Posts From July 2015

I Cannot Adequately Express The Care And Graciousness That Was Constant Throughout Our Safari.

After a lifetime of dreaming, a year of planning and months of eager anticipation I embarked on my safari adventure on June 29, 2015. I had convinced my family, ranging in age from 3 to 67, to accompany me on this journey.

As our plane winged across the Atlantic a sense of fear and panic overtook me as I thought what is this if a complete disaster. What was I doing taking five children ages 3, 5, 6, 10 and 13 and assorted adults on a safari? The anxiety and panic was completely unnecessary, because as soon as we touched down at Kilimanjaro and were greeted by Mathias and Precious I knew that a splendid adventure lay ahead.

Dawn had planned a magnificent itinerary for us. We had elected to have a rest day in Arusha and we used that day to visit St. Jude’s School and downtown Arusha. St Jude’s School is an inspiring experience and I as so glad that I got to personally visit and see the wonderful work being done there. We got to see all three stop lights in Arusha, the city activity, the Tanzanian torch monument and the mid-continent marker.

Early the next morning we flew out to the Serengeti. As we approached the Kogatende air strip all of us were transformed to children as we exclaimed: “Do you see that giraffe?; There’s an elephant; I see zebras” We excitedly deplaned and were met by our new best friends Wilfred and Ally.

Both Wilfred and Ally deserve an award for putting up with our crew. They were always cheerful, catered to the children and never seemed to tire of out endless questions. Our first stop was Mara River Camp. We absolutely loved the camp and our dear host, Gilbert.

The wildlife were ready to greet and entertain us. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, gazelles, topis, beautiful birds, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and hippos! We were all completely satisfied and thought no need to go anywhere else but Mara River.

However, our itinerary called for us to move on to Buffalo Luxury Camp. Again we were treated as special guests and more special adventures awaited us. The camp is located on the side of a hill and enjoys superb views. We enjoyed watching frolicking elephants, elands, cape buffalo and impalas.

Our visit to the Maasai village was an unforgettable experience. Our Maasai hosts were so welcoming and they seemed to be genuinely happy that we had come to visit. The highlights for the children at Buffalo Luxury Camp were roasting marshmellows by the fire, the baby cobra on the terrace, the game of bows, arrows and spears that the staff prepared for the children to enjoy and the night time game drive. Nowhere have we ever seen more beautiful stars!

While again we would have been perfectly satisfied to stay at Buffalo Luxury Camo and enjoy the breath taking views, we had to again move on. This time our destination was the Serengeti Serena Lodge. The views at the lodge are also unbelievable. We encountered a buffalo roaming through the grounds at night and it was during our stay here that we found the leopard that totally mesmerized us.

Our final stop was Serena Ngorongoro Lodge at the crater. The Lodge is beautiful and the fireplaces throughout the lodge are a welcome place to warm up from the cool air and winds. The crater is magnificent and we did succeed in being among the first few cars into the crater the next morning. We were so delighted to see the flamingoes and yes- we did see a black rhino!

I had anticipated that the travel day back to Arusha would be non-eventful, but I was wrong. Wilfred and Ally had planned souvenir shopping, which thoroughly pleased the children. We also came across a group of young Maasai dressed in their ceremonial garb and we visited Lake Manyara Park.

Lake Maynara Park was a wonderful surprise. Situated just outside Arusha, the park provides wonderful viewing of monkeys, baboons, elephants, hippos and magnificent birds. This is really a very small but beautiful park and I am so glad Wilfred and Ally treated us to this stop.

On arrival back at the Mount Meru Hotel late in the afternoon of our departure date we wondered how we could get some dinner before we had to head to the airport. Hakuna matata – Mathias had arranged for the kitchen to prepare an early dinner for us. On the way to the airport we got to see the “Shy Lady” – Mount Kilimanjaro – as she peaked out from her veil of clouds.

I cannot adequately express the thought, care and graciousness that was constant throughout our stay. Travelling with children is a real plus! Everyone went above and beyond to accommodate the children and to make sure that the adults were having a wonderful time too.

