Posts From October 2013

Our 9th Safari To Africa!

Deborah and I have traveled to Africa a number of times. In fact we have made eight trips to the continent before our recent tour to Tanzania. We are amateur bird watchers and also very much enjoy viewing all of the unique animal species of Africa. We had previously visited twenty countries in Africa so we had quite extensively covered the continent. However, we have never been to Tanzania and the Serengeti. We had purposely avoided the Serengeti because we had heard many stories about the crowds of tourists that overrun the region. With that said, we finally decided that we really needed to see the Serengeti to fill out our African experiences.

We searched the Internet for a tour company that covers Tanzania and would meet our requirements as seasoned African travelers. I am very pleased to say that we discovered Africa Dream Safaris. We were very pleased with the tour package that they offered to us. They laid out our itinerary with our suggestion in mind that we hopefully wanted to avoid as much as possible the tourist crush. They provided us with an excellent guide that specialized in bird watching; a modern, comfortable vehicle that served us well during our tour; and luxury small camp accommodations that were our preference. I am very pleased to report that we experienced an excellent game viewing tour with ADS. We added 53 new birds to our African Bird list and 3 new mammals to our African Mammal list.

Deborah and I are now saying to ourselves that we made a big mistake avoiding the Serengeti for so long. It is now our belief that it is the premiere game viewing location on the African continent. We would also highly recommend the African Dream Safari tour company to anybody interested in visiting Tanzania for the wildlife viewing experience. They handled us very well on our recently completed ninth trip to Africa.

Bill and Deborah C.
Dixon, Illinois
Safari Dates: October 3, 2013 to October 13, 2013


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Another Fantastic Safari From ADS!

When my husband and I planned our first safari to Tanzania way back in 2011 with Africa Dream Safaris, we thought it would be a once in a lifetime trip. We were barely into the third day, however, when we decided that the country was so amazing that we would return! This past month in October 2013 we made that return journey. There was never any doubt in our mind who to use, as Africa Dream Safaris had done such a spectacular job with our past safari.

Dave and I had thought the first trip was unbelievable…but this second trip….wow….words simply cannot describe it. The Northern Serengeti in September is nothing short of magical with a lush green wooded landscape teeming with wildlife. We had targeted September for our visit as we wanted to see the migration crossing the Mara River, as well as view Tarangire at its finest. And see both we did thanks to Africa Dream Safaris!

We started our trip in Tarangire and spent two wonderful nights at Swala Camp where we dined and fell asleep to the roars and grunts of lions roaming in the vicinity of camp and the footsteps of elephants walking near our tent. We could even see them from the deck of the dining area!

Our first guide, Michael, drove us throughout the park and showed us the huge elephant herds walking to the water, as well as more than a dozen lions hunting, eating, and resting under the shade of the trees. On our first full morning at Swala we left camp at 6am for our game drive and within a mile of camp we saw a lion nonchalantly strolling down the road. We watched him intently, until we realized that there were twelve more about four feet from our Land Cruiser sitting in the grass staring at us!

From Tarangire, we flew to the far north of Serengeti where we were picked up by our guide for the remainder of the trip, Arnold, in a sparkling and very new Land Cruiser with a sunshade. My husband was especially keen on seeing a river crossing and we were very hopeful of catching one while we were there. Well, within 30 minutes of landing on the Kogatende airstrip….we were right in the MIDDLE of one!

Arnold used his experience and network of guides to find out where the crossing was occurring and quickly get us there. It was absolutely amazing and like nothing we could have prepared for – imagine thousands of wildebeest and zebra clamoring and climbing over one another down the banks of a river and into the rushing water, all the while braying and barking and grunting and kicking up dust. As they tried to get across the water, some would get caught on rocks – or worse yet – in the jaws of a croc.

We found ourselves rooting and cheering as a wildebeest luckily made it to safety after getting pulled down by a croc. Or when a young zebra got swept downriver towards a group of hippos…only to bump face to face with a big mama hippo who submerged herself and appeared to give him a strong push that was enough to get him back upriver and towards shore. As if one river crossing wasn’t dramatic enough, we saw FIVE in total over the three days we spend in the North. We also saw tiny leopard cubs playing, as well as two adults leopards making some new cubs on a rock a few yards from us!

Our other reason for loving the North was the camp we stayed in, Bushtops Serengeti. We had picked it out especially as the place we wanted to spend our anniversary. If we could live anywhere in this world – it would be right in this camp! Absolutely heavenly and luxurious, while still feeling comfortable. The tents were out of this world, with an outdoor shower, couches, hot tub, and a private dining table right on the deck! But, it was the view and the people that truly made this camp. From our deck we watched the sun setting over the expanse of the Serengeti, while sitting on the couch with a glass of wine.

The camp manager and the entire staff were so welcoming and really topped off the whole experience. They made the night of our anniversary very special with a dinner on the deck of our tent, lit up by lanterns, decorated by rose petals, and completed with a song, cake, and visit from the camp staff and our guide Arnold who we had quickly already bonded with. Bushtops also had this insanely cool infinity pool that looked out over the Serengeti. After a game drive one day my husband and I cooled off in it and then stood back in the pool with Safari beers in our hands and happily sighed as we looked out over the plains and said, “Now this…THIS is why we work – for moments like this.”

From the North, we went to the Lobo area and then onwards to the Central Serengeti where we stayed at Africa Dream Safari’s outstanding Sametu Camp. Jonas made us feel right at home with warm towels and Safari beers when we arrived. For the first night we were the only guests and enjoyed a beautiful evening watching the sunset, sipping wine, listening to the hyenas whoop, and chatting with our guide Arnold. A lioness even chased a zebra through the camp after we finished dinner and headed back to our tents!

The Central Serengeti provided our “32 Cat Day” thanks to Arnold’s amazing skills as a guide. In ONE day we saw 7 cheetah (including two cubs), a leopard in a tree, and 24 lions (including 10 different cubs, four of which were less than three weeks old).

