Safari adventures continue…The rigors of game drives…

A female sambar deer.

It wasn’t entirely about the Bengal Tiger. Safari in Bandvargarh National Park also included many other forms of wildlife and as shown and some stunning scenery along the way.

This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but as most of our readers know, we wouldn’t ride one. 

The morning drive beginning at 6:00 am each day was cold and we covered with the blankets provided by the resort. The roads are as bumpy as can be and thus, those with back or spine problems would be miserable during either the morning or afternoon game drives.

The baby’s mother was chained nearby. We have to respect the customs in other countries as we travel the world. After all, we don’t cringe when horses are ridden. I supposed the chains are the most disheartening part affecting us animal lovers.

Bathroom breaks are at a premium and often the toilet is but a hole in the ground, not conducive for us women wearing pants. What a challenge that is! I choose not to drink any fluids in the morning to avoid the necessity. Of course, for men, behind a tree works well.
A white gum tree, the bark of which is used by locals for medicinal purposes..

Between the morning and afternoon game drives, one can expect to be out for no less than 8½ to 9½, making for a very long day. There’s a 3½ hour break between the morning and afternoon game drives, allowing time for lunch in the dining room, all Indian food, spicy and flavorful (not necessarily flavorful to Tom. He ordered separately on most occasions).

When we stopped during the safari for our packed breakfast, consisting of boiled eggs, toast and muffins for Tom and vegetables for me, a few cows entered the picnic area in the park.

Climbing in and out of the safari vehicles is not easy. With my legs not fully recovered it was challenging but I kept a stiff upper lip and did so with nary a whimper. Tom stood close by spotting me in the event of a fall. But I managed well.

Not easy to see in this photo taken at quite a distance, a tiger is dining on her catch.

In other words, safari is not necessarily for everyone. But, for us, after years of experience in Africa, we didn’t complain at bit and bounced our way through hour after hour of game drives through the rough terrain.

We saw many of these vine trees in the park.

Our wonderful safari driver was with us throughout the three days and each session a different naturalist joined us. But, our driver Babalu was most knowledgeable after 27 years as a safari driver. 

“Apart from being a rich wildlife reserve, Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh has other ways to beguile travel aficionados. One can be interested in noticing an age old fort called the Hill Fort or Bandhavgarh Fort standing right in the middle of the national park. This majestic fort allows visitors to peep inside the rich history and shows the prominent influence of religion in the state. So, what exactly are we talking about here? Well, we are focusing on the priceless heritage that includes the cave dwellings, shrines and several sculptures that indicate the strong faith on the power of Lord Vishnu here.”

We wouldn’t have needed the naturalist when many barely spoke English (our problem, not theirs. We are in “their” country, after all) but seemed to provide good service as spotters who’s hearing is acute and eyesight keen for sightings.

A Common Kingfisher.

When a tiger is nearby, the spotted deer make a barking warning sound. The driver and naturalist quickly picked up these sounds and then the watch for the elusive tiger would begin. We’d often sit quietly in the vehicle at the side of the road for 20 or 30 minutes watching and waiting for the animal to appear.

A gorgeous sunset over Bandvargarh National Park in India.

On a few occasions, they did appear. On many more other occasions, they did not. An impatient person would not do well under these circumstances. There’s tremendous with no sightings of any animals and others when they were in abundance.

Another photo of the tiger we spotted.

Since my camera card doesn’t work with my new Chromebook (no slot) I wasn’t able to use my camera until such time as I can purchase an adapter or cord. Subsequently, all of our photos were taken with our Google phones, not the best for zooming in, as we all know. There was a bit of frustration over this on my part.

Male spotted deer.

Plus, the photos from our phone which normally would appear on my laptop within a few hours of taking them, didn’t appear for at least 24 hours with the slow WiFi signal using my phone as a hot spot or when sitting in the reception area of the resort. Yesterday, photos appeared on my laptop in a more timely fashion and I was able to do yesterday’s and today’s posts in a little more timely fashion.

Rare wild buffalo referred to as a gaur. We were excited to spot this elusive animal.

We apologize for a lack of a post on Monday. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get photos to load. There was no point in writing a story about a fine artist without being able to upload the photos I took in the shop, especially when I was thrilled with their clarity.

Mom and baby wild boar. I love all types of pigs. This was no exception.

If you didn’t have an opportunity to see yesterday’s post, please click here.


Today, we are on the move again on another over five hour drive to the next safari lodge in our itinerary. We’ll be back with more on that soon.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2019:

This is our Basket, the Bully, who was thrilled to see we’d returned to the bush.  Many weeks ago he appeared with a bloody right ear, which now is but a stubble of an ear which appears to have healed nicely. For more photos, please click here.

