A delicious and entertaining dinner in Marloth Park...See "Sighting of the Day in the Bush"...Language barriers and adapting...

For the first time, last night at Jabula Restaurant we saw a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby. These are huge compared to the tiny bushbabies which are the "Lesser Bushbaby," which we see each night on the little stand where we place the little cup of fruity yogurt.
 "Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

From this site: "Thick-tailed Bushbabies have caused alarm for many visitors to the wilderness areas of Africa with their child-like screams during the night with some visitors complaining of child abuse among staff members at lodges. The Afrikaans name for bushbabies is nagapies which mean small night apes."
Last night's dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant couldn't have been more fun.  Sitting at the bar, Tom having his usual brandy and Sprite Zero on the rocks while I had my new favorite low alcohol red wine I've been enjoying lately (South Africa's Four Cousins Skinny Red).
The environment at Jabula Restaurant is comfortable and inviting. We usually dine outdoors on the veranda but last night we had such fun with owners Dawn and Leon, we dined sitting at the bar for the first time.
This wine tastes great (now that I've acquired a taste for it) and with its low alcohol, low carb content with reduced tannins, it doesn't cause the potential for aftereffects some of us suffer from when consuming a few glasses of red wine in an evening. 

We both perused Jabula's expansive menu for quite awhile as we sat at the bar, chatting back and forth with Dawn, Leon and their assistant Lyn.  The bar was packed when we arrived, while the locals enthusiastically watched a rugby game on the flat screen TV which ended, unfortunately, with South Africa losing to moans and groans in the audience.
The bar at Jabula Restaurant where Dawn and Leon chat with their guests.  It was a very fun evening.
Suddenly, we heard a commotion on the veranda.  Guests dining outdoors had spotted a Thick-Tailed Bushbaby on the thatched roof.  We'd heard a lot about these huge bushbabies but had yet to see one in our "garden" at night.  I couldn't grab the camera quickly enough and was thrilled to get these photos in the dark of night.

Speaking of "garden," I am going to stop using the word "yard" in our posts. Here in Marloth Park and also in South Africa, they don't use the word "yard" or "backyard" in reference to their lot included with their home.  Also, in South Africa, they don't call a piece of land a "lot."  It's called a "stand."
Tom ordered Eisbein, a fried pork knuckle that is unbelievably delicious (I always take a few bites of this monstrous item).  We brought the bone home for the warthogs.  They don't like the meat, just the bone.  Tom splurged and ordered the "chips."  The food and ambiance were exceptional as always.
Henceforth, when writing our posts and in speaking with others locally, we'll use the local verbiage as a "garden" instead of a "yard" and of a "stand" instead of a "lot."  We try to fit in. 

It's bad enough that the locals, have to speak English when around us when most native Caucasian South Africans speak the Afrikaans language.  It amazes us how well they speak English as a second language even in conjugating verbs, even in understanding slang and euphemisms.
But, then, he splurged further and ordered a giant plate of fried onion rings.  I didn't complain.  He eats healthy meals when I cook and splurges when we dine out.
As a result, we need to make every effort to blend in, not only in our behavior and interests but also in our acceptance of words they've incorporated in their use of the English language.

When we return to the US for a visit in nine and a half months, we can re-do our language to fit into the expectations in conversing in our native language.  There's always adjustments such as these when we live in a country for several months.
My grilled chicken breast, steamed spinach, and carrots.
And such was the case, last night at Jabula.  The bar, filled with locals, chatting to other locals in their Afrikaans language never made us feel "left out" of the conversation.  On a dime, any one of them would quickly revert to speaking English for our benefit.

But, this is how it is here in Marloth Park, friendly, open and easy to make friends.  I should qualify this and state that not all locals in Marloth Park are from South Africa.  Many homeowners here in the park are from many other parts of the world including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.
Tom gave me his salad which we ordered without the feta cheese when I no longer eat dairy products.
The only Americans we've met in Marloth are friends Kathy and Don.  Kathy grew up in California like me and Don was born and raised in Kenya. They have homes in other parts of the world including Hawaii and South Africa, spending part of the year here.  Other than the two of them, we've yet to meet anyone here from the US.

