Female lion sighting from the fence...A short reprieve in the commotion...

 
There were other lions in this pride but they were all lying down in the bush making it difficult to get a photo.  We both were thrilled Tom captured this photo.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Zebras in the bush with an ostrich in the background.
As mentioned in yesterday's post here, we'd seen a post on Saturday in the Marloth Park Sighting page on Facebook that lions had been sighted at the "Two Trees" overlook.

Planning to head directly to the fundraiser at the Henk Van Rooyan Park, we didn't hesitate to make a rapid change in plans to head to Two Trees to see what we could find.  An hour had passed since the sighting was posted and we suspected the lions could be long gone.
Once Tom spotted this female lion through his binoculars he grabbed the camera to zoom in as shown in the above mail photo.
One might think, head to the location, look through binoculars and the lions could be spotted.  It's not that easy.  Like us, many others had gathered at the location and with the utmost of frustration couldn't quite get the distant scene in their scope or viewfinder.

After trying for almost a half hour with no luck, we headed to the fair at the park, deciding we might give it another try after we were done there.  We were in and out of the fair in less than 30 minutes, with both of us chomping at the bit to return to Two Trees to give it another try.
Female ostrich checking us out as we drove by.
This time, we were in luck.  Tom, with much better distance vision than I, found them in no time but wasn't able to get a decent photo of the pride hidden in the bush and tall grass.  However, he was able to hold steady enough at the long distance to capture these two photos of a female lion while leaning on the car door for stability.

We always say we're going to bring our tripod but invariably we don't, considering the fact that most photos we take while on one of our regular drives are taken from inside the little car.  A tripod would be of little use.
Elephants at the river. 
It was obvious the female was on the hunt as she unsuccessfully chased a warthog and impala while we watched.  Unless a photographer is willing to maintain a position with a tripod for hours, its pure luck to get a shot or video of a lion mounting an attack. 

While in the Masai Mara in 2013, we witnessed several kills but in Kruger, we've yet to see one.  It all has to do with being in the right place at the right time.  Perhaps when we're back in the Masai Mara in February, we'll have many more opportunities when on safari for several hours each day, most of which is done off-road.
It's always a pleasure to see a mom and baby elephant.
In Kruger neither the public, engaged in a self-drive or with a safari guide, aren't allowed to drive off-road.  There are plenty of dirt roads and the one main paved road but when you think about it, to spot wildlife near the road is more of a fluke than anything.

Fortunately, many visitors to Kruger have that good luck from time to time having the opportunity to see nature at its finest.  With all the wonderful and unique sightings we've had in Kruger, we have no complaints.  We're hoping to return to Kruger this week, now that this first round of tourists has left.
Zebras on the move on the tar road.
Speaking of tourists leaving.  Yesterday was the last Sunday or the South African "school holidays."  The kids return to school today.  Well, just as expected, the wildlife began returning to see us last night around 17:00 hrs. (5:00 pm) and did they ever!

Once again, we had one of those special evenings where we had no less than eight species coming and going throughout the evening including about 60 guinea fowl; Frank (Francolin) and the Mrs.; no less than 10 warthogs, including Little Wart Face, Tusker, Mom and Babies and several whom we didn't know; eight female kudus; three bushbucks including Tom's "My Girl"; four wildebeest including Wildebeest Willie; the often visiting Mr. and Mrs. Duiker; and of course our noisy frog Loud Mouth.
A good sized herd of cape buffaloes.
This morning some of the above were back along with many others.  Each hour since we've been outdoors this morning on this very cool day, we've had visitors.  It's exciting to have our wildlife friends returning.

But, the reality remains that although the South Africa school holidays have ended, school holidays in Europe continue until mid-August and by mid-week, there will more tourists arriving in Marloth Park, with more of the precious wildlife being killed by speeding motorists on Oliphant Drive. 
The edges of the elephant's ears get nicked over the years from a variety of hazards.
So far over these past school holidays, 13 animals have been killed on the road.  No doubt, animals do dart out onto the roads but if drivers are extra cautious, deaths can be averted.

