Tag: Canada

Nature In All Its Glory!

It’s hard to put an experience like this into words. Everyone I spoke to about going to Africa said it was a life changing experience, and although I knew it would be great, I didn’t expect it to be all that. One of my friends said to me before I left to ‘be prepared that Africa has a tendency to keep a piece of your heart’. Now I understand what she meant!

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A Safari In Tanzania Should Be At The Top Of Everybody’s Bucket List

We’ve just returned from the trip of a lifetime! We were a group of six and were looking for a private tour company that could provide the best of what Africa has to offer. Africa Dream Safaris was the tour company that was recommended to us as the best, most attentive and most reliable. Our expectations were high but we were not prepared for the magnitude of what were about to experience.

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We Saw Fantastic Wildlife Including The Great Migration

From landing at Kilimanjaro in the early morning hours, until we left 13 days later, Africa Dream Safaris gave us a fantastic experience of Tanzania and the Serengeti. We saw more game than we had any right to expect, and enjoyed staying at some of the most amazing hotels and lodges.

We had a limited window of dates to make this trip work for the whole family, and were concerned about the ‘wet season’ – but Dawn reassured us that it would still be a full safari experience, and she was right!

I think we saw a little rain twice – but we saw so much fantastic wildlife, including the beginning of the great migration, while travelling from the western corridor, through central Serengeti, and concluding in Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. We also enjoyed exclusive use of some of the fantastic accommodations – we were the only guests! So we were very happy to be among the few not put off by the ‘wet season’!

All the ADS staff were very friendly and helpful in Arusha, and our driver-guide Russell was fantastic, pointing out for us not only the large game that everyone comes to see, but also with almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the many beautiful bird species, as well as the plants and trees.

The Mbalageti Lodge, the Ewanjan Tented Camp, and the Crater Lodge were all fantastic in their own unusual, eclectic or secluded ways, and the Four Seasons Bilila, while a more conventional hotel experience, was also phenomenal.

We all loved the trip, and already have in our minds the possibility of a return in a different season to experience the wonders of the Serengeti again.

David, Sheryle, Robert, Charlotte and Lawrence S.
Safari Dates: April 30, 2015 to May 13, 2015
Toronto, Canada

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Our 5th Safari To Tanzania!

Asante sana ADS!! – this was our Best trip yet!! And that is not an easy feat considering this was our fifth ADS safari. We have travelled with our daughter as a family three times, and this was the second time we have brought a group. Last time, a group of photographers, and this time a group of friends after a Habitat For Humanity Build in Ethiopia.

From our middle of the night airport meet & greet/visa assistance, to the midnight shuttle back to the airport ten days later, the ADS staff looked after everything. Africa Dream Safari’s did their absolute best to ensure we had an amazing and hassle free experience, with emphasis on Amazing!

First a Thank-you to Michael for your help in putting together an itinerary that was designed to provide us access to the migration, the Big Five, and a huge variety of other birds and animals – it did not disappoint.

We were a group of ten, eight who were first-timers to Tanzania, and we had two private safari vehicles. Our ADS driver guides, Anglebert & David were THE BEST! They worked with us to plan the each day, suggesting areas they felt would be best, given the rain, and migration situation. They always listened to our feedback, and as we have come to expect from ADS staff, were always willing and enthusiastic about early morning game drives. Anglebert and David were really outstanding, and treated us to long days, off the beaten path drives, and loads of game viewing. There were days we hardly saw another vehicle, and could enjoy the view and spend as much time as we liked with the animals without interruption.

Everyone in the group commented at some point about the game spotting skill demonstrated by the drivers. How do they manage to see things from so far away? How can they tell a leopard tail from a tree branch from 500 yards away? How can they actually know the names of all those birds? Always pleasant, endlessly answering our questions about the animals, birds and the plants, and willing to share their books on each, Anglebert and David are true professionals. They kept us safe, their knowledge of animal behavior not only found us the game, but would often put us in its path – so the animals walked right up to us. Anglebert, an accomplished photographer himself, would position our vehicle just right for the light and the best angle, so even the smallest point and shoot cameras got terrific shots.

It is absolutely true that a good driver-guide can absolutely change your safari experience. We have traveled with eight different ADS drivers, and have always been impressed at the terrific job they do. The company standards for hiring are obvious in the experience and education of the staff – The bonus you get as an ADS customer is in the passion, the work ethic, and the desire the guides bring with them. They are trained, educated, specialists who are committed to making your safari experience excellent in every way.

The highlight of this trip for us, was Anglebert managing to get us in front of a pack of more than 20 wild dogs. In five trips, this was the first time we have seen them, and they did not disappoint. (You might be surprised how many photographs can be taken in an hour) It was a thrill to even see the dogs, endangered and elusive, and then to have them hang around and cooperate for so long…Wow!

On previous trips we have tried almost everything as far as lodging goes, and have decided we like the tented camp experience best. We were treated to excellent food, great staff, and daily hot showers at four different camps this trip. The hot water bottles tucked into the beds at night and coffee delivered with wake up calls were big hits, much like the popcorn and campfire’s under the stars. But more importantly, we were in terrific locations for the best game viewing every day.

