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 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.
Our recent trip to Tanzania with Africa Dream Safari was life-altering, to say the least. On June 16, my husband and I, our children (ages 7 and 9) and my parents arrived not knowing what to expect. Tanzania is a truly amazing country, one that I missed before we even left. We felt very welcomed and safe and learned so much in just 10 short days. It is difficult to describe to other’s the scenery, the people, and the feeling you get while there.
Our plane landed in Kilimanjaro Airport last night with all 9 of us aboard. Our guides were on the tarmac to meet us, walk us through customs in minutes, and escort us to the Mount Meru Resort in Arusha. It was late but the restaurant at the resort remained open just for us to have dinner and then to our rooms for some welcomed rest.
Day 2 (Arusha):
On day 2 we toured Arusha, the 3rd largest city in Tanzania. Our first stop was an elementary school where we visited a 2nd grade classroom. The children were so joyful. Many were bilingual, speaking both Swahili and English. Next we enjoyed the local and unique art at the Heritage Museum and art stores. Our final visit was to a most amazing conclave of artists. All were disabled, blind, or deaf – all gifted self-supporting artists. It was heartwarming to watch them weave, paint, sew, create and mold jewelry, do beadwork and more…
Day 3 (The Western Serengeti):
Early morning we boarded a small private plane in Arusha and had the most spectacular overview of the area as we flew across the Serengeti, landing in the far northwestern portion, to begin our safari. As our small plane landed on the grassy plains, zebra and wildebeest scattered in front of us. Amazing introduction to our adventure. How in the world did Sharon and ADS manage to arrange such an amazing start to our safari?
On this very first safari day we saw – up close and personal – lions, giraffes, zebras ,wildebeest, hippos, baboons, birds which looked like works of art, African Buffalo, hyena, Jackals, warthogs, Thomson’s Gazelle, Grant’s Gazelle, Kirk’s Dik-dik, Topi, Impala, monkey, and even turtles.
Midday, while crossing a river, we witnessed a crocodile take down a zebra who was drinking from the river. The croc methodically pulled him in, drowned him, and proceeded to dissect the insides and carry them to his nest. Whew!
Late this afternoon we arrived at Mbalageti Tented Camp, having already traversed the Musabi Plains and the Grumeti River region. We all settled into our cabins that have breathtaking views overlooking the plains from our hillside verandas. Not exactly “roughing it” at this point. We ate and swam and I think we will all sleep soundly after our 1st day as visitors in the animals’ home turf.
Day 4 (The Western Serengeti):
Up before dawn, we watched the uncompromising African sunrise as we headed out of camp. The best part of another exceptional day of animal encounters was highlighted by the plethora of up close elephant encounters – some as near as ten feet from our 4-wheelers. We watched baby elephants nursing, humongous bull elephants stare us down just a bit shy of petting distance, and whole families of elephants walk by us. Breathtaking moments! After this trip it would be so difficult to see an elephant in a zoo ever again…
We roamed the Ruwana Plains and the Lower Grumeti Woodlands today then returned to camp for a hardy late lunch. Next came the famous 6+ mile Walking Tour of the Serengeti, accompanied by armed Rangers and Swahili Warriors. Near sunset, the hikers joined the less adventurous of our clan at our “Dinner in the Bush” destination with lush table settings, candlelight, bonfire, elegant menu – along with entertainment by baboons in the surrounding trees.
After dinner the kids surprised us with an Anniversary Cake, singing, dancing, and such fun! Quite a memorable 50th anniversary celebration in the African moonlight.
Day 5 (The Central Serengeti):
Today we crossed the Seronera Valley, Makoma Hill, and the Retina Pool en route to our next destination – The Four Seasons Bilila Lodge – not too shabby! On the way there, we spotted our first leopards – such magnificent animals!
Day 6 (The Central Serengeti):
We’ve learned that sunrise is the best time to see the animals. Today we saw the elusive cheetahs, along with all the other majestic animals which are nearly becoming commonplace to us.
Today the kids surprised me with a luxurious massage at the lodge’s Spa. Talk about feeling like “Queen for a Day”… Then tonight after our outdoor dinner by the endless pool, everyone sang Happy Birthday to me as they served me the most decadent 70th Birthday cake – without the fire hazard of that many candles! What a day. What a night! Does it get any better than this?
Day 7 (Ngorongoro Crater):
We pressed on today through the Olduvai Gorge, enjoying sightings along the way. We had the opportunity to visit a Maasai Village . It is hard to even get your arms around the daily life of the Maasai people – it is so very different from ours. The women make the huts from mud, dung, and grasses.
