Final expenses for our five night Zambia trip…On our way back to the bush!!!…

Sunset over the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Notice the spray from Victoria Falls in the left rear of the photo.

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At the moment, we’re sitting on the bed in our hotel room in Zambia, after a lovely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, packed and ready to go. At 11:45 am, Chris, from Chris Tours (see his link here), a highly reputable tour and transport company in Livingstone, Zambia, will pick us up for the short drive to the Livingstone Airport.

We’re scheduled to arrive in Nelspruit at 3:35 pm when we’ll pick up our rental car and commence the 90-minute drive back to Marloth Park. If all goes well with immigration (fingers crossed), we should be at our holiday home in the bush by about 5:30. Before unpacking, we’ll freshen up a bit and head to Jabula for dinner.

We’re looking forward to seeing Dawn and Leon, our friends and the owners of our favorite restaurant (and lodge) in Marloth Park. They’d been on holiday for a few weeks before we left for Zambia, and it will be fun to see them again, to catch up, and dine on their fabulous food. Hopefully, we’ll be celebrating our return for another 90 days, providing all goes well at immigration in Nelspruit.

Load shedding has resumed in the park, so the power will be out while we’re out to dinner, hopefully back on when we get back to the house. Supposedly, it will be off and on until Saturday, after which they’ll be suspending load shedding for a few weeks, or so they say. It can change on a dime. Then again, TIA, “this is Africa,” and that’s what happens. We love it anyway.

We’ve had a great time in Zambia. We accomplished a lot of research, and I am down to page #18 (with 20 posts per page). At this rate, I will have completed this year-long project by the middle of November. I can hardly wait to be done and have my afternoons back to further enjoy life instead of working on my laptop.

Now, for the expenses, we incurred for this trip to Livingstone, Zambia:

Flight  (round trip) from Nelspruit to Livingstone:  US $1288.00,   ZAR 18938

Taxi: US $46.81, ZAR 690.68

Hotel (using some rewards): US $425.09, ZAR 6258.06

Food: US $339.00, ZAR 4992.29

Visa Fee (entry to Zambia):  US $100.00, ZAR 1472.65

Tips: US $125.0, ZAR 1470,80

Total:  US $2323.90, ZAR 32204.32

We were pleased with this total. The high cost of the airfare was over half of the total expenses. Flights through Airlink have increased during times of Covid, but the convenience of avoiding the five-hour drive to Joburg is worth it to us. Plus, we could get a direct flight from Nelspruit to Livingstone, saving another half day of travel time.

If we have no issues with re-entry, the expense will have been well worth the time and cost. We have documents with our negative Covid-19 PCR test results, our flight information out of South Africa in January, a rental letter from Louise stating we have a place to live, and all should be in order. The question is: “Will they (immigration) accept the fact we only left SA for six days?” If so, all will be good. The laws are vague on this topic, so we hold our breath when we check-in.

That’s it for now, folks. In a few minutes, we’ll zip up our duffle bags, call for help with our bags, pay the balance of our hotel bill at reception and wait for Chris to arrive to take us to the airport.

Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be writing from Marloth Park with the good news that all went well. Thanks for “traveling” with us!

Photo from one year ago today, October 26, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #217. Rasnesh, our driver, took this photo of us in front of the Vuadomo Waterfall in Fiji. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

Final photos from Livingstone, Zambia…Final Expenses will follow tomorrow…

Zebras were grazing on the grass at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

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Wow! The time has flown by so quickly. Tomorrow morning, we head to the airport to return to South Africa. At the moment, we’re awaiting printed copies of our PCR test results and a copy of proof of our airline tickets proving we are exiting South Africa on January 23, 2022, which may help at immigration if we run into any issues for our short time away.

Our favorite photo is of the sunset from the hotel veranda.

In the past, we only encountered one negative comment from an immigration officer upon return to South Africa, but we were allowed re-entry. However, we felt by showing our airline tickets for January. They may be convinced we’re not “border-hopping.”  We’ll see how it goes.

The past 24 hours have been relatively quiet while we both worked on projects on our laptops. I am working on the corrections fast and furiously and now have less than 19 pages of 20 posts left to correct. At this point, I can correct 30 posts a day when in the beginning, it was slow and cumbersome when I could only get through 15 posts a day.

The spray from Victoria Falls from the Zambia side of the river. We visited the fall on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides last time we were here in 2018.

No, the old posts won’t be perfect. It is easy to miss a few corrections on each page, even after reading and re-reading it. Halfway through, I added the paid, highly-rated editing program, Grammarly. But, it, too, like humans, is not exempt from making errors. Yesterday. I did a post that had 126 errors on a post prepared while in lockdown in India. I had all the time in the world to proofread, and yet, I still made countless mistakes, mostly commas, occasionally sentence structure, and less so spelling.

