Posts From October 2010

Best Mara River Crossing Pictures

It’s been a record year for Mara River Crossings in the Serengeti. Even our most experienced safari guides cannot recall a time when the wildebeest have crossed so frequently. Time and time again the long columns of wildebeest have made the plunge into the Mara River both southbound and northbound with no particular rhyme or reason. Perhaps it’s the unusually heavy thundershowers we have seen this entire dry season combined with the early burning done by TANAPA. This combination has caused the migration to cross and re-cross the Mara in pursuit of the rain clouds and the smell of fresh green grass sprouting on the scorched plains. Below are a couple of our favorite Mara River crossing shots submitted by returning guests over the last couple months.

Special thanks to Shane and Heidi who submitted this spectacular safari video from their recent African safari. At about 4 minutes and 30 seconds into the video there begins some extraordinary crossing footage including two massive crocodiles taking a wildebeest. Be warned some of the shots are quite graphic!! Click here to see the video.

By Marc Zwig - September 24, 2010
By Marc Zwig – September 24, 2010

By Ronna DelValle - September 16, 2010
By Ronna DelValle – September 16, 2010

By Sue Dougherty - August 1, 2010
By Sue Dougherty – August 1, 2010

By Max Gottesman - September 22, 2010
By Max Gottesman – September 22, 2010

By Linda Johnson - October 18, 2010
By Linda Johnson – October 18, 2010

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Quote of the Week: Jan Jeffries

It has been several weeks since we arrived back home from our trip in Tanzania with ADS and we are still talking about it every day. Words really not cannot describe what an experience this dream trip of a lifetime was for us. Let me preface by saying, that my husband was not at all keen on taking this trip but agreed, primarily so I would stop talking about it. He was more than pleasantly surprised – he absolutely loved every minute of it, as did I.

I spent countless hours researching countries, safari outfitters, and online reviews. It was a big commitment and I wanted to make sure that I made the right choice. ADS stood out in many ways. First of all I liked that they do not own any properties so were able to give me unbiased opinions on the various properties I was considering (or properties that I wasn’t even aware of). Secondly, the correspondence with ADS was pleasurable, thorough, and timely. I could tell that my rep at ADS was highly motivated to make this trip just exactly right and just exactly the way we wanted it. Her great attitude of enthusiasm and service made the trip a joy to plan. She was quick to answer any and all questions and to get any information that I needed. And, third, and most importantly, is that the trip went FLAWLESSLY! All the transfers, commuter planes, camp/lodge reservations, EVERYTHING was perfect. We were expected and well taken care of from start to finish. We felt totally secure and well-looked after from beginning to end.

We chose the northern Serengeti for our trip. I had communicated to my ADS rep that I was not interested in being somewhere where there were dozens of vehicles bearing down on an animal sighting, nor was I interested in staying in “pseudo-African” lodges that no matter how nice, could quite possibly be found at a theme park in America. With that she and I came up with the most amazing itinerary and, ultimately, the most amazing experience. A major key to how amazing this trip was, was the ADS guide that we had. Our guide was indefatigable in his pursuit of every possible wildlife experience out there. He was so enthusiastic and so knowledgeable, that every day was an adventure that left us wanting more. He was warm and funny and sincere and humble. Our last day with him had me in tears, I knew how much I was going to miss him. Many days we would come back to our lodging and in talking to other people find out that we had seen all kinds of things that NO ONE else had. We also overheard comments from guests not with ADS saying that their guide seemed bored or didn’t talk much. Our guide could spot things from so far away, it was mind-boggling – like a lion the same color as a rock, on a rock a half-mile away – seriously! The guide you have on a trip like this is so key to the entire experience and we were so so appreciative to have our guide!

So, what did we see? Just about everything!! We saw 4 – yes 4! – migration crossings of the Mara River. We saw lions and prides of lions. We saw a group of lions with a kill being challenged by a group of hyenas (guess who won? – lions, of course). We saw a lot of babies – cheetahs, lions, giraffes, monkeys, baboons, elephants, hippos, and wart hogs to name some. We saw the elusive black rhino (three of them) in the Ngorongoro Crater. We saw enormous Nile crocodiles. We saw the most beautifully colored birds that you could possibly imagine. And with all of the wildlife we had the wonderful experience of learning and seeing first hand the culture of the Tanzanian people through visiting a medical clinic, a school, and Maasai village. This is a culture of friendly, happy people. The service everywhere we stayed reflected that joy for life and their desire to please.

