Posts From July 2016

The Camps Were Fantastic And Much More Than We Expected

We came home some weeks ago from the most amazing trip we have ever made. Elizabeth and I went to The Serengeti in Tanzania, and had a wonderful safari. We can only describe it as awesome, amazing, unforgettable! It was certainly the trip of our life!

The entire trip was meticulously planned and handled by Africa Dream Safaris team. Dawn in the US and the staff in Tanzania managed our trip with utmost knowledge as well as friendliness. I was surprised to see that a trip as complex as this was, had not one unexpected surprise or something out of schedule. Every single thing was carefully orchestrated even in our end of the things.

We were so well prepared with all their suggestions! Specially the day bag and the photography! I would recommend ADS change the name of their little handbook to: “Everything you need to know about A PERFECT SAFARI.”

From the moment we landed on the Grumeti airstrip we saw small groups of wildebeest and zebras as well as giraffes. Our guide was waiting for us and our vehicle was ready with cushions on the seats, binoculars for each one of us and cold bottles of water and sodas as well as snacks. Immediately after loading our bags, we went game driving and not even a mile from the strip we ran into the first of many prides of lions we would see throughout the safari.

I have to mention our guide David. His knowledge on tracking, allowed us sightings of animals as elusive as the leopard, and also a tree where 7 lions had climbed in search of cooler breeze. He has an eagle eye spotting far away animals. Also his experience in photography allowed us to get some very good pictures, and he would position the vehicle so we could get better lighting and view of our subjects.

The camps were fantastic. Much more than we had expected. Tents, facilities, food and the attentiveness of the staff was unbelievable. Every time we came back after a game drive they were waiting for us with warm wet towels to wipe our faces and cups of cold juice! We have traveled a lot and the courtesy and service in these camps is comparable or better than a five-star hotel.

I want to mention specially the staff of the Seronera Sametu camp. JJ was always making sure we had the best experience possible and in our first night during the campfire we admired the most beautiful sky, the stars were countless and so bright. We could see the Milky way and so many other constellations. And we watched the most fabulous red full moon rising in the horizon. It was a splendid view.

Getting up early was also a magic experience. Watching the moon and the rising sun in opposite sides of the sky, finding the lions that had just made a kill moving slowly to rest by the edge of the road and the energetic cubs playing around with each other was also fantastic.

In those early hours we witnessed several hyenas moving their cubs to another den. And in another early morning we were elated when our guide followed a group of lions hunting zebras, and yet another early day we watched a family of hyenas hunting and devouring in a fast minute a young wildebeest.

We had so many wonderful sightings, elephants, 2 rhinos some 70 lions and countless numbers of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, cape buffalo, Topi, Impala, Hart beast, Grant gazelle, Thompson gazelle, dik dik, hyrax, hippos, baboons and crocodiles among others.

There were many elephants moving lazily thru the savanna and some young elephants were playing in the mud. We were surprised by an adolescent male who got behind the vehicle and trumpeting stomped on the ground and moved his ears as giant fans trying to impress us with his mock fierceness, and I have to confess he did!!

We saw many large groups of wildebeest and zebra following their migration instincts and the rain. They would stop for a short break and then resume their journey north. It was amazing to see so many of them in every corner of the Serengeti, all going in the same direction.

In our way to the Ngorongoro Crater we stopped at a Masai village and had a unique experience visiting their villa. They were very friendly and welcomed us with a dance and Elizabeth had a blast dancing with them. We learned some of their customs and showed us the interior of a hut and we visited the school for the youngest children.

The Ngorongoro crater view from the rim was spectacular. We got to see herds of buffalo, zebras and wildebeest. We couldn’t wait to get down there to explore. As we drove down the winding road we came to a fresh water lake surrounded by green reeds. Some hippos were there, floating in the water. We reached the end of the lake and were allowed to exit the vehicle to stretch our legs and use the facilities that are there.

The next part of our safari took us right across the dry center of the crater where we found herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra, along with lots of birds and some hyena. In the distance behind the wildebeest we could see the shimmering surface of Lake Magadi filled with lines of pink. As we got closer we could see that those pink lines were hundreds of flamingos. It was a beautiful sight. As we got closer to the lake we could see a lion relaxing by the shore.

As we were watching a herd of buffalo in the distance we could hear our guide in the front seat getting excited. He spotted a Black Rhino in the distance. We couldn’t see it at first and had to look through our binoculars. It was mixed with some buffalo. We saw our first rhino, and our guide mentioned we had just seen the Big 5. We couldn’t take our eyes off of the huge, majestic, massive figure walking along the other side of the road, slowly coming closer into view. As the buffalo left, the rhino started moving slowly towards our vehicle and he crossed the road right in front of us. We were ecstatic!

