Posts From April 2014

Seeing is Believing!

We recently returned from our “trip of a lifetime!” We heard that phrase before we went…but, seeing is believing! Although we had read about Safaris (compliments to ADS for an educational website including testimonials) from other visitors to Africa and heard stories from friends, our expectations were far surpassed by the trip itself.

Africa Dream Safaris was so helpful as they greeted us (“jambo!”), assisted us as we settled in to our lodging and as we continued on our safari where we felt safe at all times and, of course, the staff being with us as we departed for home. Our good-byes were to very special new ADS friends that we made in Tanzania.

Our guide was so enthusiastic as he spotted animals and shared his vast knowledge of the land and its inhabitants. We laughed as he described our often bumpy ride as a complimentary Serengeti “massage.” In truth, the well-maintained truck supplied comfortable seat cushions, excellent binoculars, superior roof access for standing for views, drinks, snacks, camera battery charger, etc…all that we might need for each day’s journey.

We had a copy of Wildlife of East Africa (Withers and Hosking) handy as Arnold would confirm a sighting and tell us more about what we were seeing. Arnold’s explanations of the animals and their habits, Arnold’s sense of humor and his friendliness made our days in the “truck” delightful…as he would say, “hakuna matata.” We saw the “big 5” and too many other animals and birds to mention..and up close, so up close!

Our photo opportunities were unimaginable. We watched the activities of the animals and often were moved quietly to a better viewing position chosen by Arnold…all the time snapping photos or shooting video. Arnold’s timing was perfect for seeing all that we could see and for photography. Leaving early in the mornings provided many exciting views of active animals. Each day, we would happily stay on safari as long as we could as we viewed the wildlife and the magnificent open blue sky with fluffy white clouds nearing sunset.

At dinner, after each day in the truck and then sharing our experiences with our group, we were continually amazed at not only the numbers of animals we saw, but also the variety of them and the many kinds of birds. As my son said when I described our experiences, “Mom, I’ve never heard you so AMAZED.” We were continually thrilled by what we were viewing, yes…AMAZED.

When Arnold spotted a dung beetle pushing its ball with an egg inside, we were astounded that he would notice that “small wonder” near the side of the road. When we watched a giraffe awkwardly spread his long legs out to get a drink of water from a puddle… when we saw the wildebeests and zebras and “believed” in a massive migration…when we learned of acacia trees, the magic tree, kopjes, sausage trees, the endless plain, rolling hills of lush green, the crater, hearing monkeys on our tented roof…our incredible experiences went on and on.

And, we haven’t even mentioned the fabulous meals…and Veronica, the chef, and her friendliness, sense of humor and charm…and our beautifully-appointed accommodations…and our outdoor private shower looking up at the stars…and our visit with the Massai…and our fun-loving friends who shared our truck…and…more and more. Obviously, we could go on and on about the spectacular sights and sounds of a friendly, peaceful country…Tanzania. But, as we learned and you will, too, – seeing is believing.

And, Sharon, thanks again for working with the Jensen’s in providing a “once in a lifetime” experience. I can’t think of a single thing that I would change!

BJ B. and Betty B.
Grayslake, IL
Jensen Group: April 4-12, 2014

Additional recommendations: We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns (children’s book, great for grandchildren). Safari Guide to East African Animals by Jonathan and Angela Scott (used by Arnold and purchased in Arusha by us)

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Going The Extra Mile For Sebastian

Two Lower Primary teachers at St Jude’s are going beyond the normal duties of teaching to help a little prep child, who is overcoming major hurdles, as he has albinism and suffers severe visual problems. Martha Dello and Anna Nnko are up for the challenge though and are doing all they can to help Sebastian succeed in his studies. ADS proudly sponsors The School of St. Jude. Here’s their monthly update:

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The Weather Was Perfect

Our group spent eight wonderful days on safari in the South and Central Serengeti starting April 15. The weather was perfect…maybe a total of 15 minutes of daytime rain, plus a couple of showers at night while we slept.

We were fortunate to see three lion-wildebeast encounters (the lions won) and even lions mating. We saw cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, hippos…the whole list of hoped for game.

