Quote of the Week: Gina Cross

My adventure with African Dream Safaris was already [a few] months ago. There are times when I can’t remember what I did just a few days ago, so it’s amazing to me how much of each day on the safari is still imprinted on my memory – as if it were yesterday!

The flight into the central Serengeti, excitedly spotting the first giraffes and elephants from the altitude of the plane, meeting our Guides, and then settling into our vehicles for the drives was just the start. And the vehicles were equipped with excellent binoculars – we each had our own! We were so excited to see our first animal – a hyena – right by the road. We had no idea what was to come. A few monkeys and elephants later, there it was – a leopard sleeping in the tree – so close to the road I barely needed to use my zoom – except to study the spots! And this was all before lunch. A second leopard relaxing on the trunk of a fallen tree was our surprise in the afternoon. The week continued much the same.

Zebras playing in a big puddle of water, a pair of leopards guarding their kill, a mother cheetah teaching her three cubs how to hunt, kill, and then eat a baby gazelle, a failed chase by a male lion to catch a baby wildebeest, baby lion cubs playing while the adults basked in the sun, these are just a few more spectacular things we saw. My favorite was looking eye to eye with a cheetah cub that had jumped on the hood of our van after feasting on its recent kill. He played with the windshield wiper, and stuck his head in our window! I almost wanted to pet his head once my fear subsided a bit. He just looked so cute (see the photos). At one point we were surrounded on all sides by herds of zebras and wildebeests walking, trotting, and running, playfully kicking each other as they migrated towards the water. We drove alongside a mean honey badger and a busy dung beetle, and saw and discovered so much more.

Most of this was made possible by our outstanding guides we had and the way that ADS organizes its drives. Both guides knew exactly where to go and when to see the best action. One of them had grown up in and around the Serengeti. We went at our own pace – no restaurant or lodge expecting us at any particular time. If we saw something amazing or curious, we could stay and watch whatever it was until we were done watching, or the animals had left or fallen asleep – the schedule was completely up to us. My group was all about the animals so we were on the road by 6:30am, ate lunch from a box (always delicious and plentiful), used “bush” bathrooms when the guides felt it was safe, and returned to or arrived at our lodge for the evening around 6 or 6:30pm. Twice we added a boxed breakfast and left at 6am. The best action in the wild is in these early morning hours.

The lodges were wonderful and the staffs were courteous and gracious. I’m usually a budget traveler, so for me this was an expensive trip – but I’ve never regretted spending the extra money. I’ve yet to tire of my photos, my journal, talking to my friends, and like I said earlier – the memories are still fresh in my mind.

This was my second safari. By lunch on the first day I told my companions that we had already surpassed anything I had seen on the first one. This was a trip of a lifetime!

Gina Cross
April 2011

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