Posts From February 2013

It Was A Trip Of A Lifetime

We have been back in the states for just over a week with Tanzania withdrawal happening big time for Bob and me. Flying into LAX at rush hour was a jolt of a homecoming after our weeks on safari where the biggest traffic jam was the million wildebeest descending on our safari camp our last days in the Serengeti.

First and foremost we want to thank you Dawn for being our cheerleader, our ear to listen with pre trip questions and trepidations, plus our coach in helping us decide the best trip for our group of eight Californians. You were always available with informative answers by phone and email, even in the middle of that freak UK snowstorm where many of us were trying to make our connections. Dawn you were always pleasant and so patient. Bob and I know we asked the same questions several times with detailed informative answers at all times. So huge kudos to you and your staff as our African Dream Safaris adventure ranks in the top trips of our life and Bob and I have been to Africa many times and on safari many times.

JP and Ellson were fantastic guides, funny, kind, always had great anecdotal stories and were so knowledgeable about Tanzanian flora and fauna. Ultimate getlemen and ultimate breakfast and lunch destination planners…oh the views and the spots we stopped for JP’s great coffee and Ellson’s table or should I say hood setting of the gourmet box lodge lunches (we did not lose weight) with panoramas that rival the seven wonders of the world. Both guides made our trip the most special.. Please thank them for us, especially for their patience with my always wanting one more shot to the point we always drove away from wildlife viewings with my camera clicking. Please convey to Ellson and JP if they ever visit the states they are welcome at our house where we we will be ready Alibabas (an inside joke) to guide them through the streets of San Diego and surrounding areas.

I asked Bob about his favorite moment of our 17 day trip. He readily recounted a trek late one afternoon in JP’s truck when we discovered a just fallen zebra near the Lake Masek Lodge. Our truck came upon the zebra moments after its demise and its body was already surrounded by a vociferous hyena and many vultures. With this being our first kill observation in all of our many safaris we were both horrified but interested in seeing “the circle of life” play out. Unsure if the zebra died of natural causes or was brought down by a predator, maybe the hyena, as we missed its death by moments, we watched as the hyena tore into the underbelly of this seeming healthy viral zebra with the vultures creeping in from the other sides of the body.

As we observed the hyena rip the zebra apart we heard a solitary zebra braying (if thats the right noise for frantic zebra speak) and witnessed the same zebra galloping madly from area to area searching for its fallen zebra companion. Oh the sadness and despair this zebra was communicating both in its body language and its brays were heart breaking. Coincidentally as the hyena stole a piece of the zebras innards away from the carcass and began to slink away, either to bury it for future consumption or for its cubs, the desolate zebra spied its dead friend with the hyena sneaking away.

That upset zebra spun around, ears back, lips curled and teeth clenched, gave chase to that hyena and delivered a beating of its lifetime, not just once but twice. We witnessed clouds of dust with hyena fur flying. Afterwards we found grace with what looked liked the good guy,the zebra, getting a bit of justice. As part of our image submissions I have sent an image of the hyena,vultures and the fallen zebra as well as an image (blown up and grainy it was at a distance by the time I got my wits about me to take the picture) of the zebra chasing the hyena.

As for me, it was all wonderful. Every day my brain was on overload of the unbelievable sightings which came fast and furious. As an avid photographer I honestly did not know which side of the vehicle to watch as picture moments collided with each other with my taking over 8,000 images. Whew!!!

Great moments for me included, but were not-limited to: baby elephants playing dunk and spray with each other-for over an hour in a water pool; a lioness climbing a tree after a big breakfast of cape buffalo her swollen overfed belly hanging from a limb as a handsome suitor from her pride roared and scratched at the base of her tree, where she ignored his amorous pleas; seeing 11 Cheetahs in one day, ranging from a solitary family unit, to the two brothers-Espresso and Cappuccino and mothers with cubs, including a female with three cubs. These Cheetah sightings concluded with one gazelle kill and two missed kills, wow wild times on the Serengeti.

