After a few weeks of daydreaming of Africa and reviewing photos, we are finally settled back into our daily routines. We had the most wonderful and life-enriching safari organized by Africa Dream Safaris (ADS). It was, with no doubt, the best trip we have ever had in our lives. With less than a year of advance planning with Sharon Lyon of ADS, our trip came together without a single hitch or even the slightest problem. ADS delivered on every aspect of trip they said they would. Sharon provided excellent advice and discussed various last minute issues prior to our departure. She was always helpful and courteous.
Our safari began with flawless flights and entry into Tanzania. We had an extra day for shopping and night lodging. With a short flight to the Mara River – Kogatende Airstrip, we met our guide, Anglebert. He had us in the mix of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, and hippos within fifteen minutes on the road. We cannot say enough positive and good things about Anglebert. We hit it off soon after our arrival and the fun began. He has a keen eye for spotting wildlife and for photography. He was always getting us into great positions for photographs. Besides deftly handling the Landcruiser over some pretty rough terrain, he was insightful about Tanzania’s animals, plants, parks, government, and the like. We came away with a great learning experience, especially with lessons in patience. We had the opportunity to view three spectacular and exciting wildebeest and zebra river crossings on the Mara River thanks to Anglebert.
We stayed at a mix of tent camps, tented lodges and permanent structured lodges during our sixteen days in Tanzania. We would say our best experience was at the ADS private camp, which we wished we had added a couple more nights. All of our camp and lodge accommodations were wonderful and the food and service was delightful. Most notable was the professional manner in which each camp or lodge treated us. Each place we stayed the staff knew our names as we got out of our vehicle. That kind of treatment made us feel truly welcomed! One special event for us was a night at the Crater Lodge when a visiting astronomer put on a show for the folks staying there. He pointed out so many stars, planets and constellations we thought we were back in college.
We tried just about everything ADS had to suggest or offer on this trip from the hot-air balloon safari to a Masai village tour. We had a walking safari with the Masai and a night safari – not at the same time, mind you! We had a private guided tour of the Leakeys’ dig site at Olduvai Gorge, thanks to Anglebert. We visited the F.A.M.E. facility and stopped at a local primary school to give away supplies to the students and teachers. All in all, this trip was rewarding and fulfilling.
Saying we saw many wild animals would be an understatement. Each day, which started at predawn, we were off and within minutes we would be looking at some animal. We took over five thousand photos and still had time to take in each moment of viewing with awe. One day we came upon a female cheetah and her two cubs with no one else around. We watched them watch us. They played all around the Landcruiser for about fifteen minutes before they scurried off. A short time later we came upon a pride of sixteen lions that had just finished eating a kill. Again, we were the only people around to see this event. Everyday, Anglebert was able to get us into a viewing situation that seemed to match or exceed the previous day’s experience. The best event was on our last day as we were leaving Swala Camp. Anglebert spotted a rare African wild dog that led us to a pack of fourteen dogs resting under trees nearby. We watched the dogs for about an hour. There was so much to see, and hear, and smell all the time that the entire experience was worth the cost of the trip. It was just plain magical!
Finally, enough cannot be said about the professional ADS staff with whom we had contact. A special thanks to Emmanuel for getting us about in Arusha. Thanks to Anglebert and Juliette for getting us into the Arusha National Park for a half-day tour before we left Tanzania. For those who are looking or thinking about an African safari experience of a lifetime, we would recommend talking to Sharon Lyon with Africa Dream Safaris.
Steven and Suzanne Olmstead
Safari Dates: 25 Sept. thru 10 Oct., 2012