Today is another perfect weather day, sunny, comfortably warm.  After we upload the post, we'll head out to see what we can find, once again, hoping the spot the lioness.  It will undoubtedly be a good day.

May you have a good day as well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2017:
Last year on this date, Tom and son TJ hung out together at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds where TJ had his 1954 Buick Special on display next to his canopy set-up at the "Back to the 50's" annual event.  For more photos please click here.

Lion on the loose in Marloth Park...Hippo Day!...

I borrowed this photo from a Facebook post when a local resident, Neville, a resident of Marloth Park had taken this morning. 
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
We'd never seen this warthog until last night when he stopped by.  The left wart appeared injured and infested with maggots.  Since warthogs are so abundant in Marloth Park, nothing is done when they are injured. Veterinary care is expensive.  Nature takes its course.
Yesterday when we received a notice from Louise that a lioness was on the loose in Marloth Park, a chill ran up our spines.  Not only were we excited about this event but we went on a mission to see if safari luck would prevail and we'd spot it and actually have an opportunity to take a photo.
Hippos lounging in the Sabie River in Kruger.
The likelihood of finding her in this vast expanse of 3000 hectares (7413 acres, 11.5 square miles) is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack.  Once the post was uploaded, we headed out with extra fully charged batteries.  I wanted to have to camera turned on at all times, just in case.
"The name hippopotamus comes from the Ancient Greek 'river horse'."
We followed the roads where she was last seen on a street called Leeu, weaving in and out of all possible routes hoping for a glimpse.  Well, we didn't expect to get lucky and we weren't. 
"An adult hippo needs to resurface every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe."
We saw elephants on the river, giraffes on the savanna and an ostrich under a carport but we stopped for nothing, fearing that one minute's change of plans could cause us to miss her.  Of course, this concept can go either way...stop for something else and then...we'd see her. 
"Hippos bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs."
After two hours, we gave up and stopped at Daisy's Den for birdseed when Mark the owner of the shop told us his mother-in-law saw the lioness chasing a young kudu across the tar road.  Nature can be cruel but that's the reality of life in these parts.
"Despite its stocky shape and short legs, it can easily outrun most humans. Hippos have been clocked at 30 kmph (19mph) over short distances."
Everyone in this little holiday village is on the alert based on warnings to avoid walking, especially at night.  One must pay special attention in getting into and out of cars, shops, restaurants and their own homes.  One cannot make an assumption that walking from a restaurant to their car is safe at night, or even during the day.
Any comments on this type of bird?
Are we scared?  Not at all.  Nor does it affect our sitting on the veranda day and night.  The veranda is six steps up from ground level.  It's unlikely a lion would climb the steps to get to us when there's usually much more readily accessible wildlife nearby. 
A giraffe's neck contains huge amounts of muscle. But that is not what is holding its neck so high. It is a band of elastic tissue, a ligament that runs from the top of the neck to start of tail vertebrae.
We have no doubt that a few of our visitors may already have fallen prey to the lion's appetite.  Even with few predators in Marloth Park itself, most of the wildlife's natural instincts will drive them to run as fast as they can if they hear or spot a lion. 

"Gnus, or wildebeests, are large African antelopes. Wildebeest is an Afrikaans name that means "wild beast." Gnu is a derivation of the name used by native Africans. The names are used interchangeably. A gathering of gnus is called a herd.'
The acuity of the hearing of wildlife in the park is incomprehensible to us but outrunning a lion would be difficult when there are bush homes and other man-made structures impeding their ability to run at their top speeds.
Calf nursing in Kruger National Park.
This afternoon, we'll head out once again with hope, albeit foolhardy, of spotting the lioness and taking our own photo to share here with all of our readers.
"African fish eagles are very efficient hunters and only hunt for about 10 minutes each day. Besides fish, they also eat young birds, monkeys, baby crocodiles, and frogs."
Thanks for stopping by, dear readers.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2017:
After the boat ride on Father's Day, we drove past the new Minnesota Vikings US Bank Stadium (football) for this shot.  For more photos, please click here.

