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.


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

2 Responses to It Was A Trip Of A Lifetime

  1. karen Falco says:

    This trip sounds as wonderful as the rest. I am trying to get a group of possibly 8 together and wondering what the cost may be for something very similar. I do have to ask about cost also, being a factor of how much we all have to spend. Which itinerary was this one and cost and we can go from there Thanks ever so much. WIll most likely be for 2014….

    • Bob Buckenmayer says:

      Karen, We were the people who wrote the article you commented on. We set a budget of “under $1,000 per person per day, then built an itinerary for 13 days that maximized our value within that budget. ADS is very good at doing that kind of customization. Factors that influence cost would be # of people per vehicle (we had 4 which is ideal), choice of camps and lodges, and routing. I’d suggest calling them with a budget # and seeing what they can put together.

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