I can’t say enough about how Africa Dream Safaris made our second journey to Africa the incredible experience it was. Dawn flawlessly planned a breathtaking trip that went far beyond our wildest expectations. Arnold and Michael were amazing guides who showed us the wildlife of Tanzania, knew exactly where to position us for great photographs, maneuvered the Land Cruisers through difficult terrain safely (unlike many other companies we saw), and gave us memories that will sustain us until a third trip! I have no doubts that without them our trip would not have been the same incredible experience.

Having done two trips now to Tanzania, we have seen many other companies and guides and listened to the stories from their guests. They simply don’t compare to the high level of quality, professionalism, kindness, and expertise provided by African Dream Safaris. We will be back to Tanzania and will most definitely use ADS again! Thank you Dawn, Arnold, Michael, Jonas, and the entire Africa Dream Safari staff!

Moira and David F.
Safari Dates: September 25 to October 4th

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One’s Own Personal Chariot

What an adventure! Stunning vistas filled with all forms of wildlife – and one’s own personal chariot with a knowledgeable driver/guide who answers all your questions as well as making sure you get as much out of the experience as you want. We enjoyed sharing our lives and experiences with the other guests at the relaxed settings of the evening camps, yet were secretly glad we weren’t crammed into a vehicle with 6 or 7 others continually negotiating which person’s opinion should determine where to go, what to see, and how much time to spend. This, in combination with the amazing scenery and friendly helpful people, is a real strength of the personalized African Dream Safari experience.

John R. and Glenda W.
Claremont, California
Safari Dates: October 5, 2013 to October 11, 2013

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Jim and Kit’s Trip To Eden

We are glad to tell you of our appreciation of the glorious adventure of a lifetime. I think these pictures hint at the magnificent wonders. From the Wildebeest crossing, the most exciting event in nature I have ever witnessed, to the quiet lush beauty of the Manor Lodging, Kit and I were in a true romantic Garden of Eden.

We were especially aware of this in an outdoor shower where we were surrounded by so many fabulous plants, animals, and splendid birds. While the evening meals at the lodges were not up to their aspirations the lunches in the field and especially all meals in the private luxury camp were superb.

Our guide suited our temperament to a tee; not too much and not too little information. His assistance and bravery (he got us out of an aardvark hole while a leopard was on the hunt near by) was unbelievable. He never rested on his laurels but to the very end was looking and making us aware of the many sights of Tanzania. I only wished I’d been told before hand that if at the Masai dance performance I had jumped higher I would have gotten a shot at a pretty girl, I think I could have jumped a little higher.

If anybody is looking to see cats we saw the big three in profusion and in all manner of activity, from supping to making love. I’ve never seen such a brilliant a melange of avian life. To deny oneself, the experience, if one can afford it, is not to have lead a full life.

Jim and Kit H.
Brooklyn, New York
Safari Dates: October 2, 2013 to October 13, 2013

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It is hard to put in words the amazing trip we had in Tanzania. This was our first trip to Africa and we didn’t know what to expect.

Within 5 minutes of landing, near the Mara river in the Northern Serengeti, we were face-to-face with a giraffe…and that is how the trip continued! All I can say is that every day was exciting, fantastic and an experience of a lifetime.

We spent 11 days in the bush and enjoyed every minute of the time with our guide Russell. We often spent 9, 10 and 11 hours a day on game drives and I can’t even begin to list everything we saw. Let’s just say I took over 1600 pictures and our friends traveling with us took over 6,000!

I think if you are reading this blog you are interested in a few things about traveling to Africa. I have listed our experience with each:

• ADS – Sharon and the ADS team paid attention to every detail of our trip often recommending changes in our itinerary to maximize the number and variety of animals we encountered on our trip. Over the 11 days we saw two wildebeest river crossings, the big 5 and on some occasions other animals we never expected to see. We saw the rare Egyptian Vulture, a mother and baby rhinoceros (very close up…within 50 feet), a white tailed mongoose, a bush baby (on a night safari), and a tree python. ADS did a great job in making sure we saw everything.

• Our Guide – What can I say about Russell. He had eyes like an eagle (spotting a leopard in a tree from 300 yards without binoculars), a great personality and his knowledge of the animals, the landscape and culture was fantastic. He made us feel very comfortable and we enjoyed our time with him.

• The ADS Vehicle – ADS vehicles are the best. They are clean, comfortable and well stocked with everything you need for your game drive. Each night Russell would wash the car and clean it, inside and out, so when we started our game drive the next day everything was fresh and clean. Note that this is not the case with other safari companies in Tanzania. We were glad we chose ADS.

• Accommodations – All of the accommodations were great rivaling 5 star US Hotels. The staff were extremely friendly and made our time in Africa fantastic. This was not roughing it…and it was incredible the level of luxury and service provided considering we were in the middle of Africa.

• Food – The food was great. Buffet style is common for many of your meals, but several locations (Swala and Lemara) served gourmet food in wonderful settings. We enjoyed many meals looking over the Serengeti as the sun set. Your food on the road is great and you won’t go hungry.

• Wildlife – We saw everything. I was not expecting to see lions, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe, topi, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs, bush buck, élan, gazelle, ostrich, hyenas and many more right next to our vehicle. I purchased a zoom lens for the trip and often didn’t need it for my pictures. We also spotted over 150 different species of birds.

We have attached a few pictures of our trip. We hope that you have as wonderful of a trip as we had (and you will if you choose ADS)! Enjoy.

David and Renee C.
San Jose, California
Safari Dates: October 8, 2013 to October 18, 2013

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Viewing The Wildlife Privately Was A Huge Bonus For Us

Words and pictures will never quite express our feelings and memories from our recent trek to Tanzania. From the very first contact with Africa Dream Safaris, with our safari specialist, Dawn Anderson, to the final trip to the airport to go (sadly) home, every detail was attended to. Not only were our questions answered in a timely manner, but they were answered with full explanations which better helped us to prepare for the safari.

We began talking about the trip in January of 2013, making the final commitment in April to go on our trip in late September of the same year to coincide with our 30 year anniversary and our son’s plan to study abroad at the University of Dar es Salaam. We began our trip with a two day extension to spend some time in the Mount Kilimanjaro area. We flew from Dar es Salaam (where we had been visiting with our son) to Arusha on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.