That night we stayed on Lion’s Paw camp located inside the Ngorongoro Crater park gate. Next morning, we left after breakfast and we were the first vehicle in the Crater at dawn. We had almost immediate access to the wild animals that live on the Crater floor below. The rim of the Crater was completely immersed in fog that day. Quite beautiful sight.

We were so lucky in our second drive in the Crater, that we saw another rhino. This one was further away but we took some good pictures. We noticed the animals were far fewer as compared to the Serengeti plains, but they are not as skittish which is good to see them close up.

As we drove up the dirt road leading out of Ngorongoro Crater and took the road to Arusha, we looked back at what we had experienced for the last 10 days. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro are special and unique. I’m pleased to see them so well taken care of and protected. These two places in Tanzania are very effectively guarded against poaching, making these animals some of the safest in Africa. We hope that this great conservation effort continues forever, because these amazing places need to be protected for future generations.

We will be back and of course we will do it with Africa Dream Safaris!

Asante sana.

Martha D. and Elizabeth H.
Montclair, California
Safari Dates: May 18, 2016 to May 29, 2016

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Highlights Included The Lions And Cheetahs Feeding Their Cubs

We especially wanted to thank you for being so perfect with all the arrangements. No slip ups or problems. We also want to thank you for our wonderful safari guide Emmanuel. He was so smart and so willing to share all of his encyclopedic knowledge of history, geology, and all aspects of biology. He had an amazing eye for creatures that were barely visible until we were right on top of them. Only glowing things to say about Emmanuel.

We loved the Land Cruiser too. I have a 1985 Land Cruiser here in San Diego that I still drive, so the new updated and stretched Land Cruiser was perfect. In every way we felt at home (and of course we were – we came from east Africa the same as all hominids back when).

We were there from May 11 to May 22. I was a little bit worried that it might be repetitious, but was I wrong. Every day was better than the previous one. We are looking forward to coming back, maybe during the rainy season when the babies are being born. The baby mammals were our overall favorite, esp the cheetah cubs, giraffe babies and elephant babies. All of the accommodations were excellent, but we particularly liked the Lake Masek Tented Lodge and the Ngorongoro Manor Lodge.

We knew it was going to be wonderful when we landed at the Grumeti Airstrip and the giraffes were running to get off the landing strip as the plane came down. Then seeing the crocs basking in the river with the hippos. When we got to Seronera Valley there were hundreds of thousands of wildebeests surrounding us.

Other highlights were the leopard carrying a wildebeest up a tree, all the birds, the lions and cheetahs feeding their cubs, the Masai herding, the Oldupai Gorge (there was a picture of Hillary and Chelsea visiting there in the 90s), the very lovely people also traveling with ADS, and the crazy road out of Ngorogoro crater.

I have attached a few favorite pictures out of the 2,000 or so that we ended up taking.

Alan A. and Karen G.
San Diego, Calfornia
Safari Dates: May 11, 2016 to May 22, 2016

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We Would Highly Recommend The Private Safari

My wife, our 20 year old granddaughter, our 17 year old grandson and I went on a ten day safari to the Serengeti in Tanzania May 19 to May 28, 2016. This was a private safari with just the four of us and Peter, our driver guide. The first three days we spent in the Central Serengeti and stayed at the Serengeti Serena Lodge.

The first day we flew from Arusha to the Central Serengeti Airport and our guide met us for a game drive for the rest of the day. We had a good box lunch and saw lots of animals that first day including elephant, hippo, leopard and cape buffalo for 4 of the big 5. We told the guide that we wanted to spend most of the day on game drives with a box lunch and go to the more remote places.

We spent 8 to 9 hours the next three days on game drives and part of the time rarely saw other people. We left the lodge each day about 7 am after an excellent breakfast and finished the day with an excellent dinner. A highlight of our stay at Serengeti Serena Lodge was a bush dinner the third night. This was an interesting buffet dinner with white table cloth and china and Maasai singers and dancers and a huge bonfire. We were the only people at the bush dinner which was in the bush.

The fourth day we had an all-day game drive to the Western Serengeti to the Mbalageti Tented Lodge. This was our favorite lodge since it was on a hill overlooking the valley in all directions. The staff were extra friendly and helpful and there were less people there than the Serena Lodges since it had fewer cabins. Here we went out the first day with a breakfast picnic at 6 am to see early morning animals including a pride of lions.

We came back for lunch at the lodge and then back out at 4 pm to see the evening animals. The second day we went on a walking safari to the river at midmorning which was not very interesting and then at 4 pm we went for another game drive until 6 pm. During the day we visited with staff and had an excellent lunch.

After the third night, after a good breakfast we had a long game drive to the Southern Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. This was a very large lodge with an excellent view from our rooms of the Ngorongoro Crater. The next day we took picnic breakfast and lunch to spend the day on a game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater. Again we saw lots of animals including 4 rhinos to complete the big 5.

