Several years ago we took a once in a lifetime trip with ADS. It was incredible! The fact that we controlled the adventure was perfect for us – if we wanted to hang back and watch something, we could. Having our own dedicated driver guide made that possible. The guides and the camps were exceptional, and the people we dealt with were helpful, friendly, and went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed ourselves.
This year we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, and we wanted to do something very special to celebrate. A repeat trip to Africa quickly became the obvious choice. We had worked with Sharon Lyon on our first trip so we contacted her for this trip, and she assured us she could make the trip memorable. We were not disappointed!
After a night at Mount Meru and a short flight to the Seronera airport, we met our guide for the next 10 days, Michael. Michael’s knowledge of the birds and animals was extensive, and he was more than willing to teach us as he drove. He used animal tracks, what the birds were doing, sounds, and how the animals usually behaved to anticipate actions and locate reclusive subjects. On several occasions this allowed us to be where the action unfolded instead of where others were watching.
Early in the trip Michael asked what we wanted to see. On our previous trip, we told him we had only seen a very few male lions and they were scraggly juveniles. We also mentioned we wanted to see a kill, and some rhinos up close. And, by the way, a tiger! The tiger comment became the running joke of the safari – Michael kept telling us we were close! On every other task, however, he overachieved! We saw over 140 lions and at least 50 very good looking mature males.
Some of our favorite sights were the lionesses lounging in the trees. One tree had over a dozen. Micheal’s knowledge of animal behavior and his ability to predict actions allowed us to witness lionesses catch and kill a wildebeest. After watching some lionesses get out of a tree he knew they were going to try to catch a wildebeest from a nearby herd. While the other tours watched the remaining lionesses in the tree, he positioned us to watch the hunt unfold.
When the first lioness caught her prey, he had us close to the kill before the other two lionesses or any other tour vehicles arrived. (Yes, we did have to hold on for the ride!) It was something we never expected to see, and we were surprised and interested to see how the lioness suffocated its prey. We had the best spot to watch the drama unfold, and, because we had our own guide, we could stay there after others had left.
Thanks to Michael’s keen eye, we were fortunate enough to see a striped hyena and a caracal, both of which are rare sightings.
Since we had our own driver, we were able to spend time watching a leopard and her cub in a tree with their meal, a crazed hyena carrying a femur trying to outrun another hyena and several cheetah families hunting on the plains. One of the cheetah cubs was obviously eyeing our spare tire as a great lookout post, but Michael wisely decided to scoot the truck forward to discourage him.
We watched in amazement as a large herd of wildebeests crossed a lake, drowning a number of the little ones. Then, once on the other side, they swam back! Not the smartest animals on the planet!
Although the various animal sightings certainly didn’t disappoint, the special activities Sharon and ADS prepared for us were equally enjoyed.
At our first camp, Mbuzi Mawi, we were treated to a private Sundowner, which consisted of hors d’ orves (they called them bites) and drinks set up on rocks a little away from the camp while watching a beautiful sunset. We had our own private staff consisting of a hostess, waiters, bartenders and security. It was a phenomenal experience and really made us feel special.
Perhaps our favorite camp was Seronera Sametu Camp. We had stayed there before, and it is a more rustic camp with an extremely hospitable staff. Nestled on the plains you really get to enjoy the stunning scenery Africa has to offer. The staff met us after each day’s game drive with fresh washcloths and cold drinks, then a fire and drinks before dinner. This time, however, we had an extraordinary surprise. Jonas and his staff escorted us to a private table out on the Serengeti plains where we had a delicious fireside dinner under the stars.
We were then presented with a Maasai chieftain’s staff and a Maasai necklace while accompanied by the (somewhat distant) grunts of Cape buffalo and the roar of a lion. It was a truly magnificent way to celebrate our anniversary.
We finished up our safari at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro crater. After a full day game drive in the crater, with yet more lions, rhinos and more, we returned to the enjoy a splendid dinner. Once again we were honored with a chorus from the African wait staff and a delicious cake. A great ending to an extraordinary adventure!
Gary and Nancy P.
Safari Dates: March 24, 2018 to April 04, 2018