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

The various temples are breathtaking.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

This is a goddess surrounded by servants and admirers.

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

The simple life…Ireland elicits a slower pace…

This morning’s catch when John stopped by with fresh caught Atlantic salmon, a container of crabmeat and another container of prawns.  The cost for the above was Euro 25, US $27.85.  There’s enough salmon for three meals and a fourth meal with the crab and prawns on a lettuce salad.  The average cost per serving Euro 6.26, US $6.97.  We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.60, we owed him from last week’s fish.  I asked if he could bring salmon each week.  Tom doesn’t care for fish so I’ll happily enjoy every morsel.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Northern
Ireland is governed by the United Kingdom, while the rest of Ireland is an
independent nation.”



Living in Ireland is very different from anywhere we’ve lived after over 6½ years of world travel.  The environment, the people, the chosen pace of peace, calm and good humor is present in every situation we encounter.

Today’s mist and clouds over the sea.


This is appealing.  Thank goodness we have this website requiring new photos daily and a goal to research Tom’s ancestry.  Otherwise, we’d be so content, we’d hardly go out other than to shop and dine out on occasion.


We’re far from many restaurants but now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’ll go out to dinner more often.  Since our arrival on May 12th, we’ve only dined out once.

A gate to a private drive or boat launch.


We’ve so enjoyed the wide array of fantastic food products from the SuperValu supermarket in Clifden that cooking has become such a treat.  We can now find ingredients we like to use that we never could find in the Spar Market in Komatipoort.


Now that I can cook again, we’re making a few more interesting dishes I didn’t burden Tom with when he was cooking all the meals by himself.  That’s not to say, he’s not helping.  

Many homes in the countryside have this similar look and are very old.


He’s right beside me in the kitchen doing all the “heavy lifting” including washing dishes, hauling food and pots back and forth to the laundry room where the second refrigerator and another bigger sink is located.

This morning feels like a typical Irish day.  Ann, the lovely house cleaner arrived at 9:30 am informing me that she’d lit a candle at her church for my continuing recovery.  How sweet is that?

Fishing boat in the bay.


Moments later, Eileen, the owner of this house who lives in the house next door, also stopped by.  They both possess a wealth of fascinating information about Connemara and Ireland in general.  We love their accents, warmth, easy smiles and enthusiasm.


We’d planned to head out today but it’s raining, not uncommon for Ireland.  Also, Eileen called the fish guy, John to find out if he was coming by today.  He stopped by before noon. Note the above photo and caption for further explanation.

We paid John the Euro 14, US $15.59, from last week when he’d insisted we take some fish when the package had yet to arrive containing our new debit cards leaving us with no cash (euros in Ireland).

A boat at the organic salmon station.

After the ATM cards had arrived we immediately drove to Clifden to an ATM to get enough cash to last for quite a while. Weekly, we pay Ann Euro 60, US $66.82 for three hours of housecleaning, the highest we’ve ever paid.  That’s not to say she isn’t worth it.  She does a meticulous job.  


Housekeeping wasn’t included in the rent as it was in South Africa where we had two cleaners, Zef and Vusi, each day of the week.  We’ve been spoiled.  But, knowing we have a cleaner only once a week, we’re being diligent about keeping the house tidy and organized in between Ann’s visits.


No, we don’t have a social life here yet and may not be able to make lifelong friends here as we did in Marloth Park many of whom we are staying in touch, particularly, Kathy and Don, Linda and Ken (we spoke on the phone yesterday) and Louise and Danie.


Now that I’m beginning to feel better, we’re planning on getting out more.  In the interim, this simple life is suiting us just fine.


Happy day!
                           ______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 23, 2018:

This was our first sighting of a good-sized herd of cape buffalo we spotted from Marloth Park yesterday, on the banks of the Crocodile River.  There were from 24 to 30 in the herd.  For more photos, please click here.

The scenic beauty continues as we get out more and more…

At every turn the scenery is breathtaking.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 
“Most
Irish people believe that fairies exist. In their culture, fairies have magical
powers and bring happiness and great things to families.”

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The scenery from every turn in the road, let alone the views from the windows in our holiday home, are nothing short of spectacular.  This morning overcast and cloudy with rain predicted is still gorgeous as the clouds gather around the mountains known as the “Twelve Bens.”

Wildflowers are often found blooming on the side of the road especially this time of year as summer nears.

From this site:
The Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins (Irish: Na Beanna Beola; the peaks of Beola) is a mountain range of sharp-peaked quartzite summits and ridges located in the Connemara National Park in County Galway, in the west of Ireland.


