Two year before our African vacation my wife Jenny and two granddaughters, Haley and Morgan, were watching an episode of “The Amazing Race”. The Maasai warriors were performing their traditional dance. Mesmerized by this performance Haley, 15 years old, and Morgan,12 years old, asked, “Can we go and see them?” With Grandpa wrapped around their little fingers, I said “Yes, we can!”
This commitment, without any understanding of what I was getting us into, led to several months of fact-finding and research. Having never been outside of the United States or ever attempted travel this complex, I was completely lost.
My research uncovered many choices that had to be made: safari tour (8-12 people) or a private custom safari with just our family; location in Africa; time of the year; financial constraints; and children considerations. I finally chose a private, custom safari that gave us total control of our agenda and timing that could be altered if we needed to address the girls’ needs…or ours. Later I found that this was a crucial decision that made all the difference to us.
Having decided on a private tour, I needed to find an outfitter that offered them, and as luck would have it, I came across Africa Dream Safaris and Dawn Anderson. From my first phone call to our return home, she was with us the entire year and a half. Dawn answered all our questions…and there were hundreds; offered many options; made schedule changes at the spur of the moment; and gave advice throughout the process on every aspect of the trip. She was the catalyst for our successful adventure.
Our trip was in June, a wonderful time of the year for seeing wildlife and babies. Oh, the babies! The weather was fantastic and the Serengeti was still green and alive. The food was delicious. Jenny, a vegetarian, was accommodated throughout the trip. With the personal touches we received, you would have thought we owned the Company! At every stop we received cool drinks to quench our thirst, wet towels to wash the trail dust from our faces, and personal notes, hoping we were having a good time.
Our adventures were numerous and memorable. We ate lunch one day six feet from two cheetahs and their three cubs. Another day we saw a complete lion hunt from beginning to end.
My greatest experience was our visit to the Maasai village. This process involved a meeting of the elders prior to entering the village. As we crossed a muddy field the chief and several warriors with spears approached. Haley elbowed me and whispered that these people have nothing, are wild and dirty, and have flies all over them. She asked if we were safe. We spent several hours in the village. The chief explained community life in the village and how they all pitched in to help each other. We danced with them, visited inside their huts, and had an altogether insightful day into their lives, so different from ours. As we left across that same muddy field, Haley said to me, “Grandpa, I have never seen people so happy. I think I could live here.”
This was a life changing experience for us, particularly my granddaughters. Haley wants to have her honeymoon here and Morgan said she can’t wait to return. God willing, we will all return in 2015.
Our experience is etched into our hearts and souls, a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation, thanks to the wonderful guides and people at Africa Dream Safaris.
Bill, Jennie, Haley and Morgan C.
Safari Dates: June 14, 2014 to June 24, 2014