From the moment we arrived in Arusha and were greeted by Joseph and Matthius, our trip was flawless, liberally sprinkled with surprises around every turn that would delight even the most seasoned traveler, and just simply, the most epic adventure.
Five years ago, my wife and I went on our first African safari with ADS. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! It was during that trip that we said to each other, We need to bring our grandchildren back here when they get old enough, and see this through their eyes! Well, our two oldest grandchildren are 13 and 15, and we felt this was the year to fulfill that wish.
For the last 18 months, we have been reading of others experiences in Tanzania with Africa Dream Safaris. Now, we have the opportunity to add our input.
We returned from Tanzania on the 16th of September after eleven days on safari.
To say we had the time of a lifetime is to be conservative. Everything about the trip (except the plane engine that wouldn’t start on our outbound trip to the Netherlands) was perfect.
We’d particularly like to acknowledge all of the efforts of Sharon (Simba Lady). If no one else is, we’re sure she is glad we’re back – and the questions will stop. Another ADS employee that gets all of the thanks possible is our guide, Ellison. He found incredible opportunities for us, while keeping the most interesting roads imaginable manageable. In all seriousness, he made the trip.
The best gauge of how well the trip went – during the last three days, we actually got fussy about the pictures we took OF LIONS.
We’ve included a few of our favorite pictures, we hope you’ll enjoy seeing them as much as we enjoyed experiencing them.
Bev, Mike, Christine, Jack F.
Safari Dates: September 5, 2015 to September 15, 2015
We began planning our May 2014 African safari over a year in advance. Dawn was extremely helpful in recommending an itinerary that would maximize our opportunities to see the many aspects of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater that we wanted to see. Additionally she did a marvelous job of arranging for us to stay in a variety of lodging facilities from a mobile tented campsite in Sametu to the luxurious Four Seasons Resort in Bilila.
The ultimate success of our safari was largely due to our incredible guide “Rafae”. His knowledge of animals and their behaviors, birds, plants and the Maasi culture made for an outstanding learning experience that each of us will always remember. We had an exceptional experience with African Dream Safaris. We enthusiastically recommend them to anyone considering a safari in Tanzania.
Dennis and Jane T.
Safari dates: May 23, 2014 to June 01, 2014
Several months ago, we were invited to round out a group of six for a 10-day trip through the bush with Africa Dream Safaris and it took us all of 2 minutes to decide that we would never forgive ourselves if we declined. We just returned home from the trip tired but thrilled – it was an outstanding adventure and a very well coordinated one.
Upon our arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, we were met by Faith – a very sweet lady. She had everything under control for us and the next thing we knew we were at our hotel for the night. The next morning, she had us on our way via air to Grumeti. On our touch down at Grumeti, wildebeests were scurrying alongside the plane. We definitely weren’t in Illinois anymore! Stepping off the plane, we found Rafael “Rafa” Mollel, our driver-guide and soon-to-be new friend waiting for us with our home on wheels for the next 9 days. And off we went.
By day’s end, we had seen such an unbelievable variety of animals that I couldn’t imagine that the next day could be anywhere near as good but it always was. And Rafa was a wealth of knowledge on just about everything – the animals and their behavior, the plant life, the geography, etc. It was much, much more than just seeing animals – it was an education on the Serengeti.
Over the 10-day period, we noted down that we had seen at least 11 different carnivores (including 13 or so lions chowing down on an eland, several cheetahs, and a couple of leopards), 4 different primates, 5 different reptiles (including a 12-foot python that appeared right next to our vehicle while we had our focus on a pride of lions), 4 different raptors, 10 different antelopes & other ruminants, 8 other hoofed mammals (including 33 elephants in one spot and 10 black rhinos at a distance), 19 different birds, and 10 different types of trees (including several baobabs) – simply amazing! And then there was the scenery – the endless plains, the kopjes, the watering holes and rivers. Everywhere you looked, it was postcard beautiful. A place everyone should see at least once in their life.