The winter solstice and holiday season begins again in the bush...Taking care in Marloth park

This male was "standing watch" so the others could relax and nod off.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Playful warthog antics always make us laugh.
Note:  One of our kindly readers pointed out we had some date errors on yesterday's posted itinerary.  Thanks, Jan for bringing it to our attention.  We since made the corrections accordingly.

Yesterday, was the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.  Henceforth, the days will be getting longer.  It's hard to believe its winter here when most days the temperature is in the 30C (86F) range.

Mornings and nights are very cool, often requiring we bundle up.  But, once the sun begins to shine which is almost every day, it warms up sufficiently for shorts and short sleeves.  We've had a handful to very cool days but overall, few requiring extra warm clothing.

Last night, shortly before dark, we encountered this "confusion" (yep, that's right!) of wildebeest in front of a property along the river. 
When summer arrives on December 21st here in the southern hemisphere, its an entirely different story.  The thoughts one conjures up about heat, humidity, and dust flying through the air will be exactly what we'll expect.

We remember these difficult conditions when we were here over four years ago during December, January, and February.  There were more insects, more dust and more sweaty days and nights.  Thank goodness for air con in the bedrooms. 

We haven't had many wildebeest visitors at our house, making it especially enjoyable to see these last night.
During the days, we'll do the same as we do now...spending our days and nights on the veranda regardless of weather conditions.  The only conditions that drive us indoors will be rain with wind.  Otherwise, we've learned to tolerate temps in the 40Cs (104F) while being outdoors under the protection of the veranda roof from the scorching sun.

For now, we'll enjoy the cooler days and nights as we continue to spend our days and nights observing the world around us, that never disappoints as evidenced by our daily photos.

We always stop to observe these magnificent animals.
Now that's its summer in the northern hemisphere, we'll begin seeing more and more tourists in Marloth Park, particularly tourists from Europe who find this environment ideal for their summer family holidays. 

Before too long, perhaps beginning this weekend, we'll see families with children, in their rented four-wheel drive vehicles driving through Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. 

Often, we spot one lone elephant, often a young male, off to the side away from the rest of the "parade."
The number of vehicles on the roads definitely has an impact on the number of visiting animals.  We've noticed this each time its been holiday time.  They seem to stay undercover or are pre-occupied with tourists feeding them, hopefully, the healthful pellets, fruit and vegetables and not biscuits, cookies and potato chips.

Unfortunately, a handful of tourists aren't respectful of the wildlife, feeding them foods they cannot digest which may result in illness or even death.  Also, Marloth Park is a highly flammable environment with the lack of rain and dry brush surrounding us. 

Elephants grazing on the bank of Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park.  There's always a few cattle egret nearby.
We can only pray that visitors will be mindful of the high risk of fire due to the vast amount of alien invasive plants which exacerbate fires in a manner that is incomprehensible and ultimately terrifying.  (More on this later).

The moment I said to Tom, "We often see giraffes on this road."  Just like that, we spotted this giraffe.
Ensuring that no hot coals, embers or fires are dumped into any areas within the park and all braai fires or bonfires are completely out before retiring for the evening, is of the utmost importance for the preservation of human and animal life in this magical place.

Originally Marloth Park was intended as a holiday destination.  Over the years, many holidaymakers found it to be irresistible to be here deciding to build a retirement or seasonal home here.  This building continues within the park causing quite a bit of controversy as more and more of the wildlife habitat is lost to construction.  It's quite a debate we won't get into here. 

