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.

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.

Part 1…Kruger National Park photos…It never disappoints…

A mom or matriarch was crossing the road with a youngster.

Visiting Kruger National Park is a mixed bag. There may not be an animal insight for long stretches, and with the maximum speed of 40 km, 25 miles per hour, the drive may be slow and tedious with dense vegetation along some roads. Often, vegetation impedes the view of what may have been exciting sightings in more open spaces.

The dangers are many. When more than two visitors are engaged in a self-drive, unless they’re riding an open vehicle or large SUV with huge back windows, the rear seat passenger’s views may be disappointing at best. Strict rules and regulations prevent passengers from hanging out of windows or standing up in sunroofs.

This was one of the first elephants we spotted on Sunday.

In a moment, any of the wild cats could leap atop a vehicle resulting in a severe or fatal injury. Their reaction time is far superior to ours. Also, it is forbidden to get outside of any vehicle on a self-drive. However, on a few occasions, on guided safari/game drives, there may be instances whereby meals or snacks are served in the bush, or a guided walking safari is conducted by an experienced guide leading the walk, carrying a weapon.

As for what we consider the best way to see game in any wildlife-rich national park is riding in a raised, open-sided safari vehicle as high up as possible, enhancing the possibility of distant sightings. To think that wildlife necessarily stays close to a road is unlikely and unrealistic.

Such magnificent beasts.

That’s why we particularly enjoyed the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Chobe National Park in Botswana, both of which resulted in off-road dashes to reach distant wildlife. Ultimately, it was all the more exciting. But, in Kruger, staying on the few paved roads and the numerous side dirt and gravel roads is amazing when visitors can see almost every form of wildlife that inhabits the park.

Lowering one’s expectations about the “Big Five” as a prerequisite for a fulfilling day in the park is vital for embracing what the park is all about. It’s not a zoo and hopefully never will be. Kruger is described as follows here:

“Why visit the Kruger National Park? The world-renowned Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary with nearly 2 million ha (4.9 million acres) of unrivaled wilderness and wildlife land, and home, not only the Big Five but more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve.”

An elephant preparing to cross the road is wary of vehicles.

Of the top 10 safari parks in the world, at this juncture, we’ve visited five of the 10. Here is the link with detailed information. As we peruse this link, our interest is piqued to see more of these at some point in the future. But, at this point, time is not our friend.

With the pandemic in mind, and the ability to travel unknown in the future coupled with the realities of aging, we can’t predict what the future holds. At this point, we don’t know where we’ll be in 50 days from today when the visa extension granted to foreign nationals by South Africa President Cyril Ramphosa ends on June 30th.

It’s wonderful to watch the elephants feed. A typical African elephant consumes 300 pounds, 136 kg per day.

Before Covid- 19, we often had the next two years booked in advance. Recently, a reader inquired about our upcoming itinerary. Other than the four upcoming cruises we have booked, the first scheduled for November 2021, none of them may ever set sail. Subsequently, we don’t have an upcoming itinerary. We promise, when and if we do, we’ll certainly post it here.

Enjoy the new Kruger National Park photos we’ll be sharing today and over the next few days. No, they aren’t necessarily unique from what we’ve shared in the past, and yet, we’re still thrilled with what we’d seen only two days ago.

A mom and a baby grazing.

Today is an excellent and sunny day, typical for fall in the bush. At the moment, four warthogs are hovering in the garden, including Little, who is napping close to the veranda. No less than a dozen helmeted guinea fowl are pecking at the seeds we tossed on the ground.

Another elephant was crossing the road. We always wait patiently while often some cars may quickly zoom past.

Go-Away birds are making their hysterical sounds while four hornbills are pecking at the bedroom windows, the dining room window, and the windows on the car. A few minutes ago, we fed about 50 mongooses some leftover meat. They are staying around, making their adorable chirping noises.

Although difficult to determine in this photo, this elephant was giant, old, and very wrinkled.

One of our favorite bushbuck, Thick Neck, is hovering in the dense brush, waiting for the pigs to leave since they don’t allow the small antelope to get a single pellet. Three wildebeest are drinking from the birdbath and the pool, and of course, we’re as content as we could be.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 11, 2020:

“Pig in the parlor.” Two years ago today, we left South Africa and posted more of our favorite photos. This was the second time Little came up the steps and into the house while sitting on the sofa and didn’t see him right away. We howled. We always love seeing this photo! Now, it is so fun to have him visiting us here. He’s still quite bossy, but we’re managing fine with him. Does he remember us? It appears so when he tries to get very close to me. But, we keep him at a safe distance. For more, please click here.

