We decided a safari was the perfect way to celebrate our 45th anniversary. We have wanted to go to Africa for years but for a variety of reasons never got around to it. We quickly found out that deciding to go was the easy part – choosing a company to travel with was an almost overwhelming problem. We are avid photographers – amateur, but serious. We are also experienced travelers – but Africa was an entirely different concept for us. We wanted a tour company that would handle a lot of things for us but give us flexibility, allow us go where we wanted to safely, but more than anything, go at our own pace. After a lot of research, we chose Africa Dream Safaris. After spending 11 days in Africa and watching other tour operators, we clearly made the right choice.
The first step was determining where and when to go. After several discussions with Sharon Lyon, we learned that where we went depended on when – and vice versa. She did an incredible job of helping us match up what we wanted to experience and when we could go with where to schedule our trip. So we booked it and then waited for the big adventure to start.
When we arrived in Tanzania, we were met by an ADS representative and for the rest of our time in Africa we were never without someone to help us. After a brief stay in Arusha, we flew into a camp by the Mara River and our adventure began. We met our driver/guide for the next 10 days, Omary. He turned out to be an amazing match for us and was a significant reason for our trip’s phenomenal success. Not only did he have incredible knowledge of the Serengeti, the wildlife and the plants but he had a great feel for lighting, backdrops, scenery, etc. He even had a good sense of humor – by the second day we had established our “missions” for the trip – including giving him one of a “mature male lion on a rock”. This became our quest – but by day 8 he had delivered! He told us on day one we were family – by the end of the trip we knew he really meant it.
We elected to stay in “bush camps”, preferring that to being in a lodge. In every camp, we were met on arrival by the staff with warm facecloths and drinks. In each camp we had comfortable accommodations – whether part of a permanent camp or a tent on the ground. The service we received rivaled many 5 star European destinations we have experienced. And every person we met seemed genuinely interested in our comfort, safety and ensuring we enjoyed the trip and the accommodations.
And last, but not least, was the Serengeti. We were totally unprepared for the experience. By the second day, we decided that if we had to end the trip, our expectations would have been exceeded. The enormous variety and quantity of wildlife was astounding. We saw dozens of lions, numerous cheetahs, hundreds of elephants and giraffes – the list goes on. We saw the wildebeest crossing the Mara River (one of Omary’s missions). We had lunch on a Kopje overlooking a migration of zebra a mile wide stretching from one horizon to the other. We had a whole pride of lions walk within feet of our truck. We watched a leopard descend from a tree and disappear in the grass only to reappear right by our truck. The flexibility we had allowed us to do this; other tour operators had left when the leopard didn’t move. The list goes on and on.
This was a truly memorable experience. We wanted to make it memorable since we would only be able to do this once and already we are figuring out how to do it “one moretime” .
Gary and Nancy Prade
Castle Rock, Colorado
Safari Dates: November 6, 2012 to November 16, 2012