Our trip started quietly with a visit to the School of St. Jude to be with one of our two sponsored students, a charity that ADS encourages. Very proud of Henry. And then a special Anniversary moonlight dinner at the Arusha Coffee Lodge.
1726…no, that’s not the year we did our first of 5 safaris with ADS…that’s the number of miles we covered during our exceptional 12 day safari! As my wife and I are avid photographers, going during the wet season has been very high on our list. We knew would never have another opportunity to go during peak season and have a minimal number of vehicles in the Southern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, as Covid would severely limit the number of safari travelers. Our guide ensured we would be in the optimum area to observe the Migration, which meant driving many miles to follow the ever moving herds, depending upon which lodge we were staying. ADS excels at getting you to the animals, and the miles driven are inconsequential.
Having recently returned from an eight day African Dream Safari, cycling through the 1000 photographs and reliving each day – it is hard to put in to words our experience.
We opted for a “rest day” in Arusha at the Coffee Lodge. After breakfast, Didah took us for a quick tour around the city and a stop for some shopping at the Cultural Center. We were glad to have this day to help acclimate ourselves to the time change.
She struts across the savannah, attitude on full display. At around four feet tall and ten pounds, she’s not the biggest thing out here, but she has swagger and a killer kick. I watch her chase several immense vultures off a carcass, just because she can. This is the most unique bird of prey in all the world—crane-like long legs, a bare red/orange face, hooked beak, and crazy black feathers on the back of her head. Over the course of ten days, I see about a dozen of these entertaining birds, sashaying across the most wondrous place in all the world—the Serengeti in Tanzania. The secretary bird is one of 201 bird species I record on my Sep 2019 trip with my 29-year-old daughter Daisy.
I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic safari experience we had in Tanzania. It was more of an adventure, in a very good way, then I could have ever imagined. The accommodations, as well as the food, were first class. Our guide, Ally, was so experienced and knowledgeable that he was like a member of the family showing us the wonders of where he lives.
How does a person research and decide on a safari company? I tried to recall my research and what lead us choose Africa Dream Safari for our trip. One of the main reasons for choosing ADS was the private tour concept and what the reviews shared about this. We were going as a family and wanted it to be us sharing and not ‘making friends’ or some dictating our trip with their limitations.
I have been dreaming of going on an African Safari for most of my life. It took me almost 50 years to make that dream into a reality, and now I can hardly believe it is over.
I feel so blessed that this adventure was shared with my husband Lance, and my two daughters Chelsea (15) and Haley (11). We are all crazy animal lovers and all interested in learning about new cultures. This trip could not have been any more ideal for our family. I have to say that Dawn helped us to plan the perfect itinerary and we loved every minute of it!
Our adventure started in Arusha where we had the incredible opportunity to visit the St. Jude school. We spent the day visiting classes, eating lunch with the children, playing games, and learning all about this wonderful school which provides an opportunity for the most impoverished students to get a superior education. At the end of the day, we rode the bus home with a young student- Jennifa and visited her home.
We were overwhelmed as all of her friends, family and neighbors greeted us with songs and cheering. We were invited into her humble home for tea and snacks and talked with her parents (through and English translator). We were almost in tears when we left and we all hugged and cried as we told them we would like to sponsor their daughter in school this year.
The next day we flew off into the Serengeti on a small plane. We landed in the Grumeti air strip and were greeted by Petro our cheerful Safari Guide. He gave both my girls the biggest hug and said that we would have a great time together. Immediately upon leaving the airstrip we saw hundreds of wildebeasts and dozens of baboons. We were so excited to start our journey deep into the Serengeti.
On the ride to our first lodge- we saw giraffes, zebras and dozens of other animals. It felt like a dream. We arrived at the Mbalageti Tented lodge and were greeted with fresh juice and cold cloths to wipe our faces. We could not get over our luxury accommodations. Our family tent was like a small palace with an expansive deck looking out into the wilderness. We cooled off in the pool and took a nap before dinner. The buffets were all fabulous and it was fun to chat with other guests about their safari experiences.