Other sighting favorites included those quiet moments of a zebra drinking water, its reflection as beautiful as the early morning light; a pride of 25 lions most of them youngsters, some still nursing, playing tag and rivaling any hilarious wrestling match especially when the item of interest and covet being a half dead bush; a raft of hippos that covered part of a river with so many hippos and their babies and hippo antics that we couldn’t stop laughing.

And I can’t forget the migration. OMG…so many wildebeest, so many zebra, so little time. And it all happened around our safari camp with wildebeest as far as the eye could see. But, I think my favorite moments were observing the pure size, raw beauty and great landscapes coupled with the beautiful light and angry magnificent storms that raced through the plains plus the myriads of other animals, birds, reptiles and bugs. Even the dung beetle with its comedic march and its pending presentation of perfect balls of round dung to its mate found a place in my heart!!!

Dawn, thank you and all the African Dream Safari staff for our memorable, fun and soul touching adventures. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Fondly,

Bob and Maggie B.
Poway, California
Safari Dates: January 22, 2013 to February 3, 2013

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Our guide was a living encyclopedia who must have 20/10 vision

Our safari adventure was a year in planning. We checked several tour companies, researched brochures and finally decided that we wanted to work with ADS. Sharon, our consultant, was so informative and worked with us to customize our itinerary. She gave us some really great advice, such as going with a backpack instead of checking through our luggage with KLM.

We left on our much anticipated adventure with a little “what ifs” and a lot of excitement. As soon as we stepped off the plane we were treated as VIPs. Our visa had been pre- handled, no luggage to collect and we were whisked out of the airport where the “meet & greet” staff met us and ushered us off to our beautiful Mt. Meru Resort. Everything went according to plan, there was nothing for us do. We took an extra day in Arusha where we toured the city and bought school supplies which we got to personally hand out to the children at a local school. The teachers and children were so appreciative, lots of smiles all around.

The next day we left on our Bush plane and then our safari began. Our guide was Ally – a living encyclopedia who must have 20/10 vision. He could spot a lion in the distance, a leopard in a tree dining on her fresh catch, a mother wildebeest who had just delivered her baby and warned us that a pride of lions were about to go after a buffalo who had separated from the herd to have her baby. He even found the exact spot where the wildebeest & zebras were migrating. He answered all our questions and seemed to enjoy every moment with us. His enthusiasm never wavered, he became our lifeline to the sounds and smells and panorama of the Serengeti. We visited a Masai village and learned much about the culture of these nomadic people.

Our camps and lodges were wonderful. The food was great. We especially loved the Masek Under Canvas Tented Camp & Lemala Ndutu Camp where we heard lions roaring at night, had a zebra outside out tent welcoming us in the morning & baboons racing all about. The bucket showers were a kick & the highlight were the “Bush TV”- sitting by the campfire at night staring up at a majestic night sky flooded with stars.

A highlight of our trip was our visit to FAME where we got to meet Dr, Frank & Mama Susan and see first hand the wonderful work they are doing bring preventative care to the local people. We saw the new hospital and first class operating rooms and met many of the staff. We were truly inspired and applaud ADS for their sponsorship of something that is so needed in this part of the world.

And lastly, unlike other tour companies who are finished with you when the “trip is over”, we arrived home to a beautiful “Welcome Home” e-mail and beautiful postcard. We will never forget this trip…it may have been short, but the memories will last a lifetime. Thank you ADS, Ally, Sharon and Michael.

ASANTE SANA,

Gail B. and Sue P.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Safari Dates: February 5, 2013 to February 12, 2013

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Leopards, Lions, Cheetahs, Hippos, Giraffes – To Name A Few

We just returned from 13 days (Jan 21-Feb 3) on a clockwise trip by land from Arusha to Tarangire (Swala), Ngorongoro (Crater Lodge), Lake Masek, then to Serengeti staying at the Four Seasons and finally Kusini Tented Lodge.

We were four couples with two great driver-guides: JP and Ellson. We experienced the amazing wildlife diversity (lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, giraffes—to name a few). And we were delighted with the abundance and variety of the birds (Tawny Eagle, Grey-crowned Crane, Secretary Bird, African Spoonbill, Kori Bustard, Golden-breasted Starling, Grey-headed Kingfisher, and Northern Masked Weaver).