I often say if someone asked me if I’d write an essay every day, 365 days a year, that would be presented to the world online, I would have said they’re out of their minds for asking me to do that, and I would have flatly refused.

An elephant on the opposite side of the Zambezi River, most like more than a kilometer from our view from the hotel veranda.

Weirdly, I am doing exactly that now, 3355 posts later. Good grief! How in the world did that happen? How in the world have I continued to motivate myself to keep doing this, day after day, month after month, year after year? Now, as we approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world, having begun posting on March 15, 2012 (before we left), even I am shocked by how consistently this mission has continued.

The first year or so, we only posted a few times a week. But, as time marched on, we realized we needed to write more often to maintain the continuity of our peculiar lives without a home, without storage, and with only a few bags in our possession.

A bloat of hippos in the Zambezi River, rarely picking up their heads.

Based on interest and comments from readers, they’ve always seemed more interested in the challenges we face daily, not unlike their own. Life isn’t always about famous sightseeing venues and tours. At times, daily life is tough and for many of our readers, seeing how we resolved a particular issue(s) is equally, if not more interesting.

We try to “shake it up” with a mix of exciting events and daily life events. But, like most of you, some days are dull and uneventful. Have you ever wondered what you’d write about after 3355 days of writing a daily essay? It, in itself, is sometimes challenging.

A halfhearted yawn from a hippo.

Regardless of how often my mind is blank when I sit down to begin. Within minutes, my fingers fly across the keyboard as if possessing a mind of their own, and the words flow. Once I start, the rest follows suit. But, the easiest part is writing down the thoughts. The hard part is editing, editing, and more editing.

Then, the photos always take a good portion of the time I spend at my laptop, formatting, positioning, and editing. Although I may do a few photo edits, mainly consisting of brightening or resizing a scene. Remember, I am not a professional photographer and have little interest in pursuing that path when I know how much time it would take to learn more. Gee…I want to have time left in my day to embrace it!

The spray from the falls at sunset.

The concierge just dropped off our negative PRC tests. Tomorrow morning, we should have time to do another post with our expenses for the six days, five nights we’ve spent in Zambia. Please check back for that.

More spray from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.

Happy day and evening to all of you, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, October 25, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in a hotel in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #216. The waterfalls at Vuodomo, Fiji, were still, at quite a distance. We gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall, which is much larger than it appears in this photo. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening overlooking the Zambezi River…The longest river in Africa…More photos tomorrow…

As soon as we were situated on the veranda, we were excited to see the spray from Victoria Falls at a distance.

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Last evening, the taxi driver picked us up for the short drive to the Royal Livingstone Hotel for game viewing and the sunset over the water on the Zambezi River, the longest river in Africa. Upon arrival, we walked through the five-star hotel’s lobby and then proceeded to the perfectly groomed grounds toward the veranda closest to the Zambezi River.

As we entered the grounds to the five-star Royal Livingstone Hotel.

It was early enough. We managed to get front row seats at the railing and settled in, ordering a beer for Tom and a glass of wine for me. The wine list on the veranda was marginal at best, so I had no choice but to select their “house red,” which I sent back after a few sips. It came from an open bottle, and I think it had gone bad.

We took this photo on the long drive into the hotel. I wish we’d had a better shot, but other vehicles were also trying to enter the hotel grounds. This giraffe looked different than those we see in South Africa, “The South African giraffe or Cape giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis Giraffa) is a subspecies of giraffe ranging from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. It has rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to the hooves. The Rhodesian  (or Zambian giraffe, more commonly known as Thornicroft’s giraffe, is a subspecies. It is sometimes deemed synonymous with the Luangwa giraffe. It is geographically isolated, occurring only in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley. An estimated 550 live in the wild, with no captive populations.”

Instead, I ordered a sauvignon blanc, not my favorite, but found it acceptable. With that settled, we began searching for wildlife sightings on the river. It didn’t take long when we spotted a “bloat” of hippos halfway across the river. Tom perused the river banks using his binoculars and spotted some elephants at quite a distance, resulting in our less than ideal photos. We were happy to see them.

The pool looked refreshing on a scorching day.

The sunset wasn’t perfect. It was shrouded by clouds at its final descent, but we managed to take a few decent shots before that. We couldn’t have been more relaxed and comfortable, chatting endlessly about our lives, past and future travels, and upcoming cruises. Of course, no sundowner time would be complete without mention of our wildlife friends back in Marloth Park, wondering how they’re doing with us away.

At dark, we wandered to the Old Drift outdoor restaurant on yet another veranda while we watched zebras munching on the dense grass, drinking from a fountain, and walking the grounds as if they owned the place. We doubted they’d ever wander away far from the hotel when everything they needed was right there.

Later in the evening, we dined at this end table for two.

