Just Us And A Million Wildebeest!

Trip of a lifetime! Amazing! Epic! Having just returned from 14 days in Tanzania it is hard to imagine how the trip could have been better. I texted my safari consultant at the end expressing my excitement and satisfaction from truly an ‘African Dream Safari’. I had thought this was a once in a lifetime trip but now hoping I can find a way to return with my wife so she can experience safari.

It’s a special year with my son Jack graduating high school and me recently retiring and so this trip was a chance to celebrate that. Our trip began with a 7 day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro which found us standing on the roof of Africa on Feb 19th. This mountain had been our next goal after climbing many of the cascade volcanoes including Mount Rainier last summer. My son has his sights on a future Denali climb.

The next 6 days were the most wonderful safari experience we could have hoped for. Faisal met with us at our hotel as we were changing mindset from climbing to safari and briefed us on what to expect in the coming week. He then met us promptly the next morning to take us to the domestic airport for our bush flight to Seronera. We had VIP treatment from check in to boarding our plane as the only two passengers. We flew over the Ngorongoro crater and even had seen giraffe, elephant and ostrich before our safari had begun. We were met by Bernard who would be our wonderful guide and driver for the remainder of the time.

Within the first 30 minutes of arriving in Serengeti, we saw a leopard in a sausage tree. Knowing this is often a hard animal to locate, I knew it was a sign of good things to come as we watched the leopard eye his surrounding and ultimately climb down out of the tree.

That first day had us seeing hippos, giraffe, elephants, zebra, impalas, gazelle, hartebeast, cheetahs and most all of them had babies or juveniles with them. Being our first day, each one was a new treat and we marveled in awe that we were seeing these animals in their natural habitat and in some cases only feet from our vehicle. Little did I know that over the course of the week, I would see literally thousands if not hundreds of thousands of some of these same animals. It was nice having just us in the vehicle so that we had unobstructed views and could linger with our favorite animals like the giraffes.

At the end of the day, Bernard took us to Seronera Sametu Camp which was the perfect combination of location, scenery and luxury. We had been told these were luxury tented properties but I had no idea such luxury was possible in the bush. The staff was so attentive always anticipating our desire. It was great to sit by the fire pit and share with other guests about our experiences. It also gave me appreciation for the things that ADS does to set them apart as the other guests while enjoying themselves didn’t have a company that went that extra mile. After dinner they even had s’mores supplies for us to make by the fire. Who would have thought in the bush halfway around the world I could be toasting marshmallows with my son.

Our second day took us to Barafu where we discovered the great migration. It started with about 30 wildebeest making their way in front of us and Bernard signaled this was the start of them arriving into the area. And by lunch, we were surrounded by, I kid you not, a million wildebeests. Literally from our car to the horizon were wildebeest in every direction. And there was not another safari vehicle to be found. Just us…a million wildebeest and perhaps ten thousand zebra.

We had lunch in the bush…and I gained a new appreciation for Bernard’s eagle eye as he circled the area to check that the coast was clear only to spot 3 lions lounging beneath a tree before deciding upon an alternate spot for us to eat. We saw Lions, Hyena, Jackals, Eland and Flamingos, Cheetahs and more.

I was a bit dumbstruck at just how many animals we saw and that we essentially had them all to ourselves. Could it get any better? On our way back to Sametu camp we came across 8 elephants making their way to our camp. So as we cleaned up for dinner the elephants were in our front yard. We were treated to a celebration bush dinner and since I was the “elder” received a beautiful Maasai talking stick.

Day 3 had us leaving Sametu headed towards eastern Serengeti and the Woodlands Camp for the next 2 nights. Hippos, Crocodile, Elephants, Giraffe, Warthogs, Gazelle, and oh so many lions. We had lions on rocks, lions in trees, lions feasting on a kill and many lions in food comas sleeping from their morning feasts.

You would think it would all blend together, but it doesn’t, who could tire from seeing any of these animals in their glorious surroundings. Again, just being the two of us with Bernard, we could linger with my son’s favorite giraffes or entertain my desire to get the 100th photo of a baby zebra or lions in the tree.

Woodlands camp was equally wonderful and we loved that it was a true “tent”. We heard hyenas at night and had a giraffe walk thru camp just before dinner. We had an equally wonderful day 4 exploring Lake Ndutu for its amazing birds and countless giraffe.

Day 5 we left Serengeti and on the way to the Ngorongoro we stopped at Oldupai gorge and Maasai village. I highly recommend both if its your first or potentially only trip to Tanzania. The gorge isn’t visible from the road and only if you stop do you see the dramatic gorge and begin to understand the volcanic history and topography that allowed for this to be such a rich area archaeologically to trace the origin of man.

After a quick 45 minutes there we were off to the Maasai village. I was a little concerned reading that some had become overly touristy but Bernard assured us the one he planned was less so and more authentic. Again it was a quick stop but one I very much enjoyed getting to see the Maasai way of life and participate in their song and dance. On we went to the crater rim and then descent into the garden of eden.

Ngorongoro crater was a scenic change from the Serengeti with more amazing wildlife. Baboons greeted us as we hit the crater floor and quickly spotted black rhino completing the famous “big 5”. We were treated to some sights of less frequently seen animals such as Serval.

Another amazing day only to be topped off with a visit to Lions Paw camp. This is a must experience camp. To our surprise we dined alone next to two campfires with a celebration of our last night in Africa. Only regret was not doing a second night at lions paw as this property was phenomenal.

We awoke with a bit of sadness as it was our last day but we packed in a lot with a morning game drive in the caldera seeing more rhino and all kinds of elephants, a stop for souvenirs and a visit to Lake Manyara where we enjoyed the monkeys and baboons as well as spotted a new antelope that we hadn’t seen elsewhere, a klipspringer. And finally we arrived at the Arusha Coffee Lodge with a short stint in a day room to get freshened up and packed for our trip home. Mathias and Bernard took us to the airport and we said good bye.

African Dream Safaris is the company to go with and they were wonderful every step of the way from booking over a year ago, navigating thru COVID precautions and VIP level service in country. Worth every penny! Thank you ADS!

Jason and Jack B.
Auburn, Washington
Safari Dates: February 21, 2022 to February 26, 2022