Pictures were taken with a Nikon D600/28-300mm Nikkor and a Nikon D300S/18-300mm Nikkor lens. We found in most instances these zooms met our needs. We recommend bringing a GPS camera adaptor (we used Nikon GP1) because it identifies photo locations (see last picture).

We enjoyed the variety of lodging with various overnight visitors (buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and competing lions), the good food, and attentive service. One of our high points was seeing the migration both from our vehicles as well as flying out on our final day. Zebra and Wildebeest as far as the eye could see.

Dawn Anderson’s planning and pre-trip suggestions and answers to our many questions helped make this a wonderful life-time experience.

Mark D. and John O.
Altadena, California

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African Safari Tours – Itinerary Tip #2

Planning an african safari to the Serengeti, East Africa is a complicated endeavor. The Serengeti National Park is an enormous ecosystem (roughly the size of Massachusetts). Though the park is arguably the finest african safari destination in all of Africa due to its large concentrations and diversity of wildlife, the vast distances makes maximizing game viewing an inherent challenge. Safari tours to Tanzania offer seemingly limitless options so below are some quick planning tips to help one develop the best itinerary possible: #2. The second most important component of any well balanced travel itinerary is to add an additional two nights on safari to a different region of the Serengeti (i.e. in addition to the central region) to capture the migratory animals namely the famous great migration, which describes the seasonal movements of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and eland. From December to April, the southern plains are the place to be and from July to November a stay in the northern woodlands will put you close to the action. During the transitional months in May and June, the western Serengeti offers the best location to view the migratory herds. Stay tuned for african safari trip recommendation #3!

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Serengeti Lion Report – January 2013

Africa Dream Safaris helps fund the Serengeti Lion Project’s ongoing conservation efforts. In turn, periodic reports are prepared exclusively for Africa Dream Safaris by the on-site researchers for the Serengeti Lion Project. So you won’t find this info anywhere else!

Since there are MANY lion prides in the Serengeti, we picked 6 specific study prides to focus on. Talk about having the inside scoop! These Serengeti Lion Project researchers live, sleep, and work out in the bush every single day, so they are able to offer invaluable information about the location and adventures of our favorite lions.

Reading like a soap opera at times, we think you will also enjoy the real-life drama and adventures of these awesome animals as they live, hunt, and raise their families together in the harsh African wilderness.

Please see below for the current report for January 2013:

The Transect Pride has been difficult to see lately. This despite the fact that they have been hanging around the vicinity of our house. The reason is that they are having new cubs that they hide among the rock at the research centre. So far they haven’t really introduced us to the cubs, but we have seen at least eight of them. Possibly there are more. While having new small cubs to care for the mothers don’t want to have to take care of the 17 now 2.5 year old youngsters. So they are currently on their own. 13 of them are males and will have to leave eventually anyway to find their own territories. The four female youngsters might start a new pride or later be recruited back into their mothers pride.

 

The Transect cubs are interested in the car

There is no specific birth season for lions but it tends to be a small peak this time of the year when it’s been raining and there is more prey around. So even in the Maasai Kopjes pride there are new cubs. Last time I wrote Mato Keo had cubs and I had seen mating, expecting more cubs. Now Blixten also has given birth to two cubs. Next time I write there might be even more of them.

As there is new life there is also death. We got a phone call from the balloon pilots. They had seen a dead lion from the air. We went there and found Kennedy dead with a fracture on a front leg and two big chunks of skin almost surgically removed. It was a very strange case and we are still puzzled on what has happened. That name seems to be cursed.

There is also a baby boom in the Cub Valley pride (i.e. Sametu Kopjes Pride). The six cubs of Vanilla and CV91 are getting bigger. But now CV98 has added four little ones and there may already be more cubs from other females that we haven’t seen yet. Their four resident males, The Killers, have given up some of their previous prides in the west like Maasai Kopjes, Plains, Ex-plains and Jua Kali. Instead they are now concentrating on the Cub Valley pride. They are also expanding eastwards, just taking over residence in another pride called Kibumbu. They may also have their eyes on another pride, The Vumbi one.