I am so glad I picked ADS. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the absolute best possible choice – not just for us, but for anyone. They will give you the trip you want at a competitive price and with tremendous attention to detail. Thank you for creating this trip of lifetime!

Jan Jeffries
October 2010

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Quote of the Week: Bob and Arlene Levitt, Marc and Beth Zweig

We were extremely happy that we chose ADS, and it all started with you [our ADS rep]. Your diligence in communications and working to insure our satisfaction came through. From the moment we stepped off the plane in Arusha, we were met by the ADS greeting group and needed to do no more for our entire stay. Every facet of the trip was taken care of as promised.

Our guide was fabulous, in that no request of ours was rejected. He had a game plan for each day, but any modifications suggested by us was readily accepted. He was knowledgeable, patient, and personable. Our first day we came upon the Wildebeest attempting to cross the Mara River, but they did not do so at the point expected. Each time the Wildebeest moved downstream, [our guide] moved to a location he felt could be a crossing point. We did this four or five times, until the hoped for crossing happened. Not only did he have us placed in a great position, but Wildebeest re-entered within 10 feet on both sides of our vehicle. I can’t describe the feeling we all had, but elation is not strong enough.

There was another instance in the Ngorongoro Crater where we came upon a pride of 2 adult female lions with 4 lion cubs. We were all by ourselves with no other vehicles around. We spent one hour following the pride, and each time they moved our guide repositioned us to be within the best visibility. At most times they were within feet of the vehicle, and the feeling we had was indescribable. Our guide made sure that the lions were comfortable with us, and that they would not scamper off.


The accommodations met and exceeded our expectations. The staff in each and every lodge and tented camps were courteous, friendly, and extremely helpful. Our special thanks to Nikki at Buffalo Springs Luxury Camp who made us feel like we had known her for years, and that we were in her private home.

Arlene and I, as well as Beth and Marc thank you for making this an extremely enjoyable journey, and we are pleased to offer our recommendation for Africa Dream Safaris.”

Bob and Arlene Levitt, Marc and Beth Zweig
September 2010


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Quote of the Week: Jerry and Candace Briney

From the time our greeter in Arusha quickly acquired our visas until our farewell surprise at Tarangire River Camp, we were in great hands with ADS. As we discussed our day’s sightings in the evenings with other tour groups, we rapidly noticed how much more we had seen each day. Every outing brought new adventures–a beautiful caracal with a rock hyrax in its mouth, a lioness stalking and catching a Thomson’s gazelle, hundreds of wildebeest hurling themselves into the Mara River, a black mamba, bushbabies, or a mother lilac-breasted roller teaching her young to kill a snake only to see the young bird snatched away by a hawk. We thoroughly enjoyed our bird sightings from the large storks, vultures, and ibis to the small lovebirds, kingfishers, and bee-eaters. Our expert guide spotted and identified animals for us every day. We also enjoyed having “Wildlife of East Africa” by Martin B. Withers and David Hosking available to us throughout our journey. Thanks for all of the pre-trip information and help, and the wonderful care along the way.

Jerry and Candace Briney
July 2010

A caracal cat, glancing over his shoulder just long enough for the camera to click!


A beautiful Serval cat, pausing in a clearing before disappearing again under grassy cover.

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Quote of the Week: Dottie Shively and Bill Rothschild; Pam and Bob Pierce

As soon as our small plane approached the dirt runway in the Northern Serengeti and the Zebra and Wildebeest ran under our plane, we knew that we were embarking on an adventure of a lifetime! There, our ADS driver-guide and soon to be friend met us. Our guide amazed us as every day he took us to the best spots and maneuvered us into the best viewing situation. We soon valued his knowledge as he increased our enjoyment and insights into animal behavior. Each day added new animals: giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, wart hogs, baboons and many more. The birds were also amazing from the ostrich to the crown crane. Watching the migration of the Wildebeest leap into the water to cross to new food sources was truly astounding.

The four of us so enjoyed our private safari. Each evening, we would discuss our day and favorite memories bringing back all events of the day. We will always remember our two evenings in the Presidential Suite with our very own dinner catered to our “private dining room”. And our stay at the opulent Crater Lodge with zebras eating in “our front yard” while we sipped our wine on our balcony was truly incredible.

