This was a long anticipated trip at the top of our bucket list. We had looked for several years at various safari tour companies, mostly group tours until we discovered Africa Dream Safaris and their private tours. We are two couples who have traveled all over the world for over twenty years.
We initiated our conversations with Michael a year before our trip and with his assistance decided to travel in the late September, early October time frame, between the dry season and rainy season. Seeing the wildebeest migration was a high priority as was seeing as many animals as possible, especially cats. With the help of our expert guide, David, we accomplished both!
On our second day out, we discovered a large heard of wildebeest drifting towards the famous Mara River. We followed them for several hours as they continued to move. David knew if they kept moving in the direction they were moving, they would arrive at the Mara River and a crossing was probable. He was of course right.
The meandering herd of thousands reached the river and once the leaders crossed the others followed creating the world famous roaring and thrashing crossing. It lasted for what seemed hours. It was all we had hoped it would be. Unfortunately, not all the wildebeest made it safely across as large crocodiles were also watching and moved in with one wilder beast falling victim.
Our safaris across Tanzania continued for the next 6 days with many daily drives starting at sunrise and often ending at sunset. On a couple occasions we choose to take a break and spend the afternoons and evenings lounging around our camps. There were usually animals within sight anyway.
We stayed in three “tented camps” and two “lodges” as well as the layover and dayroom at the Lake Duluti Lodge. Arriving a day early is a no brainer, always do it!
The others were the Mara River Camp, TASA Lodge, Seronera Sametu Camp and the Maramboi Tented Lodge and the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. Each had unique features, characteristics and events, but ALL had excellent food and great service! Most offered a chicken, a beef and either a vegetarian or fish dish every night and almost always soup and salads. The salads were great but the soups were fantastic! The chefs in the remote locations do a fantastic job and are highly skilled. We saw or felt a few flies and mosquitos but they were never a nuisance.
TASA Lodge, formerly the Buffalo Luxury Camp, stands out. It was recently purchased by TASA and is built into the side of a mountain with fantastic views and beautiful facilities. There we had a short, walking, night safari to a mountain top outdoor dinner with sundowners followed by a thrilling night game drive.
Seronera Sametu Camp seemed to attract lions! They seemed to be everywhere, even around the tents at dinner time. We had to interrupt our outdoor dinner one night as a vocal male lion passed by, a little scary but a thrilling experience! A couple of bright flash lights sent him on his way. The next morning two female lions were in the area, maybe at the request of the male. All camps and lodges are on the lookout for such visitors and are prepared for these events.
As we crossed Tanzania over the next several days, we saw animal after animal. Thousands of wildebeest, hundreds of gazelles, impalas and zebras. Also, lots of hyenas, warthogs and even large groups of mongoose as well as an occasional baboon family, cape buffalo, water buck and various birds including a barn owl in a huge baobab tree! More elephants, giraffes and hippopotamuses than we could reasonably count and lots of lions! We even saw a couple of leopards and cheetahs, and even one rhinoceros.
Many sightings were very close and in large groups. Herds of elephants within 50 ft. and lions walking along side our land rover. Giraffes eating tree tops close enough to hear the chopping and chewing. And gazelles and impalas grazing and striding everywhere.
Our travels included the Serengeti, Mara River, Maasai tribal lands, Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, and the beautiful Silale swamp lands. Each with their own unique landscapes, grasses and trees, adding to the safari experience. Common though was the hospitality and genuineness of the Tanzania people. Proud of their country and welcoming to all who visit. They love tourists, even the Maasai in some ways. Mainly because of their money and their willingness to purchase the Maasai crafts.
We were fortunate enough to visit one of their villages and they willing shared their lifestyles and philosophies with us, many very different than ours and even to many others in Tanzania. But they are a proud people who have lived off the land for decades and have a unique story.
On another day we had the opportunity to visit the FAME Medical Center in Karatu. It’s a regional renown hospital and is the Foundation for African Medicine and Education. It is a charitable organization that was founded to provide quality medical care to the local people living in rural Tanzania. It’s also created cost effective ways of providing medical supplies and equipment to Tanzania.
We were provided a tour of the facilities and an opportunity meeting and talk with some of the staff. The dedication of the staff and doctors is remarkable. The work they do is clearly life changing to many.
You can of course do all the planning you want but the key, as always is in the execution. One person has more to do with this than anyone and that’s your driver and guide. David did this for us. His key contribution was really his spotting of animals and his knowledge of where the animals were or would be.
David could drive the roughest maze of roads and watch for animals at the same time, and I’m pretty sure he only has two eyes! He did this for hours, even days at a time, yet we were the ones who wanted all the breaks! He did a marvelous job and we are very grateful.
Thanks to Michael and David for a fulfilled bucket listing!
Dwain and Lynne H.
Safari Dates: October 02, 2018 to October 10, 2018