Wednesday was a travel day…Now amid more safaris at Kanha National Park…

Note: All of today’s photos were taken from the car on yesterday’s road trip. No captions needed.

Yesterday, as I wrote this post we were in a crisp clean white SUV with air-con comparable to other vehicles that have been transporting us from one location to another.

It was travel day once again with an expected 5½ hours drive time until we’d reach our destination and yet another safari camp, Tuli Tiger Resort, this time to Kanha National Park where we’d be spending another four nights with two game drives each day.

The drive is interrupted every three or four kilometers by small towns lined with shops and vendors selling fruit and vegetables, clothing, and a variety of tourist goods and household goods for the locals.

Cows, dogs, and goats wander through the streets aimlessly in search of the next meal and women walk with baskets of food and other items atop their heads, while men congregate in small groups discussing the events of the day.
The women wear colorful Hindu costumes impeccably draped and pleated regardless of their income level of poverty. The beautiful garb us unlike any other we’ve seen in the world. Although each town may have its own personality the premise of the Hindu philosophy is evident in every aspect of creating a certain familiarity from town to town.

Once back out on the highway, the landscape is brown and somewhat desolate, scattered with trees and vegetation of one sort or another.
It’s winter time here and until the monsoon season arrives everything the grasses remain brown and less hearty for the cows and other animals in search of good grazing fields.

With nary a patch of green for meandering cows and sheep, they often seek out public areas in hopes of food donations from the locals who appear at times to be very generous with their sacred cows. Hindus have a love of all creatures, both human and animals.

People often smile and wave as we pass through. School children in freshly pressed school uniforms play together in the streets without a toy or a ball and yet seem happy and content in their lives.

Their simple life is accepted with a powerful faith not so much as a religion but as a way of life leaving them grateful and accepting of whatever lifestyle they’ve been provided.

We are humbled and in awe of their dedication and their strength as they work their way through any obstacles life presents them. Many have no access to medical care, modern conveniences, clean water, and in many cases such taken for granted commodities such as electricity.

These individuals and families work together however they can to create the best life possible without complaint, without disharmony and without a longing for what could have been.

I often think of all the times I’d grumbled when making a call for customer service to end up with a heavily-accented Indian person on the line, often working in a hot uncomfortable boiler room taking calls for various digital and computer equipment companies all the way from India to provide customer service for companies in the US. Now, I have an entirely different perspective.

In a land of 1.3 billion people there’s is little to no government subsidies such as welfare, food stamps or government assistance. Overall, Indian people are on their own.

We’ve seen fewer homeless people here in India in the almost month we have been here than we saw in an equal time in the US. That speaks for itself and the powerful work ethic and life values imposed by their Hindu strength and principles.

This morning at 5:30 am we began our first morning safari from the resort. We didn’t see any tigers yet but we have five more safaris scheduled at this location, including another today at 2:30 pm. 

By the time we return for the afternoon game drive at 6:30 pm, we’ll freshen up for dinner, dine at 8:00 pm and head to bed shortly thereafter. It’s a busy and exhausting day but typical in the lives of wildlife enthusiasts like ourselves.

Have a fantastic day and night!

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2019:

The kudus give us “the look,” which means “more pellets please.” For more photos, please click here.

Zebra Day and Baby…On a rainy morning…

Mom and baby zebra. Of course, Lollie is photobombing.

What a way to start the day with nine zebras hanging around for a few hours, including a mom and very young foal, suckling every few minutes. Typically, zebras kick, yip, and pass gas when pellets are tossed. It was cute to see how the mom scooted the foal out of the way of the commotion. Zebras are not ruminants. They have only one stomach. Constantly grazing on vegetation, they become bloated and gassy.

The zebras approached the railing for their pellets.

The zebras never seem to injure one another when they get into a frenzy, but, let’s face it, the animals are hungry. No wonder they carry on over a few pellets. They all still look healthy, and we pray they can remain so until the “greening” of the bush. We’re moving into spring in a mere week or so.

The baby is tiny compared to the adults, as shown in these photos.

Three months later, it will be summer when the heat, humidity, insects, and mozzies will be in full force. But, the magic of summer is the beautiful green bush for the wildlife to eat. With so much food on hand at that time, you’d think they stop by less and less for pellets, but the fall and winter habits have been established, and they continue to stop by regularly.

The little one sticks close to mom.

Fortunately, this morning it’s drizzling, the perfect type of rain for the bush as opposed to a downpour that merely runs off.  It must have rained at night since we see a touch of green in the usually dry, brown bush. This indicates times to come when the rainy season begins soon.

Mom is determined to keep the baby away from the rowdy others.

As soon as I stepped outdoors this morning, after another fitful night’s sleep, it was exciting to see nine zebras, including a very young foal, in the garden. Tom had already taken several photos and tossed several batches of pellets. Of course, I decided to try for more shots to be added to today’s post, hopefully.

They moved closer to the veranda railing.

The animals were finally returning to our garden with the drones overhead last week and a bush weekend packed with tourists. We were a little concerned when it was sparse of wildlife with friends Connie and Jeff arriving in four days. We hope all of our regulars and more will stop by to meet them. The thought of sharing this wonderful environment with our friends is exciting.

Further out in the bush, away from the others.

I’m feeling slightly better today. The headache and facial pain are about 50% better. Maybe after 18 days of taking the tablets at night, relief is coming. I am hopeful. Having this pain for the past five months has been challenging and frustrating. I’ve tried not to complain or limit my activities. In the realm of things, this may have been the best way for me to handle it rather than lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself.

A few zebras were lying down in the background.

Unfortunately, the medication makes me sleepy during the day. I may have to take the drug for a long time, hoping the sleepiness goes away. On the 15th, if the pain isn’t completely gone, I am to increase the dose by 5 mg per day for a total of 25 mg per day. I started at 5 mg, and it knocked me for a loop. But today, I feel a little less groggy and maybe won’t need a nap in the afternoon, which was a rarity for me before Covid-19.

