This is going to be challenging to write as words can in no way begin to describe the experiences my husband and I had on our safari in Tanzania. We booked a 9 day safari July 13 to July 22 with African Dream Safaris after an extremely thorough online search of safari outfitters. The decision to book with ADS turned out to be the perfect choice! I had read so many of the “This Week in Tanzania” travelogues leading up to our departure… my expectations were very high. I thought there would be no way that the actual experience would even be close to what I was imagining. Turns out I was wrong.
After our short flight to the Serengeti from Arusha we were met by our driver-guide, Bernard. Bernard is a wonderful, knowledgeable and extremely gifted driver-guide. After introductions and stowing of luggage, we were off on our first wildlife viewing drive. There were wildebeests, ostriches, impalas, klipspringer and elephants everywhere! After enjoying several hours of animal viewing we decided to stop for lunch.
Bernard drove up to a rocky area (kopje) where 3 female lions and 9 cubs were sunning themselves. We ate our lunch and observed the lions, which were only 15-20 feet away from us. It was absolutely amazing to watch this pride of lions scramble around on the rocks as we took pictures and finished our lunch. The word “surreal” is so overused, but it is exactly right for this instance… and really the whole trip.
After leaving the lions we came across a herd of elephants cooling off in the Mara River. Along the bank of the river were gazelles, zebras and hippos. On the way to the Mara River Camp we saw many monkeys and gazelles. After our first day I was thinking that we experienced so much, it couldn’t possibly continue at that level. Again, I was so wrong.
We had decided to start each day as early as possible (usually leaving the camp at 6:30am) so that we could see the animals at their most active. You MUST do this if you go on safari! Our first full day began with a spectacular sunrise, followed closely by an encounter with 4 young lions trotting along the river near a large herd of giraffe and zebra.
As we were watching the scene unfold, Bernard got a call that the wildebeest were crossing the Mara River! We had to quickly decide whether to continue with the lions or drive to the river. We chose to drive to the river and made it in time to see the spectacular wildebeest crossing. Again, there are no words that can possibly describe this experience.
One side note, when we were driving off to see the wildebeest, a group of 15-20 giraffes started running full-out next to our vehicle. That is an image that I will never forget. Simply magical! Shortly after the wildebeest crossing we came upon a leopard in a tree! We watched as the leopard jumped from the tree and began stalking some impala.
We followed the leopard for awhile until we came upon 4 more lions guarding a recent Topi kill. Vultures and spotted hyenas were also getting in on the action. It is absolutely amazing that all of this happened before 10:00 in the morning! The afternoon was spent by the river observing hippos, crocodiles, thousands of wildebeest, zebra, impala, buffalo, warthogs, jackals, eland, and the list goes on.
Again, after the second day I was amazed that it could have been as good, if not better, than the first day. I thought certainly it would have to be downhill from there. Are you beginning to see the pattern? Boy, was I wrong!
We spent part of a morning watching a lioness move her three newborn cubs from an area of tall grass to a rocky kopje about 500 meters away. The little cubs were just swinging from their mother’s mouth as she trotted along the trail. There was also an afternoon when we watched a 14 foot crocodile defending its kill from several other crocodiles in a small pond. It was a pretty intense battle!
One highlight of the trip (in a trip FULL of highlights) was the night game drive during our stay at the Buffalo Luxury Camp. We headed out about 9:00 with a driver-guide and a spotter. As we drove the spotter swept his spotlight back and forth, looking for eyes in the darkness. We came upon a male lion laying down in the grass, and as we watched two small cubs ran up and started leaping about on his head trying to get him to play. There was a large pride in the grass a few meters away. We thought to only stay out for an hour or so, but we saw so many incredible animals that we were out until after 11:00! If the opportunity for a night drive presents itself… GO!
We did see the Big 5! The black rhinoceros proved to be the most elusive, but we saw one in the Ngorongoro Crater. Over the course of our safari we were fortunate to have many leopard and cheetah sightings, as well as an abundance of buffalo, lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, gazelles, elephants, and the list goes on and on. For every animal I name, there are 10 I am not mentioning. That is no exaggeration… I just don’t want to write a huge list of animals with no details about the experience.
We stayed in 5 different accommodations, and each one was incredible! Our accommodations included the Mount Meru Resort, Mara River Camp, Buffalo Luxury Camp, Mbuzi Mawe Tented Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Lodge and the Bougainvillea Lodge. The staff at each location were so friendly and welcoming, the food was excellent (including the box lunches which we had every day) and the rooms were amazingly comfortable. I could write several more pages raving about each of the accommodations!
African Dream Safaris made everything about this journey a pleasure! The planning is meticulously done so that the trip itself is seamless. We felt honored to be able to experience the Serengeti on this amazing adventure. Thanks to African Dream Safaris, our trip was flawless. On this point, I am absolutely correct.
Jacki and Brad B.
Greenville, South Carolina
Safari Dates: July 13, 2016 to July 21, 2016