From the first contact that I had with Lynn to the departure hug with our guide at the conclusion of our first safari the experience with ADS was exceptional and beyond our expectations. I had researched various companies and tours, but when I decided on ADS I was comfortable that we would be well taken care of, as Lynn had assured us we would be. Lynn never hesitated in promptly responding to questions and her thoroughness in providing information was immensely helpful, as we planned for one year this vacation of a lifetime.
That said, no amount of planning can adequately prepare you for what you experience when you immerse yourself into Africa and specifically Tanzania. I used the term “other worldly” several times during our 14 days on safari. What I meant was that there is a closeness you feel to nature and the animals as they watch you from such a close proximity. There is a sense of pride and a gentle spirit that you can feel from the Tanzanian people that is unlike anything you have probably experienced, regardless of how well traveled you might be.
From the moment we stepped off the airplane at Kilimanjaro airport we felt welcome. Lynn had assured us we would have nothing to worry about passing through the visa process and sure enough it was true. As others stood in long lines waiting to be processed, we were done. Our briefing at Mt Meru hotel by the ADS guide Matus was clear and most helpful even though we were pretty bleary eyed by then, having traveled on long flights just to arrive. Our guided tour through Arusha the next day introduced us to the life of the people of Tanzania. Need less to say there are many contrasts to the daily life, as experienced by residents of the western world.
The next day began our adventure in the bush as we flew over the Serengeti to meet our guide Omary with whom we would spend the rest of our time in Africa. From the moment we landed Omary greeted us and we came to enjoy and appreciate his ready smile and immense knowledge. It is said that your trip can be made or broken by the quality of your guide and I couldn’t agree more. Omary had an amazing ability to spot animals and birds. He would identify them for us and provide interesting information about the behavior of the particular breed.
Every day was not only interesting and educational, each day provided little surprises and delights. There was the humorous mating ritual of the ostrich and the day a group of female elephants circled the younger ones to protect them from us. The eldest female charged towards the vehicle. Omary’s respect for these animals was evident when he slowly backed the vehicle up to indicate to the anxious female elephant that we would pose no threat. She became immediately comfortable and turned back to join the herd. We always felt comfortable and well cared for and we couldn’t have been happier with our guide.
Several mornings we rose for several 6:15 sunrise departures on our game drive which allowed us to see such animals as the black rhino. We were the only vehicle for miles in the Ngorongoro Crater. In the Serengeti we were able to see a female cheetah sitting protectively on a termite mound with her two cubs surveying the landscape for any predators that might harm her young.
We went on a night game drive and observed the “hunt” with 17 female lions and 4 cubs as they stalked through the high grass. We sat in the vehicle silently, not 20 feet from three of the lions after they took down the Wildebeast. There was nothing more exhilarating than listening to the labored panting of the three lions as they sat over their kill!
I could go on and on but suffice it to say the days are constructed based upon our agreement with our guide; when we started the day and when you came in. That was not the same for other tours we observed. Many were the times my husband and I commented how fortunate we were as other vehicles would pass, crammed full of people jockeying for the ideal position for a photo. Similarly, we would watch other groups go out for a few hours only to return to camp after a half day and that was the extent of their game drive. Not so with us and we were the richer for it in safari experience.
Our last night in Tarangire National Park we climbed with a guide to the “top of the rock” as they call it and watched the sun set. What a beautiful and peaceful way to conclude a most magnificent safari before traveling back to Arusha for our departure.
Thank you ADS for making this adventure wonderful for us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bill and Ginger Barthel
Trip Dates: September 5, 2012 to September 18, 2012