During the trip, we stayed at 6 different places including a tented camp, a couple of tented lodges, and some luxury hotels – all were great in their own way and very different from anything we had ever experienced before. We’ve camped many times but had never heard a lion growl 20 feet from our tent before and we’ve stayed at many a nice hotel but this was the first time we’d ever shared the pool-side lounge chairs with a baboon. What fun!!!
A big thanks to Dawn who handled everything for us in the States, to Faith who took such good care of us in Arusha before we set off and after our return, and especially to Rafa who made the trip so memorable for us each and every day.
Oh, and the Tusker, Kilimanjaro, and Safari beers are all good.
Lawrence and Marcia O.
St. Charles, Illinois
Safari dates: May 23, 2014 to June 01, 2014
We recently returned from our “trip of a lifetime!” We heard that phrase before we went…but, seeing is believing! Although we had read about Safaris (compliments to ADS for an educational website including testimonials) from other visitors to Africa and heard stories from friends, our expectations were far surpassed by the trip itself.
Africa Dream Safaris was so helpful as they greeted us (“jambo!”), assisted us as we settled in to our lodging and as we continued on our safari where we felt safe at all times and, of course, the staff being with us as we departed for home. Our good-byes were to very special new ADS friends that we made in Tanzania.
Our guide was so enthusiastic as he spotted animals and shared his vast knowledge of the land and its inhabitants. We laughed as he described our often bumpy ride as a complimentary Serengeti “massage.” In truth, the well-maintained truck supplied comfortable seat cushions, excellent binoculars, superior roof access for standing for views, drinks, snacks, camera battery charger, etc…all that we might need for each day’s journey.
We had a copy of Wildlife of East Africa (Withers and Hosking) handy as Arnold would confirm a sighting and tell us more about what we were seeing. Arnold’s explanations of the animals and their habits, Arnold’s sense of humor and his friendliness made our days in the “truck” delightful…as he would say, “hakuna matata.” We saw the “big 5” and too many other animals and birds to mention..and up close, so up close!
Our photo opportunities were unimaginable. We watched the activities of the animals and often were moved quietly to a better viewing position chosen by Arnold…all the time snapping photos or shooting video. Arnold’s timing was perfect for seeing all that we could see and for photography. Leaving early in the mornings provided many exciting views of active animals. Each day, we would happily stay on safari as long as we could as we viewed the wildlife and the magnificent open blue sky with fluffy white clouds nearing sunset.
At dinner, after each day in the truck and then sharing our experiences with our group, we were continually amazed at not only the numbers of animals we saw, but also the variety of them and the many kinds of birds. As my son said when I described our experiences, “Mom, I’ve never heard you so AMAZED.” We were continually thrilled by what we were viewing, yes…AMAZED.
When Arnold spotted a dung beetle pushing its ball with an egg inside, we were astounded that he would notice that “small wonder” near the side of the road. When we watched a giraffe awkwardly spread his long legs out to get a drink of water from a puddle… when we saw the wildebeests and zebras and “believed” in a massive migration…when we learned of acacia trees, the magic tree, kopjes, sausage trees, the endless plain, rolling hills of lush green, the crater, hearing monkeys on our tented roof…our incredible experiences went on and on.
And, we haven’t even mentioned the fabulous meals…and Veronica, the chef, and her friendliness, sense of humor and charm…and our beautifully-appointed accommodations…and our outdoor private shower looking up at the stars…and our visit with the Massai…and our fun-loving friends who shared our truck…and…more and more. Obviously, we could go on and on about the spectacular sights and sounds of a friendly, peaceful country…Tanzania. But, as we learned and you will, too, – seeing is believing.
And, Sharon, thanks again for working with the Jensen’s in providing a “once in a lifetime” experience. I can’t think of a single thing that I would change!
BJ B. and Betty B.