The entire hut is smaller than an average sized dining room back home. There is no heat except a small fire (with no chimney to vent the smoke), no plumbing of any kind, no lighting. Their sole source of food is meat, blood, and goats’ milk. Young boys Ava’s age are out herding the cows and goats from dawn to dusk. They return before dark to bring all the animals inside the Villaage enclosure for safety.
It was a hoot watching our sons join the Maasai Warriors in their “Jumping Contests”. It seems that being the highest jumper in the village is a real “turn on” for the Maasai girls. The Maasai are polygamous. It looked to me as if the women get all the hard jobs. They build the huts, birth and raise the children, cook the meat, etc. Meanwhile, the men take turns guarding the village at night, practicing their jumping skills, and protecting the village in general. Hmmm…
By days’ end we have entered the Lerei Forest, experienced the Moru Kopjes, and Olduvai Gorge. The topography here is unlike any we have experienced to date. It is lush rainforest with cool temperatures.
I wasn’t sure if our gang would like the tents at Lion’s Paw, but to my surprise, they all fell in love with this campsite. We had the whole camp to ourselves and our host, Eddie, made our visit extraordinary. After an elegant dinner, we had smores over the campfire as Eddie told us stories of Africa.
Day 8 (Ngorongoro Crater):
We awoke to a surreal jungle mist as we departed camp, bellies full, winding down the rim to the bottom of the crater. We searched all day for the elusive rhinos, to no avail. We were rewarded for our efforts, though, with ample viewings of lion cubs with their moms, and bachelor lions galore within several feet of our two jeeps, along with all the other resident animals.
One of our guides, Pokea, is so extraordinary at spotting a plethora of camoflauged animals that we have nicknamed him “Eagle-Eye”. Our other guide, Bennett, is Mr. Personality and has a heart as big as all outdoors! Incredible team!
After a marvelous dinner, we again got busy making our signature cheetah smores with wine chasers. As we say good night and climb into our tented beds, we can hear the night sounds of the animals outside our tents.
Day 9 (Lake Manyara):
Where did the time go? Can we already be nearing the end of our journey? One last area of protected National Park to explore as we make our way back to Arusha gives us lots of laughs watching the baboons’ antics especially.
Then, miles of farmland with corn stalks, sunflowers (they make oil out of these), coffee plantations, with occasional pauses along the way as cows and goats cross the roads, accompanied by young boys guiding and coaxing them along.
We arrived in Arusha late afternoon, to be given four rooms again at the Mt. Meru Resort to shower and rest before dinner and the journey to Kilimanjaro. We said good-bye to Mt. Kilimanjaro at sunset. It looked absolutely surreal. What a dramatic farewell to Africa!
Asante Sana, Tanzania…La La Salama.
Cynda E. and Family
The Villages, Florida
Safari Dates: June 1, 2016 to June 7, 2016
P.S. This celebration trip was truly “over the top” for all of us, thanks to the attention to detail throughout our journey by ADS. We have been blessed to be able to travel quite a bit since we retired, and I can honestly say that no other trip compares to this one.
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
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
My daughter Emma and I just returned from a safari of a lifetime with Africa Dream Safaris. We could not be happier with what Sharon Lyon helped us to arrange.
Everything was as advertised. We were met by Matteus at the gate at Kilimanjaro Airport and swiftly escorted through the Visa and Customs process and taken to the Mount Meru Hotel. We opted for a layover day in Arusha and given a tour by Matteus and Joseph. This ADS Meet and Greet Team could not have been nicer.
The next day we flew out to the Western Corridor of the Serengeti and met by our guide Emmanuel(Ema). They say a safari guide can make or break one’s experience and we certainly lucked out. He was everything we could ask for: personable, experienced, very knowledgeable, and had a great sense of humor. He quickly realized what kind of an experience we were looking for and made it happen. As you can see with the attached photos he was able to find and then put us very close to some magnificent animals.
We spent the first three nights at Mbalageti Luxury Lodge, the next two at Seronera Sametu Camp, and the last two at Lion’s Paw Camp. They were all great, but the two tented camps (Sametu and Lion’s Paw Camps) were even more special because we happened to be the only guests there those nights so we were treated like Royalty.
I think Emma had some reservations about sleeping in tents prior to the trip but quickly found out this was not camping as either of us had ever known. From the on-demand bucket showers to the hot water bottles in our beds at night, we were pampered. We also ate very well while on our safari. It is amazing how well these chefs do at cooking wonderful meals in these remote locations. The soups were the best. We even had a special cake baked just for us on our last night.