We’re leaving on an exciting expedition in 37 days!…

This elephant was a frequent visitor
This elephant is a frequent visitor to Little Governors Camp. Not our photo.

It was a painstaking process to figure out where we could go during the pandemic to have our visas stamped for a new 90-day stay in South Africa. The restrictions were frustrating and prohibitive for many locations. Many countries couldn’t accommodate us under any circumstances.

After extensive research over the past few weeks, it was in the past week that we considered returning to Kenya. The last time we’d been there was in 2013 when we’d longed to experience our first photo safari in the Maasai Mara.

From this site:

“Maasai Mara, also sometimes spelled Masai Mara and locally known simply as The Mara, is a large national game reserve in NarokKenya, contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is named in honor of the Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the area, who migrated to the area of the Nile Basin. Their description of the area when looked at from afar: “Mara” means “spotted” in the local Maasai language, due to the many short bushy trees which dot the landscape.

Regularly, elephants enter Little Governors Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, often at mealtime, looking for a morsel to savor off the plates of the guests. Not our photo.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lionAfrican leopardcheetah, and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the Ten Wonders of the World.”

A few years ago, while in South Africa, we booked a fantastic tour in Kenya for which we’d prepaid the entire cost well in advance, at a then cost of ZAR 223225, US $15,000. It was only a few months later that I had to have emergency open-heart surgery when we were only days away from departure for the extraordinary experience.

On such short notice, we lost the bulk of the fare. Thanks to Louise for helping us get a partial refund while I was still in the hospital. We understood that the short-term cancellation had put the host of the tour in a tough spot when it was impossible for him to resell our spot on such short notice. We were grateful to get back the 30% she arranged for us.

We can only imagine the excitement of being back in the Maasai Mara, let alone with elephants visiting the camp. Not our photo.

But, it never left our minds what we missed on that trip. The one venue of most interest to us was a stay at Little Governor’s Camp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. Nor, did it ever leave our minds how much we enjoyed many safaris/game drives in the Maasai Mara, unlike anywhere we’ve visited since that time in 2013.

At that time, we stayed at Camp Olonono another luxury tented camp where we had an extraordinary experience as we anticipate we will once again. We went out on two game drives each day and couldn’t have seen more wildlife than we did. At Little Governor’s Camp, we’ll embark on two game drives each day, hanging around the camp for what we hope will be a recurring experience that Little Governor’s Camp is known for, elephants visiting the resort/campgrounds, even at times, entering the dining area and picking food off the plates of the guests. Oh, gosh, this will be the epitome of “safari luck” if this occurs while we’re there.

Of course, as always, we’ll prepare ourselves the elephants may not stop by while we’re at the camp. Instead, we’ll revel in the outstanding experiences we’ll surely have while out on the game drives. If someone were to ask us how many times we’ve been out on photo safaris after all these years, it would have to be well over 100. We never tire of the experience.

Governors' Camp | The Masai Mara, Kenya | The Africa Specialists™
We’ll be staying in a luxury tent with an ensuite bath and many amenities. Not our photo.

We still have a lot to do to complete the requirements for this upcoming trip; apply for online e-Visas, apply online for the complicated COVID-19 form required for entry into Kenya, arrange for hotels on either end, get Covid-10 PCR tests before we depart South Africa and arrange a rental car for three months for our return.

So far, all we’ve done is book the multiple flights and book and pay in full for Little Governor’s Camp required this close to arrival time. The camp has arranged for our small-plane round-trip flight in and then out of the Maasai Mara from a small airport in Nairobi.

We’ll report back later as we work our way through the process of wrapping up the tasks required to complete this upcoming adventure. If we had to leave South Africa for this visa thing, we decided that doing something wonderful was the way to go. We’re both thrilled to have this figured out!

Today, we left the house while a few repairs were being made on our bush house. “Little” had made a massive hole in the screen door to the veranda, trying to get into the house and a ceiling panel in the master bedroom had started coming down after weeks of rain and humidity. While the workers were here, we drove around the park, taking some exceptional photos which we’ll begin sharing in tomorrow’s post. Also, we took exciting photos in the garden early this morning, which we also can’t wait to share.

