Our African Safari Journal

We wanted to follow up on the email you sent after our safari. We had a great time and plan on going again and booking through ADS since all of the details were perfect. As we talk with our family and friends, showing them some of the 6,500 pictures I took or the 20+ hours of video Mark shot and tell them have much fun we had and how exciting the trip was we always let them know that ADS planned it all. Thanks to Dawn and all of the ADS employees (especially Jonas) the trip was truly magnificent.

Mark and I have been back for about a month and we are still talking about it and how we want to go back or wish we were still there. Our safari was the best vacation we have ever had. Here are our highlights which started on June 18th:

Day 1 – Thanks to ADS once we landed in Kilimanjaro we breezed through customs and met the trusty ADS meet and greet team. The 50 minute ride to Mount Meru Resort was not bad at all since we did ask a lot of questions on the way. We had a light dinner then off to the room to get packed and set for the early morning flight into the Serengeti.

Day 2 – ADS picked us up at 7 am then off to the Arusha airport. The thing that I dreaded most was getting on that small plane which I had heard horror stories about, but it was not bad at all. We made one stop for a pick up and after 1 ½ hours we were on the ground and into the western Serengeti. We met our new friend, driver-guide Ellson and we were off. Within the first 30 minutes we saw 2 lionesses with 4 cubs, zebra, wildebeest, hippos and many birds. There were so many animals! The little black faced monkeys are so cute! We also saw baboons, crocodiles, dik dik, topis, gazelles and water buck. We arrived at the Serengeti Soroi and greeted with cool towels and fresh juice. After orientation we went to our hut for a quick shower and off to dinner. The place was very nice and dinner was good.

Day 3 – After the wakeup call with hot tea we left at 6 am what would we see today? Not far from the lodge Ellson spotted a leopard in a tree. After further investigation there was a hyena eating a wildebeest where the leopard had killed it earlier. There are so many impalas, zebras and topis we could not count them all. One of the highlights of the day was to see the great migration with wildebeest and zebras, one of the reasons we went to Tanzania. There were thousands of them, it was really cool. Giraffes right by the road then on to see about 50 hippos sunning on the bank. One baby Ellson said could not be any more than 2 months old. While we had our boxed breakfast we watched the wildebeest go up and down the banks of the river and the black faced monkeys played in the trees. More giraffes then on to see some really big crocodiles; one was at least 15 feet long. 3 lions were lounging in the shade while hyenas and vultures were finishing off a wildebeest. We also saw bush pigs, cape buffalos, gazelles, elephant’s, baboons and a tawny eagle. It was a great day in the Serengeti.

Day 4 – We started again at 6 am, we said hello to the leopard that we spotted yesterday and yes he was still in the same tree. We went to the central Serengeti today we again saw the great migrations a far as you could see were wildebeest and zebras running as past as they could, thousands of them. We did see 12 lions have their breakfast with some of the wildebeests. We saw so many lions today, everywhere, it must be mating season for them. Unbelievable; what do we see lions lying on a very large tree limb. As we followed a herd of 20 elephants to the river to get water and to cool down we thought that would be interesting but once we arrived at the river I thought I was in the Garden of Eden. There were about 200 hippos in and around the river, while many zebras were getting a drink across the river. Wildebeest, cranes, Egyptian geese, gazelles and topis were all there this was amazing. I did not want to leave. But we had to then not far away we saw about 200 cape buffalos crossing the road so we stopped and waited and they slowly moved. Some other things we saw that day were lilac breasted birds, helmeted guineas, black backed jackals, hornbills, red headed lizard, ostrich, great heron, saddle bill stork, marabou stork, ibis, white faced ducks, vultures, plovers, cheetahs, hyrax, hartebeest, bush buck, water buck, doves, parrots, go away bird, shrike and weevers. Does this get any better?

Day 5 – Again stated at 6 am and going to the central Serengeti, there were elephants standing next to the road and let us know that we were not welcome so we moved on. We saw a snake eagle, again zebra, wildebeest and impalas then dik diks, a tawny eagle and a lonely cape buffalo. While having breakfast there were so many birds of all colors many bright neon colors. We loved them. We moved on to see lions and topis, Ellson pulled us up under a tree to have lunch when what do we see? A cheetah lying under the tree so we decided to stay, eat in the vehicle so we could watch her. Funny to see a hyena in a water hole up to her neck with mud but Ellson explained that is how it helps her digest the bones they eat. We moved on to see two other cheetahs, one killed a baby thomsons gazelle and the other taunted another one. Seeing 8 lions, two males with dark mane, WOW! We moved to the kopies where lions were sunning themselves. Elephants and giraffes were spotted as we made our way to camp.

Day 6 – After breakfast we checked out the Soroi and went back to the central Serengeti. The Soroi was a nice place to stay but still needs a little more TLC with the employees as many do not speak English. The food was OK but then again we are in Tanzania. We saw many animals again today as we drove hours. It rained today and the road to the Seronera Sametu Camp was extremely muddy. Once we got there it was awesome. With only 5 tents there and we were the only one’s staying there that night so we got plenty of attention. We started out at the fire pit with cocktails and with a scare from a hyena that must have smelled dinner it started raining again so we moved in for dinner. Dinner was great especially the zucchini soup (my favorite overall by far the entire trip).

