After a lifetime of dreaming, a year of planning and months of eager anticipation I embarked on my safari adventure on June 29, 2015. I had convinced my family, ranging in age from 3 to 67, to accompany me on this journey.
As our plane winged across the Atlantic a sense of fear and panic overtook me as I thought what is this if a complete disaster. What was I doing taking five children ages 3, 5, 6, 10 and 13 and assorted adults on a safari? The anxiety and panic was completely unnecessary, because as soon as we touched down at Kilimanjaro and were greeted by Mathias and Precious I knew that a splendid adventure lay ahead.
Dawn had planned a magnificent itinerary for us. We had elected to have a rest day in Arusha and we used that day to visit St. Jude’s School and downtown Arusha. St Jude’s School is an inspiring experience and I as so glad that I got to personally visit and see the wonderful work being done there. We got to see all three stop lights in Arusha, the city activity, the Tanzanian torch monument and the mid-continent marker.
Early the next morning we flew out to the Serengeti. As we approached the Kogatende air strip all of us were transformed to children as we exclaimed: “Do you see that giraffe?; There’s an elephant; I see zebras” We excitedly deplaned and were met by our new best friends Wilfred and Ally.
Both Wilfred and Ally deserve an award for putting up with our crew. They were always cheerful, catered to the children and never seemed to tire of out endless questions. Our first stop was Mara River Camp. We absolutely loved the camp and our dear host, Gilbert.
The wildlife were ready to greet and entertain us. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, gazelles, topis, beautiful birds, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and hippos! We were all completely satisfied and thought no need to go anywhere else but Mara River.
However, our itinerary called for us to move on to Buffalo Luxury Camp. Again we were treated as special guests and more special adventures awaited us. The camp is located on the side of a hill and enjoys superb views. We enjoyed watching frolicking elephants, elands, cape buffalo and impalas.
Our visit to the Maasai village was an unforgettable experience. Our Maasai hosts were so welcoming and they seemed to be genuinely happy that we had come to visit. The highlights for the children at Buffalo Luxury Camp were roasting marshmellows by the fire, the baby cobra on the terrace, the game of bows, arrows and spears that the staff prepared for the children to enjoy and the night time game drive. Nowhere have we ever seen more beautiful stars!
While again we would have been perfectly satisfied to stay at Buffalo Luxury Camo and enjoy the breath taking views, we had to again move on. This time our destination was the Serengeti Serena Lodge. The views at the lodge are also unbelievable. We encountered a buffalo roaming through the grounds at night and it was during our stay here that we found the leopard that totally mesmerized us.
Our final stop was Serena Ngorongoro Lodge at the crater. The Lodge is beautiful and the fireplaces throughout the lodge are a welcome place to warm up from the cool air and winds. The crater is magnificent and we did succeed in being among the first few cars into the crater the next morning. We were so delighted to see the flamingoes and yes- we did see a black rhino!
I had anticipated that the travel day back to Arusha would be non-eventful, but I was wrong. Wilfred and Ally had planned souvenir shopping, which thoroughly pleased the children. We also came across a group of young Maasai dressed in their ceremonial garb and we visited Lake Manyara Park.
Lake Maynara Park was a wonderful surprise. Situated just outside Arusha, the park provides wonderful viewing of monkeys, baboons, elephants, hippos and magnificent birds. This is really a very small but beautiful park and I am so glad Wilfred and Ally treated us to this stop.
On arrival back at the Mount Meru Hotel late in the afternoon of our departure date we wondered how we could get some dinner before we had to head to the airport. Hakuna matata – Mathias had arranged for the kitchen to prepare an early dinner for us. On the way to the airport we got to see the “Shy Lady” – Mount Kilimanjaro – as she peaked out from her veil of clouds.
I cannot adequately express the thought, care and graciousness that was constant throughout our stay. Travelling with children is a real plus! Everyone went above and beyond to accommodate the children and to make sure that the adults were having a wonderful time too.
Our every need was anticipated and met. None of us were ready to leave Tanzania but all of us left with wonderful memories and a desire to return. We can’t thank everyone at ADS enough for providing us with such a magnificent adventure!
Linda H. and Family
Safari Dates: June 30, 2015 to July 10, 2015