Topographically, the range is partnered with the Maumturks range on the other side of the Glen Inagh valley (a Western Way route). The highest point is Benbaun at 729 meters (2,392 ft). The range is popular with hill walkers, rock climbers, and fell runners. The 15–kilometer “Glencoaghan Horseshoe” (Irish: Gleann Chóchan) is noted as providing some of the “most exhilarating mountaineering in Ireland,” and “a true classic”. A more serious undertaking is the 28–kilometer “Twelve Bens Challenge”, climbing all bens in a single day.”


The plural word for a group of sheep is flock, dove or herd.  A very large group of sheep is a band of mob.


Now, as I write here I can see the “Twelve Bens” from the house as we gaze across the Bertraghboy Bay.  On any cloudy day, we can peer out the window to see the fluffy clouds leaving trails of mist over the mountains.


Views are even more spectacular on sunny days as soon in a few of today’s photos.  We often choose to take a drive when it’s a sunny day to enhance the quality of our photos.  But, still, there remains the magic and mystery of clouds filling the skies on days of predicted rain, such as today.


An abandoned boat in part covered in vegetation creates this classic scene.

Tomorrow, when lovely Ann, our house cleaner arrives at 9:00 am, we’ll let her inside and take off to explore areas of Connemara we’ve yet to see of which there are many.  Connemara is described as follows:



From this site: “Connemara (Irish: Conamara; pronounced [ˈkʊnˠəmˠəɾˠə]) is a cultural region in County Galway, Ireland. The area has a strong association with traditional Irish culture and contains a major part of the Connacht Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, which is a key part of the identity of the region and is the largest Gaeltacht in the country.”


Rocks are seen everywhere in Ireland.  From this site:  “The geological map of Ireland displays a wide variety of rock types which have originated at different periods of geological time. The oldest rocks are metamorphic gneisses which are to be found on Inishtrahull, several miles off Malin Head in Co. Donegal, and elsewhere in the north-west. They originally formed as igneous rocks 1750-1780 million years ago.”



“One common definition of the area is that it consists of most of West Galway, that is to say, the part of the county west of Lough Corrib and Galway city, contained by Killary Harbour, Galway Bay and, the Atlantic Ocean


Some more restrictive definitions of Connemara define it as the historical territory of Conmhaícne Mara, i.e. just the far northwest of County Galway, bordering County Mayo. The name is also used to describe the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking areas) of western County Galway, though it is argued that this too is inaccurate as some of these areas lie outside of the traditional boundary of Connemara.”



Ireland consists of many boggy areas which are prevalent here in Connemara.


There are arguments about where Connemara ends as it approaches Galway city, which is definitely not in Connemara — some argue for Barna, on the outskirts of Galway City, some for a line from Oughterard to Maam Cross, and then diagonally down to the coast, all within rural lands.

The wider area of what is today known as Connemara was previously a sovereign kingdom known as Iar Connacht, under the kingship of the Ó Flaithbertaigh, until it became part of the English-administered Kingdom of Ireland in the 16th century.”

Clouds reflecting on a lake.

The population of Connemara is 32,000. There are between 20,000–24,000 native Irish speakers in the region making it the largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht.  The Enumeration Districts with the most Irish speakers in all of Ireland as a percentage of the population can be seen in the South Connemara area.  Most Irish speakers are of school age (5–19 years old).”



There is so much for us to learn about Ireland, the birthplace of Tom’s ancestry.  Soon, we’ll begin visiting some of the towns/counties from which they originated.


In the meanwhile, we’re so much enjoying our sunny day drives through the winding, hilly roads, occasionally encountering a one car road or bridge.  One must be extra careful driving through the area with many blind spots and farm animals standing, walking or sleeping on the road.


Today, we’ll stay in.  We’re making mozzarella-ball stuffed meatballs with a red sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, along with grilled vegetables on the side.  Lately, both of us have become tired of eating side salads and are taking a break for a while, having more cooked or raw vegetables as an alternative.


We hope each of you has a peaceful and pleasant day!

                            _________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, May 22, 2018:

Although it’s impossible to conquer all of the alien plants in Marloth Park in order to protect wildlife and humans, the dedicated Marloth Park Honorary Rangers spend considerable time (their own free time) pulling out invasive plants.  In the case of “Mother of Thousands” every last bit must be pulled since it will regrow from even the most minuscule portion left behind.  It was this morning that we met friends Uschi and Evan (not in this photo) with whom we’ve since become great friends.  They are leaders in Honorary Rangers in Marloth Park.  For more details, please click here.

Final social evening in the bush…Good news!!!…One day and counting…

Tom’s favorite, Ms. Bushbuck is totally comfortable near him. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Toad peeking out from the ornamental mask.