We did not do a lot of the optional tours and visits while on safari because we were there to see the animals. We did however do a Hot Air Balloon ride which was excellent. ADS scheduled it to optimize our game viewing from above. Seeing the sunrise and all those animals from a balloon will forever be in our memories.
ADS quotes Mark Twain: “Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.” Thanks to ADS I had three such moments while in Tanzania. The first was when Ema parked us in the middle of the great migration and there were thousands of wildebeests and zebras in all directions. The second was when we first saw the vast expansiveness of the Serengeti Plains dotted with assorted animals spread out between the Kopjes. The third moment that took my breath away was when we first looked down over the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
We spent years preparing for this trip. You can read the books, look at the pictures, and watch the videos on Africa. But there is no way you can get a feel for what it is truly like. You need to be there yourself to see it, to hear it, and to even smell it. Only then can you get full appreciation. Africa Dream Safaris can make this happen for you.
Derek and Emma F.
Francestown, New Hampshire
Safari Dates: June 1, 2016 to June 10, 2016
We’ve always wanted to go on a safari in Africa, but we were intimidated by the amount of touring companies available. We did our research for months, including speaking with references from various companies and we ultimately decided to choose African Dream Safaris.
Our experience was pleasant from the start. Dawn was a wonderful liaison – friendly, nice, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable. Still, did we make the right choice? Well let me tell you, everyone we met, starting from our arrival at the airport, had the exact qualities of Dawn! We could not believe how friendly, helpful, and caring the staff were.
Then we met our guide, Russell, the one we’d be spending most of our time with. If I had to use one word: amazing. We were extremely happy with Russell. He was always so attentive to our family’s needs, tailoring each day’s trip to maximize our enjoyment of what the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater had to offer.
Not only did he frequently spot all kinds of wildlife from afar, but he made sure the entire family could view the animals without disturbing or threatening them. He was also extremely knowledgeable about the best angle and lighting for photographs and video. His deep respect for nature and wildlife was exemplary.
Russell and the entire staff of African Dream Safaris exceeded our expectations and were responsible for a fantastic vacation that we will never forget. African Dream Safaris truly made our wishes come true.
Here is a link to our youtube vacation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir_cPM6ttWs
Steve C. and Nhu P.
Walnut Creek, California
Safari Dates: June 14, 2016 to June 24, 2016
From the moment our plane touched down in Tanzania, Africa Dream Safaris exceeded every expectation we had. Marcus took care of all paperwork at the airport with no hassles. He and Timon then drove us safely to Mount Meru hotel, answering every question we could think of asking.
After getting us settled in our hotel for the night, they drove us to the Arusha air strip the next morning for our flight to the Western Corridor of the country. They made sure everything was taken care of during ever aspect of that part of our trip. Our flight to the Western Corridor was beautiful with a very professional pilot.
After landing, our guide, Peter, picked us up, and away we went for the adventure of our lives. Our first day was amazing! We even told our guide that there was NO WAY the next day could measure up, but how wrong we were. Every day was better than the last. We saw over one hundred lions, thousands of wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, gazelles, and topis.
The great migration was unbelievable—–animals as far as you could see in both directions! We even saw eight of the 500 cheetah in the Serengeti, eight leopards, a serval, seven of the 33 endangered rhinos in the Ngorongoro Crater, hundreds of hippos, elephants baboons,and monkeys. Every day was new and exciting. We saw more animals that we ever thought possible.
Our guide, Peter, was excellent. He spotted almost every animal around and worked extremely hard to make sure we saw everything possible. We even saw mating lions, lions dining on a zebra (twice). We never got to see an actual kill, but saw lions stalking topis and cheetahs on the hunt. I think we saw every type of animal in the Serengeti.
Our visit to a Maasai village was fascinating and a favorite part of the trip. The Maasai culture amazed me! Our guide in the village was a chief’s son (a fourth wife’s child and one of thirty five of the Chief’s children), who had been educated in Arusha, but had decided to return to his village. He gave us a first class tour of his village. The kindergarten children melted my heart. I will never forget the very young Maasai children taking the goats and cows out to graze each day. They walked miles with the herds, then returned each night—-with lions all around! The shoes worn by the Maasai (I call them tire shoes) were made of TIRES! They could walk miles in them!