We sat at a white linen-covered table for two, ordered one more drink, and relaxed a while before ordering our food. The menu was typical African/Continental cuisine with the popular local fish, bream, pork chops, steaks, half chicken, and so forth. I ordered salmon for the first time since we left India and a plate of steamed vegetables, and Tom ordered the sirloin steak with mashed potatoes. Of course, he was thrilled to eat the breadsticks with soft garlic butter before the meal was served.

The food was good, fresh, hot, and pleasingly served. It wasn’t quite the gourmet meal we expected, but both of us were content and will give it four stars on our upcoming review at TripAdvisor. Our food and drinks totals were US $89, ZAR 1322. We were back at our hotel before 8:30 pm, streamed a show, and dosed off by 11:00 pm.

As we made our way to the veranda overlooking the Zambezi River.

Today, at 10:00 am, a doctor from the local clinic arrived to do our PCR tests for our return to South Africa in a mere 48 hours. The time has flown by so quickly. Other than a few WiFi issues at the hotel, we’ve been delighted with the room, the food, the service, and the ambiance. Oddly, it feels somewhat like a mini-vacation. We’re having an excellent time, even more than we’d hoped for this short visa stamp trip.

We paid US $172, ZAR 2554, for the two tests, and the email results will arrive sometime tomorrow. In the interim, we’re looking at possible options if we aren’t allowed another 90 days in South Africa solely to give us peace of mind. But we aren’t apprehensive. We are proactive, just in case.

It was hot, but I often wear long sleeves (plus repellent) to keep from getting bitten by the mozzies, who are fierce in Zambia.

Today, we’re hanging out at the hotel again. Zambia’s Independence Day weekend is in full force, with the holiday extended through Monday. The number of guests at the hotel has thinned out today, and we love having the quiet solitude as we spend all day and evening outdoors.

There’s my guy, content on the veranda at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

Life is good. No complaints here. More new photos will follow in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #215. Handmade raft for fishing, I Fiji, which our driver and guide explained is safer than a boat when there’s no chance of being stranded or sinking. For more photos, please click here.

Tom loves his doughnuts!…Fun outing planned for tonight…

    Tom was in doughnut heaven when “fritters” covered with white and chocolate frosting were available at the breakfast buffet. He sure loves doughnuts and seldom finds any he likes.

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Booking hotel rooms with breakfast included is our preference, although we don’t always eat breakfast at our holiday homes. But, if we chose a room without this option and didn’t order breakfast separately, we’d be in trouble if we became hungry during the late afternoon. We don’t eat typical vending machine snacks or lunch since we don’t eat when not hungry.

I can only imagine the struggle we’d have with our weight if we ate three meals a day with snacks. In an effort to maintain a healthy weight, overeating and to eat too often doesn’t make sense. Besides, not knowing the preparation of food unless otherwise specified is especially tricky for me.

Dining on the veranda at the hotel’s restaurant is pleasant.

Over the past several years, I have gotten away from eating restaurant foods made with vegetable oils. I have done tons of research on this topic, and over these years of world travel, I’ve learned to ask what oils were used in food preparation. Here’s an excellent article by Dr. Mark Hyman, a highly regarded physician, and health advocate.

In restaurants, they often use cheap oils, not unlike industrial oils. When we went through the buffet (staff served) this morning, I asked about many items I may have selected a few years ago. This morning, after ordering the same oil-free vegetable omelet with a side of steamed vegetables, I asked if the chicken livers, which I always loved, and various other offerings, were made with oil. They were. I chose to pass on them.

We didn’t bring swimsuits. With Covid-19, we aren’t interested in swimming in public pools.

Then I asked what may seem to be a dumb question, “Is vegetable oil used in the preparation of the bacon?” The answer was an emphatic yes. I passed on the bacon. I could eat nothing else on the buffet, but I appreciated the oil-free omelet and the steamed vegetable platter. Very few restaurants in this mid-range use butter for cooking unless requested.

In some African countries, even butter isn’t “real” butter. It’s some highly processed trans-fat-laden butter lookalike. No thanks. I am better off with poached, steamed, or grilled foods.

As you can see from the above photo of Tom, he’s less concerned. He doesn’t have heart disease, like me. And, he has excellent genes, when mine is awful with many inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and a variety of auto-immune conditions. I am trying to extend my lifespan by being very diligent about what I consume and the quality of my life.

The breakfast buffet only had a few options for me, a veggie omelet and steamed veggies.

I guess I won’t know if this serves me well until my number is up. But, I bear no hardship in selecting healthy options, especially when dining out.