We laud our pre trip preparation, missing no detail. ADS surpassed our expectations.

Dottie Shively and Bill Rothschild; Pam and Bob Pierce
October 2010

A crowned crane hunting for insects.


A leopard polishing off his lunch high in the boughs of an acacia tree.


A hyena “finding” a zebra that seems to have died of natural causes; he won’t have to work too hard for this meal!

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Quote of the Week: Dale and Raelyn Cole

We were supposed to arrive at JRO at 1:45AM, but the flight was delayed & we landed at 4:00AM! Some 70 passengers groggily deplaned, but we alone had anyone waiting! Yes, ADS was there cheerfully ready to do whatever needed doing. In minutes we had our visas & were hustling out the door (everyone else was stumbling around bleary-eyed wondering what to do & how to get away from airport in absence of taxis). We’d followed our ADS rep’s advice & had a layover day in Arusha to recover. Next day, at Arusha airport there were dozens of folks milling around looking for planes, boarding passes, destinations, information. ADS whizzed us through & we were effortlessly on our way in less than 30 min.

Our wonderful, delightful driver/guide met us & off we went. Within minutes we were within steps of a pride of lions, followed by herds of zebra, a few giraffes, elephants on the skyline, & antelope everywhere. That entire day we did not encounter another vehicle — the northern corner was ours alone. The 2 nights at Migration Camp were lovely & our first experience of the cold wash cloths & icy drinks on arrival. How do they manage to be standing at the ready as you drive up? We were fortunate enough to witness a few hundred wildebeest gathered on a shingle debating whether to go for it. Eventually a few dozen jumped in & furiously swam. They entered the water at the head of a shallow rapids; in the still water below the rapids the crocs were waiting. Some of the wildebeest were strong enough to prevail, some were swept downstream, & some returned to shore. The crocs grabbed two of the weak swimmers, but one was close enough to our side of the river to scramble out & shake the croc off its leg. Quite a show!

As we moved into the Central Serengeti we began encountering many more vehicles. Our driver/guide has a ‘6th sense’ & quite often we were first on the scene of an ‘event’. One such event involved a pair of lion moms teaching the kids how to dine on a fresh kill — blood & soft parts. Like all children, the kids kept looking at Mom as if to say ‘do I hafta eat this?’ The nearby males hunkered down a few hundred feet away & waited until the family left before feasting on the remainders.

Our 2 nights of private camping were surely a high point of the safari, not least because Gady joined us for dinner both nights. His knowledge of his country, its animals, and people was remarkable as was his informed awareness of the rest of the world.

Ngorongoro Crater lived up to its reputation; one of the fascinating things we saw was 3 lions (one male, two female) stalk a cape buffalo. They circled & circled, eventually cutting their intended prey away from the herd; they slowly closed in, then suddenly the cape buffalo had enough, & charged the lions — who wildly fled in three directions at full speed. They re-gathered near us to discuss their failure & then slunk off.

We almost missed visiting FAME which proved another high point. The folks there are doing a terrific job serving an area of Tanzania that lacks basic medical services. Well worth whatever time & support we can supply.

Of all the tented lodges, Swala most embodied perfection. Some others were more ‘elegant’, but at Swala everything was exactly right. All the furnishings & fittings belonged, the managers genuinely gracious, the food superb, & ambiance sufficient to satisfy anyone’s African Dream. Our 2 nights at Swala were a fitting conclusion to our 2-week safari with ADS.

Dale and Raelyn Cole
October 2010

A mother elephant and her young calf digging a well to search for clean water on the side of a river in Lake Manyara National Park.


A rare Kudu antelope taken in Tarangire National Park.


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Quote of the Week: Vivek and Deb Kansal

The trip is something Deb and I will remember for the rest of our lives. The experience of being in the middle of the Serengeti with no one else around but the animals is hard to describe.

My main request coming into the trip was to try to stay away from other vehicles (my concern was a zoo type feeling). Our guide did an excellent job of keeping us isolated from the rest. Most of our days in the Serengeti were spent completely alone with no other vehicles around. We were able to watch animals in peace without feeling like we were infringing on their land. He was also completely flexible, allowing us to stay with animals for as long as we liked as we came across them. We spent an hour with a lioness as she hunted two warthogs. Unfortunately at the very end she decided it wasn’t worth the effort and gave up. We spent about 90 minutes following a cheetah as it stalked a Thomson Gazelle and finally went in for a successful kill. The experience of staying with the animals for as long as we did while they hunted was incredible. We truly felt like we were a part of the hunt.