In the beginning of November we found a really old male near Nyaraswigga in the north of our study area. He had a wildebeest kill but had some wounds and looked like he was in a very bad condition, possibly dying. I had to go very near to see his face, still he completely ignored me. Finally he showed it and the nose had a very familiar big cut in it. Just like Porky. But Porky was the resident male for the Naabi Pride in the very south of our study area. That is very far from home. After double-checking with his ID card his identity was confirmed. His age was just a couple of months short of 14 years. That makes him one of the oldest males this project has ever seen in its 46 year history. Actually, before being the resident male at Naabi he used to be the resident around the northern parts of our study area. So it seems like he came home to die.

 

The last photo of Porky?

Last time the collared female in the Naabi pride, Caerphilly, was seen she had company of two young males, almost 4 years old. They were recognized as PN123 and PN128. That means they were born in the same pride as Porky, but ten years later. They probably never knew each other. Their fathers are the Killers, now residents in the Cub Valley pride. It will be interesting to see if PN123 and PN128 will manage to stay as the new residents for the Naabi pride. The other female in the pride wasn’t seen and is possibly staying away with the youngsters as they are in great danger of getting killed by the new males. Right now they are thriving as the migration is around meaning hundreds of thousands of wildebeest within a few kilometers.

More cubs! Sonia in the Simba East pride (i.e. Gol Kopjes Pride) has been seen lactating tough she hasn’t showed us the cubs yet. Not having a collar and normally staying alone she is not that easy to find. As for the rest of the pride, for a long time divided into two groups are beginning to join together again. Especially Skvimp, the collared one, seems to be moving between the two groups.

She has also been seen mating, once with one of the resident males, Hildur. But just a week later she was seen mating with Wide Boy, a solitary male that normally hangs out south of Moru. He is almost

13 years old but still in very good vigor and not very worn teeth. He’s a good candidate to breaking the age record for male lions.

 

Skvimp and Wide Boy mating.

Six almost three years young lions from Simba East, including Nymeria and Loetje have been seen together on and off near their natal prides territory. Last time they were seen at the South East kopjes, near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) border. They looked healthy and no wonder, they also have access to hundreds of thousands of wildebeest at the moment.

The Mukoma Gypsies have added three new cubs to the ten they already had. If you see a large pride with many cubs around the Seronera River, it’s likely these lions. They were recently seen killing a hippo, a very dangerous prey even for a big pride like this. But the rewards are great if they succeed.

The Mukoma Mischief pride has been missing since a couple of weeks. We have not been able to locate them despite extensive searching. Possibly they have wandered south to thrive on the abundance of wildebeest along with many other lions. Last year Molly and her two cubs went on a long walk to the NCA and stayed there for a month as I wrote about in the March 2012 report.

And finally, more cubs! This time it’s the Mukoma Hill pride. Nyota has given birth to two cute babies and melody has swollen teats, indicating that she is pregnant and will soon give birth too. The fathers are Nisse and Sotis. Since the new Males arrived in this pride the young lions, two males and two females have gone missing. They were probably big enough to survive on their own and are hopefully still alive somewhere out there. Maybe they will show up somewhere else another time.

 

The first sighting of the cubs of Nyota.
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By Russel Temu – Fun, Adventure and Wildlife

Greetings from Tanzania! My name is Russel Temu and I am a professional guide with Africa Dream Safaris. This is my 3rd posting since we instituted our new company program of having us guides post to the ADS blog with pictures and highlights when we return from safari. Click here to see my other postings.

My most recent safari took place from February 8, 2013 to February 18, 2013. We spent 6 nights in the Serengeti, 2 nights at the Ngorongoro Crater and 2 nights in Tarangire National Park. We saw a tremendous amount of wildlife with many special highlights and my guests and I really enjoyed our time together. Follows are a few pictures I took while on safari.

Warm Regards,

Russel Temu
ADS Driver-Guide
February 22, 2013

A pride of twenty lions preying on two wildebeests kills in Kusini, South Serengeti:

A male lion in the southern Serengeti plains.
Lion cubs on Utafiti Kopjes.