Jensen Group: April 4-12, 2014
Additional recommendations: We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns (children’s book, great for grandchildren). Safari Guide to East African Animals by Jonathan and Angela Scott (used by Arnold and purchased in Arusha by us)
A dream come true, this African Safari! Asante Sana to all of you remarkable people of ADS and Tanzania, East Africa-What a trip! From the moment we landed in Arusha until our departure the days just flew by with each day bringing new and exciting wonders.
Our guide, Arnold, was the most knowledgeable and friendliest person to have lead our safari. His instinct positioned us expertly as close as possible to witness the many wonders of the Serengeti. Every day a new adventure, from the magnificent to the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, to the slowly disappearing early morning mist in the Ngorongoro Crater. It was a spectacular journey.
The animals of East Africa, no matter their size were mesmerizing to watch…the protectiveness and gentle encouraging nudges of the elephants towards their young, the skittish darting motion of the zebra and wildebeest herds, the young antelope and gazelle kicking up their heels in joyous play, the slow graceful movements of the giraffes as they nibble on the treetops, the majesty of the big cats, the lions basking in the sun on the warm rocks or lapping up a drink of cool water in the early morning hours, the young cheetah playing carefully with its mother while trying not to get wet in the nearby stream and even the industrious nature of the humble Dung Beetl…rolling…rolling…rolling its dung encased egg to the perfect location for maturation…these moments have created memories that will forever be etched in our mind and we will never forget this once in a lifetime safari lead by our heroes, the guides from ADS.
Thank you all.
Christine G and Christine M
Jensen Group April 4-12, 2014
Deborah and I have traveled to Africa a number of times. In fact we have made eight trips to the continent before our recent tour to Tanzania. We are amateur bird watchers and also very much enjoy viewing all of the unique animal species of Africa. We had previously visited twenty countries in Africa so we had quite extensively covered the continent. However, we have never been to Tanzania and the Serengeti. We had purposely avoided the Serengeti because we had heard many stories about the crowds of tourists that overrun the region. With that said, we finally decided that we really needed to see the Serengeti to fill out our African experiences.
We searched the Internet for a tour company that covers Tanzania and would meet our requirements as seasoned African travelers. I am very pleased to say that we discovered Africa Dream Safaris. We were very pleased with the tour package that they offered to us. They laid out our itinerary with our suggestion in mind that we hopefully wanted to avoid as much as possible the tourist crush. They provided us with an excellent guide that specialized in bird watching; a modern, comfortable vehicle that served us well during our tour; and luxury small camp accommodations that were our preference. I am very pleased to report that we experienced an excellent game viewing tour with ADS. We added 53 new birds to our African Bird list and 3 new mammals to our African Mammal list.
Deborah and I are now saying to ourselves that we made a big mistake avoiding the Serengeti for so long. It is now our belief that it is the premiere game viewing location on the African continent. We would also highly recommend the African Dream Safari tour company to anybody interested in visiting Tanzania for the wildlife viewing experience. They handled us very well on our recently completed ninth trip to Africa.
Bill and Deborah C.
Safari Dates: October 3, 2013 to October 13, 2013
When my husband and I planned our first safari to Tanzania way back in 2011 with Africa Dream Safaris, we thought it would be a once in a lifetime trip. We were barely into the third day, however, when we decided that the country was so amazing that we would return! This past month in October 2013 we made that return journey. There was never any doubt in our mind who to use, as Africa Dream Safaris had done such a spectacular job with our past safari.
Dave and I had thought the first trip was unbelievable…but this second trip….wow….words simply cannot describe it. The Northern Serengeti in September is nothing short of magical with a lush green wooded landscape teeming with wildlife. We had targeted September for our visit as we wanted to see the migration crossing the Mara River, as well as view Tarangire at its finest. And see both we did thanks to Africa Dream Safaris!
