Posts From November 2013

Then The Unexpected: Zebras And Wildebeest Crossing The River

Our Africa Dream Safari experts planned for our family of seventeen a custom itinerary for eight amazing days in Tanzania! They prepared us on what and how to pack, what to expect, how to tip; selected for us a variety of accommodations (three hotels and two tented lodges); and answered questions right up to the night before we headed to Africa.

Seventeen us us climbed into a bush plane and headed out from Arusha on our adventure. We enjoyed stunning views of Mount Meru, and flew for an hour across Tanzania. Upon landing, we were welcomed by our three fabulous guides, Francis, Ellison, and Pokea, who would spend the week with us. We hit the trail and immediately came upon two baby giraffes sitting and “posing” for us, followed shortly by a larger group, generating our catch-phrase “Welcome to Giraffic Park”.

We saw first one then dozens of hippos in the water, and spotted thousands of wildebeest in the distance, quickly realizing they spanned the horizon along with smaller groups of zebras. Next came a herd of elephants happily munching trees – very close to our vehicles! Then the unexpected: zebras and wildebeest crossing the river — not once, but two major herds within a couple of hours! Even our guides took photos. Parked along the river during the second crossing, the animals flew past our vehicles, a spectacular site and an amazing experience! We continued to spot animals left and right with our guides educating us not only on the type of species, but about each species.

Other highlights included our night game-drives where we spotted various animals, including a pack of hyenas eating dinner; a pair of lions mating twenty feet away; several subsets of the Central Serengeti super-pride of lions at watering holes, and in grassy fields seeking shade of our vehicles or awaiting prey; hunting cheetahs and lounging leopards; a lioness chasing a warthog (he escaped); a jackal chasing a baby gazelle; dozens of bird species, great and small, some monochrome and others brilliantly iridescent; my nephew swimming in the Four Seasons pool with a herd of 25 elephants at the watering hole beside it; rare black rhino in the Ngorogoro Crater; elephants outside our rooms at Serena Lodge; zebra wandering our campgrounds; and our spectacular Thanksgiving Day hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti with lions, hippos, birds and more, followed by breakfast in the Serengeti with herds of buffalo, zebras, and antelopes in the distance (and baboons nearby)!

Our day trip to a Masai village included a tour, introduction to villagers, and the opportunity to dance with them – good times were had by all, followed by shopping of local crafts and jewelry. My brother-in-law delighted several Masai women by gifting his own handmade bracelets to them.

Armed guards kept us safe each night. Our expert and personable guides continually fielded our questions, spotted animals we hadn’t seen, demonstrated respect for animals and environment, and educated us on safety, people, animals and culture….

The hot meals in camp were exceptionally delicious, with many choices at the buffets.

It was the trip of a lifetime and more so because our family experienced it together — and seeing it through the eyes of my nieces and nephews made it even more special. I have shown my photos to friends and colleagues with narration of our adventures, encouraging them to pursue their own Africa Dream Safari…

Overall, our expectations were exceeded. Thank you, Dawn, Ellison, Francis, Pokea and others at ADS!

Heather and Robert T.
Pflugerville, Texas
Safari Dates: November 24, 2013 to November 30, 2013

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Over 50 Lions In One Day On Safari!!!

Decided to be in Africa for my 55th B-day and what a great decision that was. Jenni and I decided to go with ADS after narrowing the search for safari tour operators down and we couldn’t have been happier. Dawn did a wonderful job handling all the ins/outs of the trip, plus referring us to Cathy for the airline ticketing was great as well (we really didn’t have to do much for this trip other than complete necessary paperwork and pack).

We saw just about everything and then some. We witnessed some very funny animal behavior (Zebra stallion incessantly chasing a warthog piglet, a Monkey saving a hyrax from an eagle then chasing after the eagle from wherever it landed nearby, and a Hyena playing dead in a puddle on the road). We saw a lot of action and a lot of animals (over 50 lions in one day!!!)

Our guide (Peter “eagle eye” Huka) was amazing. He not only could spot the wildlife but was very informative about everything (animals, trees/vegetation, environment…you name it) and was very accommodating to our needs.

On behalf of ADS, Peter Huka presented me a Masai “elders club” (I really didn’t qualify for being an elder though) and then I received 2 birthday cakes + dinner celebrations at 2 different lodges. Speaking of lodges – our favorite was the Mbalageti lodge, but ALL of them were unique in one way or another and had all the accommodations necessary.

Donald O. and Jennifer B.
Cocoa, Florida
Safari Dates: October 29, 2013 to November 10, 2013

***Nobody wants to have breakfast with me?***

***When you got an itch, you just got to scratch it!!***

***Shhh, I’m playin’ possum!! (yes, he was alive)***

***Right up front for the action!!***

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By Emmanuel Kichao – My Safari With Sergio and Lydia

Jambo! This is ADS driver-guide Emmanuel with my newest blog posting. I am here to report on my most recent safari with 2 guests that I had from Alberta, Cananda named Sergio and Lydia.  I would also like to share my pictures with the ADS family.

The expedition was a wonderful and great one. This time we started with the Ngorongoro Crater on November 6th, and then continued to the Central Serengeti and finally finished in the North Serengeti on November 14th.