Our every need was anticipated and met. None of us were ready to leave Tanzania but all of us left with wonderful memories and a desire to return. We can’t thank everyone at ADS enough for providing us with such a magnificent adventure!

ASANTE SANA!

Linda H. and Family
Houston, Texas
Safari Dates: June 30, 2015 to July 10, 2015

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The Moment

We both wanted to take the time to let you know just how much we enjoyed our African Safari Dream vacation. The wonderful and expedite responses from you as we were planning our trip, the materials, books and maps, the instant email responses to our questions and the care given to us by the team the minute we landed until the day we said good bye to East Africa, can only be described as excellence in meeting all of our needs.

I will admit it took some convincing for my husband to agree to go. He was shall we say reticence and made it known to our group. Then on that third evening as everyone was talking at once about all we had seen and done the previous days, he stood up, had everyone’s attention and announced, “are you not so glad that I talked all of you into coming”. What a moment. I am attaching a picture from that moment.

I also want to commend the professionalism of all those associated with your organization. You are right up there with Disney in your customer service. Our meet and greet team, our guides, David and Ellison were so knowledgeable about the animals, the birds and the history of their country. They were totally engaged with each of us. They were also considerate of our needs and planned the trip accordingly. I enclose their pictures because they were so important to us.

I also am sending on the lion picture Gene took with his phone camera. You do not need fancy equipment to experience the wonders of an African Dream Safari.

Thanks again for all that you have done. I have recommended you to all of my friends.

Gene and Barbara N.
Vancouver, Washington
Safari Dates: May 15, 2015 to May 26, 2015

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Nothing Can Compare

African Dream Safaris (ADS) was the most awesome, amazing and adventurous vacation experience we have ever done. Those who have not had this opportunity can only imagine a portion of what we saw and the reward we gained from observing the behavior of the African mammals, birds and reptiles in their native habitat. Nothing can Compare, You must see for yourself!

Thank You to the ADS personnel who made this possible and organized all aspects to make the trip such a success.

Dean N.
Ringoes, New Jersey
Safari Dates: May 15, 2015 to May 26, 2015

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If Africa is on Your Lifetime Agenda List…Go,Go,Go!

My sister posted about our recent safari but since I have so many emotions swirling inside I thought about adding my own two cents. Even though we have been back for a couple weeks I am still not quite “Out of Africa”. This is a trip that stays with one long after the journey is over.

An African Safari is not a trip for everyone, in fact our travel group dwindled from eight to four, when we chose Africa. One person said, “Africa? Can’t we just get a 4-wheeler and go to the zoo?”

Choosing Africa was the best travel decision we made, well, second only to choosing ADS as our tour company. When I first mentioned Africa to a friend she put me in touch with her friend’s daughter-in-law who had recently been on Safari. To say she raved about her trip would be an industrial-strength understatement. She provided Dawn Anderson’s name at ADS and that was the first step toward a magical adventure.

Dawn’s knowledge of Tanzania made the trip a breeze to plan, and if her middle name is not Patience it should be, given how deftly she fielded our (well, actually my sister’s) many questions. Although we went toward the end of the “wet” season we only had rain two evenings and a slight shower one day. The greenery and wild flowers this time of year were stunning.

To see as many animals as we did at close range was jaw dropping. With Claude guiding our way each day was more spectacular than the previous day. We saw a lot, we learned a lot and would love to return.

Incidentally, my husband may have set a Guinness book record for oldest person to go on safari at 3 months shy of his 89th birthday! The staff at each camp was especially attentive, watching over “Babu” to make sure he was okay. Okay he was…Babu loved the trip!

Barbara and Tony P.
Red Bluff, CA
Safari dates: May 18-27, 2015

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Saturday, July 18th – Serengeti National Park

Highlight of the day was seeing a mother cheetah and her five cubs. Since not everyone is fortunate enough to see even one cheetah on safari, it was quite a treat to see them – and to see them so close was added bonus.

Our guests watch as a cheetah crosses in front of their safari vehicle with her 5 cubs.