See you here tomorrow! Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 3, 2020:

We loved this sign, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for the Elderly & Beautiful.” For more photos, please click here.

Day #203 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…More exciting safari photos from Kenya into Tanzania…

Breakfast in the savanna, wild animals were surrounding us. Our guide Anderson presented croissants, cold cereal, pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a wide array of fruit. Although I could only eat the eggs and sausage, I was content.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013 while on safari, staying at Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

A cool morning in the bush.

Today’s old post from this date in 2013, made me swoon with delight. Memories of our glorious experience in the Maasai Mara continued, which, as shown in today’s photos, a stop for breakfast in the savanna, topped off the adventure in an indescribable manner.

A cool guy in the bush.

To be outdoors in the crisp morning air, in plain sight of lions, cheetahs, elephants, and more, while we both and our safari-mates were in awe of this exquisite event, simple in its concept, magnificent in its enactment. The thought of being so exposed to nature, most of which were always on the hunt for the next morsel of food, there we were dining on human food befitting a fine Sunday brunch with its many choices.

As we left the area of Camp Olonana, cows were in abundance. In the Maasai, Mara. Cows serve as food for the Maasai tribes. (A story follows soon about their lifestyle and their low carb, grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free diet)!

Of course, my way of eating was considered in the chef’s breakfast preparation with a few items I could eat, including scrambled eggs,  sausages, and real cream for our coffee. Seated on cloth camping stools, we all savored every morsel of our meal while sipping on the still-hot perfectly brewed coffee.

Hot air balloon rides are common in the Maasai Mara. We’d considered this option but decided we’d rather spend the time on the ground with better up-close photo opportunities with the wildlife.

Our surroundings were blissful as we relaxed in the cool morning, knowing full-well that later in the day, the sun’s baking would heat the air along with the vegetation spewed humidity to accompany the heat, for yet another day of scorching temperatures.

The eland antelope, reasonably common in the Maasai Mara, posed for us in the morning sun.

The six of us, determined adventurers, never complained about the outrageously bumpy rides across the savanna when Anderson spotted a point of interest at a distance to race across the uneven terrain, crossing over rocks, potholes, and bushes of all heights and sizes. At the end of each day, we were surprised we weren’t achy and in pain, having exercised rarely used muscles as we bounced about on the morning and afternoon hours-long safaris each day, except for a lunch break back at the camp midday.

Mom and baby eland.

Later in the day, we made an exceptionally bumpy two-hour drive to Tanzania to hopefully see the tail-end of the Great Migration, as Anderson described, which presented some exciting challenges and surprises we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Anderson busied himself setting up our breakfast, only allowing any of us to set up the camp stools. Notice his well-equipped picnic basket. The stainless steel containers were filled with our still-warm breakfast, thoughtfully prepared by Ambrose, the chef, very early in the morning.

As I write here now, Tom is watching yesterday’s Minnesota Vikings game on NFL GamePass, the service he pays for each year to stream the games from any location in the world, providing we have a decent WiFi signal. The game transpires during the night while we’re sleeping, so each Monday morning, he’s excited to hook up his laptop to the TV using the HDMI. I do the post, looking at the game’s highlights as I prepare the post while he’s glued to the screen.

Anderson took this next photo of us, a little blurry but worth keeping, the only shot we had of our group of safari mates.

He makes a point of avoiding the news and Facebook on Sunday nights since he doesn’t like to know the final score in advance of watching the game. It would take away the anticipation and excitement.

This hyena was curious as to our intentions.

Yesterday, I finished the fifth and final 2000 word post, which was over 3600 words. It was an article about how to travel long term with or without medical issues, insurance concerns, prescription refills, emergency solutions, and seeking medical care while abroad. It’s a comprehensive post centered around our personal experiences after all these years. It will be available tomorrow or the following day.

Cheetah blocking the road.

Now I can get back to editing old posts, which easily will take many more months. It’s become a part of my daily routine, which honestly I don’t look forward to, but do nonetheless.

Such a relaxing day. We were lounging with the family!

As for the package, this morning, I received an email from FedEx stating the parcel would be delivered by Wednesday. We’ll see if that will transpire.

Most likely a mom and a maturing baby, butt to butt, in quiet repose.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2019:

We walked in the pouring rain under the Chepstow Town Gate in Chepstow Wales to a restaurant for lunch. We stayed for 11 nights in a holiday home in the nearby village of Shirenewton. For more photos, please click here.