The next day we got to see our first lion pride and spotted a beautiful leopard and even a cheetah. We spent time watching the hippos at the Retina pool. It was mating season so we saw two male hippos fighting, we even saw some pink babies and watched the hippos wallowing and grunting in the mud.
The Four Seasons Lodge, our next stop was like stepping into a travel magazine. We had fun at the beautiful pool where we could watch the elephants come drink at the watering hole. At one point- there were 37 elephants surrounding the area and even a one week old elephant baby that had been born on the property the week before. The staff there (and in all the lodges) were so kind and helpful. One morning a baboon visited us on our balcony. Haley thought that was so funny!
We continued our game drives and could not wait to see what the day would bring. The great migration of wildebeests and zebras was amazing to watch throughout. Petro, of course was so knowledgeable about the animals and we admired his respect and love for them. Lance and I chatted with him about Tanzanian culture, history and life. We all became great friends. He called Haley, my youngest the Safari boss and he teased Chelsea about her music. We learned about his family as well and I even got to speak with his wife on the phone.
We headed off to the Ngorongoro Crater and stopped at a Masaai village for a couple of hours which was truly a highlight for me. We were greeted by a the chief’s son (who spoke English.) We danced together, toured the village and got to see the boma huts where they live. We learned about their life and even visit the small school made of sticks. The children were so interested in us and we showed them pictures on our camera. We sang to them and gave each one a high five. It was AMAZING! I think it gave Chelsea and Haley a new appreciation of our life in the States.
We headed down into the crater and were hoping to see the elusive rhino. We lucked out and were able to find one (a bit in the distance) and watched him for some time. The Lion’s Paw tented camp on top of the crater was magical. We felt like we were in Avatar with all the lush trees. There were only 6 tents and we happened to be the only ones staying there that night. We were treated like royalty. We got to eat dinner together with Petro and visited with the staff at Lion’s Paw.
The next morning, as we headed into the crater we were fortunate to come upon a male lion lying in the road. We were in awe of this majestic creature. A few hundred yards away- his harem of 6 lionesses were planning their attack on a small herd of zebra. We watched them spread out and slowly, slowly creep along in the tall grass until they were close enough to charge. It was so exciting to watch!! The zebra were faster than we imagined and got away! Phew…
After a few more hours surveying the crater, seeing hyenas, mammoth elephants, hundreds of flamingos in the salty lake and dozens of other birds. We decided to make our way to Gibbs Farm. This was our last stop and it was a wonderful retreat for 3 nights after a week of game drives. We spent our time in Gibbs Farm sitting out on the lawn chairs, picking vegetables in the 9 acre garden, drinking coffee and relaxing. We also had a chance to tour the small nearby town and visit an orphanage. It was a great way to end our Safari experience. The last night the staff brought us a cake and sang to us in Swahili.
I feel so sad that it’s all over now, But these memories will last a lifetime. Thank you so much to African Dream Safari especially to Dawn for planning this fabulous trip for us to Petro for guiding us through the Serengeti with care and fun, to all the fabulous staff at the lodges who made us feel like special guests and the Tanzanian people for sharing your beautiful country with us and especially for your warm smiles!
Stephanie, Lance, Chelsea and Haley E.
May 27, 2014 to June 5, 2014
Breath-taking…Amazing…Inspiring…Magnificent…just a few of the words that describe our October 16-28 safari created with ADS’s phenomenal planner Dawn and put into action with Guide Extraordinaire Simon.
Seeing the “Big 5” plus dozens or other animals up-close-and-personal during our first few days in the Northern Serengeti, without hordes of other vehicles, was a much more intimate and rewarding experience than we ever imagined.
