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.
My sister and I just returned home from our first African Safari and thanks to ADS it was an incredible experience! Never having traveled outside of the United States, we were a little apprehensive as we prepared to embark on this adventure. Early on in our trip, we soon realized there was no reason for concern. The invaluable advice from ADS and the numerous blogs had us more than prepared.
I have to say that planning this trip we were a little overwhelmed. Where to go, who to go with, where to stay, etc. Once we decided on the great migration and Tanzania it only got slightly easier! My wife and I have dreamed of exploring Africa since we were kids, this trip needed to fulfill a lot of expectations. Throw on top of this Kelly’s mother-in-law was going and needed some extra care, as well as 3 eager kids. After what seemed an endless research project, we ran into Africa Dream Safari. From the initial contact, we were very impressed.
My husband and I just returned from the trip of a lifetime! Through Africa Dream Safaris we traveled from Arusha to the Northern Serengeti, through the Central Serengeti to Ngorogoro Crater and onto Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park. We stayed in tent camps, lodges and hotels. The itinerary unfolded seamlessly.
A special thanks to Allie and Ed who just returned home from safari and submitted this picture stitch using google photo. The images were taken in the Central Serengeti with a Canon Rebel on sports mode. When on this setting, you can hold the shutter release down and the camera shoots at 3 frames per second until you let it up.
Allie & Ed – Safari Guests
The wildlife in Tanzania is absolutely breathtaking but the wonderful team at ADS really created the unforgettable trip. Michael helped us plan an amazing adventure and from the day we landed until the day we unfortunately had to depart we were in incredible hands. Mathias and Joseph met us at the airport and since we had an extra day we spent an afternoon with Joseph experiencing his personal insider tour of Arusha.
In the bush Ellison was our guide and friend. He bonded with our kids, was fabulous at finding animals, had an encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, animals and geography, and truly exuded a personal passion for the Serengeti. He also took us to places where we were the only people for miles around – just us, the unending plain, and the cheetahs.
There’s no way to describe having lunch surrounded by thousands upon thousands of migrating wildebeest. The only way to go is a private ADS safari and a guide like Ellison made for a truly memorable, once in a lifetime adventure.
This was also a wonderful family adventure. Our kids are 12 and 14 which are perfect ages to experience Tanzania. Cell phones were put away (and wifi access isn’t great) and replaced by cameras. Our family took 8,000 pictures!, most of which were taken by our kids.
The lodges were all terrific and unique – like the Mbalageti Lodge where the electricity turns off in the evening and your tented room is lit by candles. Or the family tent at Seronera Sametu Camp where you hear the sounds of nearby lions at night. Or having an elephant walk by your balcony when you’re having lunch at Ngorongoro.
Each lodge was unique and each new lodge became our kids’ favorite. One of the most memorable experiences for our kids was the visit to a Masai village where the cultural contrast really resonated (especially when they saw children their age tending herds alongside the roads).
Our trip was at the end of June, when the migration was in full swing in the west Serengeti and most of the baby animals are around 4 months old. We saw baby cheetahs, lions, hyenas, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, gazelle, elephants…and every day, when we thought we couldn’t possibly have a new experience, we discovered something incredible and unexpected.
Thank you ADS!!!
The West Family
San Francisco, California
Safari Dates: June 22, 2016 to July 3, 2016
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.
Its hard to believe that our amazing safari has come to an end, but we have wonderful memories that we will hold onto until we can do it again…until that time, here is our review of Africa Dream Safaris.
Africa Dream Safaris put together a fabulous trip that made our Tanzania experience awesome from start to finish. Every detail was attended to, from the moment we landed at the airport in Kilimanjaro. The lodgings, the food, the service, and our guide all exceeded the expectations we had (and we had very high expectations)!
Our itinerary was arranged to ensure that we would experience the full range of wildlife inhabiting the Serengeti, and we did not miss a thing. We also learned so much about the animals, the land, and the people from our very knowledgeable guide, Michael.
At every camp and hotel, the warm and welcoming people went out of their way to make our stay special, including several private, romantic dinners in honor of our 36th anniversary. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, we rate ADS 5+! We look forward to the next time we will travel with ADS.
Thank you again for all your help in making our Safari a reality.
Linda and Barry P.