 

Maasai Giraffe along Lake Ndutu.

 

Saddle billed stork along Seronera River.
Tawny eagle.
Tawny eagle preying on a terrapin.

 

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More Than We Dreamed

When Andy proposed that we go on safari I was nervous and unsure. Then he showed me your website and I read the testimonials, and in truth, I thought they were probably made up. But, Andy had his heart set on this as it was one of his life long dreams, so I went along with it. One of the best decisions I ever made.

ADS made us feel special right from the start. We were greeted as we disembarked in Kilimanjaro, our passports and visa forms collected, and we were able to sit and wait while our greeter went to the front of the line and got our documents processed. We were out of the immigration and customs area in record time. We were then turned over to our guide and driver, Manuel and Matteus, who took us to our hotel, explained what to expect, and agreed to meet us the next day to take us around Arusha. The Mount Meru Hotel was beautiful. A very nice property.

I am going to skip the day we spent in Arusha so I can get to the safari. We flew on a small plane from Arusha to the Serengeti. The pilot took a detour and flew us over the Ngorogoro Crater and then another detour to show us an arial view of a Hippo Pool. So beautiful!

When we landed in the Serengeti we were met by our guide Claud. He was very nice and helpful. We got in the Land Rover and away we went. We almost immediately came upon a large lion pride eating after a kill. The pride was big and included and alpha male and two other grown males. This attracted a bunch of cars. Claud got us to a spot with a good view, but then he did something that showed me he is truly a special guide. He said we might get a better look on the other side, and so we drove around, and saw it all from a different angle. This included a large lioness sleeping in a tree and a bunch of cubs lounging near a water hole. We were in awe.

We drove around and came across a herd of giraffes, and this is where we parked and had lunch, with the giraffes eating all around us. It was magical.

The day went on with sighting after sighting. Claud always had answers to our questions, no matter how obscure. By the end of the day we had seen 23 different animals and birds, including a rare cereal, cape buffalo, ostrich, bat eared fox, hartebeast, topi, black backed jackel, crocodiles, storks, hippos, warthogs, dik diks, impala, elephants, monkeys and more.

One of the most amazing things is that every single day we saw animals eating their prey. We came upon a group of lionesses who had just taken down a cape buffalo. They were exhausted, but opened it so their cubs could eat. They also growled off a male that was not part of their pride. He stood a ways back watching longingly. We stayed for a while and then moved on.

We saw cheetahs at a kill, they were finished eating and went to lounge on some rocks. A jackel then came up grabbed a piece of the carcass and ran away with it. He kept coming back and taking pieces and hiding them. It was fabulous to watch. We also came upon a herd of elephants crossing the road. We saw a tree full of lions, and finally came up to a group of about 1000-1500 wildebeasts and zebras who were migrating.

Driving back to camp we went past the lion kill and it was wild. The kill was being attacked by vultures, storks and all manner of birds. The lionesses were down by a watering hole. With the gathering cars, the lionesses lost sight of the kill and one of them made her way up the hill to get rid of them. They flew off immediately upon seeing her. It was very interesting because she had to walk right between some cars to get to the kill and it did not even phase her. We watched as she started to feed again when we saw right in front of our car the lion of the pride making his way to the kill. He started eating, kind of growled her off, and flipped the buffalo quite easily. It was incredible to watch.

Then it was back to the camp. On the way we saw two leopards. Very cool.

Our days were filled with amazing sights. It was just incredible that every day, every hour brought us to more and more miraculous sights.

The most miraculous was on about our third day in the bush. We were driving to our camp passing through a herd of zebras when Claud said “zebra giving birth!” and drove off road a bit so we had a good spot to watch. The baby was about half out when we got there. We watched as he started trying to knock the amniotic sack off of his head and got free of the rest of it. After just a few minutes he was trying to stand. His mom was helping him, while she still had the afterbirth hanging from her. Within just 15 minutes he was up and walking. His dad came over and nudged him. It was so sweet.