Little zebras seem to be dazed most of the time.

With our friends coming, I don’t want to be sluggish and tired. I will do my best to stay alert and engaged in sharing the wonders of the bush with them. We hope to go on a few game drives with a guide and do several self-drive safaris in Kruger National Park. Once they arrive, we’ll be able to plan our events based on how Jeff feels and can maneuver in his wheelchair. We can only wait and see how it goes. The long journey from the US is exhausting and requires a few days to recover.

A little grooming of the foal by the attentive mother.

Tom is sitting at the table on the veranda, which has a roof while watching football on NFL Game Pass, an app for which he pays an annual fee to watch all NFL games while out of the US. I came inside to sit at the dining room table when Vusi was here cleaning the veranda and have stayed here, now and then, getting up to do something. Tom is no more than four meters from me, and from this location, I can partially see into the garden in case a visitor stops by.

They are always side by side.

It’s blissfully cool today, and we’re both wearing hoodie sweatshirts. I love days like this when it’s cool and rainy.

The baby is fearful of leaving his mother’s side.

May you have a blissful day, as well.

This zebra stood in the garden sleeping for over an hour. Typically, zebras sleep standing up to ensure they can dash in a hurry if danger approaches. With the hungry lions in the park, they are mainly on guard.

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2021:

Little was using a rock for a pillow. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…The earth is vast and fascinating…A view from space…Exciting adventures in Kruger Park coming in tomorrow’s post…

I realize this article is very long and may be hard for many to read. But, it is interesting and can give us a great perspective of our earth, its majesty, and its risks.  No doubt, I hesitated to copy and paste the length of this article as it continues from where we left off at the bottom of today’s post.  But, many may find it interesting. I did not edit the spelling and grammar and copied it exactly as I found it.

Today, we headed to Kruger National Park when the WiFi was out this morning. It was cloudy with the possibility of rain, but we decided to go regardless. We had to enter the office at the entrance at Crocodile Bridge since our former WildCard had expired in April, and it was time to renew the annual pass. The cost for the new one-year WildCard was ZAR 5345, US$311.

The enjoyment we get freely going in and out of the national park is well worth the cost. Once the pass was issued, we entered the park and had one of the most fantastic and rewarding self-drive safaris we’ve had to date. We can’t wait to share our photos in tomorrow’s and future day’s posts. Please check back tomorrow!!

Here is the continuation of this story about the Earth from this site.

“They owe it all to the Raikoke volcano.

Luckily, the volcano causing this beautiful sight was the Raikoke volcano. This specific beast is located on the Kuri Islands off the coast of Japan and is an entirely uninhabited area. There were no people that could be hurt by this eruption.

This volcano is part of the infamous Ring of Fire and has erupted twice in the past – the first time in 1778 and once again in 1924. This relatively small volcano was making a lot of commotion.

Their photos can lend a hand to NASA’s projects unlike anyone else

The astronauts aboard the International Space Station took the photos of the event and made quick work of sending them down to Earth in order to report it and also share the stunning views that they were seeing.

The photos were shared by space fanatics all around the globe. The images that the team captures over the years are also a possible helping hand in some of NASA’s future projects. They have viewing capabilities unlike anyone in the world, so they are able to monitor unlike anyone as well.

NASA is studying a post-apocalyptic scenario

NASA is best known for its abilities to send satellites and astronauts into space. So, would it be surprising to learn that they have a team of scientists working on a model of a post-apocalyptic New York City?

They are studying this model seriously, not in the least bit jokingly or as a side project. NASA is not known for being forthcoming when it comes to information and reasoning for projects, so this one is that much more ominous.

Air Force veteran and NASA recruit is convinced about the end of the world

Lindley Johnson is the man behind the study of this peculiar model. He was with the Air Force for 23 years and joined NASA in 2003. He has always been a practical man, but the fascination and belief of the end of the world has been a significant driver for him to study the possibilities.

He has been fixated on the end of the world for as long as he could remember. What he has to say is pretty convincing.

He is NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer

However, he is no crazy man. He is not talking about some dramatic apocalypse like you would see in a movie or television show. He is discussing it from an analytical standpoint. Lindley hold the position of Planetary Defense Officer at NASA (yes, that is an actual position).

He is therefore given all of the information that us civilians are not privy to, and knows what he speaks of when he talks and warns about the end of the world.

Lindley protects the Earth from space rocks

Lindley’s job is not to concern himself with how good of a job we humans are doing to ruin our own planet and endangering ourselves, he is rather more focused towards space and the amount of debris that can come in Earth’s direction and become a real threat.

The majority of the meteorites that head towards Earth are microscopic or small enough not to matter, but there are those that can be a real issue. It’s Lindley’s job to protect Earth from space rocks.

The likelihood of an asteroid hitting Earth

If an asteroid was speeding its way towards Earth and was the size of several football fields in diameter, it would most likely hit some form of ocean since the Earth is 71 percent of that makeup.

However, Lindley is not working on probability – he wants exact numbers and is not relying on luck here. The amount of threats from space are many fold, the amount of credible end of the world threats are not as common. Still, it takes just one to make it all disappear.

This is why they do their hypothetical studies

This is exactly why NASA and Lindley’s team do the hypothetical studies in regards to possible large asteroids hitting urban areas, such as New York City. Historically, thousands of years separate each massive catastrophe such as an asteroid from the other.

However, Lindley is not taking any chances and wants to be prepared in the event that they are wrong about timing, or that time finally does come. There is no scenario that a whole city is removed from the map that is okay by him.

Earth is littered with past collisions

There are many places on Earth that showcase the kind of destruction a collision with a large space rock can do. Earth is littered with craters and canyons that happened as a result of such events.

NASA is not going to allow Midtown Manhattan to become a crater like this one. However, they are looking into true scenarios where this could happen, and if so, how far the damage from such a collision would spread. It is not an easy model to analyze.

