The Greatest Experience Of Our Lives

People keep asking about our African Safari and it’s still hard to put into words. We have told people that if we could use one word to describe the trip, it would be “SURREAL”! All the planning for the perfect safari was easy with African Dream Safaris. Sharon Lyon walked us through the process step by step. She allowed me to plan the trip to fit our wants, needs and budget making it a success from the start.

I’m a professional photographer and a client that owns many of my wildlife prints wanted more. The couple decided to send me to Africa to take pictures so they could have more wildlife prints for their home.

During each search for safari companies, I continued to come back to A.D.S. Reading great reviews, seeing that they used stretch land cruisers and only offered private safaris got my attention. It was really important for me to be in an area that wasn’t as crowded with a lot of other safari vehicles in my photos. Tanzania was definitely the location I wanted and ADS quickly became the best choice for us.

As we arrived in Kilimanjaro and exited the plane, our spirits were high and filled with anticipation. As we approached the building with a few hundred others, we immediately saw someone waiting to greet us. There were only three signs with names on them to greet the incoming passengers and two were from ADS (all the rest were waiting outside after everyone went through security and got their visa’s approved).

We were greeted and then asked for all our paperwork and passports. We were then brought upfront to wait as he went into an office and showed our documents (a few hundred others started to get into line and figure out the process). We were out the door with luggage in approximately 30 minutes. We actually felt bad for people as we guessed they would be waiting for several hours.

We were again greeted by our driver who loaded all our gear up and drove us to our resort. We were greeted, luggage brought to our room. After 1-1/2 days we were picked up early morning and brought to Arusha Airport for our short flight to start our safari. An ADS representative was with us every step of the way. The flight provided us with a beautiful view. To say we were excited was a huge understatement.

Once we arrived, our ADS Guide George greeted us warmly and brought our bags and equipment to our Private Safari Vehicle. George asked us, “so what are some of the things you hope to see on your safari”? We started with cheetah and went on. George smiled and said that he would do his best to make sure we saw as much as possible (we had no idea we would see so much including 5 species of cats).

The people were incredible, from our wonderful Guide George to each GM at each tent camp. Everyone went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed and wanted. They were such gracious host! Each day we returned from safari, a couple people greeted us with warm washcloths to wipe away the dust from the day on the road. They carried all our equipment to and from the vehicle and tent.

The first night as my wife got into bed after an amazing day, she yelled “Yay” there’s a hot water bottle in the bed on each side to warm and relax us for a good night sleep. But the day still wasn’t over. Next we encountered one of the most incredible experiences of our lives. Hearing all the animals communicate with each other while we lay in bed absorbing it all. The zebras were very active and it was great.

We woke to the unmistakable sounds of lions roaring! We are 55 years old but felt like excited kids. It’s hard to describe how much we could not wait to get back out there and see it all.

The first two days were a blur. By noon on the second day, we had seen the Big-5 and so much more. George spotted everything, and we mean everything. We affectionally named him Eagle Eye on day two as he saw animals close to a quarter mile away that we never saw until getting close. The Great Migration (3X’s), Lions, zebra, cheetah, elephant, leopard, giraffe, serval cat, caracal cat, cape buffalo, hippos, black rhino’s, hyena, African Hoop Bird, etc.. etc..

This was a working trip for me and I knew I had to come back with incredible images for my client. After a few days I no longer had concerns, it was evident I would go home with incredible prints. Following every safari day I took approximately 2-3hrs charging camera batteries, cleaning all 5 cameras and lenses along with saving and indexing all images.

The accommodations were great. We decided on doing all tent camps as they were located close to all the action. Now before you say “no way would I tent camp in Africa” please continue reading. The regular 4 post beds were as nice as the ones in our home. Add in running water, regular toilets like home and hot showers. There was a desk for me to do my photo work each night. A couch and comfortable chair to lounge in and relax while we enjoyed a glass of wine or cold beer. Yes, more like glamping!

Each camp site was wonderful in it’s own way mostly because of the people working there. One camp actually made us a cake as they seemed to enjoy us as much as we enjoyed them. We accepted the wonderful gesture as long as they joined us. We all talked for well over an hour and it made us feel so welcome and comfortable.