Emmanuel Kichao
ADS Driver-Guide

It was amazing watching several lions playing with a leopard tortoise and lastly one lioness made it to be a nice pillow for her afternoon nap.

At Ngoitoktok picnic area in Ngorongoro crater – I enjoyed been with you my friends – Lydia & Sergio.

A pride of 14 members along Lobo Hill in the North Serengeti. They had a kill which was still fresh. It was during mid-day so everybody is hiding from the sun and taking a nap.

This young cub was busy eating and tempted to us have our lunch close to them.

Vultures devouring a buffalo kill left by lions just a few hours past.

A leopard and cub. We enjoyed watching these two as they were very playful and showing no fear from our presence.

This leopard cub was one of my guest’s favorite sightings.

A rock mouse  found in Ngorongoro Crater.

Lions mating. We found this couple in the Crater along the Munge River.

My clients loved the landscape and the storm up in the mountains. This was along the Malanja depression on our way to the Serengeti.

Cheetahs. Mother and Cub during the evening scanning the plains. This was in the Central Serengeti – Seronera Area.

A Nile crocodile having a sunbath after finishing a meal. This was in Seronera Valley of the Central Serengeti.

Serval cat. We spotted this elusive camp on the Lobo Valley circuit in the North Serengeti. We watched as the serval cat stalked and successfully captured a mouse.

The beautiful Lilac Braested Roller is posing for a picture.

The beautiful scenery of Bologonja Springs in the North Serengeti.

One of the last remaining herds of wildebeest in the Lamai Triangle, North Serengeti. This was very close to the Kenya – Tanzania Border.

A mother cheetah and cub. The mother cheetah was training her young cub to hunt. This was in the Lamai Triangle of the North Serengeti.

We spotted the endangered Black Rhino very close to our vehicle near Mara River in the North Serengeti.

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By Godson Mbonye – Wedding Anniversary Safari

This is driver-guide Godson Mbonye from the ADS Team reporting from Tanzania. I would like to say hello to all the ADS guests and share with you my most recent safari report.

This time I guided an extra special safari with a couple who were celebrating their Wedding Anniversary on October 18, 2013! My guest’s names were Denyce and Bill and they were visiting from Sandia, Texas. The safari started when I picked up the guests at the Mara River Kogatende Airstrip on October 15, 2013 in the remote area of the North Serengeti. The weather was dry and there has not been much rain. The bridge across the Mara River was free to pass due to the low water level in the river and we immediately headed out to try to spot all three species of big cats.

We spent a total of 8 nights in the bush. We enjoyed 3 nights in the North Serengeti split between Lemala Mara Camp and Migration Lodge, 2 nights at the ADS private camp in the Central Serengeti and a final 2 nights at Ngorongoro Lions Paw Camp on the rim of the Crater. It was a successful safari as we got see all the big five (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant) in the Serengeti plus many other species of animals including cheetah, serval cat, spotted hyena, hippo, giraffe, crocodile, zebra, vervet monkey, black backed jackal, wildebeest, monitor lizard, ostrich, baboon and many different species of antelopes and birds.

I hope you enjoy some snapshots that I took while on this magnificent safari. My pictures are as follows:

-A mother cheetah siting on a termite hill and scanning for gazelles to chase.

-Rhinoceros (mother and calf) by the Sand River in the North Serengeti.

-Queen and prince stalking a zebra nearby Naabi hippo pool.

-A black-backed jackal managed to a kill a young Thomson’s gazelle in the Serengeti.

-Zebras at a waterhole in the Serengeti.

-The king of the jungle seen scanning for zebras at Wogakuria in the North Serengeti.

– A beautiful Serengeti wildflower

– Vervet monkey mother and baby on a termite hill

-Grey heron on a dead tree at Naabi hippo pool bridge.

-View of the sunrise at the ADS private camp

-A Serval cat hunting in the Serengeti.

-A leopard getting down from a yellow barked acacia tree in the Serengeti.

-A leopard caught an antelope and took his prey into an acacia tree at Lobo Valley.

-A monitor lizard seen in the valley near Wogakuria rock, North Serengeti.

-Elephants herd near the Mara River at Kogatende.

-Male Ostrich with chicks.

-Crocodiles in the Mara River.

-Male giraffe under an acacia tree.

Godson Mbonye
ADS Guide

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By Emmanuel Kichao with James and Kit from New York

Jambo! This is ADS driver-guide Emmanuel with my newest blog posting. I am here to report on my most recent safari with 2 guests that I had from New York named James and Kit.  I would also like to share my pictures with the ADS family.

My safari started on October 2nd when I picked up the guests at the Kogatende Airstrip, which is located only a few minutes from the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti National Park. The North Serengeti turned out to be one of the highlights of our safari. We had a wonderful close up encounter with large herds of the wildebeest migration crossing right in front of us. We also managed to spot the very endangered black rhino. My guests and I enjoyed a total of four nights in the North Serengeti with two nights at Serengeti Bushtops Camp and two nights at Migration Lodge.