New York, NY
Safari Dates: July 11, 2016 to July 20, 2016
Our driver-guide Francis was fantastic. I have never seen anyone with better eyesight. In addition, he was so conscientious, always looking to get us in the correct position for the best photo angles, with sunlight and background considerations. Plus, getting to the best locations at the best times is a real skill of his.
We will recommend ADS & Francis to any friends of ours for a safari adventure. No question. Should we make the trip again ourselves, which would be a wish of ours, we would only want Francis, although I am sure you have many skilled guides.
Michael C. and Family
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania
Safari Dates: July 21, 2016 to July 28, 2016
I have been a documentary junkie since a very young age. Watching images of lions, wildebeest, and antelope has been a passion since childhood. We found ADS through our friends, and contacted Sharon Lyon, with whose guidance and expertise we created an extravagant two week adventure chasing the wildebeest migration around the Serengeti.
Starting in Arusha and moving to Sametu camp in the Seronera region we immediately learned how bountiful the Serengeti could be. We saw four of the big five animals within 3 hours of arriving in the bush. Our fantastic guide, Wilfred, couldn’t have been more perfect! Right off the bat, we were treated to lions climbing a tree, a Leopard in a tree with a kill, multiple lions, cubs, antelope, elephants, giraffe’s, and of course the hippo’s.
We headed north through Mbalageti, through to the Migration Camp, witnessing tens of thousands of migrating Wildebeest, zebra, and antelope along the way. Watching an overland crossing of a mountain by a herd of Wildebeest, we were primed for what was to come.
At Bushtop, a magnificent luxury camp near the Mara river, we found the great herds ready to cross the river, and were lucky enough to see 3 huge river crossings in two days. Quite a difference from a documentary when you can feel, smell, and hear every last movement.
Finishing up at the magnificent Crater Lodge at Ngorongoro National Park, we couldn’t believe how magnificent and wonderful everything was. We can’t say enough about ADS, from the planning to the execution. Everything was perfect. And…it’s true about their guides! They are the absolute best. Wilfred, and all the ADS team, thank you!
Mark, Mariana, Marcy and Dana L.
New York, New York
Safari Dates: June 21, 2016 to July 6, 2016
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
Our eight-day safari with ADS was the trip of a lifetime for my family and me. I cannot say enough about the company, people and experiences ADS delivered to us for this trip. We did a six-day african safari tour in the Serengeti and two days at the Ngorongoro Crater. The trip was perfect. It surpassed all of our expectations. We made this trip with our family of six, my wife’s parents, and my brother. From the start of the trip to the final hours at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, we had an incredible experience that we will never forget. I am so pleased to be able share some details of our trip with anyone who will listen.
I have dreamed of an African safari since I was a teenager. I am now 48 years old and my dream finally came to fruition in July 2015. After months of planning, we finally arrived in Tanzania, Africa at the Kilimanjaro Airport. We were immediately greeted by Mathias, Precious, and Timmon. We felt comfortable from that moment until we were delivered back to the airport by the same group in addition to one of our Safari guides, Ema.
We flew on a bush plane to the Seronera Airstrip and our Safari began there. On the very first day, we saw a pride of lions, gazelles, leopards, topi, hippos, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, and zebras. We also met our guides, Arnold and Ema, with whom we would spend the next eight days and become fast friends. They were nothing short of incredible. They were knowledgeable, patient, experienced, and of course friendly.
We saw one lion pride on the first day with 17 lions. Naturally, we hoped and expected to see many African animals. What we were not prepared for, however, was the sheer number of animals in the Serengeti. At one point, Ema estimated that we were looking at over six hundred thousand wildebeests in the Massai Mara. Also, the vast space and size of the Serengeti is absolutely spectacular. Words cannot adequately describe the vastness of the space. We could see for miles in many directions with not a power line, telephone pole, cellular tower, or other indication of civilization to spoil the view. This was impressive to say the least.
Over the next seven days, we saw many of the same animals but also impala, warthogs, cheetahs, a rhino, jackals, crocodiles, wildebeests, vultures, storks, a python, a black mamba, and a rare treat, a caracal chasing a rabbit in the crater. The animals were 10, 20, and 30 yards away. Sometimes, they were just outside of our vehicle within an arms length.
Africa Dream Safaris set us up with accommodations that cannot possibly be rivaled. We stayed at the most luxurious lodge I can imagine in the middle of the Serengeti wilderness. We could see wildlife from our showers. The pool overlooked a watering hole at which elephants, zebras, baboons, waterbuck, and various other animals came to drink on our first night there. It seemed like African Disneyland to all of us. We had to laugh out loud because we did not know what else to do.