The camp staff were terrific, and made us a hot breakfast at 5:30 AM, and got our box lunches ready so we could head out each day before dawn. In the evenings, they were pleasant & willing to provide hot water for showers before dinner, regardless how late we turned up back at camp – which was mostly after dark.

Every time we travel with ADS, we are impressed with the exceptional service we encounter in the camps along the way. This trip a standout was Gilbert from Ndutu Woodlands Camp – who captivated our group by sharing personal stories around the campfire, of his life and childhood growing up as a Maasai.

This was our 5th trip to Tanzania, and no matter how many times you go, you cannot escape the excitement, or how addictive it can be. It is difficult to explain the overall experience to anyone who hasn’t done it, other than just to say – “YES!! JUST DO IT!!” Once you do, you will face the same challenges our group did after this trip…

Trying to explain to someone that you saw more than 50 lions before lunch that day, or that 17 of them were eating a zebra right beside your vehicle.

Or how totally cool it is to watch a young cheetah playfully race in circles around his mom, then climb a tree stump and pose perfectly for photo’s in the warm golden light of sunrise.

Trying to explain the smile that comes to your face as you watch a couple of little lion cubs chew on their mom’s tail & then tumble around playing tag while the sun rises behind them. (This is why you get up and get out before the sun comes up!)

Or how do you describe what it’s like to see a herd of more than 200 elephants on the move, or how fast your heart is beating as you try to sit quietly while they surround your vehicle, because your driver has managed to park you right where they end up crossing the road.

And how do you explain sitting around a campfire at night and looking up at the sky so full of stars, and so bright they don’t even look real.

All I can really say is – If you are even thinking about going to Tanzania, you cannot do better than to go with Africa Dream Safari’s, and go now – It will change your life! As it has our family’s’. Thank you Michael and all the ADS staff from the bottom of our hearts.

Cheryl and Greg Stewart
Regina, Canada
February 12, 2015 to February 20, 2015

Ngorongoro Crater Viewpoint

Serengeti Cheetah

Zebra with weaver birds

Lion cubs under our vehicle

Elephant Viewing – Tarangire National Park

Elephant Viewing – Ngorongoro Crater

Leopard

African Wild Dog

Lions with zebra kill

Lioness with cubs

Our group in the Serengeti

Maasai Boma Dance

Lioness

Cheetah

Spotted Hyena

Wild Dog

Golden Jackal

Black Backed Jackal

Bat eared Fox

Banded Mongoose

Dwarf Mongoose

Elephant

Cape buffalo

Black rhino

Masai giraffe

Eland antelope

Thomson’s gazelle

Steinbok antelope

Dik-dik antelope

Martial Eagle

Secretary Bird

Kori Bustard

African Crowned Crane

Lappet Faced Vulture

Lilac Breasted Roller

European Roller

Superb Starling

Red Billed Hornbill

Green Bee-Eater

Red-and-yellow barbet

Long-tailed Widowbird

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Thrown into the Lion King!


Not sure what it is about Africa that gets under my skin, but I am sitting here at Rome airport with the last remaining red dust in my hair, saying goodbye to one heck of an experience!

A lifetime ago, but only a few weeks ago, Chris and I flew into Kilimanjaro airport, then took a small plane to the North Serengeti. There, we met our 32 year old Maasai game driver. He packed us into the 8-seater Toyota Land Cruiser, and boy, were we in for a wild ride! Or as locals say, an African massage – the 4 wheel drives through the wild, searching for the wilder life ahead.

All 10 days of the game drive were full of surprises- our vocabulary consisted of three words/expressions: OMG, WOW , and asante sana (thank you). Our driver, Emanuel, took us into the North Serengeti the first day, and we learned the basic three rules of life here: #1 Get Food, #2 Reproduce and #3 Try Not To Get Killed. The rest of the journey, we learned the patterns of behavior around these three rules- a harmony of nature that speaks to the simplicity and nasty brilliance of the order here. Nature teaches us such important lessons…

Within the first few hours of bouncing through the rough fields, Emanuel had spotted 3 of the Big 5, and i was not sure if I had been thrown into Lion King, or was living a National Geographic adventure. Graceful Maasai giraffes were all around us, and we passed lionesses with cubs under a nearby tree.

Emanuel was determined to get us to North Serengeti as the great wildebeest migration was taking place across the Mara river. Wildebeests have herd behavior in their annual migration, and they negotiate, so they will come close to crossing, then step back while we have our zoom lenses poised, and we will have to wait 2 hours for another decision.

The final decision is made by a female wildebeest, and of course is usually right. This is a wonderful opportunity for crocodiles, lions, hyena, vultures etc. to have their Thanksgiving dinner, as the weak wildebeest are such a nice treat. We saw two lions enjoying such a big meal, and here it was – the basic rule #1. There was a line-up with vultures overhead, and hyenas watching for their turn. Soon, there would be nothing left. Talk about a great recycling program!

The most fantastic lessons we learned were lessons of animal partnerships i.e. zebras travel with these wildebeests, because zebras have great eyesight, and eat different grasses, can’t smell a thing, and wildebeests are quite blind, can smell rain miles away, so they make one great team. As well, grazers (buffalo) work well with browsers (giraffe) because they eat different diets, as well. Elephants do both, and driving through elephant country is driving through mass destruction – trees ripped apart, stampeded undergrowth everywhere! But they are so cute!

