From the moment we made our reservations, to the time we arrived in Arusha and even after, Africa Dream Safaris provided a high quality safe adventure beyond anything we could have imagined. Even several months later, we all agree that we still can’t believe what we experienced during our 12 days safari.
Day 1 After an 18 hour flight, we emerge from our KLM flight, tired and nervous as we step into the crowd of people at the airport in Arusha. Within one minute our African Safari guide greets us and quickly whisks us past the other passengers, through customs and into the awaiting vehicle.
Day 2: We spend the day in Arusha, touring the town with our driver. We had arranged to visit the School of St. Jude. Being that 4 of us were former educators, we want to see the work being done at this school. It is a truly amazing experience as Felix, the school public relations person, takes us to classes where we are greeted by smiling children who speak English to us and sing songs in Swahili. So glad we came. We then visit the Cultural Heritage Museum which includes the most amazing art.
Day 3: After a quick 45 minute plane ride to the Northern Serengeti we are finally in the “bush”. Within 5 minutes we come across a small pack of elephants with babies. The day continues to be amazing as we see over 1,000 wildebeests crossing the Mara River, giraffes, zebras, impalas, and hippos. We end the day, as we arrive at the Mara River Camp and are greeted by a friendly staff.
The Mara River Camp provides us with comfortable tents, private hot showers and bathrooms, a great dinner and campfire. At night the wildebeests come into camp, and we hear them chomping on the grass next to our tent. One even knocks against our tent. I knew I wanted to experience the bush, and we certainly are!
Day 4: As we finish our excellent camp breakfast, we jump into the vehicle and after a quick crazy bumpy ride, we arrive at the river to see thousands of wildebeests crossing the river. Our amazing journey continues as we see a leopard on a rock, herds of elephants, hippos, and zebras. Our vehicle is able to pull within 5 feet of some of the animals giving us unobstructed views and experiences
We see our first baboons, warthogs, Topi, Thomson Gazelles and are thrilled as we came across 3 female lions. They are so close to our land rover that I close my window when one looks our way! As if that isn’t enough amazement, just down the road we watch a crocodile bring down a wildebeest.
We get a good night’s sleep as we hear the lions roaring in the distance, wild dogs barking and wildebeest quietly eating the grass next to our tent.
Day 5: We continue to see animals everywhere. What we find most interesting is that we see so many different ones all in the same area. At one point we are watching a group of giraffe, while zebras are walking by, warthogs are doing their crazy run with their tails standing straight up and Thomson gazelles are grazing in the grass.
We see more lions resting, our first male lions and spot our first cheetah. We enter Lobo Valley which is known for elephants. We are thrilled to watch the elephants munch on the tree branches and even knock down the trees. Suddenly we see a few vehicles stopped at a tree, and there sits a leopard eating a fresh kill. What a great end to the day.
We arrive at Migration Tented Lodge where we are escorted to our individual lodge tents by a river. Each is on stilts and looks like something from the movie, “Out of Africa”. The dining room is open air and beautiful with a great menu. We return to our rooms to turned down beds and hot water bottles. We fall asleep to the sounds of the hippos grunting.
Day 6: Today we head to Western Serengeti. There are herds of elephants, zebra and wildebeest everywhere. We stop by a place called, “Hippo Pool” to see more hippos piled upon one another attempting to stay cool. After lunch we sight a male and female standing on the side of the road. They quietly move toward each other and engage in a not so quiet mating sequence!
Day 7: We start out early today (6:00) with box breakfasts. Dark is quickly turning to light, and the sunrise and scenery is amazing. The brilliant sun rising over the horizon is stunning and a photographers dream. We see new animals this morning including kudu, vervey monkeys and Cape buffalo. Wildebeests continue to be everywhere and more baboons appear.
We drive quickly to spot the lion with its kill as well as other lions and some cubs. We see more zebras, gazelles, giraffes and crocodiles and begin paying attention to the beautiful birds. Although we are thoroughly enjoying the animals, our wonderful guide, Arnold, continues to entertain us with his vast knowledge and stories. We feel like he is part of our family and spend a great deal of time talking and laughing
Day 8: Each day continues to amaze us. The highlights are spotting a mother lion and her cubs, 12 elephants with several babies that were within 10 ft. of our vehicle, watching 2 female lions do a head butt to greet each other, but the best is spotting a leopard sitting in a tree and then watching him climb down a tree, grab a gazelle and drag the gazelle back up to the tree to eat.
