When booking the “trip of a lifetime” you can’t help but fear the worst…What if the trip doesn’t live up to your heightened expectations? I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t slightly nervous that the trip wouldn’t live up to the hype. Well, ADS certainly did not disappoint.
Our fears were alleviated after spending our first afternoon and the next morning in the Serengeti. My father said, “Well, if you told me I had to go home right now, I would feel like I got my money’s worth.” While a bold statement, we all agreed. We had already seen so much in such a short time: hippos, leopards, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, impala, birds, baboons, lions and cheetahs, many with young, as well as amazing scenery. And this was just the beginning of eight amazing (usually 12 hour) days spent in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
ADS had everything covered from when we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport until we were safely delivered to Dar Es Salam Airport thirteen days later for our trip home. From making the arrangements for our accommodations and airfare in Tanzania to arranging for our drivers in Arusha, Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam and on safari, everything was absolutely flawless. Sharon answered any questions we had and even arranged for our tour of Stone Town, a last minute request.
Arnold, our driver, could not have been more personable, knowledgeable, or accommodating. He walked the fine line between making sure that we had the perfect photo opportunities / viewing experience and making sure that we respected the wildlife in their natural habitat. We often said that it seemed Arnold knew where the animals were going to be before the animals themselves knew. Thank you, Arnold. You are fantastic!
Before our trip, as we looked at the many amazing photos on the Travelogue posts from returning ADS clients, one question we had was, “Do you really get that close to the animals?” We found the answer to be a resounding “Yes, you do!”
On safari we were able to watch many animals up close: moms with their young, animals nursing and playing, hunting and eating, and even giraffes fighting. We also enjoyed the opportunity to visit a Maasai Village, where we were warmly welcomed.
We’ve been home for a month now and continue to relive our incredible adventure as we sort through the thousands of photos we took. We are still talking about our amazing trip and Arnold, our wonderful driver/guide. Thank you Africa Dream Safaris for our “Trip of a Lifetime”!
Kevin Watson – Royal Oak, Michigan
Roger and Edie Watson – Berkley, Michigan
We have been home from our safari in Tanzania with Africa Dream Safaris for about one week now, and after having had this time to reflect on our trip, we still can’t believe what an incredible time we had. The trip was one that we had been talking about and contemplating long before we came across the ADS website. However, as soon as we found ADS, we knew we had found a company that could make our wish for an amazing and unforgettable safari a reality.
While our expectations for the trip were exceedingly high, ADS surpassed those expectations at every point of the experience, from the planning phase through to our departure from Tanzania. All of that was due to the various ADS staff, including Dawn (who helped with the planning phase of the trip), Solomon and Charles (who greeted us at the airport and took us around Arusha on our first day) and, perhaps most importantly, Ellson, our driver and guide.
Within hours of our request for information, Dawn had provided more information than we could have hoped for. She gladly answered all of the questions we had (which, as we do not travel often, were many) in an incredibly kind and timely manner and made the planning of the trip as easy at it could have been. We eagerly anticipated the day we were set to leave and soon, that day was upon us.
Immediately upon our arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, we were whisked through customs without a hitch and we were soon on our way to Mt. Meru Resort in Arusha, the first of our absolutely incredible accommodations. We opted to schedule an extra day in Arusha to take a look at the city and to recover a bit from the jetlag. It also allowed us to enjoy an extra night at Mt. Meru Resort, which can easily put many of the best hotels in the states to shame.
Soon though, we were on our internal Regional Air flight to the Serengeti. Upon landing, Ellson, our guide, was waiting for us with the ADS vehicle (a vehicle which, we soon found out, was washed, cleaned and waiting for us each morning throughout the trip), cold beverages and some snacks. We could not have been luckier that we got Ellson as our guide. The wealth of knowledge Ellson had, and freely offered, was incredible. His ability to spot wildlife constantly amazed us. And whenever we had a question, Ellson kindly answered and with a smile that never left his face.
Within minutes of stepping off of our flight to the Serengeti, not only were we on our first game drive, but we had also spotted several lions and a leopard. We had read in other testimonials that many other ADS guests find themselves viewing wildlife within minutes of arriving, but nothing can really prepare you for that first moment when you do. That, though, was indicative of the entire trip.