Then, as we journeyed through the Central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire, every hour brought surprises: a “new” animal or bird; an animal we had seen before, but with slightly different coloring for this new habitat; a herd/family playing, moving, eating; a carnivore with a kill; an animal coming closer to the vehicle than before.
We truly enjoyed traveling a parallel – and sometimes intersecting — route with ADS guests Dawn and Rob from Indiana and their Guide Patrick. Having Simon and Patrick share information as they surveyed a kopje from various sides, investigated different sides of the river, or evaluated different sections of a game loop, gave us extraordinary viewing advantages. Plus, having new friends to share experiences was wonderful.
Our sightings include: lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, Nile crocodiles, cheetah, warthog, hyena, jackal, mongoose, python, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, eland, Klipspringer, waterbuck, topi, gnu, reedbuck, dik-dik, rock hyrax, baboon, vervet monkey, ostrich, pink flamingoes, lizards, and many, many raptors and birds.
Our comfy accommodations were staffed by warm and thoughtful folks intent on providing exceptional service to make us feel special. Favorite memories include:
• A 5:15am wake up call at Lemala Mara accompanied by a symphony of bird songs and coffee in bed.
• The awe-inspiring view of the Serengeti plains fading into infinity from our Loliondo hill perch at Buffalo Springs.
• The antics of an exceedingly acrobatic Baboon trying to join us for breakfast at Mbuzi Mawe.
• Watching “Bush TV” and enjoying a glass of South African wine as the sun dropped below the rim of the Crater at Lion’s Paw.
• Dining under the stars at Kikoti and being walked back to our tent under the watchful eye of a Maasai Warrior.
Walt Disney said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world, but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” We could have “built” the most wonderful safari itinerary, but without the knowledge, skill, creativity, and sharp-eyes of the ADS Team, it would never have become a reality.
Larry and Jane M.
Safari Dates: October 16, 2013 to October 28, 2013
We’re still enjoying our safari ‘high’ and are very excited to share our adventure with you!
The trip you planned for us was a fabulous overview of all of Tanzania. We started at the Ngorongoro Crater, turned south to beautiful Tarangire, traveled through the central Serengeti, headed north to track the wildebeest herds along the Mara River and concluded our adventure in the Lobo game reserve.
After our group of ten arrived at the Ndutu airstrip, we were met by our guides Arnold Mushi and Thomson Maleki who were fabulous! They were always eager to find exciting animal encounters, eternally patient with our unceasing photography demands and full of detailed information about any animal/bird/reptile we saw. Arnold would frequently shout out, “How is everybody??” and we would enthusiastically respond! The bar was set extremely high right off the bat as we saw not only a lioness hunting warthog, but a group of ten lion cubs who came down to the water to drink right in front of us! Absolutely magical!!
Though a few of our days were long and we covered many km, when we arrived at each camp there were smiling faces, eucalyptus-scented cloths to wipe away the trail dust and a chilled beverage to refresh us! Each camp was more amazing than the last. Our ‘tent’ accommodations were absolutely top notch with all the comforts of home. Our favorites were Lion’s Paw at the Ngoronogoro Crater and Swala.
At Lion’s Paw, our sundowner was the perfect place to watch a beautiful sunset before we enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Jonas and his staff before we snuggled into our beds in the chilly air. The hot water bottles awaiting us were the perfect touch!
At Swala, we were delighted to have front row seats for a controlled burn of the grass during dinner and lions roaring virtually in our ears at night. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the crazy antics of an African Harrier Hawk as he hung upside down in a nearby tree. Chris and his crew were spectacular hosts.
Our stay at Seronera Sametu was highlighted by a ‘close encounter’ with a lioness who was stalking buffalo near camp. She popped up out of the tall grass and gave my husband and one of the camp guards quite a start! Very exciting!!
Our trek to LeMala Mara was chock full of African wildlife; the hippos crowding the hippo pools of the Mara River and seeing a lion family devour a freshly killed wildebeest were truly memorable sights.
