Tag: Birthday

Over The Top!

In the last few years several of our friends have came back from Africa with glowing reports so we expected to be impressed. Well this trip was so far over the top that we will always consider it the best trip of our lifetime.

I am a businessman so during the trip I observed why we were so impressed and why this trip was ‘above category’. Here is what I observed. First since this was a custom trip you allowed us to pick the number of days we wanted to stay (11) and which camp we wanted to stay in at each stop. Your write ups of the camps were perfect and we stayed in the most amazing places.

Second, the guides were amazing. They tried to please 24 hours per day and succeeded all 11 days. Their eyes could spot game a half mile away (we had a range finder) and cats and birds in trees that no normal eyes could identify. After a few days of amazing sights we started to think ‘what more can we see’.

There was always more, like the time we had 6 giraffes running beside the jeep, 4 adults and 2 babies, for about half a mile or when the elephants came and starred in the windshield, or we sat 30 feet from a cheetah and her 4 cubs eating a kill, or when we spotted the most beautiful birds anyone could imagine.

A friend who had been on a different safari told me he would like to go back to see the birds sometime. They didn’t stop for many. On our trip we told the guide we wanted to see the birds as well as the game. I identified 162, new for me, largely with the help of our guide who spotted most of them first and named and spelled the species. I am an average bird watcher with well over 1000 on my life list.

Our guide, David, made this trip. Stopping to see and photograph the birds even impressed those in the jeep who had previously no interest in birds. That added a dimension to the trip that allowed us to see something different when no game was in sight.

Digging deeper into why the trip was so terrific I quizzed David on his back ground. He had been a guide for another outfitter before you hired him for Africa Dream. You trained him, an experienced guide, for a year before he could guide for you. New places to go, new way to cater to your customers, etc.

We observed disinterested guides sitting in other jeeps while their customers looked at the game. Our guides acted as interested as we were and told in depth details about why and how the wild life acted as they did and a history of the area. Your guides have to report at the end of each trip where they went and what they see and even take pictures for you. This is somehow recorded in your data base in the states so you know where the animals will be year to year based on the calendar, and arrange the tour route accordingly.

From being greeted at the airport with a ‘present to the birthday boy’ to receiving a birthday cake in our room upon arrival, then having the dining staff perform a Africa birthday dance this trip was one of a lifetime to the last day where we spotted 7 new birds and monkeys. Tell anyone who needs a reference to call me day or night. The trip was that good.

Oh one final note. We had 4 in each jeep which allowed one person on each of your 4 rows allowing everyone to see and take photo’s from each side. Many of the budget operators had 6 and 7. And you should have told us to stay one more day. Lake Masek tent camp lodge was our favorite.

Thank You,

Willis & Liz G.
Portland, Oregon
Safari Dates: May 15, 2015 to May 26, 2015

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Our Serengeti Safari-Anniversary, Birthday And Gluten Free Diet

Asante Sana ADS. This was exactly what we asked for and you delivered!

This was my second trip to Africa, having climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in June of 2013. On the way back to the States I was introduced to ADS by a couple sitting next to me who were talking about the safari they had just completed. They told me it was the best trip they had ever been on. When I inquired who the outfitter was they said ADS. ADS became the basis of all our research into safaris and in the end they won hands down! Thanks to Dawn for the personal attention to detail and patience with all our questions.

Having been in the Southern Hemisphere a couple of times my wife and I know the results of long travel times and how tiring it is. With that in mind we opted to spend an extra day in Arusha and head out on safari well rested. Very wise decision on our part. We were met at the airport by Mateas and Peter. They ushered us thru the Visa and immigration areas with a minimum of delay. We were taken to the Mount Meru Hotel, which is a splendid property and served us well for two nights. The evening of the second night we were treated to a special anniversary dinner served up in a private gazebo with a candle lit table. Nicely done.

The next morning we flew directly to the Mara River Camp and began our safari there. We saw four of the big five on the very first day and the fifth came soon after! Finding a black rhino with her baby on our first day was impressive. Loved just driving along and stopping because “oh, there’s a herd of elephants” or “oh, look at the giraffe with her baby”!

We saw not one, not two, but three migration crossings. I could not do it justice in this space. I would recommend viewing the CD “Planet Earth” or “Africa” to watch the migration and you will then know what amazing is. Later, more about our wonderful guide who made it all possible.