Continuing on our safari to the Central Serengeti, we had three nights at the ADS private camp, where we encountered many different animals. Highlights include lions, cheetahs and leopards. The clients also enjoyed a hot air balloon ride in this area. We then departed the Serengeti for 3 nights in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area including stays at Crater Lodge and the Manor Lodge. We then concluded the trip with 2 nights at Swala Camp in Tarangire National Park, which I think made a nice ending to this safari. Overall, the safari was spectacular and the very comprehensive itinerary allowed for some amazing wildlife encounters. I hope you enjoy the photos below!

Emmanuel Kichao.
ADS Driver Guide

This was one of the last big groups of wildebeest to cross the Mara River. We were so lucky to witness this crossing as most of the wildebeest had already moved south towards the Central and West Serengeti as for now there was more rain in these areas.

-Black Rhino. This bull was the second sight on our counts of the big five as we made the number in just two nights on the northern part of the Serengeti.

Klipspringer. We saw them in the early morning as they were hiding from the predators. The kopjes are good spots to look out for danger.

These Cheetah cubs were very playful and healthy. We stayed with them for almost an hour as their mother was scanning around for prey. At this moment she needs to hunt almost every day as she is still nursing.

A leopard tortoise. The trip was very productive and after we were done with the big five, we started to look for the small 5! The little ones can be the toughest to find.

A herd of buffalo under the shade as it started getting warmer. This was our first sighting near Kogatende Airstrip just a few minutes after I picked up my clients from the airstrip.

Leopard at lobo valley. It was a beautiful sighting as my clients loved the scenery and the way she was posing for pictures. It actually made the day!

Bee eaters – As they like to be together, my clients liked them and James was pointing out every time he spotted them.

A leopard taking a nap on a Hammerkop nest. These nests are huge to be able to accommodate this big cat. It probably took at least six months to build. After they finish and lay their eggs, they leave the nest and it is taken over by different animals.

Sametu lion pride. We got there just in time as this pride had just killed a zebra. It was a pride of 5 lioness and 4 young ones.

A sunset at the ADS private camp.

My clients loved the balloon ride and suggested I should do it too sometimes. However, I am very afraid of heights! This was in the Central Serengeti.

This was at Simba Kopjes in the Central Serengeti. The pride was trying to get away from biting flies and climbed a tree. The giraffe was heading to the same tree, but it didn’t take long for the lions to be spotted. He was able to see them and they took about 15 minutes starring at each other before the giraffe changed direction and moved away.

Blue Sykes monkey – A very sincere looking monkey. This was at Lake Manyara National Park.

Vervet Monkeys with babies grooming each other. It’s a way of keeping friendship and bonding together among the troop.

A Rock Python – One of the things my clients wished to see was this huge snake. It looked like it had eaten recently. This was in Tarangire National Park.

Tawny Eagle. We were looking at the front of its head, eyes and beak and commented on how well designed they are for airborne hunting. This one was also Tarangire National Park, which is an excellent park for raptor viewing.

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By Simon Sige with Jane and Larry

Warm greetings from our office in Arusha, Tanzania. This is ADS driver guide Simon Sige. I have some information to share with the ADS family including many photographs from my recent safari that I very much enjoyed. I had the pleasure of being the guide for Larry and Jane M. who are from Arizona.

We were on a 10-night safari from October 18, 2013 to October 28, 2013. We visited the 5 most popular areas for wildlife viewing during this time of year that is known as the dry season. We explored the North Serengeti (Mara River, Lamai, Wogakuria and Lobo Valley areas), the Loliondo Game Reserve surrounding Buffalo Camp, the Central Serengeti (Seronera Valley, Maasai Kopjes, Sametu, Makoma Plains, etc.), Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park (including the Tarangire River and Silale Swamp circuits).

These are photos I would like to share with you starting with the Northern Serengeti.

The first morning – sunrise at the Mara River as we started the safari.

Me (Simon Sige) at Kogatende, North Serengeti.

A lion pride is waking up and looking forward to a beautiful day in the Serengeti.

A clan of spotted hyenas.

A Giraffe having a drink of water after a hot day.

Giraffes wondering who is taking their picture while chewing.

Black Rhino in the Mara River area of the North Serengeti seeking good grazing.

A female rhino with her calf.

The Central Serengeti was full of cats as usual. We saw many lions and cheetah relaxing.

Topi on a termite mound spotting for predators.

Elephants at Lobo Hills in the North Serengeti migrating to for better browsing.

Three brothers resting and waiting for prey.

Tarangire National Park was full of elephants. There were large herds around Silale Swamp.

Zebra and Elephants at Silale Swamp.

Candelabra tree at Silale Swamp Tarangire.

Simon Sige
ADS Driver-Guide

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Dawn’s FAQ of the Week: Liquids in my carry-on bag?

“I want to pack everything in my ‘carry-on’ luggage. But what about liquids?”

It’s certainly a challenge packing for a once in lifetime trip within the strict luggage guidelines imposed by most air carriers in Africa, which is typically 33 pounds per person including carry-on luggage. The two guiding themes here are “pack light” and “don’t forget anything important!”

A common packing strategy for ADS guests is to try and fit all their luggage into a carry on bag for the international flight to Africa.  This is not an easy task, but should you choose to travel this way you will be rewarded with no lost luggage, less hassle at airports and overall a lighter load to manage!