We still cannot believe the amazing things we saw and experienced. A few of the highlights include being charged by a rather ornery young male elephant (though given Ellson’s skill, we never felt we were in any danger), finding ourselves in the middle of a herd of probably about 150,000 zebras, coming across a lion, a lioness and their three 3-4 month old cubs, and seeing two mother cheetahs each with cubs (one set was 3-4 months old, and the other set was probably only about 1 month old).
While all of the following are things we will never forget, the most unforgettable part of the trip was getting a chance to see one of the mother cheetahs stalk, chase and take down a Thomson’s gazelle only to then see the cheetah carry the gazelle to our vehicle where the cheetah and her cubs proceeded to feast on the gazelle literally right under our noses. Luckily, we have plenty of pictures to remind us of all of these absolutely incredible encounters (a few of the many, many pictures we took are below).
Our experiences, the service we received, and the accommodations at which we stayed while on our trip with ADS were all beyond what we could have dreamed of. We always said that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but before we had even left, we were already trying to think of ways that we might be able to repeat the trip in the future with other family members. We truly can’t thank Africa Dream Safaris enough.
Our amazing trip to Tanzania ended about 2 weeks ago. I have spent the time trying to tell friends and coworkers about the safari, but I have found that it truly is indescribable. One thing is certain. We had a magical time in Tanzania, and we are highly recommending Africa Dream Safaris to anyone who asks.
After reading so many testimonials from past tourists, I knew that our expectations were very high. But the experience was every- thing we dreamed about and more!
Let me just tell you about one extremely special (and probably very lucky) day that we spent in the Serengeti. We left Lake Masek Tented Lodge shortly after 6:00 a.m. and saw several wildebeest and zebra grazing along the roadside. We took a beautiful sunrise picture and soon found a male and female lion mating on the beach of Lake Ndutu.
Next we saw a Black-crested Eagle and several Bat-eared fox before coming upon six hyenas mating and howling on the dry lake bed. Another male and female lion heard the howls and starting chasing the hyenas, believing that the hyenas had made a kill. A cheetah stood on the hillside watching the chase as well.
Everyone lost interest when the lions discovered the hyenas did not have a kill. We drove on to the short grass plains of the Serengeti and began an off-road search. Almost immediately, we spotted a cheetah sprinting across the plains and successfully making a baby wildebeest kill. Soon, we found another cheetah with four babies and saw her hunt and kill a baby gazelle with the four baby cheetahs joining in the sprint and sharing the feast after the kill.
We observed the wildebeest migration herds kicking up a dust storm as they ran in single file and then found another cheetah eating a kill. There was a large flock of ostrich in the distance, and we were surprised to see a few rabbits hopping across the plains. There was another huge herd of wildebeest on the Lake Ndutu dry bed, and we watched two lions stalking their movement.
The young, inexperienced lioness was impatient and went for a kill but somehow missed getting a single wildebeest. The experienced, more patient lioness waited until the wildebeest started moving up the hill next to the lakebed, and we watched her kill a large wildebeest and drag it into the tall grasses. We parked just a few feet away and watched her hold off the younger lioness until she’d eaten her fill.
In the meantime, a male lion was making it’s way up the hill toward the kill, and we anticipated seeing a fight. Instead, the male was apparently exhausted from mating and waited patiently until the lioness was done before settling in for his dinner.
We decided to begin heading back to the lodge but instead ended up watching the “three brother” cheetahs hunt and kill a large wildebeest together (yes, that was our fourth kill of the day!) Again heading back to camp, we came across a pride of 13 lions sleeping under trees, including three cubs. The mischievous cubs were active, and it was great fun watching their antics.
Next we found the mother cheetah with the four babies and watched them eating a second meal. We tried again to head back to the lodge for dinner, but we saw the young, inexperienced lioness from this morning stalking a lone wildebeest. Again, we decided to drive on, but another vehicle radioed Anglebert about the lion & wildebeest, and we couldn’t resist another adventure.
We returned to find the lion and wildebeest in a hilarious stand-off. The two began chasing each other around a large bush. Over and over again, the lion tried to sneak up on the wildebeest for a rear attack only to find the wildebeest turned forward with its horns down. The lion tried taking a detour further up the hill, hoping to make a surprise attack, but the wildebeest was always ready to defend itself.
As darkness came, the lion climbed a tree, and the wildebeest stood guard below. We finally had to leave when we could no longer see what was happening. When we returned the next morning, the lion was still in the tree but the wildebeest was dead and partially eaten below it. Since we had watched the failed escapades of this particular lioness twice, we thought it was probably more likely that she had some help after we left or possibly the wildebeest died of natural causes.