As for tonight, we have a reservation for fine dining at the Old Drift Restaurant at the luxurious Royal Livingstone Hotel, a short taxi drive from the hotel. See details here from this site:

“Royal Livingstone Hotel Dining Options

The Royal Livingstone Hotel offers fantastic dining experiences serving world-class cuisine. The most famous is the Royal Livingstone Express, a luxury dining experience aboard a steam train that also stops on the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge for sunset drinks. A fine a-la-carte menu is available in their Old Drift Restaurant, or their lounge offers light dining in a room full of fascinating history and artifacts from the area. We would highly recommend doing either lunch or high tea in their Kubu Restaurant, which is on the deck, giving you unrivaled views overlooking the Zambezi River, some of the rainforest, and the spray of the falls. Animals such as baboon, zebra, warthog, bushbuck, and giraffe roam the lawns of the Royal Livingstone grounds, really giving you that “Out of Africa” feeling.”

We’re excited to be able to have sundowners on the deck of the famous hotel and then dine on their gourmet food which, I expect, won’t be cooked in “bad” oils, but I won’t hesitate to ask. If I am uncertain about the butter they use, I will order poached, grilled, or steamed items. One never can be too safe.

Tom was waiting for me while I took a few photos.

Of course, our big motivator for choosing this location is its reputation for great food, its high-rated ambiance, and views on the Zambezi River, where we hope to see wildlife and take many photos.

The time is going so fast, and we can hardly believe it. We’re having a great time together, meeting new people. Last night we met two corporate pilots from South Africa and had a great time chatting with them. We’re so fortunate always to find ourselves interacting with others during our world travels.

We couldn’t have it done on Monday since it’s a national holiday in Zambia, Independence Day, and the PCR clinic closed. Tomorrow, a doctor from a local clinic will come to the hotel to do our PCR tests for our return to South Africa. As it stands right now, we’re returning to Marloth Park in a mere three days.

Hmm, I wonder how our 12 bushbucks, Frank and The MIsses, Little and Broken Horn, and all the others are doing while we’re away! For now, we’re enjoying every moment of our time away while still looking forward to making it through immigration without a hitch (hopefully) and getting ourselves back to the bush.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 23, 2020:

Today’s photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #214. Ordering the seafood platter for two in Kenya resulted in a fabulous meal we enjoyed, each receiving our huge platter like this. That sure looks especially good now! For more photos, please click here.

Tom and his rolls!…Limited sightseeing options due to Covid-19 and past experiences…

Last night, Tom couldn’t stop smiling while eating the tiny hot buns served at our table in the hotel restaurant. He was in “bread heaven!”

Note to our readers: Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

We’d hoped we’d find some activities we hadn’t done during our last two visits to Livingstone. One that appealed to us was a diner and tour on the Royal Livingstone Express Steam Train. This was a logical option for us with a multi-course gourmet dinner and the opportunity to see Victoria Falls (for the third time) from the bridge overlooking the falls.

I don’t know what the intended pattern was here but, he surely enjoyed the butter with the warm rolls.

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the train is only running when they have confirmed and paid 30 guest reservations. At almost US $400 for two, this may not be a logical option for many tourists based on budgetary concerns. It’s expensive for most travelers, including us, who have waited a long time to travel once again but have experienced financial losses due to Covid-19.

We lost a considerable sum in the past 20 months due to Covid-19, including the added cost of living in a hotel in Mumbai, India, for ten months. Freely spending on tours and events that aren’t new to us doesn’t make sense. But, if this dinner train can book 30 people, the concierge at the hotel will notify us, and we will join the others.

Since I never eat bread, he loved not having to share these little treasures.

As for other tourist options right now, we’ve already experienced many possibilities in this area. Neither of us cares to have to get visas and more PCR tests at our expense. We just spent ZAR 1700, US $116.34, for our tests to come here and pay a similar amount before we leave next Tuesday.

The cost to fly from Nelspruit to Livingstone was more than we’d ever paid on our past two visits at US $1289, ZAR 18841. We did get two free nights from Hotels.com for our remaining rewards but will have to pay for three nights. In total, with meals, transportation, hotel, tips, airfare, and PRC tests, this short five-night stay will cost about ZAR36566, US $2500. This total doesn’t include any unique venues.

Shortly after we arrived yesterday, we waited in the lobby for a room with a king-sized bed to be prepared. The hotel is busy since it’s a holiday weekend but hasn’t been for over a year due to Covid-19.

We have to face the fact that we’ve booked many expensive cruises in 2022 and 2023, to many countries we haven’t visited in the past nine years, which is a huge motivator to keep tightening our belts as we pay them off, one by one. The cruises are of the utmost importance to us to further enhance our experiences worldwide.

The hotel lobby is unassuming and straightforward but clean and inviting.

Unlike most citizens of the world, we always consider the “bigger picture” instead of spur-of-the-moment expenses that may be regarded as luxuries. As a result, we are content to enjoy our third time together in Zambia on a low-key basis. We aren’t disappointed or frustrated. We are cherishing every moment of the time away from Marloth Park and blissfully look forward to our return as well.

