I am a professional cinematographer/photographer and a lover of Tanzania. With regards to wildlife, the two go hand in hand.
Like everyone leaving their comments here, I recently returned from the Serengeti. And again, it has left a huge impression. The fact that this was my 5th safari with Africa Dream Safaris alone speaks volumes… and writing an ordinary glowing “review” seems redundant. I’ve done that previously. So I’ve decided to include some pictures and address something that my friends often inquire about when I tell them about my trips to Africa… let’s call it “ What do I do next?”
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to go to Africa. After all, it’s not a hard decision once you do a little research. It’s one of the most magnificent places on planet earth. And let’s say you have already targeted Tanzania, because if you want to see wildlife and wild Africa… it’s the destination of choice. So ok… “Now what do I do?”
For starters, seek out a safari company that specializes in Tanzania. There are a lot (a whole lot) of companies that offer safaris to Tanzania… but very few that specialize in only Tanzania. These days, anyone can hire a decent photographer, a creative writer and put together a pretty nice looking website. But look deeper. You need a specialist. Africa Dreams Safaris is one such company.
If you want to go to Botswana, or Namibia or South Africa, they’re not your guys… but if you want to go to Tanzania… they should be at the top of your list. They only offer safaris in Tanzania and they know it like the back of their hand. There’s a lot of strength in that last sentence, believe me.
Second, seek out a company that specializes in private safaris. Deep down, everyone wants a private safari, and the safari companies know this. So almost everyone offers up a “private package”. Problem is, you typically get their packaged group safari with a different wrapper on it. Africa Dreams Safari’s ONLY offers private safaris. They specialize in them and I believe they are the only company in Tanzania that only offers private safaris. It’s what they do. When it comes to customizing and personalizing your trip… these are your people.
Thirdly, make a connection. By this, I mean make a personal connection with the safari company. Because let’s face it, these people are going to be responsible for how smoothly your trip goes, where you stay, how you get there, what you see… or don’t see. The people who pick up the phone when you call Africa Dream Safaris… be it Dawn or Sharon or Michael (the owner) are consumers of their own product. They haven’t just been on safari once or twice… they’ve been on safari 15, 20 times or more.
They’ve been to all of the lodges and all of the camps. They’ve been to Tanzania in every month of the year. So when you call them (they are in the United States), you’re going to get the real deal from people who have been there and know the ropes. This is huge in my opinion.
Africa is a big trip. For many people its an expensive trip, a once in a lifetime trip, a bucket list item. It’s far away and it can seem a little daunting at first. But trust me on this, ADS gets it right from the time you step off the plane until they wave goodbye to you when you get back on. Their hand holding is unsurpassed and tastefully done.
Fourth… ask questions about your guide and your vehicle. These two things are often overlooked but are hugely important. After all, you’re going to spend a lot of time in that vehicle and a lot of time with that guide. You will meet as strangers and leave as friends, trust me on this one.
I opt for the traditional hard sided safari vehicle. It offers a lot of advantages over the open sided vehicles typically used in south Africa (but are showing up in Tanzania). It can get dusty out there and in Tanzania you can travel far from your lodging to find the game. Make sure your safari company doesn’t limit the distance their drivers can travel from camp, some do. It’s a big place and this will be your mobile home.
The hard sided vehicle offers a level of comfort and security (typically you get closer to wildlife in a hard sided vehicle) that you just don’t get in the open sided vehicles. Plus, you’re going to want to hear what your guide has to say and not just the wind rushing by.
As for your guide, Africa Dreams Safaris puts a lot of time, effort and thought into the the safari family they have assembled. Your guide sets the tone for your safari. All of the guides I have become friends with over the years at ADS speak wonderful english, have interesting personalities and are encyclopedias of knowledge when it comes to Tanzania. They are also all local. You’ll learn a lot about their culture as well as the animals.
All of them have been educated at wildlife universities or continuing wildlife education facilities. Not to mention being wonderful drivers. There Serengeti can be tricky to maneuver. They are like human maps. I am always amazed. They are also wonderful “spotters”. This is important. Amazingly they can see things that you and I would normally drive by unnoticed.
Finally, put together an itinerary that you’ll never forget. The sky is the limit. Admittedly, right now you may “not even know what you don’t know”. That’s understandable. There are a lot of ways to see Tanzania. Some people stay their entire trip at the fancy lodges. Some people opt for a luxury tented experience. Africa Dream Safaris has no ownership in any of the lodging offerings in the Serengeti and that is a good thing. They are not held hostage to any accommodations and they have very good relationships with all of them.
For you (or me) that offers a real advantage. Because once they get to know your hopes and dreams for your trip, they can suggest a variety of itineraries and lodging experiences that will rock your world. For what it’s worth, from someone who has been there many times, I think a combination of a lodge and a luxury tented camp experience is the best. Moving once or twice throughout the time you stay in Tanzania will really give you a feeling of “being there”.
I could go on (and on) but I think the point has been made. I am a fan of Africa Dreams Safaris. I stumbled upon them for my first trip to Africa and I feel very lucky to have been so fortunate. They are my safari company and always will be in Tanzania. I don’t own any part of them and I am not on salary there… but they feel like family. You can’t get a higher recommendation than that.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Safari Dates: April 29, 2018 to May 06, 2018