We still can’t believe that we saw all of those events in just one day! And while it was by far the most incredible day of our safari, every single day brought new adventures. Our guide Anglebert was fantastic. Our favorite time was when he would stop the vehicle, stare off into the distance, and then say “Just checking”. We knew we were about to see something good, and we were rarely wrong!
When we saw a new bird or animal, he could find the page in his guidebook with one hand in a matter of seconds so that I could spell it correctly in my journal or read more about it. His knowledge of all the wildlife, including every tree and plant, was just amazing. We were frequently the only vehicle anywhere around, and we felt like we were the only ones getting to see all those incredible sights.
Africa Dream Safaris took care of us from the moment we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport, leading us around those long lines and straight to our vehicle. We took the advice of our Safari Specialist, Dawn Anderson, and stayed an extra night in Arusha to begin our vacation. After almost 24 hours of traveling, it was so nice to have the whole next day to relax. Dawn even arranged for a ½ -day driver to take us around Arusha that afternoon, and we particularly enjoyed the Cultural Heritage Museum.
We stayed in a variety of tented camps and lodges and loved every single one of them. We met so many delightful staff members—the chef at Lake Masek Tented Lodge (Veronica) who liked to tease us by announcing dinner features like “Secretary Bird” and “Warthog”, the escort at Mbuzi Mawe Tented Lodge (Justin) who was working to improve his English and remembered all of our names, the walking safari guide at Kikoti Tented Lodge (Thomas) who told us colorful stories about Marula trees and drunk elephants and walked us to the top of Kikoti Rock so that we could enjoy the beautiful 360 degree view, and so many more.
We will never forget our magical time in Tanzania. We will be reminiscing about all of our adventures for the rest of our lives! Thank you, Dawn, for planning such a perfect trip and thank you, Anglebert, for being the best guide ever!
Dave and Judy Washburn
Steve and Sandy Dean
First of all I would like to thank the ADS team for all their time and help, they put the “P” in professional. After about a year and a half of planning and contact with Dawn we were here, and dreaming about it cannot bring to reality the anticipation and excitement of actually being on the Serengeti.
We were treated to the wildlife even before we landed as giraffe’s we grazing on tree tops just under our plane as we were landing. Within minutes of starting our safari we had encountered Lions and Leopards already at this point we knew we were in for a great journey. Our guide Peter was outstanding within minutes of leaving we were already laughing and having a good time. His knowledge of the wildlife and habits of the animals is incredible not only was this a safari, but it was an informal classroom as we soaked up Peters knowledge.
Our first day was beyond belief but it was only going to get better from there, from being charged by a massive bull elephant to having Lions walk down rubbing the side of our vehicle and crawl underneath for shade from the hot afternoon sun. The babies playing with their mothers to the thousands of wildebeest for as far as you could see in all directions.
The balloon ride which started at sunrise, skimming across the tall grasses and then shooting up to 1400 ft. to have spectacular views of the sunrise and the landscape from a vantage point that is unforgettable. We had wanted to visit an authentic Maasai tribe as our guide and now friend took us across miles of uncharted land out past the moving sand dunes and the Nasera rock to an unspoiled Maasai tribe, they welcomed us in, they danced for us and traded jewelry and personal items with us.
As we traveled across the plains we were treated to excellent accommodations at night where we were able to talk to others about their experiences. The encounters and the experiences we had will last in our memories even more than a life time if that is even possible. The safari and the people that we came into contact with far surpassed our expectations thank you ADS as in my opinion there is none better.
Andy and Kathi Stropkai
Ok I admit it, as time got closer for our trip to begin, the more nervous I got. What if this adventure I had been wanting to do was not going to live up to all the expectations I now had due to your web site and extensive paperwork? I kept telling myself…don’t go expecting too much!
WELL …what did I worry for? From the moment our feet touch African soil, the truly amazing adventure began! Met at airport by a young man with our name on a sign, like lightning we were through the visa process and then passed on to driver and ADS rep. Taken to overnight hotel and given a quick briefing and cool drinks. Dropped off our bags in a 5 star room and then downstairs to the buffet restaurant which stayed open for our arrival ! Food was great and much needed! The staff so friendly, my Swahili lessons had started!
Great nights sleep and then off we went to experience our first very small plane flight! I was scared I don’t mind telling you, but piece of cake! What a sight as we flew over the Ngorongoro crater, and the migration as it moved below us! About an hour later we landed, as a wildebeest fled from the run way! We had spotted three giraffe too as we came in to land.