We started our trip in Tarangire and spent two wonderful nights at Swala Camp where we dined and fell asleep to the roars and grunts of lions roaming in the vicinity of camp and the footsteps of elephants walking near our tent. We could even see them from the deck of the dining area!
Our first guide, Michael, drove us throughout the park and showed us the huge elephant herds walking to the water, as well as more than a dozen lions hunting, eating, and resting under the shade of the trees. On our first full morning at Swala we left camp at 6am for our game drive and within a mile of camp we saw a lion nonchalantly strolling down the road. We watched him intently, until we realized that there were twelve more about four feet from our Land Cruiser sitting in the grass staring at us!
From Tarangire, we flew to the far north of Serengeti where we were picked up by our guide for the remainder of the trip, Arnold, in a sparkling and very new Land Cruiser with a sunshade. My husband was especially keen on seeing a river crossing and we were very hopeful of catching one while we were there. Well, within 30 minutes of landing on the Kogatende airstrip….we were right in the MIDDLE of one!
Arnold used his experience and network of guides to find out where the crossing was occurring and quickly get us there. It was absolutely amazing and like nothing we could have prepared for – imagine thousands of wildebeest and zebra clamoring and climbing over one another down the banks of a river and into the rushing water, all the while braying and barking and grunting and kicking up dust. As they tried to get across the water, some would get caught on rocks – or worse yet – in the jaws of a croc.
We found ourselves rooting and cheering as a wildebeest luckily made it to safety after getting pulled down by a croc. Or when a young zebra got swept downriver towards a group of hippos…only to bump face to face with a big mama hippo who submerged herself and appeared to give him a strong push that was enough to get him back upriver and towards shore. As if one river crossing wasn’t dramatic enough, we saw FIVE in total over the three days we spend in the North. We also saw tiny leopard cubs playing, as well as two adults leopards making some new cubs on a rock a few yards from us!
Our other reason for loving the North was the camp we stayed in, Bushtops Serengeti. We had picked it out especially as the place we wanted to spend our anniversary. If we could live anywhere in this world – it would be right in this camp! Absolutely heavenly and luxurious, while still feeling comfortable. The tents were out of this world, with an outdoor shower, couches, hot tub, and a private dining table right on the deck! But, it was the view and the people that truly made this camp. From our deck we watched the sun setting over the expanse of the Serengeti, while sitting on the couch with a glass of wine.
The camp manager and the entire staff were so welcoming and really topped off the whole experience. They made the night of our anniversary very special with a dinner on the deck of our tent, lit up by lanterns, decorated by rose petals, and completed with a song, cake, and visit from the camp staff and our guide Arnold who we had quickly already bonded with. Bushtops also had this insanely cool infinity pool that looked out over the Serengeti. After a game drive one day my husband and I cooled off in it and then stood back in the pool with Safari beers in our hands and happily sighed as we looked out over the plains and said, “Now this…THIS is why we work – for moments like this.”
From the North, we went to the Lobo area and then onwards to the Central Serengeti where we stayed at Africa Dream Safari’s outstanding Sametu Camp. Jonas made us feel right at home with warm towels and Safari beers when we arrived. For the first night we were the only guests and enjoyed a beautiful evening watching the sunset, sipping wine, listening to the hyenas whoop, and chatting with our guide Arnold. A lioness even chased a zebra through the camp after we finished dinner and headed back to our tents!
The Central Serengeti provided our “32 Cat Day” thanks to Arnold’s amazing skills as a guide. In ONE day we saw 7 cheetah (including two cubs), a leopard in a tree, and 24 lions (including 10 different cubs, four of which were less than three weeks old).
I can’t say enough about how Africa Dream Safaris made our second journey to Africa the incredible experience it was. Dawn flawlessly planned a breathtaking trip that went far beyond our wildest expectations. Arnold and Michael were amazing guides who showed us the wildlife of Tanzania, knew exactly where to position us for great photographs, maneuvered the Land Cruisers through difficult terrain safely (unlike many other companies we saw), and gave us memories that will sustain us until a third trip! I have no doubts that without them our trip would not have been the same incredible experience.