Tanzania has more than 120 tribal groups in its hills and plains. There are ancient bushmen tribes that represent some of the most primitive of all. They are isolated from outer world, and survive on roots, snakes, baboons, and wild fruit. A prominent proud nomadic tribe called the Maasai are tall, graceful, dressed in stunning colors, and use their cows like we use ATM machines. They live with their cows, claim wealth according to # of cows, (therefore more wives) and drink cow milk mixed with cow blood as a main meal (sorry if I ruined your next meal). Emanuel took us to a non touristy Maasai village where he knew most of the people, and we went into their small dung-mud huts to see the interior designs. Lynn wouldn’t have approved…There people walked miles and miles each day to find food for their cattle, often with 2 or 3 youngsters helping herd the cattle.

One afternoon, we came across a lion and pregnant lioness, but our truck got stuck in a hole, and the lion roared really loudly. I was standing up in the truck at the time, and my new sunglasses flew out of the truck. Emanuel rocked the truck and called for help, but eventually got us out. Chris rolled up the windows quickly, and I sat down- asked Emanuel to forget the sunglasses, but he went back, and put the truck between lion and sunglasses, then swooped down and grabbed them. We motored out of there full throttle, hearts pounding!

Another day, we saw a leopard and two cheetahs on the hunt…so graceful and fluid as magnificent pussy cats you want to reach out and just hug! As well, we saw a huge pool of hippos all cuddle up together, waddling in the water, pink behind the ears with their gel-like SPF they secrete to protect them from the sun. A piece of trivia- what do zebras sound like when they make noises? Answer: dogs!

After travelling from North to South Serengeti, we came to the Olduvai Gorge. Here is an example of shifting plate tectonics where millions of years of archaeology are presented in a shelf for the viewing. And here is where Dr. and Mrs. Leakey made one of the most important archaeologic discoveries of our time- the “first footprint” that linked present day man to our primate forefathers.

Onto the huge Ngorongoro Crater, a 22×18 km sanctuary for all kinds of wildlife. We stayed in a camp on the edge of the crater, then went early morning to see many lions, cubs, elephants, and finally our rhinos! We made the big 5!

Near the end of our trip, we had the good fortune to stay in Swala Tented Lodge before heading to Arusha. What a luxury retreat! Hot water 24 hours a day! On arrival, an elephant was drinking out of the infinity pool, and later, lions had come to have a nice drink before bed. This was a good stone’s throw from our dinner table, and I ate very quickly with one eye on the lion! Our staff knew the behavior of these wild game and had no fear. They simply understand and respect each other.

The company we travelled with was African Dream Safari. They support a modern medical hospital, where an American cardiologist, Dr. Frank, and wife have devoted the last 12 year of their life building. It cares for a full range of tribal and tourist patients, and delivers superb care. Dr. Frank told me that he had three European neurologists vist when an American tourist came in with chronic headaches. One of the neurologists saw papilloedema in her fundi, and diagnosed a blood clot. She was transferred urgently to a nearby hospital, and had appropriate care. Would this have been picked up if she were home? Not so sure. Physician staff is international and telemedicine is used regularly. How unbelievable to hear that tuberculosis and malaria are so common here. How good to hear that HIV is on the decline.

Chris F. and Gail P.
Kelowna, Canada
Safari Dates: October 8, 2014 to October 18, 2014

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Absolutely Amazing Safari With Africa Dream Safaris

Every moment of our 10-day custom safari with Africa Dream Safaris was first class and beyond our expectations. We travelled with close friends from Calgary. Throughout the planning stage, Michael answered all of our many questions with great detail.

Our arrival and departure accompanied by with Faith and Tman were handled with ease. Both were so friendly, well informed and very helpful. Being expedited through customs in Arusha was super.

Words cannot express our gratitude to Anglebert, our guide, with the “eagle” eyes. He is such a kind, enthusiastic and knowledgeable man, who simply made our trip the very best experience imaginable. Every time that we were encouraged to get up early and be out on safari, we would see something exciting and amazing.

Anglebert had the answers to all of our questions about the animals and Tanzania – we simply could not come up with a question that he could not answer. His knowledge of the animals, the history and habitat is simply incredible. We would be driving along the rutted and bumpy roads, when Anglebert would pull over, get out the binoculars and calmly say, “just checking”. We would then head off in the direction that he had been looking to experience yet another breathtaking and amazing sight. Over the course of our trip, we enjoyed several meals together and had lots of laughs and giggles. By the time that our safari was over, we had all developed a very close and wonderful friendship with Anglebert, and all of us shed tears when saying goodbye.

We first met Anglebert at the Northern Serengeti airport after our quick flight from the Arusha airport. Within fifteen minutes of leaving the Serengeti airport, we saw several giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, baboons, impalas and an Agama lizard (brilliant blue and pink color). In the afternoon, we saw a large herd of elephants in the water, grazing on the trees, all within very close proximity to our vehicle. On the way to Lemala Kuria Hills, we saw ostriches, crocodiles and vervet monkies. By the end of Day 1, we thought that we had pretty much seen it all. We had no idea what was to come. Below, is a brief summary of some of the highlights of our days on safari.

