enclosed air-conditioned vehicles that may be more suitable for those individuals, although taking photos will be restricted in such vehicles. If you’re interested in the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, that eventful experience only occurs in the fall months and must be timed perfectly to witness the five million animals traversing the Serengeti and the Mara River over and over again. Here again, research is imperative.
  3. When is the best time to snap the shot to acquire the best possible photo? When it comes to taking photos of wildlife, timing is everything. This has been an area we both feel we have found most rewarding, as our skills increased over the years. Patience and perseverance are the keys to this aspect. At times, we’ve sat still quietly for 20 or 30 minutes to acquire the best photo. Also, being aware of when to click the shutter is vital for the best possible photo of your chosen subject.
    the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck
    Notice the pellet crumbs on the nose of this adorable bushbuck. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa.

In conclusion…

Many of our photos posted here today will illustrate, in part, our use of travel tips for wildlife photographers around the world. They aren’t perfect, but for us, they have fulfilled our desire to create a memory that will easily endure through our lifetime and for those that follow us, for theirs.

If as a photographer, you’ve been able to learn and develop comprehensive photographic skills, it will only add to your pleasure and fulfillment. Perhaps, in time we may choose to fine-tune our skills, but for now, the spontaneous and heartfelt representations of those animals we’ve discovered in the wild, on farms, and in rescue facilities, has provided us both with exactly that which we hoped to achieve as we traveled the world over the past eight years.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2019:

ocean in Torquay, Devon
It was wonderful to see the ocean once again in Torquay, Devon. For more photos, please click here.