We were greeted warmly by ADS staff and whisked up to Ndarakwai Ranch. While there we enjoyed the stunning views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a walking safari, a night game drive, and a day hike excursion on the Shira Trail. The food was superb and the accomodations were delightful, including the nightly visit of the bush baby to the dining tent! On Sunday we left the ranch to travel back to Arusha for shopping at the Cultural Heritage Center and a one night stay at the beautiful Mt. Meru resort. ADS staff picked us up on Monday morning and transported us to the Arusha airport for our early morning departure to the Serengeti. At last, our long awaited safari was beginning!

Our driver/guide, Claude, met us as we got off the plane, quickly introduced himself, gave us traditional Maasai gifts as anniversary gifts, and helped us with our luggage. Within minutes we were settled comfortably in our safari vehicle and had entered a land full of animals only seen in zoos before. Our first stop was at the Mara River to catch the very tail end of a wildebeest crossing. We would end up being entertained both this day and the next as we watched the herds gather at the very edge for quite some time, only to change their minds and disperse and regather later in the day.

Our first day of safari was quite successful as we saw a partial river crossing, lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, a cheetah with two young cubs, and countless birds and antelope of various species. We stayed the first night (Monday) at Lemala Kuria Hills, which was a place of abundant beauty. We were surprised during dinner with an anniversary cake with our names on it and it was presented with a song by the kitchen/dining staff!

Our safari continued with a two night stay at Buffalo Springs Camp. During the next two days, the wonders of the Serengeti continued to reveal themselves as we saw a rhino with a young baby, a cheetah just after she had killed an oribi, a lion pride of 11 lions, and continued abundant sightings of zebras, giraffes, elephants, wildebeest, and water buffalo.

During our two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) at Buffalo Springs we enjoyed a walking safari to the top of a hill behind the camp, a night game drive, and a traditional bush dinner served from an overlook area away from the main dining area. The food was delicious and the hospitality extended was remarkable. We felt as if we were personal friends/guests of Mark and Neil rather than international travelers. On Thursday we visited the local Maasai village before beginning our drive to the Seronera Sametu Camp. The village visit was both fun and educational and we came away with a renewed appreciation for the Maasai traditions and work ethic.

As we drove to the Seronera Sametu camp, where we would spend the next two nights (Thursday and Friday) we continued to see a great number of zebras, giraffes, elephants, water buffalo, hippos, and various antelope and birds. Jonas, and the staff at the Sametu camp, were very attentive and excited to hear about the things we had seen.

On Friday we were thrilled to watch a mother leopard with two young cubs and a recent kill. It wasn’t long before the mother and one young ran off but we were able to watch the other cub eat the kill for quite some time. Eventually a baboon family ventured into the area and chased off the last cub who dropped the meat and ran up a different tree. This whole event was thrilling to watch.

On Saturday we departed the Sametu camp with the desire to see an adult male lion – this was about the only thing we had not seen at this point. It wasn’t long before Claude was able to follow the tracks to a grasslands area and one beautiful male lion popped us as we were driving by. It was almost surreal how he just raised up at the perfect time as he was completely hidden in the grass prior to popping up. As we stayed and watched him, we discovered that there were another 15 lions also hidden in the grass. As we stayed and watched this beautiful pride, all 16 lions moved about and we were able to enjoy this in the quiet beauty of the early morning.

From there we ventured to the Oldubai Gorge and the Ngorongoro Crater and a one night stay (Saturday) at Lion’s Paw Camp. The crater was unbelievaby beautiful and filled with abundant wildlife viewings. On Sunday morning we were able to watch the drama unfold as two packs of hyenas enclosed on a water buffalo herd, killing one of it’s young. It was a back and forth fight as the hyenas would attack the baby and the adults would then chase the hyenas off. The hyenas would come back, attack again, only to be chased off once more. This lasted for over an hour, until the baby water buffalo was too badly injured and the adults were too exhausted to continue the fight.

From there we traveled to Lake Manyara and finally back to Arusha. We had a day room at the Mt. Meru Resort, a pre-arranged dinner at 5:00 and a 5:30 departure for the airport. The ADS staff saw us safely to the airport check in. Although we have many great memories and pictures from the trip, it is hard to summarize them in a short article – we felt we could have written a book!

A large part of the success of this trip goes to our driver/guide, Claude. He was attentive to our every need and desire, was excited to teach us about the wildlife and vegetation of the Serengeti. He provided us with wonderful picnic areas and he was able to use his knowledge to find the wildlife away from the other safari vehicles. This luxury of being able to view the wildlife privately and for extended periods of time was a huge bonus for us. All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime!

Alice and Mark P.
Prospect, Ohio
Safari Dates: September 27, 2013 to October 6, 2013


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ADS Waives Cancellation Fees With Regards To Ebola

October 22, 2014

We would like to reassure our guests that there continues to be no (i.e. zero) reported Ebola cases in the 33 countries comprising the regions of Eastern, Southern, Central and Northern Africa. In West Africa, the countries of Nigeria and Senegal have been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization while three remaining countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) are still having new cases of Ebola being reported.

The affected areas in West Africa have had zero impact on East Africa and specifically Tanzania where we operate our private safaris. It is our continuing opinion that the risk of an outbreak occurring in Tanzania where we operate our safaris is exceedingly remote. Therefore, we would like to provide further reassurances to our guests by offering a generous and revised cancellation policy for all new and existing bookings with Africa Dream Safaris with immediate effect as follows:


Please allow us to demonstrate our reasoning why we believe that the risk of Ebola spreading to Tanzania to be very remote by sharing with you several relevant factors:

– The affected areas in West Africa are thousands of miles from the famous safari circuits of Tanzania. To put things in perspective, many major cities in Europe and South America are actually closer to the affected areas of West Africa. London, Paris, Rome and Rio de Janeiro are all closer in distance to the Ebola outbreak area then Arusha, Tanzania where our safaris originate.

– The primary airline (Kenya Airways) that would connect East and West Africa has suspended all flights to/from the infected countries since August.