Congress finally understood just how important Lindley’s work is

Lindley and his colleagues have been working on this vital model for many years, and have been doing so on a very small budget. In 2015, however, everything changed when they were able to convince Congress about how important their work really is.

A convinced Congress beefed up Lindley’s budget and yearly spending power from their measly $5 million per year, to $50 million. That is the kind of budgetary lift that they needed to make even more projections.

Lindley and his team work on threats we never hear about

Now that he had more financial resources, Lindley was able to expand his team and research and get a better handle on what he is sure to be a galactic threat.

He and his team at NASA put together an arsenal of collected data and created high-end technology to make sure any astroid on its way to Earth that could possibly be a threat, be dealt with and kept away. That kind of work is not spoken of often; we never hear about the threats we almost face.

He knew what to do to keep an asteroid from hitting Earth

NASA keeps the information to the public at a minimum in order to prevent any sort of chaos. They have, however, documented more than 2,000 asteroids around our solar system who would have had the capacity – if came into Earth atmosphere – to decimate a whole continent.

When such a threat is imminent, Lindley knows that blowing up the space rock would cause a lot of fallout, so he and his team had other ways to deal with such a nuisance.

Using unmanned spacecrafts to push the asteroid in a different direction

The most efficient and promising way of redirecting asteroids seems to be by the use of kinetic impactors. These are unmanned spacecrafts that would purposely collide with the asteroid at an incredibly high speed, forcing it to change its trajectory and change course away from Earth.

For lack of a better analogy, it is pretty much like playing space billiards, just with all of our lives at stake. The destruction of the kinetic impactors is unquestionable, but that is the whole point of it.

Lindley doesn’t believe that landing on an asteroid would work

If this sounds familiar, it probably has to do with the fact that Hollywood loves to make films about possible end of world scenarios at the hand of giant asteroids.

Lindley takes offense with the Hollywood blockbuster film Armageddon, as he does not agree with the course of action of landing on an asteroid and drilling a bomb into it. While that is not the best course of action, NASA has not removed it as an option altogether should the need arise.

They simulate complicated asteroid landings anyway

Astronauts have to go through a lot of mental and physical training before they are sent into space. Among their many training courses, they are taught how to handle complex landings on asteroids.

No one in history has ever attempted such a thing, but they simulate it as best they can. NASA sees such a scenario more for the collection of samples than for the explosion of an asteroid. However, having these skills may prove to come in very handy.

NASA has more eyes in the sky now

NASA has kept their simulated scenarios sharp as they train for future possibilities, but they have also added more resources, financial and time, to their more experience-based handling of asteroid prevention.

For example, they have installed additional orbital telescopes so that they can have a better view to monitor space activity in case some form of large space rock decides to make its way too close to Earth. Everything is about being prepared and knowing what is coming their way.

First the asteroids need to be detected

The most important part of all of this is the ability to see far enough into space to spot these asteroids before they even get somewhat close to Earth. The majority of the deflection techniques that were Lindley’s specialty, take several months to years to be put into proper place. 4

Therefore, the first step is the kind of technology that will detect an asteroid years from its possible collision with Earth. NASA is not working on this mission alone, thankfully.

Lindley is working with FEMA to prepare

Lindley and his team worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to prepare for such possible damage from a collision with a space rock. Lindley said, “They are a great way for us to learn how to work together and meet each other’s needs.”

The two need to work together to detect and then react should there be a need to get people out of harms way, come to their aid when their area is hit, or the many other possible scenarios they are working with.

Lindley got several world organizations to work together

Lindley organized a conference in 2019 that included the International Asteroid Warning Network, and the European Space Agency. He knew that they needed to work together to make his plan a reality as they each had something the other needed.

Each of these organizations, Lindley representing NASA, have eyes in space and together, they are able to have a broader and deeper look at the sky. He was thinking outside of the box, just like a wise scientist and engineer would.

Lindley is ruining every doomsday preppers plans

The likelihood of such a drastic event such as an asteroid hitting Earth is so minimal, but there are those who are making sure that if it does happen, they are ready to go with provisions for years.

These individuals are called doomsday preppers, and they are impressive rooms and technology (low-tech for that matter) to ensure their survival. We don’t mean to ruin these people’s plans, but if Lindley has anything to do with it, they will never need to use any of that.

He is on his own form of space race

Lindley’s job is a serious one, with a heavy toll if the work is done right or wrong. While his job may be a life or death kind of situation, he says that he doesn’t have a problem sleeping at night. For Lindley, it is another day at work making sure that they are one step ahead of any sort of space rock that has the other idea. He and his team go in day after day to be on their own kind of space race.

Lindley’s colleague took his teacher all too literally

Lindley works with a man named George Aldrich. When Aldrich’s teach in elementary school told him that he could “shoot for the stars” when he was young, he took it literally. He worked hard and did whatever he had to do to make it to NASA.”

For the remainder of this article, please click here and scroll very far down the page.

We hope you’ll return tomorrow to see our exciting adventures on Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Kruger National Park.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 21, 2021:

Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa is a fabulous property. When we return to Las Vegas in years to come, we’d love to stay here again. For more photos, please click here.

A reader inquires…

Four wildebeests stopped by.

Last night, while reviewing my email, I noticed a message from a reader asking the following:

“I want to be just like you! LOL, I want to travel the world and stay long enough to learn about a place and culture and get a true experience. But we are still working, so I want to take a 2-week trip to Africa. Where shall I go????? If you could only have 2 weeks, where would you visit?”

Noah and his mm Nina, outside the fence. But, most days, they don’t hesitate to jump the fence.

The answer to this question could easily result in a comprehensive response that could take quite a while to prepare. But, for the sake of this one reader and others who may have similar questions, we will do our best today to reply in a condensed manner. Hopefully, this won’t be boring for our other readers who may not be so inclined.