WE WERE ON SAFARI! I can go on and on with our wondrous adventure but as I know you have done it 50 plus times I will just mention a few things that will always stick with me.
Claude, our amazing safari guide /driver/friend ! A young man that was gentle, kind, warm and so eager to learn from us as we learned so very much from him! He had so much passion and respect for the animals and land that he comes from. His knowledge was immense. We felt the whole time he spent with us, that he too enjoyed everything we viewed and took awe in!
Any question we had, and we had a great deal, especially me as I felt like a kid set free in a candy store, he had the answer for. And if he was unsure about a type of bird ,he would look it up! 99.9% he was spot on ! Our son has a true love of nature and I hope as our son grows into a 30 year old he become just like Claude. He joined us for 2 evening meals while at Lake Masek and he was so interesting to talk with. ADS should be very proud that they have this young man working for them and representing their company. We are already talking of a return trip with other family members and we will be requesting Claude!
Ok so here are a few high lights…..we ate lunch with a male and female lion just 7 feet from our jeep, mating every 20 minutes. As I stood up in our jeep taking photo that you would see in a National Geographic magazine , they completely ignored me. A family of elephants, one of many that we saw, with a 2 week old baby. We watched as two older elephants helped steady the baby so it wouldn’t fall going down an incline to the road in front of us. And as its back legs kept slipping as it tried to climb the incline on the other side. It was so funny and cute to watch! We saw so many elephant herds and families ,I hadn’t expected to see so many and it did my heart good!!
We were completely surrounded by Wildebeests and Zebra with their babies at a watering whole. In every direction there was no clearing ,as far as you could see to the horizon there were animals. The notice was something I hope to never forget. A Kopje with lions on the top rock watching the migration going by them, obviously having had their fill! A mother lion with 3 cubs about four months old fighting over which nipple they wanted! A Cheetah mother with 4 cubs on the move, taking regular stops to let the babies rest. Nature at its best! A Cheetah with a kill, a Thompson Gazzle baby, as she ate it keeping close look out for predators , nose and face pink with blood! The beauty of the land!
The African Maasai Enkang that we visited. I had told Claude that I didn’t want to go to a” tourist ” Maasai village, I wanted to see for real what one was like. Claude drove us to an area where we could see quite a few Enkang and he told me to chose one, I picked one way off in the distance! We were greeted by many children who came to the jeep windows to look at us!
Claude noticed there were no adults so while we waited in the jeep, he went to find out what was happening. I managed to ask the children what their names were by patting my chest and repeating my name. As I repeated their names they laughed so hard as I said them with my English accent! Claude returned and informed us the adults were at market and the Chief and his friend from a neighboring Enkang were watching over the children.
We were welcome to come visit but the Maasai adults who usually dance for any visitors wouldn’t be there! I was thrilled because this was what I wanted, no show, we had seen it at one of our lodges, this was a Enkang as it was in its daily routine! As we got out our jeep there must have been 30 plus children ages 2 to 18 years old. When my husband Pete got out the jeep the children ran back as I dont think they had seen a very large white man before!
The Chief was 60 plus years old and his friend in his 80s! Claude said that we could ask any questions and he would translate for us. We had brought bouncy balls and Frisbees for the children and we presented them to the chief who on close inspection and a demo on how to throw a Frisbee , handed them to an older child to hand out to the children. As the children played we were shown the Chiefs hut , invited inside! And the area where they live.
We talked of his cattle and goats, I think as Chiefs go he was quite well off . An 18 year old girl with a baby on her hip hung by us, huge beautiful smile. She was married to one of the Chiefs sons. The Chief had 4 wives and over 40 children. His 3 year old was sleeping in the Chiefs home, a child from his 1st wife!! These are a hardy and amazing people! The children were having so much fun with the toys that we brought , I took photos non stop with permission from the Chief .
As I took photos I showed the children and they were fascinated . They called out the names of the children in the pictures but when it was a picture of them they didnt know who it was! I would take a photo of them then show them and say “you see you?” Within a few minutes the children were running around saying over and over again “You see You ? You see you ?” So funny. After group photos it was time to leave and I had to pull myself away, lovely people who waved as we left and waved till they could see us no more!
Sharon I have so many stories I could go on and on ,but you know first hand how truly fabulous it is ! I have never wanted NOT to go home from a trip, But as we left Swala Tented Lodge I was unable to control my emotions for about 20 minutes, my heart so heavy!