Our drive to the Lobo valley was long and dusty, but well worth the trek. Here we saw lots of lions both male and female, lots of cubs, a number of cheetahs and rare sightings of leopards. We were able to watch a cheetah hunt and kill. It was actually quite quick and humane.

Our final stop was at the Ngorongoro Crater. I believe this is the largest crater in the world that supports wildlife, and does it ever. Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions, buffalos, zebras, warthogs, hyenas, cheetahs, a serval cat, and more.

The accommodations at Lion’s Paw Tented Camp were excellent, as were all the camps. The tent camps were impressive, providing comfortable accommodations in not easy conditions. A queen sized bed, bathroom and shower in a tent, really! A warm “bucket” shower at the end of a long of day of game driving was most welcomed. The personnel at all the camps were truly outstanding, leaving nothing to want. At dinner in camp one evening my wife was treated to a birthday greeting in Swahili and a delicious birthday cake. Being zipped into the tents at night knowing we might hear lions, hippos, cape buffalo or possibly elephants right outside is an experience hard to explain.

In addition to the animal sitings listed earlier I would mention jackal, baboon, crocodile, eagle, vulture, eland, wildebeest, gazelle, impala, hippo, trees and birds too numerous to mention. Any attempt to include all here would be an exercise in carpel tunnel fatigue.

Last but certainly not least, two very important features that made this a trip of a lifetime. Wilfred, our driver/guide, was quite simply the BEST. There was not a question he did not have an answer to, and there were many. How he managed to maneuver the Land Cruiser thru some of that terrain was beyond belief. He found animals that were not visible to the naked eye. He was able to position us to get the best possible photo shoot. Above all he has great respect for the land and the environment which served us so well. He is truly a fine gentleman.

The second item was one I mentioned in the title, gluten free diet. My wife suffers from Celiac disease and is very sensitive to gluten whether in the food itself or cross contamination during preparation. We are happy to say she made the entire twelve days without incident. Something that is difficult to do at home with far better circumstances. Bravo to the cooks and advance work by ADS.

Indeed a trip to be remembered!

La La Salama,

Melanie & Ed G.
Londonderry, New Hampshire
Safari Dates: October 3, 2014 to October 12, 2014

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Our Tanzania Safari – A Celebration Of 3 Retirements And A Birthday!

Jambo! We’ve recently returned from a trip of a lifetime, a number 1 bucket list item celebrating 3 retirements and a birthday. Thanks to ADS, the adventure was everything we hoped for and more!

Planning for the safari began 2 years before our trip. Since I retired first, the research and details became my project. After checking out several private safari companies, upon meeting with friends that had just returned from an ADS safari, and after speaking on several occasions with Dawn Anderson, we decided that ADS best met our needs. The four of us included amateur photography buffs and two elementary school teachers. Dawn was magnificent in meshing our varied interests and needs. She guided us through every step leading up to our safari.

We elected to travel directly to Tanzania and arrived tired but excited after nearly 30 hours in transit. Faith and Timon were there to meet and greet us, shepherd us through visa lines, and take us to the Mount Meru Resort. We elected to stay 2 nights in order to get some R & R and explore Arusha. The grounds and accommodations were lovely—We wisely opted to get massages. An unexpected surprise was a special dinner under the gazebo with a cake acknowledging the occasion of our retirements. Faith and Timon’s graciousness made our introduction to Tanzania so easy.

The next day we were off to take a short flight to the Serengeti. Francis, our driver/guide, was there to greet us and off we went to the Mara River. On our drive we saw nearly all the wildlife that we had come to see. Mara River Camp was a revelation. From being greeted by the staff with scented towels and refreshing juice to our luxury tents with comfortable furnishings and ensuite bathroom to incredible meals (prepared in a tiny kitchen), we couldn’t believe our good fortune. Conversing with the other guests was delightful. We spent the night listening to the voices of zebra, wildebeest, gazelles, and warthogs as they grazed along our tents and even peeked at them from our “window.”

Onward to the Lobo Valley to gaze upon open plains that are reminiscent of our mid-west. We reveled in its beauty and that of the giant granite kopjes where we spied lions and cheetahs napping. Our next lodging was at Buffalo Tented Lodge—our most luxurious accommodation. Its high elevation provided us with magnificent vistas. The meals were delicious—rivaling the best restaurants back home. The birthday girl was serenaded in both Swahili and English and presented with a yummy birthday cake.