A "forkl" of kudu, boys and girls, also referred to as a harem.
After all, we're only visitors ourselves making every effort to leave as light a "footprint" as possible in hopes that in years to come, Marloth Park will continue to thrive and welcome our return as our schedule allows.
A happy band of mongoose lapping up raw scrambled eggs we put down for them in a flat bowl.
Today, we'll embark upon one of our usual drives, before the roads become too crowded over the weekend, as we continue to search, appreciate and admire the nature surrounding us.

Have a lovely weekend as your summer or winter has begun...
Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2017:
Southeast Steam Plant, aka Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant.  For more photos along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, please click here.

Our new itinerary!!!...With a few gaps...In time, we'll fill them!...

Upcoming Itinerary - June 21, 2018 to March 1, 2021

 Marloth Park, South Africa  56 6/21/2018 - 8/16/2018
 Zambia - Chobe National Park - Chobe River  7 8/16/2018 - 8/23/2018
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89 8/23/2018 - 11/20/2018 
 Leave South Africa for visa - not booked 7  11/20/2018-11/27/2018 
 Marloth Park, South Africa  89  11/27/18 - 2/21/2019 
 Marloth Park SA to Kenya - tour booked 15  2/21/19 - 3/8/2019 
 Valparaiso, Chile- hotel stay - not booked  15  3/9/2019 - 3/24/2019 
 Cruise - San Antonio, Chile - San Diego  14  3/24/2019 - 4/8/2019 
 San Diego - fly to Minnesota - hotel stay 17  4/8/2019 - 4/25/2019 
 Cruise - Fort Lauderdale to Copenhagen  16  4/26/2019 - 5/12/2019 
 Ireland - Connemara - house rented 90  5/12/2019 - 8/9/2019 
 Amsterdam - hotel stay - not booked 2  8/9/2019 - 8/11/2019 
 Cruise - Baltic - Amsterdam to Amsterdam  12  8/11/2019 - 8/23/2019 
 England - rent countryside house - not booked 62  8/23/2019 -10/24/2019 
 Cruise - Southampton to Fort Lauderdale  15  10/24/2019-11/8/2019 
 Las Vegas, NV - Los Angeles, CA - Scottsdale, AZ  22  11/8/2019 - 12/3/2019 
 Ecuador - Galapagos - rent vacation home - not booked 89  12/3/2019 - 3/01/2020 
 Peru - Machu Picchu - rent vacation home, visit site  30  3/01/2020 -  3/31/2020 
 The Pantanal/Amazon River Cruise - Brazil (2 cruises)  30  3/31/2020 - 4/30/2020 
 Gap - to be booked  134  4/30/2020 - 9/11/2020 
 Minnesota - family visit - not booked 14  9/11/2020 - 9/25/2020 
 Gap - to be booked  46  9/25/2020 -11/10/2020 
 Cruise - Lisbon to Cape Town  22  11/10/2020 -12/2/2020 
 Cape Town/Marloth Park   90  12/2/2020 - 3/1/2021 
 Number of days   983

 *Cruises are indicated turquoise shading

"Photo of the Day in the Bush"

At night, Little Wart Face lies down for a nap, exhausted from eating pellets and his busy day.
A few days ago when we mentioned we'd be updating our itinerary and posting it in the next few months, we became motivated to get it updated now rather than wait. 

We attempt to post a recent itinerary every six months or so but it doesn't always work out that way when plans are still up in the air.  Although we have several gaps and un-booked events listed in the above itinerary, we aren't at all concerned about booking these now, especially those that are out more than a year or two.
Lots of zebras in the yard after dark.
It's possible but tricky to book anything two years out, other than a few cruises here and there as indicated above.  Most owners of holiday/vacation homes prefer not to commit to a booking so far out, especially when we often request discounts based on two factors: one, our long term stays and...two, the frequent online exposure of their property which may result in more bookings for them from our worldwide readers.

