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