Hippo Day!...First time sighting since our arrival...Exceptional dinner party...


At first with the naked eye, from way across the river, we thought this was a rhino.  Tom looked through the binoculars while I zoomed in for a photo to delightfully discover it was a hippo, the first we'd seen since our arrival.  That's a cattle egret near her/his head.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

Gecko on the orange wall at night.  Check out the "red eye." Where's the tail?
With company coming for dinner and with most of the food prepped, we decided to take a drive to the Crocodile River, since after the rains, we'd hoped to see more wildlife.

In my old life, I'd never have taken the time on a day company was coming for dinner when I'd be too busy to take a few hours for frivolities.  This life is different allowing me time and motivation to do exactly whatever strikes me at the moment.

We took off in the little blue car after stopping at the petrol station to add air to a low tire (which seems to be holding up OK) and off we went on the outrageously bumpy dirt roads that take us to the river.
Since hippos stay close to the water and with the river so low recently, we hadn't expected to see any hippos, not from Marloth Park or in Kruger National Park.
It was hot, humid and the air felt thick.  Bugs congregated around us each time we stopped and got out of the car to scan the riverbanks for possible sightings.  We stopped at the usual brick overlook structure but didn't see a thing. 

A group of tourists relaxed on the tiered seating having lunch and drinks.  It's always busier on these roads and overlooks on the weekends when many South Africans from other areas flock to Marloth Park for a few days of "holiday fun" among the precious wildlife, often retreating from the "extra" humans in the park.

We've noticed that generally, we have fewer visitors to our house on weekends.  The only thing we can attribute this to is the added cars and people visiting.  Could the wildlife prefer to stay "undercover" when there are so many humans milling about?
The hippo is considered the most dangerous mammal in Africa.  From this site: The hippo is responsible for more human fatalities in Africa than any other large animal. Male hippos actively defend their territories which run along the banks of rivers and lakes. Females have also been known to get extremely aggressive if they sense anyone coming in between their babies, who stay in the water while she feeds on the shore. Hippos can run at speeds of over 20 miles an hour and they have enormous jaws which host up to 20-inch canines."
I suppose the longer we're here we've become protective of this unique location, preferring it stay natural and unencumbered with the likes of too many tourists coming and going, often staying for only two or three days. Then again, the revenue generated by tourists is vital for many of the shops, lodges, and homeowners renting their properties to incoming tourists.

Sadly, some of the tourists ruin it for everyone, disturbing the quiet and easy flow of life in this veritable paradise for animal lovers and those seeking the serenity of this magical world, so far removed from everyday life.
We watched for some time, attempting to get a better photo of this hippo with a few oxpeckers on her/him, clearing off the insects.
As we drove along the river, eyes searching to the distant shore, we spotted something dark and mysterious across the river.  Keeping in mind, we could be talking about a distance of up to one kilometer (.62 miles) from our vantage point, making photo taking with our less fancy camera, a bit tricky to get a clear shot.

Tom maneuvered the car into a perfect place to park while we got out and walked through brush and grass to get as close as possible.  Getting closer by 15 meters (50 feet) is nothing compared to the distance we were from the sighting but we forged along anyway.

At such a distance, it was difficult to get a clearer photo but we were none the less thrilled to get these photos.
The perception that moving even such a short distance closer would enhance the quality of our photos, spurred us on. Batting off flies and other insects, we steadied ourselves as much as possible to take today's hippo photos.

We'd love to have seen more hippos like we had while in the Masai Mara, Kenya in 2013.  But, with the inaccessibility of the Crocodile River, we happily take what we can get, always thrilled in the process.   Here's a photo of hippos we'd taken while on safari in Kenya:
We captured this "bloat" of hippos along the Mara River during our first hour on safari in Kenya in 2013.  Here's the link from that date.
The above photo doesn't in any manner make us feel, "Oh, that was then.  This is now."  Instead, we think in terms of our collective worldwide experiences. Africa presented these experiences to us. When?...is irrelevant.  So, it's easy for us to revel in one hippo knowing we had the above opportunity long ago and perhaps will have more in the future.

Here's another photo we posted on Tom's birthday, December 23, 2013, of this glorious hippo at sunset as we crossed the Crocodile River:
As the sun went down, the reflection on this hippo in the Crocodile River, on Tom's birthday in 2013 was special.  For the link from that date, please click here.
Yesterday, as we continued on, we were breathless over other encounters on the road back to our property, photos which we'll share in the next few days.  Each time we embark on a drive, we have few expectations and, in one way or another, we're always pleasantly surprised. This upcoming week, we'll head back to Kruger, this time staying on the paved roads.

As for last night's dinner party of six, it was delightful.  Our friends Lynne and Mick, and Janet and Steve were here for a what proved to be a near perfect evening.  As always, the conversation flowed with ease and the pace was low key and stress-free. 
Each time we go to the river, the first animal we long to see is an elephant.  We're seldom disappointed.
We were pleased they enjoyed our meal of mozzarella stuffed meatballs, topped with homemade marinara, and two kinds of cheese along with a side of bacony green beans and salad.  For dessert, we served ice cream bars and coffee with cream.  After they left, at almost at 11:00 pm, Tom had a lot of dishes to wash but together we cleaned up and awoke to only a few things left to do this morning.

In yesterday's post, I mistakenly mentioned Janet and Steve will be away for some time.  As it turns out, they'll be back in Marloth in no time at all and we look forward to seeing them again soon. 
This big guy was taking water into his trunk and spraying it on his back to cool off on the very hot day.
In a few days, Lynne and Mick return to their home in Jersey (UK) for many months.  We won't see them again until November other than to run over to their home this afternoon to say goodbye and see their newly thatched roof (almost done).  Later we'll return "home" to some mighty fine leftovers.
Last night's sunset, after our guests arrived, hard to see through the trees.
That's it for today folks. Of course, we'll always be on the lookout for more to share with each of you every single day! Have a great day!
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Photo from one year ago today, March 25, 2017:
Volleyball competitors warming up for tournaments in Manly, Australia.  For more photos, please click here.

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