I’ll start with the first part of the question about coming to Africa for a two-week holiday/vacation. The answer to this part is entirely predicated on the fact that depending on where the reader is coming from; it can take two days to travel to Africa on either end. Plus, it typically takes about two days to recover from the long journey if the travelers aren’t seasoned.

Lots of visitors.

Jetlag is a reality for many travelers. Some travelers never feel up-to-par while they are here for short trips until weeks after they return to their home country and get back into their usual routine. We learned a long time ago to immediately roll into the local time zone, sleeping, eating, and engaging in activities based on local time, not their “old” time.

As a result of following this criterion, we have yet to suffer from jetlag. That’s not to say we haven’t been exhausted for a day or two from missing so much sleep on the travel day. But, one or two good night’s sleep (without long naps) served us well once we arrived at the new location.

With this in mind, is two weeks enough, which may only be nine to 11 days after traveling and catching up? Yes, this short period can be sufficient to see a lot of wildlife and experience a little of the culture of the country(s) you choose to visit.

Two male impalas.

Now, the big question…where to go? There’s no easy answer to this question. There are 54 countries in Africa, but many of them aren’t possible or advisable to visit based on political unrest, crime, and cultural differences. This eliminates about 25%.

I won’t list these countries and suggest you do your own research to determine if the conditions are suitable for travel at any given time and…suitable for you to travel, based on your acceptance of certain conditions and your willingness to adapt to those conditions in order to feel safe.

We have visited nine African countries; thus, it is only on this basis from which we speak. We felt safe in all those countries but with many precautions to ensure our safety and sense of well-being. However, we’d suggest, for the first time in Africa, to either plan to stay at a highly rated resort after reading many reviews and doing added research or, as biased as we are, come to Marloth Park, South Africa, rent a holiday home in the bush and head to Kruger National Park for a few guided safaris and also self-driving.

A male impala was checking out what we were doing. Were there more pellets being tossed? Generally, we don’t feed the impalas since so many of them exist. But they do appear when we feed others. Female impalas don’t have horns.

This way, you’ll have a well-rounded experience. But we also love the Maasai Mara in Kenya, but it’s costly at most resorts, and you cannot self-drive in the Mara. Of course, we love Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, where you can see the majestic Victoria Falls from two different countries and visit Chobe National Park, the Chobe River, and the Zambezi River. All of this can be arranged through tour guides we can recommend.

Our friends Rita and Gerhard particularly love Namibia, but it suggested one drive themselves through the country, and a few weeks may be too short a time. Plus, a new traveler to Africa may not feel comfortable driving themselves on long road trips with poor conditions and encountering potentially dangerous situations.. We’d love to go to Namibia, but it is a country that borders South Africa, thus eliminating the possibility of us getting a new visa stamp.

If we’re going to use South Africa as a “base,” we need to get a new 90-day visa stamp, but it can’t be from visiting bordering countries, an entirely different scenario if you came to visit for only two weeks.

Tulip is in the center of this photo. Behind her, is her daughter, Lilac and in the forefront is Marigold. They are so cute!

Also, you will need to rent a car and carefully follow Covid-19 restrictions and each country’s visa/entry requirements. Plus, it’s wise to visit your health care travel clinic to determine what vaccines and medications you may need for travel to the country (s) you’ve chosen to visit. Here again, it varies from country to country.

I could go on and on with “what to do” to visit Africa. We’ve spent approximately 30% of our ten years of world travel on the continent, and we still have a lot to learn. But, almost daily, a situation occurs that is new to us for which we spend hours studying and learning everything we can. None of this would be possible without the internet, for which we are very grateful.

Reader(s), please feel free to ask us any questions you may have to facilitate your decision-making process further. We are always happy to be of assistance.

Have a fantastic Monday, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, July 11, 2021:

Photo from the Big Island in Hawaii in December 2014 as the sun came up. For more, please click here.

In the past almost 10 years of world travel which National Parks have we visited in Africa?…

Map of national parks on the African continent.

Best  National Parks in Africa’s Top Safari Countries from this site:

  1. Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

  2. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

  3. Chobe National Park – Botswana

  4. Kruger National Park – South Africa

  5. Etosha National Park – Namibia

  6. South Luangwa National Park – Zambia

  7. Hwange National Park – Zimbabwe

  8. Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda

  9. Liwonde National Park – Malawi

When we review the above list of African national parks, we cannot help but smile. Of course, we’d love to have visited each of these national park, and perhaps we will at some point. But, at this time, we’ve been to six of these nine top locations, which are highlighted in bold type.

Besides Africa, we’ve been to three national parks in India from this site, including:

1. Kanha National Park

2. Bandhavgarh National Park

3. Kaziranga National Park

4. Nagarhole National Park

5. Ranthambhore National Park

6. Periyar National Park

7. Gir National Park

8. Sunderbans National Park

9. Nanda Devi Biosphere & Valley of Flowers National Parks

10. Jim Corbett National Park

Again, those we visited in India are highlighted in bold type. As shown, in the case of India, we’ve been to three out of ten, and we doubt we will return to see the others.

When we say “visited” national parks, we mean having been on safari in each of these national parks. While on the last cruise, another passenger asked how many safaris we’d been on. We haven’t kept an exact count, which I wish we had at this point.

But, based on a reasonable estimate, we’d say it’s no less than 200 or 300. And yet still, we revel in the excitement of “one more time.”  Many of these safaris were with a guide. In India, our private tour of the country included our private safaris with a driver and our guide, which occurred in Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park where on both occasions we saw the elusive tigers.

We were on safari in Ranthambhore, hoping to see the Bengal tiger but that was in a group tour while we were on the Maharajas Express Train with about 20 passengers. It was, by far, our least favorite of all guided safaris when we saw very little, certainly not a tiger, and the driver drove too fast. One of the passengers was injured, falling out of her seat. This story is detailed in our post from that date here. This post also includes our final expenses from the luxury train adventure.

