As soon as my friend Barbara agreed to go to Africa with me we began researching our options for travel. After talking with several travel agents and doing our own research we decided to go with Africa Dream Safaris. There were two main reasons for this: 1) They are with you every step of the way. This was very important to me as this would be my first trip overseas. 2) They provided for a private safari. We would not be at the mercy of a group of people who may not have wanted to keep the same schedule as us.
Upon arrival at the Kilimanjaro airport we were greeted by friendly staff and escorted to a VIP Visa line. I’m sure we were comfortably enjoying a light dinner and wine at the hotel while others on our flight from Amsterdam were still waiting to get their Visas.
The next morning we were on a plane heading for the Serengeti. I imagined that the flight might be like Meryl Streep in the movie “Out of Africa”, but it was a cloudy day so no animal sightings. But… as we came down for landing, we crossed over a pond and we saw our first animals – hippos!! We were so excited, but that was only the beginning of what was to be the most incredible 8 days. Imagine actually driving through herds of elephants, zebras and wildebeests. Seeing leopards lazily sleeping in trees, and a pride of lions just beside your jeep.
One of the highlights of our trip was watching as a mother cheetah taught her cubs how to hunt. When in the midst of thousands of wildebeast and zebras we felt like we were in the middle of a National Geographic photo spread.
Our accommodations were great. We loved the tented camps. I think our favorite was the Tarangire River Lodge. There were only two other people staying there that night (just another reason to go in the off season). In the morning, we viewed a herd of elephants from our deck. As with all other places that we stayed, we had great food and heard lions and hyenas and other animal sounds all around us, all night. At the Mbuzi Mawe camp we were greeted by a giraffe not 20 feet away from us as we were escorted to breakfast.
Let me also say a few words about the people of Tanzania. They are so friendly, helpful, gracious people. We felt right at home wherever we went. And high praise for our guide, Simon. He has X-ray eyes. He could spot animals before we could get them sighted in our binoculars. We had so much fun with him, and he took extra steps to ensure that we had a great experience.
Sadly, our trip came to an end. We will never forget this experience. Thank you Africa Dream Safari, and Asante Tanzania.
Denise Burchill and Barbara Johns
Allison Park, Pennsylvania