We are so impressed with our guide’s ability to accurately determine where some of these animals should be, taking us to the right spot, and then locating them. Like today. We were driving along and suddenly he turned around and said, “I think there is a cheetah in the grass over here today.” We drove a little bit and saw another safari vehicle parked at the edge of a field, and our driver took us to another side of the same field, and directed our attention to the top of a termite mound near the center of the field.

The cheetah was sitting on top of the mound. We took out binoculars and watched a bit, and then David (guide) said, “This is a mother, and she has cubs. See? See the cubs?” I had to really ‘tune up’ the binoculars to see even one of the cubs, as they were so tiny and we were so far away. Then momma cheetah stood up, and we began to see tiny little tails wagging around near her feet.

Next thing we know, David says, “Hold on!” and he started the vehicle, moving us around to another side of the field, parking just in the spot where momma cheetah was leading her family. Thus, we were in the ideal spot to watch them cross the road right in front of us.

Bob and Mary S.
Amarillow Texas
Safari Dates: July 9, 2015 to July 20, 2015

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Over The Top!

In the last few years several of our friends have came back from Africa with glowing reports so we expected to be impressed. Well this trip was so far over the top that we will always consider it the best trip of our lifetime.

I am a businessman so during the trip I observed why we were so impressed and why this trip was ‘above category’. Here is what I observed. First since this was a custom trip you allowed us to pick the number of days we wanted to stay (11) and which camp we wanted to stay in at each stop. Your write ups of the camps were perfect and we stayed in the most amazing places.

Second, the guides were amazing. They tried to please 24 hours per day and succeeded all 11 days. Their eyes could spot game a half mile away (we had a range finder) and cats and birds in trees that no normal eyes could identify. After a few days of amazing sights we started to think ‘what more can we see’.

There was always more, like the time we had 6 giraffes running beside the jeep, 4 adults and 2 babies, for about half a mile or when the elephants came and starred in the windshield, or we sat 30 feet from a cheetah and her 4 cubs eating a kill, or when we spotted the most beautiful birds anyone could imagine.

A friend who had been on a different safari told me he would like to go back to see the birds sometime. They didn’t stop for many. On our trip we told the guide we wanted to see the birds as well as the game. I identified 162, new for me, largely with the help of our guide who spotted most of them first and named and spelled the species. I am an average bird watcher with well over 1000 on my life list.

Our guide, David, made this trip. Stopping to see and photograph the birds even impressed those in the jeep who had previously no interest in birds. That added a dimension to the trip that allowed us to see something different when no game was in sight.

Digging deeper into why the trip was so terrific I quizzed David on his back ground. He had been a guide for another outfitter before you hired him for Africa Dream. You trained him, an experienced guide, for a year before he could guide for you. New places to go, new way to cater to your customers, etc.

We observed disinterested guides sitting in other jeeps while their customers looked at the game. Our guides acted as interested as we were and told in depth details about why and how the wild life acted as they did and a history of the area. Your guides have to report at the end of each trip where they went and what they see and even take pictures for you. This is somehow recorded in your data base in the states so you know where the animals will be year to year based on the calendar, and arrange the tour route accordingly.

From being greeted at the airport with a ‘present to the birthday boy’ to receiving a birthday cake in our room upon arrival, then having the dining staff perform a Africa birthday dance this trip was one of a lifetime to the last day where we spotted 7 new birds and monkeys. Tell anyone who needs a reference to call me day or night. The trip was that good.

Oh one final note. We had 4 in each jeep which allowed one person on each of your 4 rows allowing everyone to see and take photo’s from each side. Many of the budget operators had 6 and 7. And you should have told us to stay one more day. Lake Masek tent camp lodge was our favorite.

Thank You,

Willis & Liz G.
Portland, Oregon
Safari Dates: May 15, 2015 to May 26, 2015

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Surreal and Phenomenal!

That’s the only way to describe our safari with African Dream Safaris in May 2015. For over 9 days we travelled approximately 1000 miles seeing and experiencing the Serengeti and didn’t want to leave. Those 1000 miles went so fast as we crossed the Serengeti on game drives watching the animals and birds, learning about the culture and people, and seeing the topography as it changed.

