Our safari began, as so many others have described, with arrival at Kilimanjaro airport and a swift and easy passage through customs and arrival at Mount Meru Resort in Arusha. The following day we were treated to a tour of Arusha with an informative, detailed running commentary by Mathias and Joseph about the city, its people, and industries. We also toured the Cultural Heritage Center that holds a vast collection of paintings, carvings, and jewelry.
The following morning we flew from Arusha regional airport to the Mara River Airstrip in the northern Serengeti where we were met by our guide/driver Anglebert. From here, and for the next 12 days, our animal sighting experience was beyond our expectations.
I have always wanted to see the Great Migration; within a brief time from landing we saw hundreds of wildebeests and zebras crossing the Mara River. The sight left us speechless. During the next 2 days we saw all of the Big Five and returned to the river at different locations to watch the migration. Anglebert always knew where to be at just the right time to maximize our sightings.
As we traveled through the Serengeti, north to south, we saw lions, elephants, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, hyenas, jackals, monkeys, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, a Black Rhino, and many different antelopes and birds. It is difficult to describe the excitement of being within 15 feet of a lion as it lies in the shade staring at us as we stare at it.
At one point a male lion must have gotten annoyed with our presence. His gaze of us went from nonchalance, to tolerance, to border-line annoyance and then he made a very low growl. With a quiet voice Anglebert said “I think we should move on now”. We did.
The beauty of the country and the proximity to the animals continued to astound. The plains of the Serengeti, the vastness of the Ngorongoro Crater, and the kopjes were more breath-taking than one could imagine. The accommodations, food and service, from tented camps, to the luxurious were outstanding.
We were treated like royalty in exceptional surroundings at The Manor Lodge (where our private ‘butler’, Peter, gave us gentle care, bounties of flowers and special private settings for gracious meals) and at The Migration Tented Camp (where the staff joyously spoiled us with a memorable evening of feast, fire and song in celebration of our wedding anniversary). Yet we loved equally the Mara River Tented Camp (and all the other tented camps) where The Great Migration passed within a few feet of our tent. The staff at Mara River Camp, better described as our Hosts, shared their warmth and knowledge with gracious joy.
We also toured the facilities of F.A.M.E. (Foundation for African Medicine and Education) spending time with co-founder Dr. Frank Artress seeing first-hand the great work this organization is doing for the people of the region. Following that, Anglebert took us to an open-air market in the town of Karatu. Hundreds of people selling all manner of goods including clothing, cattle, cloth, sugar cane, shoes, wood, melons, meat, and cooked foods. It was an amazing and colorful experience.
A special word about ADS. From the very beginning of our inquiries about a safari, Sharon Lyon was most helpful and thoughtful; answering our questions and arranging our itinerary. Anglebert, our guide/driver, was so attentive, answering our questions and being sure our experience was as we wished it to be.
His knowledge of animals was astounding as was his incredible ability to spot animals and know where they would be. He taught us so much. There is no doubt that the experience one has on safari is directly related to the abilities of a guide. Anglebert was the best.
Joseph and Mathias were also warm, fun and incredibly helpful in getting us to and from the airports, helping us through customs and seeing that our time in Arusha was well spent. We thank ADS, Anglebert, Mathias and Joseph with full hearts. Cathy King, of King Travel, was very helpful with suggestions and arranging our overseas flights.
We plan to return to Tanzania in 2-3 years. ADS here we come!
Alan L. and Jan S.
Safari Dates: August 28, 2016 to September 11, 2016
If you are reading this review then you are probably looking for a Safari company to provide your dream trip to Africa. Look no further Africa Dream Safari is the place to sign up. From beginning to end your every desire and whim will be taken care of one hundred percent of the time.
My wife and I are experienced international travelers both professionally and personally. Our goals were simple:
1. Painless reservations – smooth transit
2. Trip Insurance and medical evacuation insurance
3. If possible expediting service upon arrival in Tanzania
4. Private Guide
5. Experienced Guide with knowledge of wildlife and lighting conditions for photography
6. Enough luggage allowance to accommodate photography equipment
7. Private Vehicle designed for photography with unlimited mileage
8. First Class Accommodations and Cuisine
9. Seamless intra-country transfers
10. Spectacular Animal Viewing
11. Magnificent Vistas and Landscapes
12. Friendly Staff
However I assure you finding a company that can meet these requirements is a daunting challenge. I looked at over 20 Safari outfits before honing in on African Dream Safari. Once selected the real work began and was the most pleasant experience I have had in a long time. Sharon our trip consultant was a wealth of information and I must tell you that if you follow the direction / instructions in the Handbook ADS provides you cannot screw up your preparations or trip.
