Being Surrounded By Wildlife Each Day Was The Highlight Of Our Family’s Safari!

From the moment we arrived in Kilimanjaro, we were embraced as friends, and this warmth and hospitality continued until the very end of our journey. Our adventure began and ended at Arusha Coffee Lodge, which provided the perfect introduction and conclusion to our safari. We also highly recommend visiting the social enterprise ‘Shanga’ whilst you’re there, and making time to participate in one of their workshops for an inspirational experience.

Flying from Arusha to the Seronera Airstrip in Central Serengeti, we witnessed zebras and giraffes making way for the plane as we touched down. There, we were warmly welcomed by our guide Ellison, and our safari began.

Some say that this area gets its name from the local Maasai word ‘siringet’, meaning the place where the land moves on forever, or ‘endless plains’. It’s a fitting description, the landscape of the Serengeti is nothing short of breathtaking.

Ellison drove us through undulating savanna and rolling hills, dotted with granite outcrops known as kopjes, favourite resting spots for lions. Our safari also took us through woodlands, riverine forests, and soda lakes, showcasing Tanzania’s diverse scenery and habitats.

We spent nights surrounded by the sounds of lions roaring and hyenas whooping in the distance, and embraced the early mornings, heading out in search of wildlife in the cool air. The breakfast boxes and lunches provided by the lodges were ideal for our safari days, allowing us to maximize our time in the wilderness.

The Land Cruiser provided comfort and flexibility, allowing us to stand up with the breeze in our hair, scanning the surroundings for animals. Ellison kept the vehicle immaculate, and the fridge was always stocked with cold drinks. Our daily morning coffee stops were a pleasure, often in the company of iridescent starlings, pretty red-billed hornbills, colourful shrikes, beautiful lilac-breasted rollers, or territorial hippopotamuses.

Ellison’s knowledge and passion for his country was clearly evident, and his patience and skill as a guide allowed us to witness some intimate moments in nature, such as cheetah brothers relaxing together, baboons grooming each other, and the intricate specifics of lion mating rituals.

His enthusiasm mirrored our own, making every sighting a shared thrill. We had a memorable experience watching a pride of lions, including three males, a female, and her cubs, among the kopjes just a few minutes from Mbuzi Mawe Lodge – a moment that felt straight out of ‘The Lion King’!

Ellison is an absolute professional, and his expertise in navigating the area and understanding animal behaviour ensured that we had the best possible safari experience. His familiarity with the habitats and his skill in finding wildlife were truly impressive.

He is also a great driver, sometimes navigating by rock formations alone, and consistently got us through the sometimes-rugged terrain. We always felt safe and well taken care of during our trip. Ellison not only guided us through the wilderness but made us feel like part of the family, and we shared many stories and laughs throughout the journey.

We managed to see ‘the big five’ (if we can count the rear half of a leopard disappearing into the lush undergrowth on the Ngorogoro Crater rim). But it was cool to observe many less-celebrated species too – leopard tortoise, aardwolf and even the hard-working dung beetle, possibly the Serengeti’s most underrated grafter!

Tanzania is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting around 500 different bird species within its ecosystem. Ellison’s expertise and keen eye ensured that we didn’t miss any of these sightings.

With such a memorable trip it’s hard to pick a single highlight, but our time spent in the Southern Serengeti (Ndutu Woodlands and the Great Migration) was unforgettable. The sight of immense herds of white-bearded wildebeests, zebras, eland, and gazelles moving across the grasslands was awe-inspiring, one of the largest terrestrial mammal migrations in the world.

There were days in the Serengeti when we saw only a couple of other vehicles, reaffirming our decision to choose ADS for a more intimate and off-the-beaten-path experience. We absolutely loved Woodlands Camp with its handful of canvas tents (although these surpassed any other ‘tent’ we’ve ever stayed in!).

There was a joyous atmosphere and the staff seem to genuinely value our presence in their camp. When we first arrived we were escorted by graceful giraffe as we approached the camp (SEE VIDEO BELOW), and were met by a party of staff beaming and waving.

Whilst we were there we felt like part of their family. The following morning we headed to the plains again in search of the migration, and another day filled with adventure and unforgettable moments. Whilst wildlife films often focus on the more dramatic moments of the great migration, like the Mara River crossings, we were equally blown away by the beauty and serenity of the Serengeti.

Watching and listening to millions of animals peacefully grazing was an emotional moment for us. We also had a beautiful encounter with a pair of stunning cheetahs. The vastness of the Serengeti, devoid of any human presence, was deeply moving, and watching the sun cast a golden light over the endless plains was a moment of pure tranquillity as we headed back to Woodlands.

Overall, the trip far exceeded our expectations. All the lodges we stayed at were excellent, with great food and creature comforts to hand. But being out each day surrounded by wildlife was the highlight of our safari.

ADS curated an itinerary that exceeded our expectations. Their flexibility allowed us to tailor each day to our preferences, ensuring that we made the most of every moment with the wildlife. Our safari began as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip, but now we are already looking forward to our next adventure with ADS!

Cath, Ben, Jess and Issy H.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Safari Dates: January 11, 2024 to January 17, 2024