Having done two trips now to Tanzania, we have seen many other companies and guides and listened to the stories from their guests. They simply don’t compare to the high level of quality, professionalism, kindness, and expertise provided by African Dream Safaris. We will be back to Tanzania and will most definitely use ADS again! Thank you Dawn, Arnold, Michael, Jonas, and the entire Africa Dream Safari staff!
Moira and David F.
Safari Dates: September 25 to October 4th
We’re still enjoying our safari ‘high’ and are very excited to share our adventure with you!
The trip you planned for us was a fabulous overview of all of Tanzania. We started at the Ngorongoro Crater, turned south to beautiful Tarangire, traveled through the central Serengeti, headed north to track the wildebeest herds along the Mara River and concluded our adventure in the Lobo game reserve.
After our group of ten arrived at the Ndutu airstrip, we were met by our guides Arnold Mushi and Thomson Maleki who were fabulous! They were always eager to find exciting animal encounters, eternally patient with our unceasing photography demands and full of detailed information about any animal/bird/reptile we saw. Arnold would frequently shout out, “How is everybody??” and we would enthusiastically respond! The bar was set extremely high right off the bat as we saw not only a lioness hunting warthog, but a group of ten lion cubs who came down to the water to drink right in front of us! Absolutely magical!!
Though a few of our days were long and we covered many km, when we arrived at each camp there were smiling faces, eucalyptus-scented cloths to wipe away the trail dust and a chilled beverage to refresh us! Each camp was more amazing than the last. Our ‘tent’ accommodations were absolutely top notch with all the comforts of home. Our favorites were Lion’s Paw at the Ngoronogoro Crater and Swala.
At Lion’s Paw, our sundowner was the perfect place to watch a beautiful sunset before we enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Jonas and his staff before we snuggled into our beds in the chilly air. The hot water bottles awaiting us were the perfect touch!
At Swala, we were delighted to have front row seats for a controlled burn of the grass during dinner and lions roaring virtually in our ears at night. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the crazy antics of an African Harrier Hawk as he hung upside down in a nearby tree. Chris and his crew were spectacular hosts.
Our stay at Seronera Sametu was highlighted by a ‘close encounter’ with a lioness who was stalking buffalo near camp. She popped up out of the tall grass and gave my husband and one of the camp guards quite a start! Very exciting!!
Our trek to LeMala Mara was chock full of African wildlife; the hippos crowding the hippo pools of the Mara River and seeing a lion family devour a freshly killed wildebeest were truly memorable sights.
Our final days were spent at the beautiful Buffalo Luxury camp. My daughter, a budding artist, loved that they had drawing supplies available in the lounge so she could put some of the amazing animals we saw down on paper. Our host, Chris, took us on a wonderful walking safari and even organized a hilltop sundowner for our last evening. The food was spectacular (loved those loaf-sized dinner rolls) and they even baked a birthday cake to help celebrate a special birthday for Kathi. Another truly memorable experience was the opportunity to visit a nearby Maasai village and learn about their lifestyle. They welcomed us warmly and we thoroughly enjoyed their melodic singing, jumping and dancing!
Our animal encounters were amazing! All in all we saw 84 lions, 9 cheetahs and 7 leopards along with countless elephants, giraffe, hippo, monkeys, wildebeest, Tomi’s and many beautiful birds. As a group, we took over 10,000 photos! Despite what we thought Africa would be like, it was so much MORE than we expected and the fabulous planning and attention to every detail sets Africa Dream Safaris apart. It was truly the trip of a lifetime!
As Arnold would say, “Every day is a good day… in the bush!!”
Thank you Sharon for putting together our adventure, we sincerely hope it is not too long before we can return to the magic of Africa.
