Early last year, my wife and I planned our 30th wedding anniversary present to each other and our family – a safari to Africa. I must have looked through dozens of websites to try to learn as much as I could about where to visit, the best time to visit, and how to visit. It all seemed so complicated, until we came across African Dream Safari’s website. ADS’ website was so helpful and we soon had our trip booked to visit Tanzania’s Serengeti and the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater.
I must admit, we were somewhat anxious about what to expect before our journey began. We had read so many wonderful travel blogs about past ADS safaris and the pictures were just amazing. Could they all truly reflect the experience we would have?
I’m thrilled to say that our experience mirrored those other blogs. It was amazing!
From the preparation tips from ADS, the smooth VISA process, the kind and responsive staff, the luxurious accommodations, to the unforgettable game drives; it was a trip without the words to adequately describe the wonderment that we experienced.
My daughter and I took over 7000 pictures of which several are shared here. Our trip covered the northern part of the Serengeti near the Mara River, the central part of the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the Manyara National Park.
ADS’ advice on preparation was so helpful. My family tends to over pack, so their advice on bringing carry-ons only was insightful. Each of our party had one carry-on for the entire trip. And we were so happy we did. We witnessed another family at the airport, who were going on safari with another organization but had no luggage because the airline lost theirs. I can only imagine the issues that such a negative start to a safari had. Their headache was in the midst of the chaos that ensues during the passport control and the visa process at the Arusha airport.
We were so relieved and happy that ADS had a representative at the airport who took care of that process and shuttled us through it with relative ease.
We stayed at the African Tulip hotel, a traditional hotel with “better than five star” service and accommodations. We were so exhausted from our 16 hours of traveling when we arrived. The staff helped us choose dinner and escorted us to our warm and beautiful family suite. We stayed an extra night at the hotel at the suggestion of ADS and again, we were so glad we had the extra day to rest, prepare, and visit the “real” Arusha with our private guides, Joseph “senior” and Joseph “junior”.
The luxury tents while we were in the Bush were just that. We’ve never experienced such service and furnishings in a tent. The talking showers were the best with hot water at our beacon call. However, the people made these stays so memorable. Kind, responsive, funny, attentive, and proactive are just a few adjectives that come to mind for the staff at the Mara River Camp, Sametu Camp, and Lions Paw.
I especially liked waking up in the predawn hours to a personal wakeup person outside our tent with a hot cup of coffee and coco for us.
At the heart of our trip was the safari itself and specifically the game drives led by our personal guide and driver, Ally. Ally made our trip special and unforgettable with his knowledge, experience, and personable style. You know you have the best guide on the Serengeti when other guides are asking questions and learning from Ally. From the time we landed at airfield on the Mara River, Ally helped us make the best of time in Africa.
Right from the plane, we adventured on our first game drive. The drive started at 11 am and ended just before dusk at 6. We saw so many animals that first day including a herd of elephants crossing the Mara River and a close up view of a pride of lions with their cubs.
But the highlight was during a late lunch on a hill above the famous “Number Seven” crossing, I looked down at the river and saw our first wildebeest crossing. We immediately zoomed down the hill and had front row seats of this magnificent sight, which included a crocodile near miss of taking down a zebra during the crossing.
Wow, our first hours on the Serengeti were spectacular!
Ally made the entire trip worthwhile. We rose before dawn pretty much everyday and went on full day game drives. The weather was perfect with animals out all day. Our boxed lunches provided by the camp, were usually under a shady Acacia tree, watching wildebeest and zebra graze around us. In addition we had the unique experience of seeing a two hour crossing.
Watching thousands upon thousands of wildebeest and zebras cross the Mara River for two hours was unimaginable. Our days were filled with lions, leopards, and cheetahs in the Central Serengeti. Ngorongoro Crater allowed us to have the animals within a few feet of our safari vehicle. One large male lion even decided to mark his territory on our vehicle!
In total, we saw over 60 species of animals on our safari, made possible by the binocular eyesight of Ally. This included the Big Five and hippos, but also included so many species of antelope, birds, reptiles, and mammals.
We can’t thank ADS enough for helping our family have such a “once in a lifetime” experiences on this trip. Also, we want to give a special thanks to our guide Ally. We will miss his knowledge, photography lessons, humor, and personable nature.
Our family would highly recommend ADS for any safari trip to Tanzania!
Mark and Katherine H.
Flemington, New Jersey
Safari Dates: August 15, 2017 to August 24, 2017