First of all, be sure you review your specific airline carrier’s requirements for carry on luggage.  Most airlines publish size and weight requirements on their website.  For example, here are KLM’s requirements:  KLM Carry-On Luggage Requirements

The worst thing that can happen is you carefully pack all your important items into your carry on luggage, only the have the airline make you ‘check it’ anyway because you exceeded their allowable weight or size requirements!  So if in doubt, go ahead and plan to check a bag.  Just be sure to put all of your really important items and at least 1 change of clothing into your carry-on bag, just in case your checked bag gets delayed by a day or two.

All that being said, if you decide to try and get everything in your carry-on bag after all, here are some tips regarding liquids, which is the most common dilemma I’m asked about regarding a carry-on:



• TIP#1:  Review current TSA rules for liquids 3-1-1 rule. TSA published 3-1-1 rules

• TIP#2:  Use hotel amenities. Most hotels and camps include complimentary toiletries such as shampoo and shower gel. Some hotels even include body lotion and hair conditioner, but if these items are really important to you I would consider bringing at least a small supply of your own.

• TIP#3:  Go Solid with Sunscreen. Like this one by Hawaiian Tropic.

• TIP#4:  Insect repellent pre-packaged wipes, like these OFF! Deep Woods Towlettes

• TIP#5:  Facial cleansing wipes instead of liquid facial cleanser, like these Olay Wet Cleansing Towelettes 

• TIP#6: Pack multiple small bottles.

•TIP#7:  Contact lens solution is considered a “medically necessary” liquid and is allowed in your carry-on luggage even if the amount is greater than 3 ounces.  You simply need to declare it to the TSA agent when you are going through security.

•TIP#9: For more helpful advice about specific products that work well as alternatives to liquids for carry-on luggage, you can read these helpful tips at the following link on Bootsnall website.

Happy Packing!

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By Patrick Clement with Robert and Dawn

Good morning! This is ADS driver-guide Patrick Clement with my latest bush report. This time I had a couple from Indiana, USA named Robert and Dawn as my guests. It was a fantastic ten day safari. We began our safari on October 18, 2013 in the North Serengeti at the Mara River with 2 nights at the nearby Lemala Camp.  

We continued our safari in the Serengeti with 4 more nights split between Buffalo Camp in the Northeast Serengeti and the Four Seasons Bilila Lodge in the Central Serengeti. After departing the Serengeti, we explored the Ngoronongoro Crater area for 2 nights followed by our last 2 nights in Tarangire National Park at Kikoti Camp. Our safari concluded on October 28, 2013 when I dropped off the guests for their flight back home on KLM Airlines.

The wildebeest migration was very scattered over large areas as the weather is dry at the moment. The water level in the Mara river is low enough to enable easy crossings of the bridge, which allowed us to explore the beautiful Lamai Triangle. This area can be good for predators including lions and hyenas.

I hope you enjoy  few of my photo highlights from the safari:

A pack of hyenas at a watering hole finishing off the carcass of a wildebeest.

Here you can see a giraffe very close to the Mara River, trying to stretch his neck to reach the leaves at the top of the tree.

After crossing the river in the middle of nowhere, a male lion wandering on the grass plains of the northern side of the Mara River, North Serengeti.

A beautiful female lion joining the above male lion. My clients were so happy to see them together.

A big male hippo in the Mara River of the North Serengeti. He was opening his mouth, ready to attack another male to fight for the territory.

A black rhinoceros raising his head above the tall grass. Note the very sharp horn.

Mother and baby rhino, North Serengeti.

Two brother cheetahs at Lobo Valley in the North Serengeti enjoying the morning sun.

Here is a family of elephants drinking and wallowing in a swamp. This was taken on the eastern side of Seronera Valley in the Central Serengeti.

A large male leopard relaxing in an acacia tree. It was very early in the morning near Silale Swamp in Tarangire National Park.

Patrick Clement
ADS Driver-Guide

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By Peter Huka – Lions Hunting Buffalo

This is ADS driver-guide Peter Huka reporting from Arusha, Tanzania. I would like to provide a report from my latest safari (Nov 1st to Nov 9th, 2013) and also share some photos that I took while on this trip. This time I had two delightful guests from Florida named Donald and Jennifer. We had a great safari together and we were very lucky to see many extraordinary animal sightings. We saw several hunts from the various predators in the Serengeti including lions, cheetahs and crocodiles.

Our safari started on 01st November 2013 at the Kogatende airstrip next to the Mara River in the North Serengeti. We started a game drive along the Mara River and we saw some groups of hippos and crocodiles. We also drove around Kopjes where we saw a few groups of wildebeest and Thomson’s gazelle. Then we were very fortunate to spot a lionesses with three cubs, as well as several spotted hyenas.

We departed the Mara River area of the North Serengeti for our accommodations at Mbuzi Mawe Lodge. Along the way, we encoutered families of elephants and many groups of zebras and elands, which are the largest antelope in Africa. Near the Grumeti River circuit we saw a pride of lions (six in total) before reaching Mbuzi Mawe very late in the evening.