– Entry has been suspended for passengers travelling from and through the infected countries, excluding health professionals.

– There is no viable land route by rail or road between West and East Africa. It would take several months to travel overland from West to East Africa.

– Recent encouraging news that two countries in West Africa  (Senegal and Nigeria) have successfully contained the Ebola Virus and have now been declared free from Ebola by the World Health Organization.

We hope that the above provides reassurance in travelling with Africa Dream Safaris over the remainder of 2014 and 2015. We have several happy guests currently in Tanzania on their dream safaris and many more who have just returned (check out our travelogue). We look forward to welcoming more of our esteemed guests here shortly in November and during the holiday period in December.

We are optimistic that some good comes out of this tragedy in West Africa in that the significant media attention may raise awareness on the greatly underfunded and inadequate medical facilities that exist in Africa. Though there is no denying the horrible situation in the affected Ebola areas of West Africa, the much larger humanitarian crisis in Africa still remains AIDS and many other widespread and easily treatable conditions and diseases. Sadly, there are roughly 1 million deaths reported in Africa from AIDS each year.

We urge all our upcoming guests to stop by the F.A.M.E. facility in Karatu for a brief tour and presentation and learn more about how Africa Dream Safaris is making a real difference in the lives of local Tanzanians by sponsoring quality medical care. You can read more about Africa Dream Safaris and F.A.M.E. here.

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A Dream Come True

It has always been a dream of mine, since I was a child, to visit Africa. I would tell friends “if I could go anywhere, I would love to go on an African Photo Safari”. Well…… my husband was listening. One day about a year and a half ago, he gave me a small stuffed lion toy and a travel book on African Safari’s, and told me to start planning. And believe me, I began my research that day!!!

Luckily, I came upon the Africa Dream Safaris web site. After much research comparing Safari tours to Safari Tours, I soon discovered that ADS rose far above the other tour operators. It is wonderful to have your own vehicle, driver/guide and to realize that it truly is all about what you want to see and do! And now after returning from our Safari, I am very happy to say that ADS did not let us down!! Our Safari was simply the most amazing trip of my/our life!!!! It definitely was a dream come true!

Our Safari began when we landed at an Airstrip near the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti. From minutes to within an hour, we saw Wildebeest, Zebras, Giraffes, Impala, Waterbuck, Crocodiles, Hippos and many species of birds. At lunchtime, we ate under a beautiful tree and talked about what we might see next.

Just as we began to drive off in our Rover, our amazing guide, Russell, stopped driving, pulled out his binoculars and looked toward a grove of trees. He smiled broadly and then took off. When we finally drove out of the trees into a clearing, we saw what he had seen…. a Mother Rhinoceros and her baby! This was all within 3 hours after landing in the Serengeti!!!

When Russell, our driver, spotted animals, he always made sure that we had the perfect angle/lighting for our photos and viewing, but always showed complete respect and gave the animals the distance they needed to not feel threatened. Russell’s knowledge about Tanzania, its parks, and what “lives” there (animals/birds/plants/people) and its history was remarkable! It is safe to say, that without Russell, we never would have experienced a Safari like we did.

When we left home for our safari, I was sure that we would see a lot of animals, but what we saw far exceeded any expectation I could have possibly imagined! I thought we would drive along and “here and there” see an animal or two. Instead, mainly due to “Hawkeye” Russell, our wonderful guide and friend, it seemed we were constantly spotting an animal or a bird, or something! There was never a boring minute!

We were fortunate to see two Wildebeest crossings, one on the Mara River and one on the Grumeti River. And we saw hundreds/thousands of animals close enough that sometimes they were almost too close (haha!! ) to frame in my 80-400mm lens. I highly recommend that you bring 2 cameras if possible. We had one camera with an 80-400mm zoom lens and one camera with an 18-200mm lens. It seemed that what one camera /lens couldn’t completely capture, the other did! And I would also recommend that you bring lots of SD cards! I am a “photoholic”  , and I took well over 6500 pictures by myself, and with both cameras, my husband and I took a total of over 7500 pictures!

We saw “The Big 5” (numerous times), 2 of “The Little 5” and even made up our own “The Ugly Five” and “The Fake Five”!! (Explanation: when you are looking intently for animals, sometimes your imagination can get the best of you, and a stump may look like a monkey or a log in a river like a croc! We definitely had a few good laughs at ourselves! Just some of the wildlife that we saw while on Safari were: Wildebeest, Zebras, Hippos, Crocodiles, Giraffes, Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Jackals, Klipspringers, Steinbok, Orbi, Bushbuck, Dik-Dik, Kudu, Waterbuck, Hyaenas, Baboons, Colbus Monkeys, Rhinoceros, Python, Ostrich, Impalas, Gazelles, Warthogs, Topi, Eland, Bushbaby………….. and over 150 species of birds! I’m still amazed at all that we saw!

The lodgings and camps were wonderful! The accommodations that we stayed at were Lemala Kuria, Buffalo Springs, Mbalageti, Seronera Sametu, Lion’s Paw and Swala. “If it looks like a tent, it must be a tent”, does not hold true here. Some of our accommodations may have looked like a tent from the outside, but upon entering you walked into a beautifully decorated and comfortable room with a king sized bed, wardrobe, couch, chairs, desk and a fully functional bathroom.

And there is nothing better than falling asleep to the sound of animals all around you! And the staff at each of the places we stayed were all so warm and friendly, and always attentive to our needs. My only wish?… that I could have had more hours in a day to enjoy my 9 to 11 hour Safari drives with enough time leftover to still have been able to enjoy all of the many amenities that were offered at our lodgings, especially watching more “Bush TV”!!

If I could go back and do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Our adventure was a trip of a lifetime and was made possible by careful preparations made by ADS stateside (Sharon and Michael) and in Tanzania by Russell and the ADS staff. Thank you!! Thank you!! (Asante) for making my/our dream of an African Safari come true!!!! And, a special thank you to my husband Jim for the best gift ever!!

Below are some of the pictures we took while on Safari. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking them!

