Words seem inadequate when it comes to describing our family safari with Africa Dream Safaris. From the moment two years ago when I began my research to the day I spoke with safari specialist Dawn, and then the day we met our driver/guide, Arnold, in Northern Tanzania, I knew we were in for an amazing adventure.
Together my husband and I along with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons, ages 8 and 10, embarked on this adventure confident that we were in good hands with ADS. I was only concerned about two things; how the boys would handle the two long plane rides and the long days spent in the “bush”. I needn’t have worried. They thoroughly entertained themselves on the KLM planes with the video monitors in the seat backs. They could follow our flight path so never asked “When will we be there?”
We spent on average six to seven hours each day in the land rover taking box lunches. Not once did either say they were bored and they only got out their electronic games on the last day while going through Lake Manyara. Arnold was wonderful with them and educated us all about the animals we were seeing. The Serengeti was our classroom with Arnold our teacher.
We arrived a day early so we could adjust to the time difference. Then it was off to St. Jude School. Our grandsons noted the children in this school spent much time outdoors which made an impression as it was now winter. They couldn’t help but notice lunch was being served outside. They also made note that children could run when changing activities or classrooms; something they are not allowed to do. As a former teacher, I was impressed with the joy that shone through on each child’s face. It was easy to feel the children’s excitement at being in this school.
The boys were thrilled to be on a small plane as we took off for Northern Tanzania. Arnold was waiting for us and our incredible safari began. That very first day we witnessed not one but two crossings as the wildebeests crossed the Mara River on their way to Kenya. For me it was the highlight of the trip as I have longed to see the crossing since my elementary school days. Sharing that moment with my family made it all the more special.
We spent some time going off road which gave us the opportunity to witness unbelievable encounters. We spent an hour one afternoon at a watering hole surrounded by 36 elephants. We watched the babies nurse and the adults sling mud and water on themselves. There was a special moment when one of the females turned and stepped slowly towards our vehicle. She stopped and for a moment was looking eye to eye with our grandsons who were sitting up top. As she turned to go back I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking. As a mother herself, was she making sure these children were in good hands? We were astonished at the grace and magnificence of these creatures.
Another day we became willing participants with a cheetah as he was on a hunt. Arnold said, “Hold on!” and off we went. We were mesmerized as we watched and Arnold explained exactly how the cheetah would kill and then eat the gazelle. We had no idea there was a sequence to the killing and eating. Knowing that we might see a kill was concerning before the trip but it was all so natural. We simply were observers of the “circle of life.”
Here are some comments from Alexander (10): “The Safari was fun because we went off road. I really liked seeing all the animals and staying at the Four Seasons Lodge. My favorite animal was the African Fish Eagle because I really like eagles and birds. I also liked the lions because they looked ferocious.” Another comment from Alexander came after we had driven through Arusha. He told his mom that he was very glad to live where he does.
Anthony’s (8) comments: “The safari was exciting because the trip was unusual. I really liked the plane ride. My favorite animal was the cheetah because we got to watch it attack and eat the gazelle. On the safari I really liked to see the environment the animals live in.”
As to the lodging, we were so impressed with each place we stayed. Each was unique and the staff was so accommodating. At Buffalo Tented Lodge we were treated to a Boma Dinner outside, a night safari, and a visit to a Maasai village. On the walking safari the boys wanted to hike to the top of the mountain. Their request was graciously granted. Once at the top they helped in starting a fire using sticks.
“A trip of a lifetime” seems rather cliche but it does sum it up very well. The Serengeti has a way of seeping into your very soul. We are so thankful for ADS and the wonderful driver/guides who make these trips possible. “Pora Pora!”
Connie M. on behalf of Jim, Amy, Mike, Alexander, and Anthony
Safari Dates: July 21, 2014 to August 1, 2014