Our final days were spent at the beautiful Buffalo Luxury camp. My daughter, a budding artist, loved that they had drawing supplies available in the lounge so she could put some of the amazing animals we saw down on paper. Our host, Chris, took us on a wonderful walking safari and even organized a hilltop sundowner for our last evening. The food was spectacular (loved those loaf-sized dinner rolls) and they even baked a birthday cake to help celebrate a special birthday for Kathi. Another truly memorable experience was the opportunity to visit a nearby Maasai village and learn about their lifestyle. They welcomed us warmly and we thoroughly enjoyed their melodic singing, jumping and dancing!
Our animal encounters were amazing! All in all we saw 84 lions, 9 cheetahs and 7 leopards along with countless elephants, giraffe, hippo, monkeys, wildebeest, Tomi’s and many beautiful birds. As a group, we took over 10,000 photos! Despite what we thought Africa would be like, it was so much MORE than we expected and the fabulous planning and attention to every detail sets Africa Dream Safaris apart. It was truly the trip of a lifetime!
As Arnold would say, “Every day is a good day… in the bush!!”
Thank you Sharon for putting together our adventure, we sincerely hope it is not too long before we can return to the magic of Africa.
Chris, Mark, Mason & Kylie (Naperville, Illinois)
Mark, Kathi, Liz & Robby (Avondale, Pennsylvania)
Bob & Ruth Ann (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Safari Dates: July 14, 2013 to July 29, 2013
As dawn lit up the Serengeti stage, we witnessed nature acting out its drama, its comedy, its romance and suspense, each day as it has over thousands of years; the theater of life. And, my husband and I had front row seats thanks to Africa Dream Safaris.
Our guide Ally took us on an adventure unlike any vacation we have ever experienced. We are active, seasoned travelers who are accustomed to hands-on, interactive travel where we control and contribute physically to the action. But we soon discovered that our typical notions of travel needed to be set aside.
Other safari vehicles came and went, travelers chattered loudly, took quick snapshots and sped away, while we lingered, observed, studied and spent quiet time enjoying the wonders that are the Serengeti.
Our guide told us “good things come to those who are patient” and so we waited and watched while a lion courted his mate on what Ally explained was a “seven-day lion honeymoon.” We were silent partners to the ritual of reproduction of the most bold of Serengeti animals. As others sped along a game trail, not bothering to stop for giraffe that were but two of the scores of giraffes in the Western Serengeti, our guide stopped to point out that this was a male giraffe pursuing a young female in heat. For nearly an hour we chose to observe as these two attempted to mate, demonstrating that mating is neither a quick nor easy task for these towering creatures.
Ally answered questions we did not even know to ask, telling us about every animal’s longevity, gestation period, parenting skills, eating habits and even animal folklore of the Maasai people. Ally’s eyes were keen, his knowledge immense, this driving skill spectacular and his sense of humor a constant pleasure.
We packed a bulging 16.5 pound camera bag, complete with Canon T4i camera and three lenses including a Canon 100/400mm stabilizing zoom lens along with assorted video cameras. A close friend cautioned me to not become so consumed with equipment and photography that I would fail to just stop and enjoy the safari sights. Nothing was farther from the truth. Take the best and most camera equipment to can. We used our lenses and view finders like binoculars. They allowed us to focus in on the scenes before us. Through our lenses we studied and documented the precious moments that were unique to us and our experiences.
We took over 6,500 photos and over eleven hours of video. Many thousands have come before us and many more will come after us, but none will see what we saw in the same way we experienced it and that was the beauty of our ADS safari. If it takes us months and perhaps years to process, edit and compile our photos and videos, so be it. This endeavor will allow us to relive our adventure, retrace our steps and recreate the moments that are now part of our lives. We have included but a few of the many photos that make us smile, that cause our hearts to soar and bring us back to our adventures in the Serengeti, now sealed in time.