An early Day 2 started out with our finding the very elusive serval cat within 5 minutes of our departure from the camp. A short while later, we came across 5 lion cubs resting at the top of a kopje. It looked like they were under strict orders to stay in place until their “moms” returned. We witnessed vultures sitting around a dying wildebeest, waiting for their meal. There were the very aggressive looking Cape buffalo, shy klipspringers, herds of Thomson gazelles, carrion storks and beautiful scenery.

On Day 3, we witnessed over 200,000 wildebeest getting ready to cross the Mara River (after waiting for a long time, we decided to move on to another area where they were building up, and then, of course, they finally started to cross at the first location, but it was a very short lived crossing as one of the wildebeest was taken down by a crocodile). As we moved on, we found a male and female lion sleeping peacefully under a bush. After some time, the female woke up, paced around the male causing him to also wake up. They then proceeded to mate – that was an amazing and very quick event.

Later on, we came across our first sighting of hippos – many of them in the water and on the shore. They are definitely a very smelly, but interesting, creature to watch. On our way to Migration Tented Lodge, we saw a male lion just walking along the side of the road – definitely king of the Serengeti. During the night, when staying at Migration, we could hear hippos bellowing and lions roaring.

Sadly, we saw the skulls of 3 elephants very close together, which would indicate that they were the victims of poaching. Our first spotting of a leopard came after our visit to the Retina hippo pool. Later that day, we had a better viewing of another leopard posed on a kopje rock. She spent some time watching a female lion hunting very close by.

When in the Central Serengeti, we viewed fifteen lions crossing the Central Serengeti at sunrise, with the head female in the lead and the male at the rear. They were heading to water. It was a beautiful sight. We were able to watch them for a long time, drinking water, playing and lazing around.

Shortly after that, we came across another 14 lions feasting on the remains of a freshly killed hartebeest. Several of them we so totally full, that they had virtually passed out, lying on their backs with their feet in the air. Another short drive away, and we found a cheetah posing for us on a large rock. She left the rock and roamed through the grasses, seemingly on the hunt. We managed to see several cheetahs over the entire trip.

Later on that day, we saw 4 lions on the hunt for a zebra. There was a very large herd, but their hunt was not successful. We were interested to learn that cheetahs are successful hunters 80% of the time, whereas leopards have a 50% success rate, and lions are only successful 20% of the time.

We also saw jackals, topis, impalas, banded mongoose, warthogs, dik-diks, kudu, waterbucks, oribi, a monitor lizard, crocodiles, eland, ostriches and many very interesting types of birds.

Another highlight was stopping at a Masai village: seeing the boma, watching their dancing, touring their village, being invited into one of their mud huts, hearing the 4-7 year olds, at their tiny school, reciting their numbers and singing a song, looking at the colorful shukas and seeing the beautiful beaded jewelry that the women and children create.

The scenery at the Ngorongoro crater was so varied – from a desert landscape to a tropical oasis. It also was beautiful at sunrise and sunset. We found two female lions with their very tiny cubs (3-4 months old) wandering down the road, with the babies playing in the grasses. The very hard part of that day was seeing a pack of hyenas hunt and kill a wildebeest. It is the cycle of nature, but so very hard to view. The pink flamingos reflecting in the water that they were standing in, was also an awesome sight. We saw a very rare caracal cat that day too.

Later on, we finally found our black rhinos, chomping on the crater grasses. They were still quite a way from the road, but finding them did complete our list of the “Big 7”. Our cameras had 200X zooms, where Greg’s camera had a 600X zoom – he was kind enough to share some of his super rhino photos with us.

On our second day at Tarangire Tented Lodge, Anglebert asked what we still wanted to see. Debbie, my dear friend, stated that she wanted to find a leopard in a tree. Well, after about 15 minute from the camp, we found a beautiful leopard posing on a termite mound (not in a tree, but close). After taking many photos of her, she decided to move to a grass mound, where we took many more photos of her.

On her route to the grass mound, she walked around our vehicle and right under another Africa Dream Safaris’ vehicle beside us (we got to know Dawn and Greg from Boston and their guide, Peter, while staying at Migration and Seronara Sametu). Then she headed off to scout out a tree – no success, she did not climb it.

We decided to go have our breakfast at a nearby picnic sight, and then go back to see if we could again find her. We did find her, and within minutes, she had picked her tree, circled it, sprayed it and climbed it with great ease – it was one of those “goose bump” moments. She took her time getting comfortable in the boughs of the tree (again many more photos taken), and finally laid her head down to take a nap. After a long time watching her, we headed down the road, and big surprise, saw a lion in the boughs of a tree, looking for something to hunt. Another short while later, we came across a fresh zebra carcass across the boughs of a tree (the leopard that had hunted the zebra was nowhere in sight).

Our last day of safari started with a wonderful breakfast at Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge and ended with a very nice lunch with Anglebert at the Arusha Coffee Plantation. Lunch was a very special treat and great way to wrap up our memorable time on safari.

Our accommodations over the complete trip were excellent:

Lemala Kuria Hills was a 10/10 with respect to the beautiful location, luxury accommodations, the wonderful staff (Tabi, Diana and Moses), who were so friendly and accommodating, with fabulous meals and a very special “sunset” with cocktails, hor d’oeuvres and colorful cushions set up on a large kopje close to the main lodge.

