As first-time safari goers, we approached our safari planning and trip with some trepidation, which was understandable at the outset but proven in the end to be completely unnecessary. The preparation provided by ADS was extraordinary. The handbook was complete and detailed, providing all the necessary information and answers to virtually any question one might have. And any remaining questions were promptly addressed in emails or by telephone.
In addition, the map and recommended reading list provided by ADS were very useful. We purchased some of the recommended books and read them, with map near at hand, in advance of the trip. The books by Myles and Kay Turner were particularly informative about the history of the park. As a result of this excellent preparation, we were very well oriented to the geography and we were able to participate intelligently in discussions with our guide about game drive planning.
The emergency contact information provided by ADS also came in helpful. They are in fact available 24/7 to assist with unexpected problems. In our case, we traveled to and from the Serengeti from Entebbe, Uganda by private air charter arranged by ADS. It is not the usual route. When we were not able to make contact at Entebbe with our charter company, we called the 24/7 number at the Arusha ADS office. We connected promptly, and they were very responsive. Within minutes following the call, a charter representative came for us and escorted us through security and customs.
By the way, the charter flight itself was a very good experience. We flew from Entebbe to Tanzania across Lake Victoria, and processed through Tanzanian customs at Tarime “International” Airport. The airport has a grass runway, and two huts — one that serves as the office of the charter company and a smaller one that serves as the custom office. I have included a picture of the two huts; the smaller one in the background is the customs office. It took only a few minutes to process with customs and then the plane took off again on our way to the park.
The scenery at low elevations was fantastic, and with our prior map orientation, we were able to identify the principal terrain features, like the Great Rift Escarpment and the Mara and Grumeti Rivers. As we approached Seronera, we could see giraffe, zebras and wildebeest. Our guide was waiting for us at the Seronera airstrip, and after transferring our luggage, making introductions and a brief stop in the available airstrip facilities, we began our first game drive.
Our guide (Ellison) was excellent. He was wonderful, informed and educational, and the safari would not have been the same without him. The accommodations were also excellent, and the camp and lodge staffs very friendly and attentive. The game drives and animal viewing were amazing. It is difficult to describe the sheer breadth of the panoramas, the large numbers of diverse animals, and how close you get to the big game (over and over again).
If we ever go again, it will only be with ADS (and hopefully with the same guide). We had thought that our safari would be a once in a lifetime experience, but after being there a couple days we decided that we would make another trip. And we would highly recommend ADS to everyone.
Bill A. and Mary S.
Safari dates: April 8 – 15, 2014
Regions Explored: Central Serengeti, East Serengeti, South Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara
Lodges: 3 x Private Camping, 2 x Lake Masek, 2 x Ngorongoro Serena