Posts From April 2012

Though it is trite to say it, it was truly the trip of a lifetime!

I woke slowly to the sound of water … Kedafi, our Massai server, was filling two canvas sinks on the porch with warm water for us to freshen up for the day. The sky was grey awaiting sunrise and Kedafi cheerfully asked whether we would prefer him to bring coffee or tea as we prepared for our day on the Serengeti plains.

My wife, Patricia, and I came awake in our private safari camp tent for another day of exploring. The tent was great… the main room with a 4-poster bed, end tables and lamps; another room had 3 partitions for a chemical toilet, a shower, and a luggage/dressing room. What a great way to travel!

After a hearty breakfast with our personal guide, Pokea, we headed out for a day-long “game drive” in search of all the animals we had only seen on the screen before. Investigating the plains, often moving cross county without a road or track, we found lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wildebeest, zebra, and many, many other animals. What a thrill … getting as close as 30 or 40 feet from a cheetah mom and her five playful, young cubs, watching as two male hippos faced off in a challenge for their territory or finding a Pangolin – a rare anteater that many guides have never seen in person.

Patricia and I recently returned from a 12-day safari in Tanzania with Africa Dream Safaris (ADS). Though it is trite to say it, it was truly the trip of a lifetime. From our first contact with the company to get initial information a year in advance until we returned home, we felt that ADS had our interests in mind. Dawn Anderson, who helped us arrange the trip, was tirelessly helpful…assisting us in figuring out the best time to go and what to see as well as providing lots of useful information on everything from camera insurance to recommended shots and medications to electrical differences between the US and Tanzania. She never missed a deadline or failed to respond exactly as promised and the company provided lots of information that made it easy to prepare for the trip.

From the moment we stepped off the airplane (not our favorite part of the trip) at Kilimanjaro Airport until we climbed back on the plane (or no, not again) at the end of the trip, there was always someone from ADS actively looking out for us. We like to think of ourselves as a bit adventurous but who wouldn’t want to be greeted by friendly staff who can help you avoid the line for customs and simply whisk you out of the airport and into waiting transportation as soon as you pick up your bags? Then upon arriving at our initial lodging (which was beautiful, by the way) we were greeted with warm towels and cold fresh fruit juice and an ADS staff member to give us a quick orientation.

After a day of layover which included sleeping-in and massages – one of our smarter moves in developing the itinerary – we set off for the actual safari. Again, ADS staff were ready to help with our bags and to transport us to the airport (with a tour of Arusha enroute) for a short flight to Serengeti Park to begin our safari. Our guide, Pokea, and vehicle were waiting for us when the plane arrived. As the trip progressed, we learned to appreciate both of them greatly and count ourselves lucky in both regards. Now, you may be like Patricia and not pay much attention to vehicles but it didn’t take long to appreciate the Toyota Land Cruiser we were assigned.

With removable roof panels and one large rear window with canvas/plastic that could be rolled up, we had totally unobstructed views no matter where we were (and, of course, having the vehicle to ourselves meant that we were able to continually change our positions to see and photograph whatever we wanted.) In Pokea’s able hands we were able to go anywhere …. fording rivers, climbing steep hills, clawing through mud, and navigating various rough terrain.

As you would expect, your guide during the trip is absolutely the key to your safari experience. Quietly ensuring that all of the arrangements for lodging and luggage are handled smoothly, preparing the vehicle and packing box meals and drinks each day, tracking and locating every type of animal you can imagine, answering hundreds of questions – what kind of bird is that, how many babies does that animal typically have, what kind of tree is that, are we there yet, and on and on. Pokea was everything we could ask for and our impression that other ADS clients we crossed paths with felt the same way about their guides.

Our thanks to Dawn, Pokea, Kedefai, and the dozens of other ADS employees who made this trip everything we had hoped for and an experience we’ll never forget.