Migration Tented Lodge was again a beautiful location, luxury accommodations and great staff. The meals were delicious. There were lots of hyrax running around the grounds – very interesting creatures.

Seronara Sametu Camp was a delightful “glamping” experience, where we thoroughly enjoyed DJ and JJ (JJ spent some time teaching us a few words of Swahili, which was a big surpise for Anglebert the next day). Sametu Camp felt like being surrounded by nature and gave us true sense of the Serengeti. The food was excellent. At night, we could hear the Cape buffalo munching the grasses right outside our tent. At sunrise, one definitely had to step carefully around the “buffalo patties” left on the pathway to the main lodge

Ngorongoro Lion’s Paw Tented Camp was a very similar experience to the Seronera Sametu Camp. We really enjoyed Edward at that camp, the sunset fire, great food and loved the great proximity of the Camp to the floor of the Crater.

Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge was a tied favorite with Lemala Kuria Hills, with again a 10/10. Jonathon, the Manager, and John, our Server, looked after us all so well. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful. The luxury tents were beautiful with lovely decks to sit out on. The watering hole where zebra, elephants, waterbuck and baboons came daily to drink from was very entertaining. Dining out under the stars in a boma with a roaring fire and white linens and crystal was great. Dining out by the pool, again with white linens and crystal and great food were very much enjoyed.

The special last night, with “Karibu” (welcome) spelled out with red beads, and the African song and dance done by the lodge staff was wonderful. They also served us a delicious cake with “Goodbye” spelled out in the icing. At the end of dinner, we were treated to a night safari – there are lots of different and interesting creatures out at night – we especially liked the African kangaroo. Another big treat, at the end of each day, was being greeted by staff at the various camps with cold cloths and glasses of refreshing juice.

The experience with African Dreams was truly the “trip of a lifetime” made so wonderful by firstly and mostly by Anglebert, a guide who could not be more dedicated, knowledgeable and personable. Anglebert is truly an incredible guide and a very special person. We also thoroughly appreciated the Africa Dream Safaris attention to detail, the little things provided, such as binoculars for each person, photo bean bags and a cooler stocked with beverages and snacks, the wonderful staff at each of our locations, the excellent cuisine, included and optional laundry service and just great overall service.

We would definitely recommend Africa Dream Safaris to anyone thinking of going on safari.

Asante sana!

Patti and Rob D.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Safari Dates: September 11, 2014 to September 20, 2014

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Our Safari Experience Was Exceptional In Every Way.

From our initial inquiry to the end of our Safari experience, Africa Dream Safaris has proven to be a company that knows how to make your trip a seamless experience of exciting and memorable moments. Michael and his staff were quick to respond to our questions, filling us in on so many details that even we were surprised when we simply had nothing left on our list to digest!

On our arrival in Arusha we were met by Faith, from ADS who quickly got us through immigration (so happy that we arranged this, as the line up was extensive) and on to our hotel where we spent the first evening resting from our 20 hour flight. The following morning was Day 1 of our actual Safari where we again were met by Faith who had the Land Rovers all ready for our drive to the local airport where the bush plane was waiting for our excursion to the Serengeti.

Flying over the land we glanced at the landscape and noticed dark spots, interesting looking crop circles and endless plains. Little did we know that the dark spots were indeed wildebeest (by the number), crop circles were the enclosures made of sticks, reeds and mud that surround the Maasai’s homes to keep their livestock in and the predators out, and of course the endless plain is “The Serengeti”.

Upon landing we were met by our guide, Anglebert who was to remain with us for the entire Safari. If you were wondering how effective this is, I can tell you that having the consistency, the reliability, and the sheer knowledge and enthusiasm that he provided truly made our Safari the best possible experience we could imagine. In fact, upon our farewell, the entire group shed a few tears for this special man, and he responded with a few of his own.

I should point out that our Safari was a custom journey. We traveled with our good friends from Calgary, Alberta and designed this trip based on the best areas to be in during September to view the Great Migration. We had a Land Rover equipped with a pop up roof and tented cover that was absolutely perfect for taking pictures and also keeping the sun off of your heads. Most of our accommodations were in the North and Central part of the Serengeti as well as the Ngorongoro Crater area and finishing with Tarangire. Our accommodations were a combination of luxury lodges and what we would call ‘glamping’ – an upscale form of tenting.

Each camp was a unique experience, but I will say that the staff made each experience most memorable. I truly believe that there is no other company that will create a custom venture for you that will satisfy your every desire like Africa Dreams. They know how to finish like a champion. The Safari experience is like no other.

After one year of extensive planning and having expectations of seeing “The Big 5”, we were overwhelmed from our first day upon seeing so many different types of animals that we had to keep journals just to remember the names and the slight variations. Anglebert had keen eyes for the wildlife, and also a knowledge about each animal – their lifestyle, hunting habits, as well as local population, and that kept us interested and wanting to learn more. The first question I am asked after saying that is “If you see all of this on day one, aren’t the rest of the days a disappointment?” Oh my goodness that couldn’t be the furthest from the truth – after all each day is unique – the wildlife you see is different, or in different situations, and provide for unlimited viewing, entertainment, and photo opportunities.

