Coincidences...Hilarious video interaction...Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve...Busy weekend ahead...



For a good chuckle, watch this video.  At about halfway through
you see a funny interaction with this warthog and mongoose.
 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
These tusks on this female warthog that visited with babies are the largest we've seen since our arrival.

Upon entering Lionspruit, we had to sign a waiver stating, "Entering at our own risk.
Our lives are filled with coincidences, of dates, people, and things.  We're always amazed as we look back at the year-ago posts how often we encounter patterns of dates and events.  I suppose with the diversity of our experiences, this can happen.

Today is February 23rd which brought to mind the coincidence of the 23rd of the prior several months.  For example on November 23rd, we embarked on the 30-night South America cruise.  On December 23rd, Tom's birthday, the cruise disembarked in Buenos Aires where we stayed for 31 nights.  Then, on January 23rd, we flew from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina and embarked on the cruise to Antarctica.  These are quite coincidental dates filled with considerable adventure.

Today, we've posted a video you must watch if you'd like a chuckle. About halfway through (watch carefully) you'll see an interaction with a warthog and mongoose that we watched over and over again, laughing each time.

This sign, written in both Afrikaans and English warns visitors about entering.  We had no intentions of getting out of the vehicle at any time.
While filming the video we had no idea this happened.  It wasn't until we watched the video after uploading it to YouTube we realized this funny split-second-long event.

Yesterday morning Louise and Danie stopped by to leave a "cool box" (cooler) with us and a pass to get into Lionspruit Nature Reserve, contained within sprawling Marloth Park.
With very few visitors, it's a long day for the guard that manages the gate.
With social events both tonight and tomorrow night where we bring our own beverages, it was thoughtful of them to loan us a cool box for our lengthy stay at "Orange...More Than Just a Color," the name of this lovely home in the bush. 

Although the house is well-equipped, Louise has rousted up some additional items I needed; sharp knives, measuring spoons and cups (most tourists don't cook much), mixing bowls and other odds and ends.  Now, we have everything we need.
There were numerous impalas beyond the entrance gate but we didn't see much as we traveled on the dirt road.

As for the pass to Lionspruit...last time we were here, four years ago, we'd considered visiting this small (compared to Kruger National Park) wildlife reserve but for some reason, never got around to it.  When Louise and Danie offered the pass, we decided to go.

Image result for map lionspruit
Map of Marloth Park and Lionspruit Nature Reserve.
Here's a map of Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park. Lionspruit is 1500 hectares, equivalent to 3707 acres, or 5.8 square miles.  In comparison, Marloth Park is 3000 hectares, equivalent to 7413 acres, or 11.6 miles

We'd heard the roads inside Lionspruit were uneven with lots of rocks and potholes but thought we should finally give it a try.  If we didn't find it navigable, we'd turn around and leave.  Not so simple. 

Most of the roads are one-way.  It proved to be like a maze and although we were never lost, we found ourselves in a quagmire of never-ending mud holes, water holes (not knowing how deep they were) and rocky pits and ruts from rain and erosion.

As it turned out, this reserve is not the place for a regular, especially tiny car with small tires, like our rental.  Surely, a four-wheel drive would have been more appropriate.
When we started out the dirt road didn't look bad but once we were 10 minutes into it, everything changed.  It had rained quite a bit lately.  We probably should have waited for a drier spell to enter Lionspruit.
Once we got going, there was no turning back.  At several points, we certainly anticipated getting stuck in the mud or ruts and having to call for help.  Luckily, I'd brought my phone with the number for Field Security in the park that will come to the rescue in any type of emergency.  We hoped "safari luck"
would prevail and we'd see a lion but instead "safari luck" saved us from getting stuck.




There are only two known lions in Lionspruit but we could have done a number on ourselves, anticipating being stuck and spending the night in there, or in attempting to walk back to the single entrance.  Oh, good grief.  This could have been quite the story for an episode of 48 Hours, Dateline, or other such sensationalized TV programs in the US.

Luckily, we both stayed calm, even when we approached the scary huge water holes in the narrow dirt and rock road.  Although, we both were running the possibility of getting stuck in our minds we avoided mentioning our concerns to one another.

"The southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a hornbill found in southern Africa. Yellow-billed hornbills feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders, and scorpions. This hornbill species is a common and widespread resident of dry thornveld and broad-leafed woodlands. They can often be seen along roads and watercourses."
Tom, a highly competent driver was a little hesitant at times but maneuvered our way through some of the toughest roads we've navigated in our travels.  Each time he made it through another frightening patch, we both sighed in relief.

It was so tense, I failed to take photos of the water and mud holes, which now that its over, I wished I had done.  Just picture a water hole of unknown depth covering an entire dirt roadway...we made our way through many of these.
More impalas tucked away in the bush.
With a manual transmission, Tom used first gear during most of the entire long drive.  It took us two hours to return to the entrance gate, after which we returned the plastic-encased map back to the guard joyfully waving goodbye.

We never spotted either of the two lions in Lionspruit, nor did we see much wildlife, other than a few as shown here today.  We see more wildlife sitting at the big table on the veranda than we did there. 
Impalas are shy and tend to back off from humans.  Plus, they are huge targets for lions, leopards, and hyenas so they're always on the lookout.
Next week, we're heading to Kruger National Park (25 minutes to the Crocodile Bridge entrance) on a self-drive on their easy-to-manage paved roads.  In comparison, Kruger is over 2,000,000 hectares, 4,942,108 acres, and 7,722 square miles.  Having visited Kruger many times during our last stay, we're looking forward to returning.
There are many hornbills in this area.
Tonight at 6:00 pm, we're off to a musical party at friends Kathy and Don's home here in Marloth, where Don and Ken (of Linda and Ken) have a performance planned, followed by food, drinks, and most certainly more lively chatter. 

What a fabulous social week for us with more excitement upcoming tomorrow night which we'll write about tomorrow. 

Have a blissful weekend whatever you may do!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2017:
Caravans parking in Franklin, Tasmania for summer activities in the Huon Valley.  For more photos, please click here.


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