Our lodges were all first class. We stayed in Mbalageti, Serena Serengeti (my daughter;s favorite), Lake Masek tented lodge, Ngorongoro Serena, and Plantation Lodge. My favorite was the Lake Masek tented lodge. Hippos bathed in the lake all day and at night you could hear them walking by the tents eating grass, returning to the lake at daybreak. Our food was very good. You could always find something delicious for dinner. Our box lunches and breakfasts were also very good (although too much food!). On my next trip, I will stay in all ADS tented lodges. Our guide took us by the Sametu ADS lodge and it was quite impressive, very intimate with excellent staff.
African Dream Safaris went above and beyond all expectations to make this trip our NUMBER ONE TRIP OF OUR LIVES! Many thanks to Dawn, Marcus, Timon (whom we found out was a Maasai tribe member. He entertained us with numerous stories!), all of the staff at our lodges, and especially our guide, Peter (THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!). We will return to this beautiful country again! Thanks ADS for giving us the TRIP OF A LIFETIME!
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Safari Dates: May 29, 2015 to June 8, 2015
We are now nearly a month post safari and it all seems like a dream now, a vivid and unforgettable dream. African Dream Safaris is no misnomer, but rather a most accurate descriptor of a company, a style, and a philosophy that succeeds on every level in delivering the promise of once in a lifetime experience.
From our arrival in Arusha and the kind and welcoming reception at the airport and the rapid delivery to the comforts of our first Africa hotel, things got underway as smoothly as possible. The upward trajectory gathered speed quickly the next morning with the arrival of Francis, our peerless guide and soon-to-be friend. We were but two couples, my wife and I accompanied by two dear friends.
Having read other reviews and the copious encomiums lavished on other ADS guides Francis shouldn’t have come as such a great surprise, yet he was. His knowledge of the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti were encyclopedic. He seemed to know just about everything about the flora and fauna of every place we visited in the region.
He was constantly spotting things otherwise invisible, constantly searching for new ways to delight and entertain us. He knew about so many things and his truck contained reference works on birds and animals that were dog-eared and lovingly pored over. Did I mention that he was also a simply awesome driver taking us safely across all manner of terrain, weather and challenging condition?
Francis passion and determination that paid off time and again with the rewarding appearance of leopards, cheetahs, lions galore, elephants by the score, giraffes, hippos, crocs, rhinos, untold bird species, monkeys, baboons, hyenas, jackals, and all manner of wildebeest and zebra, buffalo and plains dwellers.
We came for the animals, we got the animals and so much more. That included an encounter with an angry alpha male elephant charging angrily toward us in pursuit of an errant couple from the herd who had the temerity to “sneak” off for a mating effort before our very eyes. (Francis said he had never seen that before!)
Our accommodations were extraordinary, a throwback in bush-style elegance from quite another era. The staff members at each location were unfailingly cheerful, helpful and friendly. The food was magnificent, always fresh and exquisitely prepared. As surprised as we were by all the natural splendors, the restfulness, comfort and ease of life in the bush were beyond any of our expectations, way beyond!
The lodges throughout were perfect places for respite and provided pleasurable ways to reflect on the ardors of the day’s wonders. Perhaps the most delightful surprise of all was our bush camp that transported the vicinity from frontier to comfort zone. Our tents included king-size beds, excellent camp toilets, and hot showers (provided by a charcoal fire and the prodigious efforts of our terrific staff) and meals to die for consumed under the gaze of lions! The magical cooks presented us with their charcoal and wood-fired creations including a cake on our last night.
Our last stop was a luxurious lodge that included a swimming pool, beautiful cottages and a wonderful restaurant. The Masai protectors led us to and from our rooms with their spears at the ready. Having visited one of the Masai villages and having observed them with their herds on the plains, the strength, beauty and resilience of those people was a thing to behold.
Our ADS experience really was a dream, a dream come true. In a place and environ where so much can go wrong, everything went right due to the extraordinary talent and efforts of the personnel. We can’t thank you enough for helping to create an extraordinary memory.
Elliot D. and Linda T.
Santa Rosa, California
May 27, 2015 to June 7, 2015
As our plane circled over a grassy runway in the Serengeti my husband and I and his parents saw our first African animals in abundance. Giraffe striding gracefully, zebra grazing and baboons running across our path as we landed. All the planning, decision making, and long travel melted away as excitement and awe overtook us.
It is hard to write about the trip of a life time and the wonderful service of Dawn and ADS without sounding like a commercial. Taking a trip, any trip, takes many hours of exploring all the options, travel companies, timing, locations, etc. Luckily when we decided to travel to Africa, we had a recommendation from a friend. Whatever you do, go with ADS.