Chris, Mark, Mason & Kylie (Naperville, Illinois)
Mark, Kathi, Liz & Robby (Avondale, Pennsylvania)
Bob & Ruth Ann (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Safari Dates: July 14, 2013 to July 29, 2013
Sharon – The safari vacation through Africa Dream Safaris exceeded our expectations. The accommodations and food were over the top. We were surprised to receive welcome gifts at the beginning of the safari, a retirement cake and song for my husband after our second dinner (this vacation was a retirement gift from his former employer) and at the end of our stay we were honored with another song and cake after dinner that welcomed us to come back.
Everyone we met was genuinely friendly. We couldn’t have had a nicer and more informative guide. He was able to locate so many animals for us. In fact, we were able to see and photograph the “Big Five!” When we passed other vehicles crammed with people, we felt very fortunate to be on a private safari. We have travelled to many destinations, but this one was absolutely the best!
Donna and Michael Harper
Glen Carbon, Illinois
Lisa and I have been back for four days now and we still cannot stop talking about how incredible our safari to Tanzania was. When combined with ADS’ attention to detail, the people, parks, conservation areas, animals, and accommodations of Tanzania really became a magical symphony for the senses. I could easily copy and paste from almost any other travelogue or testimonial because based on our experience, everything said by others is undoubtedly true and bears repeating. Here are some key highlights from our trip …
Day 1 – We landed in Tanzania where a visa expert had us processed in minutes while hundreds of others floundered around the passport control line. The local ADS crew was standing by with our bags and gave us a warm welcome, informative ride to the swank Mt. Meru Hotel in Arusha, a safari briefing and a lovely welcome gift in the form of a Masai beaded -bracelet which Lisa wore every day of the trip. It became immediately obvious to us that it would be unnecessary to think or worry about a single detail during our trip as everything was taken care of for us, including check-in.
Day 2 – After a relaxing evening, we spent an extra day in Arusha to recover from jet lag. The ADS team took us on a leisurely afternoon tour of the city which was very informative and interesting. We returned to the hotel for some poolside lounging. That evening, a private dining area was set up for us outside under a pergola and a special meal was prepared so we could celebrate Lisa’s birthday and our anniversary – the reasons for our trip. This was one of the many unexpected and thoughtful touches provided by the ADS team throughout our Tanzanian adventure.
Day 3 – We took an early flight into the bush as it was finally safari time!! We had one stop for a passenger pick-up at Lobo airstrip where we were joined by two crying women who were ending their trip. Lisa and I thought they were nuts until about day 5 when we both realized we too might have the same reaction on our way home. On final approach to Grumeti airport, we were glued to the window of the aircraft as a huge zoo emerged below us. After landing, we were greeted immediately by the highlight of our trip – our guide.
This man proved to be one of the warmest, funniest, and most knowledgeable people we have ever met. Within 15 minutes of being out in the bush, he spotted a lion that we watched from 5 feet away! We literally had chills because THIS is why we came to Africa – to experience up-close all the wildlife and natural beauty. In the first half of the day, we snapped over 200 photos of lions, zebra, giraffe, topi, eland, buffalo, elephant and ostrich.
We regained our composure at lunch on some rocks overlooking a vast plain where were were provided an introduction to the Serengeti and a detailed description of what we could expect on our safari. We continued our game drive all the way back to the Soroi lodge, where just before sundown we stumbled upon a billion (okay, maybe just a few thousand) wildebeest in migration running across the road in front of us. Awesome!! The Soroi was a magnificent property and our room was pure colonial luxury. We had an amazing dinner including a surprise birthday cake for Lisa and were then off to bed for an early game drive.
Day 4 – We awoke for a 6:30 breakfast and then were off to the bush. Our second day provided extremely diverse wildlife viewing again including hippos, monkeys, baboons, crocodiles, turtles, impala, gazelle, lizards and oh yes, the wildebeest. We marveled at how the landscape is ever-changing and always awe inspiring, from the lush tree-packed areas around the rivers, to the vast plains, to the sporadic rocky outcroppings that emerge – the countryside is simply breath taking. We went back to the lodge by 4 p.m. so we could enjoy our spectacular balcony view, outdoor shower, beautiful sunset, and another great dinner.