We fully understand the hesitancy.  When we find a possible holiday/vacation home we're interested in renting, if the owner says, "Check back in a year," we seldom check back.  When we're ready to book, we're ready to book and prefer not to spend time "checking back."

The same goes for cruises.  When we find a cruise we'd like, we usually book it within 48 hours of discovering it to ensure choice of our preferred cabin and to take advantage of any early booking promotions that may be offered at the time.

After the zebras left, female kudus and youngsters arrived.
The good thing about working with Vacations to Go is they offer the lowest possible price (with perks) up until the final payment date which is usually 75 to 90 days before "sail date."

As we've mentioned in prior posts, Tom checks prices for any cruises we've already booked, almost daily.  If he finds a cruise we've booked at a lower price and/or with better "perks" he'll contact Vacations to Go to request the price adjustments.  Once completed, we'll receive an entirely new "cruise confirmation" document with the new pricing and/or perks

Cute young kudu.  Note the bushbabies knocked over their cup of yogurt on the stand above.
This process has served us well.  Over the years we've saved thousands of dollars on cruises making the almost-daily extra-effort worthwhile.  But many cruise passengers don't bother to check (or their agency doesn't offer this feature) and the cruise line will not do the checking for you.

Contact your travel agency or however you've booked the cruise for the price reductions.  Here again, many travelers don't take to time to check frequently enough for "daily specials."  Once the special offering is gone, one may not benefit from its price changes.
This morning, baby zebra nursing.
Fortunately, price increases do not have any bearing on existing reservations.  As for the six/seven cruises, as shown above, we have not yet booked the Amazon River and Pantanal cruises which we'll book within a year.

As for the other cruises as indicated above, most will stay in place. We've yet to cancel a cruise we've booked.  On a few occasions, the cruise line has cancelled a cruise we'd booked and we had to make other plans with little compensation for the change.

Cruising is an excellent option for us for many reasons. Generally, it's a cost-effective opportunity to see more of the world, rather than flying from place to place.  Plus, it's a lot more fun to sail between countries than fly on airplanes.  Often, we use cruises as a means of getting us from one country to another where we may stay for a period of time.
The zebras also stop by during the day, more frequently in this past week.
As for yesterday, we attended an excellent presentation at the home of friends and Marloth Park Honorary Rangers, Uschie and Evan that we'll soon share in detail.  It will take a few days to prepare the comprehensive post.

Today, we're off to Komatipoort and Lebombo to grocery shop.  As always, Tom drives to Lebombo for carrots and apples for the wildlife while I shop at the Spar Supermarket and the meat market in the Spar Centre.  This way, he doesn't have to spend so much time grocery shopping with me, which isn't fun.  I'm a slow and deliberate shopper.  Can you imagine that?

We'll be back with more tomorrow and wish all of our readers an excellent day and evening, wherever you may be, whatever you may do.

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2017:
Grandpa and Vincent at Cardboard Camp in Minnesota.  For more photos of cardboard camp, please click here.

Next trip booked...But, no need to travel far for exciting and heartwarming experiences...