Arnold explains that this was rare to see so imagine our excitement when we see a second leopard in a tree hunt a gazelle later in the day. Two in one day!
Day 9: Today we head out early to the Central Serengeti. We come across a number of lions lounging on various outcroppings. We laugh as we watch the two young male cubs playing and fighting. They show no fear of us as they walk within feet of our vehicle.
The morning continues with more lions and elephants, giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, hippos and our first ostriches. We visit the rhino research center and learn about the efforts to save the rhino. At one point there were only been 3 rhinos left. Arnold explains that we will have a good chance to see one today.
For lunch we stop at a large Kopje area which once belonged to the Masai. We climb the large rocks and bask in the amazing endless scenery around us. Arnold shows us “Gong Rock” which a large boulder formerly used as a musical instrument by the Masai. He demonstrates how it was used and entertains us with some songs as we clap along. Wonderful lunch experience.
Shortly after lunch we see our rhinos. Two rhinos are off in the distance, and we watch these huge animals as they graze. It’s still early in the afternoon, and we have seen 4 of the big five in one day!!
Our afternoon continues as we spot 2 female lions in a ravine with 4 tiny cubs feasting on a fresh kill. Across the road, not five feet from the jeep, is a large dark maned male. We head back down the road and see the same leopard we had seen previously still sitting in the tree with his kill.
That makes seeing “The Big Five” in one day! We are covered with dust, a bit tired from the 10 hours of bumpy roads, but all agree it was worth it!
As we are heading back to camp dreaming of our hot showers, we see a beautiful female cheetah stretched out under a tree with 4 baby cubs. The mother spots a gazelle, and the family approaches our jeep, using it as camouflage. They walk up along the side of the vehicle and cross in front of it. Talk about up close and personal!
We arrive back at Seronera Sametu Camp exhausted and dirty and are greeted by smiling staff who provides us with juice and warm cloths to wipe the grit away. The head staff person encourages us to look through their spotting scope to “meet our visitors at the camp”. We pause, look, and see a pride of lions under a tree about 200 yards from our camp. This is almost too much after such a spectacular day.
Day 10: We are awakened around 5:30 a.m. to the voice of a staffer outside our tent saying “Good morning, No lions!” which is good news since we heard lions in the distance throughout the night. We depart camp heading to the Southern Serengeti. We are beginning to see Masai and stop by a Masai village for a tour.
At the Ngorongoro Crater we see two lions sleeping on the side of the road. One gets up, bites the tire of the jeep in front of us and falls back asleep next the jeep which was providing a nice piece of shade. We spot a dead hippo that has been downed by lions and spend a half an hour watching the different lions taking turns feasting on the hippo.
We arrive back at Lion’s Paw camp to hot showers, a great dinner, and a campfire.
Day 11: We awaken early to get to the Crater. The sky is spectacular as the clouds roll over the top of the crater. We come upon two lions finishing off the wildebeest kill and stop to watch the interaction between the lions, jackals and hyenas, as they all compete for some of the meat.
At one point a hyena chases a jackal around and under the vehicles as the hyena attempts to get the piece of meat from the jackal. We are also fortunate to see two more rhinos in the distance.
We visit the F.A.M.E. (Foundation for African Medicine and Education) where we meet the amazing Dr. Frank and his wife. We are awed by the work that they are doing to bring quality medical care to the people of Tanzania.
Day 12: We head for Lake Manyara National Park, which is famous for its birds. We see monkeys, baboons, zebras and birds including flamingos and pelicans. At one area we see about 150 baboons walking along the rocks.
We leave the lake area and head to the Tarangire National Park. Masai children come running out of their houses as they hear our vehicle, hoping we will stop and give them something. We are enthralled at the size of the baobab trees which look like they are planted upside down and live up to 1500 years.
