Without a hint of change in his behavior in more than 30 minutes, the Wildebeest on point, without warning, leaps into the Mara River, working his way across, ever cautious of the hazards lurking beneath the murky water. It was the beginning for thousands of Wildebeest that would follow his lead over the next 12 minutes.
They crossed with great haste, swimming through the neck high water, with their hoofs slipping and sliding on the large boulders which littered the river, only slowing when they met firm ground on the far side of the Mara River. They created their own “river”, which flowed perpendicular to the Mara River, a truly wondrous sight to behold.
The Black Rhino lay sleeping, while a small herd of 5 elephants browsed 200 yards in the distance. The Elephant’s grazing path, from Acacia tree to Acacia tree, was leading them directly towards the slumbering Rhino. Many minutes passed, and the Elephant closed their distance to the Rhino…it was only a matter of time before the Rhino would detect them.
At 50 yards, the Rhino sensed their presence and rose to her feet, facing menacingly in the Elephant’s direction. As quickly as she rose to her feet, a small, heretofore unseen 6 week old baby Rhino appeared on her far side. Discretion being the better part of valor, the Rhino mother and her “tiny” offspring, gave way to the approaching Elephants, and briskly moved to the western horizon, avoiding a conflict which could have resulted in injury to her baby. A most unique find, and totally unexpected.
A mature Eland lies neck deep in a small stream trapped by a pride of Lion. It appears to have a broken, right front leg…its hind quarters are severely raked by lion claws, but it is determined to avoid the pride of 7 Lion which surround it. Periodically, it would would shift its position, in the hope of extracting itself from its dire predicament, but the pride would quickly counter, with a blocking move of their own. Although the Eland was extremely determined to live, its fate was sealed by the Lion the following day, as they were never going to relinquish such a plentiful bounty.
Most people on Safari would have been ecstatic to have experienced any one of the first three events I described above, during the course of their entire Safari. This was our 4th Safari with ADS, and our expectations were very high. Needless to say, we were not disappointed!
All of the happenings I described above, occurred on our first Safari day in the northern Serengeti…yes, the first day. What may appear as completely serendipitous events, could not have been witnessed without exceptional pre-Safari planning, and a Safari guide with a great deal of knowledge and experience of the African bush. These are attributes we have come to expect, and thoroughly appreciate, when using ADS for our Safari adventures.
Our primary goal of this Safari, was to partake in a Mara a River crossing. We witnessed two additional crossings, each possessing its own uniqueness and mayhem, as crocodiles attacked Wildebeest, as they jostled their way through the muddied waters.
Our first Wildebeest river crossing experience, was eerily calculated by our outstanding guide Arnold, predicting their movements throughout the morning as the Wildebeest browsed the Mara River grasses. We were only 1 of 3 vehicles which witnessed the thousands of Wildebeest which surged across the Mara that mid-day, a first time experience for us, which is deeply etched into our memories.
Exciting events continued to unfold for us throughout our 13 day Safari:
- 2 juvenile Green Mambas weaving their way through the thorns of an Acacia tree
- Numerous tree climbing Lions
- A pride of 10 Lions hunting a zebra mid-day, devouring it in 20 minutes
- A Cheetah mother, and 2 yearling cub stumbling upon some resting Lion, almost meeting an untimely end to their young lives
- A mother Leopard and her young cub lounging on a very large Kopje
- Martial Eagles predartory attack on Guinea Fowl and a newborn Thompson’s Gazelle
- 3 adorable newborn Lion cubs, experiencing their first weeks in the wilds of the Serengeti
- Encountering 4 new species of animals, including the Oryx, an almost mystical creature for this part of Tanzania.
My professional, wildlife photography portfolio, has practically doubled from this Safari alone, a further testament to ADS’s commitment to the wildlife/nature photographer, and their specific technical needs.
All of our Lodge accommodations, from the Hatari Lodge in Arusha Park, to our standout favorite from our 4 Safaris, Swala, were outstanding. We can highly recommend the walking safari at Swala as well, which is truly an adventure all unto itself! From the Maasai Warriors which guard the tented lodges during the night, to the incredible dynamic vistas which expand before you on a daily basis, Tanzania is a truly an exotic and magical country which begs to be explored.
Asante Sana Arnold, and to all of the ADS staff for making our 4th Safari, the most memorable yet. (yet) as in we are already planning our 5th Safari with ADS.
Peter and Jody A.
Safari Dates: August 27, 2015 to September 9, 2015
From July 29 to August 9, 2015 my husband and I were able to make possible our dream of going on a photography safari. We want to thank Africa Dreams for making possible our humbling experience in Tanzania.
The experience started with the planning process and the advice of Dawn who was key in helping us to put together a magical blend of landscape, wildlife and culture. We went to Northern Tanzania, visited the Northern and Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire parks. We stopped at the Oldupai Gorge for an informal education session about the footprints of ancient human ancestors.
The undoubted highlight of the journey was our flight in the balloon over the Seronera Valley and the visit to a Masai Village near Lobo valley. The tented camps and lodges offered the combination of the rustic flavor of the African Savanna with the adequate comfort to rest from long game drives and the African massage form the unpaved roads. We met amazing people everywhere that made our trip completely rewarding.
Our guide Peter was amazing, shared his vast knowledge of not only the wildlife but also of the birds and trees. We started our game drives before the sun raised and were able to keep going almost until the sunsets. Within the first few hours we spotted tons of animals, we saw thousands wildebeest crossing the Mara river, graceful impalas, colorful zebras, majestic elephants with their flapping ears, hippos floundering in the shallows of the water, tall yet gentle giraffes, bushbucks, ostriches, baboons, warthogs, lions, many different kinds of beautiful birds, and few cheetahs, leopards and rhinos!