Also, we hear stories of tourists feed the wildlife leftover "human" food, potato chips, pizza and even marshmallows.  Of course, animals will eat any of these tasty and sweet human foods.  But, they do not have the enzymes in their digestive tracts to digest such foods and can become ill and perish.
These elephants were so close to the Marloth Park side of the fence, we didn't have to zoom in.
Sadly, some people don't consider this or care to learn what is appropriate to feed the animals; mainly pellets and certain vegetables.  Most fruits don't contain enough nutritional value to provide them with any sustenance.

Right now, as we close for today, Tom is in the driveway with a long telescopic pole chasing away the monkeys who continue to pester us and the visiting wildlife.  They're always on the search for food including stealing birdseed out of our birdfeeder. 
They congregate near one another especially when there are youngsters.
If monkey and baboons weren't so destructive we'd feed them too.  But, this practice never makes sense when they can tear apart a house in a matter of minutes and are very crafty in getting indoors.

Today, we'll embark on one of our usual drives, hoping that soon the clouds will dissipate allowing for a warmer and sunnier day.  (If rain was in the forecast, we'd welcome the clouds!)

May you have a warm and sunny day!
______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2017:
Segura Cactus in Las Vegas, one year ago.  For more Las Vegas photos, please click here.

Yikes!...Yellow Burmese python...Another event in the park...More lions...


This is Barend Bloem, nicknamed Slangman (snake man in Africaans). We'd have loved to be able to "wear" this Yellow Burmese Python for a photo but it wasn't possible when children were waiting for a chance to touch it.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
On the return drive, we stopped along the river for a few exciting photos more of which we'll share tomorrow.
Over the years we've made a point of participating in more and more local events wherever we may be living at any given time. Doing so gives us a better opportunity to learn more about local culture and also to mingle with people we encounter at these events.
Here's the flyer from yesterday's fundraiser at Henk Van Rooyen Park located in Marloth Park.
As it turned out, based on the busy school holiday season in South Africa at this time, soon coming to a close, many of the fair-goers were tourists.  As a result, we ran into few people we knew as opposed to the last fair we attended a few weeks ago for the Honorary Rangers annual event which included many local citizens.  Click this link here for details of that event.

The morning was busy preparing the post and sorting through many photos we'd recently taken.  Shortly before heading out, Tom noticed a comment from a Marloth Park resident stating they'd seen lions at the Crocodile River through the fence. 
The event wasn't as crowded as the Marloth Park Honorary Rangers Winter Fair of a few weeks ago at this same location.
There are a number of overlook areas on Seekoei Road that runs along the river.  This is the road on which friends Kathy and Don live who are now back at their home in Pretoria and soon embarking on a number of exciting travel adventures including visiting Churchill, Manitoba, Canada to see polar bears in a few months.  Humm...that sounds interesting.  Maybe, someday, we'll do the same!
Real estate company promoting their business at the event.
Anyway, one of the most popular overlook areas is called "Two Trees" which is a short stretch of land on the river side of the road with ample parking without too much of an obstructed view by trees and vegetation. We often stop there on our almost daily drives in the park to check out the wildlife on the river.

When lions were spotted from this location, we couldn't get there quickly enough. Tomorrow, we'll share those photos.  Today, we wanted to focus on yesterday's fair.
Many of the same vendors presented their products as at the winter fair.
The entrance fee to the fair was ZAR 20 (US $1.51) per person.  Where in the world is an entrance fee for any event only this much?  (This upcoming week, we'll be doing a story on the cost of living based on our experiences in Marloth Park thus far). 

Once again, we found a good parking spot and proceeded to explore the displays, entertainment, and informational booths.  In no time at all, we'd wandered through the entire fair and found our way back to the little car, deciding to give the river one more drive in hopes of seeing more wildlife.
Some participants drank beer under the tents on the ground.
And, we did, more than we'd expected, enjoying every moment.  We don't need movie theatres, fairs, parks, and zoos to entertain us.  Mother Nature continually provides a plethora of exciting events right before our eyes, although it may be a little sparse right now at our holiday home during this busy time.