Doug & Patricia Butler
Portland, Oregon
April 2012

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Maguire-Moore Family

What can I say? Where do I start? From start to finish it was the most amazing trip ever. You had every little detail planned to a “T”. It was all perfect! Arnold was the nicest, classiest most professional and informative guide we could ever have imagined. He was an outstanding ambassador for African Dream Safari. He was impeccably turned out every day – with such a good nature. He was superb with the children – and nothing was ever a problem for him. He knew everything about the animals too – which was mind blowing!

Michael and Charles were also so professional, welcoming and warm natured. What great staff you have. All of our accommodations were so perfect – and each so different – it was fabulous to keep moving and have things change all the time.

The children really loved every second of it! There is something on the Serengeti on the Animal Channel tonight – that they can’t wait to see! My favorite was Mbuzi Mawe, Paul’s was Ngorongoro Lodge. The kids loved Ndutu Lodge. We all loved it all! We met Annesley, one of the owners of Ndutu – she was totally taken with the children and how well behaved they were – I kept assuring her they were on a Holiday High!

The animals were incredible. We got to see so much of everything. The first day was unreal! It would be great if more young families did this. I kept saying to Paul, how lucky we are to be able to do this at this age! Anyways – we have some friends with serious interest – now that we have started the bug, so we will be sure to pass them on to you.

We could not imagine having done this trip with anyone other than African Dream Safari!

Thank you!

Maguire-Moore Family
Chestnut Ridge, New York
April 2012


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Pat Mraz

Lynn, Our trip to the Serengeti this month exceeded all our expectations. The Africa Dream staff was everything you told us they would be and more. Charles in Arusha was ” johnny on the spot” wanting to provide only top notch service. Charles took us to the cultural center where there was a guide who walked us thru the art providing background to many of the artists and artifacts.

Once we got into the Serengeti our guide Wilfred was phenomenal. He was so knowledgeable and kind. I have never had better service in all of my travels. He adjusted the schedule to make the most of our game viewing. We would tell Wilfred the animals we wanted to see that day and sure enough he would find them! I have spoken to other friends that have gone on Safari but none have seen all that we did. We saw every animal there is to see. I have attached a few of my favorite photos. We had lunch with cheetahs; saw wildebeest migration and more….

Pat Mraz
Redondo Beach, California
April 2012

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Amy Ross

Hi Lynn,

We had the experience of a lifetime during our safari in the Serengeti. It far surpassed our wildest dreams! From the moment we were greeted at the airport to our final good-bye, the entire Africa Dream Safari staff could not have been nicer or more helpful.

Our guide, Wilfred, was amazing in his ability to capture moments that we thought existed only in Animal Planet shows! We saw everything! From a cheetah hunting, to elephants playing, to a lioness teaching her cubs to stalk prey. Wilfred was so knowledgeable about animal behavior, the ecosystems of the Serengeti, and the customs of the people of Tanzania. It was really like touring with a life-long friend.

Our lodgings were amazing. On the first night at Mbuzi Mawe Tented Lodge we heard a lion roaring right outside our tent in the middle of the night! I thought I had dreamed it, but the next morning everyone confirmed that it was, indeed, a lion that roams the area. The staff at all the Tented Lodges were so friendly and attuned to our needs. The choice of food was astounding, and each meal was delicious. It was hard to believe that such luxury is possible in the middle of the Serengeti!

Our only disappointment was with the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. The rooms were wonderful, but the Lodge itself was a bit too “Las Vegas” like for our tastes. The bar and dining areas were always overcrowded, and there was no place to sit quietly to talk over the day’s activities. Perhaps that goes with the territory in such an amazing area that has limited lodging availability.

All-in-all, I rate our experience the “trip of a lifetime.” I have already recommended ADS to many friends and am enjoying my Africa Dreams nearly every night. Thanks so much to everyone at ADS, especially Wilfred, for an unbelievable experience!

Thanks so much, Lynn!