From that point forward, to our amazement, the lodging seemed to actually improve. It does not seem possible, but that is how we felt. We moved toward the north end of the Serengeti to catch the great migration. Our last night on the rim of the crater was the best night, according to some of my family. This was a tent lodge but we were not “roughing it.” We had hot showers, tent heaters, a four-course dinner, and friendly service. On that note, every single person we met along the way could not have been friendlier and more courteous to my family.
I cannot leave out that one night we sat atop a raised wooden deck while watching hippos below and a rainstorm moving across the hills of the Serengeti. I wish I could have a life-size painting of that scene because it was breathtaking.
Although every part of our trip was excellent, there were some high points that stick out in my mind. Near the Mara River, we watched a black rhino for about 30 minutes. Then, it started to approach one of our vehicles. It raised its tail and charged. Our expert guide, Arnold, immediately started the engine of the Land Cruiser and drove away skillfully. It is something we will never forget.
We also saw the crossing of the wildebeests at the Mara River. Emmanuel, our other expert guide, helped us get into a prime position to observe this spectacular event. The wildebeests were crossing from north to south. A small group of wildebeests came down river and started to cross right in front of us. My 16-year-old son exclaimed “Oh no, a crocodile.” At that point, an 18-foot Nile crocodile took down a 300-pound wildebeest in the middle of the river right before our eyes. The wildebeest never came up. The adrenaline in my family was flowing like I cannot recall. It was a truly unforgettable thing to witness.
What a Difference a Vowel Makes
On a humorous note, we learned the difference (the hard way) between two Swahili words. “Jambo” means hello in Swahili. For the first four or five days, about half of my family was saying “Jumbo” and half was saying “Jamba.” Finally, one of our guides sheepishly informed us that “Jamba” means flatulence. We all had a good laugh and made sure of the correct pronunciation from that point forward.
Final Words of Appreciation
As a father of four children, it was very special for me to take my wife and kids to Africa to experience my dream along with me. My eyes were treated to unbelievable visual displays every day if not every half hour. However, my ears were also treated to sounds that I must mention. I was able to hear my two daughters who are now 21 and 19 gasping with excitement as we saw each new animal. They would actually audibly suck in their breath in amazement. I have not heard that sound from them in over 10 years since they were little girls. I will never forget those sounds.
ADS truly helped me to fulfill my lifelong dream. The only problem for me now is deciding when to go back.
Kelly and Laura C.
Caroline, Courtney, Kyle and Luke
Safari Dates: July 27, 2015 to August 3, 2015
From July 29 to August 9, 2015 my husband and I were able to make possible our dream of going on a photography safari. We want to thank Africa Dreams for making possible our humbling experience in Tanzania.
The experience started with the planning process and the advice of Dawn who was key in helping us to put together a magical blend of landscape, wildlife and culture. We went to Northern Tanzania, visited the Northern and Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and Tarangire parks. We stopped at the Oldupai Gorge for an informal education session about the footprints of ancient human ancestors.
The undoubted highlight of the journey was our flight in the balloon over the Seronera Valley and the visit to a Masai Village near Lobo valley. The tented camps and lodges offered the combination of the rustic flavor of the African Savanna with the adequate comfort to rest from long game drives and the African massage form the unpaved roads. We met amazing people everywhere that made our trip completely rewarding.
Our guide Peter was amazing, shared his vast knowledge of not only the wildlife but also of the birds and trees. We started our game drives before the sun raised and were able to keep going almost until the sunsets. Within the first few hours we spotted tons of animals, we saw thousands wildebeest crossing the Mara river, graceful impalas, colorful zebras, majestic elephants with their flapping ears, hippos floundering in the shallows of the water, tall yet gentle giraffes, bushbucks, ostriches, baboons, warthogs, lions, many different kinds of beautiful birds, and few cheetahs, leopards and rhinos!
The most adorable were the baby animals! It was so amazing seeing the largest cats and wild action so close. We saw a group of elephants that was not happy to see some lions in their territory and chased them, crocodiles attacking some wildebeest when crossing the river and more. It was a truly exhilarating experience!
