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