My Trip in 5 Photos – South Africa


How can I choose just 5 photos of stunningly beautiful South Africa? The scenery – mountains, ocean, veldt. The people – a troupe of roadside dancers, a diamond cutter, a drum instructor with his djembe. The food – Cape Malay samosas, cassava bread, rooibos tea. The animals – penguins, baboons, white rhinos, elephants, lions.
No, I can’t possibly show you my South Africa adventure in just five photos. But, I’ll try to show you the amazing animals I saw in these five images:

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An African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) at Boulders Beach, on the Cape Peninsula, outside of Cape Town. Two breeding pairs settled on this beach in 1982 and since then the penguin colony has grown to about 3,000 birds.

 

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Baboons were everywhere — by the side of the road, rooting through trash cans in Sun City’s water park, scampering up the stone walls of Camps Bay estates. Although we were enchanted by the sight of them, the locals view them as an over-abundant nuisance, the way I view white-tail deer where I live in Pennsylvania. This mother and baby were spotted on the road leading to Cape Point nature reserve.

 

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This white rhino mother and baby were in Pilanesburg National Park, about two hours north of Johannesburg. The white rhino, (Ceratotherium simum) is more abundant than the black rhino, but still scarce. The white rhino consists of two subspecies: the Southern White Rhino, (seen here) with an estimated 17,480 wild-living animals, and the much rarer Northern White Rhino. The northern subspecies is said to have eight remaining worldwide, all in captivity. It was amazing to be so close to these rhinos and hear the mother grunt and snort at her young.

 

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More mothers with their babies, this time a Cape Mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) and her young at Pilanesburg National Park. We traveled to South Africa in late November and early December. In the Southern Hemisphere this is springtime and thus a great time to see young animals.

 

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The Big Five refers to the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. The term Big Five was initially coined by big-game hunters to refer to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Fortunately, these days it’s used to refer to the animals you’ve seen, not shot. At Pilanesburg, we were fortunate to see four of the Big Five — only the leopard eluded us. On day two of our safari we spotted this majestic lion resting in the grass in the early morning sunshine.

My Trip to Costa Rica — in 5 Photos


My husband and I celebrated 25 years together with a week on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, here’s 5,000 words about my trip:was these swans, strewn with fresh flowrs, on the foot of the bed. A wee bit schmaltzy? Sure, but I liked it, nonetheless. The J.W. Marriott in Guanacaste excelled at customer service.

This was the first thing I saw when I entered our hotel room at the J.W. Marriott, located in Guanacaste, about 1 1/2 hours from the airport in Liberia. A bit schmaltzy? Sure, but I liked it, nonetheless. The J.W. Marriott excelled at customer service.

American crocodile at Palo Verde

Palo Verde National Park was definitely the high point of our trip. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get there from the Guanacaste area and was well worth the trip. We saw 11 species of birds, three mammals (the howler monkeys were way cool) and three reptiles, including this American crocodile.

 

Iguana orange in mating season

This is a green iguana. Yeah, I know, it looks orange, not green. That’s because November, when we visited, is mating season. The male green iguana turns orange during mating season to impress the ladies.

Private dinner on beach JW Marriott

We sprung for a private dinner on the beach to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Our host and waiter was Kenneth, the manager of Azul, our favorite (and the most casual) of the restaurants at the J.W. Marriott. Kenneth gave us the rock star treatment the rest of the week, treating us to drinks by the pools as we swapped stories about our kids.

 

Sunset at JW Marriott Beach

Everybody stopped what they were doing between 5:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to watch the sun set over Mansita Beach in front of the Marriott. It was one of the best places I’ve been for sunset viewing — sorry, Key West and the Caribbean!