A special highlight was the visit to a Maasai village. We were escorted by Seketo, the chief’s son, who also happens to be employed at Buffalo. Because of its remote location, we had a “private” tour that afforded us much time to see how the proud, hardworking Maasai live. Their homes reminded us of how the Native Americans constructed their homes. Children begin early to tend to goats and cattle or to their younger siblings. I enjoyed participating with the women in their traditional a cappella singing and dancing.

On the drive through the Central Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Highlands we observed in close proximity lions and their cubs and a trio of cheetahs stalking and taking down a zebra. Included were worthwhile stops at the Serengeti Information Center and Oldupai Gorge where James and Mary Leake spent many years uncovering the “Cradle of Mankind.”

Lion’s Paw Tented Camp is ideally situated because it’s nearest the entrance to the Crater. We loved its remoteness and the nice touches to make it warm and cozy—soft blankets (that we used on our drives), heater, and hot water bottles to warm the bed. It was one of our favorite accommodations.

Because of our location, we were one of the first to reach the Crater. In relative isolation, we saw 2 different lion prides – one of which comprised 12—a rare sight to see one so large. We saw lionesses working together to stalk prey and cubs playing mischievously. We saw hippos resting in the green marshland and hundreds of flamingos.

On our drive to the Tarangire, we incorporated a visit to the Foundation for African Medicine & Education (F.A.M.E.), another highlight of our trip. Dr. Frank Artress and his wife, Susan Gustafson, have made it their mission to improve the quality and accessibility to medical care in this underserved community. It is quite inspiring to see what they have built. They couldn’t have been more gracious with their time. To discover that they also hailed from California was quite a coincidence.

We ended our safari exploring the Tarangire and staying at Maramboi Tented Lodge. By this time, unlimited hot water was a real treat! At our final dinner, we were entertained by a singing procession of staff who presented us with a good-bye cake!

Finally, thank you to the ADS staff for matching us with Francis. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the terrain and wildlife and his ability to see and point out animals provided us with an excellent vantage point for viewing and photography. We enjoyed our daily debriefing, planning for the next day’s adventures, and learning more about him. He is a natural teacher and was an integral part of realizing our dream safari.

Asante sana,

Paula and Bob S.
Los Angeles, California
Safari Dates: September 2-16, 2014

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Our Safari Far Exceeded Our Wishes, Dreams and Hopes.

Our 65th birthdays and 40th wedding anniversary just happened to fall within a year of each other. Because of that, we decided to take a look at our Bucket List, and that’s when traveling to Africa became a realistic dream for us. An acquaintance of ours recommended Africa Dream Safari, and from the very first contact with Dawn Anderson and the website, we realized we were on our way to a private, luxury safari in Tanzania for four.

As luck would have it, our relatives Tom and Danni, would be sharing the trip with us. The planning process ended up taking two years. Knowing we wanted February, which is a popular time, many of our desired accommodations had already been booked. Once we decided to take our time, everything fell into place perfectly.

We arrived in Kilimanjaro, and were met by Mathius and Timan, our ADS greeters. Our entrance, transport, and briefing was handled by them, which made the process very smooth and entirely stress free. Our ride to Arusha was informative, and Mathius presented all of us with gifts made locally in Tanzania.

The Mount Meru Resort was lovely, and our three nights there gave us time to adjust, rest, and settle into the ambiance of Tanzania. Our first and second days there were planned through ADS; a visit to the Tanzanite Factory Experience, The Cultural Center, and The Arusha National Park. Our greeters were with us the first day, and even stopped to purchase us some local fresh roasted corn to try. It was most unusual, and we decided it resembled a combination of boiled corn on the cob and popcorn. Thompson was our guide the second day. He provided an excellent tour of the park while finding many species of animals and birds, and a beautiful, restful overlook for our lunch. It served as an exemplary introduction to our safari.

ADS planned one short flight from Arusha to Seranera in the Serengeti National Park, where we met our guide Francis, and we were then his passengers for the next ten days. Upon realizing the vastness of the Serengeti, there were some metaphoric comparisons we made between the ocean and the plains. It was as if we were on a boat, bumping along, the dust being our wake, the horizon in the distance encircling us.

Our sightings were numerous, and consistently different, yet singly paramount. Lionesses with cubs, lions and lionesses in new relationships, cheetahs with cubs, a cheetah killing a gazelle, and elephant and giraffe families all occurred daily. Herds of roaming buffalo always precipitated another verse of “Home on the Range.” Hippos meandering at a close proximity, while verbally and physically playing in the water all day long, was surely always entertaining and amazing.