Last night, Kathy, Don, Linda, Ken and Louise and Danie arrived at 5:30 loaded up with prepared dishes and meats to cook on the grill.  It was an easy night for me when everyone pitched in while I simply sat at one end of the table with the girls while the boys carried on at the opposite end.


What a great evening was had by all.  Kathy, knowing how much I love steak and lobster brought along fantastic lobster tails she’d purchased in Pretoria, filet mignon steaks and baked potatoes.  

Closeup of our toad peeking out from a hole in a decorative mask.


Linda brought along a wonderful salad to share and chicken to cook on the braai and Louise and Danie brought a home roasted tongue with a fabulous mustard sauce and a bacon cabbage dish.  Little did they know I love tongue but hadn’t had it in years. 


Our plates were filled with tasty treats and of course, as always, the conversation was lively and animated.  Tonight we’ll spend our last evening together at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and this time, since I now can sit, I’ll be able to attend.

Eventually, we stopped giving mongooses whole eggs and beat up the eggs in the green dish  That way there would be enough for everyone.

This morning we headed back to the doctor’s office for our final visit for the treatment on my leg and Doc Phillip’s assessment as to whether I need to go to a wound clinic every other day in distant Galway, Ireland, a 90-minute drive each way.


Much to both of our delight, the wound in continuing to heal and we’ll be able to treat it ourselves since it doesn’t require any more debridement and only needs to be cleaned with a special antibacterial liquid, have a silver based cream applied along with moist treated gauze and fresh sterile bandages added, along with a freshly washed pair of compression stockings.

Interesting marking on zebras, each of which is so unique.

I will continue to wear the compression stockings until the wound sufficiently heals, for an additional one to three months, when it no longer requires treatment and bandages.  The purpose of the compression stockings is to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming and they must be worn around the clock. 


Finally, I’ve become used to wearing them at night and they no longer cause my feet to burn during the night, a huge relief.  Last night when our friends asked how I was feeling overall (although they’ve asked almost every day) and I said “I’ve been so preoccupied with my legs, I hardly noticed the ongoing improvement in the healing from the bypass surgery.

Big Daddy, of whom there are many, comes to call on a sunny morning.

In two days, it will be three months ago since the bypass surgery and I can say without hesitation that I am almost totally healed.  I no longer need a pillow for my chest when driving on bumpy roads and I can sleep on my side without discomfort in my chest.  I can use my arms without pain in my chest which took two months or more to change.

“Retired Generals,” cape buffalo males who hang together after being kicked out of the herd when they lost the battle for dominance and the right to mate.

Surprisingly, I am not tired during the day and generally feel well except for the ongoing pain in my left leg which in no time at all should be healing. I can walk 6000 steps per days and within a month should be up to 10,000 steps per day, to be continued for the long haul.


Last night our friends complimented me saying I made it through this with bravery and strength.  I didn’t.  I whined and complained to my girlfriends (not so much to Tom since he had his hands full) and at times, I wondered if I’d ever get well.  

The Mrs. (francolin).

Their love and support saw me through and I’m no braver or stronger than anyone else who’d go through this difficult surgery and subsequent two legs surgeries on both legs.


But, here we are leaving Marloth Park tomorrow, traveling for 24 hours to finally arrive at our next location in our continuing world travels, Connemara, Ireland where we’ll stay for the next 90 days.  

Frank, our resident francolin was a regular, making his loud noise day and night, was always welcomed.

In three months from tomorrow, we’ll be on our first cruise since Antarctica, ending in February 2018.  We’ll be sailing in the Baltic Sea and at long last be able to visit St. Petersburg, Russia and many other amazing locations. 


Grateful to be alive?  Immensely.  Grateful for the love and caregiving support of my husband Tom who never faltered in the quality of his care?  Forever.  Grateful to the fine medical care in South Africa, especially Dr. Theo Stronkhorst?  We’ll never forget.  Grateful to our friends who stood by me through this difficult period?  Always. 

A leopard tortoise visited our garden.

And, grateful to the animals who always put a smile on our faces, made us laugh and cry and reminded us of the delicate balance of the relationships with humans and animals as we share this world with them, their world with us.


Tomorrow will be our final post from Marloth Park, from South Africa.  We have a very special story to share, a story of love and understanding in two different worlds and yet, in many ways, in one.

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Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2018:

We were thrilled to see a wildebeest in the yard this morning, an uncommon occurrence.  We named him “Wildebeest Willie” and he’s been a frequent visitor since.  For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…Favorite photos from Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe…Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls,

Alas, we arrived at the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders
of the World.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus stopping by for a little breakfast.

Gosh, it’s hard to believe it was a year ago that we left South Africa for Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe for sightseeing and a possible visa extension.  In order to get a visa extension, travelers must depart to a country that isn’t bordering South Africa at any point.  