Warmest Regards,

Amy Ross
Los Angeles, California
April 2012

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I had some trepidation about Africa

My husband George is prone to sudden and unusual ideas, but this latest one – an African safari – seemed extreme even for George. Until recently, our vacations were typically spent in a pool in Mexico or driving across a handful of states in a motor home. I had some trepidation about Africa at first but couldn’t have put my finger on what there was to be afraid of! Dawn at Africa Dream Safaris was so responsive to our questions, and was so clear that ADS is a “class act”, that any concerns were quickly replaced by excited anticipation.

ADS had every base covered from the moment we booked our trip. In the months leading up to our departure date, Dawn continued to be a great source of help and information. The ADS handbook and website were great resources as well. I was impressed by the fact that every picture that appears in ADS materials and on the website was taken on an actual ADS safari.

When the day finally came and our ride to the airport pulled in the driveway, my phone rang with a message that our first flight was cancelled. The only way to reschedule our air was to postpone the trip for an entire day. One call to ADS (which I later realized was at an absurdly early hour at their California office) resulted in an efficient flip flop of our itinerary to accommodate the later arrival yet still be able to see all the areas we’d planned.

Of all the incredible moments and sights, one of my favorites was our first giraffe. He was close to the road, yet hidden at first in some tree cover. When Elson pointed him out and we saw him, I think we both audibly gasped. Exotic, beautiful, and almost dinosaur-like in his hugeness. For the rest of the week, I just adored the giraffes and how they would casually appraise us for a few minutes before they loped away in their clumsy yet strangely elegant way.

We observed lions numerous times during the week. We watched to our hearts content a mother lion and three cubs. She dozed while they played, she snarled at them when they annoyed her. From just a couple feet away, we watched a male lion keenly watch a lone baby wildebeest as it traversed a dry lakebed. Interested, but not interested enough to bother himself with the wildebeest, after several minutes he walked off roaring and grunting.

For two full days near Ndutu and in the southern Serengeti, we were a part of the wildebeest migration. The vast numbers of the wildebeest and zebras are astonishing, and it is amazing to be among them, to be surrounded on all sides, stretching nearly as far as the eye can see in all directions. We watched two male Grants gazelles lock horns, with the dominant one pushing the other one at least 50 yards. We also saw hyena, elephant, jackal, mongoose, warthog, hippo, cheetah with cubs, leopard, topi (I loved these guys with their tall yellow boots). It seemed everywhere you looked was something surprising or delightful.

Through all of this, Elson volunteered his incredible knowledge of all these animals, what they were doing, and why. I don’t think we asked him a single question he didn’t know the answer to. He noticed I enjoyed keeping track of all the different birds we saw, and he was even able to identify all of them. He also answered questions about the local and African culture. Throughout the week, he was often in radio contact with other guides and if there was a leopard in a certain place or a particular thing of interest, he would know where it was.

The lodging was excellent. The food was very good, and every lodge accommodated our requests for early breakfast so we could leave for our game drives before dawn. Box lunches were good as well. Because they don’t know your personal tastes, each one contained more items and options than a person could possibly eat. We made sure we saved our extras for the park rangers or the Maasai children who would run from the fields with outstretched hands.

I understand April is viewed as the slow season due to the rains but it seemed a wonderful time of year to go. Everything was green, flowers were in bloom, and many of the animals had young offspring.

We’ve been home a month now and we are still in awe of how amazing this trip was. We own a restaurant/bar, and one of the TVs runs a continuous slide show of the photos we took. The customers love it! Countless people have thanked us for sharing them and they are just incredulous over how close we were to these animals, as well as how many different animals we saw. Many people have asked whether we ever felt we were in danger; again, I suppose that is because until you’ve been there, Africa seems so far, so foreign. In answer to that question, there wasn’t a single moment on the trip that we felt even mildly uncomfortable. However, I am very glad we had ADS guides as there is no way I would have wanted to try to negotiate the streets of Arusha and other towns on our own.

Another question we hear from friends and customers is “Where are you going to go next?” I simply can’t answer that because I don’t know how we could ever top this trip. It was that special.

