Our safari was the adventure of a lifetime!! Everything about our trip was perfect – from Dawn’s assistance in creating our itinerary, to being greeted at the airport by Faith and being delivered to the airport on our departure. The safari was expertly designed to make sure the four of us had the best possible experience.
We began our adventure with three nights at the Mount Meru Resort. This allowed us time to visit the Cultural Center in Arusha and to recover somewhat from our 20 plus hour plane rides from California. Our actual safari began with a short flight from Arusha to the Grumeti airstrip where we were met by our guide Russell. He brought box lunches for us and we were off on our first game drive. We saw lions, giraffes and of course wildebeests during our first hour!
We spent two nights at the Kirawira Tented Lodge where the facilities and service were wonderful. It was the perfect way to ease into tent camps with our tiled shower, beautiful hard wood floors and of course the flush toilet. During the days we went on game drives and saw all of the “big five” except rhinos which we did see toward the end of our trip.
We also took a balloon ride and were able to see herds of wildebeests as well as gazelles and elephants. Russell suggested that we change the day and location of our balloon trip so we would see more animals and he made all the arrangements. This was one advantage of a private safari!
We spent a total of five nights between two ADS tented camps – Seronera Sametu Camp and Lion’s Paw Tented Camp. Again the service and facilities were excellent. We did have to request hot water for our shower but is was hot and there was plenty of it. There was no hair dryer at these camps so my hair had to air dry – at least it was clean and my husband said I looked fine! It was much cooler at Lion’s Paw and I had to borrow a jacket from the other couple.
In addition to wildlife, we saw the Kopjes (large rocks), Maasai paintings and climbed up Gong Rock for a beautiful panorama of the Serengeti. We also visited Olduvai Gorge and museum and had a short lecture by a museum guide. Before we left to go to the Ngorongoro Crater, we decided to add on a visit to a Maasai village. Once again, Russell made the arrangements for us. The village was very interesting and worth the visit. However, it was commercialized and the Maasai really wanted to sell us expensive beaded items. We visited their school and the children sang the ABC song in English for us.
We spent our last two nights at The Manor at Ngorongoro. This was absolutely beautiful. The rooms were like duplexes and had fabulous views of the grounds. One afternoon the maid drew a bubble bath for two with flower petals on top and she also started our fireplace each night. However, we did not relax as planned. Instead, we chose to visit FAME which is a rural medical clinic and to visit the Hadzabe people and the Datonga tribe.
We paid a fee for a local guide and he accompanied us to Hadzabe and Datonga living areas. These groups of people have agreed to have tourists visit them and to share some of their culture with us. In exchange, they receive some help from the government based on their needs. The Hadzabe really seemed to enjoy watching us try to start a fire with sticks and to shoot with a bow and arrow. They also shared some tubers with us and even offered to share smoking their pipe with marijuana in it. It was quite an experience!!
This was a wonderful experience for the four of us. Our guide Russell was the best. He taught us a lot about the animals and their habits and ensured that we had the best views for picture taking. He also arranged to minimize the need to use “the bushes” and we were often able to use regular bathrooms that were cleaner than a lot of our rest stops.
All the tented facilities were outstanding and provided excellent service. We were even surprised by hot water bottles in our bed at Lion’s Paw Camp. One night we had buffalos outside our tent hitting against the supports and chewing grass. That added some excitement to our night! We were careful about the water but did not worry about the food at the camps. None of us got major diarrhea and we only got a few bites by mosquitoes or tsetse flies.
We would definitely recommend African Dream Safaris to anyone wanting the adventure of a lifetime!!!
Barbara and Ralph Handly
Safari Dates: May 26, 2014 to June 6, 2014