The safari was full of excitement with everything from flying in a 12 seat bush plane to sleeping in tented lodges and hearing the lions roar at night to having lunch in the middle of the Wildebeest gathering for the Mass Migration.

This exceptional trip would not have been possible without Dawn Anderson’s guidance and professionalism. Dawn answered all our questions and planned and delivered a safari beyond all expectations.

Russ, our guide, was the best!!! Russ was a walking encyclopedia of information teaching us about the animals and birds, people and culture, land and topography and so much more in a fun and enjoyable way. Russ made us feel safe and secure and made sure it was “our safari”.

There were so many wonderful experiences made even better by Russ’ deep experience and knowledge including when to “wait” and see what happens. For example, we “waited” and witnessed a herd of 200 to 300 elephants reverse course and cross the road right in front of us: being on an early morning game drive and having a lion walk across the plains right up to our Landover: seeing the Pigmy Falcon catch and devour a grasshopper: watching the Grey Crowned Crane strut itself in a mating dance, and so much more.

Then, of course, there was the fabulous lodging and even more fabulous food. And, lastly, there was the Landrover, so comfortable with plenty of room and all to ourselves.

The best recommendation we can make is “go on safari” with African Dream Safaris and experience the wonders and the serenity of the Serengeti. African Dream Safaris will exceed your expectations and deliver an up close and personal experience customized just for you!!

Elizabeth and Jeff B.
Warren, New Jersey
Safari Dates: May 21, 2015 to May 29, 2015

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ADS Set Up A Mobile Camp Just For The Four Of Us.

After much research and thought my wife and I decided to use ADS for the safari portion of our trip to Africa. We were persuaded by their reputation and flexibility and their commitment to the country and people of Tanzania that they would be able to provide us with the experience we were looking for.

Our flight to Kilimanjaro for the start of the safari was somewhat delayed. Nevertheless, when we arrived at close to midnight we were greeted on the tarmac by Mattheus, who moved us swiftly through customs and brought us to the safari vehicle where Francis, our guide, driver, companion, teacher and friend for the next 12 days was waiting for us.

We drove to Arusha for some much needed sleep and the following morning, after the first of many fine meals provided by the hotels, lodges and camps that ADS had booked and set up for us, met up with Francis and our two friends from home who would be joining us for the safari.

Our first park was Lake Manyara where Francis quickly demonstrated his ability to spot, identify and discourse upon the many different animals and birds we encountered. As we got to know Francis we learned of his broad range of interests and knowledge and of his particular expertise when it came to the flora and fauna of Tanzania and the Serengeti.

Seeing the Big Five was not a major focus of our trip. However, we had only the leopard to go after our first two days and Francis took care of that a few days later, somehow spotting a leopard in the crook of a tree on the Serengeti.

Our time with ADS was an unqualified success. We had the experience we came for. We saw everything we wanted to see and ADS assured our comfort and safety through every stage of our time with them. In particular, we will always remember the 3 days on the Central Serengeti plain where ADS set up a mobile camp just for the four of us.

They provided for our every need, including some of the best meals (from a wood fired oven and wood fired stove) we had on the entire trip. I could not possibly say enough about the staff that took care of us while we were there.

The tents were amazing, with king size beds, running water, hot showers and all the comforts of home, except that your door step was the Serengeti, lions were 100 yards away, and the night sounds were unlike anything we had ever heard before.

Along with all of that there were some wonderful surprises that I’m not going to ruin by mentioning, but were an example of the lengths ADS went to make our trip as memorable as possible.

Steve W. and Jamie T.
Santa Rosa, California
Safari Dates: May 27, 2015 to June 7, 2015

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I Was Fortunate To Stay At The Lovely Four Seasons Lodge

All I can say is that every expectation was met and surpassed 10x. From start to finish we were treated like royalty. I expected to see animals, but the abundance of animals we saw was staggering: herds of 100+ elephants along with their babies, a pride of 10 lions with young cubs, 8 lions hanging in a tree, 7 (yes 7!!) black rhino sightings, and more zebras, giraffes, ostriches, warthogs, antelopes and wildebeest than I can count.