Sharon went out of her way to put me in touch with a professional photographer/videographer who took several hours out of his day to give me advice on what lenses I should take along on the trip. We talked about the proposed itinerary and he provided me guidance on the wildlife I could expect to see on each leg of the trip and the lenses I would need to have handy.
While you cannot expect to see animals where you want them when you want them you can be prepared to capture the images of a lifetime and this translates to capturing stunning and breathtaking images. I cannot emphasize enough the value of the handbook. It covered everything from electrical outlets and voltage to laundry.
Upon landing at Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania I was immediately impressed with the professionalism and skill ADS personnel showed in moving us through customs. We offloaded from the aircraft and within 20 minutes were on our way to the hotel. It was a painless experience and upon arrival at the Mt Meru Resort in Arusha we were greeted with drinks and a late dinner that was outstanding and 5 star accommodations.
Sharon had suggested during our trip planning that we add an extra day to ease of the jet lag from our Seattle flight. What a smart suggestion we spent a day recovering from jet-lag. When we started our Safari jet-lag was not an issue and we were ready to Safari.
I cannot say enough about Pokea our Guide. He met us for the first time when we left the Mt. Meru resort for the internal airport transfer to the Mara River Camp. What knowledgeable and genuinely friendly individual. I have had guides all over the world and only one other time have I had a guide as knowledgeable and friendly as Poker. My wife and I both clicked with him from the very start.
On the way to the internal airport we talked about my desire to be out from sunrise to sunset maximizing morning and evening light conditions. I told him I wanted to paint with the light and capture the emotion of the animals. He eyes lit up and I knew we had Guide and friend. Within the first day we had worked out a system for finding animals. Then I would get ready for the shot and he would position us for the best light.
My wife was keeping an image list and Pokea provided a plethora of facts on each animal and the geographic area where we shot the image. On our very first day we witnessed a large herd of Wildebeest cross the Mara River. With Pokea’s knowledge of the local country we observed and photographed all of the “Big Five” by the end of the second day.
Over the course of our Safari we took 10,000 images of over 80 different species of mammals, reptiles, and avian. Not every image is a winner but we certainly captured the emotion and light I was seeking to paint on multiple images.
The cuisine for breakfast and dinner at each of the lodges was superb. Of particular note was a five star meal at the Ngorongoro Lion’s Paw Tented Camp where we were served a mouth-watering stroganoff that rivals any we have had in the world. At the Swala Camp I had a wonderful chocolate dessert called the Kilimanjaro and that one desert is worth going back to Africa just to taste again.
We recommend ADS to anyone who is looking for a once in a lifetime experience. You won’t be disappointed with their service.
Joe and Ranee O.
September 18, 2016 to September 29, 2016
This was the only trip where the experience exceeded our expectations. And we are pretty seasoned travelers. Russell was an exceptional guide. I called him the animal whisperer. He must have eyes in the back of his head! His sense of humor was greatly appreciated and his patience with novice African travelers was great.
I kept calling this magnificent cape buffalo (see photo above) a water buffalo, and he patiently corrected me every time. His sense of humor fit into our group like a glove. Also, his knowledge of the animals, birds, and plants was like having Wikipedia in our land cruiser. I must acknowledge his driving skills and familiarity of the area, which was vast! To be able to drive that distance on those roads without “GPS” was amazing. Having just one guide was the key to our wonderful experience.
ADS does an excellent job at delivering a “trip of a lifetime”! This had been on my bucket list for a time and when by brother Eric also wanted to experience Africa at its best-we jumped at the opportunity to see this magnificent piece of the planet.
A private safari is the only way to go! We would do this again in a heartbeat with the very same people!
Mary and Roger S.
Safari Dates: September 10, 2016 to September 18, 2016