Tag: Alaska

Our Second Safari To Tanzania With Africa Dream Safaris

We returned from our second ADS safari just over a month ago and I am just starting to organize and sort our many photos for a photo book to share with family and friends. While the trip seems so long ago, the pictures bring it all back.

I wondered if it would be much of the same (our first safari was in February 2012), but it wasn’t. The only same was our wonderful guide, Francis. He is truly an amazing spotter and driver. This trip was during a different season, we visited different areas and were joined by friends Mike and Ellen.

The tent camps and service were absolutely top-notch. Each one provided more than we expected; great staff, wonderful food and comfortable accommodations. We spent two nights at each of the camps: Mara River Camp, Migration Tented Lodge, Seronera Sametu Camp, Lion’s Paw Tented Camp and Swala Tented Lodge. We were very well taken care of and lacked nothing. At two of the camps, we were the only four visitors. Talk about service!

We saw new animal sightings each and every day. Last trip more cheetahs; this trip more leopards. We were in awe each and every day and are now thinking of a third trip in May when the wild flowers are in bloom and the birds most active.

If you have the chance, take the hot air balloon ride. It provides such a different and peaceful perspective and is so worth the cost and early wake-up call.

When our flight home was changed just a week before our scheduled return, the ADS team seamlessly secured another night for us in Zanzibar and changed our flight to Dar es Salaam. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Thank you Dawn, our very patient, knowledgeable and available travel planner, Francis, our truly amazing guide (again) and all the camp, lodge and ground staff that took such wonderful care of us. We honestly appreciate you all and hope to see you again.

Asante Sana,

Buck and Angela L.
Juneau, Alaska
Safari Dates: August 31, 2015 to September 16, 2015

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The Sense Of Wonder At My Very First Tent Camp Stay

OMG! What a trip! I got some good photos, but Linda got some that are totally amazing… how about a cheetah looking over its shoulder with a tommie fawn in its mouth?

The accommodations were terrific and I was very happy with them. Friends tease me about the level of comfort I prefer on a camping trip, but while I may stick a portapotty in the corner of my large tent, I never even thought of installing a shower! My favorite was the Seronera Sametu Camp, maybe because it was so remote, or because it was just the three of us, or the sense of wonder at my very first luxury tent camp stay. Of course, Naabi Hill and the Private Camp there was great, too, although Linda wasn’t thrilled with three hyenas trying to take the tent down in the middle of the night, or trying to join her in bed. The guys there sang to us and baked us a cake… that was special. I liked all the accommodations.

The trucks are excellent. We had a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser–they sure have gotten fancy! Really? A hood ornament on a Toyota? Wilfred cleaned it every day, and did a beautiful job of it, too. The man sure puts in a long day’s work. I was most impressed with him. The seats were fairly comfortable, but my tailbone that has been broken twice in the past was beginning to cause real suffering starting around the fourth or fifth day. The hammering up and down on the seat became painful for all of us. How about air ride seats like truckers use to save their butts? The hatches in the roof were super, too. Wonderful visibility!

The itinerary was very good and I have no complaints about it. After all, Linda (and you) put it together. My two desires for the trip were to see a cheetah (we saw six!) and to go to Olduvai Gorge. I’d have enjoyed staying longer at the gorge. In fact, my major complaint about the trip is that it was too short! Otherwise, it’s the finest trip I’ve ever taken, and believe me, my friends and I have been on some real humdingers.

And that’s all I can think to tell you at the moment. Linda will have to explain her nocturnal encounter with hyenas which were a skinny layer of canvas away from her!

Thank you, thank you, for doing your job SO well. I’m a happy customer!

Sue H.
April 2, 2013 to April 10, 2013
Eagle River, Alaska


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One Very Happy Camper

Sharon, I have started this letter about six times and have never finished and I finally figured out why. My vocabulary is not big enough, nor does it contain enough adverbs and adjectives to describe the trip you planned for Angie, Sue and me. I will try again.

First, when you received my first email inquiring into ADS and what it had to offer, you were the first to send a reply back to me. That reply was within the hour after I hit the “SEND” button! In your email you not only replied but you send me information about what you offered and the idea that we could come up with a custom safari that wouldn’t put us in the poorhouse. You gave me suggestions and then you asked questions about what I was thinking about.

Over several months we wrote back and forth, added 2 people, lost one then finally settled for the 3 of us. You were so willing to go with the flow of endless questions and changes, etc. You are such a great person to work with! (This is the first place that words fail to describe how good you are at what you do!)