Thank you!!!

Pam and Jim B.
San Jose, CA
Safari Dates: October 8th – 18th, 2013

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Our Serengeti Safari Journal

Here are a few notes we took while we were on our vacation. I hope you enjoy reading. Also, just a few of our favorite pictures. Thanks Again for a Wonderful Trip of a Lifetime.

Gardenia and Omar P.
Los Angeles, California
Safari Dates: June 10, 2013 to June 15, 2013

Day 1

After spending almost a whole day in between flights we finally arrive at Arusha, Tanzania. We were greeted by a woman by the name of Farida who wore a full headdress. We couldn’t believe it, we were stepping on African soil! Just like in any foreign country we’ve visited perhaps it is customary for customs agents to avoid cracking a smile and thus giving us a short sense of nervousness assuming the rest of the people would treat us the same. Farida kindly took care of our visa paperwork and led us to Trevor and Mattias our Arusha companions who drove us to our hotel early in the morning.

Mount Meru hotel was perhaps one of the most impressive resort hotels we’ve stayed in right next to the one in Koh Samui Thailand 5 years ago. The hotel had an impressive lounge with a lit swimming pool that was a little too cold for my liking so I just appreciated it from a distance and took pictures of the beautiful foliage that the hotel provided for a plenty of scenic pictures of mount Maru in the background. We slept most of the day trying to recover from the jet-lag of the previous day and when we went out for dinner to say we where impressed by the beautiful dinner preparations they had for us is not enough.

That night we had a very luxurious 5 course dinner under a candle lit canopy with a “welcome Mr&Mrs Omar” greeting made out of flowers on the floor. We felt as if we were the only couple in the entire resort. We had great steak and grilled fish while in the background played a playlist of the snappiest 80’s and 90’s KOST greatest hits. The people here are so nice and soft spoken, eating all this food was great for my palate but it also provided a strong sensation of guilt knowing that the same people serving me this savory dishes probably did not eat this themselves or could not provide this for their families. Keep in mind that Africa is the same place that is home to many starving people and many who die from simple diseases like the flu but dont have proper ways to care for such .

As dinner came to an end we preceded to a few cocktails at the lounge where rapid serving was not their primary concern but the wait was worth it since they did provide tasty drinks if you had a few minutes to spare. After 2 or 3 rounds we decided to call it a night since the next day we had another plane to catch to the west of the Serengeti.

Day 2

Today we woke up around 3:45am and could not fall back to sleep, perhaps it was from sleeping all day the day before or maybe from the luxurious stiff mattress that was awesome after a long flight but rather uncomfortable the next day. We watched Tanzanian TV programming which consisted of either religious programing of music videos that seemed to be directed by amateurs, maybe it was a poor budget that made these videos appear to be amateur.

We finally decided to get up around 5:30 to get ready for our busy day and start the day with a good breakfast. I was expecting a continental breakfast but instead I was surprised by a great buffet of grilled vegetables, baked beans, stuffed tomatoes, sausage links, bacon, fruits and these eggs that have much whiter yolk than were used to in the states. Fresh squeezed pineapple juice and watermelon juice were pairing all these good breakfast options.

Soon after we went to a smaller airport where we boarder the smallest plane we’ve ever been on, a two propeller Twinkie that has a cruising speed of 150mph.

Day 3

Little did I know that when I asked for a wake up call the night before and I saw no phone in our tent that the wake up call would be a young boy maybe about 16 years old knock on our door with a flashlight on one hand and a spear on the other.

Woke up early around 5:20am when we left for our safari and experienced hyenas as soon as we left camp, soon after we saw an incredible sunrise followed by elephants eating and breaking off the limbs of a tree. All this and it was still 6:45 am with our whole day still ahead of us. We soon we to the river where everything happens, we saw a whole colony of baboons groom each other while the babies played on the trees. We did that for about 30mins when we moved upstream and watched the wilder beasts drinking water from the river and attempting to cross it.

Breakfast was an experience matched by no other, eating my hard boiled egg with black coffee in the middle of thousands of wilder beasts keeping a watchful eye over us was a memory all of its own. While watching all these hundreds of beasts crossing the river an elephant crossed behind them as if ignoring them or being quite indifferent of the baby wilder beast that would soon be drowned by a crocodile. The sight of watching this poor calf take his last breaths as the crocodile tried his best to drag him under the river will be etched for ever in my memory bank. I’ve seen thousands of these wilder beats in just 2-3 days and I know they’re the blood and oxygen that keeps the Serengeti alive but it was quite sad to see an animal take his last breaths before he became croc breakfast.

We moved on to find the lions only to drive past an agonizing wilder beast who had been disemboweled perhaps by the sharp claws of a lioness trying to feed her cubs but the poor thing was not dead yet and was hyperventilating, out safari guide Rafael assured us it wouldn’t be in pain for long and it would probably die the same afternoon yet it was only 10 am. We drove for about 3minutes through thousands of wilder beasts and hundreds of zebras and we came across a family of 3cubs and 3 lionesses resting under a shady tree while their kill laid in the sun. Surely the big cats where tired after hunting today’s meal and were catching their breath under the Tanzanian shade of a thorny tree.

We all waited quietly waiting for the momma lioness to cut up lunch and serve her sleepy cubs a nice roast wilderbeast sandwich. Siting ten feet away from these deadly cats in their own shade is got to be one of the most impressive experiences of this vacation and my life. The lions have now retreated to a different bush that provides more privacy than the previous bush, the lions don’t seem to appreciate out proximity so were moving on to not disturb their noon nap.

We’ve now moved to see a group of 12-15 vultures tearing apart a wilderbeast while fighting each other. These birds have about a 7foot wingspan and spread their wings to intimidate each other. In matter of a few minutes they’ve managed to eat most the wilderbeast, one of them made us laugh yet cringe when we saw it stick his head through the carcass’s butt and eating out of it. Although the size of a turkey, these birds seem quite strong, they can tug and pull of the entire carcass and move it with ease, they would’ve managed to devour the entire animal a lot faster if they would stop fighting for a second.