We loved our guides Russel and Thomson. We enjoyed their senses of humor and appreciated their enthusiasm and ability to see and identify animals and birds. With the naked eye, our guides routinely spotted wildlife that we could barely see with binoculars. I still don’t understand how they do that.

We were very satisfied with the tented camps. They are much nicer and more comfortable that we expected… or even hoped…and the food amazed us all, especially at the Seronera Sametu camp. The evening meal at the Seronera Sametu camp always started with soup, and the three soups we had were some of the best I have ever tasted. By all means, if you have the opportunity to stay at this camp, do so.

Our final two nights at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge capped off the trip. We had been told that it was luxurious, but I did not expect the rooms and the food to be THAT wonderful. What a nice way to end the trip.

I am not much of a photographer but I have attached a couple of pictures. Others in the group will send much better photos I am sure.

Bob and Pat D.
Madison, Mississippi
Safari Dates: April 15, 2014 to April 23, 2014

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Memories That Will Forever Be Etched In Our Mind

A dream come true, this African Safari! Asante Sana to all of you remarkable people of ADS and Tanzania, East Africa-What a trip! From the moment we landed in Arusha until our departure the days just flew by with each day bringing new and exciting wonders.

Our guide, Arnold, was the most knowledgeable and friendliest person to have lead our safari. His instinct positioned us expertly as close as possible to witness the many wonders of the Serengeti. Every day a new adventure, from the magnificent to the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, to the slowly disappearing early morning mist in the Ngorongoro Crater. It was a spectacular journey.

The animals of East Africa, no matter their size were mesmerizing to watch…the protectiveness and gentle encouraging nudges of the elephants towards their young, the skittish darting motion of the zebra and wildebeest herds, the young antelope and gazelle kicking up their heels in joyous play, the slow graceful movements of the giraffes as they nibble on the treetops, the majesty of the big cats, the lions basking in the sun on the warm rocks or lapping up a drink of cool water in the early morning hours, the young cheetah playing carefully with its mother while trying not to get wet in the nearby stream and even the industrious nature of the humble Dung Beetl…rolling…rolling…rolling its dung encased egg to the perfect location for maturation…these moments have created memories that will forever be etched in our mind and we will never forget this once in a lifetime safari lead by our heroes, the guides from ADS.

Thank you all.

Christine G and Christine M
Libertyville, IL
Jensen Group April 4-12, 2014

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Truly A Bucket List Vacation

Well, after a long, very long trip back home, we are finally re-adjusted and have assimilated everything we had experienced and as we begin to share our experiences with everyone, the excitement continues to build as if we were still on our wonderful trip.

First of all, a very big thank you to Sharon for arranging a wonderful itinerary. We wanted to experience a diversified safari and that is exactly what she planned for us. We had planned a 10 day safari in addition to a 2 night stay in Arusha. We stayed at Sametu Camp for 3 nights, Lake Masek for 3 nights, Lion’s Paw for 2 nights and The Manor for 1 night. We actually were the only guests at Sametu, Lion’s Paw and The Manor which was quite nice because we got to ‘mingle’ with the wonderful people who made our stay at their camp so comfortable and enjoyable.

Upon arriving in Kilimanjaro, we were greeted and taken to Meru Resort where we were briefed with all the information we needed to begin our journey. We enjoyed a room service snack and got to bed as soon as possible so we could begin our next day exploring Arusha. We toured the Poli Village and did some shopping at the Cultural Heritage shop.

We had a lovely buffet dinner at Meru Resort and then up to our room to start the separating of our luggage to meet the 33# weight limit for the plane ride into the Serengeti (we put the non-essentials in our carry-on bags and left them with the ADS representatives to be retrieved for our return trip back home).

After breakfast we shared a ride to the airport with another couple that had just arrived the night before. After our luggage was cleared for the 33 pound weight limit (whew!) we, along with a few more passengers, took off for the Serengeti. Our plane ride to the Seronera Airstrip was a beautiful experience that gave us a taste of what to expect.