But, besides that less than stellar experience, we’ve enjoyed ourselves every time. Probably, we’ve done self-drive safaris considerably more than guided safaris. We’ve been on many guided safaris in Kruger National Park, which in some cases had resulted in the most sightings, particularly one of our favorites when we experienced the Ridiculous Nine as opposed to the Big Five. See our link here.

The Big Five is often a goal for first-time visitors to Africa and many safaris later for some. The Big Five sightings consist of the following: rhino, lion, elephant, leopard, and Cape buffalo. Sure, we love seeing all these majestic animals, but we’re long past that goal. We are grateful to see whatever treasures Mother Nature bestows upon us on any safari in a national park.

And “safari luck?” We coined that phrase years ago when we found ourselves lucky on safari and at other times in our world travels. Yes, we’ve had some ups and downs, most recently with our unpleasant experiences getting Covid -19 on the first cruise, having to cancel the second cruise, and later becoming ill with salmonella when we first arrived in Marloth Park.

But now, we feel our safari luck is returning with the plethora of animals visiting us at this house, and surely when we soon head to Kruger National Park for more adventures.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 15, 2021:

It was a busy morning in the bush. For more photos, please click here.

Final post from Marloth Park…Surprising news on our itinerary…Some of our favorite photos…

We always had a reason to celebrate. Here is Don (Kathy and Don) and Rita (Rita and Gerhard) at Jabula celebrating our friendships.

Note: Due to the high volume of tourists in Marloth Park right now, during school holidays, the WiFi is sketchy and inconsistent. Subsequently, I am unable to make formatting corrections including spacing and adding some links. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. After all, TIA (This is Africa)!

It’s Wednesday morning, and we’re almost totally packed and ready to go. All that’s left is to pack the everyday toiletries when Tom showers soon, and we’ll close our bags. We aren’t worried about overweight baggage this time since we’re allowed two 23 kg (50 pounds) bags each, and we only have three.

We packed one of the duffle bags into another suitcase since we’ll need extra room when we go on the cruises for the dressy clothes we’ll be packing for the Queen Mary 2. Once we get to Minnesota on May 1, we can send the formal attire to our mailing service to hold for us until we need them again.

A female kudu, in a daze from oxpeckers cleaning bugs off her ears and head. For this post, please click here.

I suppose you are curious about our itinerary news, and I should get on with it. After days of research and discussion, we’ve decided to return to Marloth Park on May 24, only 62 days from today. A few factors contributed to this decision, including the difficulty we encountered in traveling to many countries at this time. We considered increased costs, fuel shortages, and overall excessive cost of living due to the ravages of each economy as a result of the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine.

I.B. (Itchy Butt) laying in the wet, muddy cement pond, attempting to ease the itching. For this post, please click here.

There is so much unrest in many countries with poor economic conditions, political unrest, poor medical care, prohibitive medical costs, and the list goes on and on. We’ve decided, for now, making Marloth Park a base from which we’ll continue to travel and embark on cruises makes all the financial sense in the world.

We never figured out what this peculiar apparition that appeared on the night cam could possibly be. For that post, please click here.

Yes, we’ll have visa issues, but we know how to deal with these issues. We can travel to other countries in Africa for short stay safaris and expeditions and then return with a new 90-day visa stamp. Once back here in May, we won’t have to leave until August for a visa stamp. We can either fly to a non-bordering country or start a new visa extension. The new stamp will be good until November when we’re planning to leave anyway.

Our friend Frank, of Frank and The Misses francolins, had a self-tour of our house, including the kitchen. For that post, please click here.

In November, we’ll make our way to  Athens, Greece, for three back-to-back Azamara cruises for a total of 42 days, which brings us to Cape Town, South Africa, when we’ll make our way back to Marloth Park and begin the cruising booking process all over again, as new cruises are posted. These new cruises will take us to many new countries we’ve never visited in the past.

This was the third photo I got of the leopard, hoping for a  better shot, the best of which is the main photo. For that post, please click here.

We realize that spending one or two days on a ship excursion is not the same as living in a country for a few months as we’ve done in the past. But, our travels are an ever-changing adventure, and we have to do what feels right to us. In between adventures, we’ll enjoy our lives to the utmost in our favorite secluded place in the world. Undoubtedly, South Africa has its issues but is tucked away in the bush; we feel far removed from many issues. For now, this plan is precisely befitting our needs.

When thick-tailed bushbabies are around, the usual small bushbabies run for cover. The larger species will kill the little ones. For this post, please click here.

We have lots of wonderful friends here. We have a constant stream of entertainment as wildlife visits our garden. It’s only a 20-minute drive to enter Kruger National Park. We have access to excellent medical and dental care at affordable prices and insurance covering emergencies. Although smaller than Amazon, we can shop at markets that have all the food products we like to purchase and the excellent online shopping service, Takealot, although smaller than Amazon, carries most items we need to buy from time to time.

This adorable zebra was lounging in our garden. He must have spotted something interesting on the ground. For this post, please click here.

On top of it all, we will be moving into a different house when we return, as shown in photos in this post and in this post. We are excited about moving into this property when we return in May. It has everything we could want or need.

Mom, with the perfect curled tusks, whom we now call Tail-Less Mom, who lost her tail, also lost one of these babies, since then only returning with the fast-growing two piglets. For this post, please click here.

We realize and accept the reality that we may lose some of our readers from making this temporary decision. But, we hope those of you who decide to opt-out make a note of days we’ll be visiting other countries and will stop back to see our stories and photos.

The beautiful Christmas dinner table at Sindee and Bruce’s lovely home in the bush. Dawn was taking a photo of Sindee and the serving table, a short time later filled with great food. For this post, please click here.

For now, the next two months will be exciting for us:

  • 15 nights in Apollo Beach, Florida
  • 13 nights on a transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Silhouette to Southampton, UK
  • 3 nights in Southampton, sightseeing
  • 7 nights on transatlantic return cruise on Queen Mary 2 to New York
  • 14 nights in Minnesota visiting family and friends
  • 7 nights in Henderson, Nevada, visiting family and friends
  • Return to Marloth Park
It was Rita’s birthday and she and Gerhard took all of us on a bush dinner and night game drive. For this post including great wildlife photos, please click here.
Louise and Danie hosted the best possible birthday gift for me, a visit to an in-the-wild elephant interaction. For this post, please click here.

