Despite All The Recommendations, I Remained Skeptical…
Randi and i became interested in a photo safari in the Serengeti after one of her colleagues had returned from a safari (with a different company) and shared some of her experiences and impressions as well as photographs. This interest was reinforced during a New Zealand vacation last year where we met a couple who had been to Tanzania and had an incredible experience with ADS. Despite these recommendations, I remained skeptical; I was persuaded, however, to read the ADS testimonials and contact Sharon Lyon to begin preliminary planning for what became the “trip of our lifetime!”
In preparation for this safari, Randi and I read a number of travel books and articles. Despite this preparation, we were both surprised by what we found in Arusha; I was not expecting to find a modern urban city which Arusha certainly is becoming. We chose to spend an extra day there before beginning our safari to acclimate before “heading into the bush” and this was certainly welcome after nearly 24 hours traveling from Rochester, Minnesota to Africa.
Our guide, Emmanuel, met us after our short flight into the Serengeti and we were immediately immersed in Africa, its wonders and incredible animals. During our first game drive we saw cheetah, lions, and a second Mara River crossing by thousands of wildebeest. We saw an enormous Nile crocodile on the opposite bank of the Mara (thankfully); he was taking the sun and seemed to have recently had a large meal. In some instances, we were close enough to have touched the big cats who were unconcerned with our presence amongst them (I did not expect this); one large male lion appeared so exhausted that he completely ignored our presence.
Each succeeding day brought new joy and unanticipated contact with Africa and Serengeti. That we saw so much of hidden Africa is completely due to Emmanuel. How he was able to locate leopards in rocks and trees from the distances that he did amazed us. On a subsequent afternoon, we were overtaken by a pride of ten lions and Randi and I were awed as these magnificent predators wearily passed our stopped land cruiser, brushing close to the side as they passed. So close that I was able to count the fat black ticks on the back of one adolescent male. Nor can Randi and I forget the young leopard who, with two siblings, came out of the grass and stopped beside our vehicle. He looked up at me for a long moment and then moved away.
William N. and Randi H.
Safari Dates: September 2, 2013 to September 12, 2013