After waiting an eternity for our departure date to arrive we finally left Anchorage, AK for Seattle, WA and then on to Amsterdam, then on to Arusha, Tanzania. And just to make life harder for you we just had to schedule a side trip to the village of Geita on the west side of the country. The hotel in Arusha had a room waiting for us when we returned and Mathias met us each time with a smile, a hot washcloth and a welcome that made us feel at home.

Then there was the flight to the Serengeti! The flight was great, the views of the landscapes, seeing the Masai bomas from the air were amazing. We landed at the airport in the Serengeti and had to wait a short time for our driver. Apparently the Serengeti is as fickled as the weather in Alaska! Wilford was late because of a washout on a levee that was rather spectacular. We didn’t mind, Sue found some Pringles to eat (and share) and I took lots of photos of the different birds and their nests. It was fun, the day was beautiful and life was good.

When our gallant guide arrived we headed for the Serengeti and an unknown world of wonders! Right off the bat we saw giraffes, the same group I saw from the air while we landed! We then saw hippos, lots and lots of hippos in the river. Then we saw the leopard! It was in a tree, just hanging around while its cub was taking a nap in the fork of the tree. We were mesmerized; we didn’t want to move and head for the Seronera Sametu Camp and the “roughing it in tents” that awaited our arrival. What a way to start our adventure!

In Alaska we are no strangers to tents, big ones, medium ones and small ones. But the tents at both Seronera Sametu and Naabi Hills were 5 star plus tents. The beds were comfy; the bathrooms were a wonderful, and a much appreciated surprise. I know you told me that the accommodations were going to be wonderful but your words were not nearly powerful enough to tell me what to really expect. WOW! I could live in one of your tents (just not in Alaska!)

Wilford, what can I say about a man who has studied hard, learned the information and embraced the knowledge with a willingness to share the information with those around him. Then there are his eyes! He found animals for us that were hidden so well that we would have missed them. Our first lions were found because he saw some ears almost a mile away. The caracal’s (3) would have been a wish not some really cool photos! Wilford found all kinds of rare animals and birds for us. He also found lots of lions (over 150), leopards with cubs and solitary (2), and cheetahs (I can’t remember how many!), one on the hunt and was successful and I caught it on camera!

When we arrived at Naabi Hills for our second “Roughing it on the Serengeti” campsite we were in awe of the sight that met us. The wildebeest were there by the hundreds of thousands! They were grazing, playing, walking and running everywhere. Horizon to horizon there were animals. Mixed in with the wildebeest were what I called Incidental Travelers, that is the zebras, water buffalo, giraffes, elephants, Thompson and Grants gazelles, ostriches, hyenas, lots and lots of them. It was easy to see why they say that there are millions of animals that partake in the Great Migration!

What are the best memories of amazing moments, now that’s a tough one? How do you choose one or two moments out of a 10 day trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth? For me personally I will never forget the second night at Naabi Hills. We had been out on the Plains all day, seeing all things wonderful and exotic. Hyenas were in large numbers throughout the day. We saw them sleeping, eating, running and soaking in the cool water of the pools near the numerous kopjes. I was fascinated to learn that they were clean animals, not smelly like our grizzly bears in Alaska.

We had been told each morning how many and what kind of animals came to visit us (the campsite) after the sun went down and the lights were turned off. Elephants, I think a lion or two and hyenas. The song of the hyenas were very distinct, the whup-whup song that is now burned into my brain!

I was in bed in a TENT; sound asleep when the songs started. The group had at least 6-10 animals in camp wandering around between the tent Angie and I stayed in and the next one over where Sue was sleeping. What woke me up was one animal that came closer to the tent and got tangled in the rope that was holding the tarp on the top of the tent in place. It walked into the rope, starting fighting to get away from it, growled, snarled and literally fell against my bed on the outside of the tent! I woke up with such a start that I was close to panic! The growling and yelping was by my head with a thin quarter of an inch of tent wall between us! The animal hit the tent side (and my bedside) 2-3 times before it left while making lots of whupping noises!

The most incredible thing is that the same scenario played out 3 TIMES, probably with 3 different animals! Just as the first animal was leaving the area by my bedside Angie started snoring and I was terrified that she would cause the animal to come back and try to get into tent to see where the noise was coming from. I threw a pillow at her and scared her, too.

The next morning I took photos of the 5 ropes that were pulled out of the ground. I have great respect for these animals and will NEVER UNDERESTIMATE them again! That was my moment. Angie will have to share her memories with you and Sue has already shared her thoughts.

As we moved on to the other venues in the itinerary the trip just got better and better. Spending time in the Ngorongoro Crater was icing on the cake. It was the culmination of a trip of a lifetime that will rate at the top of my BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE LIST!