At the Ngorongora Crater, it was very different from the Serengeti. After descending into the crater, we spotted many of the same animals in small numbers, comparatively. It was a true melting pot where the animals and birds lived for life, protected. We found it a wonder there weren’t more there. The wildlife was phenomenal throughout the trip, and we ended up locating over 80 species of birds. We had purchased the book, Wildlife of East Africa, a suggestion from ADS, which provided us with pictures, descriptions, and an accounting of what we came upon.

The zebra and wildebeest migrations added an intense and overwhelming magic to our safari, and is truly impossible to articulate. The Serengeti could absolutely be the 8th Wonder of the World. Fortunately, we experienced many of them, and all were unique in their own way. It was the birthing time for both species, and there were abundant babies around. Many wildebeest’s births took place, and we witnessed the natural beauty of them.

Gazelle’s, both Grant’s and Thompson’s, jumped and scooted everywhere along with warthogs, and hyaenas, and ostrich. Both rhinos and leopards were spotted, but in lesser numbers. Regardless of where we were, at any given time, we were surrounded by peacefulness, and quiet, unless the animals were communicating.

The Four Seasons Lodge, Lake Masek, Kusini, and Lemala were where we stayed during the progression of our safari. They were all different, and inviting in their own ways. Ensuite, private bathrooms, and hot and cold running water were priorities for us, and ADS made it happen.

Francis made our safari the trip of a lifetime. His gentle nature, humor, and knowledge were consistent throughout. He often found sightings and alerted other guides via 2-way radio. He allowed us to “check the tires,” as often as necessary, kept our box lunches safe and sound, provided snacks, drinks, wipes, and all the comforts we needed daily. Our Land Cruiser was very comfortable and had binoculars for each passenger. The cruiser seated 8, and only having 5 gave us plenty of room to move around, pop through the roof, and view without feeling crowded.

Francis joined us for some dinners, during which we learned more about life in Tanzania. He shared some of his personal and fascinating life with us, including much of his country’s history, and the politics of it all. The people of Tanzania are generally very congenial and accepting of their lives. With Francis’ guidance, we came to realize and understand that the animals rule the Serengeti, and are respected by all. Survival of the fittest is exemplified, and the eco-system is balanced. The safari goers are in the zoo cruiser, while the wildlife roam freely in their territory. Poachers remain a threat, but the government appears to be putting more in place to control them.

We bid farewell to Francis reluctantly, and returned to Arusha and Mount Meru Resort for a couple of days before departing. It provided a well embraced debriefing for us to absorb where we had been and what we had seen. Our safari was remarkable in every way, and in so many additional ways that are too innumerable to mention. It far exceeded our wishes, dreams, and hopes, and the memories will be with us forever. Viewing Kilimanjaro as we departed was a sight, glowing through the clouds that gave us yet another chill.

Thank you to ADS, Dawn, Cathy King, and Francis, for a dream that came true.

Jamie and Sandy
Bonita Springs, Florida
Safari Dates: February 12, 2014 to February 20, 2014

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Africa Dream Safaris is aptly named-they made our Safari dream a reality!

We talk about going places all the time, especially after hearing recollections of some of our friends’ amazing adventures, but those special trips are always what we will do some day. So, when I found myself sitting in our Land Rover in the Serengeti surrounded by wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles, I almost had to pinch myself to realize we really were on the Safari of our dreams!

We were talking with friends of ours and we all wanted to do something big to celebrate turning 50. Going on a safari was on the top of the wish list. We said that we have friends who had spoken highly of their multiple safari experiences with ADS, so we decided this was the time to go and we contacted Sharon through the ADS website.

ADS gave us everything we needed to plan and pack for the trip. She helped us through the booking process, giving us updated detailed itineraries as we adjusted our dates. We packed our cameras, clothes, our ADS guidebook and boarded the plane. From the time we arrived in Kilimanjaro and were met at the airport to the time we said our final good byes to our guide, Francis, at the airport twelve days later, ADS staff was always prompt, professional, and handled every aspect of our trip smoothly.

Our ADS guide, Francis, never failed to impress us with his amazing ability to spot animals and birds, his knowledge of the wildlife and the parks, and the uncanny ability to predict the weather! As we were starting our safari at the beginning of the wet season, Francis was preparing us for rainy weather, especially during the last week of our trip. This was the only time it turned out he was not correct!