I was amazed at how vocal animals are in the wild; the hippos were grunting, burping, belching, snorting, rolling and playing….nothing like the floating lump we’ve seen in the zoo. The lions were lean and muscular, and we were fortunate to see an attempted hunt on a wildebeest (unfortunately, they were unsuccessful). But then the 2 female lions lazily walked over and rested in the shade of our jeep! Amazing!

Our guide was wonderful. Ally has an eagle eye and could spot a leopard and cubs in a tree that we could barely see. What a thrill. He bent over backwards to make sure we were happy. The sites we stayed at were one nicer than the next. I shall never again be so fortunate to stay in a place as lovely as the Four Seasons Safari Lodge. What a dream. And every ADS rep we encountered was helpful and friendly.

The trip was a dream. If you need a new marketing rep, I’m your gal, as I have enthused to everyone I’ve encountered about how wonderful our trip was….I may have even convinced a few people on the plane ride back to sign up!

Janet D.
San Jose, California
Safari Dates: May 24, 2015 to June 2, 2015

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Mbalageti Tented Lodge: On the Thundering Path of the Northward Migration

Exceptional tented chalets overlooking the Mbalageti River Corridor. This lodge lies right on the thundering path of the northward migration during May and June. The property is perched on a secluded hill half way down the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and encompasses 24 unique tented chalets with thatched roofs, beautiful hardwood floors and private verandas. With its pristine location and timeless luxury, this is one of the most special properties in Tanzania.

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Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is the worst of all – Brian Jackman, freelance writer

This was the year we said, “let’s do something different, visit someplace unlike any other place we have been”. Africa easily met that mandate, but where? By a stroke of luck my sister- via a ‘friend of a friend’ – was put in touch with someone who was eager to share her recent safari experience. And that is how we first learned of Dawn Anderson, ADS tour expert extraordinaire. Fifteen months later we are holding boarding passes: destination Kilimanjaro!

From our arrival in Kilimanjaro to our departure 10 days later Dawn put together a seamless itinerary which included the West and Central Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Mathias and Timon picked us up at the airport and delivered us to the Mt. Meru hotel providing lively banter along the way about all things Africa. They were friendly and helpful as they provided us with the all necessary details regarding our following morning bush flight from Arusha to the West Serengeti.

Upon landing at the Grumeti Airstrip we were greeted by Claude, ADS driver/guide extraordinaire. Little did we know we hit the lottery in drawing Claude to guide us through our ‘trip of a lifetime’. Within the first 90 minutes we saw UP CLOSE impalas, hippos, crocs, and a cheetah. By our trip’s end we saw the Big 5, some of the Little 5, and animals we never expected to see. We were fortunate to have elephants, lions and zebras cross in front of our vehicle several times. We even saw the hard to spot serval cat.

Claude exceeded our expectations daily in spotting animals at Hubble telescopic ranges much to our amazement and delight. He not only knew the wildlife from antelope to zebras, he demonstrated Audubon-esque knowledge of Tanzanian birds including their nesting and feeding habits.

Accommodations at all our lodges – Mbalageti, Lemala Seronera, and Lions Paw were top notch. The food far exceeded our expectations (soup recipes, please!) and there are not enough superlatives to aptly describe the friendliness of the staff at each camp. All were genuinely caring and attentive.

Having been bitten by the safari bug, we can’t truly describe our safari as a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip as we are already discussing our next safari. But, if you are looking for a unique, forever memorable experience a safari is the answer. ADS actually can deliver your dreams.

Bernie and Gary R., San Jose, California
Barbara and Tony P., Red Bluff, California
Safari Dates: May 18-27, 2015

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If The Garden of Eden Existed, This Must Have Been It.


Dear Mama Simba,

All who know you in Tanzania speak of you with such adulation and appreciation, and now we join their ranks. We so appreciate the nderstanding and thoroughness with which you listened to my fearful concerns and romantic hopes and then surpassed all expectation in going beyond fulfilling every wish.

