We Drove into a Pride of 35 Lions

Thank you ADS for an amazing, Tanzania Safari. Being a quintessential New Yorker, I must admit that I was initially skeptical when booking with ADS because I hadn’t met anyone in person and my entire transaction was over the phone / internet. However, from the moment we were greeted by the first ADS staff person upon our arrival until the day we were dropped off at the airport, we had nothing but a wonderful experience. Every ADS staff person that we encountered was courteous, knowledgeable and focused on our needs.

Our safari guide made sure that we experienced a trip of a lifetime. He was highly knowledgeable about the wild life (birds included), fauna and local culture. He was a perfect fit for me and my family because of his determination during our game drives. There was not one “uneventful” day during our 12 day safari (Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater. & Tarangire). It was as though he knew exactly where the animals would be each day! We had countless encounters with herds of elephants, pools of active hippos, traveling wildebeest, herds of giraffes, impalas, zebras, etc. We saw leopards and cheetahs but our highlight was the Lions!!

During one of our many exciting game drives in the Serengeti, we came around a turn and drove directly under a rock with two lionesses peering over us! It was the most frightening and exciting experience of my life. That encounter was topped a few days later when we drove into a pride of 35 lions (15 were cubs!). There was very little distance between our vehicle and the lions! I could go on and on describing each of our exciting days.

Although we traveled during the dry season, the Serengeti was remarkably still green and we witnessed a great deal of the wildebeest migration. There were times that we were the only vehicle on the road and it was quite nice because it made for better viewing and we were not covered in so much dust. Our vehicle was very spacious, clean and comfortable and the open roof top allowed for excellent photo opportunities. It was always well-stocked with water and soft drinks. The customizable, private safari experience was a good choice for us as we could plan our days out as we wanted and not have to deal with a planned schedule or travelers that preferred to go back to the camps/lodges for lunch. We ate our lunches and some breakfasts in the bush. I was amazed at the quality and quantity of the picnics or boxed meals. Our dinners were excellent and filling and the wine selections were outstanding. It was also a pleasure to have freshly brewed coffee brought to us each morning as part of our wake up call.

The lodges and camps that we stayed at were all outstanding and quite luxurious. The service was impeccable as the staff went above and beyond to make us feel safe and comfortable. During the night, we could hear animals rustling by our tents. At Migration Tented Lodge on the Grumeti River, hippos would come up at night to graze and we could hear them munching ….one night our tent was surrounded! It was such an exciting experience.

We visited a Tanzanian School/Orphanage, and the FAME medical clinic. These were all eye opening experiences and I’m happy that we had the opportunity to visit these places. It’s truly incredible to see how many people devote their lives to wonderful causes. We also visited a Massai village which was a tremendous cultural experience.

Our first safari adventure was incredible and it definitely won’t be our last. ADS does a great job and upon speaking to fellow travelers using other companies, we were constantly reassured that we made the right decision. No changing of drivers, full attention to detail with well thought out itineraries, no overcrowded vehicles and highly knowledgeable staff.

Thank you again!

Julianne Recine and Family
New York, NY
July 2011

3 Responses to We Drove into a Pride of 35 Lions

  1. kelly says:

    I have to children 8 & 17. I’m sure the safety of their guests is extremely important to AD but the hippos outside your tent. Didn’t that scare you just a little?

  2. kelly says:

    I know the animals are all around you, and that’s what you want from a trip like this. Are there AD employees on watch all night?

  3. Sharon says:

    Hi kelly and thanks so much for your questions. Rest assured that our Private Luxury Camps are 100% safe. ADS belongs to TATO (The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators), which a licensed organization for more than 100 hundred Tanzanian companies. Tens of thousands of folks just like you choose camping type experience in the Serengeti each year through various companies like ADS. There has not been one single incident in the last 45 years. After in an incident in 1962 involving campers sleeping in under the open sky (without a tent) new safety measures with enacted including the obvious rule that you must sleep in a self enclosed tent. We have enjoyed a remarkable safety record in the Serengeti. I’m not sure of the #’s of the last 45 years but last year over 200,000 people visited the Serengeti and many of those chose a camping type experience for at least part of their itinerary.

    Keep in mind that most companies operate more budget type camping with very small pop up tents and even some of the larger ones have detached bathrooms where the clients have to leave the tent to use the loo. Even with these smaller tents that are exposed, the safety record is perfect.

    The proof is in the pudding so to speak but here is a list of specific steps we take to ensure your safety while enjoying one of our exclusive luxury camps:

    1. We have an ‘Askari’ (Guard in Swahili) that stays up all night and watches over the campsite.

    2. You have lanterns outside of each tent that burn all night long.

    3. You are sealed up in your tent when you go to sleep at night by your private staff. You do not need to leave your tent at night as everything is inside (bathroom, shower, reading lights, wash basin, etc.)

    4. The camp staff escorts to and from your sleeping tent for dinner, etc.

    5. Even though it is completely safe, some guests may be irrationally frightened and your guide will park the land rover in front of your tent. This seems to be reassuring for folks.

    As to the psychological reason why wild animals don’t go inside the tents, there is much debate over this ever since I can remember. I think there are several reasons as to why:

    1. Wild animals view a tent as an impenetrable barrier. Even though it is just canvas, they seem to not realize this except for small monkeys that cleverly open up the zippers but this is just a rare annoyance during the day.

    2. Unlike bears in Yellowstone for example, the animals of Africa remain completely wild and they do not associate human beings with food. In fact they seem to recognize us as top predators.

    3. The large predators of the Serengeti (lions, hyenas, leopards) do not view people as prey. Again, they view us as a top predator.

    Every now and then (perhaps 1 out of 200 guests) we get some one that is really scared when camping. Perhaps there is large lion pride at night close by that is being very vocal (roaring, etc.). For most people, this is the highlight of their trip, but every now and then this rubs someone the wrong way even though they rationally know that they are completely safe. If this did happen, we would move those types of persons to a nearby lodge.

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