Day 7 – With a beautiful sunrise to start the day we ran into 10 hyenas as they finished up a zebra. The day was full of great things to see as we move from place to place; lion couples as they mate and baboons as they groom each other, the hippo pool which really did not smell very good but the numbers were awesome. Again we see the graceful cheetahs and many of the normal wildebeest, zebras and impalas. Dinner again was excellent.

Day 8 – We are still in the central Serengeti and just visited a cheetah with 5 cubs. The birds in Tanzania are so colorful and plenty. We are now at the Mbuzi Mawe Tented Lodge which is very nice. Enjoyed our evening cocktails and dinner.

Day 9 – We started again at 6 am for a morning game drive in the northern Serengeti. We saw a jackal and 2 bat eared fox, they are so cute. Mark spotted a cheetah then I spotted a male and female lion, the male’s mane was so full. We went on to have breakfast where there were so many banded mongoose. They were very curious but stayed their distance. There was nothing happening in the northern Serengeti so Ellson suggested we go back to camp and wait on an afternoon drive. We went back to the lodge today for lunch. While walking around camp we did see 3 klipspringers right next to some of the tents, they were just eating gracefully. We started back for an afternoon game drive. It has really been raining so everything was very muddy. We saw a serval close to the side of the road, under more investigation there was another one that had been killed on the side of the road. It kept meowing and even tried to wake the other one up. It was really sad but beautiful animals. We watched a leopard try to kill a wildebeest but he got kicked by the wildebeest and failed his attempt. We were about 10 feet from the leopard. As we were going back to camp there were three bat eared foxes in the middle of the road. They tried to outrun the vehicle; we all got a good laugh.

Day 10 – We left the Mbuzi Mawe today, but as we go out our tent there are two giraffes standing there eating, good morning. We are on our way out of the Serengeti. But before we do we see a hyena, male and female lions, cokes hartebeest and grants gazelle. It rained again so we did quite a bit of slipping and sliding around. We did see two cheetahs on a dead tree; we also visited the cheetah with her 4 cubs. On the way we did see some dik diks, lovebirds, an eagle, zebras, wildebeest, cape buffalo, vultures and black faced monkeys. We did see many Mosai villages and people on our way to the Ngorongoro crater. We did stop and see the Olduvai Gorge . Once there we took the 30 minute ride down to the crater. We saw 13 lions all lying down and a rhino with her baby. The numerous flamingos there that were told they fly in the morning and fly out in the evening, only to eat in the salt water lake. Accommodations were nice. Sunset was out of this world.

Day 11 – we started at 5:50 am and were the first to get into the crater, thanks to Ellson. It was very cold and foggy and actually misty. Down to the crater we did see a honey badger (looks like a skunk). We saw 10 of the lazy lions just resting. We had our breakfast on a hill but stayed in the vehicle since it was extremely windy. It finally cleared up around noon and we had lunch with many people by the lake. We did see 4 rhinos today but none were very close by. The elands were huge while we visited the couples for a while. We headed out of the crater and on to the Sopa Lodge for dinner. This lodge is more like a hotel with many people. It overlooks the crater and the sunsets are breathtaking. The bar area is very pretty with many hand carvings around the fireplace, walls and columns.

Day 12 – We headed out and on to Lake Manyara, we were not impressed with that area at all we did not see any animals. So we left and went to Tarangire. Yes we did see so many elephants here. We got to the Kikoti Tented lodge. The place was really nice but we were not impressed with the manager, bar tender or the food.

Day 13 – We started out at 6 am again and went to Tarangire, we could not get to the swamp area and did not see anything until around lunch time. We did see some common water bucks then went to have lunch. There were so many black faced monkeys around the eating area. People had left their boxes on the table to walk around and the monkeys stole their lunch. We did see a lion kill a zebra but she did not eat very much of it. Our last night of our game drive and we will really miss it.

Day 14 – We head out and stop by the Tarangire for one last look. We did see a baby giraffe; he was very young since he still had an umbilical cord hanging on his belly. A large male giraffe was really checking him out; we wondered if he was really new to the world. We stopped by the Cultural Heritage Center to pick out a few souvenirs. We did stop by another place but the prices were really high and did not get very much of a discount. The better priced items were at the Sopa Lodge in the Ngorongoro crater. When we go back to the Mount Meru Resort the day room was very relaxing, we had an early dinner . Ellson picked us up and took us to the airport. We will miss the animals but we plan on going again.

Again thanks to Dawn, Ellson and all of the exceptional ADS employees for all of their dedication and hard work which made our trip #1. When we go back we will ask for Ellson to be our driver-guide again since he knew everything about the land, animals and plants. For every question he had an answer. Now that we have been there we can plan our next trip to Tanzania and the Serengeti so Dawn I will contact you.

Mark & Donna Thomas
Calhoun, Louisiana
June 2012

2 Responses to Our African Safari Journal

  1. Sue P says:

    Your trip looks wonderful. We are looking forward to ours in Feb. Quick question, what zoom did you use? Your pictures are terrific.


    • Donna says:

      Hi Sue, Most of the time I used a 50-500mm zoom lense. You will need either a monipod or a beanbag (my mom made mine)to steady the camera/lense while you are shooting. Enjoy your trip. We plan on going again.

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