Now, for the nuts and bolts: We just returned from our mid-May, 12-day safari with 3 night Zanzibar extension. I swear we saw every animal in the Serengeti, including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, elephant, giraffe, hippo, wildebeest, buffalo, rhino, gazelle, impala, zebra, baboon, crocodile, and the list goes on. Plus, we saw many of the lesser known animals such as the bat-eared fox, serval cat, dik-dik, golden jackal, leopard tortoise, etc. And I can’t forget the birds. I am not a birdwatcher, but I have become consumed with bird viewing. There were so many colorful and exotic birds (including four types of eagles) and our guide was an expert in bird life, helping us document the birds of Eastern Africa. (I do believe that the crowned crane is the most gorgeous bird I have ever seen.)
Being greeted at the Kilimanjaro Airport and walked through customs at 3:30 am was a blessing. Our layover day in Arusha was much needed as we had nine time zones of jet lag to absorb. Our first day in the Central Serengeti was unbelievable, with us finding most of the animals of the Serengeti this first day out. For those of you fortunate enough to take a 10-12 day safari, we suggest that you consider taking a half or full day off from game driving about half way through your trip. Game driving, even for the fittest travelers, is fun but exhausting. Our 7th day, spent relaxing at the wonderful Mbalageti Tented Lodge, was what we needed to recharge. We used the day to meet with our guide, review photos, clean up journal notes and iron down spellings, pronunciations, etc. for locations, birds and lesser known animals we encountered and took time for a swim, a fabulous hot lunch and animal viewing from the elevated lodge deck.
I am a mosquito-phobic who gets bit when nobody else is bothered. We sprayed our clothing as recommended and I applied insect repellent daily, and can report that neither of us got even one bite in our 12-day safari, and only 4-5 bites in Zanzibar.
Lodges and Tent Camps: We stayed at seven lodging locations during our 16 nights in Tanzania. I would be remiss if I did not give “kudos” to the magnificent four. Mbalageti Tented Lodge in Western Serengeti was superb. We experienced a great tented room, huge bath, rock-edged swim pool, breathtaking views, and incredible food (not buffet) with very attentive staff. Lake Masek Tented Lodge was the most authentically African of the places we stayed. Maasai warriors in their village attire with spears to safeguard us at night, wonderful views over Lake Masek, lions roaring and hippos grunting during the night, African architecture and family style meals (with our guide included) were a few of the highlights. Produce was grown on-site and food was ultra-fresh and tasty. Staff was wonderful.
Plantation Lodge was simply incredible with lush landscaping, a suite with fireplace and tons of sitting/lounging areas, first-class bar with wine tasting cellar, old world charm, wonderful menu dining and a great representation of colonial Africa at its best. We would have liked to stay longer than one night. And in Zanzibar- Fumba Beach Lodge. Our Baobab Suite was what dreams are made of, private beachfront location with open air bathroom as large as some peoples’ apartments with bathtub built into a giant baobab tree. The Fumba had a true Zanzibar feel, exemplary service, beach boat bar, delicious food off the menu served under tropic skies, lots of secluded ocean decks, great spa, all in the kind of place that is so hard to leave. Staff and manager Tracy were charming and dedicated to our comfort. If you get to Zanzibar, don’t miss the private tour of Stone Town set up by ADS meet and greet staffer Godfrey. Quite amazing.
Was this a trip-of-a-lifetime? Yes! Was it worth the time and money spent? Absolutely! Would we do it again? You betcha!
“Asante” (thank you) to our guide Ally, our ADS representative Dawn and all the many staff members at Africa Dream Safaris for their warm, caring, professional attention, resulting in our magical travel experience.
Ann and Don P.