As we drove along river while in Marloth Park, we spotted these elephants.  Finding a place to park on the road, we walked across the grass and vegetation for a better view.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Little Wart Face was so warm during yesterday's 34C (93F) he climbed into the cement pond to cool off! We couldn't stop laughing.  After he exited the pond, he found a shady spot for a nap.
When we realized the safest way to ensure we could stay in South Africa was to travel to Zambia every three months through the small Nelspruit/Mpumulanga airport and thus avoid going through immigration in Johannesburg where re-entry could be complicated, we knew a few more trips to Zambia was on the horizon.
This small "parade" of elephant drank and cooled off in the river for quite some time.
Sure, we'd love to have traveled to more African countries but the bottom line is that we will have visited many African countries by the time we leave after the upcoming Kenya adventure: 
1.  South Africa
2.  Botswana
3.  Zimbabwe
4.  Zambia
5.  Mozambique
6.  Swaziland (will visit soon)
7.  Kenya (re-visiting in February)
8.  Morocco (2014 - stayed for 2½ months)
9.  Egypt (2013)
10. Tanzania (2013)
It's always a pleasure to see the babies when they manage to get out from under the safe confines of the adults.
Upcoming in the booked cruise embarking from Lisbon, Portugal on November 2020 (Wow, that's only two year and five months from now) ending in Cape Town on December 2, 2020 (22 nights) will add the following countries to our African experience:
11.  Gambia
12.  Ivory Coast
13.  Ghana
14.  Angola
15.  Namibia
This sighting occurred at 4:15 while in Marloth Park looking toward Kruger National Park.  Visitors to Kruger would be unable to see this from the roads and are unable to get out of their vehicles. 
With 54 countries on the continent of Africa, we still have several we'd like to visit.  We haven't as yet been able to go to Uganda to see the gorilla but plan to do so next time we come to Africa in 2020.  We never seem to run out of places we'd love to experience.

Realistically, we'll never visit many African countries due to high risks of crime and terrorism.  There's no point in taking chances any more than we have.  There certainly is plenty of crime here in South Africa, much of which is not too far away.  We proceed with the utmost of caution in everything we do.
We also spotted these two hippos napping on the bank of the Crocodile River.
Here's the link to a website that lists various cities in countries with the highest crime rates in Africa.  South Africa is in the top four.  As heavily guarded as Marloth Park is, as a  24-hour a day gated conservancy, there is a degree of crime, mainly as a result of burglaries. 

Our property like all others is secured by alarm systems directly linked to a major well-regarded armed security company based here in Marloth Park.  We keep the emergency red button close at hand at all times. But, these risks are rampant, even in cities throughout the US.  Nowhere on earth is entirely safe, especially in and near the big cities.
It's always a great joy to be able to watch their interactions with one another.

As for our next upcoming trip back to Zambia on August 16th, we've made plans for the following during our one-week stay:

August 16- Fly to Livingstone, Zambia, staying at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Livingstone for a total of six nights except for August 20.
August 20 - Transfer from Livingstone by land and by boat across the Zambezi River to Botswana
August 20 - Spend an entire day in Chobe National Park on safari with a break midday for lunch.  Stay overnight at the Chobe Safari Lodge.
August 21 - Spend a second entire day on safari on the Chobe River.  Transport via land and boat back to Livingstone in the evening.
August 21 to 23 - Stay at Protea Hotel, until the flight back to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga on August 23rd.
This is the spot where we stood watching the elephants, which was at quite a distance.
We're excited to return to Zambia where we'll spend several days working on our posts with hopefully exciting new photos, dining at our now favorite Zambian restaurants (we love the Zambezi CafĂ©) and touring the city which we didn't have time to do last time we were there.
It appeared this young male was getting a "lesson" in elephant behavior.
We contacted the same tour operator again, Chris Tours, who'd done an excellent job for us last time and yesterday completed all the details for this upcoming trip.  We highly recommend their services should you decide to visit Zambia to see Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park, Chobe River, Zambezi River and a wide array of high adventure experiences.

The cost of the one night at the Chobe Safari Lodge and the two full days of private safaris, both on land and the Chobe River is a total ZAR 12852 (US $939) which includes round-trip transport to the airport.  This total doesn't include air, the Protea Hotel, and meals (breakfasts are included).  We'll post all expenses on the last day of the trip, as usual.

Oops, gecko poop just landed on my hand, falling from the ceiling of the veranda.  So it goes.
The scuffle continued for quite some time.
Today, we're attending a new class with Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Uschie and Evan (who were here for dinner on Friday with HRs Sandra and Paul).  We'll report back on what we've learned tomorrow.

May your day be educational and interesting!             
Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2017:

Greg, Camille, Miles, Madighan, and Maisie on the Jonathan Padelford on the Mississippi River on Father's Day, one year ago.  More family photos will follow.  Click here for details.