The above number of nights doesn’t account for the 62 days we’ll be gone, but the long travel days to and from Africa make up the difference. There are many time zone changes in this period that, hopefully, we’ll adapt to with ease.

Today may be the last time we see Little since we’re moving to another house a few km from here. Maybe we’ll get lucky and he’ll find us once again. Little was thrilled we’d returned from Zambia in October 2021 when he stopped by at his usual 4:00 pm. Immediately, he positioned himself on the right side of the veranda, near where I sit, waiting for his treats and words of affection (from me only). For this post, please click here.

So there it is folks, Next time we write to you, most likely it will be from Apollo Beach, Florida, unless we have time on one of our layovers for a quick update.

Be well. Be happy. Live life to the fullest.

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2021:

A male bushbuck with a plant growing from his muddy hoof after a big storm. It made us laugh out loud. For more, please click here.

One day and counting…Final expenses for 14 months in South Africa…

Bossy’s baby suckling while another female looks for pellets.

Today, I started totaling the expenses we had incurred since our arrival here in Marloth Park on January 13, 2021. As I reviewed all the costs and started totaling them, I realized what a daunting, time-consuming task this would be. We still have a lot to do to be ready to go tomorrow. Plus, I need to do my walking after missing several hours while we were gone this morning for our Covid-19 PCR test, a trip to the pharmacy, and breakfast at Stoep Cafe.

Subsequently, the following figures are within 10% of accuracy in an attempt to get through today’s post in a timely fashion and rounded off to the nearest US dollar.

  • Final Expenses – 14 months*
    Marloth Park – January 13, 2021, to March 23, 2022
    US Dollar             ZAR
  • Rent & Hotel                  $ 38,056             566144
  • Air, Train, Ferry                  8,975             133533
  • Taxi, Car Rental, Fuel        8,256             122836
  • Entertainment                       898               13361
  • Dining Out                         4,760               70799
  • Groceries                         12,040             179079
  • Shopping (Misc.)               4,080                60684
  • Tips                                   2,460                36587
  • Legal Fees-Visa Ext.         2,280               33910
  • Medical, dental & Ins.      13,300             197810

TOTAL                                $95,105           1414487
Monthly Average                  $ 6,793             101029
Daily Average                       $   219              3245

* Included in these totals was the cost for the one-month trip to the USA in July and a 5 night stay in Zambia for a visa stamp.

Two moms and two babies.

When totaling up these numbers, I was surprised by how much we spent. But, since we arrived here, we’ve had several expenses that brought up the totals to the result. The trip to the US was three times higher than what we’d have spent living in Marloth Park. Also, we had expensive hotel bills, more expensive rental cars, and dining out daily (also included in these totals). When we left for that month, we kept the house and paid rent while we were away.

It makes more financial sense for us to be in Marloth Park than living in the US or many other countries. Prices are rising here but nowhere near as quickly as they are in the US.

Of course, I am busy as I can be today, making sure everything is in order, including what we’re taking with us and what we’re leaving behind, including clothing and household goods that we’ll use later when we return. Trying to get the walking accomplished today will be the biggest challenge. As I write this now, it’s already 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, and we’re heading out the door at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs to meet Louise and Danie at Giraffe for one last night together.

These moms often visit, looking for treats.

They returned ten days ago from their trip to visit family in Cape Town, and we’ve yet to have a moment to hear about their trip. With the school holidays in full force in South Africa now and all of their properties full, they’ve had their hands full with visitors at the houses and to their Info Centre.

The Info Centre is indeed a fabulous place for tourists and locals to stop to arrange safaris and other events and hear about what’s going on in the park. They loan out books and puzzles at no charge. What a fantastic resource for visitors! It’s a wonderful place to stop and meet Louise and sometimes Danie when he’s not out at building sites.

An impala mom and her baby visit our garden. Impalas are very shy around humans, so I had to take this photo through the screen door, or they’d run away.

This morning’s trip to Komatipoort accomplished everything we expected, except our expectation of finding a large plastic tote with a lid. If a person wanted to buy these, they’d have to make the long drive to Nelspruit, the same drive we’ll make tomorrow when we head to the airport in the afternoon for our flight to Johannesburg to begin the long journey to Florida, USA.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2021:

These same three wildebeests are lounging in the driveway right now. They were happy to see us when we returned from Komatipoort today. For more photos, please click here.

An apology for our readers…Newly posted photos from elephant encounter…

At Kwa Madwala, guests can opt for safaris on horseback.

It was almost two years ago that our hotel lockdown began in India. It’s been over 13 months since we arrived in Marloth Park. Overall, we’ve only been to these two places, other than a week-long visa-stamp trip to Zambia in April and then a one-month visit to the US in July. We’ve been contrary to our self-imposed nomenclature as “world travelers” since we began this years-long journey in 2012.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve enjoyed every moment in Marloth Park with our human and animal friends, of which there have been countless opportunities. But we are ready to move on. Our wanderlust has taken over! We’re chomping at the bit to get back “into the world.”

The pool from the veranda at Kwa Madwala is soon to be renovated and re-opening within a year.

We don’t mind staying put for extended periods, which accounts for the many times we’ve stayed two, three, and even four months in one location. Doing so has allowed us to learn about each country, its people, culture, nature, and fascinating points of interest.

Sure, we could have done more while we were here. We could have gone on road trips and stayed at various safari camps. But, it’s been hard to motivate ourselves to travel to see precisely what we can see here in our backyard and on a short drive to enter Kruger National Park.

The beautiful male elephant tossed his trunk back for the guide to place pellets inside.