Unfortunately, back at home, we've had fewer visitors than ever over these past few days.  A tourist wrote on Marloth Park's Facebook page, "I've been here since Thursday and the only animals I've seen from our holiday home is bushbabies at night."

Lots o kid friendly products were offered for sale.
We certainly understand their frustration. People come here to experience wildlife. Last night, much to our delight we had eight warthogs stop by at dusk staying well into the evening, some we'd never seen before.  It's interesting how these animals, who basically all look alike, are easily distinguishable by certain markings they possess.

Whether its the color of their coarse hair, the shape of the male's warts, the size of their tusks and for those we've come to know, their response to my annoying high pitched voice, in most cases we recognize the frequent visitors.  The same applies to the other species.
Several "bouncy" activities were available for kids.
With high winds picking up we called it a night earlier than usual.  We streamed a few shows from Showtime, "Billions" and "The Affair" both of which we've watched through their previous seasons.  Sometimes, it feels good to get "out of our heads" by watching a few shows. 

This morning we awoke to rain pounding on the roof.  It hasn't rained here in a few months.  It wasn't quite enough to do any good for the wildlife and vegetation but it was enough to keep the wildlife even further undercover in the parklands, which is often where they "hide" when there are too many visitors in the park.
Our friend John from Daisy's Den had a nice display at the fair.  John is actively involved in community safety as well as running the store with his family.
Most of the European summer "school holidays" will end mid-August when the commotion will settle down in Marloth Park until Christmas time.  In the interim, we'll continue to scour the river and look forward to any visitors who'll come our way.  At this point, we find a single frog interesting. 

Happy day to all!

______________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2017:
Climate data for Henderson, Nevada
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)75
(24)
86
(30)
91
(33)
97
(36)
111
(44)
114
(46)
117
(47)
112
(44)
110
(43)
100
(38)
90
(32)
78
(26)
117
(47)
Average high °F (°C)54
(12)
59
(15)
67
(19)
75
(24)
85
(29)
95
(35)
101
(38)
99
(37)
91
(33)
78
(26)
64
(18)
54
(12)
76.8
(24.8)
Average low °F (°C)41
(5)
44
(7)
49
(9)
56
(13)
65
(18)
74
(23)
79
(26)
78
(26)
71
(22)
60
(16)
48
(9)
40
(4)
58.8
(14.8)
Record low °F (°C)11
(−12)
12
(−11)
25
(−4)
31
(−1)
37
(3)
41
(5)
56
(13)
59
(15)
43
(6)
30
(−1)
4
(−16)
9
(−13)
4
(−16)
Average precipitation inches (mm)0.70
(17.8)
0.96
(24.4)
0.57
(14.5)
0.23
(5.8)
0.11
(2.8)
0.11
(2.8)
0.46
(11.7)
0.72
(18.3)
0.42
(10.7)
0.36
(9.1)
0.49
(12.4)
0.60
(15.2)
5.73
(145.5)

It was outrageously hot while we were in the Las Vegas area last July, the hottest month of the year.  For more, please click here.

Two delightfully fun social nights in a row...


Louise and Danie joined us for dinner last night at Kambaku, the popular restaurant at the golf course in Komatipoort, as we celebrated their belated birthdays.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A troop of baboons on the road in Kruger National Park.
Last night, to celebrate Louise and Danie's belated birthdays, only days apart, we were finally able to get together for dinner at Kambuku Golf Course in Komatipoort for a leisurely happy hour and dinner.  

Louise has been busy handling her many holiday rentals in Marloth Park and with Danie's construction projects in the works, coupled with our busy last few weekends, it was hard to pin down a good time that worked for all of us.
We didn't mean to wear matching BugsAway shirts but it just worked out that way.
We love spending time with this thoughtful, fun and kind couple so filled with local wisdom, knowledge about the bush and South Africa's history. It's easy to find ourselves entrenched in engaging conversation each time we all get together.
The view of the Crocodile River at dusk from the veranda at Kambaku.