Day 5 – After a 6:00 am wake-up call and breakfast, we game drove our way to the central Serengeti. Not long into our day, we had a close encounter with a huge elephant. Noticing an unusually large amount of droppings on the road, our guide had a hunch that more elephants were looming, so we drove a few more minutes and – sure enough – stumbled upon a herd of 40+ elephants! We spent an hour just watching them – it was an absolute joy to watch these creatures unencumbered by artificial boundaries.
We continued through areas of dense game which included zebra, wildebeest, buffalo and giraffe, then stopped for lunch at the Serengeti Visitor Center and took an informative walking tour. In the afternoon, we found ourselves driving among the kopjes gawking at lions of every size and shape. The day ended with our guide spotting a cheetah from at least a ½ mile away (we still have no idea how he spots these creatures). After taking a few dozen photos we looked 5 yards to the right and found a cheetah cub sitting in a rut below the grass line. That was good for about another 50 photos!
We arrived at our private camp just before sunset and were greeted by a friendly staff, warm towel and cold drink. The decision to camp was not one we made lightly as this usually isn’t our speed. Suffice to say, we would do it again in a heartbeat as it was one of the highlights of the trip and provided the most amazing views of the sunset and night sky. Dinner was followed by a camp-fire chat and a visit from a “friendly” hyena that was eventually chased away. We drifted into sleep accompanied by the sounds of the “friendly” hyena and tons of other game in the area.
Day 6 – We had a 5:30 breakfast in the Serengeti and headed out on another “fishing” adventure. In the morning we spotted a hyena trailing a few lions, a pair of cheetah unsuccessfully stalking prey, and two lions mating – now that was quite a show! Shortly after we spotted another lion stalking a group of zebra drinking by the river. Our guide instinctively knew this would result in a kill, so he drove us a little distance away so we could have prime viewing of the entire event unfolding. That was by far the most exhilarating show of the trip!
We went back to the camp for a delicious lunch and siesta, and then headed back out in the afternoon to watch a pride of lions frolicking and a leopard return to the impala it had stashed in a tree – mission accomplished. We had another great dinner at the camp with warm birthday wishes and another cake for Lisa! We were briefly awakened at 2 a.m. when a zebra stampede moved through the camp, but quickly fell back asleep to the softer sounds of night in Serengeti.
Day 7 – We woke up very refreshed and compared notes about the stampede and accompanying cacophony. We thanked the crew for a great stay and headed back out to game dive our way to the Bilila Lodge. We checked on our leopard friend again before we left the neighborhood and spent some time with the pride of lions from the day before. We drove us past some ancient Masai cave paintings and we had a great lunch on a large outcropping where there was a musical rock – the “gong rock” – that was totally fun to play.
Our guide wisely thought we would enjoy spending a little more time at the lodge after camping in the Serengeti, so we arrived at Bilila around 2:30 – he was right. Bilila is a beautiful full-service property with amazing views, great food and delicious drinks.
Day 8 –We decided to sleep in since we were only staying one night, and began our leisurely drive towards Ngorongoro Crater at 8:30 am. We saw the usual diverse array of wildlife including a huge python that we spotted off the road. It is really true what everyone says – there is always something new and unexpected to see in the Serengeti. We stopped for lunch at the Serengeti Park exit and continued down to Oldupai Gorge. We visited the museum and listened to a presentation. It was amazing to witness this cradle of humanity first-hand.
After the requisite photo ops, we continued towards the Crater. On the way we delighted in the change of landscape and in the sightings of Masai villages as we climbed to the top of the Crater. Crater Lodge was beyond amazing and to describe it is to short change it. The staff was super professional and we had our own butler. Our room was magnificent and bigger than most apartments in Chicago, complete with a wood burning stove to combat the chill from the altitude. Champagne greeted us upon arrival and dinner was served to us in our room with rose petals scattered all around. This was a very nice end to a long day’s drive from the central Serengeti.