We enjoyed talking with both Mattius and Timon on the ride from the airport and hearing of their families and backgrounds. Thank you and Africa Dream for the surprise Masai blanket and beaded bracelet gifts which welcomed us to the Moru Hotel. It took nearly a week for me to learn I was wearing the Tanzanian flag in the design, but it only helped me appreciate it more. We plan to hang it on the Christmas tree every year as a colorful reminder of Tanzania.

Thanks for booking us with Liz, Jeff, Terry, and James for our flight to the Grameti Airfield. It was great fun to run into each other through the rest of the week. Their email addresses have yet to surface in the unpacking, but we hoped to keep in touch.

Thanks for choosing PoKea for our knowledgeable, thorough, experienced, thoughtful guide. He had an uncanny ability to find camouflaged animals and knew so many birds I gave up trying to keep track after about thirty. We had total confidence in his driving on muddy, rutty, almost impossible roads. At each lodge he insured that all our requests were met…that we had a room with a view (always glorious) and that we were close to security. We laughed when he doubted I could walk the half block up the hill to a lookout at the Serengeti ranger station…since I wanted to be close to the main building at lodges he assumed I was disabled. On our first fabulous Grameti game drive he found seventeen animals/reptiles and fourteen beautiful birds. What an amazing beginning!

Bob and I were blown away by the surprise private dinner at Mbalageti complete with personal beautiful bonfire, 14 flaming torches, bottle of wine, three attendants, and delicious dinner. What a wonderful romantic night! Thank you!

What an enchanting room you arranged for us there, with its glorious gnarly wood railing to the porch overlooking endless green and frolicking baboons, its spacious stone-walled bathroom with footed tub, and two four-poster mosquito net ensconced beds.

Maybe the best guidance you provided was in suggesting we go mid May after the rains and before the crowds (although sadly that could have been all through June this year). Whew, we missed the rain by a few days and entered a Serengeti lush with beautiful green and even wildflowers. Sincerely, Sharon, we felt we had come to the Cradle of Civilization and that if the Garden of Eden existed, this must have been it with amazing numbers of God’s creatures roaming freely as far as the eye could see. It was awe-inspiring and humbling to be there at that verdant time.

Returning to this, I see that I need to be more brief. All three Serena Lodges were fabulous with unique and exceptional design and architecture, delightful balconies with glorious views, delicious and bountiful food, and two offered wonderful African dancers, singers, and drummers. You made us feel like royalty with the generous fruit baskets, welcoming bottles of wine and champagne and the totally unexpected cuddly hot water bottles warming our Ngorongoro bed. We are great water drinkers as well, and so appreciated being able to bring in extra water bottles from the Land Cruiser in case we ran out in the room. African Dream really helped us not rack up lots of extra charges at each lodge. At each Serena Lodge we were provided rooms with absolutely prime locations near in to the main activities.

At Lake Masek Tented Lodge (Bob’s favorite) we were one of only three parties of guests and yet, rather than have us walk a few feet to the buffet, they dished up a private buffet on a huge tray and brought it to the table for only PaKea and us. Every host obviously went to the greatest lengths to make us feel like the most important guests in attendance. We woke up for the sunrise there, for the many pairs of Fishers lovebirds, and for incredibly lovely bird sounds we will treasure forever. We felt the closest to nature there.

Our final night at Lake Manyara Serena brought the biggest surprise as the clapping, singing, dancing entire kitchen staff wove their way to surround our table, bringing your wonderful farewell cake. John Massa treated us like King and Queen and helped us provide PoKea with a similar night when he can bring back his wife. My next email will concern John and his family.

Sharon, we cannot thank you enough for the phenomenal trip you designed for us. We are still working on the hundreds of photos we were able to take so freely by having our own private vehicle and exceptional guide. You have earned your Mama Simba title and all the respect and admiration it bestows. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mama Simba!

Sincerely,

Jan and Bob F.
Palo Alto, California
Safari Dates: May 21, 2015 to June 1, 2015

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