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