We landed and met our guide, Raphael who turned out to be absolutely fantastic. I know, I have read, that everyone thinks their guide was the best and that probably is very true but Raphael not only did his job of making sure we saw ‘everything’ we had hoped to see and taught us so much about all the animals and birds and trees, his company, his humor, his Tanzanian outlook on life was so very special. Fortunately, we have many pictures so that we will never forget him.

On our game drive from the airstrip to Sametu Camp we saw 34 species of animals and/or birds. We had a little rain that cleared up quickly and then a beautiful rainbow. Amazing! The next day we began our game drive at 6:00 am; we saw an additional 19 new animals and/or birds but had not seen a giraffe. Raphael assured us we would see some the next day but just as we were coming to Sametu Camp, there they were and actually, there was a giraffe ‘in’ our camp eating a tree next to the tent next to ours along with a couple elephants just roaming around.

And every day, thereafter, we continued to see something new. We saw cheetahs, rhinos, impalas, gazelles, dik diks, hippos, buffalo, baboons, lizards, crocodiles, jackals – we saw practically everything there was to see. We saw a leopard up in a tree eating his kill while another leopard and a hyena waited patiently for some sharing; not exactly any sharing going on, just an accidental drop of a leg and a piece of meat that was quickly taken away.

We saw a mother lion with her cubs playing with her and its siblings. Wildebeests were in masses everywhere. We watched a Dung Beetle roll the dung into a perfectly formed ball with her eggs inside for nourishment that she later buried for protection. We witnessed the mating of lions, elephants and monkeys. We watched a Crowned Crane (one of our favorite birds) court his beloved in a beautiful display of prancing and wing flapping. Even though there were so many pregnant zebras, we unfortunately did not see a birth; but we did see many baby zebra running and playing.

We watched a lion just about 15 feet from our vehicle eating a zebra with about 8 hyenas waiting patiently for the remains. We also waited patiently, 1 ½ hours, for the lion to relinquish the zebra to the hyenas so we could see how they can totally devour an animal, bones and all, in just a few minutes but the lion was proving that he was the ‘king of the jungle’ and just sat next to the zebra and rested in between his feasting.

We even tried to persuade him to leave but he was ever so smart, he just grabbed the neck of the zebra and pulled it another 4-5 feet away from us and actually did that one more time for an additional 4-5 feet away from us. We never did get to see the hyenas in action that day, but the next day we did witness a wildebeest being consumed by about 14 hyenas in minutes. Not a trace left.

We could go on and on about our safari adventure; the box breakfasts and lunches, the tasty dinners, especially the soups, the 40 liter showers, the bumpy roads, the changeable but beautiful weather in the distance, the Maasi Village visit, the scenery, the beautiful sunsets, the magnificent star filled night sky, the accommodations and not to forget all the wonderful, joyful Tanzanian people.

Africa Dream Safaris delivered everything we could have hoped for, from the very first emailed we received back from our initial inquiry to their last welcome home email and call. It truly was a ‘bucket list’ vacation with many life changing moments to carry throughout one’s life. We are so grateful that we were able to make Tanzania a part of our life memories. ASANTE SANA!

Rae Marie and Richard P.
Middleburg Heights, Ohio
Safari Dates: March 21, 2014 to March 30, 2014

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Count The Legs And Divide By Four

It’s a few hours short of a week since we returned home from our Safari. Surely the jet lag will end soon.

We enjoyed our trip even more than we anticipated. We saw every Wildebeest and Zebra in Tanzania within the first few hours (count the legs and divide by four). Also Lions, Hyenas, Giraffes, Elephants, Jackals, Cape Buffalo; Warthogs, Hippos, Baboons, Impala, Gazelles (Tommys and Grants), Dik Dik, Hartebeest; vultures, and more.

We didn’t think our guide Peter would be able to top the first day but he did on each and every day that followed. We saw lions galore (one in a tree); three separate Leopards in trees; Cheetahs; Giraffes “necking”; Rhinos; Elan; Klipspringer; birds of every description; a Serval Cat; Blue Monkeys; and would you believe it more Zebras and Wildebeest.  (I recognized some from the first day so I didn’t count those.)