Day 9 – We were up at 5:30 am, grabbed some coffee and claimed bragging rights as we were first to enter the Crater that day. The view from above the Crater is matched only by the spectacular diversity of wildlife that unfolds from within. The terrain changes are just as diverse. We had an amazing breakfast overlooking a hippo pool and were treated to the last of the big 5 – an awesome close encounter with a black rhino that crossed directly in front of our vehicle. Of course, our guide had spotted two rhino earlier (with his unaided eyes) which were literally black specs at over a thousand yards, but proved to have the characteristic horns when viewed through binoculars.
We watched some lions frolicking around and caught sight of another rhino as we were headed to our lunch picnic spot – awesome! On our final rest stop within the Crater, a very precocious monkey jumped into our vehicle and stole an apple because we inadvertently left the cooler opened – oops! We headed back to lodge for some afternoon tea and were pleasantly surprised that a hot bubble bath had been drawn – adorned with rose petals! We had another delicious dinner – this time in the opulent dining room next to the fireplace – followed by another tasty cake and cheerful birthday song! We were off to bed for an early drive to Lake Manyara where we would fly out to Faru Faru for a few days to end the safari.
Days 10-12 – After some coffee and saying goodbye to our excellent butler and the staff, we took a slow drive down the fog enshrouded mountain road – and, of course, came across a leopard! We arrived at Manyara airport and exchanged goodbyes and well wishes with our guide. Though we were sad to be parting with our new friend, we felt confident we would see him again as we already were talking about our next trip to Tanzania.
Our plane arrived on-time and we were shuttled off to Sasakwa airstrip for the private Grumeti Reserve. We were met there by a friendly member of the Faru Faru staff who shuttled us to a resort that needs to be experienced to be appreciated. I’ll simply say that Sharon from ADS was right – this was the perfect way to end a safari, completely immersed in unpretentious luxury with a staff that was exceptional. We spent three incredible days here, experienced amazing cuisine, met interesting people, went on exciting game drives – a cheetah hunt and kill comes to mind – and enjoyed incredible sunsets. We were totally rested and relaxed when it came time to head home.
Day 13 – It was now our turn to get teary eyed as we were about to head home. We had a beautiful flight back to Arusha and could appreciate the Serengeti even more now that we knew what was contained in the landscape beneath us. Once again the ADS staff was there on arrival, shuttled us to the Cultural Heritage Center for some souvenir shopping, got us situated at Mt. Meru Hotel for lunch and made sure we got back to Kilimanjaro in a timely manner for the trip home. We spent the next 30 hours reflecting on our incredible trip and how there was literally nothing we would have done differently.
People who know us have heard us say that the birth of our daughter is the first thing in life that has truly exceeded our expectations. The safari that ADS arranged for Lisa and me is the second. We both agree that this was by far the best trip we have ever taken. We cannot wait to do this again with our daughter. Thanks again Sharon and the rest of the ADS Team!
Michael and Lisa Boffa
We just returned home two days ago from our amazing trip. Thank you so much for all your planning efforts. The entire trip was so well organized, thanks to all the ADS staff and our driver Reggie. I can not begin to tell you what a wonderful person Reggie is as a guide and driver! Our daughter loved how he would talk with and to the animals, and all his stories.
The terrain and wildlife were beautiful and it will take me forever to go through the almost 5,000 pictures we took during the trip. It is hard to pin-point any one given experience or event, but to witness cheetahs (the “Three Brothers”) kill a wildebeest was definitely one of the best. And to end the trip in Zanzibar, was the perfect way to reflect on everything we did and saw on safari.
Tanzania is a beautiful country and the people are so warm and friendly.
The Phelps Family