One can’t help to feel bad for some of the injured wilderbeasts, this next one we saw seemed to have gotten a spinal injury perhaps caused by those intense head bunts they give each other when they fight and although healthy looking his hind legs were almost useless. As we got closer to it, it somehow managed to get up and escape the horrifying sound of our quiet Toyota land rover Diesel engine. It was able to regroup with the herd but his legs gave out soon after and fell to their resting stance. There are millions of wilderbeast here but when you isolate your eyes upon one you don’t want to see it die or suffer, I wish that I had a loaded riffle to be able to put out of their misery the couple of agonizing animals I saw today, I know it’s the circle of life and in order for other species to survive some may have to die but it’s just hard to see them die slowly, waiting for their hearts to give out in order to put an end to their pain and suffering.

On a happier note we found 7 giraffes towards the end of our excursion, very quiet and peaceful animals that pass on that peacefulness to those who gaze at them for prolonged periods of time. We must have seen at least 300 baboons with their babies everywhere from the long grasslands to the top of every tree I sight. We ended out night with a very deep shiatsu massage from Stella and Badi a little stiff for my preference but I guess that’s how it’s done in The Serengeti.

Day 4

We got up late this morning, we decided to opt out of the traditional wake up person today so we woke up when the sun filled our room with light. We had a quick breakfast for we had to leave the West Serengeti to head to Central Serengeti, it was quite a bumpy ride with many warthogs and zebras in sight. About two hours into our trip we stopped behind another land rover to ask what they were looking at and much to our surprise we found our first cheetah laying in the shade. Although cheetahs look small on TV they’re quite long and you can see their muscles through their slender bodies.The cheetah seemed a little shy so we moved on, we found this place called the hippo pool it must have had about 100 hippos in a very tight space

Well we came across an area full of trees and about at least 500 zebras, we saw zebras till we got tired, and low and behold zebras happen to be lion food so a few minutes later after we got tired of looking at zebras we drive away only to see a big male lion feeding on one. The male was clearly visible because of his long and beautiful mange and as we focused on the lion we noticed about 4 lionesses probably the ones that took down the zebra and about 2cubs. The cubs were still full of blood around their snout where they dug deep Into the zebras belly to feed.

We stumbled on 5 elephants at first then 18 elephants where we stood for what seemed 5 minutes but In reality it was about a half hour. This second group had 5 elephants about 2-3 years old and the moms were pretty comfortable with us to the point where they were only about 3 felt away from us. I reached out to let them smell me with their trunk and the mother became protective and stepped away to a safe distance.

Day 5

We woke up at 5:20 am to be in the road by 6, we were greeted with coffee by Jonas to get our day kick started.

Lionesses took us to lion
2 lionesses and a lion lounging after mating
3 leopards at tree eating Thompson gazelle
One elephant before going back to camp

Day 6

We left camp again to head to ngororo crater, 15-20minutes we were greeted by a momma elephant and her calf approx 5 years old since the calf was already showing at least 4-5 inches of tusks. We stood there for about 20 minutes perhaps more in order to watch them eat and cross the road in front of us. We wanted to stay there as much as possible for we didn’t know when we may see another elephant group again.

As we carried on with our trip we saw at a far distance a cheetah mom with one or two cubs, they were so far I couldn’t count the cubs under the long Serengeti grasses. Since the cats were not clearly visible we continued with our drive passing the many clusters of volcanic rock formations that are the lounging pads for most predatory cats. The second or third set had two lionesses on top. The view from the 20 or less feet away that we were parked was phenomenal! We stood there for a while, one of then girls kept looking at a distance but I couldn’t see even with my binoculars what she had her eye upon, when we decided to leave I soon discovered that she had her eyes on her two sisters that were lounging by the water.

All of these cats had their snouts red which was a clear sign that they had killed earlier that day. At the rocks I tried to get the lionesses attention by waving my shemaugh in the air in order to get a perfect face picture and may have woken up some predatory instinct because one stood and looked like she may jump into our truck, luckily she must have realized that may not provide enough nutrients for the amount of energy needed to pursue me so she sat back down, my heart was about to jump out of my chest!

We left that scene only to find the sight of the day or perhaps the trip, we found the male lion and with him was two of his mates but we saw one of them carry an infant cub In her snout, the same snout that killed zebras and wilderbeast now has the gentle sensitivity to pick up her baby and not even scratch it.

We kept moving towards the Ngororo crater and it was a long bumpy ride with only a few ostriches on sight and maybe 3-4 hours into our ride we saw a rock formation with 3 male lions probably brothers since its a rare sight to see so many males in one place.

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By Arnold Yahaya with David and Moira

This is your driver-guide Arnold with ADS. My latest safari (September 27, 2013 to October 4, 2013) with my two guests from Chicago named David and Moira was really very good. We had the chance to see several groups of migratory wildebeest cross the Mara River in the North Serengeti. Another highlight was seeing the endangered black rhino very close to our vehicle in the Mara River area of the North Serengeti.

This was the second time for the clients to be with us for a safari in the Serengeti. Last time my guests traveled with us in February 2011 and hence it had been about 2.5 years since their first trip. My guests enjoyed very much being in the Northern Serengeti because their first safari was in the green season and they spent most of their time in the South and East Serengeti Plains.  Kindly enjoy the below photos that I would like to share with you.

– Sunrise at Kogatende – Northern Serengeti.

– Leopard cub at Wogakuria Kopjes – Northern Serengeti.

– Female cheetah with two cubs in Central Serengeti.

– Crossing at Mara River.

– Dung beetle at Mara River area.

– Lion Pride at Lobo Valley, North Serengeti.

– Two cubs at Sametu area – Central Serengeti.

– Cheetah at the top of termite mound – Central Serengeti.

– Rhino at Mara River area – Northern Serengeti.

– Big male lion at Kogatende, North Serengeti.

Arnold Y. Mushi
ADS Guide

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By Anglebert Mrema With Rusty And Connie – Amazing Photos

Jambo from the bush! This is Anglebert Mrema, a guide for Africa Dream Safaris, with a report on the northern part of Tanzania. I am just back recently from a safari (September 26, 2013 to October 4, 2013) with Connie and Rusty from Georgia, USA.

