We Were All Alone With The Great Migration!

It is not often when reality surpasses your dreams but from the moment we landed on a dirt runway in the Central Serengeti and a herd of wild Zebras were our welcoming committee to the time that we were surrounded by over 2 million as we were front and center to the Great Migration, I knew we were part of something I could only imagine…up until then!

Over the next 11 days, we slept in tents (a few lodges) and fell asleep to the roar of Lions. Each and every day was something different and brought with it a new and exciting experience that will be with us forever.

Whether it was waking up and going out to see a Leopard drag his recent nightly kill up a tree, to the daily box lunches we had with Lioness, Lions, and Cheetah as we watched the interaction between the mothers and their cubs, we truly were living National Geographic moments.

We saw it all: Lions, Lioness, Cheetahs and their cubs, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalo, Rhinos, Monkeys, Baboons, Hippos, Hyenas, Jackals, Wart Hogs, Eagles, Flamingo’s and more. The stories I can tell could go on for pages but the one that stays with me the most and epitomizes why ADS is the only one who could have given me such memories is as follows…

Being it’s a private, customizable, flexible, safari with unlimited miles and distance you can pretty much make changes on a moment’s notice. It was our 2nd night and the next day we were schedule to go to a place on the original itinerary we were given before we left. Arnold (the best driver/guide ever…more on him later) suggested we change the plan.

Arnold said he just received word where the Migration was located. He said it was far but if we were up for a long 3-hour drive he was too! He knew one of the main reason for me being there was to experience just that so it took me less that a second to say yes! The next morning, we were in the car at 6.00am and started our dive.

What was to take 3 hours took more like 4 hours (if not a little more) why??…because we were in no rush and the sights along the way of herds of Elephants, Buffalo and Zebra constantly had us stopping to see and experience what was in front of us. Even before we got to our destination the day was a total success. I saw things I’ve only imagined and I was already quite content if the day would have ended there. Thankfully though, it did not end there.

As we went up a hill and around the bend we were rewarded with a view that no picture can ever do justice too. There along the horizon for as far as I could see front, left and right were over 2 MILLION Zebra and Wildebeests. It was sensory overload. There in front of me was the Great Migration!

My heart was beating like a 5-year old experiencing Disney for the first time as I was totally overcome with excitement. Arnold being the best driver / guide of all time slowly proceeded to drive us down into the middle of what was a never-ending sea of animals. He turned off the engine and there we stayed as we took in the sights and sounds of what the Great Migration is all about.

What made it ever more spectacular was in this total vastness of animals and land there was only 1 other vehicle in sight and, of course, it was another ADS one. We were the only 2 witnessing this magnificent “moment in time”. No other company took the time or drove the distance for their customer’s to experience this. We were all alone! This is what ADS is all about.

My stories like my pictures can go on and on…and will for me for many years to come. I cannot thank Michael Wishner enough for the time he spent listening and understanding to what it was I really wanted. He totally guided me and had me change my time frame which I was very nervous about. I wanted to go during another season for my birthday. He convinced me that based on what I told him I wanted the only time to go was April…he was RIGHT!!

But my biggest thanks and reason I feel my trip ended up being what it was is because of the best drive r/ guide EVER. Arnold knew everything about the country, the animals and their instincts. His patience and understanding of what we wanted was what put this trip over the top. Nothing was ever a bother or too much.

He knew how important “the picture” was to me. He would move the vehicle 3 inches so a branch was not in the way. He was constantly saying “hold please” as he would reposition the vehicle in a better light. He saw things in trees or in the grass from what seemed like miles away. He was always on the radio making sure he found out where the action was.

I witnessed firsthand how other drivers quickly drove to where we already were, take a picture and leave. Their customers were not able to experience the intimacy we did by taking our time sitting there and watching the interaction not only between the animals within their own families but the interaction of different animal species. They will never know what they missed! I on the other hand know what I did NOT miss. Arnold WAS and IS the reason why my trip will forever be with me.

Thank you Arnold, thank you ADS and thank you Tanzania for giving my son and I a lifetime of memories!