Thank you for all you arranged for us , time spent answering questions and just being there on call whenever I had a queries!
Are you planning a safari? Want to see pictures and read specific safari reports from the month or season that you are interested in travelling? Wondering what past ADS guests have said on say a safari in February or July or September or December?
Well, check out the newly organized archives section of our travelogue and safari blog. Here you can select a specific month from almost 5 years of data and read past trip reports or browse past customer pictures. This is invaluable information from a planning perspective.
One of hardest decisions when planning a safari is deciding upon which month or season to travel. Each month has its own unique highlights, pros and cons. Perhaps the best way to get a feel for each season is to read first hand accounts from prior guests that traveled in the particular month that you are interested in. Then, talk it over with your safari consultant and have him or her weigh in with their own personal recommendations.
To access our archives section with 5 years of past data, trip reports and customer testimonials, simply go to the ADS Blog and scroll down the page until you see the ARCHIVES section in the LEFT HAND MARGIN. Click on any of the months you are interested in traveling to read all the testimonials, bush reports, updates for that specific month.
This has been an odd green season with respect to the timing and pattern of the great migration. As posted before in our December 2011 report, the green season started a full two months early in October (as opposed to early December as usually seen).
The rains were sufficient enough to keep the Migration on the main southern and eastern Serengeti plains from November until mid January when a general drying out period took hold. The majority of the migratory herds quickly departed the plains by the 3rd week of January and headed west and north into the woodlands. We even had reports of seeing large herds of wildebeest all the way in the Musabi Plains deep within the Western Corridor of the Park in February…bizarre!
As always the fickle weather (and hence the migratory game movements) in the Serengeti keeps us on our toes with an abrupt, 180 degree change. The Serengeti finally received some decent precipitation sufficient enough to trigger the great legions of wildebeest and zebra (that had been taking refuge in the woodlands) back on the plains. Apparently, the migration really did come flooding back onto the plains by early March in a very impressive mass movement. Let’s hope the weather pattern holds and we continue to have enough precipitation (only about 3/4 of an inch a week is needed…not much) to keep the migration on the plains through the remainder of the green season.
Our guides report the Migration is 4 main groups at the moment as follows:
1st group in The Triangle, which is a stretch of plains between Naabi Hill and Lake Ndutu/Masek (see South Serengeti Map)
4th group (and largest) on the eastern plains stretching between Gol Kopjes and Lemuta Hill with a good amount of action taking place east of the Serengeti border in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (see East Serengeti Map)
A little girl stole our hearts five months ago. Here name is Jackline. Her father carried her into FAME Medical in a ketoasidotic coma, probably triggered by a severe infection. With the emergency care she received from the FAME team and our telemedicine communication with a volunteer consultant and Endrocrinologist in the U.S, Jackline survived that day.
Very weak, but finally stable, she was able to go home with her parents the following day. Unfortunately, her parents are among the poorest of the poor in rural Tanzania. Just putting food on the table each night is a challenge, let alone covering the costs of her twice a day insulin. We all wondered when the next crisis would hit. But then we were reminded……there are, indeed, “earth angels” in our midst. Someone in the community agreed to cover her medication costs on an ongoing basis, and one of our long-term supporters and volunteer doctors made the offer of a lifetime.
Dr. Duane Koenig, thought little Jackline might fare better in a neighborhood Boarding School, a place where she would receive three good meals a day, the necessary dietary supplements to keep her diabetes well controlled, and close monitoring by the School Nurse. He suggested making this proposal to her parents and offered to be her Sponsor. The family was ecstatic, as was Jackline.
For a motivated, capable child, like Jackline, this was a dream come true. Our team rallied. Siana Nkya, our head nurse and William Mhapa, our Community Health Facilitator, met with the school Head Master and nurse to discuss Jackline’s medical condition and needs. Dr. Duane donated the money to cover her school fees and school supplies, and Jackline began attending Tumaini Junior School. She came in for a check-up last week. She was smiling, laughing, quite literally glowing, and she left those of us at FAME Medical glowing too.
Africa Dream Safaris will match dollar for dollar any $50 donation thus turning your contribution into $100, which has real significant purchasing power in Tanzania. Please click here to contribute to FAME and to learn more about the organization. Make sure to enter ‘Africa Dream Safaris’ in the designation field to ensure that your $50 donation is matched correctly.