Our safari together was fantastic as shown by the amazing pictures below. We had nine days on safari covering the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire ecosystems with one night at Kuria Hills on September 26th in the North Serengeti , two nights at Buffalo Camp on September 27th and 28th in the Northeast Serengeti, 2 nights at Sametu Camp on September 29th and 30th in the Central Serengeti , one night at Ngorongoro Lions Paw Camp on October 1st and our last two nights on October 2nd and 3rd at Swala Camp in Tarangire National Park.

The Great Migration seems to be heading south through the northern regions of the Serengeti ecosystem. There were big herds of gnus and zebras moving from the extreme northern areas including the Lamai triangle, crossing southbound at the Mara River and heading to the woodlands area around Nyamalumbwa Hills in the North Serengeti. We also saw a lot of these migration herds at the Togoro woodlands and plains as well as around Banagi hills and the Sametu marsh and plain in the Central Serengeti areas. We may end up seeing the herds at the southern plain of the Serengeti a little earlier this year than normal, and it could be due to the rain showers scattered in different corners of the Serengeti.

At Kogatende in the North Serengeti we had a great number of highlights, and obviously the first one was an amazing number of wildebeests crossing the Mara River heading south. We saw four good crossing and all of them were over 40 minutes long.

The other noteworthy sight was honeymooning leopards at Wogakuria hills in the North Serengeti. The female leopard had an interesting behavior because it had babies on the other kopje just nearby the area. To see her mating again with such young cubs was probably one way of defending the babies.

Near Buffalo Camp in the Loliondo game controlled area we had an interesting coalition of seven male lions with one big male and since these animals are territorial, to see seven males together was something. Probably the big male had to tolerate the young ones in his pride as a survival strategy within a competitive territory.

We had interesting sights at Seronera valley as well as Sametu marsh and plain in the Central Serengeti. We had a leopard drinking at a pothole near the road. We also had a pride of 18 lions with four very young cubs of about 5 weeks old at Maasai Kopjes. This pride tried to hunt zebra with no success. At Sametu marsh and plain we had a great sight of cheetahs on a termite mound during our early morning game drive. The cheetahs tried to stalk a gazelle nearby but also with no success.

Hereby are photos to share with you.

Mama lion with four cubs of about ten weeks old at Seronera Valley, Central Serengeti.

Gnus crossing the Mara River, North Serengeti.

Leopards cub of about 12 weeks old at Wogakuria Kopje, North Serengeti.

A two year old leopard drinking at Seronera valley, Central Serenget.

Cheetah with two cubs during an early morning game drive near Sametu marsh, Central Serengeti.

Leopard near Silale Swamp in Tarangire National Park.

The Great Migration in the Northern Serengeti.

More shots of the wildebeest crossing the Mara River in the North Serengeti.


Anglebert Mrema
ADS Guide

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By Claude Shitindi – 30th Wedding Anniversary Trip.

This is driver-guide Claude Shitindi and I would like to extend a warm greetings to the ADS community. In the last seven days I was in the bush with a couple from Ohio named Mark and Alice. We started our safari together on September 30, 2013 when I met them at the Kogatende Airstrip in the North Serengeti after they had flown in from Arusha. Our itinerary included 3 nights in the North Serengeti, 2 nights in the Central Serengeti and 1 night at the Ngorongoro Crater.

We had a fantastic time and all the places we explored had good game viewing. The North Serengeti at Kuria Hills Camp was stunning and the game was incredible. We had good sightings of lions with kills, a cheetah with an oribi antelope kill, a mother cheetah with two little cubs, crocodiles, wildebeests and other many other herbivores species.

Down in the Central Serengeti it had just gotten very green after a couple weeks of black ash from the controlled burning. Large herds of elephants, zebras and gazelles were seen in most places. At the Seronera valley we tried to search for leopard for almost one hour and fortunately we got to spot three of them (mother plus two young). They had a kill that one of them was eating on the ground as there was troop of baboons nearby. Baboons can sometimes steal a kill from a leopard. Eventually the baboons were able to spot the leopard eating and one male came and chased the leopard which had to drop the kill.

At Sametu Kopjes in the Central Serengeti we found four cheetahs and the Sametu lion pride with 16 individuals including the big resident male. It was so nice to watch in the quiet of early the morning light and we were lucky to be the only vehicle at the sighting.

Our morning in the crater was beautiful as we spotted a rhino, pride of lions and hyenas hunting a young buffalo. The ambush took more than one hour because the mother and other buffaloes were really trying to protect the baby by chasing the hyenas. However, eventually the buffaloes  finally came to give up from being too exhausted.

I hope you enjoy the following pictures from my safari with Mark and Alice from Ohio, USA.

A cheetah feeding on an Oribi antelope in the Nyamalumbwa Plains, North Serengeti.

A mother cheetah with two young cubs in the Wogakuria area, North Serengeti.

An elephant feeding in the Seronera Valley, Central Serengeti

Mother and calf rhino in Olakira, North Serengeti.

Lions with a wildebeest kill in Olakira, North Serengeti.

Leopard feeding on a gazelle in the Seronera valley, Central Serengeti.

Cheetah in the Nyamalumbwa Plains, North Serengeti.

Lilac breasted roller near the Maasai Kopjes, Central Serengeti.

Grey Crowned Crane in the Ngorongoro Crater.


Claude Shitindi
ADS Guide

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By Ellison Mkonyi with Mark S. Family

Here I am again to display the photos during my most recent safari with a very nice family of four from Massachusetts named Mark, Theodore, Donna and Pam. Our safari began on September 24, 2013 with two nights at Serengeti Bushtops Camp and two nights at Migration Camp, which are both located in the North Serengeti.

We then proceeded to explore the Central Serengeti areas with two nights at Four Seasons Bilila Lodge before finally concluding our trip with two nights at the Ngorongoro Crater split between one night at Crater Lodge and one night at Manor Lodge. The trip ended on October 2, 2013 when the guests departed back home to Massachusetts on the evening KLM flight leaving from Kilimanjaro Airport.