The most adorable were the baby animals! It was so amazing seeing the largest cats and wild action so close. We saw a group of elephants that was not happy to see some lions in their territory and chased them, crocodiles attacking some wildebeest when crossing the river and more. It was a truly exhilarating experience!
To us this was the trip of our life that touched our hearts in a profound way. An experience we will never forget. We met people that are forever now etched in our memory. This was a truly dreamed journey difficult to put into words that not even 10.000 pictures we took can describe. Many thanks Africa Dreams team!
Ana and Gabriel C.
Safari Dates: July 29, 2015 to August 9, 2015
Our eight-day safari with ADS was the trip of a lifetime for my family and me. I cannot say enough about the company, people and experiences ADS delivered to us for this trip. We did a six-day safari in the Serengeti and two days at the Ngorongoro Crater. The trip was perfect. It surpassed all of our expectations. We made this trip with our family of six, my wife’s parents, and my brother. From the start of the trip to the final hours at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, we had an incredible experience that we will never forget. I am so pleased to be able share some details of our trip with anyone who will listen.
I have dreamed of an African safari since I was a teenager. I am now 48 years old and my dream finally came to fruition in July 2015. After months of planning, we finally arrived in Tanzania, Africa at the Kilimanjaro Airport. We were immediately greeted by Mathias, Precious, and Timmon. We felt comfortable from that moment until we were delivered back to the airport by the same group in addition to one of our Safari guides, Ema.
We flew on a bush plane to the Seronera Airstrip and our Safari began there. On the very first day, we saw a pride of lions, gazelles, leopards, topi, hippos, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, and zebras. We also met our guides, Arnold and Ema, with whom we would spend the next eight days and become fast friends. They were nothing short of incredible. They were knowledgeable, patient, experienced, and of course friendly.
We saw one lion pride on the first day with 17 lions. Naturally, we hoped and expected to see many African animals. What we were not prepared for, however, was the sheer number of animals in the Serengeti. At one point, Ema estimated that we were looking at over six hundred thousand wildebeests in the Massai Mara. Also, the vast space and size of the Serengeti is absolutely spectacular. Words cannot adequately describe the vastness of the space. We could see for miles in many directions with not a power line, telephone pole, cellular tower, or other indication of civilization to spoil the view. This was impressive to say the least.
Over the next seven days, we saw many of the same animals but also impala, warthogs, cheetahs, a rhino, jackals, crocodiles, wildebeests, vultures, storks, a python, a black mamba, and a rare treat, a caracal chasing a rabbit in the crater. The animals were 10, 20, and 30 yards away. Sometimes, they were just outside of our vehicle within an arms length.
Africa Dream Safaris set us up with accommodations that cannot possibly be rivaled. We stayed at the most luxurious lodge I can imagine in the middle of the Serengeti wilderness. We could see wildlife from our showers. The pool overlooked a watering hole at which elephants, zebras, baboons, waterbuck, and various other animals came to drink on our first night there. It seemed like African Disneyland to all of us. We had to laugh out loud because we did not know what else to do.
From that point forward, to our amazement, the lodging seemed to actually improve. It does not seem possible, but that is how we felt. We moved toward the north end of the Serengeti to catch the great migration. Our last night on the rim of the crater was the best night, according to some of my family. This was a tent lodge but we were not “roughing it.” We had hot showers, tent heaters, a four-course dinner, and friendly service. On that note, every single person we met along the way could not have been friendlier and more courteous to my family.
I cannot leave out that one night we sat atop a raised wooden deck while watching hippos below and a rainstorm moving across the hills of the Serengeti. I wish I could have a life-size painting of that scene because it was breathtaking.
Although every part of our trip was excellent, there were some high points that stick out in my mind. Near the Mara River, we watched a black rhino for about 30 minutes. Then, it started to approach one of our vehicles. It raised its tail and charged. Our expert guide, Arnold, immediately started the engine of the Land Cruiser and drove away skillfully. It is something we will never forget.
We also saw the crossing of the wildebeests at the Mara River. Emmanuel, our other expert guide, helped us get into a prime position to observe this spectacular event. The wildebeests were crossing from north to south. A small group of wildebeests came down river and started to cross right in front of us. My 16-year-old son exclaimed “Oh no, a crocodile.” At that point, an 18-foot Nile crocodile took down a 300-pound wildebeest in the middle of the river right before our eyes. The wildebeest never came up. The adrenaline in my family was flowing like I cannot recall. It was a truly unforgettable thing to witness.
What a Difference a Vowel Makes
On a humorous note, we learned the difference (the hard way) between two Swahili words. “Jambo” means hello in Swahili. For the first four or five days, about half of my family was saying “Jumbo” and half was saying “Jamba.” Finally, one of our guides sheepishly informed us that “Jamba” means flatulence. We all had a good laugh and made sure of the correct pronunciation from that point forward.
Final Words of Appreciation
As a father of four children, it was very special for me to take my wife and kids to Africa to experience my dream along with me. My eyes were treated to unbelievable visual displays every day if not every half hour. However, my ears were also treated to sounds that I must mention. I was able to hear my two daughters who are now 21 and 19 gasping with excitement as we saw each new animal. They would actually audibly suck in their breath in amazement. I have not heard that sound from them in over 10 years since they were little girls. I will never forget those sounds.
ADS truly helped me to fulfill my lifelong dream. The only problem for me now is deciding when to go back.
Kelly and Laura C.
Caroline, Courtney, Kyle and Luke
Safari Dates: July 27, 2015 to August 3, 2015