Today is a warm, beautiful day here in Livingstone. Right now, as I write this, we are seated in an outdoor lounge area. Earlier, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast buffet. Tom had scrambled eggs and a side of bacon, while I had an oil-free vegetable omelet with a side of steamed vegetables along with one piece of bacon.

I was unable to get a better shot of our plane from Nelspruit to Livingstone. There were only 10 or 11 passengers on the 90-minute flight.

No, most likely, we won’t be taking many photos hanging around the hotel, but we’ll keep our eyes open for any exciting photo ops to share. If the train works out for Saturday night, we’ll be excited to share those photos. If not, we have another exciting option we’re pursuing.

We hope your day and evening are special!

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

The gorgeous Maui scenery on a drive to Maalaea Beach. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #213. For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to Zambia!…

We tossed some pellets into the driveway for Mom, Dad, and Baby bushbucks.

Note to our readers: Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

took off at 8:00 am, exactly as planned, packed with confidence, knowing we brought along everything we’d need. Over the years, packing has become easy, especially on these short trips. It was fun to see how light our duffel bags were at less than 20 pounds, 9 kg, each.

As expected, the drive to Nelspruit was, with lots of trucks and vehicles on the busy two-lane N4 highway through the small towns and gorge. The ongoing construction resulted in a few short delays, never more than five minutes or so, but we arrived at the airport in plenty of time.

Stopping at the last petrol station before the airport, where we always fill up after the long drive before returning the rental car, we reached the airport less than 15 minutes later. We dropped off the rental car, our lightweight bags at check-in and proceeded to wait in the restaurant until boarding time. Immigration went smoothly on this end. We’ll see how it goes when we return to South Africa.

The little one is so adorable!

In no time at all, we boarded the small plane, climbing up the steep metal steps and finding our way to row three for our two side-by-side seats. The flight was only about 90 minutes which passed by quickly. There were no more than a dozen passengers on the Airlink flight.

The clean and modern tiny airport in Livingstone was as we remembered it but with fewer shops open, due to Covid-19. Upon entry into Zambia, we had to pay an entry fee of US $100. On the way out, our bags had to go through a security scanner once again, after doing the same in South Africa.

A porter with a sign with our names greeted us upon arrival at the airport entrance. In a matter of minutes, our former tour company owner, Chris (the link to his site is here), met us at the curb, loaded our bags, and a likely conversation ensued on our way to the Protea Marriott Hotel.  We made a stop at an ATM to get kwacha, the local currency, and we were off to our hotel.

Warmly greeted at the reception desk, we inquired about a free upgrade. All the rooms in this particular Marriott hotel are the same, so an upgrade wasn’t possible. Once we arrived at our room, we were content with the cleanliness, good air con, WiFi, and king-sized bed with white fluffy pillows and duvet.

Baby bushbucks tend to sit down on the ground when the dad or another male is nearby, a submissive behavior.

Before we know it, we’ll be back in Marloth Park, hoping to see our animal friends, especially those we know and love so much. In the interim, we will make a point of enjoying our time in Livingstone, Zambia. We’re checking to see the availability of a few possible tours, but Coid has impacted Zambia, as is the case throughout the world, and some regular venues are not operating.

This morning when we were up and about 6:30, our wildlife friends were all waiting for us, including a tiny bushbuck attempting to shake off two pesky oxpeckers. We saw the mom warthog with the perfect tusks, now free of this season’s two fast-growing piglets and looking pregnant. By Christmastime, she will have from two to four tiny piglets in tow.

Many babies are born in the hot summer months when the bush is green and lush. It will be delightful to see all the little ones once again. But for now, we’re wrapped up in our six days and five nights in Zambia and will undoubtedly enjoy ourselves with whatever we decide to do.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of our hotel while we investigate what will be on the agenda.

Have a fantastic day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day 3212. My dinner plate in Kenya in its entirety, seven skewered grilled garlic buttered calamari atop a plentiful portion of grilled non-starchy vegetables. I didn’t try the sauce, fearing it may contain sugar. For more photos, please click here.

When does this ever happen?…

We spotted this giraffe in the parking lot at the medical clinic when we stopped by for PRC tests required for us to travel tomorrow.

Note to our readers: Based on receiving hundreds of spam comments each week, adding significantly to the time necessary to do each day’s post, it is now required to log in to post a comment. We apologize for this added step. We were tired of seeing pornographic and illegal drugs sales posted as comments on our site. I had to go through each one to remove it. If you have an urgent comment for us, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of each post or send either of us an email message to which we’ll respond within 24 hours or sooner. Thank you so much for being so understanding. We will post this notice for one week.