Susan and George VanKersen
Traverse City, Michigan
April 2012

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Cheetah Report – Amazing Stories from the Serengeti

The latest news from the safari capital of Africa has just been released.  Here is a link to the March 2012 Serengeti Cheetah Report prepared exclusively for Africa Dream Safaris by Helen, the on-site researcher for the Serengeti Cheetah Project. You won’t find this information anywhere else. Africa Dream Safaris helps fund the Serengeti Cheetah Project’s ongoing conservation efforts. In turn, periodic reports are prepared exclusively for Africa Dream Safaris by the on-site researchers for the Serengeti Cheetah Project.

There’s lots of exciting cheetah news in this latest issue directly from the bush. There have been several new arrivals as well as quite a few cubs reaching independence and having to start making their own way in the world and a few funny cheetah stories!

Read about the famous mother cheetah named Elanor who has reached the cheetah hall of fame for rearing 11 cubs to independence. There is also a really wonderful mystery story about the return of a cheetah named Taitinger who has not been spotted by the project for over 2 years! Lastly, read about the ‘Coffee Boys’ who are 3 cheetah brothers that have continually delighted safari guests in the Ndutu area of the South Serengeti with their incredible speed and hunting skills.

Ndutu is located in the South Serengeti right on the border of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area and offers exceptional cheetah viewing during the green season. The Ndutu area consists of a patch of acacia fringe woodlands that surround two lakes (Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek). These woodlands are in turn completely surrounded by the main Serengeti plains. Ndutu, a transitional zone or ecotone, is where two distinctly different habitats merge and where various species of flora and fauna from both habitats can coexist.

Click here for the current Serengeti Cheetah Report.

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Bush Report – March 23, 2012

By ADS Driver-Guide Anglebert Mrema

Animal Pattern and the Great Migrations:

The head of the migration herd was at the Kusini – Makao plain and the plain between miti mitatu and kusini including hidden valley. There were also lines of gnus moving from matiti plains to kusini plain.

Central Serengeti Sametu and Moru Kopjes:

The Central Serengeti was quiet with very tall grasses in the area. We had honeymooning lions at Sametu kopjes on our first game viewing and a long line of gnus move from Zebra kopjes heading to the direction of Simba and Moru kopjes. We did see two leopard at seronera valley and five lions up on the tree at the same area. We had two brothers cheetah at Moru kopjes and our visit to the maasai painting was so great because there was a big herd of gnus on the other side of the area.

Southern Serengeti / Gol Kopjes, Ndutu forest and kusini plain:

Gol kopjes was very dry and dusty and there were a few lost gnus hanging in the area heading to the lemuta area. We did see three lionesses with five cubs of about six month old near barafu kopjes. The lions were not in good shape and its probably due to the fact that the migration herd has not stayed in the area for a long time because of the lack of rain at the south east part of Serengeti.

Ndutu forest and kusini plain were great. We did see a total of five successful hunting at the area. We were having our lunch under a tree near Lake Ndutu while watching a long line of gnus crossing the lake and honeymooning lions ten meters from our jeep, and we didn’t know that there was another lioness deep in the grasses just a meter behind the vehicle. This lion used the image of the jeep to get to the bush in front and move on to the shore of the lake pursuing that line of gnus and made a chase with no success. The gnus moved to the forest and settled there for sometime and the lion decided to make another move and successfully killed one gnu.

The second hunting was a Mama cheetah with four cubs who chased and killed a baby gazelle just twenty meters from the car. It was very interesting to watch the cubs trying to help mama to drag the kill to the shade and play with the kill before the mama cheetah opened it.

We moved on with the game viewing and found the three brother cheetahs near the area pursuing a small herd of gnus and successfully chased and killed one. Also, we had another cheetah chase and kill a gazelle on a different day. One of the late afternoon on our way back to the lodge, we came across a line of gnus and as they were crossing Lake Masek valley, we realized that there was a lion following them. We decided to wait and watch and this lion moved to one of the big male gnus and the gnu decided to fight back.

We watched them chasing each other for over one hour with the gnu using the bush and horns to defend himself from the lion and the lion did its best trying to get it. We decided to go to the camp because it was too dark and the next morning we found the gnu killed.