One of the most memorable moments (and there are many), was our first encounter with lions. The male and female were both relaxing under a large bush when after a few minutes the female arose from her nap and began to circle the sleeping male. This of course was designed to wake him, and waken he did, as he mounted the female within a few seconds from his deep slumber and performed his deed within fifteen seconds. If you didn’t have the camera ready, you would have missed it. When he finished he gave a wonderful growl which was mirrored by the female. How exciting to see nature, and truly the circle of life come to fruition with this beautiful couple.

All of the animals were enchanting, but the giraffe was so captivating. They come in a variety of color depths – from very light brown to almost chocolate brown spots. We came across many different shades in our travels, but my favorite encounter was a lone dark brown giraffe reaching high into a sausage tree with his blue tongue to grasp those tender green leaves. We quietly watched as he maneuvered around those large bulbous succulent fruits that drop from the tree and release seeds as the pulp rots.

The elephants come to collect the fruits when they fall and we have seen the fruits gathered by the Maasai and taken to the market to sell. These fruits can be up to 36” long and are reported to be poisonous unless it is baked or the seeds are roasted. I also hear that in African herbal medicine the fruit is used to treat a variety of ailments/diseases as well as aid in the fermentation of beer!! Who knew!

So many of the small animals are not as easily spotted, or easy to capture on film as they seem to be in constant motion, but early one morning our guide spotted two little ears peeking up from the grasses. A few moments later this beautiful serval cat popped his head up and we got what we call “National Geographic” like photos of this gorgeous cat. Servals use their long ears to detect movement in the grasses, then stand and pounce on their prey – usually a small rodent or frog. He is stunning in his natural environment.

Most every morning we were up at 5 am and after a large warm breakfast we were met by our driver Anglebert who would suggest that we be ready to leave by 6 to capture the best movement and the best lighting for photography and viewing. Not knowing what was in store for us this morning we dragged ourselves into the jeep and obliged. We drove through the long grasses, on fairly rutted road to capture the most stunning sight as the sun was just lifting through the horizon. Our leopard was perched on a termite mound for quite some time, offering incredible still shots for our cameras.

After getting absolutely perfect shots of him there, he began a short trek across the yellow grasses to sit for another photo opportunity, then meandered through the grasses to a tree in the vicinity and began circling the tree. Anglebert had told us to keep our camera focused on the tree, not the animal, so we were able to get shots of this magnificent creature clawing his way up the tree and then securing a comfortable spot to lay his head down and rest…the pictures can’t describe how beautiful he was as he lay so smoothly on that tree branch. Nature has a way of making each animal so unique that they have the ability to hunt and capture food for sustenance but also have the characteristics to keep themselves hidden from other predators…so beautiful.

I mentioned earlier in my writing about how the staff was so instrumental in making your evening at the camps so special. We had one jovial man by the name of JJ who upon asking what we might be having for dinner one evening he responded with a straight face that we were to have “Acacia Tree Soup” followed by “Cape Buffalo Stew”….then he laughed his face off and told us he was just joking! We had such fun with him though and he spent part of his evening teaching us all some Swahili so that we could surprise Anglebert with our knowledge.

We now consider Swahili our second language thanks to JJ who taught us several words that evening. We tested our words out the next day with Anglebert when I said in my loudest voice – “sismama tafadhali” which means stop please. Anglebert practically blew out the brakes when he heard me speak Swahili, then started laughing realizing that we really did pick something up while at camp that evening. Patti, (our friends we were traveling with) said “twende” – which means, let’s go – got Anglebert on the road once again – this time with a little smile on his face.

Lemala Kuria Hills was also a favorite – not only for it’s beauty in this natural setting, but also for it’s staff who with the guidance of Tabby, the resident manager, arranged for a special “sundowner” for us in the evening. She led us to a large “kopjes” formation (rock outcropping) where there were several large colorful pillows spread out for seating with ‘tables’ of wood stumps where we were to place our drinks. Here we were treated to cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while watching the sun go down…absolutely stunning evening. So many of the other guests at the camp were envious of our private setting that they ended up joining us on the kopje. Moses was especially attentive to my husband who was spoiled with his favorite Jim Beam and seven up.

There are so many animal experiences which are worthy of mention, however our stop at the Maasai village was a highlight of our trip. I’m not sure how long these wonderful people will be able to maintain their traditional values and customs, but I feel very privileged to have been to see their “bomas” which are their traditional homes made by the women of the community consisting of sticks, grass and cow dung.

We were met by the Chief’s son who took us to a traditional dance where I was invited to dance with the women who presented me with a gorgeous beaded necklace – about 4” wide. The idea was to be able to flip the necklace up and down while jumping – this is much harder than it looks and I brought them all to laughing hysterically as I attempted to jump and flip the necklace with enthusiasm. (Note to self – this would be a great time to wear a sports bra).

Our guide Anglebert had talked about the Maasai with us before we met them, and told us about many of their customs, but seeing it in person is a life changing experience. The Maasai are nomadic people who live customarily in Northern Tanzania and Kenya. Their dress is very distinctive wearing colorful shukas (blanket like garments in a variety of bold colors) along with gorgeous beading around their necks and on their ears. The beading patterns that they wear are determined by age, so you can imagine how ornate some of the older women were.