The lodges were very nice, with over the top service (Deb and I are actually not accustomed to the level of service provided and at times felt uncomfortable). The food was pretty good. The best accommodations we experienced BY FAR was the private classic camping. The ADS camp crew was very polite and friendly. They were very accommodating and adjusted when we mentioned we would prefer “less” service. The food, in our opinion, was much better than the other lodges. The picnic breakfast and lunches from the ADS crew were significantly better than the lodges. The camping experience was unbelievable.

Overall, we were extremely pleased with the ADS crew and level of service. We would definitely recommend ADS to any friends. We would also definitely recommend the private camping. I am not sure what we would say about the other lodges though, but in reality this was a small aspect of the trip and I am sure others enjoy the parts that made Deb and I uncomfortable.

I could type alot more but I think this email is already long enough. We had a blast and will never forgot it.

Vivek and Deb Kansal
October 2010

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Quote of the Week: Jim and Maxine Kaler

What, we asked, would best celebrate our 50th anniversary? It came down to France or Africa. Africa, thank goodness, won. And won big. Neither of us can imagine a better adventure, a better time, a better guide, a better people than we found in Tanzania. Everything we were promised came true and then some. If we could, we’d do it all over again.

Highlights? How about a guard elephant running off lions to protect the rest of the wandering herd. Or thinking that the Land Cruiser gear box had gone out when the loud noise was made by another elephant chasing US off. Or the Cape Buffalo who kept chasing lions away from his water hole. After 40 lions we gave up counting.

But it was raw nature that most fascinated. Four lions formed a coalition to grab a wildebeest (without question the homeliest mammal alive). Creeping up toward center and both flanks, one then made a mad dash — all four legs off the ground, dust and birds flying — and missed! Slinking away, all was over for a time.

But not for cheetahs. The pictures tell the story. We came upon a nest with four cubs, and went off road to watch them. There is Mom 20 yards away, and we are in the middle! No worry, we move…and watch. There is a herd of gazelles a couple hundred yards off. Mom gathers the brood, and they follow her as she creeps toward the gazelles. It’s a teaching moment. All of a sudden she explodes — they can hit 70 miles an hour — and so do the gazelles. And so does the land cruiser, with ‘ol Jim holding onto the rear rails photographing for dear life as we bounce along following her. Our guide returns us, and there is Mom with a young gazelle in her jaws. Putting it down, she starts chirping, calling her cubs back. One by one they return and go to the nest. Mom must rest before the meal. And at that point we let them be. But what mixed emotions. We cheer for Mom feeding her cubs. But there is the mother gazelle off in the distance looking back in apparent sadness.

More lions. Strolling with the vehicle, mating, sleeping. Oh my the elegance of the giraffes! And more and more and more zebras, a thousand stretching out to the horizon, rolling in dust, walking in the river, mixing with the wildebeests and gazelles. Baboons are coming at us, watch out! Here is a yawning crocodile, there in the pool hippos are fighting. Eagles fly overhead. We see lions eating the remains of an eland, with the hyenas waiting for their share and the vultures waiting way in back to clean it all up. And we can’t leave out the flowers and the grasses of every description.

Accommodations at night were fantastic. Imagine! You open the door of your lodge and there is a tall Maasai with staff waiting to escort you. And there is a crew of five at our luxury tent with kitchen, chef, and bar — in the middle of the vast African hills. We sleep in a quiet tent with shower and bathroom after watching a glorious African sunset.

We conclude with visiting an actual Maasai village replete with dancers and an elder who invites us into a hut to tell us about his culture. We visit the bottom of the Ngorongoro Crater with its flamingos and rhinos. We watch the Maasai herding their cattle. Even here there are elephants. And then we visit the awesome cradle of humankind, the Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley.

Relaxing? Up at 5:30 to hit the road (“road”?) at 6, we get to watch all the animals and birds at their best. We are in and out of the vehicle for 10-12 hours, and the time goes by like magic. Our wonderfully knowledgeable guide who could not do enough for us, says hey there is a lion — or you name it — half a mile off, and we follow it. Then later there is time to relax over a fine dinner prepared and served by caring people. Thank you, Africa Dream, thank you Africa!

Jim and Maxine Kaler
May 2010

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