We camp at Kikoti Tented Camp which is a beautiful open-air camp sitting on the edge of a ridge in the middle of nowhere. Our “tents” are huge individual screened chalets on stilts. Because it is always warm here, the tents have little canvas on the sides, providing a wonderful sense of being up in the trees. We are thrilled when we realize the six of us are the only ones at the camp.
Day 14: It is our last day in the bush, and we are filled with a bit of sadness to think this amazing adventure is almost over. Although it is our last day, it is still wonderful. We see over 300 elephants, along with giraffes, impalas, a cheetah, Cape buffalo, warthogs, baboons etc. Again we see 4 of the “Big Five” in one day. Can’t get much better.
For lunch we stop at a beautiful overlook near the Tarangire River. We all agree it seems like something out of the Garden of Eden with green grass, the flowing river and zebras, elephants, giraffes, antelope and other animals all together eating and drinking at the river’s edge. Such a beautiful and amazing sight for our last day.
We spend the afternoon game driving and then head back to camp. We meet at the stone patio around the fire where we have drinks. Dinner is wonderful including a farewell cake.
We are thankful for this experience that we had together with our friends. We thank Africa Dream Safaris for providing this excellent safe adventure. Between the six of us, we took over 10,000 photos and hours of video. Our driver, Arnold, was the best and felt like one of the family by the end of the trip.
My advice to anyone wanting to go on a real safari, choose Africa Dream Safaris. You won’t be disappointed. Also, get out of your comfort zone, get into the bush, and stay at bush camps for at least part of your trip. The camps are safe, comfortable, with all the amenities you need. You won’t regret it!
Fred and Diane A.
Safari Dates: September 14, 2016 to September 26, 2016
At Africa Dream Safaris we do things a bit different than everyone else, including one way we are letting everyone know about the Serengeti. We have our own unusual representative out their strutting his stuff promoting Tanzania and the Serengeti in the dog show world!!
We are so proud of The Lion Lady’s Serengeti Sunset – Bailey won Best of Breed and continued on representing the Chinese Crested’s in the toy group at the AKC National Championship dog show in Orlando Florida December 17, 2016, making the cut in the group ring!! This show is touted as being the largest dog show in America
55 Top rated Chinese Cresteds entries from Russia, Japan, Brazil , England and USA were competing for this esteemed honor.
Bailey started his morning out by winning the breed in a lovely line up Cresteds under Judge Mr. Gareth Morgan-Jones & then continued to shine making the cut in the most competitive Toy Group you have competed in of the year under esteemed Judge Mr. Peter Green!!!
To say we are proud would be an understatement!!!
Congratulations to Breeder & owner Sharon Van Sinderen Lyon- commonly known as The Lion Lady throughout Africa and those who have booked safaris with us!!!
And her wonderful team Sammie Lewis, Trevor Lewis & Chandler Thomas Becker for their expertise and superb handling skills!!!
To watch the Toy group http://www.akc.org/national-championship/live-stream/?hellobar
The Lion Lady’s Serengeti Sunset- Bailey finished the 2016 year as the #7 Chinese Crested in the USA in Breed points and #6 in all breed points!
Keep your eyes open for him competing this coming February at the Westminster Dog show competition in New York!!! His mother won the Chinese Crested breed at Westminster in 2014 and we are excited to see him following in her paw prints!
Chinese Crested’s are believed to come from Africa 3,000 years ago from wild dogs and bred down in size by the Chinese who put them on the merchant ships to hunt the vermin.
Margaret and I wanted a big celebration for our 25th wedding anniversary and we eventually settled on a ten day Tanzania Safari created by Africa Dream Safaris. We wanted luxury as well as game drives and so ADS selected the most stunning lodges for our trip. There were no issues with altering the trip to make it exactly how we wanted it, but what we didn’t realize is that the whole trip would be far better than we’d even imagined!
Although our trip officially started at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, for us it began with a flight from Arusha to the north west Serengeti – and even on this flight we saw Zebra and Ostrich on the edge of the runway!
Russell, our ADS driver, met us when we landed, and drove us to our first lodging at Bushtops Serengeti. But this first drive was through the beautiful Serengeti, seeing Zebra, Giraffe, Hippos, Wildebeest, Buffalo, and even Lions; so even before we’d “arrived” we’d had an amazing drive.