With this in mind, we contacted Dawn and from then on all was taken care of. After talking with us and realizing our desire for isolated small camps and our budget, Dawn planned the perfect trip. I would tell anyone who asks us about a safari in Africa, the same thing my friend told us. Whatever you do, go with ADS.
Each lodge or camp was different. It was hard to believe that you spend all day without seeing a building and then arrive at sunset at a wonderful place in the absolute middle of nowhere and be greeted by a welcoming staff with a cold towel and a fruit drink.
While each was wonderful, I would certainly recommend that you include Seronera Sametu Camp. At night we could lie in bed and listen to lions and the Wildebeest. Then in the morning be awakened before sunrise with coffee and tea at the door of our tent. In the evening before a wonderful dinner, we would relax at the campfire with our beer. If you do stay there, say hi to JJ and Primo for me.
The animals are always the first concern; what will we see, how close will we get. Our guide Michael made sure that we saw all the animals and that we got as close as was safe. We had a male lion bump the Land Cruiser as it walked by. A bull elephant herded us for a mile along a dirt track from 20 feet behind the vehicle. We had breakfast on the hood of the Land Cruiser surrounded by unlimited numbers of wildebeest and zebras. We saw all the big ones that you come to Africa to see.
What was the biggest surprise for me were all the animals that I didn’t know we would see. The small Dik-Dik standing so still with its black nose twitching. The serval cat that lives near the camp. The puff adder lying in the road. The mongoose living in in termite mound, sticking out their heads to watch us watching them. Each sighting was exciting and different.
The other surprise was the number of different birds we saw. Michael would stop and point out a bird and tell us a name and then pull out his guide book to show us the picture. The colors were amazing from the Fish Eagle to the Secretary bird to the Superb Starling. The birds alone could be a reason to go to Africa and having a guide who could spot the birds and then identify them was priceless.
Since it was just the four of us and Michael, we could take the time to enjoy each discover at our pace and spend as much time watching and taking over 4000 pictures. Often Michael would say, “let’s wait another 10 minutes and see what happens.” Usually something did.
Oliver and Pam P.
Safari Dates: June 7, 2015 to June 17, 2015
First of all, I want to thank Ellison (the best guide ever) for making my safari a memorable one. Also, Dawn at Africa Dream Safaris for putting everything together. It was a new adventure every day.
We asked Ellison how he was going to make the next day better than the day before, and we were never disappointed. It was unbelievable. The Hippos, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Leopards, Zebras, Wildebeests, Hyenas, Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Baboons, Monkeys and can’t forget the beautiful birds. It was amazing and so are my pictures.
Niki B. and Richard W.
Safari Dates: June 24, 2015 to July 2, 2015
After a lifetime of dreaming, a year of planning and months of eager anticipation I embarked on my safari adventure on June 29, 2015. I had convinced my family, ranging in age from 3 to 67, to accompany me on this journey.
As our plane winged across the Atlantic a sense of fear and panic overtook me as I thought what is this if a complete disaster. What was I doing taking five children ages 3, 5, 6, 10 and 13 and assorted adults on a safari? The anxiety and panic was completely unnecessary, because as soon as we touched down at Kilimanjaro and were greeted by Mathias and Precious I knew that a splendid adventure lay ahead.
Dawn had planned a magnificent itinerary for us. We had elected to have a rest day in Arusha and we used that day to visit St. Jude’s School and downtown Arusha. St Jude’s School is an inspiring experience and I as so glad that I got to personally visit and see the wonderful work being done there. We got to see all three stop lights in Arusha, the city activity, the Tanzanian torch monument and the mid-continent marker.
Early the next morning we flew out to the Serengeti. As we approached the Kogatende air strip all of us were transformed to children as we exclaimed: “Do you see that giraffe?; There’s an elephant; I see zebras” We excitedly deplaned and were met by our new best friends Wilfred and Ally.
Both Wilfred and Ally deserve an award for putting up with our crew. They were always cheerful, catered to the children and never seemed to tire of out endless questions. Our first stop was Mara River Camp. We absolutely loved the camp and our dear host, Gilbert.
The wildlife were ready to greet and entertain us. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, gazelles, topis, beautiful birds, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and hippos! We were all completely satisfied and thought no need to go anywhere else but Mara River.
However, our itinerary called for us to move on to Buffalo Luxury Camp. Again we were treated as special guests and more special adventures awaited us. The camp is located on the side of a hill and enjoys superb views. We enjoyed watching frolicking elephants, elands, cape buffalo and impalas.
