The Flying Leopard!

We landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport and were met by African Dream Safari representatives and, from that moment on, they took care of every single detail. After spending two nights in Arusha we flew to the Grameti Airstrip in the Western Serengeti and met Bennett, our driver-guide, who immediately became our friend. He quickly honed in to what we really wanted to see and do over the next eight days. It became obvious that he had an uncanny ability to know where our favorite wildlife were and he took us there. Although we saw thousands of migrating wildebeest and zebras, most of the pictures which follow are of single, or just a few, of a given species. We were amazed at how close Bennett could get our vehicle to the animals and/or get the animals to come to us.

Without question, the highlight photo of the entire safari has to be of the “flying leopard.” After some tracking of a leopard in tall grass, Bennett pointed out the leopard, mostly behind the right side of the tree. It kept moving its head from behind the tree but not far enough to get a good picture. Fred feared that he might not get any picture so he decided the next even small view of the leopard’s head would be the picture. Behold! None of us could believe Fred captured the “flying leopard” at the exact right moment. We later saw another leopard in a tree but could not get a picture.

Bennett spotted the black rhino in an area where we could see it off and on but could not get really close. As the rhino got near the top of the hill, Bennett took the vehicle to the other side of the hill where the rhino was coming down the hill toward the road. Bennett chose our spot on the road and said ”I think it will come directly toward us.” Sure enough, the rhino came to the road between us and a few other vehicles. As it started to cross the road, something spooked it and it turned toward us and walked past us within 20-25 feet.

A close-up view of a male lion is representative of many situations where we could get really close to lion(s). On one very narrow road across a spillway, a male lion was laying so close to the road, we had to stop until it moved its tail farther off the road for us to get by.

Another uncanny decision by Bennett – across a deep ditch and long grass, he spotted some lions going in the opposite direction. He quickly turned the vehicle around, drove to a crossing over the ditch and headed toward where he had spotted the lions. How delightful – 6 adult lions and 15 cubs coming directly down the road toward us and actually passed by us on the road. If Bennett had not followed his intuition, we would have been behind the lions with a much poorer view!

After the lions passed us on the road, these four cubs stopped to play on the dead tree.

Close-up of one of many zebras which allowed us to clearly see the stripe pattern (including on the tail). We saw thousands of zebras and wildebeests during the entire safari. On one game drive, the migration line stretched as far as we could see in both directions. At a couple of points, the line broke up to go on both sides of our vehicle.

Close-up of a giraffe. One day we counted nearly 90 giraffes with up to 21 in a single group.

Two cheetahs of the 3 we saw. They blend in so well with the grasses.

Two elephants of the dozens we saw; most were much farther away.

A scene at the hippo pool showing different sizes with some farther out of the water. It was difficult to get good pictures with a hippo completely out of the water.

We had several “events” involving people rather than wildlife. Our visit with the Hadzabe tribe (nomads) was the best – a big highlight of our whole trip. The Hadzabe number just under 1000 with 300-400 living as hunters – gatherers. The camp we visited was small. Married couples, women/girls and smaller children live in thatched huts. Single men and older boys live in caves or under bushes/trees; there was a rather large cave used by the camp we visited and they were very proud of it.

They had taken animal hides to cover the ground in the cave and wanted us to go in the cave to see them and we did. Camps are moved due to lack of natural food (honey, fruit, berries, etc.) and wild game (birds and small animals), illness and death, seasonal migration, conflict, etc. Baboon is their favorite meat and they use the baboon hides to make jackets or blankets.

The hunters carry bows, poisoned and non-poisoned arrows (poison and antidotes come from local plants), knives and axes. Smaller children, with at least one older girl/women, stay in the camp during the day. The other women forage for berries, baobab fruit, tubers and honey. At least one adult male usually accompanies the women. Note the killed birds on the “belts” of the boys in the above picture.

Brenda and Fred with a group of children in the Hadzabe camp. The children were so much fun and so lovable!

Brenda and Fred saying good-bye to our driver-guide and friend Bennett from African Dream Safaris. What a guy! What an incredible safari!

We had planned an African Safari in the late 1990’s with another company and different itinerary but cancelled due to U.S. Government advised travel restrictions due to a bombing and revolt in Kenya. This turned out to be the best thing for us. We had resigned ourselves to no African Safari until we received a major gift contribution from our son and daughter and their families.

We will always feel blessed to have finally completed this on our bucket list and to have found African Dream Safaris. Thanks to our family and ADS, this was truly a dream trip of a lifetime. Everything associated with ADS and the safari was beyond our wildest dreams!

We could not imagine anything better than what we received from Michael Wishner and Bennett. THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU and every single person associated with African Dream Safaris! You are absolutely the best!

Brenda and Fred T.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Safari Dates: May 24, 2017 to June 02, 2017

1 Comment Leave a Comment

  1. My wife and I had Bennett as our guide as well when we went on safari in September. You are right that he is truly an exceptional guide with a sixth sense for knowing where the animals are and the best approach for seeing them. Your account brought back wonderful memories.

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