Trip Dates: May 13, 2013 to May 28, 2013
Having returned late Thursday night and still recovering from jet lag, we are still pinching ourselves at how lucky we were to experience, explore and witness all that we did. I can’t begin to thank you enough for all your hard work in putting together an unforgettable itinerary. Being met in Dar es Salaam and again in Arusha by the very friendly Meet and Greet staff was much appreciated and took the stress out of our arrival in to Tanzania.
Our tented lodge accommodations were incredible and we all agreed that the change in our accommodations the first two nights at the Seronera Sametu Camp worked in our favor. We loved the remoteness of it and how the camp came alive with wildlife long after we had gone to bed. The staff was wonderful and Jonas was the perfect camp host. Our only regret of the trip was being so awestruck by the Crater Lodge and having only one night to take it all in! Two nights would’ve been well worth it. What an extraordinary place.
Last but certainly not least, how do any of us begin to thank you for booking our trip with our guide ‘extraordinare’, Reggie. His vast knowledge of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Preserve and his passion and understanding of the wildlife made our eight day safari a true African ‘dream’ trip. We will always have a deep appreciation for the incredible life changing experiences he shared with us and what he taught us about the wonders of the African wildlife and the country he loves so much. He is above and beyond the best! We will miss him.
Dawn, again, many, many thanks for all that you did!
Teri and Duane Woods
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Safari Dates: March 23, 2013 to April 3, 2013
Lynn, Asante Sana to you and the entire Africa Dream Safari (ADS) staff for putting together an adventure of a life time. From my first phone call with you last year in looking to going on safari to the final drop off at the airport in Arusha to come home it has been a pleasure dealing with the professionals at ADS.
The pre-trip info shared by you not only got us excited but helped us prepare for the adventure, what a great way to prepare us. Our guides Ellison and Ally were amazing not only with their ability to see animals but with their knowledge of the animals and behavior. We saw over 40 different animals and somewhere close to 80 different birds which really excited the birder in our group.
The camps we stayed in were incredible experiences with the Seronera Sametu camp and the way Jonas took care of us, being everyone’s favorite. Seeing little green eyes in our flashlight beams while we were being escorted to our tent was as exciting as watching the giraffes walk through the middle of our camp as they sampled the trees one morning. What an African experience and one we will never forget.
With some 3000 pictures to choose from wildebeest crossing the Mara river to lions guarding their kill to three cheetah cubs playing with their mom it’s hard to pick out two or three favorites since they all bring back amazing sightings. The dwarf mongoose were highly entertaining and the longer we sat watching the more of them came out of the termite mound to see the ‘tourists’. The pair of cheetah’s walking up to the vehicle and then seeming to pose for a brothers together picture was astounding. Finally the Cape buffalo who’s look seems to be saying ‘do you really want to interrupt my breakfast?’ are just a few of many amazing photos.
Africa Dream Safaris gave us all a chance to experience Africa, see the Serengeti, meet some amazing people and have an incredible experience. Asante Sana for coordinating and providing an experience of a lifetime. ADS has our vote for the best safari company and I will happily tell anyone going to Tanzania to call Africa Dream Safari. It is the only safari company to visit the Serengeti with.
George and Margaret Gluski
Safari Dates: September 8, 2012 to September 18, 2012
I wanted to thank you. The trip was just amazing, and we would not have changed a thing. From starting with the Private Luxury Camp, to finishing at the Ngorongoro Sopa – it was just a perfect flow. Wilfred is amazing, and we have already given several recommendations for ADS and Wilfred (he is a gem – I am sure you know that). The vehicle was much more comfortable than hoped – I had zero back issues. We had lots of spice in the trip, from getting stuck axel deep, (and amazed at how fast 5 guides were there to help – just perfect and additional experience/stories that we will laugh about for a lifetime.
Your guidance and ability to gain our trust was a blessing – you are good at what you do. ADS under promised (though it did not seem so at the time we booked) and over delivered – and I will give you the best gift I can – my strong recommendation to trust ADS for your once in a lifetime Africa safari.
Fred, Denise, Debie and Guy