The next day we started early in the morning and we decided to explore the Central Serengeti area around  the Seronera River Valley. There were big herds of zebra and we were entertained watching several lionesses trying to hunt them. It was incredibly exicting to watch. We also saw a big pride of twenty-two lions. It was really nice to see such a strong and healthy pride. Also in the Central Serengeti but this time around the famous Maasai Kopjes we were fortunate to get a good leopard sighting.

For our 3rd and 4th days on safari we headed to the beautiful Western Serengeti for 2 nights at Mbalageti Tented Camp. We had a great experience in the Western Serengeti, which we also refer to as the western corridor of the Serengeti. Highlights included seeing some of the wildebeest migration, a cheetah successfully hunting an impala and a black and white colobus monkey.

After 2 nights at Mbalageti we headed to Serena Serengeti Lodge to continue our exploration of the Central Serengeti. We conducted a game drive around the Moru Kopjes and Lake Magadi area. One of the highlights was at the Mawe Meupe picnic site where we found a female leopard with two cubs with a kill in a tree. She came down to the picnic site and was seated on the table. In all my years as a driver guide all over Tanzania, I have never see anything like this before. It was unbelievable and good thing I have the pictures to prove it! Afterwards we headed into the Moru Kopjes where we saw a lion in a tree and also a family of elephants.

On our last day in the Seronera Valley of the Central Serengeti, we watched a pride of lions hunting and chasing a buffalo. We spent about 1-hour watching that action which was great as it was just 5 meters from our car.

The following are the photos:

We watched from the beginning with the lionesses hunting this male buffalo all the way up until they began eating. It took about 1-hour.

Zebras drinking at Seronera River – Central Serengeti. Several lioness tried (unsuccessfully) to chase down the zebras. It was very exciting for my guests and I to watch.

A big pride of lions together at Seronera valley.

Lions with a zebra kill around Makoma Hill in the Central Serengeti.

A Crocodile caught a wildebeest in the Grumeti River in the Western Serengeti. This was really interesting to watch because of the shallow water in the river. The crocodile was trying to pull the wildebeest down but the water wasn’t deep enough.

Family of elephant swimming in the Grumet River, West Serengeti.

This cheetah hunted an impala in the Western Serengeti.

This was really amazing! A female leopard with two cubs at the Mawe Meupe picnic site

Lions at Moru Kopjes, Central Serengeti.

Peter Huka
ADS Driver-Guide

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Over the Top – POA POAAAA!

We have been planning a trip to Tanzania for two years to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We wanted this trip to have elements of what we like about our lives together: adventure, “luxury”, excitement and sharing educational experiences. We also wanted to witness, first hand, the magnitude of the great migration.

Sharon, our ADS planner, arranged the perfect agenda. And Arnold, our jovial, incredibly knowledgeable guide, made it come to life. From the minute we woke in Arusha, to the day we left Tanzania, it was amazing. Arnold, sporting a huge grin, met us upon arrival at the Mara River Airstrip and off we went on our first game drive en route to Buffalo Springs. We came across over 35 animals and exotic birds that day (1 of the 35 would be a few thousand wildebeest!). If this was any indication of the rest of the trip – we’re in heaven!

Our tented camps were beautiful with all the luxury we expected. The staff was very friendly and so accommodating, and every meal in our private camps was delicious. I say private because, at times we were the only guests, which made our trip even more special.

Having the vehicle and Arnold all to ourselves allowed us to get out earlier and stay out much later than if we had shared the time with other guests. We saw more Cheetah, Lions and Leopards than we ever expected to see. The migrating herds we witnessed, standing above the Serengeti plains at Mbalageti Tented Lodge, made us dumbstruck. The rivers were incredibly low but Arnold diligently followed his instincts to try and get us to see a big crossing somewhere along our journey. It never happened. The changing global weather patterns prompted the migration to start a few weeks before we arrived.

However, every day we saw thousands of confused herds of Wildebeest and an unexpected hundreds of thousands of Zebra moving in every direction. We were mesmerized by the closeness to animals eating, resting, hunting, fighting and even lions mating. We saw two nocturnal Crested Porcupines heading out on a dawn drive and an elusive/nocturnal Serval Cat hunting in broad daylight. Our last morning in Tarangeri Park, we came across two Verreaux Owls in different trees. It’s pretty hard to spot one and we saw two. And the mama Cheetah hunting to feed her four cubs was a big highlight. Going through our photos we saw and captured far more than we realized.

Our balloon flight over the Serengeti on our anniversary was spectacular. We highly recommend you add it to your trip. And our special anniversary celebration with champagne and gifts that night at our favorite accommodation, Seronera Sametu Camp, was a wonderful surprise from the staff. Our visit to the Masai village was very educational and well worth taking a break from our morning game drive to experience. Our stop at F.A.M.E., en route to Tarangire Park, was very moving and inspirational. This is a cause worthy of donations from every person who travels with ADS.

And lastly our surprise farewell celebration at Kikoti Tented Lodge, complete with the staff dancing and singing while presenting us with a “Welcome Again” cake, made our trip’s ending very special and sadly, all too real.

We’ve done safaris in other countries on the African continent and without hesitation, highly recommend Africa Dream Safaris (which we’ve already started to do!) to everyone we know planning a safari in Tanzania. The professionalism and genuine personal interest in customer satisfaction was over the top. We made the right choice with ADS and can’t thank Sharon and Arnold enough for ALL the special touches added to make this our best safari ever!