Add plenty of laughter and stories to tell among the four of us, being with them results in one memorable experience after another.  How did we get so lucky to have such fine friends in Marloth Park?

Tom had two Margaritas while the three of us drank wine.  I always bring along a bottle of my favorite low alcohol/low tannins red wine to willingly pay a corkage fee.  
Lisa's rescue bushbabies are doing well living in her closet.  Soon, all but one who is permanently disabled will be able to return to the wild.  This little one was hanging onto the door hinge as I took this photo.
At Kambaku, the corkage fee is ZAR 85 (US $6.40) for bringing in the bottle of wine.  It's so worth it to me to avoid the effects red wine can have on me after not having any alcohol for over 20 years.  This way, I can have a few glasses with no ill effects. 
Their huge eyes allow them to see in the dark. From this site: "Bushbabies are also known as galagos, bush babies are small primates that live in Africa and have thick fur, long tails, big ears and huge, round eyes. They get their name because of the loud noises they sometimes make that sound like crying, shrieking babies."
My wine of choice is Four Cousins Skinny Red, a brand produced in South Africa for which I've acquired a taste.  Sure, I like the taste of other dry red wines but health is always of my utmost concern.

The dinner was good, the evening spectacular.  The three of us had tasty chicken dishes while Tom has the ribs and we were all satisfied with our fresh and well-prepared meals.  This was the first time since our arrival over five months ago that we dined outside of Marloth Park where we've enjoyed dining and supporting the local establishments.
At night, the healthier of the bushbabies head out of Lisa's bedroom window to explore the nighttime world, preparing them for eventual release.  They return early each morning to sit on Lisa's head while she's sleeping.
This is often the case for locals who prefer not to drive at night on the unlit roads to Komatipoort.  Generally, it is safe to do so but from time to time we hear about "incidences" prompting a degree of concern.
By 10:00 pm we were all seating at the big table on our veranda, enjoying the last minutes of our enjoyable evening together.  Of course, we look forward to many more such evenings with the two of them during our remaining seven months in Marloth Park.
Lisa generously allows the little creature to sleep in her closet.  Nocturnal animals the sleep during daylight hours.
On Thursday evening,  Tom dropped me off a Lisa's home to engage in a little "girl time" with her and Deidre both from Wild & Free Wildlife Rehailitation.  As it turned out, our fun get-together was more about wildlife and the joys we all experience living in this special environment than general "girl" chitchat. 

But now, living this life, there's no conversation more appealing than sharing our personal stories of life in the bush.  Plus, the dedication these special women have to caring for rescued animals is beyond reproach. 
Could these faces be any cuter?  Lisa, from Wild & Free, devotes a tremendous amount of attention, love and devotion in caring for rescued bushbabies, always with the intent of releasing them into the wild as soon as they are able.
Earlier, in February, we'd done a story with photos about the bushbabies which may be found here and later, in June we prepared two post about Deidre's rescue center in Hectorspruit in this post and this second post.

Later on, Tom picked me up, visited with Lisa and Deidre for a few minutes and we were on our way back to our veranda and the upcoming evening's activities.  Due to the number of tourists in the park, the visitor visits have lessened considerably.

This morning, other than a few birds, the only visitors were a number of a gangly baboons trying to eat the seeds out of our birdfeeder.  Subsequently, Tom took it down since we're leaving soon to attend the Marloth Park CPF Fireman's Fundraiser and drive around the park.  Lions were sighted this morning.  Off we go!

Have a spectacular day!

______________________________________
Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2017:
The Lymans
'One year ago today our story was published in the Chanhassen Villager newspaper in Minnesota about our world travels.  For the full story, please click here.

Part 2, Kruger never disappoints if patience prevails...I'm here now...


