My wife and I have been traveling to Africa since 1967 and during the last 24 months we have traveled to Africa 4 times, once to travel the Coptic trail in Ethiopia, and 3 times on Photographic safaris. We travel by ourselves, and arrange trips with the help of someone on the tour operator’s side. We are very familiar with tour operators, from the United States, as well as Africa. We are concerned with the entire journey, including the camps, the food, accommodations, driver/guides, and the operator’s ability to meet our needs. Furthermore, the cost of the trip is something we are very conscious of.
This trip was a photographic safari, and 3 people traveled together, my wife, our South African Wildlife Photographer friend, and myself. The purpose of this trip was to see and photograph the calving of wildebeests, in the Serengeti. The trip was arranged with African Dream Safaris, through our South African friend, and my wife, Myra, and numerous emails occurred. While African Dream Safaris has its World Headquarters in the United States, our communications seemed to always be through the people in Tanzania, and they were always appropriate, helpful, and candid.
The trip was arranged about 12 months prior to leaving, and this was simple, and very well done. The communications from African Dream Safaris were excellent, including the final itinerary, and getting the necessary Tanzanian visa forms, and having them filled out saved us a great deal of time…getting through the immigration melee was really easy…and that was great.
We were met in Arusha upon landing, and driven to Arusha National Park and our first night stay at the Hatari Camp. This accommodation was fine, and we had a nice day, as we continued to get our internal body clock organized. African Dream Safaris had recommended staying in the National Park in contrast to Arusha, and the camp was more than pleasant. We were able to sleep well, travel through the National Park, and then get on a plane that flew us to the Serengeti and the Lake Masek tented camp.
Lake Masek Camp had been recommended and really met our needs. Our driver, who stayed with us the entire journey, drove to the Masek Tent camp from Arusha. In Tanzania, most of the Safari operators have their own vehicles, and your driver stays with you the entire time. The driver is not an employee of the camp site. Our driver-guide was really nice, accommodating, helpful, and was in tune with our need to move our vehicle into different positions in order to get the best photographic shot. And, often we just waited and sat watching the animals, and the driver was fine with this. We had a large amount of photographic gear, which was easily placed into the vehicles, and was readily accessible.
The camps that were recommended and chosen were very good, and the first one in the Serengeti was the Lake Masek tented camp. The accommodation was a large, clean, and nice tent with an outdoor shower. The tent was a short walk to the dinning area, which had indoor and outdoor places to eat. The food, breakfast and dinner primarily, were well done, sufficient in quantity, and very tasty.
Each morning, our breakfast was more than sufficient, and everything was ready so that we could get an early start on the day. This camp was chosen by African Dream Safaris, and was perfect for us. We stayed in camp for four nights, and the time spent in one camp, enabled us to travel around the Serengeti easily. When we traveled great distances, we were able to pack our lunches. Our driver named Francis was friendly, accommodating, helpful, and participated as needed as we decided our itinerary.
After the Serengeti, we traveled to the Ngorongoro Crater, and stayed in the only tented camp within the park, Lion’s Paw Tented Camp. The food was very good, and, despite being the only guests of the camp, our hosts were lovely, and accommodating. This was an excellent choice was made by African Dream Safaris, because, being inside the Park, enabled us to get up early, eat breakfast, and get down into the crater early. This really helped avoid the morning traffic of people coming from various sites outside the crater. We stayed two nights at Lion’s Paw Camp, and then drove to Arusha, stopping in an Iraqw village, and met an elder. We also stopped at Lake Manyara National Park which was lovely.
The trip was made easy, and the information supplied by African Dream Safaris, before we arrived, gave us what you need: contact numbers, items to avoid, the costs, how to tip, and what you should be aware of. The people, who represented the Africa Dream Safaris were friendly, verbal, approachable, professional, knowledgeable, and very helpful. We asked to find out about buying some appropriate African art pieces, and they got is to the Cultural Heritage Gallery in Arusha without problem.
I would without hesitation recommend them as a tour operator, which is knowledgeable, helpful, and their employees like what they are doing. The cost of this trip was more than reasonable, and do not be afraid to compare the trips prices. My wife would travel with them again, without hesitation.
Jerry and Myra D.
Safari Dates: February 1, 2016 to February 10, 2016
Myself, a professional wildlife photographer, and my husband, guide book writer for the Bradt guide to Tanzania went on safari in Northern Tanzania with Africa Dream Safaris for the third time in March 2016. In total we have visited Tanzania more than a dozen times, but our safaris with A.D.S. never disappoint. This time was no exception.