Thank you Sharon! Thank you for everything; for answering my initial inquiry as rapidly as you did to arranging all the details that made this trip so easy and comfortable. And thank you for helping to arrange the logistics for the side trip to the orphanage to Geita in western Tanzania! Talk about one VERY HAPPY CAMPER! You and ADS are truly THE VERY BEST!!!

Linda I.
Anchorage, Alaska
Safari Dates: April 2, 2013 to April 10, 2013

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Thank you ADS for fulfilling a lifelong dream

When people ask us what our favorite part of the safari was, we answer our guide Claude! That is because of his expert knowledge and abilities that truly enhanced our safari and made each and every day as exciting as the first.

But let’s back up and see how we got to this point. We began our search for a safari provider by going on the internet. After a lot of reading we narrowed our search down to three providers, and then two. When we engaged Sharon Lyon on the phone several times with our many questions and she understood our interests, it became clear to us that ADS was going to be our choice. We really liked the straightforward business plan of ADS, with the costs being clear as to what was included and what wasn’t. We were able to make our final decision once we realized that the other option under consideration simply could not match the value we were after.

Just prior to the safari we decided to learn more about birding. Wow, what a treat birding turned out to be and so enriched our safari! Our guide Claude was an extremely capable birder and with his help we identified 186 species. What made it even more fun was the neat adventures that the birding led us to. For example, one day we were going our usual way, on the alert and watching for anything and everything, when we spotted a White-browed Coucal sitting in a tree. We headed for a better look and decided to enjoy the shade of the tree for our picnic lunch. While there, out of the corner of an eye, were a cheetah and her five small cubs passing into the grass.

You know how the literature says you should be the first into the Ngorongoro Crater in the morning? Well, ADS positioned us perfectly, and we actually were the first in. To our delight, our guide took us right to a spot where we enjoyed the next forty minutes of watching two rhinos all by ourselves.

After several days we realized how superior our safari was to others we observed. We had the best vehicle, the most conscientious driver, we were first on lions several times, first on the rhinos, observed four snakes, saw many animal interactions as we were paced just right not to ever be in a hurry.

Every day was new and exciting. With our guide’s knowledge we were able to learn about animal behaviors, how to identify giraffe gender, where to be at what time of day to see the most things, and even could discuss plant life and geology. Thank you ADS for fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Heimke Family
July 7-17, 2012
Anchorage, Alaska

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Exceptional Green Season Game Viewing

We want to thank Africa Dream Safaris for making our dream trip come true. After forty years of hoping he could return to Tanzania, this time to visit the Serengeti, my husband finally got his wish. The safari and all the arrangements promised by ADS transpired exactly as promised – no surprises except that the experience was more wonderful than we expected, and everything we could have dreamed of. From the first lodging in Arusha until saying goodbye to our guide at the airport, everything was perfect. I particularly appreciate the presence of several staff in Arusha, knowing were any problems to arise, we had the ability to get in touch with them at any time.

Within minutes of landing at the Seronera airstrip we were seeing cheetahs. Within a couple hours, we saw nearly every animal we hoped to see on the entire trip. Who would have imagined seeing dozens of lions, thousands and thousands of zebras, cheetahs and leopards every day. All thanks to the incredible eye of our guide, and the teamwork of all the ADS guides in the area. The guide’s insight into animal behavior, the Serengeti ecosystem, and frankly anything we could dream up to ask him, was incredible. We learned as much about East Africa, Tanzania, its people, politics and culture, as we did about the animals. He even helped my husband brush up on his Swahili! Francis’ company was most welcome, and the ADS’s high standards shows through in their selection of guides.

We were truly amazed at how close we were able to get to the animals. Herds of elephants surrounding our vehicle, lions lounging next to the wheel of the truck, a leopard sauntering across the road in front of us, all manner of predators stalking prey within yards of us. The lodges were all very comfortable, but our favorite was our last – Lemala Ngorongoro Camp. A very peaceful setting, with the most attentive service one could ever imagine. And the best popcorn I have ever eaten!! All the lodges provided a wonderful nights rest, good food and a chance to catch up with other ADS guests we came to know during our trip.

I can’t recommend Africa Dream Safaris highly enough and would not see the Serengeti any other way. Their responsiveness during the planning stage, the excellence of their guides, the quality of the accommodations before, during and after safari, the comfort of their vehicles, (three people in our 8-passenger vehicle, versus 6 people in 6-passenger vehicle with other companies) the ability to customize the experience from beginning to end and the support staff available on site all add up to the perfect trip. Thanks again, ADS.

Mary Ann D. and Wade L
Juneau, Alaska
March 2011



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