Plus, with so many cruises booked, we needed to watch our spending. It’s only due to the low cost of living for us in the bush that we’ve been able to select a few more expensive cruises than we would have by living here than in other countries. where the cost of living is so much higher. In reality, our lowest cost of living has been in South Africa in partial years: 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021, and now in 2022.

In total, we’ve spent 32 months living in Marloth Park in the past nine years and hope to be back, if all goes well, returning next December, just before Tom’s birthday, the 23rd, and Christmas. We won’t be staying so long when we return, leaving no longer than six months after we arrive, requiring another visa extension, or a short trip away for a visa stamp.

Nonetheless, I should get to the point of our heading; an apology to our readers…

The property manager was familiar with the elephants allowing him to do a pull-out. Wow!

We are sorry for the redundancy of our posts, especially over the past two years since the onset of the pandemic, and now the endless stream of animal photos of wildlife we’ve surely posted time and time again. You’ve seen me walking in the corridors in India during the ten tedious months of repeated photos from past experiences. Now it is one or multiple bushbucks, one or multiple pigs, one or numerous kudus, and one band of mongooses after another.

We posted numerous photos from our night trail cam, most often of genets and porcupines and many elephants from the river, Kruger National Park, and our recent elephant experience on my birthday. Frank and The Misses and other francolin pairs have graced these pages repeatedly. Recently wildebeests Hal and Broken Horn have been shown and mentioned over and over again.

The veranda where we had brunch last Sunday at Kwa Madwala.

Occasional bush babies, hornbills, go-away birds, and other small creatures have been highlighted on countless posts. On top of all of that, we’ve prepared innumerable posts about Covid-19, lions in Marloth Park, cruises, and now, challenges in traveling due to the horrific war in Ukraine.

Don’t think for one minute that we haven’t been aware of the repetition, the redundancy of various topics and photos, ad nauseam. I justify the repetition because the concept of writing a new story 365 days a year is a daunting task. If someone had presented such a task for me to accomplish daily, I would have run the other way.

The sign for the property as we left after the beautiful experience.

But doing so has been of my own volition, and we’ve continued to do so with love and caring for our surroundings and our fine audience, who miraculously have stayed with us while it continued to grow over the years. For this, we are very grateful. Thank you, dear readers, for your commitment to reading our posts year after year. You amaze me! My attention span is not quite as good as yours!

Hopefully, soon as we reach out to the world before us, our stories and photos will be more exciting and varied. That’s our intention.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 27, 2021:

This photo was taken from the car window when we drove along the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Finally, they came to call, eight months later!!!…

When peering out the kitchen window, we saw this image in the front of our house.

Yesterday was quite eventful in our garden. While stopping in the kitchen to refresh his iced tea, Tom said, “Hurry, get the camera! There’s a giraffe in the driveway!”

We hadn’t seen a giraffe in the driveway since we arrived in Marloth Park in January when we moved into this holiday home. Six or seven giraffes were at the end of the driveway on the road, and we took several photos, hoping at some point they’d come to our garden for a visit. Now, eight months later, they finally came to call.

Not only were they in the driveway, but they were standing close to the house. The tricky part was taking photos since giraffes don’t interact with humans for food, like the other wildlife. They eat the leaves at the top of trees and don’t bend down for pellets or other food offerings from humans.

There were a total of three giraffes, two that stayed in the bush and the one that dared to get close to the house for the tree he found worthy of the risk.

Subsequently, they are as shy here in Marloth Park as they are in Kruger National Park. They tolerate cars passing but don’t care to interact with humans on foot. When we opened the front door, I could barely get a quick photo when they thundered off, kicking up dust on our dirt driveway.

We decided to leave the front door open since it makes noise upon opening and be patient and wait. They were obviously after the lush green vegetation at the top of a tree close to the kitchen window. We waited patiently. Although we couldn’t get good photos based on their hesitancy around us, we managed to get the few we’re sharing here today.

After all, being within three or four meters of the giant animals is exciting in itself. Where in the world is that possible in the wild? Where in the world is that possible, close to your front door? Nowhere that we know, other than Marloth Park or another game reserve in Africa.

It’s hard to believe we can be so close to these majestic animals.

Once they’ve discovered such an “edible” tree, we feel confident they will return at some point. The question becomes: will we happen to be looking out the kitchen window to spot them when they do? In the future, we’ll make a unique point of looking out the front of the house, as opposed to the usual back garden where most of the animals visit. With the dense brush, it may be hard for them to navigate their way back there.

This holiday home consists of the dense bush surrounding the property lines. It’s an excellent factor for privacy and noise reduction but less appealing for giraffes and zebras who seem to avoid getting tangled in the low-lying branches, which warthogs, bushbucks, wildebeests, and kudus, who don’t seem to mind.  They’ll maneuver through any dense bush to get to some pellets.

We’d hoped they’d stay around longer. But, in their typical manner, they ate and moved on in search of more vegetation.

Whereas giraffes don’t bend to the ground to eat, although they bend to drink. Here’s exciting information about giraffe’s eating habits from this site:

“Four facts about giraffe’s eating habits:

The giraffe is the world’s tallest terrestrial animal and thrives on a diet of fresh greens. These curious creatures tower above the bushveld and, despite their gangly appearance and awkward gait, they move with ease through their environment. They survive in arid landscapes, savanna, and open plains; and vary in size and color depending on their region.

The next time you’re in a game viewer and come across a giraffe devouring greenery, take a moment to observe their eating habits. Here are four facts about a giraffe’s eating habits that will ensure you have a deeper understanding of their dietary habits.

1. Giraffes don’t need to compete for food.

Giraffes are browsers that feed off fresh shoots and leaves, and their height advantage means they have access to plenty of foliage that other herbivores cannot reach. The only other animal that can reach into the giraffe feeding zone is the elephant. The pachyderms stretch upwards and reach branches with their trunks, allowing them to grapple lush greens outside of the zone of other browsers. The male giraffe is always in an enviable position, given that they are almost always taller than their female counterparts! There’s not much competition for food sources with these delightfully curious terrestrial animals.