As before, the vehicle was really comfortable and reliable. There is an onboard fridge with a good supply of water and soft drinks as well as some sweets to keep you going between meals. Binoculars are provided as well. Our driver guide, Michael was good company and was ever patient with our demanding photographer’s ways of keeping on trying to get the best angle and lots of waiting with good sightings.
This time we did a two-week safari in the Serengeti. It is a real privilege to spend a good chunk of time in one of Africa’s best National Parks and we enjoy getting in the rhythm of spending time in the bush. This time, we covered the whole of the Serengeti starting in the Ndutu area in the South. We then made our way north through Central Serengeti, the Western Corridor and the far North Serengeti.
We travelled in March and wildlife is fantastic at this time around the Southern parts, but moving away from that area had it own advantages as we often had the whole lodge and game drive area to ourselves.
As usual, every day in the Serengeti offers something special: a special sighting, a special experience or something unusual…some of these sightings offer a good photo opportunity, some don’t. Here are a few images of our special encounters on this trip:
As we drove into the Serengeti, we came across a jackal feeding on a newly born wildebeest. In March most of the female wildebeests have calves and these are easy pickings for predators.
After dropping their babies in the South of the park in February the wildebeest were now migrating north.
The Serengeti must be THE place for watching lions. Lion kills, lions with cubs suckling or playing, lions in trees and of course the sleeping lions which you can just ignore after two days in the Serengeti as by then they really aren’t even worth stopping for anymore.
We had many great cheetah sightings. Cheetahs hunting and on kills. This time, we didn’t get very lucky with the leopard sightings, but then a few days before our departure we found two big leopard cubs left behind by the mum while she was presumably out hunting. They were a bit shy at first, but as we spend more time with them they became bolder and curious. What a treat photographing this brother and sister pair.
The rocky outcrops in the North (called koppies) are great for photographing klipspringers. We focused a few game drives on them and I’m pleased with the pictures.
A balloon safari is always a highlight. As two balloons went up we had the opportunity of photographing the other balloon itself at sunrise.
The birds are always a treat and I can say that Michael, our guide had a good birding knowledge. We managed to get some good shots of some of the more colourful species like the Bateleur and Fisher’s lovebird.
Lastly, a beautiful giraffe image with the Ngorongoro Crater Highlands in the background and one of the Serengeti’s big tusker elephants.
We’ll be back again and we can highly recommend Africa Dream Safaris to any visitors to Tanzania, whether you are first time visitors to Africa or bush fundies like ourselves.
Thanks again for a great safari – it really was fantastic.
Philip Briggs and Ariadne Van Zandbergen
Safari Dates: March 11, 2016 to March 25, 2016
Philip Briggs is the author of Bradt Guides to Tanzania, Northern Tanzania Safaris, and East African Wildlife, as well as a dozen other books about Africa. Please visit bradtguides.com for more information. Ariadne Van Zandbergen is a travel and wildlife photographer specializing in Africa with work published in hundreds of books and magazines and has her own photo library. Please visit africaimagelibrary.com for more information.
Philip’s published works include Bradt Guides to Tanzania, Northern Tanzania Safaris, and East African Wildlife, as well as many several other books about Africa. Many loyal fans follow Philip’s travel advice and recommendations very closely when planning their own dream safari vacations. And rightfully so…Philip has traveled extensively in Tanzania for many years and offers an unparalleled perspective from which to judge any African Safari company. So, needless to say we were thrilled when he came back with a glowing review for Africa Dream Safaris!
A few weeks ago I posted about some of the more unusual animal inhabitants of the Serengeti entitled The Bizarre, Quirky, Rare and Deadly. This week we will take a look at the Antelopes of the Serengeti. One of the main reasons the Serengeti is commonly regarded as the finest national park in Africa is the incredible diversity of large animals that coexist within the ecosystem. A perfect example of this diversification is seen in the Antelope species. I count 16 different species of antelope that have been seen by our guests over the last several years with 12 of those species being commonly seen on many of our safaris.
What follows is a collage of pictures I have collected over the years from returning guests of the various species of antelopes that inhabit the Serengeti. Note that all of these images are genuine photos taken by guests or staff while on safari with Africa Dream Safaris. We never use any stock imagery on our website or in our brochure.