The guests and I had a good time together and they really enjoyed the beauty of the wild. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a mother rhino with a young baby near the Mara River in the North Serengeti. Thus below are the photos to share with you:

We do hope that the number of lions will increase in the Ngorongoro Crater if we have this kind of male around! We witnessed these lions copulating about every 9 nine minutes. The gestation period for lions is about three months and they can have up to four cubs at a time. Hopefully, we will have some new cubs in the Crater at the beginning of the year.

We saw this lioness that killed a wildebeest around Wogakuria Kopjes, North Serengeti.

When I was driving through the Fort Ikoma area on the way to pick up the guests, I saw large herds of wildebeests and was beginning to think that most of the migration had already crossed the Mara River. However, upon arriving to the Mara River area the story was different and it became clear that most of the migration is still located up in the North Serengeti, which is good news for clients with October safaris. We saw thousands of wildebeests on both sides of the Mara River and even a nice crossing that lasted 30 minutes.

We saw this huge male leopard around Lobo Hills in the North Serengeti. He was eating a Grant’s gazelle. I can say that I have never seen a big male like since I have been a safari guide. My clients were even comparing this male’s size with some of lions we have seen. It was an extraordinary sight!

I was very happy with the game viewing on the safari and especially the situation around Lobo Kopjes and Lobo Hills in the North Serengeti including the Grumeti Game Circuit. The vegetation was green and there were large numbers of animals.


Elisson Mkonyi
ADS Guide

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Story of 17-year-old Denis, from The School of St. Jude

Denis is a student at The School of St Jude*, in Arusha, Northern Tanzania. He is currently in Form 3, the equivalent of 10th grade. He and another 47 of our students are busy working on writing essays for The Tanzania Bureau of Standards’ national competition among secondary schools. Last year, out of ten finalists, six were St Jude’s students. Denis, then in Form 2 (9th grade), came in second place. Soon after his great achievement, we invited him to write about a moment that meant something to him. We wish Denis and all the other students good luck in this year’s competition.

The Moment that Meant Something in My Life

My name is Denis, aged 17 years old. In my family I have my father, two brothers and one sister. My family is a single-parent family because in March 2007 my mother passed away from a heart disease. My hobbies are playing soccer and reading updated news. Also I have a plan of one day being a doctor.

In 2005 I had a moment which really meant something in my life and this was the moment I joined The School of St Jude. Joining the school meant a lot in my life because before I did not have any plan. Instead, I thought, I can never make it in life.

These thoughts came as a result of failing in my exam, getting tough punishments and having an unpleasant environment for studying. All this made me not to attend school in most of the days. Instead I would hide in the street until after school hours and I could return back home with my friend who went to school.

But after joining St Jude’s my life changed and I saw school as a better place to live. This is because I met good teachers, transportation, a conducive environment and fantastic learning resources. Also I started having plans and I saw that one day I will make it. That’s why I can say that joining the School of St Jude meant a lot in my life.

The School of St Jude put me in a place where I can never give up. Instead I will work hard so that I can fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor. I know that I can make it. This is because if anybody else can do it, I can do it better. This means that if people like Ben Carson were able to make it I can make it too. On the other hand I would like to thank my school and my sponsor for the support which I have been receiving and I promise to work extra hard so that I can make it and bring success and changes in my community.

* The School of St Jude provides a free quality education for over 1600 students. Besides the regular Tanzanian curriculum, we offer well-stacked libraries, computer and art rooms, science labs, sports fields, school buses, hot meals, boarding houses, free textbooks and uniforms. Sponsors from all around the world make it possible. We love visitors. If you are on a safari and want to drop in on your way in or out of Arusha, please let Africa Dream Safaris know in advance so they can incorporate this in your itinerary.

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The Reality Was Even Better Than The Dream!

Breath-taking…Amazing…Inspiring…Magnificent…just a few of the words that describe our October 16-28 safari created with ADS’s phenomenal planner Dawn and put into action with Guide Extraordinaire Simon.

Seeing the “Big 5” plus dozens or other animals up-close-and-personal during our first few days in the Northern Serengeti, without hordes of other vehicles, was a much more intimate and rewarding experience than we ever imagined.

Then, as we journeyed through the Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire, every hour brought surprises: a “new” animal or bird; an animal we had seen before, but with slightly different coloring for this new habitat; a herd/family playing, moving, eating; a carnivore with a kill; an animal coming closer to the vehicle than before.

We truly enjoyed traveling a parallel – and sometimes intersecting — route with ADS guests Dawn and Rob from Indiana and their Guide Patrick. Having Simon and Patrick share information as they surveyed a kopje from various sides, investigated different sides of the river, or evaluated different sections of a game loop, gave us extraordinary viewing advantages. Plus, having new friends to share experiences was wonderful.

Our sightings include: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Nile crocodiles, cheetah, warthog, hyena, jackal, mongoose, python, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, eland, Klipspringer, waterbuck, topi, gnu, reedbuck, dik-dik, rock hyrax, baboon, vervet monkey, ostrich, pink flamingoes, lizards, and many, many raptors and birds.

Our comfy accommodations were staffed by warm and thoughtful folks intent on providing exceptional service to make us feel special. Favorite memories include:

• A 5:15am wake up call at Lemala Mara accompanied by a symphony of bird songs and coffee in bed.

• The awe-inspiring view of the Serengeti plains fading into infinity from our Loliondo hill perch at Buffalo Springs.

• The antics of an exceedingly acrobatic Baboon trying to join us for breakfast at Mbuzi Mawe.

• Watching “Bush TV” and enjoying a glass of South African wine as the sun dropped below the rim of the Crater at Lion’s Paw.

• Dining under the stars at Kikoti and being walked back to our tent under the watchful eye of a Maasai Warrior.

Walt Disney said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” We could have “built” the most wonderful safari itinerary, but without the knowledge, skill, creativity, and sharp-eyes of the ADS Team, it would never have become a reality.

Larry and Jane M.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Safari Dates: October 16, 2013 to October 28, 2013

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