In the shallow area of the Victoria Falls, we were gifted with a rainbow but this
was the first of many we saw throughout the day.
Zambia was a perfect choice and from there we visited Zimbabwe and Botswana.  We had the opportunity to see Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe which were two entirely different scenarios.  We enjoyed every moment finally being able to see the famous waterfalls.
I was happy to see Tom safely return from climbing to the top of the wet slippery bridge which he tackled without me.  I’m not quite as surefooted as he is.  It was slipperythe visibility was poor and I wouldn’t have been able to take photos in the heavy mist so I stayed behind with 
Alec while we awaited his return. I was getting worried when he’d been gone a long time.  
Seeing him in his yellow poncho made me sigh with relief.
From this siteWhile it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft.) and height of 108 meters (354 ft.), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.”


Also, we’d heard so much about Chobe National Park and the Chobe River.  For years, I’d longed to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and as it turned it, we did it all, thrilled we had an opportunity to see so much.

The sights and sounds of Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides were unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.

We spent a week on these trips, details and more of which may be found in the archives beginning on May 12, 2018, and continuing for several days.  Please check out the links for more exciting photos and adventures during this fantastic trip.

After this elephant dug a decent sized mud hole, he decided to try to lay on his side.  Digging the hole must have been exhausting for this big fellow in the heat of the sun.  For four stunning videos of him swimming in the Chobe River, please click here and scroll down to the videos.

As it turned out, once again we needed a visa extension and we returned in August for more exciting tours.  More on this later.  In any case, it was fun to see other African countries.  To date, we’ve been to nine countries on the African continent which is nothing compared to its total of 54.  


There are no less than a dozen countries in Africa it’s unlikely we’ll ever visit which present huge risks for tourists.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in Africa but don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.  






The best snorkeling apparatus on the planet…his trunk. His huge feet were no longer touching the river bottom and he was buoyant.

We’re often asked if we’ll return to Africa and that’s definitely on our itinerary, especially when we’ve booked a cruise to Cape Town in two years. However, what will transpire at immigration in Johannesburg will determine when we’ll be allowed to re-enter the country. We’ll see how that goes and report back during our upcoming lengthy travel day.

During our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, we spotted these bee-eaters making nests and burrows into holes they made in the river bank.

As for posting on our upcoming long travel day, Saturday, May 11th, we will upload a post in the morning before we depart for the airport in Nelspruit.  We’ll arrive in Connemara on Sunday afternoon and if time allows, we’ll upload a short post indicating we’ve arrived.  

Sunset on the Zambezi River.

If you don’t see a post on Sunday, it will be due to an arrival later than we’d expected and we’ll wait until the following day.  At that point, we’ll have been traveling for 24 hours or more and may simply be too tired to do so.

Riding the ferry is free for people but not for vehicles between Zambia and Botswana but, to disembark it requires removing one’s shoes and walking in the water.

I’m going from recuperating in a mostly lying down position to a 24-hour travel day. I have no idea how well I’ll feel when we arrive.  But, please rest assured that after some rest and one night’s sleep, we’ll be right back here writing to all of you.


Of course, I’d be lying if I said I was totally at ease in anticipation of this long travel day.  My number one objective will be to walk every hour on the various flights except when fully reclined in my business class seat in the middle of the night.

Albert, our guide prepared “tea time” before we entered the Chobe National Park.

Ah, let’s hope it all goes smoothly.  There’s only a 90-minute layover in Johannesburg and that’s where we’ll have to deal with immigration.  If the process is lengthy, we could miss the flight.  My being in a wheelchair will hopefully speed up the waiting time in the lines at immigration.


That’s it for today folks.  We’re hoping you all have a peaceful and stress-free day!


Note:  Due to some type of WiFi signal issue this morning, the line and paragraph spacing is “off” preventing me from correcting the situation.

_____________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2018:

An elephant taking a drink from the river.  For more photos…Please click here.

When all is said and done, what will it really cost????

The boys are especially handsome with their budding horns.


“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The kudus give us “the look,” which means “more pellets please,”

Note:  Please bear with us for a lack of innovative and exciting photos.  Stuck on the veranda and with only a few visitors each day, our photo ops are limited right now.


As mentioned in yesterday’s post, whether we like it or not, whether it’s fair or not, we are faced with a monumental financial loss due to my recent triple coronary bypass surgery.

