My sister and I just returned home from our first African Safari and thanks to ADS it was an incredible experience! Never having traveled outside of the United States, we were a little apprehensive as we prepared to embark on this adventure. Early on in our trip, we soon realized there was no reason for concern. The invaluable advice from ADS and the numerous blogs had us more than prepared.
The ADS staff and our guide helped us through every step of the way, whisking us quickly through customs, getting us on the bush plane to the Serengeti, and getting us settled in at each of the lodges, even calling ahead so hot water was available for a shower when we arrived at camp after sunset. All the accommodations were clean and exceeded our expectations.
The tented camps were like little hotel rooms in the middle of the wildlife. By far, the highlight of the tented camps was hearing the zebras (Mara River Camp) and the lions and hyenas (Seronera Sametu Camp) outside our tent each night. The Buffalo Luxury Camp and Ngorongoro Serena Lodge both provided unique experiences as well. The staff at each of the lodges was very friendly and always available to meet all of our needs. We were so pampered, well beyond what we are used to when traveling in the United States.
We are amateur photographers and were hoping to see a variety of animals on our Safari and be lucky enough to get a few decent pictures. Again, expectations exceeded! We returned home with so many great pictures and close up shots of so many different species we didn’t even know where to begin organizing them all.
We can thank our guide Michael for all of those great shots! He was very skilled at positioning the vehicle to get the optimum picture.
We were fortunate enough to see the “Big Five” and get close pictures of all of them. Michael drove out of his way for us to get the chance to see a black rhino with her young offspring. Yet another reason why ADS is so much better than many of the other companies we saw in the Serengeti.
With unlimited miles and no set itinerary, we could go where we wanted, to see what we wanted, when we wanted. Every day was a new, exciting experience photographing so many animals.
We were lucky enough to witness four wildebeest crossings. The one was particularly memorable as a large herd of hundreds of wildebeest crossed the Mara River as a crocodile lie in wait. Right before our eyes, it ended up taking down a young wildebeest that could not navigate the rocks, giving us a true appreciation of the wildness of the Serengeti.
In addition to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), other highlights included cheetahs, hippos, baboons, crocodiles, a rock python, countless bird species and a rare caracal cat – pictured below.
A special thanks to Dawn and her helpful advice on how to pack. We had the perfect balance of clothing and toiletries–we didn’t over pack; we didn’t under pack. The photography tips were helpful as well. In the dry season, there is significant dust and a towel and pillowcase were useful for keeping equipment clean.
For those who are planning an African Safari, here are a few tips we found very helpful:
1. Go with ADS. They truly take care of all of your concerns and provide a customized private Safari just for you. Other companies we saw in the Serengeti had crowded vehicles of several different parties not all with same interests.
3. If interested in purchasing quality, authentic souvenirs, there are two places you must visit. The Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha which had been recommended by ADS, offers a great variety of carvings, stonework, and jewelry. But we also found the African Galleria in Manyara to be a great store for unique treasures and well-crafted merchandise. When planning our safari we actually added an extra day to our itinerary which was spent at both of these shops giving us time to make purchases before heading to our day room in Arusha. As per Dawn’s packing tips, we packed an empty small duffle to use on our trip home so there would be room in our luggage for our souvenirs.
4. Relax and enjoy your time there. No worries; the ADS staff and your guide will take good care of you.
Thank you to ADS for helping us plan a trip of a lifetime and giving us an incredible experience we will never forget.
Safari Dates: August 2, 2017 to August 10, 2017