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
From the moment our plane touched down in Tanzania, Africa Dream Safaris exceeded every expectation we had. Marcus took care of all paperwork at the airport with no hassles. He and Timon then drove us safely to Mount Meru hotel, answering every question we could think of asking.
After getting us settled in our hotel for the night, they drove us to the Arusha air strip the next morning for our flight to the Western Corridor of the country. They made sure everything was taken care of during ever aspect of that part of our trip. Our flight to the Western Corridor was beautiful with a very professional pilot.
After landing, our guide, Peter, picked us up, and away we went for the adventure of our lives. Our first day was amazing! We even told our guide that there was NO WAY the next day could measure up, but how wrong we were. Every day was better than the last. We saw over one hundred lions, thousands of wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, gazelles, and topis.
The great migration was unbelievable—–animals as far as you could see in both directions! We even saw eight of the 500 cheetah in the Serengeti, eight leopards, a serval, seven of the 33 endangered rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater, hundreds of hippos, elephants baboons,and monkeys. Every day was new and exciting. We saw more animals that we ever thought possible.
Our guide, Peter, was excellent. He spotted almost every animal around and worked extremely hard to make sure we saw everything possible. We even saw mating lions, lions dining on a zebra (twice). We never got to see an actual kill, but saw lions stalking topis and cheetahs on the hunt. I think we saw every type of animal in the Serengeti.
Our visit to a Maasai village was fascinating and a favorite part of the trip. The Maasai culture amazed me! Our guide in the village was a chief’s son (a fourth wife’s child and one of thirty five of the Chief’s children), who had been educated in Arusha, but had decided to return to his village. He gave us a first class tour of his village. The kindergarten children melted my heart. I will never forget the very young Maasai children taking the goats and cows out to graze each day. They walked miles with the herds, then returned each night—-with lions all around! The shoes worn by the Maasai (I call them tire shoes) were made of TIRES! They could walk miles in them!
Our lodges were all first class. We stayed in Mbalageti, Serena Serengeti (my daughter;s favorite), Lake Masek tented lodge, Ngorongoro Serena, and Plantation Lodge. My favorite was the Lake Masek tented lodge. Hippos bathed in the lake all day and at night you could hear them walking by the tents eating grass, returning to the lake at daybreak. Our food was very good. You could always find something delicious for dinner. Our box lunches and breakfasts were also very good (although too much food!). On my next trip, I will stay in all ADS tented lodges. Our guide took us by the Sametu ADS lodge and it was quite impressive, very intimate with excellent staff.
African Dream Safaris went above and beyond all expectations to make this trip our NUMBER ONE TRIP OF OUR LIVES! Many thanks to Dawn, Marcus, Timon (whom we found out was a Maasai tribe member. He entertained us with numerous stories!), all of the staff at our lodges, and especially our guide, Peter (THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!). We will return to this beautiful country again! Thanks ADS for giving us the TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Safari Dates: May 29, 2015 to June 8, 2015
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!
Jan and Bob F.
Palo Alto, California
Safari Dates: May 21, 2015 to June 1, 2015