Having to cancel all prepaid venues over the next three months results in a financial loss for which there is nothing we can do that we haven’t already attempted.
On top of the incurred losses is the fact that we had to pay for the holiday rental of the “Orange” house from February to May when we’ll depart for Ireland for the upcoming three-month rental in Connemara by the sea.  This booking will remain in place.
Two female kudus stopped by this morning.
We’re looking forward to the summer months in Ireland but the realities of what it will have cost us to get there is quite a sting.  Once again, I’ll reiterate, we are immensely and eternally grateful to have discovered my severe heart condition while in South Africa for several reasons:
  1. The cost of health care in this country is very reasonable
  2. The quality of medical care in South Africa is exemplary
  3. South Africa is known for its advancements in heart disease as compared to other countries throughout the world
  4. The cost of living while recovering is as much as 50% less than in many other countries throughout the world
We couldn’t have been in a better place when discovering this life-threatening condition.  Oh, gosh, had we gone on to Kenya we would have been in dire straits trying to find the quality of care required to “right” this condition.  We are so grateful for being here in South Africa.
Soon they were accompanied by a young male, most likely an offspring of one of the females.
Now we are faced with bearing the entire cost of the operation, doctors and follow-up care when our insurance company is looking for any possible “out” to avoid paying the claim, only adding to our worry and stress.  We are talking about a lot of money.

Today’s post is presented with the intent of sharing these losses but may not be exact to the penny.  The time and energy required for the exact numbers aren’t quite where I’m at during this recovery period. But, the numbers we present today are within 5% of the actual costs.  I’m still not quite clear headed enough to be as precise as we’d usually strive to be.

So, here’s an overview of the losses we’ll have incurred as a direct result of this dire medical emergency.

  • Flight to Kenya from South Africa (non-refundable) ZAR 15752, US $1135
  • Kenya Safari Tour (non-refundable) ZAR 199688, US $14,400 with a promised refund of ZAR 69336, US $5000 for a total loss of ZAR 130352, US $9400
  • Hotel in Santiago Chile (non-refundable) ZAR 20440, US $1474
  • Cruise from Chile to San Diego, CA (partially refundable) ZAR 22174, US $1599
  • Flight from San Diego, CA to Minneapolis, MN (non-refundable) ZAR 6330, US $ 456.60
  • Cruise from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Copenhagen, Denmark (partially refundable) ZAR 12480, US $900
Total losses: ZAR 207523  US $14,965

Plus, we must include any and all medical expenses for hospital, doctors, and medications.  We’ll report back on these as they become known in the near future.  With these totals included, we will be looking at a total loss, in excess of ZAR 1040040, US $75,000.
Such cuteness…
Also, ironically, we received a notice from Expedia while I was in the hospital that the flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Santiago, Chile was being canceled and we’d be refunded the entirety of this expense (not calculated in above costs). This credit hasn’t been reflected on our credit card as yet but we’re watching for it.

As we review these losses they are meaningless when compared to the fact that my life has been spared and in time as we recovery physically, emotionally and financially, we’ll move into the future with excitement, hope, and fulfillment for that which is yet to come.

Thanks to all of our readers/friends and family for their loving support and prayers during this challenging time.

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Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2018:
I had the opportunity to feed tiny Doc who slowly nibbled on the teaspoon.  For more details on bushbaby rehab, please click here.

Social whirlwind during our remaining two weeks in the bush…A great evening with friends…

 
A barren tree in the middle of the S130 in Kruger created an interesting scene.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Two yellow-billed storks and one cattle egret at the far end of Sunset Dam in Kruger.

This morning, we calculated exactly how many meals we’ll have to cook during our remaining two weeks in Marloth Park.  Considering the contents of the chest freezer, we’ll only be cooking dinner eight more nights.  We won’t need to purchase more protein sources.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Kathy and Don are giving us a going-away party next Friday, February 8th at their riverfront home in Marloth Park.  It will be a sit-down dinner party for 12, the maximum number they can fit at their big table on their third-floor veranda overlooking the Crocodile River.

Wildebeest and her calf in Kruger.


Unfortunately, we couldn’t invite everyone we’ve come to know and love in the park so we chose those friends with whom we’ve become closest.  Sadly, Rita and Gerhard won’t be attending the party.  


They had to leave to return to the US in a hurry due to the sudden passing of a dear friend.  They don’t intend to return anytime soon.  We miss them already.  But, Rita and I have stayed in close touch and we have no doubt we’ll be together again, perhaps as early as in the next six months.

Zebras grazing on new growth from recent rains.


Also, next week on Tuesday Kathy is hosting my pedicure at a local spa/resort. Linda will join us after which we’ll all have lunch at the resort.  It’s been so long since I’ve had a girls-only event.  This will surely be quite an enjoyable event.  


I haven’t had a professional pedicure in at least 10 years.  I rarely afford myself such a luxury when generally it just isn’t that important to me.  But doing this with the girls will make it very special and memorable.

Four male cape buffalo lounging at the river’s edge.