Another amazing thing happened on one of the last days at the lodge. I was sitting outside as were about 50 other guests. I was having some tea and I had a couple of cookies. I also had these two little donut things, but I did not have the jam to put on them, so they were just on the table next to me. All of a sudden this black thing came charging up to me and stopped at the table. Looking me right in the eye was a blue monkey. He took one of the donuts. The other one rolled to the back of the table. He looked at me again, and then knocked something over to get the other one. With one in each hand he looked up at me and then ran off to the middle of the lawn to eat his donuts. It was awesome!

Sharon, this safari exceeded our wildest hopes. Claud was responsible for much of this. He knew where to find animals, was patient, so he was not in a rush to move from sighting to sighting, which afforded us a chance to really see the animals naturally. I would recommend him as a guide to anyone! He is absolutely a tremendous asset to ADS.

Attached are some of our pictures of our adventures in Tanzania. Thank you for arranging such a great trip!

Please feel free to use this testimony and have anyone contact us if they are interested in talking about what to expect.

Warm regards,

Susan and Andy R.
Los Gatos, California
Safari Dates: January 28, 2013 to February 4, 2013

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By Claude Shitindi – What A Meal!

Greetings from Arusha, Tanzania. My name is Claude Shitindi and I am a driver-guide with Africa Dream Safaris. I have just returned from a 7-night safari to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater beginning January 28, 2013 and ending February 4, 2013. We enjoyed many different areas of the park and also a nice mixture of lodging and camping including Seronera Sametu Camp in the Central Serengeti Woodlands, Private Camping in the Southern Serengeti Plains and Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge on the rim of the Crater.

One of the highlights of the safari was on the day we drove from the Ndutu area of the South Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater. We decided to take a very remote drive along the way and detour through the Matiti Plains, which can be a great place to see cheetahs, and sure enough we came across this male cheetah that had just killed a year old wildebeest. It was such an amazing sight to witness.

Thank you,

Claude Shitindi
ADS Driver-Guide
February 18, 2013

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By Godson Mbonye – Safari Adventures

This is ADS driver-guide Godson Mbonye from Tanzania. I have just finished another wonderful safari beginning on February 6, 2013 and ending on February 15, 2013. We enjoyed 9 amazing nights in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and explored some off the beaten path areas including Angata Kiti. The weather is beautiful at the moment and there is an abundance of game. Included here are some pictures I took while on the safari.

Sincerely,

Godson Mbonye
ADS Driver-Guide
February 19, 2013

Sunset at Naabi Hill Campsite

Male Lion

Mother lion with her cub

Lionesses do most of the hunting for the pride

A leopard that we discovered at kusini valley when on an early morning drive and was seen eating a young zebra

Cheetah family out on the open Serengeti Plains

Lion pride eating a buffalo that was caught by them

Lion cubs playing on a kopje

The wildebeest migration moving to the woodlands of the kusini corridor

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New ADS Video Archive!

Check out our new ADS Video Archive on the ADS website! Watch dozens of clips that were taken while out in the Serengeti by our staff and guests. Some of these captivating safari experiences captured on video include: Wildlife Sightings & Kills, Bush Drives, The Great Migration, Panoramic Vistas, Guest Testimonials, Driver Guide Interviews and more!

If you’ve been on a safari with us and have video you’d like to share with ADS, post it to Youtube or Vimeo and send us the link. We’ll add it to our archive so others too can experience the magic of Tanzania.

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By Raphael Mollel – Wildebeest Migration

Jambo from Arusha, Tanzania. My name is Raphael Mollel and I am a driver-guide with Africa Dream Safaris. I have just returned from my most recent safari beginning on January 31, 2013 and ending on February 6, 2013. We had many extraordinary wildlife sightings on this safari. One of the highlights occurred on February 3rd near the triangle on the Southern Plains of the Serengeti where we witnessed one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles of the world, the Great Migration. There was a never ending mass of wildebeests enjoying the green grasses, which are rich in macro nutrients like Calcium that are essential for their bodies. I managed to take a picture as shown above, but one needs to see and experience the sights and sounds of the great migration themselves to fully appreciate the magnitude of the event.