There’s never a time we aren’t in awe of wildlife in Marloth Park and yesterday was no exception. We drove into the parking lot of the medical clinic for our PCR tests in the park, and lo and behold. A giraffe was in the parking lot. We couldn’t help but laugh when both of us said simultaneously, “When would you ever see a giraffe in the doctor’s office parking lot?”

We looked at one another, and Tom said, “Never before in my lifetime.”

We had our tests, and a short while later, when we exited the building, the giraffe was still there, munching on the treetops of what appeared to be lush and green. Giraffes’ food sources are more abundant during the dry winter months when they only have to share, instead of hundreds of herbivore animals living off green vegetation close to the ground.

Kudus, taller than most wildlife, can reach portions of greenery on trees within their reach, but in no time at all, those sources disappear during the dry winter months. At this point, we hardly see any options for the kudus, wildebeests, impalas, duikers, and others in the antelope family.

Warthogs love to eat grasses, indigenous plants, and bushes, and roots they dig up with their tusks and snouts. With the ground dry and hard-packed, the option to dig up roots is slim to none this time of year. No wonder they and the other grazers are frequently hovering around bush houses in hopes of human-provided sustenance in the way of pellets, sweet potatoes, vegetable scraps, carrots, apples, and bananas.

Warthogs are picky about vegetables. They never eat cabbage, lettuce, or other leafy greens and often turn up their noses when we offer them carrots. The other antelope will eat any of the fruits mentioned above and vegetables. Bushbucks and kudus particularly love cabbage, and we often buy a few giant heads to share with them.

Here’s a “Little” look-alike with two oxpeckers cleaning his ears. Very funny! He also looked as if he was in a trance.

Today, we’re packing and getting as much done as possible. While we’re away, Vusi and Zef will do a “spring cleaning” on the house. It will be spotless when we return on October 26th to begin our remaining 90 days in Marloth Park until we depart on January 23rd.

Knowing they would be doing the spring clean, along with defrosting the refrigerator, we washed towels and organized spaces to ensure there was less clutter than usual. Although we both are tidy, we often have our digital equipment, suitcases, and various items sitting out. We’re not exempt from having some clutter.

We’ve eaten most of the food in the refrigerator with only a small amount remaining in the freezer, which we’ll drop off to Louise later today to store in her big freezer.

Twice this morning, Tom headed to the carwashes for a total clean on the rental car for tomorrow’s return when we arrive at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport. There are two carwashes in Marloth Park, one of which was closed today and the other on both occasions, busy cleaning trucks and other vehicles. Tom would have had to wait for hours. Instead, we paid Vusi extra, over and above the tips we tendered for both of them, for him to do the thorough car cleaning.  He’s outside now wrapping it up. We do not doubt that he’ll do an exceptional job.

Are we excited about going to Zambia now that we aren’t doing the expensive cruise on the river? We are. The short flight is no longer than the drive to the airport. We already know about the quality of the hotel when we’ve stayed there twice in the past and feel good about returning. There are several restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past which we’ll visit once again.

The oxpeckers went after Thick Neck also. He got a glazed look on his face when they started cleaning off his hide.

Once situated, we may decide on a few sightseeing venues we are looking into now. We’ve already experienced the significant events the area has to offer, but we may choose a few remaining highlights, depending on availability while we are there.

At the moment, Tom is checking us in on tomorrow’s flight. Soon, we’ll hear back on our PCR tests, and as the day progresses, we’ll wrap up our packing, which is minimal for this five-day trip.

We won’t be posting tomorrow until later in the day, once we’re situated at our hotel in Livingstone, Zambia. Thus, the post may appear four or five hours later than usual.

Have a super day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 20, 2020:

 This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #211. The Gold Dust Day Gecko’s full-body shot shows the colorful spots on her back and the cute little blue fingers. For more photos, please click here.

We made it through the 104F, 40C, day with ease…Today? The same…Six days and counting…

Due to WiFi issues today, I am unable to post a caption under the main photo below. Instead, the caption is listed below in a paragraph. 

Caption for above photo: “Above is the photo we took this morning of Bad Eye. Her eyelid has improved tremendously without medical intervention. To see her immediately after the injury occurred, please click here.”

It was so hot last night when we went to bed; the pair of jeans I’d washed after dinner was dry this morning. Usually, it takes two to three days for jeans to dry indoors on the drying rack.

Sleeping was easy with the aircon on all night, and it was true, load shedding had ended for now. We both slept through the night without the aircon going off due to another power outage. Over these past eight or ten outages, oddly, we didn’t lose WiFi which was unusual. Power outages aren’t quite as dull when we have nothing to do but stare at the walls or play dumb offline games on our phones when we don’t have WiFi.