 After many elephant sightings, we'd never seen anything like this...please take a moment to watch this short video which will leave you as amazed and in awe of these majestic beasts as we are.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
This frog was swimming in our pool at night and jumped out to be on her/his way.
It was a spectacular day in Kruger National Park on Wednesday leaving us with enough photos to share for days which we'll include with other posts over these next few weeks.
We couldn't believe our eyes when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  Please take a moment to watch our video at the top of the page.
The vast array of wildlife, each with its own distinct and diverse qualities, always finds us longing for more and more information about each species.  The learning curve on the behaviors of wildlife can take a lifetime to achieve and over time, we whittle away at an undertaking we'll never accomplish in our lifetimes.
I believe this is a grey heron we spotted at Sunset Dam in Kruger.
Part of me had wished that many years ago, I'd have pursued an education and career in the field of wildlife, conservation and animal behavior.  But that time has long since passed and at the time, I had other responsibilities to attend to, none of which I regret.
Giraffe with a pretty sky in the background.
As we age, we can always look back at our lives and wish we could have done things differently or better...be a better parent, a better child, a better friend, work harder, work smarter, take better care of our health and the list goes on and on.
From this site:  "The stomach of the giraffe is also very sophisticated as it has four chambers as all ruminants. They chew the food, regurgitate it, chew it again, and then pass it to the stomach. This organ can digest food very well, so most foods are used positively for the body."
Yesterday was my long-since-passed mother's birthday.  In her latter years, she developed dementia to the point she didn't recognize me at times.  In the last years of her life, during which I was actively involved in her care, I'd often visit her daily at her assisted living facility in Minnesota.
Nothing beats stopping traffic in Kruger.
On many occasions, she'd snap at me saying, "I haven't seen you in weeks (or months)" when I'd been there the previous day.  This hurt me so much at the time, until a kindly nurse said to me, "Ignore her comments that she hasn't seen you in a long time.  Instead say, "But, Ma, I'm here now.
Elephants form a line to stop traffic.
This stuck in my brain and each time she accused me (wrongfully) of not visiting, I said, "But, Ma, I'm here now."  And that's how I look at my life...I'm here now....with no regrets, no wishing I'd pursued different career choices, no sense of loss of what "could have been."

And now, the fulfillment and fruition of what had been a lifelong dream to visit Africa is right before my eyes.  Here we are, after five months, with seven more to go.  It couldn't bring me more joy.
We waited patiently and finally, they began to disperse.
Each day delivers a new experience, a new adventure, and a new challenge.  Whether it's searching for the lions in Marloth Park or the noisy frog in the garden at night, it all matters.
From this site:  "The most awesome of all cape buffalo facts is that they are so dangerous they are referred to as "the Black Death"! Highly prized by big game hunters, these incredible creatures are members of "Africa's Big Five" - the five most difficult African animals to hunt on foot."
For Tom, who'd never dreamed about coming to Africa, due to a certain degree of fear and apprehension, now embraces it with a passion and interest he never expected.  When we were here 4½ years ago, his fears dissipated and he also fell in love with it.  Coming back this year further illustrates how much it meant to him as well.

Sure, I could say he came back for me, which is entirely possible in his realm of love and kindness but, he loves it too.  And in 2020, we'll be back again.  Africa does this to many visitors.  It draws you in, amid its valid reasons for fear and apprehension but it "draws you out" of your hesitancy and your fear.
From this site: "Monitor lizards are large lizards in the genus Varanus. They are native to Africa, Asia, and Oceania, but are now found also in the Americas as an invasive species. A total of 79 species are currently recognized. Monitor lizards have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. The adult length of extant species ranges from 20 cm (7.9 in) in some species, to over 3 m (10 ft) in the case of the Komodo dragon, though the extinct varanid known as megalania (Varanus priscus) may have been capable of reaching lengths of more than 7 m (23 ft). Most monitor species are terrestrial, but arboreal and semiaquatic monitors are also known. While most monitor lizards are carnivorous, eating eggs, smaller reptiles, fish, birds and small mammals, some also eat fruit and vegetation, depending on where they live."
So, what could have been or should have been years ago, becomes a reality today and every day we continue on our search, our hunger and our passion in embracing every possible aspect to this incredible life.