Our visit to the Maasai village was an unforgettable experience. Our Maasai hosts were so welcoming and they seemed to be genuinely happy that we had come to visit. The highlights for the children at Buffalo Luxury Camp were roasting marshmellows by the fire, the baby cobra on the terrace, the game of bows, arrows and spears that the staff prepared for the children to enjoy and the night time game drive. Nowhere have we ever seen more beautiful stars!
While again we would have been perfectly satisfied to stay at Buffalo Luxury Camo and enjoy the breath taking views, we had to again move on. This time our destination was the Serengeti Serena Lodge. The views at the lodge are also unbelievable. We encountered a buffalo roaming through the grounds at night and it was during our stay here that we found the leopard that totally mesmerized us.
Our final stop was Serena Ngorongoro Lodge at the crater. The Lodge is beautiful and the fireplaces throughout the lodge are a welcome place to warm up from the cool air and winds. The crater is magnificent and we did succeed in being among the first few cars into the crater the next morning. We were so delighted to see the flamingoes and yes- we did see a black rhino!
I had anticipated that the travel day back to Arusha would be non-eventful, but I was wrong. Wilfred and Ally had planned souvenir shopping, which thoroughly pleased the children. We also came across a group of young Maasai dressed in their ceremonial garb and we visited Lake Manyara Park.
Lake Maynara Park was a wonderful surprise. Situated just outside Arusha, the park provides wonderful viewing of monkeys, baboons, elephants, hippos and magnificent birds. This is really a very small but beautiful park and I am so glad Wilfred and Ally treated us to this stop.
On arrival back at the Mount Meru Hotel late in the afternoon of our departure date we wondered how we could get some dinner before we had to head to the airport. Hakuna matata – Mathias had arranged for the kitchen to prepare an early dinner for us. On the way to the airport we got to see the “Shy Lady” – Mount Kilimanjaro – as she peaked out from her veil of clouds.
I cannot adequately express the thought, care and graciousness that was constant throughout our stay. Travelling with children is a real plus! Everyone went above and beyond to accommodate the children and to make sure that the adults were having a wonderful time too.
Our every need was anticipated and met. None of us were ready to leave Tanzania but all of us left with wonderful memories and a desire to return. We can’t thank everyone at ADS enough for providing us with such a magnificent adventure!
Linda H. and Family
Safari Dates: June 30, 2015 to July 10, 2015
After much research and thought my wife and I decided to use ADS for the safari portion of our trip to Africa. We were persuaded by their reputation and flexibility and their commitment to the country and people of Tanzania that they would be able to provide us with the experience we were looking for.
Our flight to Kilimanjaro for the start of the safari was somewhat delayed. Nevertheless, when we arrived at close to midnight we were greeted on the tarmac by Mattheus, who moved us swiftly through customs and brought us to the safari vehicle where Francis, our guide, driver, companion, teacher and friend for the next 12 days was waiting for us.
We drove to Arusha for some much needed sleep and the following morning, after the first of many fine meals provided by the hotels, lodges and camps that ADS had booked and set up for us, met up with Francis and our two friends from home who would be joining us for the safari.
Our first park was Lake Manyara where Francis quickly demonstrated his ability to spot, identify and discourse upon the many different animals and birds we encountered. As we got to know Francis we learned of his broad range of interests and knowledge and of his particular expertise when it came to the flora and fauna of Tanzania and the Serengeti.
Seeing the Big Five was not a major focus of our trip. However, we had only the leopard to go after our first two days and Francis took care of that a few days later, somehow spotting a leopard in the crook of a tree on the Serengeti.
Our time with ADS was an unqualified success. We had the experience we came for. We saw everything we wanted to see and ADS assured our comfort and safety through every stage of our time with them. In particular, we will always remember the 3 days on the Central Serengeti plain where ADS set up a mobile camp just for the four of us.
They provided for our every need, including some of the best meals (from a wood fired oven and wood fired stove) we had on the entire trip. I could not possibly say enough about the staff that took care of us while we were there.
The tents were amazing, with king size beds, running water, hot showers and all the comforts of home, except that your door step was the Serengeti, lions were 100 yards away, and the night sounds were unlike anything we had ever heard before.
Along with all of that there were some wonderful surprises that I’m not going to ruin by mentioning, but were an example of the lengths ADS went to make our trip as memorable as possible.
Steve W. and Jamie T.
Santa Rosa, California
Safari Dates: May 27, 2015 to June 7, 2015