Ours was a small extended-family group, me (66), my daughter (32), and two of my sisters (60, 58). ADS was thorough, flexible, and accommodating in working through the myriad details of planning the trip. Upon arriving in-country, ADS staff were very helpful and courteous while also ensuring that key transitions were trouble-free, e.g., arrival and processing at Kilimanjaro, drive to Arusha, departure on small plane from Arusha to the Serengeti, and eventual departure from Kilimanjaro at the end.
We of course spent many days and long hours with Russell, our ADS guide and driver of the Toyota Land Cruiser. He was masterful in navigating and maneuvering the vehicle to find, view and photograph countless interesting animals. Am happy to report that we saw all of the so-called Big Five!
Even seeing the same type of animal, e.g., lion, leopard, elephant, on different days in more than one kind of natural setting (dusty plains of Serengeti, lush treed area of Ngorongoro Crater, wetlands of Lake Masek) was unexpectedly delightful. He had encyclopedic knowledge of all the birds and animals that we saw, occasionally pulling out a well-worn birding guide to share additional insights.
We encountered an example of a less-experienced guide (another company, not ADS!) who had gotten his vehicle and group of Italian clients stuck in the mud while taking early morning photos of baby hippos. They didn’t have AAA there, so were happy that we came by after waiting for several hours – Russell was successful in towing them out of the mud.
Russell’s ability to spot various animals, little and big, was almost supernatural. He could detect a lion in a tree or a black rhino in a grassy plain at such a great distance with his naked eye that we almost could not discern them even with binoculars.
The trip was not entirely about seeing the animals. We spent part of one day with the Hadzabe tribe, a protected primitive hunter-gatherer tribe, where we accompanied them in the bush to collect honey from wild bees, saw a baboon being skinned (that meat is a delicacy), and participated in dancing.
A later part of the same day was spent with the Datoga tribe, a metal-working tribe who trades metal arrowheads to the Hadzabe and fashions decorative bracelets and jewelry fashioned via hand-operated bellows and charcoal-fired smelting of locally-collected scrap metal and working it via hand tools. My daughter and sisters came back with a lot of beautiful bracelets.
On another day we made a side trip to the Olduvai Gorge and museum. The area is nicknamed the “Cradle of Mankind” because of the 1-2 million-year-old hominids discovered there. We learned why the volcanic history of the area makes it attractive to excavate the various layers for evidence of early man.
We were all agreed that it was the trip of a lifetime. Having experienced it (and reading some of the other testimonials), a second trip to Tanzania is a distinct possibility.
Mark and Anna M.
Ellicott City, MD; Washington, DC
Safari Dates: April 12, 2023 to April 21, 2023