If you are reading this review then you are probably looking for a Safari company to provide your dream trip to Africa. Look no further Africa Dream Safari is the place to sign up. From beginning to end your every desire and whim will be taken care of one hundred percent of the time.
My wife and I are experienced international travelers both professionally and personally. Our goals were simple:
1. Painless reservations – smooth transit
2. Trip Insurance and medical evacuation insurance
3. If possible expediting service upon arrival in Tanzania
4. Private Guide
5. Experienced Guide with knowledge of wildlife and lighting conditions for photography
6. Enough luggage allowance to accommodate photography equipment
7. Private Vehicle designed for photography with unlimited mileage
8. First Class Accommodations and Cuisine
9. Seamless intra-country transfers
10. Spectacular Animal Viewing
11. Magnificent Vistas and Landscapes
12. Friendly Staff
However I assure you finding a company that can meet these requirements is a daunting challenge. I looked at over 20 Safari outfits before honing in on African Dream Safari. Once selected the real work began and was the most pleasant experience I have had in a long time. Sharon our trip consultant was a wealth of information and I must tell you that if you follow the direction / instructions in the Handbook ADS provides you cannot screw up your preparations or trip.
Sharon went out of her way to put me in touch with a professional photographer/videographer who took several hours out of his day to give me advice on what lenses I should take along on the trip. We talked about the proposed itinerary and he provided me guidance on the wildlife I could expect to see on each leg of the trip and the lenses I would need to have handy.
While you cannot expect to see animals where you want them when you want them you can be prepared to capture the images of a lifetime and this translates to capturing stunning and breathtaking images. I cannot emphasize enough the value of the handbook. It covered everything from electrical outlets and voltage to laundry.
Upon landing at Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania I was immediately impressed with the professionalism and skill ADS personnel showed in moving us through customs. We offloaded from the aircraft and within 20 minutes were on our way to the hotel. It was a painless experience and upon arrival at the Mt Meru Resort in Arusha we were greeted with drinks and a late dinner that was outstanding and 5 star accommodations.
Sharon had suggested during our trip planning that we add an extra day to ease of the jet lag from our Seattle flight. What a smart suggestion we spent a day recovering from jet-lag. When we started our Safari jet-lag was not an issue and we were ready to Safari.
I cannot say enough about Pokea our Guide. He met us for the first time when we left the Mt. Meru resort for the internal airport transfer to the Mara River Camp. What knowledgeable and genuinely friendly individual. I have had guides all over the world and only one other time have I had a guide as knowledgeable and friendly as Poker. My wife and I both clicked with him from the very start.
On the way to the internal airport we talked about my desire to be out from sunrise to sunset maximizing morning and evening light conditions. I told him I wanted to paint with the light and capture the emotion of the animals. He eyes lit up and I knew we had Guide and friend. Within the first day we had worked out a system for finding animals. Then I would get ready for the shot and he would position us for the best light.
My wife was keeping an image list and Pokea provided a plethora of facts on each animal and the geographic area where we shot the image. On our very first day we witnessed a large herd of Wildebeest cross the Mara River. With Pokea’s knowledge of the local country we observed and photographed all of the “Big Five” by the end of the second day.
Over the course of our Safari we took 10,000 images of over 80 different species of mammals, reptiles, and avian. Not every image is a winner but we certainly captured the emotion and light I was seeking to paint on multiple images.
The cuisine for breakfast and dinner at each of the lodges was superb. Of particular note was a five star meal at the Ngorongoro Lion’s Paw Tented Camp where we were served a mouth-watering stroganoff that rivals any we have had in the world. At the Swala Camp I had a wonderful chocolate dessert called the Kilimanjaro and that one desert is worth going back to Africa just to taste again.
We recommend ADS to anyone who is looking for a once in a lifetime experience. You won’t be disappointed with their service.
Joe and Ranee O.
September 18, 2016 to September 29, 2016
The last animal we saw on Wednesday evening was a lone buffalo. Arnold, our guide, commented that was odd, as they are usually in a group. We woke early and noticed some buffalo tracks outside our tent. Heading out at sunrise we passed by two huge hippos staring at each other and we wondered how that confrontation was going to play out. The sun was rising and we headed onward into the Serengeti.
Arnold noticed some action to our left and he headed in that direction. There were about seven lions digging into a very large buffalo, the cubs almost disappearing into the stomach. We parked about 20 yards from the scene and watched the drama of the lionesses chowing down and keeping an old skinny male from even a bite.
We looked into the sky to see my nephew and friend flying overhead in a balloon. After many photographs and about an hour of viewing we went on to continue the game Drive that included seeing wildebeests and Zebras crossing the Mara River, elephant families roaming and a lone giraffe trying to reunite with her family across a stream.
At midday we headed back to camp and passed by the lion kill from the morning. There were different lions from the same pride going after the meat, still keeping the old guy away.
After lunch we headed back out to find a lone young lion guarding the kill from the circling hyenas and jackals and vultures waiting their turn.
At dusk we saw a few lions stripping the ribs of meat and cracking bones. The old lion finally had his turn.
The next morning we headed out to go to the next camp and passed by the kill scene; all that was left were the horns, a piece of skull and a few vertebrae. We regretted not watching the actual kill which we figure happened about 4am before we came upon it, and the cleanup by the hyenas, jackals and birds.
What an amazing experience to witness and realize that this happens every day on this planet. Being the only humans to witness this as well as being so close to the action was unbelievable.
I’m attaching some photos of our experience from start to finish.
Safari Dates: October 23, 2016 to November 1, 2016
My wife and I and two friends visited Tanzania in September and October for 2 weeks this year. We chose ADS on the recommendation of friends and were really happy we did. We have been traveling to Africa for nearly 30 years and this turned to be one of our best trips.
Dawn did a wonderful job of putting us into camps that were very comfortable, welcoming, in the right areas for wildlife and at our request a bit away from some of the more busy areas. We started planning this trip over a year earlier and Dawn was always cheerfully available for planning and any questions that came up.
Because we had our own vehicle and guide for the entire 2 weeks we could tailor each day as we wanted. I am a passionate amateur photographer and our guide was expert at finding the photo ops and positioning the vehicle in the best possible spot. He was as driven to get us to the right spots as I was to get the photo!
To say that the wildlife encounters were amazing would be to understate the extravaganza that we witnessed. The migration was underway. We saw four large crossings of the Mara River, one complete with crocodile attack. One morning we observed 5 black rhinos in one scene with three of them within a few yards of the vehicle.
Lines of zebra crossed the plains in the Central Serengeti along with large buffalo and wildebeest herds. Cats were everywhere, including a leopard in a tree feeding from a kill and a cheetah kill right in front of us. We saw dozens of lions some with cubs. I could go on and on with what we saw day by day but this report would become too long.
Suffice it to say that we’re counting on a return trip or more with ADS.
Richard and Ginger G.
Safari Dates: September 23, 2016 to October 7, 2016