As for food, Sharon Lyon had asked once we booked if there was any food restrictions either my wife or I had. I’m lactose intolerant so each camp we ate at had made special deserts or soup and meals without dairy. We had so many different meals it was great. The dining tents were very nice and different in each camp. We enjoyed fresh made soups, salads, chicken, fish, lamb, burgers, stir fry, vegetables, eggs, etc, etc..

On most days we left camp before sunrise so we could watch the sun come up over the Serengeti or in the Ngorongoro Crater. Absolutely gorgeous! When we did, the chef at the camp got up extra early to make sure we had a nice boxed breakfast (most included 2-3 different kinds of fruit, hardboiled eggs, fresh made crepes, toast, bacon and or ham, hot coffee or tea, etc.. Most lunches consisted of two kinds of fruit, a piece of grilled chicken, a PBJ sandwich, a veggie wrap and a brownie or cookie etc). On a few mornings we slept in and had breakfast in the dining tent.

When we arrived at the Taasa Private Reserve Camp in Northern Serengeti, we pulled up and were greeted by song. A large group was waiting for us along with GM Jake. It was amazing and we loved the unique greeting. This was not your ordinary camp, this place was incredible. Tucked high in the mountains with regular buildings and a swimming pool, this place was like a 5 star resort.

We get checked in and had a butler assigned to us for our stay. His name was Wilson and he was so excellent! We were then escorted to go to a private bon fire at the very top of the mountain by Jake the GM and a warrior to ensure safe passage as animals can wander through camp at any time. A short walk up and we were greeted by Wilson who took our drink orders. We then got to chat with Jake and enjoy a roaring bon-fire as we watched a sunset. (Incredible) They had snacks and then brought us to a nearby table for a barbecue prepared for the two of us. Yes a private dinner for my wife and I on the top of a mountain. We were blown away with the hospitality and everyone working. The two chefs cooked a wonderful barbecue and we had an unbelievable time that we will never forget.

But the night wasn’t over as we were then taken on a night safari. Wow this was a cool experience. Our driver and spotter were excellent and guided us through in an open safari vehicle. Great experience seeing zebra, elephants and so much more at night.

The next morning we were taken by the same two people in the same open safari vehicle to a Maasai Village. The experience was one we won’t forget. The warm welcome from Chief Johnny and the Maasai tribe was very nice. We were given a tour of the village, Chief Johnnys home/hut and saw a demonstration from young men training to be warriors. Next we saw a traditional dance and were able to participate with them.

Each day more spectacular than the last, and so much wildlife to experience. Our guide George helped make the safari an experience we will never forget. There is so much more to write about but I won’t as you need to experience this amazing place for yourself.

If you want a private tour of Africa with every detail in place when you arrive, African Dream Safari is the group to use. The absolute most incredible trip we have ever done and we are well traveled. The people that hired me and sent me to Africa were speechless when I showed them a slideshow of the images I came back with. I hope to be back in the next 2 years.

John and Christel S.
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Safari Dates: September 21, 2018 to September 29, 2018


6 Comments Leave a Comment

  1. It was wonderful reading your story of your trip and such spectacular photos! Of course you have an edge on us, bring a professional photographer. We did the adventure in 2014, with our daughter and her family and all of us loved it and like you, the tented camps. Would love to do it again but no plans yet….

    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thank you, I could have written 4 more pages on all the wonderful experiences we had.
      Yes my pictures have made a big impact at art fares. I have more under the Africa folder at if you would like to browse.

      I bet your trip was amazing, especially getting to share all your experiences with your family.

      I’m in the beginning stages of setting up a group safari with ADS. Some of my photography students will come along with others that want a great experience along with personal daily photography instruction. I look forward to returning.

    1. Hi,
      Don’t worry if you don’t eat fish. Just advise your ADS person you’re booking through and your personal guide once you arrive and there will be other food available for you. ADS saw to every detail and concern we had. You will not be disappointed.

      June 5th, I’m excited for you, don’t forget to bring a descent camera with at least a reach of 300-400mm.


  2. That was a beautiful story to read. I have been to Tanzania three times with ADS. I felt like a novice on the first trip. By the third time, I felt like I was being welcomed home.

    1. Thank you

      Three times, you are a lucky lady Mary. I bet each trip was wonderful.

      I’m in the beginning stages of setting up a group safari with ADS. Some of my photography students will come along with others that want a great experience along with personal daily photography instruction. I look forward to returning.

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