Jeff K.
Voorhees, New Jersey
Safari Dates: April 10, 2017 to April 21, 2017

14 Comments Leave a Comment

  1. Hi Jeff,
    Seems like April was a great time for you for both for wildlife and photography.
    I will be there in November 2018 and hope to see wildlife similar to your experience but more at the end of the dry season I suppose.
    Your photographs are excellent and sharp as a tack.
    What gear were you using and generally what ISO settings did you use to capture sharp images at different times of the day.
    Geoff Brown

    1. Hi Geoff
      I shot with 2 Canon Cameras. 7Dii & 5D iv. Most of the shots you see see are with the 7D . I’m actually still working on the pics with the 5d as I need to learn some new software since Apple aperture does NOT support that camera 🙁
      I mostly used the 100-400 on the 7d. I used a 24-105 or a 16-35 on the 5d. ISO varied from 100-6400 depending on time of day or light etc.. the Leopard shots were in shadows and not a lot of light so i used 2000-6400. The day shots with the Zebras or lions were 100-400. The key for me was keeping camera steady. NO movement. Truck engine was totally off and most important i used either a ballhead that i adhered to the roof rails ( i can you more about that if you wish) or mostly i just used a beanbag. First time i ever shot with one but found it invaluable for my trip. It’s portable at a moments notice and you can use it anywhere…just remember to take it down when the truck moves… in my excrement i forgot a few times and it ended outside on the ground…it did NOT make my bestest driver guide happy when he needed to very carefully drive close to it and get out to get it 🙁
      hope this helps… let me know if you have any other questions…. PS… take A LOT of memory cards and just keep shooting… you never know how / when the animal moves or turns to you… that the money shot!

  2. How wonderful! Your photos are amazing. Beautifully done. My dream is to see the
    Migration. Never even considered April. Thank you for sharing your photos and ex-

    1. Hi Mary
      Thxs for your kind words.I never considered April either until I spoke to Michael.He convinced me that based upon what i wanted…no crowd, not a lot of other vehicles in my pics, and mostly huge herds of migration… April was the time. He was right. It ended up being perfect… although we did get lucky with the weather. As for seeing the Migration i believe you can see it pretty much anytime thought out the year. Its jut in a different part of the country.

    1. Hi
      That’s really a ADS questions… BUT …from all i read and from talking with Michael you can see the Migration anytime you go…It’s just in different parts of the country. I chose April as i mentioned about to Mary. I also liked April because its at the beginning of the Migration as the herds are just starting their trek…so they have not scattered too much yet. My sense is the later into the LONG walk they take the spread out somewhat. Not sure if that’s totally true or we just got lucky..but all i can say it was one of the most magnificent things I’ve ever seen. Truly the pics cant do justice to what you see first hand when you are in the middle of all these animals. Something i will never forget.. and long for seeing again! 🙂

  3. Hi,we are fellow N.J. folks ,heading for safari 9/1 to 9/12 also deal with Michael,talked to him yesterday. Was wondering what camps you used? we are set up in order mara river,migration,seronera sametu,lions paw,and maramboi. this is our 50th.anni. bucket list,then 4 days Amsterdam.Any tips you got on packing/so on welcomed,thanks Ed/Pat

    1. Hi Ed / Pat
      where in NJ? I’ll have to go back and look at which camps we used but going in Sept vs April you will prob be in a different part of the country than when we were there. As for packing… go LIGHT! 🙂 I was pretty much amazed we were able to get thru 11 days with so little clothes. That said I’m a guy with his son sleeping in tents. Didn’t have the wife to tell me get dressed for dinner. 🙂 What i did was take convertible pants (2) that went from long to short pants… but i mostly never unzipped and kept the long on. I went thru more shirts (3) that pants but i packed wick drip tops ( and it was never really that hot) and dressed in layers. to me underwear & socks are more key (4)… but remember most all place wash for you and since we stayed muti nights at each place it was wear one wash one…. I’d wear Wick tee, wick long sleeve and a vest ( to hold things i needed at a moments notice… lip balm, memory card. battery etc..) I also took a semi-lightweight windbreaker for the morning. I got everything into a gym bag! I did check 1 bag for my son & I with other “Non essential things”… food, extension cords sunblock, bug spray etc… Not sure the weather in Amsterdam in Sept. In April is was completely different that Tanzania. It was much colder to i definitely used my coat. hope this helps… let me know if you have any other questions..

  4. Love love so many of your photos…..may I paint them? We did Safari with this company in 2016 – but your photos are better for sure! May I use images?

    1. Paint…. as in canvas & brush? Sounds very cool. THXS for liking them that much.

      Sure that would be fine…. Let me know if you need anything from me… enjoy!!

  5. Great photos! We took our ADS safari in March 2012 and Arnold was also our driver. We agree that he knew where to find the animals and was very knowledgeable. We still consider our safari our best trip ever.

  6. Thank you for sharing. Your pictures are amazing. We head out with ADS this July and we are beyond excited. My daughter is the photographer and I will share your information. The pictures and your sentiments are spectacular.

Leave a Comment