Gayle & Sandra
Vancouver, Canada
Safari Dates: October 20, 2013 to November 1, 2013

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Serengeti Lion Project – Report for November 2013

Africa Dream Safaris helps fund the Serengeti Lion Project’s ongoing conservation efforts. In turn, periodic reports are prepared exclusively for Africa Dream Safaris by the on-site researchers for the Serengeti Lion Project. So you won’t find this info anywhere else!

Since there are MANY lion prides in the Serengeti, we picked 6 specific study prides to focus on. Talk about having the inside scoop! These Serengeti Lion Project researchers live, sleep, and work out in the bush every single day, so they are able to offer invaluable information about the location and adventures of our favorite lions.

Reading like a soap opera at times, we think you will also enjoy the real-life drama and adventures of these awesome animals as they live, hunt, and raise their families together in the harsh African wilderness. So what new adventures have our favorite lions been up to lately? Continue reading below for our latest report dated November 1st!


By Daniel Rosengren / Field Biologist with the Serengeti Lion Project

It’s November 1, 2013 and about a month ago we were running out of water at the Lion Research House. At the Serengeti Lion Project our only source of water is rainwater collected from the roof of our house. We use it for drinking, cooking, washing and cleaning. The gutters lead down into big water tanks all around the house. Now we were down to only one tank with water and just a few liters remaining in the bottom of the tank. One morning a baboon managed to open the tap to get a few mouthfuls of water in the dry weather. But he was not considerate enough to close the tank afterward and the rest drained out and disappeared down the ground, making bees and butterflies happy. The rainy season wasn’t expected in another couple of months, at least.

Just when we were getting really desperate for water, the Matabele Ants, living under the house, decided to move their eggs to a higher situated location. This is usually a sure sign that rain is on the way. Sure enough, the next day it started raining and we got at least some rain every day for a weeks time. Sometimes it was pouring down filling our tanks in the hundreds of liters. In the end of the week we had about 8,000 liters. We were very lucky to get that in the dry season, just when we needed it the most.

Let me introduce you to a lion pride called Simba Survivors. It’s a small pride struggling on the seasonally harsh plains near Simba Kopjes. The pride consisted of only one adult female, a young brother and sister, and three small cubs. In December 2012 the adult female died, likely in a fight with other lions. We though that the young brother and sister, Leo and Kira, could possibly survive on their own. They were only 3.5 years old and inexperienced. But but for the three cubs, only being 5 months old, we had no hope. After their mothers death all the rest disappeared and we didn’t see them again. Not until mid May 2013 when I was driving along a shallow valley on the plains, quite far from their normal territory. I saw a young male together with a small male.

At first I didn’t realize who they were. But after plowing through all the lion ID-cards I found a match with Leo and one of the small cubs. Later I also found Kira. I was amazed, not only had the young inexperienced lions managed to survive. But they had also managed to raise one of the small cubs too. The Simba Survivors has proven to be true survivors. They are still roaming around the vast plains. It seems like they haven’t settled in a territory yet.

Another pride I haven’t written about before is the Rofliondo pride. It’s a fairly recent pride that broke off from the Loliondo pride. The Rofliondo Pride is a bit of a mystery pride to us. We still haven’t managed to put a collar on any of the females and thus have to rely on luck to find them. The place they have been spotted most often is near Sametu Camp. The pride seems to consist of five females between 6 and 8 years old with five offspring. On late July though, one of the females was seen with a long lost male, TR146, from the Transect pride. They were mating. So if everything goes well there will be some new tiny lion fluff-balls born in mid November 2013. The gestation time for a lion is about 110 days.

There are lots of news from the Transect pride. In September 2010 eighteen cubs were born in the Transect pride. Fourteen of those were males! Now, just over three years old, it seems like they finally have left the pride to start a life on their own. Since we don’t have a collar on them and males from the Transect pride typically disperse to the north, out of our study area, it will be difficult knowing what they are up to. But a male coalition of fourteen is something unseen in the history of our lion project. Typically a male coalition consists of two to four lions. A coalition of fourteen could theoretically do whatever they like and crush any other competition for females. But since they then would have to share the females among themselves such a big coalition is very unlikely to persist. It’s more likely to break up into several smaller coalitions.

As for the rest of the pride it looks like they are breaking up into two separate prides. Tarragon, TR141, Pippi Långstrump, and Lotta På Bråkmakargatan are busy raising their now seven one-year-old cubs. The four young females from 2010 are now reaching an age where they can start being reproductively active. And as a matter of a fact, they have just started to solicit two males, Nisse and Sotis. These impressive males have come into our study area from the west and are already the resident males and fathers in the Mukoma Hill and Tower Hill prides. Together with these young transects are also Zico, the old grandmother born 1998. She is probably in menopause now but has valuable experience to share with the young females. Last week I also saw Madicken with this group of lions. She hasn’t been seen since June this year and she looks pregnant.

But Tarragon, Pippi Långstrump, TR141 and Lotta På Bråkmakargatan and their seven cubs better stay away from the new males. Nisse and Sotis are not the fathers of those cubs and will kill them if given the chance. That’s why we think that the Transect pride will split up. While the younger females will want to start having their own cubs as soon as possible, the older females that already has cubs still has about a year and a half before those cubs reach independent age. With different interests it makes sense to split.