Next Wednesday is Leon’s birthday which we’ll attend at Jabula as we had for Dawn’s birthday on Tuesday evening, adding one more event to the social calendar.


On top of that we’ll dine at Jabula the next two Saturdays, this upcoming on our own and the following with Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken for our final time together.

Family crossing the paved road.


We plan to dine out one more time in the next few weeks plus spend our last night, Wednesday, February 13th in the bush at Jabula avoiding the cooking and clean-up at the house.  


The following morning we’ll drive to Nelspruit where we’ll spend one night at the Protea Hotel near the airport for our early morning flight on the 15th to Nairobi, Kenya.

A bull elephant we stopped to observe hoping for a better photo.


Yesterday, we made a resevervation at highly rated restaurant, Orange, (coincidentally, like the name of this holiday home) where we’ll dine that evening on Valentine’s Day.  


We informed the restaurant we’ll be writing a review and look forward to an excellent experience.  Currently, this restaurant is listed as #1 out of 89 restaurants in Nelspruit on Tripadvisor.   We’ll write our review here shortly thereafter and also at TripAdvisor.

He moved into a clearing and we noticed he was standing with his back legs crossed.


As for last night, we joined Uschi and Evan at their home for sundowners. As it turned out Uschi had put together a few trays of fabulous appetizers, all of which I could eat.  


We’d intended to stay for only an hour or two but ended up not leaving until 2130 hours (9:30)!  The friendship and conversation was utterly delightful and most assuredly, they’ll be at the party and staying in touch down the road.  

Our dear friends Evan and Uschi on their veranda last night.


The meal we’d left to be cooked went uneaten but tonight we’ll have the easy dinner.  I’ve made a salad and prepared vegetables to be cooked after we just returned from shopping in Komatipoort.

Enjoy some of our remaining photos from Monday’s foray into Kruger.  Tomorrow, we’ll be back with all new photos and more.

Uschi with us at the veranda table.


Happy day!

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Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2018:

View of the sea from Grytviken, South Georgia, Antarctica.  Please click here for more photos.

Croc shock!…Stunning Crocodile River sightings from Ngwenya…

One mean looking croc!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Last night’s sunset from Ngwenya Restaurant’s veranda overlooking the river.

At times, I almost don’t know where to begin to tell you about our past 24 hours which on most days is exactly what we share.  Sure, we may describe sightings and events that may have transpired on other days but overall, our goal is to divulge that which transpired most recently.

Elephants making their way toward the sparse water in the Crocodile River.

So, today, as I share the events of yesterday, I can’t help but smile over how Mother Nature (i.e. safari luck) continues to come our way wherever we may be in this utopia of wildlife, scenery, and nature.

What a breathtaking scene as they crossed the dry riverbed!

For example, last night’s photo of the sunset at Ngwenya was truly breathtaking.  So quickly, it vanishes into the horizon for darkness to fall and a single sentence spoken to each other or our friends and we’ve missed the entire event.

Moms, matriarch and several youngsters including a tiny baby made their way to the water.

It also was the case when yesterday, we decided to leave the house for Ngwenya at 1630 hours (4:30 pm) as opposed to our usual almost 5:00pm.  Had we lingered for 30 minutes, we’ve have missed most of today’s photos.  I suppose it’s all about timing and sheer coincidence.  

They kicked up a lot of dust as they made their way over the dry riverbed.

It’s certainly has nothing to do with any skill or innate perception on our part, except for the fact that we’re aware that sightings are better at certain times of day than others.

This baby couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old.

With only six days until Tom and Lois depart to return to the US and only three months and 25 days until we leave South Africa for Kenya (if a visa extension is provided), I’ve begun to feel a sense of loss over our eventual departure.  


When we leave on February 20th, should all go as hoped, we’ll be returning to South Africa on December 2, 2020, a mere one year, nine months and 12 days, arriving in Capetown by cruise where we’ll spend a few days and then head directly back to Marloth Park.

The mature elephants certainly protect the little ones.

But, so much can change between now and then.  The park could be different with less wildlife and changes could transpire that we can’t even conceive of at this point.  


Life is unpredictable.  So much is beyond our control.  Merely fantasizing as to how we’d like it to be and what it subsequently “will be” can be but a figment of our imagination.  The world is rapidly changing.  We are all changing as we age and no one can predict a few years from now.

Finally, they approached an area with easier access to the river.

In our “perfect world,” we’d still be traveling as we are.  We’ll have been to many more places, seen many more wonders and perhaps even finding ourselves loving other places as much as we’ve loved it here. 


We shall see.  Neither of us is caught up in any dreadful type of expectations. We roll with it as we go and strive to do our best to make our ongoing dreams comes to fruition.  There will never be a time that we’ll stop dreaming.