Eland – The eland is the largest species of antelope found in the Serengeti. These massive antelopes are surprisingly fast on their feet and are notoriously difficult to photograph as they are quite fearful of vehicles (except in the nearby Ngorongoro Crater where they are habituated to the presence of vehicles). Good places to see them are in Northern Serengeti Woodlands in the dry season and out on the Southern and Eastern Serengeti Plains during the green season.
Dik-Dik – The smallest antelope and arguably the cutest to inhabit the Serengeti Ecosystem is named after its whistling alarm call. Dik-diks are monogamous and mate for life. They are widespread throughout the entire ecosystem but found only where there is thick cover and vegetation.
Topi – A large antelope seen very commonly in the Serengeti. It ranges from the long grass Serengeti plains to the Serengeti woodlands but is very rarely seen on the short grass plains in the Eastern Serengeti.
Their large size makes it difficult for most predators to hunt them successfully (with the exception of lion and spotted hyena).
Hartebeest – The hartebeest is closely related to the topi and has a similar appearance. Can you spot the differences? The hartebeest is lighter in coloration and does not have the darker face coloration (facemask).
Thomson’s Gazelle – The 2nd most numerous antelope in the Serengeti. Estimates put their population at well above 500,000. Thomson’s gazelles are the favored prey of the cheetah.
Thomson’s gazelles migrate from the Central and Western Serengeti woodlands in the dry season to the Southern and Eastern Serengeti Plains in the green season. Great spots to see them are the plains between Gol Kopjes and Barafu Kopjes in the green season (pictured below) and the Central Serengeti during the dry season.
Grant’s Gazelle – Slightly larger then the Thomson’s gazelle shown above, the Grant’s gazelle lacks the dark side stripe of its closely related cousin and is a much more drought tolerant species that can go weeks without water. Grant’s gazelle can be found on the Eastern and Southern Serengeti plains even in the dry season.
Waterbuck – Never far from water, this thick coated antelope is commonly found in the Serengeti woodlands. The best places to see them are in the Central Serengeti and especially in and around Moru Kopjes. Its thick coat makes it appetizing to only the hungriest lion. The picture below submitted by a returning guest is truly extraordinary with 3 females striking a perfectly aligned pose for the camera.
Reedbuck – Also never found very far from water, the Reedbuck is commonly seen in the tall grass around the various watercourses of the Central Serengeti. A favorite prey for the famous leopards of the Seronera Valley, Reedbucks are easily startled.
Oribi – Limited to only the Wogakuria woodlands of the Northern Serengeti, this antelope has the smallest distribution of any antelope in the Serengeti. The oribi’s coat is a reddish brown color with pure white fur underneath. The most striking feature of this charming little antelope is the black spot or scent gland located below each ear, making this antelope easily identifiable.
Steenbok – Very similar in appearance to the Oribi, the Steenbok can be identified by the black teardrop spot above its glossy black nose. Steenboks have a greater distribution compared with the Oribi. The best spots to see them are in the North Serengeti near Bologonja Springs and also in the southwestern woodlands around Kusini.
Klipspringer – The surefooted Klipspringer can be found on top of the granite kopjes that dot the Serengeti woodlands. These thick-set, rough-coated antelopes are adapted for gracefully leaping from rock to rock. Best spots for viewing include the kopjes immediately around the Lobo airstrip in the North Serengeti. However, they are quite widespread in the Serengeit and can also be seen in the Southwest of the park on both the Kusini and Moru Kopjes.
Bushbuck – A very elusive antelope that is very difficult to see in the Serengeti. You can’t miss its white spots. They lead a mainly solitary existence and are found in thick cover.
Impala – One of the most widespread and common antelope species of the Serengeti, the Impala is certainly the most elegant antelopes.
Only the male of this species possesses horns.
Wildebeest – The most numerous antelope species in the Serengeti with a staggering population of well over 1 million. The wildebeest migration is arguably the most incredible wildlife spectacle in the world.
Here is a shot of the wildebeest migration from the air, which still does not do the sheer size and mass of the migration justice. This picture was taken over the eastern Serengeti plains during the green season from a small plane.
East African Oryx – Perhaps the most endangered animal of the entire Serengeti ecosystem. Rumor has it that there are still a few remaining on the harsh Salei Plains to the east of the Serengeti. They are still seen from time to time in Tarangire National Park by our guests where this picture was taken.
Lesser Kudu – This beautiful antelope is also very rare but is seen much more often compared to the Oryx. The lesser Kudu can be seen in the southwestern Serengeti (sometimes near Kusini Camp) and also in Tarangire.