Sincerely,

Raphael Mollel
ADS Driver-Guide
February 8, 2013

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Crossing Lake Ndutu

Good evening from Tanzania. My name is Ally Dhulkfil and I am a guide with Africa Dream Safaris. I have posted some pictures below from my most recent safari beginning on February 5, 2013 and ending on February 12, 2013.  My guests and I enjoyed 7 nights together visiting several different areas of the Northern Tanzania safari circuit with 2 nights in the Central Serengeti, 2 nights in the South Serengeti, 2 nights on the rim of the Ngorongro Crater and our last night above Lake Manyara.  One of the highlights was watching some of the wildebeest cross Lake Ndutu in the South Serengeti and a playful pride of lions (also near Ndutu).

By Ally Dhulkfil
ADS Driver-Guide
February 12, 2013

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ADS Recommendation

You can read about itineraries, animals and locations on the Africa Dream Safari (ADS) web site and blogs. I want to complement the company at another level – with the expert help my husband and I received from our safari consultant, Lynn and our guide, Petro.

From the very beginning, as we compared safari companies, Lynn was the difference maker. As a matter of fact, it was Lynn’s quick email response and the way that she answered our questions that convinced us to travel with ADS.

As time got closer to our departure from home and arrival in Africa, I had an excited anticipation of the journey in front of me, but I also wondered about language, customs, etc., and if all the preparations and connections would be smooth. I cannot emphasize enough how well everything went, how perfect African Dream Safaris were in meeting us at our lodge (we had a meeting before our safari), taking care of us the night before the safari began, getting us to the Arusha airport, and meeting our guide as we stepped off the commuter plane in the Serengeti.

The following are some practical things I either experienced on the safari or would have wanted to know before going:

• Our driver, Petro, took very good care of his vehicle. Every day we entered a washed, cleaned Land Cruiser. Even the floor was washed, which gets very dirty and dusty from the roads.

• Each morning, you get welcomed by your guide in a fully stocked vehicle, complete with as much water as you can drink and any meals needed for the day’s drive. It is such a luxury, there is no thinking necessary for you for the day’s essentials. You only have to think about what you want to bring and how to enjoy the day.

• It is uncanny how rocks and trees can look like animals in the distance when you are in nature. Petro had amazing eyes and knew how to distinguish tree limbs from animal limbs. He also knew animal behavior well enough to know when to wait for something to happen.

• Wonderful meals were served in the lodging establishments where we stayed

• There was plenty of bottled water to drink

• Deluxe bed coverings on queen size beds

• Tents are not the pop tents of boy and girl scouts! These tents are complete with queen or king sized beds, sitting rooms and bath facilities. Most had desks. Staff at tent camps were very friendly and helpful.

• The tent lodgings are in the middle of the jungle, and there are animals around, but do not be afraid. There is protection from local Masaai people, who know how to deal with the animals. They walk you to and from your tent after dark and they stay up all night, keeping the animals away.

• Do not bring old currency (before the year 2000) or even new currency that is taped together. Not accepted. Bring more small currency than you think you will need.

• In January, in the lodgings we have stayed at, the flies and mosquitoes were not been bad at all. I also invested in anti bug clothing. My husband and I did not use, nor need, any Deet products.

• At several establishments, coffee was delivered to our room, with a cookie, as soon as the light was turned on in the morning, as we had discussed the night before .

• Ipads and Apple products can be plugged directly into socket, with adapter. You dont need a converter

Very early in our vacation , we learned to relax and trust the company. Our faith in Africa Dream Safaris was always realized and all connections were seamless. I wholeheartedly recommend this company and would travel with them again.

Jim and Nancy Barnett
Fox Point, Wisconsin
Safari Dates: January 15, 2013 to January 25, 2013

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Our Top 7 African Safari Highlights

We’ve been home from Tanzania for a few weeks now and we’re still talking about our experiences and continue to find ourselves “in the bush” watching the animals in our dreams at night. Our time in the Serengeti was amazing!