The demography of the Maasai Kopje pride has changed drastically since last I wrote about them. All the really old females that were in this pride hasn’t been seen for long and are surely dead. Now Mato Keo, born in 2002, is the oldest female in the pride. Together with her is now Blixten, MK129 and Laura. They have had a small baby boom and there are now eleven cubs in the pride. But they have failed in synchronizing their litters, something lions often do to better be able to raise the cubs together. The oldest cubs are now about one year old while Blixten just introduced us to four new cubs.

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Amazing Africa!

Our African Safari was beyond what any of us expected! We had heard so many stories about how amazing Africa was but it is difficult to understand until you actually see it yourself! Our trip was absolutely incredible!!

The people were so friendly, constantly going out of their way to make our stay unforgettable. The organization and planning was great making it simple for us to enjoy our trip and the reason we were there. We were able to enjoy boxed lunches often and not miss a single part of the action, which helped make the most of our visit.

The places that we stayed at were beautiful! Our favorite places being the Serengeti Bushtop Tented Camps and The Ngorogoro Crater Lodge. The food was fresh and delicious with many options and the places were each decorated with a little African touch that was very neat. But the reason you go to the Serengeti is to see the animals and beautiful landscape!

We were able to get so close to the animals and really watch them in their natural habitat. Our driver, David, was so knowledgeable. He answered all of our millions of questions. He educated us on the animals, the plants and also the people that live in Africa. He constantly would spot something that we would have never seen if it weren’t for him. He was very professional and determined to make our trip one we would never forget.

We could not have asked for a better trip! We cannot find one thing wrong because everything went so smoothly. Now we are constantly looking at our photos and sharing our stories with others! This is a trip that is a must on everyone’s list and we were very happy we were able to enjoy all that Tanzania had to offer!

Mark and Tracy Varshawsky
Oxnard, California
Safari Dates: November 14, 2012 to November 22, 2012

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School of St Jude: Eva Grows Up

The School of St Jude and Africa Dream Safaris are working together to help impoverished children in Tanzania to receive a free, high-quality education, while strengthening ADS’ humanitarian involvement in the East African community. Our monthly donation will buy 2,000 hot, nutritious meals per month for the students. Tanzania is a developing country where one-third of its population lives below the poverty line, on less than $1.25 per day. A majority of children in Tanzanian schools do not receive lunch or any food, so they cannot focus on learning when they’re hungry. St Jude’s provides daily meals for students, as well as breakfast and dinner for the over 1,100 students who live in their boarding houses. All produce is sourced from the local community.

Below is the story about a student named Eva from the School of St Jude. (Provided by SSJ)

Six years ago, young Eva’s face beamed from the cover of the autobiography of our school founder Gemma Sisia, titled ‘St Jude’s.’ Eva was a young girl who was still realizing her dreams. She epitomized the happy, bright eyed child at St Jude’s who is overjoyed about getting a free, high quality education. Now she has grown and is developing into a well-adjusted young adult. She is in Form 1 and has big aspirations, with a world of possibilities in front of her. This is her story.

Eva started at St Jude’s in 2006, when the school was just four years old and we had just over 600 students and around 115 staff. Eva’s family includes her father, John, mother, Penina and younger brothers Richard and Benjamin. They live in a two-room brick home and like many other Tanzanian dwellings, the home has no plumbing (water is collected from a neighborhood tap for a small monthly fee) and meals are prepared over a charcoal or basic kerosene-fueled stove.

To support the family, Eva’s father finds work where he can as a carpenter and a mason. Her mother works at their home as a tailor. They are big supporters of Eva’s education and encourage her to continue learning in the hope that one day she will have qualifications and a successful career so she can break the cycle of poverty for herself, help them and her community.

Eva showed promise as a capable student at a young age. As a child, she would often ask her parents to send her to a school which would enable her to learn English. “I wanted to learn English because I knew in this world of today that I needed it and I strived to get a high quality education as I wanted to have a bright future,” she said.

She grew up playing with her younger brother and their games would regularly revolve around learning. “There was one game where we liked to draw and the first one to finish was the winner. The aim of it was that you drew things, like an egg and you also wrote the name of it in English. So, I always liked to play games where I could learn new words.”
Before St Jude’s, Eva attended a government school where nearly all of her subjects were in Swahili. It was a limited learning environment where Eva felt she was not able to reach her full potential. She remembers hearing about St Jude’s at her old school and then soon applied. It was a turning point in her life.

After passing the relevant checks, she was accepted and began a new chapter of her life. “When I found out I was going to St Jude’s, I thought it was amazing and I was very happy. It meant a lot to me,” said Eva. Since then she has fulfilled a number of milestones. She successfully completed her seven years of primary schooling, has begun high school and has impressively scored A’s in almost all of her subjects. She also boards at the school’s Smith campus which is preparing her to be a strong, independent individual.

Eva’s life has been transformed because of her education. She has sponsors in Australia and is acutely aware that their support has enabled her to have clean uniforms, a place to board, fresh, nutritional food, committed teachers and access to state-of-the-art ICT laboratories and well-stocked libraries.