Our second days drive took us temporarily into Kenya and offered our first views of Elephants. At first we saw one Elephant in the distance; then later a family group very active just yards away!
Throughout our Safari, this kept occurring – we’d see a great view of animals, and later a better view, and then even better still. Multiple times our view went from needing the provided binoculars, to being so close that a phone camera took National Geographic quality photos!
On our third day we transferred from the North East Serengeti to Central, at the Elewana Pioneer camp. Here our lodging was more tented but still very luxurious with king size bed, private shower, electric lighting…
The transfer drive was amazing as we drove through typical Serengeti plains, to more forested areas, hilly areas – and all the time seeing a constant variety of animals including our first Leopard, again just a few feet from the road. We were stunned too by the sight of eight Lions in a tree.
The Pioneer camp offered very fast internet too, giving a chance to share our experience with friends and family.
Another day, another drive – our first Cheetahs, Baboons trying to chase a Leopard from it’s tree, a pride of 16 Lions, and Elephants on top of rocks!
Our next lodge was Singita Faru Faru in the private Grumeti reserve, which forced us to separate from Russell and the ADS vehicle, and switch to the lodges transport. This change meant sharing the vehicle with other people, being unable to stand for the best views; but instead the vehicle was able to go off the roads which gave our very closest views of animals.
In the Grumeti reserve we also took an interesting walking tour, and an early morning balloon ride which included flying over a herd of more than 100 Elephants.
From Grumeti we flew to Manyara and met back with Russell who drove us to our last lodging at the incredible Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. We clearly had saved the best for last as this lodge has amazing cottage style rooms, constant friendship from the staff, and spectacular views of the crater!
Our drive into the Ngorongoro Crater was exhilarating and once again there were game views almost everywhere. We saw our only Black Rhino view here, rather too distant for good photos but with a calf to make the view more special. Also here we saw our only kill – a “cackle” of Hyena trapped and drowned a lost Buffalo calf but then a nearby Lion pride moved in and took over the kill, dragging it from the water.
Our final day driving from Ngorongoro back to Arusha detoured through the Lake Manyara Park for final views of Zebra, Buffalo, Elephants, Baboons, as well as hundreds of Pelicans.
Other than the end of our trip, there really were no negatives. We’d been concerned before we left USA about insects / bites, about how distant our views would be, about weather / temperature. None of these were an issue.
Insects were almost non-existent on the game drives and lodgings, except at Singita Faru Faru where they were very noticeable at dinner – the choice was lights that attracted them, or darkness with no way to see what you were eating! For some reason many flying insects also got into our room, though the net around our bed kept them from being too annoying.
Temperatures were perfect; during the hot day time the canopy of our ADS vehicle kept us shaded – at night because our Lodgings were all 4,000-5,000 feet altitude, temperatures dropped to very comfortable low 60s or even 50s. On our early morning drive at the Grumeti reserve we definitely needed the provided blankets.
As for the views, almost all animals were seen at least some of the time less than 50 feet from the vehicle – and some views were much closer. I was very pleased with my Nikon Coolpix P900 camera with it’s 2000mm equivalent maximum zoom, but I was also very pleased with the video and photos I was able to take from my iPhone, sometimes.
Our two days at the Singita lodging gave us a flavor of what Safari trips are like from companies other than ADS. With ADS, Russell was our personal driver and guide; he took us where and when we wanted and was a constant friend, providing a major enhancement to our vacation.
We would have been less thrilled with having to share our drives, obey set times and have less control over our days. Additionally, the experience of driving rather than flying from one lodging to another seemed to be a significant benefit in being able to see the changing terrain from one part of Serengeti to another.
Thank you Michael for creating our special trip, and Russell for making it so wonderful!
Ian and Margaret C.
Winter Garden, FL
Safari Dates: November 28, 2016 to December 7, 2016
P.S. It’s hard sometimes when watching a Safari program on television to get a realistic idea of what a Safari drive is like. So here I’ve put together a few videos taken during our trip, using just my iPhone (so these views are close to the truck, not zoomed in from far away!) You can see that the terrain is sometimes grass plain, sometimes more full of trees, sometimes no animals visible and sometimes you have to stop because the animals are blocking the road!
Driving in the Serengeti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXkr2o-6gW4