I am 71 years old, so I knew this trip would be physically and mentally difficult for me. My children called Michael Wishner a saint for answering my 100 or so anxious emails. The bumpy roads, all the shots, brushing our teeth with bottled water, upset stomach, dust despite the fact that we purposely traveled in April, the so called wet season, which was dry, no make-up, no hair dryers at most of the camps or AC which I happen to like, 7 airplane rides and last but not least, proximity to wild animals!
But what an experience to share with my children and grandsons. My older grandson, at 16, wasn’t thrilled in the beginning because he only loves sports and isn’t particularly interested in animals. But our collective enthusiasm got to him in the end.
Ellison, our dedicated driver/guide was hard working and knowledgeable and could relate to all of us, even sports figures and teams with our sports guy. We all laughed a lot. We made up things like animal bingo which succeeded in capturing the boys’ imagination and competitiveness and Ellison even taught us a Swahili song.
We pointed out animals using a clock face- wildebeests at 3 o’clock (although I often mixed up 3 with 9), the kids often stood up in the jeep even when it was moving which I didn’t dare do.
We loved our accommodations, all very different from canvas tents in the middle of nowhere with netted beds and a shower that had to be filled with warm water, to a lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. There was champagne and fruit waiting for us at each different camp. But the animals were astounding.
We watched in horror as two male lions killed a hyena just for sport- the first time Ellison had ever seen male lions kill. We watched a couple pair of lions mate and a mother cheetah kill a baby gazelle which was only a snack for herself and her two nearly grown cubs.
I loved my grandsons’ laughter at the antics of Baboons and we got in line with other jeeps to watch a Black Rhino meander around looking for a break among the jeeps so he could cross our road. We were chased by an elephant and raced ostriches. We really bonded over “bush bathrooms,” peeing at the back of the jeep when our driver deemed it safe!
And the beautiful Massai people with their colorful clothing, crafty beaded jewelry and herds of cattle and goats shepherded by their children in lion country!
It was surely the trip of a lifetime, one we will never forget!
Safari Dates: April 10, 2017 to April 17, 2017
The short version is that everyone felt the safari exceeded all of our expectations.
Our flights were all on time, just very long, and our reserved seats were not changed. We all managed to get by with just carry on luggage, so we don’t know if there would have been any issues with checked baggage.
The meet and greet with Mattias went smoothly at both ends. Without ADS’ help to smooth things, the visa process looked like a nightmare for everyone else. The extra day in Arusha was a wise decision. Dinner at Onsea House was wonderful. You should give it a try on your next visit.
The safari itself was just breathtaking in the diversity of the wildlife; the animals, the birds, the vistas, the landscape—all just amazing. Our driver/guide, Michael, was/is a treasure. His knowledge of everything about the Serengeti is encyclopedic. We were lucky to be able to have meals with him at the Lake Masek lodge and he was a wonderful resource to learn about Tanzania and its people. He has excellent language skills and an engaging personality. You are lucky to have him on your team.
All the lodges were great; Ngorongoro Serena, Lake Masek and Mbuzi Mawe. The staffs at each were amazing; friendly and helpful. The Sundowner on our last night at Mbuzi Mawe was a major surprise. We thought the whole camp was invited, so we were astonished to learn that ADS had arranged it just for us. Major bonus points for that.
One heads up for your team regarding the Masai clubs you gave us upon arrival. They were beautiful but they were confiscated in Amsterdam because they were in our carry on bags. So, you should be aware, if you are not already, that they can only come home in checked baggage.
Thank you for all your help in setting up this great adventure for us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it again at some point in the future.
Westfield, New Jersey
Safari Dates: April 7, 2017 – April 15, 2017
I was fortunate enough to conduct a relatively short safari to the Serengeti with my family this April. Working for ADS, I’ve taken a number of safaris over the years but this was one of my best ones yet. We enjoyed four nights at Seronera Sametu Camp, an outstanding little bush camp that sits right at the edge of the famous Serengeti plains. This area is known as the big cat capital of Africa and I can’t imagine a better wildlife viewing experience anywhere in Africa.
What I love about this area (besides the lion and cheetah viewing) is that due to its unique location at the woodlands-plains boundary, it contains an abundance of species that live in both habitats. From woodlands species such as giraffe, elephant and leopard to plains species such as gazelle, warthog and cheetah, the area contains an incredible diversity of wildlife far from the main tourist areas (we would see no more than one or two other vehicles the entire day).
Now April is arguably one of the best months of the year for wildlife viewing but this area is superb year-round and enjoys low visitor concentrations whether the dry season or green season. It’s also a great idea while staying at Seronera Sametu Camp to book a field talk with the Serengeti Lion Project or Serengeti Cheetah Project. Researchers from each project offer a presentation in the evening at the main lodge tent and then join guests for dinner afterwards.
Here’s a selection of photos from the safari (I’ve include region links where applicable):
Fourteen cubs from the the Maasai Kopjes pride of the Central Serengeti. I’ve never seen so many lion cubs of the same age together! There were only three adult females taking care of all these cubs. It was an incredible sight to behold!
Elephants along the Seronera River in the Central Serengeti.
Enjoying the elephant viewing!
This huge pride was near the hippo pool in the Simba Kopjes area (Central Serengeti). There were 20 lions total and all with extended bellies (they must have eaten well the night before).
We parked here for several hours just feet from this lion pride.
The wildebeest migration just north of Naabi Hill in the South Serengeti.
Another massive herd of wildebeest in the five hills area just to the west of Sametu Kopjes (East Serengeti).
Male and female lions near Sametu Kopjes. These are two different pairs of courting lions.
S’mores at Sametu Camp
We came across a group of spotted hyenas finishing off a wildebeest kill close to camp.
Leopard along the Seronera River
Looking for leopards…we didn’t have much luck on this trip with leopard sightings.
Large male cheetah at Gol Kopjes in the Eastern Serengeti
Female cheetah with gazelle kill at Gol Kopjes.
Enjoying the sights at the Retina Hippo Pool in the Central Serengeti
We came across this idyllic waterhole out on the eastern plains between Sametu and Gol Kopjes…stunning!
Elephants and Impalas in Seronera Valley
Taking a well earned break from the vehicle for some family friendly activities
Nobody noticed this gazelle leg until later. Was it from a martial eagle or leopard kill? We never found out.
The dab…enough said.
One of the Barafu Cheetahs…beautiful!
- The Wishner Family