The next day we left after breakfast and went to Lake Manyara National Park where we say elephants and 15 giraffes at one time several monkeys and at least 100 baboons in one location. We also saw lots of beautiful birds. At the end of the day we drove to Arusha to spend the night at the Mount Meru Resort.

Overall the safari was excellent and much better than smaller ones that my wife and I had been on previous in other parts of Africa. We saw the huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra in migration as well as tree climbing lions, leopards and cheetahs. The wide variety of country side was surprising.

Peter our driver-guide was superb with his knowledge of animals, birds and plants. He was able to spot some animals at some distance and then take us to see them up close. He was a very safe and capable driver as well as concerned about our need and what we liked to see.

We would highly recommend the private Africa Dream Safari. The contact with Michael Wishner was excellent as we inquired about the safari and finalized it. The fact that ADS takes care of everything from the visa, all accommodations and meals from arrival to departure is excellent and assures that there are no mistakes.

James and Judy W. and Abby and Daniel A.
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Safari Dates: May 19, 2016 to May 28, 2016

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Three Moments In Tanzania That Took My Breath Away

My daughter Emma and I just returned from a safari of a lifetime with Africa Dream Safaris. We could not be happier with what Sharon Lyon helped us to arrange.

Everything was as advertised. We were met by Matteus at the gate at Kilimanjaro Airport and swiftly escorted through the Visa and Customs process and taken to the Mount Meru Hotel. We opted for a layover day in Arusha and given a tour by Matteus and Joseph. This ADS Meet and Greet Team could not have been nicer.

The next day we flew out to the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and met by our guide Emmanuel(Ema). They say a safari guide can make or break one’s experience and we certainly lucked out. He was everything we could ask for: personable, experienced, very knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor. He quickly realized what kind of an experience we were looking for and made it happen. As you can see with the attached photos he was able to find and then put us very close to some magnificent animals.

We spent the first three nights at Mbalageti Luxury Lodge, the next two at Seronera Sametu Camp, and the last two at Lion’s Paw Camp. They were all great, but the two tented camps (Sametu and Lion’s Paw Camps) were even more special because we happened to be the only guests there those nights so we were treated like Royalty.

I think Emma had some reservations about sleeping in tents prior to the trip but quickly found out this was not camping as either of us had ever known. From the on-demand bucket showers to the hot water bottles in our beds at night, we were pampered. We also ate very well while on our safari. It is amazing how well these chefs do at cooking wonderful meals in these remote locations. The soups were the best. We even had a special cake baked just for us on our last night.

We did not do a lot of the optional tours and visits while on safari because we were there to see the animals. We did however do a Hot Air Balloon ride which was excellent. ADS scheduled it to optimize our game viewing from above. Seeing the sunrise and all those animals from a balloon will forever be in our memories.

ADS quotes Mark Twain: “Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.” Thanks to ADS I had three such moments while in Tanzania. The first was when Ema parked us in the middle of the great migration and there were thousands of wildebeests and zebras in all directions. The second was when we first saw the vast expansiveness of the Serengeti Plains dotted with assorted animals spread out between the Kopjes. The third moment that took my breath away was when we first looked down over the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.

We spent years preparing for this trip. You can read the books, look at the pictures, and watch the videos on Africa. But there is no way you can get a feel for what it is truly like. You need to be there yourself to see it, to hear it, and to even smell it. Only then can you get full appreciation. Africa Dream Safaris can make this happen for you.

Derek and Emma F.
Francestown, New Hampshire
Safari Dates: June 1, 2016 to June 10, 2016

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A Fantastic Vacation We Will Never Forget!

We’ve always wanted to go on a safari in Africa, but we were intimidated by the amount of touring companies available. We did our research for months, including speaking with references from various companies and we ultimately decided to choose African Dream Safaris.

Our experience was pleasant from the start. Dawn was a wonderful liaison – friendly, nice, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable. Still, did we make the right choice? Well let me tell you, everyone we met, starting from our arrival at the airport, had the exact qualities of Dawn! We could not believe how friendly, helpful, and caring the staff were.

Then we met our guide, Russell, the one we’d be spending most of our time with. If I had to use one word: amazing. We were extremely happy with Russell. He was always so attentive to our family’s needs, tailoring each day’s trip to maximize our enjoyment of what the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater had to offer.

Not only did he frequently spot all kinds of wildlife from afar, but he made sure the entire family could view the animals without disturbing or threatening them. He was also extremely knowledgeable about the best angle and lighting for photographs and video. His deep respect for nature and wildlife was exemplary.

Russell and the entire staff of African Dream Safaris exceeded our expectations and were responsible for a fantastic vacation that we will never forget. African Dream Safaris truly made our wishes come true.

Asante Sana!

Here is a link to our youtube vacation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir_cPM6ttWs

Steve C. and Nhu P.
Walnut Creek, California
Safari Dates: June 14, 2016 to June 24, 2016

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