With three other couples, we traveled to Africa to see the Serengeti and see what Africa had to offer. With Africa Dreams Safari (ADS), we found the best tour company Africa had to offer! This was our first trip to Africa and our personal trip began a little earlier than the other couples because we went to see the Mountain Gorillas near Kigali, Rwanda. I mention this because the recommendation that ADS provided as to how we would meet up with the other couples in the middle of the Serengeti was outstanding and showed the depth of knowledge ADS has about Africa. The Coastal Air connections ADS suggested went exactly as planned–it was definitely a unique experience with the pilot meeting us outside security, walking us through security and immigration to the plane, and then helping us stash our baggage before “she” flew us on to our destination!
Our ADS adventure began at Kogatende (Mara River), a small dirt airstrip where we were met by our ADS guides, Anglebert and Elson. It did not take long for us to realize what superb guides they were! Our adventure began, after a picnic lunch and a patient wait, with literally thousands of Wildebeests plunging into the river for the Great Migration! To actually see the crossing from just a few meters away and to hear the sounds of these magnificent animals as they swam for their lives was phenomenal.
We divided our group between two vehicles. We rearranged ourselves each day so we traveled with each member of our group and all had the advantage of both guides. One of the days, we split with the women in one vehicle and men in the other! The guides drew straws to see who got who! Our guides were knowledgeable and made every day fun and educational.
Anglebert and Elson taught us how to look for animals hidden in the bush. And they found so many we might have overlooked! They taught us to wait patiently, quietly, so that we could observe behaviors that we never expected to see. You don’t really know how much the guides tell you is to make you happy and how much is fact, but they seemed to enjoy our group. I believe we were very low maintenance and simply followed their suggestions they said benefited not only us but them–even when they advised us that we should get up very early in the morning to begin our day’s trek—it really makes sense because of the animals sleeping to avoid the mid-day heat.
We saw Elephants grazing and knocking down the Acacia trees, honeymooning Lions, several Hippo pools, the elusive Dik-Dik and Klipspringer, Zebras, Hyenas, Warthogs, Thomson and Grant’s Gazelles, Giraffes, Leopards and Cheetahs with their kills, Waterbucks, Elands, Topis, a Rhino with her baby, and so much more! And the birds—what can you say! Everything went amazingly to plan and we got to experience everything we were supposed to and more. The guides said that we were very fortunate to see the Rhino and her baby and a Caracal cat as these are a rarity. To say we saw so much more than we ever expected is no exaggeration and we quickly ran out of superlatives to describe our adventures.
Additionally, our accommodations, ranging from exclusive and luxurious at Serengeti Bushtops Camp and Ngorongoro Manor Lodge to more rustic at Seronera Sametu and Ngorongoro Lions’s Paw Tented Camp were wonderful and had excellent staff! At each, we were met by management with small towels to wipe off the grime of the day, quickly followed by a small pick-me-up to stave off our thirst until we could get to the bar which had a nice variety of beverages. Tent camping with real beds, hot showers (including the ones where hot water was delivered to a gravity shower), absolutely excellent! This coupled with the opportunity to watch a sunrise or a sunset followed by a display of stars unaffected by city lights is an experience not to be missed.
The recommended side trip off the Serengeti to Buffalo Springs Luxury Camp allowed a several hour Night Game drive so we could experience dusk becoming night and view the animals that came out at night–a lioness on a hunt, a Crested Porcupine, and although we had seen leopards earlier in the trip, we got to watch one tearing into its recently killed prey while poised in the top of a tree. The next day featured a visit to a Masai village and was extremely interesting in terms of the insight provided into the life and culture of this African group.
The only mildly negative thing we could say concerned the Buffalo Springs facility which really didn’t quite match up to the rest of them in two respects. I fully understand why (the night ride) we wanted to be out of the park and that ride was excellent. The initial problem was solely one of our perceptions of what management should be like. It had nothing to do with the facility or the non-management staff. The person we later found was the manager seemed totally disengaged and seemed to care less whether we were there or no. We initially thought he was a boyfriend or another visitor but later found out that he was the manager. The rest of the staff was great. The night we arrived it was quite windy and unfortunately because of the location of the tents on the mountainside, the tents were quite noisy which could not be helped, but bothered some couples. Apparently there was also an issue with regard to getting water for the night ride but we were not part of that so cannot speak to it.
All in all it was an absolutely fantastic trip. I do not know how we could have improved what we did and saw and we greatly appreciate the knowledge and experience provided by ADS that allowed this adventure to happen. Kudos to ADS—we recommend them highly.
Jerry and Katherine W.
West Monroe, Louisiana
Safari Dates: August 15, 2014 to August 24, 2014