Research supports the assertion that sponsorship can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Bruce Wydick, an economist from the University of San Francisco carried out a study in six countries over three continents, including in Uganda and Kenya. He and his team studied more than 10-thousand individuals who had been sponsored in the 1980s. The overall result was that student sponsorship works and that 50 to 80 per cent are more likely to complete a university education.

“By sponsoring a child at St Jude’s you will change the life of that child, their family, their community and contribute to changing their country. The evidence says it works, the economics says it works and if you visit the school you can see for yourself that it works. What better way is there of using your money?” said St Jude’s School Director John Ford.
Eva, the little girl that once shyly took her first steps through the St Jude’s gates seven years ago, has grown into a happy, confident young adult. She is like any other teenager who enjoys spending time with her friends and playing card games. In a few years, Eva plans to head to university to study engineering and work in Tanzania. Like the young girl on the cover of St Jude’s, she is optimistic, loving life, has the world at her feet and ready to embrace it.

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By Arnold Y. Mushi with Wilkinson Group

This is driver-guide Arnold Mushi writing from Arusha, Tanzania after the completion of another wonderful safari (October 21, 2013 to November 1, 2013). This trip was really very good and we had many good sightings during our 12 days together. We started from the North Serengeti along the Mara River and made our way down through the North Serengeti, West Serengeti, Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and finally Tarangire National Park. Along the way we stayed at several great camps including Buffalo Camp, Mbalageti Camp, Sametu Camp, Lemala Camp and Kikoti Camp.

Below are several photos that I took while on safari that I would to share with the ADS community:

-Two male lion brothers at the Nyamalumbwa plains – North Serengeti.
-Rhino at the Mara River – Northern side of the Serengeti with a calf.
-Elephant in the same area – Northern Serengeti.
-Young male lion (cubs of six months old) at Nyamalumbwa plains.
-Lion pride at Nyamalumbwa plains – Northern Serengeti.
-Heron at the grumeti river – western Serengeti.
-Sundgrouse at Mbalageti area, Western Serengeti. This is only bird to bring water into the nest with feathers when they have chicks.
-Grumeti river in the West Serengeti.
-Cubs at Central Serengeti.
-Zebras – Central Serengeti.
-Hunting movement was in the Central Serengeti.
-Lioness drinking at the Seronera River, Central Serengeti.
-After a successful hunt, he dragged the kill to start feeding. This was close to Sametu Camp in the Central Serengeti.
-Long crested eagle close to Sametu Camp.
-Flying Long crested eagle –at Sametu.
-Wilkinson close to termite mound at Tarangire National Park.
-Tawny eagle flying.
-Cheetah with cubs in Tarangire close to Silale Swamp.
-Cheetah with cubs on the move.
-Cheetah with cubs.
-Elephants close to Silale Swamp, Tarangire.
-Leopard rest at the black backed acacia next to Silale Swamp.
-Peal Scops Owl.
-Buffalo crossing the road in Tarangire National Park.
-Male lino and lioness beginning to mate in Tarangire National Park.

Arnold Mushi.

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Our Safari November 9 to November 21, 2013

Our safari experience with ADS was truly incredible, and enjoyable. From our initial inquiry and booking with Sharon through being returned to the airport, everything was handled in an efficient, and friendly manner. The meet and greet staff in Arusha were most helpful in getting us settled and prepared for the upcoming adventure, and in taking us back to the airport. Our driver/guide/concierge/porter Francis Peter was very patient and accommodating, and we always felt safe and comfortable wherever we went.

Having opted for the extra day at Mt. Meru Resort at the front end of our safari after the long day(s) of flying, our itinerary was 2 nights each at Mt. Meru Resort, Buffalo Luxury Camp, a Private Luxury Camp, Ngorongoro Serena Crater Lodge, and Kikoti Tented Camp, with game drives in Northern and Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park.

All of the camps and lodges were very well run, comfortable, and exceeded our expectations, and offered a variety of experiences. The meals were abundant and tasty with a variety of choices from very familiar to more local offerings. The attention given us at the private camp was a real treat. In addition to the daily game drives, we were able to visit a Maasai village, go on a night game drive and two private walking safaris complete with Maasai guides and armed escorts, and take a sunrise hot air balloon ride.

Although we were there during what turned out to be an extremely dry time, Francis managed to take us to where the animals were. The number and variety of animals that could be seen together at one time, and the diversity of the landscape especially surprised us. He was very good at spotting and approaching the wildlife so that we could watch and take pictures, and willingly shared his knowledge of the nature and culture of the areas we visited.

The animals and landscapes are what we went to see and were more than satisfied with, but we will also always remember our exposure to “African massage, bush TV, wake up calls, and checking a tire”. Our advice to anyone thinking about going on safari is to go sooner than later. Opportunities are and will continue to be changing.

Thank you ADS for a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Dan and Marti W.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Safari Dates: November 9-21, 2013


Ostrich with chicks, Tarangire
Resting Leopard
Young Lion With Toy
Superb Starling
Lion prints in the pathway from overnight, Kikoti Camp
Lilac-breasted Roller on Acacia
Grey Crowned Cranes
Elephant with Youngster
Banded Mongooses on the move
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