We enjoyed the lodges you selected. The staff at each was very friendly and helpful. We will not hesitate to recommend Africa Dream Safaris to our friends.

I’m sending you a few of the 5,000 plus photos I took.

Elwin and Greta T.
Tallahassee, Florida
April 7, 2014 to April 13, 2014

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Our Wonderful Dream Safari

We cannot believe that the Safari we planned and contemplated for over a year has already come and gone! ADS exceeded our every expectation… and them some! The glow returns every time we look at the many pictures we brought back from our daily game drives.

From our arrival in Arusha with ADS staff awaiting us, to our warm welcome at the Mount Meru Resort, to our flight into the bush, to our Mbuzi Mawe and Lake Masek tented Lodges and the Ngorongoro Serena lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, and back to the Mount Meru Resort… it seemed that everyone was friendly, helpful, personable and simply an extension of Africa Dream Safaris.

Our ADS driver/guides, it seemed, were omnipresent in caring for us, briefing us, driving us, explaining to us and making sure we enjoyed our experience. Our group occupied four Land Cruisers, and every one of us thought our driver/guide was the best! What a testimonial to the high level of expertise and professionalism and great personality of your staff.

Our first day blew us away! We saw virtually the entire list of the big five, and more. After that, each day got better and better. Highlights included our hot air balloon ride and experience. This option was so much more than a balloon ride!! It was classy, safe, smooth, included a full hot English breakfast under an Acacia Tree in the middle of the bush, a champagne celebration, and a Captain who was highly qualified to fly it and explain everything to us. He went higher to spot animals and lower near treetop levels so we could view. Then he spun the balloon so others could see the same sights, and then went up again for more spotting. We loved it!

Our driver/guide, Pokea, spotted rare nocturnal animals, well hidden animals (we thought), little animals, snakes, dung beatles (at 40 mph… amazing), and everything we could hope for. We can’t speak highly enough of Pokea, he made our safari a complete success!

What a magical experience! One we will remember and recommend forever. Thanks ADS

Bruce & Delores B
Loudon TN
April 4-14, 2014
Regions Explored: Central Serengeti, East Serengeti, South Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara
Lodges: 2 x Mbuzi Mawe, 2 x Serengeti Serena, 2 x Ngorongoro Serena

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The Migration Was Both Humbling And Awe-Inspiring

Before I went on this safari trip, I really didn’t do any research. I wanted to cross this off my bucket list together with my son. I expected to see lots of animals and I expected to stay in luxury lodges. However, what I didn’t expect was the beauty and solitude seen and felt within Serengeti National Park. Furthermore, I was fortunate to witness the display of stars that splashed across the sky each night.

The opportunity to be able to witness the migration of the wildebeests’, to be among hundreds of thousands of animals without human contact for miles was an experience both humbling and awe-inspiring. Another initial concern we had was the quality of our guide, an aspect of the journey that can make or break the trip. Besides all the other other expectations that were exceeded, I was able to make a friend in Africa. Our guide, our driver, my friend, John.

Paul and Jonathan L.
Walnut, California
Safari Dates: April 1, 2014 to April 7, 2014

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Magical Moments In The Serengeti

Our safari two weeks ago to Tanzania was beyond our expectations! We had so many magical moments! Our first animal siting was a group of zebras on the runway when we were trying to land causing us to make a second approach! We also saw an elephant and giraffe out the plane window just as we were landing. What a start!

We saw a pride of 10 or more lions, a set of cubs, wildebeest, cheetahs and a host of rare birds all on our first afternoon. Our amazing guides Russell and Thomson were so knowledgeable and could spot everything! By the end of the week, we had tracked numerous leopards, seen three lion kills, cheetah cubs, baboons, blue monkeys and so much more! We saw it ALL!

Our accommodations were great and in the perfect order. We loved how the tent camps made us feel so much apart of the environment. We ended at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and what a treat it was! The views from our room were breathtaking and the elegant amenities and warm bath waiting for us at the end of the day were a pleasant surprise.