Starting Sunday, the temperatures will drop to a high of 69F, 21C, and a low of 59F, 14C. Go figure. Cloudy skies and much-needed rain may follow these low temps. The animals are hungry. This morning I cut up dozens of carrots and a half head of cabbage for the antelopes.

We took this photo of Bad Eye this morning. Her eye is doing so much better. See the photo and link before for the injury when it was new.

A short while ago, we had 14 antelopes in the garden, as shown in today’s photos, all at once, including a duiker, bushbucks, and impalas. It was apparent they were all hungry and thirsty. Many of them drink from the freshwater we put in the birdbath each day. We even ensure Frank has clean water in his little container each day, along with his separate container of seeds.

When checking the weather report, we see it is sweltering in Livingstone, Zambia, right now and will continue during our five-night trip. In a mere six days, we’ll be on our way to Zambia. Packing will be quick and easy, only bringing hot weather casual clothing. None of the restaurants or venues in Livingstone require anything other than very casual attire, although, like South Africa, it generally cools down by about 25 degrees after sunset.

I took a break from preparing this post when I noticed Bad Eye standing at the edge of the veranda.  It was the first time we saw her alone without her three female friends/family. She was never found and treated, or perhaps, the rangers felt she’d heal on her own, which she did. She almost looks like herself again with this injury, as shown in today’s main photo. Her eye has healed beautifully on its own without any medical intervention.

This adorable bushbuck Spikey was among the many visitors this morning.

These animals are tough. They get through the outrageously long barren months of winter with barely any vegetation they can consume available. They exist on the offerings of people like us who don’t hesitate to feed them freely. This must have been going well this winter since few of the wildlife look undernourished or scrawny.

Soon, the rains will come, the trees, bushes, and grasses will grow, and once again, the wildlife will flourish in their environment. We are thrilled this will occur while we prepare to leave, giving us a degree of comfort, knowing they will graze without our intervention.

Today, we do what we can to stay cool, and then tonight, we’ll head to Jabula at 5:00 pm for our usual Friday night social time and dinner. It’s always such fun chatting with the locals in an upbeat environment. It will be hot sitting inside at the bar or outside, but we’ll dress accordingly and be fine.

They were spread out in the garden, preventing us from taking a photo with all visitors.

A few minutes ago, I heard back from Chris (Chris Tours), the same reliable tour and transport guy we used the last two times we were in Zambia, and he did such an excellent job for us. The only inconvenience is that he requires cash payments, not credit cards, to visit an ATM on the drive from Livingstone Airport to our hotel. Easy peasy. He will also arrange and transport us should we decide to do any tours we haven’t already done.

So there it is folks, post #3343 as we rapidly approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

                     Photo from one year ago, October 15, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #206. This male lion was resting after a mating session in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

Another change in plans…Who did it???…

This morning, while Tom was seated at the table on the veranda, an animal purposely tipped over the birdbath. See the photo below for the culprit.

We completed and submitted the necessary documents for the boat trip on the Chobe River in Botswana. We put the details on our online calendar. We booked hotel nights on either end and even called the hotel to inquire about getting a Covid-19 PRC test before we departed on October 26th to return to South Africa.

Louise spent hours going back and forth with the company to ensure all the pricing and details were correct. On the contract she submitted, copies of our passports and credit card information were included. We even received a copy of a confirmation.

Two days ago, on Tuesday, Louise received an email from the rep from the cruise company that they were raising the price on us since we were not South African citizens. At first, they required a 100% price increase but last night backed down to a lower amount. This doesn’t work for us.

Yep, it was The Imposter who tipped over the birdbath right before Tom’s eyes. Tom said he accidentally tipped it over when drinking. No worries, The Imposter. We aren’t mad at you!

We are not willing to pay US ZAR 3000 44627 for three nights on a houseboat, especially without WiFi. It’s just not worth it to us. We’ve already been on both the Chobe and Zambia Rivers on past trips to Zambia for visa stamps. The cruise would be a repeated experience, although a few days longer than in the past.

We told Louise to cancel. Fortunately, they had yet to charge our credit card, so we don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting a refund, nor will we have to have a total of five Covid-19 PCR tests. We’re fine. This morning we booked the three extra nights at the Protea Marriott in Livingstone, Zambia, and all we have left is to arrange transportation to and from the Livingstone Airport, which we will do today.

Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll check out any other possible events we may want to see while there. Keeping in mind, we did most of the attractions in and around Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe while in Zambia twice in the past. We aren’t concerned. Instead, we’ll manage to enjoy ourselves as we always do.

Another handsome male impala in the garden.

At the hotel, we’ll have good WiFi and will still be able to post each day. Taxi fare is reasonable, and we’ll dine out each evening, except for the last night when we’ll dine at the hotel’s pleasant restaurant. We are particularly enthused to return to the popular Zambezi Cafe, where they serve delicious Portuguese food.

