After our 3rd ADS safari, we would like to say “three safaris, three dreams come true”, but it just wouldn’t be accurate. In our wildest imaginations, we never dreamed of going on 3 safaris! Thankfully, ADS helped elevate our dreams to a higher standard through treasured, awe filled memories — each unique and new.
ADS is simply the pinnacle standard for safaris! Their consistent distinction in planning, execution and uncompromising commitment to an over-the-top personal experience is nothing short of astonishing. For each of our 3 safaris Sharon, Michael and the Tanzania ground team not only took care of everything with meticulous detail, they treated us like family and were wholeheartedly excited for us.
Upon arrival in Arusha the new VIP lounge & staff made the processing easy, comfortable and fast! From welcoming smiles, ice cold drinks, luggage retrieval, and separate immigration officers, it was a flawless and appreciated operation.
Mathias was outside waiting for us once again. The light in his smile and his warm ‘welcome home’ touched our hearts and told us we were indeed ‘home’ again. Having Mathias explain in detail what to expect for the next 2 days and having him accompany us on two outings was wonderful.
This trip he took us to the Poli Village. We picked up the Council Chairman, a caring and competent leader, on the way to the local school and clinic. Both visits were humbling and inspiring. The school was spartan with shared benches and worn blackboards. They had none of the luxuries of western schools (laptops, library, desks, videos, labs, etc) yet their degree of seriousness about learning, strict academic curriculum and the visual reinforcement through art work on the walkways seemed to erase the seeming disadvantages. The clinic was barebones but the people were so grateful to have it.
The next day our hearts soared when we saw our guide Benard! To share the safari experience with him for a second time was a surprise of pure joy! We were underway with grateful hearts and felt like no time had passed since we saw him last!
There are rare souls who make you better simply by their presence and character…Benard is one of those people. His competence as a guide and safe driver once again earned our complete trust and admiration…’safety first and extraordinary experience always’ on both safaris!
His always being on time, the vehicle always clean inside and out (despite dust, dust, dust!) and his devotion to maximizing every minute of the game drives reflected his consummate work ethic. Coupled with his quiet sense of humor, his depth of knowledge & experience filled every day with fun, unbelievable settings and fascinating learning about the wildlife and their behaviors. We will always hold him dear as a true blessing and as family.
This trip we went with friends for their first safari. We encouraged them to have a separate vehicle so they could experience the invaluable private relationships with nature and their own guide.
We expected to see them at camp breakfast and dinner but ADS built in surprises that delighted us all! We left before day break one morning and thought we were having our own box breakfast on the game drive. We drove past a logical point for the breakfast break and drove on to a secluded spot with a fantastic view. There we found smiling members of the Lion’s Paw team welcoming us to the surprise breakfast they had set up and waiting for both vehicles!
There was a beautiful table setting and a fantastic buffet including made-to-order eggs/omelets! Along with their efforts, breakfast with our friends, a fantastic view and several Maribu storks it couldn’t have been better.
ADS, Benard and Russell (our friends’ guide) and the camp teams were masters at surprise and coordination for the 4 of us. We were like giddy children as our vehicles came from different directions to discover and share the sizzling Sametu bush BBQ lunch and bush dinner back at camp, the bush box lunch in the midst of the wildebeest migration, the Kirawira sundowner on the deck overlooking the plains with cocktails & snacks before driving out to the bush for an elegant fireside dinner with a dramatic flame dessert and Kwaheri cake!
A welcoming team member singing “the lion sleeps tonight” cracked us up! Our happiness at these surprises for the 4 of us was only exceeded by our gratitude for the extraordinary effort the camps invested to make them happen. Wow factor of 10 for food and experience!
Also new this trip was a visit to the Iraqw village. Absolutely fascinating! Daniel, the tribal leader and real renaissance man, immediately captivated us with his expansive knowledge of the United States (including every state’s size and capital), his storytelling, his engineering feats and his ability to throw spears! We saw the earth home he built 50 years ago so his children would know how the Iraqw lived. It was still so sturdy an elephant could stand on top of it. We also saw the more modern home he built for his children and a manure/methane converter which supplied gas for the stove. Brilliant.
Heart-thumping wildlife highlights happened multiple times every day. Observing new behaviors and with new info, we marveled at the perfection and complexity of Nature. Benard and Russell worked as a seamless team, sharing sightings and multiplying our “oh my gosh” moments.
Here are just a few of our favorite wildlife sightings:
A large pride of 3 males, 4 females and 12 cubs on our first day in the Serengeti: We watched as the cubs seemed to compete for “most adorable’” with their antics while the moms napped and cuddled as they nursed rotating cubs. We knew how special this was and savored every minute of it. What a family!
Two lions mated just off the road right next to us: At “the finishing moment”, both simultaneously emitted an enormous roar that left us wide-eyed and speechless at the part of the cycle of life we just witnessed.
We watched a lioness purvey the plains from on top of a termite mound: Cheetahs are known to do this but not lions so it was very special.
“That’s a cheetah” Benard exclaimed: We saw absolutely nothing in the vast expanse of the Serengeti plains. But sure enough, there was a cheetah and it let us get very close and patiently posed for us.
We saw a leopard in a tree with its wildebeest kill: A magnificent animal sleeping on a large tree limb so we had a perfect view. The next morning we went back and he was still there and awake! Absolutely exquisite in the early morning light!
We had several breataking close elephant encounters: One such encounter was in the forest within the Crater. There was a herd of 15 elephants just off the road. We watched with amazement how gently the moms avoided stepping on the sleeping babies.
After about 10 minutes, we heard a very loud sound, a low, extended grumbling. It was the bull signaling it was time to move on. They all lined up and started to cross the road, quietly enveloping our vehicle. You could have heard a pin drop. In the midst of the crossing, a precious baby decided it wanted to nurse so the mom just stopped and patiently let him nurse until the baby was ready to move on.
One of the other encounters was finding a very very old elephant. His massive tusks reached the ground! And whether injury or talent, he could flap one ear or both ears!
A beautiful colobus monkey rewarded our patience with a rare out-in-the-open pose.
And ohhh, the jawdropping, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. The glory and silence caused us to turn to our hearts and souls to pause and ponder, setting aside all intellectual thoughts and worries. Healing, spiritual moments we cherish.
All of the people, from Mathias, to Benard and Russell, to the camp teams are absolutely genuine and happy — no empty trained phrases, no tainted agendas, just smiles that emanate from the inside that generate an instantaneous, contagious connection. Endearing and unforgettable.
Though we had so many new experiences, how we felt at the end of our first and second safaris holds indelibly true once again.
To ADS and all the camps,
please know you are the best;
And Benard it was an honor true,
a gift of time, oh we were blessed.
Our hearts warmed by family afar,
our heads now full by insights driven:
Our souls are stirred and uplifted,
our gratitude to God humbly given.
Clayton and Donna
Kansas City, Missouri
Safari dates: June 1, 2023 to June 10, 2023