From quite a distance, we spotted a female lion.

Today, we had another exceptional experience when the four of us took quite a drive to see an authentic African village, an outstanding musical production and learns about the culture.  We’ll be sharing that story and photos tomorrow.


Please check back.  We have so much more.


Have a pleasant and peaceful evening.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2017:

Our dear friend Louise in Kauai Hawaii wrote to tell us this bird we spotted in the yard in Costa Rica was a Fiery-billed Aracari. What am an amazing bird!  For more photos, please click here.

Cheetah day!…Expressions of a cheetah in the wild…Fantastic sightings in Kruger National Park…

Based on our position in the line-up of vehicles our photo taking advantage was limited.  

“Sighting of the Day in The Bush”

The now-visiting-daily mongooses gather in a pile staring at us until Tom mixes up the bowl of eggs.  I talk to them to keep them entertained while he prepares the eggs.  We’re happy to feed them to keep them around to deal with snakes.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, when the power had gone out in the morning we decided to go to Kruger for the day.  Not knowing when it would return and based on the high temperature of 42C (108F) it wasn’t such a bad idea to spend the better part of the day in the airconditioned little car.

These cats are easily distinguishable from leopard based on the dark tears running down their eyes.

Our expectations weren’t high on such a hot day.  Would wildlife hide under trees and bush to take cover from the heat?  No doubt, many did just that as we spotted many herds of impalas, kudus, and wildebeest seeking protection from the heat of the sun.


It was a mere week or so ago we’d been to Kruger traveling along the main paved road (one of few) that we observed the recent “controlled burn” leaving the bush along that road blackened for at least 45 minutes of the hour-plus drive to Lower Sabie.  And yet, magically, it already seemed to be recovering.

Every so often, she’d change positions providing us with additional shots.

We decided to stop for breakfast at the Mugg & Bean restaurant in Lower Sabie which overlooks the Sabie River, often providing some good sightings and photo ops. After breakfast, we’d continue on our self-drive traveling on bumpy dirt roads. 

We watched the cheetah for quite a while but she never stood.  In the scorching heat, she seemed comfortable in the shade.

The drive surpassed our expectations, especially when early on we noticed a number of safari vehicles driving down a dirt road to a loop we’d never noticed in the past.  We believe based on the map that it was at Gasanftom Road/Gezantombi Waterhole/Watergat.


Moments after entering the loop, we encountered no less than eight safari vehicles with passengers hanging out the sides and windows with cell phones, cameras, and tablets in hand.

What a nice face!

They were obviously gushing with enthusiasm as to the creature before their eyes, a cheetah lying in the shade, awake, alert and seemingly unaffected by the presence of the growing crowd.

Dozing for a moment?

Tom maneuvered the little car to the best possible vantage point and we too felt excited with this sighting.  It was one of few cheetahs we’d seen in Kruger over these past many months.  There was only the one cheetah.


Sure, we’d like to have seen more cheetahs.  But, as we’ve learned over this long period in Marloth Park/Kruger National Park, we’ve come to appreciate spotting “one” of any wild animal.  Yes, numbers are exciting but it doesn’t diminish the power, grace, and beauty of any species.

She heard a sound in the bush.

Here are some facts about cheetahs, the second fastest mammal on the planet, from Kruger’s site here:


“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/h (71 mph). 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 (88 lbs) and 60kg (132 lbs). 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.

This lone cheetah seemed unperturbed by the clicking of cameras and numerous vehicles in the area.  We couldn’t believe how thin she was.  We’d seen cheetahs in the past but none looking quite this lean.

Typically, a cheetah will start a charge 60m (66 yards) to 100m (109 yards) 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. 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.

A little grooming was in order.

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 (273 yards) before it needs to catch its breath.

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. 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. 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.”


For the remainder of this story, please click the above link.
Lounging on a hot day in Kruger.
After the cheetah sighting, we encountered several equally exciting wildlife scenes, which we’ll continue to share in posts over the next several days.  Please check back for more.

As for today, it’s hot again, similar to yesterday’s unseasonal heat.  Its still winter here for a few more days!  As we write here today sitting outdoors on the veranda, it’s currently 35C (95F) and we’re doing fine.  

We’ve got the braai (grill) fired up and cooking tonight’s chicken dinner in the event of a power outage at dinnertime which can easily transpire with added power usage during the hot weather.

We hope you have a fantastic day whether it’s hot or cool or a balmy almost-fall or almost-spring day!

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

“The variegated squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, southern Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. Fifteen subspecies are recognized.”  Tom spotted this squirrel in the yard, alerted me and I took this photo through the glass wall to avoid scaring it away.  For more photos, please click here.