This is going to be challenging to write as words can in no way begin to describe the experiences my husband and I had on our safari in Tanzania. We booked a 9 day safari July 13 to July 22 with African Dream Safaris after an extremely thorough online search of safari outfitters. The decision to book with ADS turned out to be the perfect choice! I had read so many of the “This Week in Tanzania” travelogues leading up to our departure… my expectations were very high. I thought there would be no way that the actual experience would even be close to what I was imagining. Turns out I was wrong.
After our short flight to the Serengeti from Arusha we were met by our driver-guide, Bernard. Bernard is a wonderful, knowledgeable and extremely gifted driver-guide. After introductions and stowing of luggage, we were off on our first wildlife viewing drive. There were wildebeests, ostriches, impalas, klipspringer and elephants everywhere! After enjoying several hours of animal viewing we decided to stop for lunch.
Bernard drove up to a rocky area (kopje) where 3 female lions and 9 cubs were sunning themselves. We ate our lunch and observed the lions, which were only 15-20 feet away from us. It was absolutely amazing to watch this pride of lions scramble around on the rocks as we took pictures and finished our lunch. The word “surreal” is so overused, but it is exactly right for this instance… and really the whole trip.
After leaving the lions we came across a herd of elephants cooling off in the Mara River. Along the bank of the river were gazelles, zebras and hippos. On the way to the Mara River Camp we saw many monkeys and gazelles. After our first day I was thinking that we experienced so much, it couldn’t possibly continue at that level. Again, I was so wrong.
We had decided to start each day as early as possible (usually leaving the camp at 6:30am) so that we could see the animals at their most active. You MUST do this if you go on safari! Our first full day began with a spectacular sunrise, followed closely by an encounter with 4 young lions trotting along the river near a large herd of giraffe and zebra.
As we were watching the scene unfold, Bernard got a call that the wildebeest were crossing the Mara River! We had to quickly decide whether to continue with the lions or drive to the river. We chose to drive to the river and made it in time to see the spectacular wildebeest crossing. Again, there are no words that can possibly describe this experience.
One side note, when we were driving off to see the wildebeest, a group of 15-20 giraffes started running full-out next to our vehicle. That is an image that I will never forget. Simply magical! Shortly after the wildebeest crossing we came upon a leopard in a tree! We watched as the leopard jumped from the tree and began stalking some impala.
We followed the leopard for awhile until we came upon 4 more lions guarding a recent Topi kill. Vultures and spotted hyenas were also getting in on the action. It is absolutely amazing that all of this happened before 10:00 in the morning! The afternoon was spent by the river observing hippos, crocodiles, thousands of wildebeest, zebra, impala, buffalo, warthogs, jackals, eland, and the list goes on.
Again, after the second day I was amazed that it could have been as good, if not better, than the first day. I thought certainly it would have to be downhill from there. Are you beginning to see the pattern? Boy, was I wrong!
We spent part of a morning watching a lioness move her three newborn cubs from an area of tall grass to a rocky kopje about 500 meters away. The little cubs were just swinging from their mother’s mouth as she trotted along the trail. There was also an afternoon when we watched a 14 foot crocodile defending its kill from several other crocodiles in a small pond. It was a pretty intense battle!
One highlight of the trip (in a trip FULL of highlights) was the night game drive during our stay at the Buffalo Luxury Camp. We headed out about 9:00 with a driver-guide and a spotter. As we drove the spotter swept his spotlight back and forth, looking for eyes in the darkness. We came upon a male lion laying down in the grass, and as we watched two small cubs ran up and started leaping about on his head trying to get him to play. There was a large pride in the grass a few meters away. We thought to only stay out for an hour or so, but we saw so many incredible animals that we were out until after 11:00! If the opportunity for a night drive presents itself… GO!
We did see the Big 5! The black rhinoceros proved to be the most elusive, but we saw one in the Ngorongoro Crater. Over the course of our safari we were fortunate to have many leopard and cheetah sightings, as well as an abundance of buffalo, lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, gazelles, elephants, and the list goes on and on. For every animal I name, there are 10 I am not mentioning. That is no exaggeration… I just don’t want to write a huge list of animals with no details about the experience.
We stayed in 5 different accommodations, and each one was incredible! Our accommodations included the Mount Meru Resort, Mara River Camp, Buffalo Luxury Camp, Mbuzi Mawe Tented Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Lodge and the Bougainvillea Lodge. The staff at each location were so friendly and welcoming, the food was excellent (including the box lunches which we had every day) and the rooms were amazingly comfortable. I could write several more pages raving about each of the accommodations!
African Dream Safaris made everything about this journey a pleasure! The planning is meticulously done so that the trip itself is seamless. We felt honored to be able to experience the Serengeti on this amazing adventure. Thanks to African Dream Safaris, our trip was flawless. On this point, I am absolutely correct.
Jacki and Brad B.
Greenville, South Carolina
Safari Dates: July 13, 2016 to July 21, 2016
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!
Martha D. and Elizabeth H.
Safari Dates: May 18, 2016 to May 29, 2016
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