From this site: "The elephant's trunk contains over 40,000 muscles, divided into as many as 150,000 individual units! Compare that to the human body, which contains a paltry 639 muscles, and you start to get an idea of how intricate the appendage is."
When we leave Africa in a mere seven months, we'll carry with us everything we've seen, everything we've learned and that which we hope to learn in the future, with us in our hearts and minds forever.

We're here now...we're living in the moment.
__________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2017:
While in Las Vegas at this time last year, I frequently visited my sister Susan and her chubby dog Owen who's since passed away.  He'd often sit up like this when he saw me.  For more, please click here.

Part 1, Kruger never disappoints if patience prevails...


We laughed so hard when we saw this baby baboon grabbing its mom's hair to hold on while sitting in this unlikely pose.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
These are the nests of Red-Billed Buffalo Weavers seen on a tree growing in the water at Sunset Dam.  Thanks to our friend Lynne for identifying these nests.
Each time we go to Kruger, the same thing transpires.  While about an hour into the drive, we both resign ourselves that we're going to come up empty-handed with few sightings and even fewer photos to share.
Proud wildebeest.
Actually, during many visits to the national park over this past five months, we've yet to come up empty-handed.  In each case, continuing to drive, we encounter one magical moment after another. 
It's exceptional to have zebras visit us in Marloth Park as well as spotting them in Kruger.
We always laugh at the irony of the situation.  Are we saying the day will be a dud to allay any potential disappointment? Or do we really believe it?  Invariably within minutes after making such comments, we come across something wonderful.  
An "implausibility" of wildebeest in Kruger.
Yesterday's trip to Kruger National Park was no different than usual...the abundance is mindboggling.  With all the holidaymakers in this area right now due to the school holiday ending on July 17th, we anticipated there would be a huge queue awaiting entry to the park.
Yesterday, we encountered more wildebeest than in any past trips.
Alas, we were pleasantly surprised when we were second in line, not that being second is a quick process.  Most visitors to the park don't have the "Wild Card" year-long pass that we purchased when we arrived. 
It was a perfect day for a self-drive in Kruger National Park.
Thus, the process of registering new visitors is long and laborious and can take as much as 15 minutes for one car to pass.  This was the case yesterday but knowing we were up next was comforting.  Even with our passports, the obligatory form completed and our "Wild Card" pass it still takes a good five to seven minutes during our turn.
There were numerous sightings of giraffes on the side of the paved road.
We anticipated an hour-long wait at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate where visitors are processed from their vehicles. Once we were on the paved road, we sighed with relief that we were able to get going in under 20 minutes. 
The black spot inside a zebras leg is intended to protect the legs from their sharp hooves when at rest.  For more on this topic, please click our post here from January 3, 2014, with this and other interesting zebra facts.
Also, we expected a lot of vehicles on the road but surprisingly, unless there was a spectacular sighting tying up traffic, such as dozens of elephants crossing the road, there were no more cars than we'd seen on prior non-holiday visits.
Throughout the day we spotted no less than 100 elephants at different points along the road.
We decided that Wednesdays may be the best day of the week to visit when many holidaymakers arrive for a four or five-day weekend visit.  This makes Wednesdays the perfect day in between those visits.
Cape buffalo, one of the "Big 5" hanging out near the Sabie River.
We'd hoped to return in time to do the day's post.  Typically, we allow ourselves about four hours in the park plus driving time to and from the gate from Marloth Park when we've often left too early in the morning to complete the post.
Sunset Dam is located on the road beyond Lower Sabie where we stopped to enjoy the scenery and wildlife of which there was plenty including these hippos lounging in the water with impalas in the background.
It all worked out well when we arrived back at the house at 2:30 even after a stop at Daisy's Den to purchase repellent oil for our outdoor lantern, leaving time to complete the post and get things ready for dinner.
Another "bloat" of hippos! 
Tomorrow, we'll be back with Part 2 of "Kruger never disappoints..." when we're looking forward to sharing an exciting video and more photos.  Please check back then! 

Be well.  Be happy.
__________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, July 12, 2017:
We dined at this restaurant when they had several options that work well for my way of eating.  For more details, please click here.