The young girls are responsible for rising early (before their mothers) to collect firewood and water for their family. The older women are the creators of the traditional home (boma) which are only large enough for sleeping and cooking. We were told by the Chief’s son that the small goats are also welcome in the home. Inside the boma it was very dark with a small fire burning which kept the temperature to a balmy 100 degrees. We were immediately finding sweat rolling down our cheeks as he was explaining how the bomas protected them from the heat of the day.

The women and children work on beading most of the afternoon as a social time while the young men – ages 7 to 16 are taught to tend to the livestock and are found walking up to ten miles per day locating grazing areas for their animals. The wealth of the Maasai is determined by how many cows he has. The more cows, the more wives he can choose. When we finished our tour with the Chief’s son he mentioned that we might purchase some beaded jewelry from his wife – but if we purchased from one wife we must also purchase something from the other – otherwise he might be in trouble not providing for the other wife’s welfare. We left with some lovely bracelets – one from each wife.

Our final stop was at the Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge – something that I have been looking forward to for years. This special camp is situated in the northern part of Tarangire National Park. From the moment you arrive you know you are in a magical spot. The large baobab tree which is in the center of the reception area is a sight to behold – running right through the roof, and measuring over 20 feet at the base. It is beautifully furnished with comfortable sitting areasand a large square fire pit in the center of the main building.

This camp has a water hole for animals right outside of the main building where every evening you can capture zebra, elephant, baboons by the hundreds, and waterbucks. Our dinners here were fine dining at it’s best – while sitting in a large ‘boma’ style area under a massive baobab tree, complete with white linen and crystal and a warm fire to add to the atmosphere.

On our final evening the staff made a special table with the words “karibu” (welcome) spelled out in leaves and seeds as we dined by the pool in front of the water hole. After finishing our meal we were to go on a night safari drive but before we left we were delighted with a serenade by all of the staff who presented us with a ‘farewell cake’ and danced and sang African songs around our table for several minutes. This lovely gesture by Africa Dream Safaris was certainly putting the ‘icing on the cake’ here! It brought tears to our eyes as we knew our Safari was coming to a close.

Our Safari experience was exceptional in every way. The overall agenda, the guide, Anglebert, and our seamless travel from airport to safari and back were all due to the careful attention of Africa Dream Safaris whom I believe are ‘specialists’ in making this a trip of a lifetime for anyone.

We met other Africa Dream Safari groups that we bonded with at several locations by an evening fire, at breakfast in the morning and on our Safari itself who had the same experience and were loving every moment.Thank you again for the ultimate travel experience, and thank you to Anglebert for sharing his love of this fabulous country. Kwaheri (goodbye).

Fondly,

Glenn & Debbie B.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Safari Dates: September 11, 2014 to September 20, 2014

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Dream Come True Vacation

After over one year of planning my wife and I had high expectations for our Tanzania safari. Africa Dream Safaris had bent over backwards preparing us for our vacation of a life time. From the minute we arrived at the Kilimanjaro airport until our departure 12 days later ADS treated us like royalty. We were met at the airport by Mathias and Timan who made the visa process quick and simple. We spent the next 2 days at the Mount Meru Resort recovering from jet lag and visiting a few local Arusha sights.

Our safari began with a flight into the Seronera Sametu district in the Serengeti. Our flight was met by our guide, Bildard, who quickly packed our bags away into his vehicle and started our 1st game drive. A safari is only as good as your driver/guide and Bildard was brilliant.

For the next 10 days Bildard introduced us to the most beautiful country we have ever seen. His ability to spot animals was astounding. We saw and photographed over 130 species of animals. We saw leopards and lions on the first day and caught up with the Great Migration on day 2. Looking down at the Great Migration while having a bush breakfast on day 2 is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Over the 10 day safari we stayed at Seronera Sametu Camp, Lake Masek Tented Camp, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge and Swala Tented Lodge. Seronera Sametu and Swala were our favourites but we were treated like VIP’s at all of them. Listening to Hippos, Cape Buffalos and Lions at night while lying in our tents is another memory we will keep forever.

Every day Bildard would greet us early in the morning with a smile, a clean vehicle and bush breakfasts and lunches. His sense of direction was unrivalled and as I said before his ability to find animals was astonishing. We approached this vacation believing a safari would be a once in a lifetime vacation but we are already thinking about going back and doing it all over again.

My only hint would be to get out early in the morning and enjoy the sunrise from your vehicle. The morning light is breathtaking.

Thank you ADS!!!

John and Dee Dee M.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Safari Dates: February 24, 2014 to March 7, 2014

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Guest Testimonial – African Dream Safaris

We returned from our Africa dream safari two weeks ago in May 2012 and we are still smiling from ear to ear and have goose bumps to prove it! The life changing experience we had from the time we landed in Kilimanjaro, to the day we took off can never be equaled. The whole trip took us a year to plan and execute thanks to the professionalism and depth of knowledge shown by our tour operator Lynn.

After a wonderful evening of wining and dining at the lovely Mount Meru Hotel, the next morning we were flown into the Serengeti in an exciting one hour flight over vast tracts of open plains and game which makes Serengeti so enticing. As soon as we landed we were greeted by our very pleasant guide Claude Shitengle who escorted us to our range rover and off we went tracking and spotting all kinds of game during the day.