2. Giraffes eat old bones.

When herbivore animals eat bones, it is commonly referred to as osteophagia. The reason for digesting such unpalatable items is purely to supplement their diet with calcium and phosphorus. If their diet lacks nutrients, giraffes will bend down to the ground to scrounge for old bones. They will then chew/twirl the bones in their mouth to extract as many minerals as possible.

Goodbye giraffes! It was great to see you here!

3. Giraffe’s favorite food is acacia. But acacia trees talk. 

The bushveld is dotted with African acacia trees, which have juicy leaves and a thorny spine. Giraffes use their prehensile tongue to grip the leaves and extract the greenery without disturbing the thorny bits. Because this is their favorite meal, it means that our tall creatures tend to journey towards belts of acacia. Acacia will release an excess of tannins when under threat from overfeeding, and this compound leaves the greenery tasting incredibly bitter. The other trees will recognize the tannin release as an alarm system and follow suit. Giraffes activate the natural alarm system in acacia trees – a truly fascinating fact!

4. When a giraffe drinks water, it’s quite a process. 

Giraffes only drink every few days and gain most of their moisture from their herbivorous diet. When they do drink, they approach their water source with caution. They scan their environment for potential threats, hesitate, stand for a while, and then decide to drink. The giraffe will open its legs quite wide, bend its knees and lower its neck to lap up water, which leaves them in quite a vulnerable position and at the mercy of predators.”

In any case, we are thrilled they stopped by, and we’ll make every effort to spot them again when and if they stop by to munch on the green trees in the front garden.

Have a lovely day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #179. Our glass table was set and ready for our dinner guests in Kenya’s outdoor living/dining room in 2013.  The landlord, Hans, and his wife, Jeri, were coming for dinner. With no Windex or glass cleaner in the grocery stores, I’ve had a heck of a time cleaning the glass tabletop. I asked Hesborn, our houseman, how he could clean it so well with no streaks. He said he uses soap and water on a rag, drying it with a dry towel. I tried this method, only to end up with streaks. For more photos, please click here.

We can hear the helicopters rounding up our animal friends…The close proximity of sightings…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, Little Daddy, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

The sound of the helicopters overhead is making me cringe. But, with seven kudus in the garden right now along with Little, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Fred, and Ethel, and seven bushbucks, we’re hoping they’ll hang around with us today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. If they stay nearby, they may be safe, according to Louise’s input.

The male bushbuck we call Bad Leg stood close to us on the veranda.

Animals are amazing. If they stay in this general area, they are less likely to be herded to their demise. Nevertheless, it will be a tense three days on this end. Now, here comes Broken Horn, with lucerne hanging from his mouth. As he approached, he stepped on the long grass in his mouth and pulled hard to get it out.

We underestimate their intelligence. But, then again, do we? As we sit here day after day, totally enthralled, watching them and their behaviors, we’re continually in awe of their innate ability to communicate with one another, let alone with us from time to time.

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds.

Yesterday, while observing dozens of birds who’ve become regulars, we commented to one another how each day is different from the next. So it’s no wonder it’s difficult for us to feel a need or desire to go away for the day. Even visiting Kruger National Park, which we’ve promised ourselves to visit more frequently when we return from the US, doesn’t consistently deliver the thrills we encounter right here in the garden.

No doubt Kruger has its array of thrills; seeing the Big Five is only a tiny part of it. The endless videos we’ve made and photos we’ve taken over the years of extreme sightings in the national park have left us reeling with wonder. We often refer back to them, astounded by what we’d seen.

The gray louries are typically shy around humans. So it was fun to see them up close.

But, the garden is another matter, requiring no hours-long rides in the car without seeing anything and often managing to maneuver for a good spot when other vehicles are crowded near a special sighting. So, for us, it’s usually about the “little things” we see along the way.

That’s not to say we are tired of game drives. Suppose we could add all of our safaris and self-drives in our visits to national parks. In that case, we could easily say we’ve had hundreds of experiences in several countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Morocco, and most recently, India.

A gray lourie landed on the table on the veranda while we were seated, a first for us.

In India alone, we visited three national parks during our private tour before the Covid-19 lockdown. We counted 24 game drives in those locations, always on a search for the majestic Bengal Tiger. Mission accomplished. The Big Five performed in many of the above-listed countries, beginning in Kenya in 2013.

That’s not to say more thrills aren’t awaiting us on more game drives. Most certainly, they are, and we look forward to those opportunities, in many ways inspired by our commitment to sharing them here with all of our worldwide readers. But, of course, doing so makes the sightings all the more exciting and rewarding.

Unusual. Three gray louries (go-away birds) descended on the grill for the first time.

Yesterday, we focused on the dozens of birds visiting the garden, drinking from the birdbath, eating seeds, and even getting up close and personal with us by landing on the veranda table while we were seated here, as we are now. Whether it is the sighting of a dung beetle rolling his ball, a bird splashing in the birdbath, or a band of mongoose munching on leftover meat and fat from a prior meal, we love it all. The proximity certainly is a factor in our degree of enthusiasm.

Yes, we love it all. And soon, in a mere eight days, we’ll be leaving all of this behind us for four weeks and heading to a world so far removed from what we’ve experienced here on a day-to-day basis. Oddly, once again, it will be a culture shock. I can only imagine the day we walk into a Costco store to buy a few of their popular five-dollar roasted chickens to eat in our hotel with a microwave and full kitchen, and our eyes will open wide in shock over all the “abundance.”

Little, on the left, and Tiny were sitting closer together than we’d seen in the past. They are our favorite pigs, and yet their personalities are so different. Little is pushy and bossy, and Tiny is gentle and accommodating.

Life in the bush is abundant in other ways.

Be well.

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

The ocean is behind this old vine-covered garage in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, in 2014. For more photos, please click here.