To us this was the trip of our life that touched our hearts in a profound way. An experience we will never forget. We met people that are forever now etched in our memory. This was a truly dreamed journey difficult to put into words that not even 10.000 pictures we took can describe. Many thanks Africa Dreams team!
Ana and Gabriel C.
Safari Dates: July 29, 2015 to August 9, 2015
As my friend and I stood in our African Dreams jeep after an incredible day with the wonderful animals in the Ngorongora Crater waiting for Tommy (Thompson) our guide to get our exit papers from the Crater we heard a loud thump on the hood of the jeep. As we turned around to look and see what created the noise the large baboon leaped from the front of the jeep to the back top of the jeep over our heads.
Kathy immediately started to grab for her camera, which was our go-to for everything we saw and before she could grab either her phone or camera the baboon came in to the jeep from back top to the front area seats where I was half standing up. Kathy told him in no uncertain terms NO- NO -NO. However, I think he only understood Swahili and paid absolutely no attention to her commands.
As the Baboon jumped from the back roof top in to the front area I suddenly was looking straight in to the round yellow eyes of a 3-4 foot baboon standing approximately 5 inches away from his face. We stared at each other, I think both somewhat questionable as to what to do. I was not sure if he was going to bite me, scratch me or continue jumping around the inside of the jeep.
Reflecting back on the incident I say “we” were somewhat questionable as to what to do, the Baboon had no questions as to his moves at all. As we stood there, which for me was like 5 minutes, really only lasting seconds, out of the corner of my eye I saw a very long arm reach to the seat next to me and gently secure a package of unopened shortbread cookies (provided by African Dreams in the jeep) and before I could blink, the baboon was up and gone over the top of the jeep.
Minutes later, driving out it was not difficult to find the visitor to our jeep as he sat in the road with cookies all over his face.
Thank you to our wonderful, educated, dependable informative guide Tommy and all of the incredible animals that gave us an experience of a lifetime.
And…thank you African Dreams for the trip of a lifetime and the cookies – gave me an exciting second, up close and personal.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Safari Dates: July 2, 2015 to July 14, 2015
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of visiting the Serengeti, and the realization of that dream was more than I could have ever imagined from the moment we decided on African Dreams as our Safari operator to the very last second of the trip. Nearly one month has passed, and my Safari with African Dreams is still as fresh in my mind as when I was bouncing around in our Land Cruiser roaming the back roads of the Serengeti!
We were two women traveling together, and I cannot say enough about how wonderful Africa Dreams treated us, how efficient and pleasant everyone was who greeted us, their willingness to make certain we had everything we needed, and particularly our guide, Tommy (Thompson), who made certain we were comfortable and safe during our Safari. I am sure everyone says their guide is the absolute best, so I am no exception.
Tommy was the absolute best! He was personable, had a great sense of humor, was extremely knowledgeable of African Wildlife and particularly the roads and terrain of entire Serengeti, which made our adventure that much more enjoyable. Additionally, having our own private vehicle and driver for the two weeks we were on Safari was outstanding!
Around every turn, rock, and bush it seemed there were lions, cheetahs, elephant herds, hippos, giraffe, crocks, birds, monkeys, baboons, hyenas, buffalo, impala, gazelle, and countless other animals and birds…and of course the millions of Wildebeest and Zebra that were constantly in motion…trying to drink and cross at the rivers while sidestepping the crocs waiting and watching. What a sight to behold! We even encountered a Pangolin, which we were told are very elusive and bring good luck!
One of the many highlights for me was the abundance of new babies…some as young as a few weeks…some much older …but all so cute and curious…which reinforces my faith in the fact that Mother Nature is watching over life on the Plains.
Our accommodations were just what the Doctor ordered…with a welcome drink and refreshing cool towels when we pulled up to our camp after a long day on the road and then hot showers, wonderful food, spectacular sunsets, and comfortable beds! Each camp had a wonderful community area that provided a relaxing atmosphere to unwind and talk about the day’s adventures.
My traveling companion had a birthday during our trip, and the camp prepared a lovely birthday cake and a grand celebration for her! How wonderful was that! I particularly enjoyed the evening bonfire at each camp, which the camp directors bill as “Bush TV”, which was the perfect end to every perfect day!
My Africa Dreams experience was truly a dream come true and the most extraordinary memory of my life.
Thank you Africa Dreams so much for the memories!
Safari Dates: July 2, 2015 to July 14, 2015