We were lucky that we only encountered rain twice for short periods and we were able to see lions playing in the mud and hyenas enjoying a mud spa. On every other matter, we could count on Francis to be an amazing wealth of knowledge. He could predict what a lion’s next move would be and identify every bird we encountered. Francis also shared aspects of life and the culture of Tanzania and efforts to preserve the parks. At the end of each day, we would agree on a plan for the next day. He made sure each day held new and exciting experiences. He even patiently waited while we lingered at the pungent hippo pool.

We kept track in our ADS guide book and our ADS-recommended wildlife field guide book of all the birds and animals we encountered and it was quite an impressive list! We watched a cheetah being herded away from the wildebeest calves by the adults, baboons playing in the trees, lions lounging on the beach and snacking on a fresh kill, elephants cooling themselves in the water, and so many other amazing encounters. It was great to have just the four of us and Francis to decide how long to stay and observe and take photos at each location.

We traveled to the central Serengeti, southern Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and and Tarangire. Even though the last night we stayed at the Kikoti Lodge we were the only guests, we were still treated to a full four-course delicious meal as at every other stop, which we were happy to share with Francis and celebrate an amazing trip.

Africa Dream Safaris is aptly named-they made our Safari dream a reality!

Jeff and Sue B.
West Bloomfield, MI
Safari Dates: March 18, 2013 to March 28, 2013

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An African Safari For My 60th Birthday

Where to begin…this trip was a gift to my husband for his 60th birthday, but ended up being a gift to me as well. It was to date the best vacation we have ever taken! From the minute we landed in Arusha to the minute we left 12 days later, Africa Dream had every detail well planned out for us.

Our guide, J.P., was the absolute best!! We were fortunate enough to see EVERYTHING! Leopards, Cheetah with her two cubs, Rhino’s, Wild Dogs, many lions, elephant, giraffe, zebra, etc., etc., etc. It was amazing! Also, the accommodations were fantastic!

While staying at Swala Tented Lodge we were walking (with our guide) back to our room one evening and were met by five or six bachelor elephants. On another occasion, we were having our lunch boxes and a monkey, with her baby holding on, jumped on our table and grabbed Phil’s apple and brownie and then took off. Several other monkeys took off after her trying to steal the apple. It was so funny! We are animal lovers and there is nothing like seeing them in their natural environment.

The people of Africa are some of the nicest people we have ever met. They try so hard to make sure everything is perfect and they are so grateful for everything. It was truly a hard place to leave. We also visited villages and were amazed by the culture. My dream job would be to travel around Africa and help plan vacations for others to experience what we experienced. It was truly amazing and we are already talking about our next trip back.

Thank you Africa Dream Safaris and hats off to your amazing staff!

Phil & Melanie Osterhout
Drumright, Oklahoma
Safari Dates: October 8, 2012 to October 18, 2012

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Quote of the Week: Alejandra Mugica & Family

For two years I prepared my dream trip to Africa, I wrote dozens of e-mails,
searched for hundreds of web pages, forums and reviews looking for the
perfect trip. Little did I know that the perfect trip was waiting for me in
Tanzania and all I had to do us unlock the company to help me discover it.
ADS was it. From the first e-mail, the first questions and the first doubts
I had, ADS was professional, and thorough with the information and answers.
Not one mail of dozens was left unanswered or half answered. Going to
Africa, I needed reassurance and support. ADS provided with everything I
needed to know to be safe, comfortable and mostly, excited about my trip.

Our first impression about our guide was immediately of man with experience,
knowledge and kindness. Little did we know all our wonderful guide had in
store for us. From the very first day his willingness to get us what we went
to look for rewarded us with a crossing, and a lion and lioness devouring a
wildebeest! From then on everyday brought us something new, different,
wonderful. We were lucky to have a guide that with the utmost respect for
wildlife was willing to show us Africa through his eyes. Herds of elephants,
cheetahs, lions, wildebeest crossings, baboons, leopards, hippos,
gazelles.and more.

At the end teary eyes for leaving this precious world behind, not just me but my family as well. I have heard that going to Africa changes you, it does. So many experiences, so many wonderful people, the children, the villages, and for me, the animals. The look on the animals eyes, the calmness, confidence and pride you can see when they look at you. It is something that only the gift of freedom can give. They decide what to do, they can leave, they can stay, they can fight. In this perfect world they stay, so we can learn from them and admire their beauty. So we can be in awe and be ready to start dreaming towards the next safari.

Thank you ADS for your professionalism, your thoroughness with details and
picking the very best guide for me and my family. We could not have asked
for a better experience!!

Sincerely yours,

Alejandra Mugica and Family
August 2011

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