The days we spent on safari were filled with many magical moments that our group will treasure for a lifetime! Probably the most magical moment was rounding a corner on our second afternoon heading back to the camp and seeing 50 to 60 giraffes silhouetted by the sunset. It was like something out of a movie.

Bob & Jamie C.
Meridian, Mississippi
Safari Dates: April 15, 2014 to April 23, 2014
Regions Explored: Central Serengeti, East Serengeti, South Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara
Lodges: 3 x Sametu, 3 x Lake Masek, 2 x Crater Lodge

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Third Time The Charm!

Having just completed our third trip to Africa over the last 10+ years, we can say without a doubt, ADS does it the best! From the minute we stepped off the plane in Tanzania, we knew we had made the right choice! Faith was there waiting for us and whisked us through the visa process. We went to the head of the line and were out of the airport in no time and on our way to the hotel in Arusha.

We enjoyed an extra day in Arusha to catch up on our rest. We felt great on Monday morning, March 17th and were ready to get started on our safari. We flew to the Central Serengeti where we were met by Thompson. We would spend the next 11 days with him in search of the Big Five and every other animal known to the areas visited.

Thompson’s very first find was a Leopard up in a tree. What a way to start as we are HUGE cat lovers! Over the course of the next 11 days, we saw numerous Leopards, Cheetahs and Lions a plenty! I even spotted an unusual cat in the Ngorongoro Crater that Thompson got very excited about as well – a Caracal! We also were lucky enough to see a Serval in action in the Central Serengeti. On our second to last night in the Tarangire National Park, we had a visitor at dinner – a Genet. So many unusual finds.

The last of the Big Five was of course the Black Rhino and we saw 3 of them over a 2-day period in the Crater. Thompson had a knack for finding just about everything we wanted to see. Way to go Thompson – great job!

I also must say, that Sharon Lyon did an awesome job for us as well! She was very quick to respond to all our questions. Thank you Sharon.

If you are even considering a trip to Tanzania, don’t think twice. It is a trip of a lifetime and now is the time to do it. Changes are taking place rapidly in Africa and who knows what the future holds. Yes, there was dust and yes the roads are bumpy, but remember it is an adventure. There is talk about paving a highway right through the Serengeti. Shame on whoever got this idea into their head. If it happens, the entire area will suffer!

Go now and enjoy what Tanzania has to offer. You won’t be disappointed. Be sure you go with ADS as they are superior over all the other companies that we came upon while on safari.

Enjoy a few of my favorite photos.

Deborah and William D.
The Villages, Florida
Safari Dates: March 17, 2014 to March 27, 2014

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St Jude’s Promotes Innovation at its 4th Annual Science Fair

Two Form 4 students, Eunice and Robert, took out first prize for their unique refrigerator project in the fourth annual St Jude’s Science Fair. The students made the refrigerator out of tiles, cement, charcoal and other materials and it is designed for Tanzanian people who don’t have electricity in rural communities to use. Crops and other food can be preserved and stored in it.

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The Experience Has To Be A Highlight Of A Person’s Life

It is not difficult to describe our Safari by ADS – WHAT A BLAST. From the first day on the Serengeti until the last, there were never ending sights and sounds that will be unforgettable.

Where else could you see a Zebra giving birth to her baby and teaching it to walk. Where else could you see two Gazelles fighting for a mate and a male and female lion actually mating. Where else could you see prides of Lions and herds of Elephants, Wildebeests, Zebras, Giraffes, Antelopes, Gazelles, and Cape Buffalos and assorted smaller animals as far as the eye could see. Cheetahs and Leopards were spotted in smaller numbers stalking prey or sleeping in trees.

A wonderful hot air balloon ride provided a panoramic view of the land with additional views of migrating herds of animals and a spectacular view of a long line of Hippos marching in a column to a small lake to cool off. A wonderful champagne breakfast under a tree capped off the flight.

Our professional ADS driver/guide was awesome in also finding small objects (dung beetles), vultures and a lioness feeding on a kill, and, not to forget, wonderful picture opportunities of the many colorful birds that live in the national preserve.