No, our photos won’t be as exciting as we’d hoped, seeing wildlife on the river. But we’ll do our best to include new images each day, including plenty of food photos from dining out.

Had we not had so many cruises upcoming in 2022, we may have considered the higher price of the houseboat tour. However, there was the fact we don’t care to have a venue suddenly raise prices on us when they determine we are Americans. We tend not to stand on principles stubbornly, but in this case, we feel differently.

Duiker’s diminutive size, at the bottom of the pecking order of antelopes, is shy and always the last to get pellets.

Since the onset of Covid-19, we’ve incurred thousands of extra dollars in lost charges and increased prices. We had to stand firm on this case with our intent to keep costs down to prepare for our exciting upcoming new cruises. It’s always a matter of checks and balances, ultimately what makes the most sense to us.

As soon as I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll get back to work on the corrections. At this point, I only have 29 more days of work, and then I’ll spend a week or two working on the four new detailed SEO (search engine optimization) posts requiring days to prepare. I should have all this extra work behind me by December 1st, and I can relax and enjoy the holiday season in the bush during our remaining time in Marloth Park, until January 23, 2022, when we’ll be on the move once again.

We are OK with all of this, especially after so many changes since the pandemic began. We’ve become more resilient and patient during this challenging time which has significantly impacted our travels in the past 20 months. Once we leave Florida in early 2022, we’ll begin to feel our journey has genuinely started again.

May you have a memorable day whatever you do.

                                     Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2020:

This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.
This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #204. This exquisite bloom was the size of a soccer ball. For more photos, please click here.

Whew!…Lots of paperwork to go on a boat…

Once again, the male bushbuck in the background might be this baby’s dad since he is often with the mom, as shown at the forefront of this photo.

When we started booking the houseboat tour on the Chobe/Zambezi River, we expected a certain amount of paperwork. But, little did we realize how time-consuming it would be for both Louise and ultimately for us. With Covid-19 issues addressing entering into three countries on this one trip, it’s a paperwork nightmare, and bless her heart, Louise has done everything she can to make it as seamless as possible for us. We appreciate her hard work.

Then, we ran into the issue of payment. Not only is there a comprehensive contract for the three-night houseboat tour, but it was accompanied by a lengthy questionnaire we had to complete and submit. On the forms, they requested payment by bank transfer.

If you’ve been reading our posts over the past several years, you know we are adamantly opposed to bank transfers. But, as it turns out, our bank refuses to allow bank transfers to certain countries, including most of those on the African continent, due to excessive amounts of fraud. Thus, we always pay with credit cards. Plus, we get lots of points when we use certain cards.

Louise worked it out, and the company agreed to accept a credit card, although they are charging us a 4% fee of the total price, which resulted in a total cost for the boat of ZAR 31585, US $2114. However, transportation from our hotel in Zambia to the various borders and then returning to the hotel four days later is included. We paid a premium for that service, but undoubtedly, there is less risk of timing errors and confusion.

A one-month-old baby bushbuck is behind her mom in this photo. We tried for a better photo, but she was timid and wouldn’t stay still for a moment.

Also, the cost of the four Covid tests is included. We’ll need the only additional Covid test from the hotel on October 25th, when we return from the boat, to be used for our return entry into South Africa. Whew! What a lot of monkey business Covid has created for travel.

We run the risk that the entire thing could be called off at the last minute if new Covid restrictions are implemented or changed between now and then.

Our round-trip flight from Nelspruit to Livingstone, Zambia, is ZAR 19274, US $1289. In total, with tips, two nights’ meals when at the hotel;  the small amounts we paid for the two nights in the hotel, using our points; transportation to and from the airport, should be, at most ZAR 58809, US $4000.

Although this is expensive for a total of five nights away, it’s a whole lot less than it would have cost us to return to the US for three months, instead of living here in South Africa, where it cost so much less. At least we’ll get our visas stamped and can relax over the remaining three months we’ll spend here.

This morning, nine bushbucks stopped by. We gave them carrots, cabbage, and pellets.

Travel planning is always time-consuming in one way or another, as you travelers out there so well know. Planning one trip can take days, let alone planning for an entire life of world travel, such as we do. But, if we had a house and lived in one location, we’d be mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, painting and making repairs around the house, getting cars serviced, sending Christmas cards, decorating for Christmas, and other holidays, baking, cooking, house cleaning and more.

Life is filled with trade-offs. For us, the simplicity of those times allows us to kick back and relax without a care in the world, while at the same time, we’re embracing other cultures, other scenery, wildlife, oceans, mountains, plains, and savannahs, we couldn’t be more content. And…grateful.

May your bliss and ours continue.

Photo from one year ago today, October 7, 2020:

Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites
This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #198. 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, in 2018. For more photos, please click here.