One of the most exciting moments of the trip was to be in the middle of the migration at Kusini – Makao plain as well as a visit to the small crater at the Kusini forest. The area was great and we thought that all the guns and zebras of Serengeti were in this area. We drove back to the area the next day and found the whole small crater covered with gnus.

Ngorongoro Crater:

It was raining in a large part of the Ngorongoro conservation area and the caldera was green, lush and very beautiful. We had great game viewing  and there were animals present in each corner of the caldera that we explored. We did see over ten rhinos in each day, which is a good sign that this endangered species is increasing due to conservation.

In the early morning, we had a great sight of over sixty female and baby elephant’s together escoted by a few males and they were moving from the North West part of the crater to the lerai forest. These females elephants were probably in transit due to the fact that their presence is very unusual in the Caldera as there are only male elephants here. There were also many lions and we had them right on the side of the road in many occasions.


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Going in May was Great

What a fantastic adventure!!!

Just as promised, we were met at Kilimanjaro Airport,and whisked through immigration. Soloman had us on our way to Arusha’s Mt Meru Resort in no time. We were pleasantly surprised walking into our spacious, luxurious suite. A great introduction to the quality of things to come.

Omar met us the next morning for a trip to Arusha National Park. What a neat experience and pre-safari introduction to flowers, birds and wildlife. We highly recommend a day spent in the park prior to safari.

Jumping ahead, I think going in May, at the end of wet season,was great. The countryside was green & full of flowers – no dust or bugs. Yes, some of rivers were at flood stage & roads impassable, but we certainly did not lack for birds & wild life.

We felt we were in excellent care and accommodations from arrival to departure. Enough good things can’t be said about the staff – Dawn, Soloman, Omar, Ellison- our safari driver/guide and the personnel at all the tents & lodges. We would like to clear the air on bringing snacks. You definitely do not “hurt” for food! The box breakfasts & lunches are of high quality and more than you will ever eat.

We also highly recommend the private classic camp. The service & food were outstanding. Lions on the road out of camp while still dark on an early morning game drive – what more could one ask for?

Africa Dream Safaris – you’re the best!

Thank you.

Bob & Edith Henry
Forks, Washington
May 2012

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Not a Bus Tour

Traveling is important to Chuck and me. We have been on many trips for business/pleasure, taken tours and have been on our own mostly overseas. Last year we took a bus tour to Budapest, Krakow and Berlin. All was great – the tour director, the interesting places and our fellow travelers. However, my desire to travel to Africa was very personal. I didn’t want to only visit there, I wanted to experience an adventure. And, I didn’t want to be subjected to others’ interpretation.

I wanted up close and personal and to share it with Chuck whose values are the same as mine. It would be our life-changing getaway because the beauty of Africa demands your full attention. We determined that Tanzania – the Serengeti – was our place of choice because it is pristine and has the plentiful wildlife that we wanted to see. The last several years I have been investigating the many tours available and weighing the pros and cons.

After reading about Africa Dream Safaris, it appeared to be what we were looking for. I had an immediate reply to my inquiry from Sharon Lyon. From that time on, Sharon guided and prepared us for our journey. By the time we left the U.S., we were confident that the careful preparations would ensure us a safe and satisfying trip. The trip far exceeded our expectations. It was thrilling.

Our guide Omari was extremely knowledgeable about all areas of travel and about the animals, their location and behavior. Omari was available to us the beginning of the day whether we were later than the suggested hour or earlier. And, each day he was in no hurry to end the game drive. We learned so much from him and saw unforgettable sights.

Our beautiful pictures reflect the pleasure of seeing Africa for the first time and a wonderful memory. Unlike last year, the pictures are not dictated by, nor do they depend on which side of the bus you are travelling. Our guide maneuvered the vehicle so that we had the best views. He was patient and a most pleasant travel mate. Thanks to the professional and caring staff at ADS, we had the best time of our lives.

Chuck Chandek and Janey Madding
Cornelius, North Carolina
April 2012

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