All of the accommodations exceeded most expectations. The tented camps were so superior to what was expected. The food was great and the employees at each hotel and camp were very friendly and hospitable.
It is easy to see that the “WHAT A BLAST” description fits the Safari by ADS. The experience will always remain what has to be a highlight of a person’s life.

Dan S. and Lance L.
Loudon, TN
Safari Dates: April 4, 2014 to April 12, 2014

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Twenty Feet From Two Male Lions

We had almost a year to plan and think about this Tanzanian adventure. This was way outside my comfort zone. Upon arrival we were personally met, guided through immigration, and escorted to our Land Cruisers. The rest of our 9 days in Tanzania repeated the same personal service.

Our accommodations were gorgeous! Who knew there was such luxury in the bush? Queen and King size beds, hot water, great showers, white linen tablecloths, and gorgeous views to boot!

Of course the real show stoppers were the animals in the Serengeti and they put on their best finery just for us–magnificent! Our driver, Eagle Eyed Elias, was knowledgeable, polite, and had our safety as his main concern. We never felt unsafe even when about 20′ from 2 male lions!

Africa Dreams – you made our trip such a pleasure, thank you!

Vikki & Bruce B.
Loudon, TN
Safari Dates: April 4, 2014 to April 12, 2014

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A Friendly, Professional and Smiling Face At Every Step Of The Way.

Jambo Everyone! Our 12 day Safari started in mid February. Traveling with two of our good friends Dave and Linda, we flew into an airstrip in the Serengeti where we met our driver guide Simon. Game driving the rest of the day, we viewed animals and got to know Simon. Simon’s knowledge impressed all of us. We expected his animal expertise, but his knowledge of the birds was truly a plus.

Venturing out at both 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM for game drives, we saw animals every time. One of our best drives was when we saw a Cheetah stalk and kill a Thompson Giselle. After the kill, the Cheetah made a soft mewing sound and two Cheetahs cubs came running from their hiding spot in the tall grass up to “mom”. It was quite a site.

At one time we came within mere feet of Elephants as they were crossing the road. Another day a bull elephant made a bluff charge at us from about 10 feet. Simon knew it was a bluff, and expertly diverted the Elephant. The Elephants were always great to watch. Some of the herds were very large, while others were much smaller.

While in the Central Serengeti, Simon slowly drove into the middle of the migration and we sat and watched the Wildebeests and Zebras pass all around us. As it was the middle of the birthing season, there was a large number of babies. We saw a Wildebeest calf only minutes old with the placenta still hanging from the mother. The calf was already walking. Friends have told us about the migration and we have seen TV documentaries, but until you see it for yourself there are no words that can do it justice. Everyone should experience this fabulous site.

There were many prides of Lions to see and one day we saw two Lions stalk a Warthog. The Warthog won out this time and the Lions missed a meal that afternoon. Another time a Lioness was giving a hunting lesson to two older cubs. She watched the young Lions sneak up on a baby Wildebeest. The hunt was unsuccessful but the lions surely learned a valuable lesson.

The Giraffes seemed elegant the way they walked so tall and ate the tender leaves from the top of the trees. Tanzania truly chose the right animal for the symbol of the country. We saw so many animals but it’s impossible to mention every event, or even all the animal, there were just so many.

One viewing worth mentioning is when we came upon a pack of African Wild Dogs along the side of the road. There were 17 of them and they were all resting in the hot sun, certainly with full bellies. Simon told us they were rare to see and we took some great pictures. We also saw three Leopards all of which we’re napping in trees.

The camps we stayed at were great. The tented camps were our favorite. They gave us a real Safari feeling with an added bonus of wonderful food and a fantastic staff. The other camps were also very nice and we enjoyed them all, but our favorites were the tented camps. Special thanks to Jonas Of Seronera Sametu Camp and D C of Ngorongoro Lions Paw Camp.

Thanks ADS for a trip of a lifetime. We were treated with a friendly, professional and a smiling face at every step of the way. A special “Asante” to Simon for a Safari filled with a life time of memories.

Mike & Patti M.
Brooksville, Florida
Safari Dates: February 13, 2014 to February 23, 2014

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