We had spent months thinking about this trip, reading reviews of different tour operators and considering various options. We are so glad we chose ADS. Lynn Newby-Fraser listened to our wish list and gave us good advice in the planning phase. Other ADS employees in Tanzania who were friendly, helpful and a pleasure to work with: Martias and Emanuel (Meet & Greet in Arusha), Jonas at Sametu Camp, Kidevu and all the private camp staff at Naabi Hill who did a wonderful job of taking care of us.

Our driver-guide, Arnold Mushi was truly outstanding. His knowledge of the Serengeti and his uncanny ability to spot animals (or predict where they would be) made all the difference. We were there in January, the green season, and the big herds of the migration were not where they would have been expected to be. But, Arnold was able to track them down for us. With all his experience in the Serengeti, he still hasn’t lost his fresh enthusiasm for each game drive.

We are also glad Lynn suggested adding the Grumeti Reserve to our itinerary. Our stay at Sabora Tented Camp was another unique experience. The choice to spend a few days in historic StoneTown instead of a beach resort on Zanzibar worked well for us also. We did a walking tour of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learned a lot about its varied history. We topped off our Zanzibar sight-seeing with a spice plantation tour, which was also interesting and fun.

While on safari, we especially enjoyed the pre-dawn and early evening game drives. Along with the increased animal activity, we got to enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets in some very different landscapes – the lush river valleys and lakes, wide-open plains dotted with kopjes, the magnificent mountains and Ngorongoro Crater. All beautiful. The morning and evening views of flat-top acacia trees silhouetted against the reddening sky were some of our favorite sights.

Choosing favorite experiences and favorite photos from our safari has been difficult – there are so many! But, here’s some of what we would consider highlights of the trip:

1. Watching a very large pride of lions in the Seronera Valley who were spooked by a couple of hot-air balloons coming in quite low. The lionesses were herding ten very small cubs away from this danger in the air with a lot of worried looks back and anxious noises to the cubs until the balloons were out of sight.

2. Driving slowly through the migration near the Simiyu River with the vehicle parting the tide of wildebeest and zebra. We will always remember the sounds they made – a sort of low-key grunting from the wildebeest and braying from the zebra.

3. Watching another large pride of lions climbing a sausage tree near the Moru kopjes. We counted five in the tree when we arrived. All lionesses and nearly adult-sized cubs. Then watched as more arrived and climbed up – two big males, another lioness and eight small cubs. The cubs piled on top of the last lioness, sometimes falling off, but usually climbing back up. One independent-minded little cub gave up on the crowd in the tree and settled under a nearby bush.

4. Watching beautiful birds: flamingoes on Lake Ndutu and Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater, yellow weaver birds at work in many places, lilac-breasted rollers, superb starlings, gray crowned cranes, Fisher’s lovebirds and many, many more.

5. Chasing after a couple of fast-moving honey badgers near the Barafu Kopjes and watching them dive into burrows in the ground.

6. Watching two hungry cheetah brothers in the Grumeti take off after a group of warthogs. One managed to bring down the last in the line of warthogs, but it got away from him and faced off with the cheetah. Face-to-face, those horns on the little warthog are pretty intimidating. All of the warthogs turned on the cheetahs and managed to chase them off. The predators became the prey.

7. Touring a Maasai boma and learning about their culture. They were gracious hosts who sang and danced for us and invited us into one of their dwellings. We also enjoyed visiting the children in their classroom.

This was a trip of a lifetime for us and we have Africa Dream Safaris to thank for making it a smooth, seamless experience. If anyone reading this is still debating a safari with ADS, we would say DO IT! It was absolutely worth all the planning, expense and long hours of travel. We will treasure our memories of the Serengeti.

Asante Sana!

Will & Beth S.
Salida, Colorado
Safari Dates: January 20, 2013 to February 4, 2013

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African Safari Photo Tip

While travelling on one of our African Safari Tours we recommend taking along a minimum 300 mm telephoto lens to ensure the best photography. A zoom lens such as the Canon EF 100-400mm offers the best flexibility allowing for great photos whether or not that lion is 10 feet or 100 feet away. But, why spend $1,500 or more on a lens for a once in a lifetime trip when you can rent one for a fraction of the cost. See our safari photo recommendation section for more information.

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