One must remember that in Serengeti the game doesn’t necessarily come to you, but you go in search of the Big 5. And that’s where the ability of your guide to spot wildlife comes in very handy. Claude was the best spotter if we ever saw one and could spot a leopard in a tree almost 1000 feet away. If that wasn’t enough he had tremendous patience and took endless uncharted tracks and detours to find us game we couldn’t have seen otherwise. Our next few days we were able to see all the Big 5 in huge numbers. Thank you Cluade! The hot air balloon was great too, though expensive!

We know that ADS has little control over Picnic lunches. Sadly the quality was not the greatest and a lot of food goes to waste. Folks at various picnic sites would either throw their half-eaten lunches or give them away. People are not looking for anything fancy for an afternoon lunch, but please no jaw breaking chicken! We would suggest that the caterer be advised to keep picnic lunches simple . For example, Tuna mayo or an egg salad sandwiches with some fruit would do just fine to cater to the American palates!

A piece of advice. Everyone wanting to travel to Africa, must travel light and carry a “carry on” bag, otherwise your checked baggage has a good chance of being lost, as ours was. Oversized duffle bags won’t do and won’t be allowed, as ours was not. On the other hand, oversized bags which fitted into KLM volume checker were allowed! Makes no sense!

In the end we took over a 1000 pics. So all said and done a great trip thanks mainly to our Trip advisor Lynn who was with us right from planning the trip over a year ago and countless hours she spent with us. One great advice Lynn gave us was to carry lots of one dollar denominations, which came in so handy for tips, even though we ran out of dollar bills towards the end. Thank you Lynn from the bottom of our hearts!

The hospitality of ADS ground staff throughout our stay was top notch right to the end. A special thank you also goes to our guide Claude, with whom we made a special bond. Thank you Claude and hope to see you again some day.

Last but not the least, though animals are a big part of why tourists visit Serengeti, in the end it is the kind and friendly people of Tanzania who make the difference. So a big Asante Sana to the people of Tanzania.

Dr. Dawn Sadry, MD, CCFP
Addy Sadry
Toronto, Canada
May 2012

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Wow!! Recent Photos of the Migration Crossing the Mara River

Elise and I wanted to thank you for an amazing safari. It exceeded all of our expectations.  Each day we enjoyed a new thrill. To top it off, our guide/driver was outstanding, and a joy to spend time with. He is very knowledgeable and was unbelievably attentive. Particularly enjoyed visiting the Masai village near Buffalo Springs and seeing the Wildebeest crossing. In addition to the safari – seeing how people live in a third world country with basically nothing, is a real eye opener. We are already thinking about our next trip (plan on bringing the kids) and look forward to planning it with you.

Thanks again,

Greg and Elise Gubitz
Caledon, Canada
September 2011

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Quote of the Week: George Filliter Family

Now is as good a time as any for me to express my admiration for the planning that went into the most wonderful trip I have ever taken. Let me give you my impressions. As we were flying to Kilimanjaro we all wondered how we would identify the person picking us up and this is when we realized how fortunate we were. We were met as soon as we disembarked by Pieter and escorted through the customs line as if we were top rated diplomats! He then helped us get our luggage and whipped us off to meet Monika and Charles.

Now Monika and Charles were fantastic. They got us to the hotel, which by the way was amazing, gave us directions and then picked us up the next morning where we went to the Tanzanite store and visited the cultural centre. On the final morning we were again picked up by these two who got us to the regional airport and whisked us through the line ensuring that we got on the right plane.

Upon our arrival in the Serengeti we were met by our guide. I am afraid that there simply are not enough words in the English language to describe this man. Over the 12 days with him he became our friend, our translator, our confidant, our advisor, our driver and of course our guide. Simply put he is AMAZING. Someone should check his eyes. His ability to see wildlife at a distance was amazing. And, he had an innate ability to sense the location of animals and in fact on one occasion I became convinced that he had the ability to speak to the animals. As a consequence we saw 90 lions, 10 leopards and 11 cheetahs, not to mention numerous other species and he identified over 35 species of birds. We saw the big five early on and Erin and I have the most amazing pictures. I am at the moment going through the over 2000 that I took and will send you some in the near future.

In talking with the other guests at each of the lodges we realized that we were allowed to experience Tanzania at a far different level than anyone else. I really hope and in fact ask that you ensure that our guide as well as Monika, Pieter and Charles are all advised of our complete and total satisfaction.

George Filliter, Erin Filliter and Barbara Baird

Fredericton, Canada

September 2011

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A 12 Day Safari in the Green Season

To Africa Dream Safaris:

What a wonderful trip of a lifetime your company made possible for us!  We headed to the Serengeti Ecosystem in January of this year for 12 days.  From the moment we met the staff in the airport at Mount Kilimanjaro and on the ground in the Serengeti, we were cared for, entertained and educated.

Our guide was not only an incredible source of information on all the animals and habitats but would hold his own in car rallys! He was fearless on some of the worst ‘roads’; could spot wildlife hundreds of meters away; and cheerfully put up with our misnaming of the wildlife and him!  He gave us many experiences to share with our friends and family at home – especially the 4 flat tires in one day! Even through all that he calmly made sure we were cared for and went about taking care of getting us back on the road.

We stayed in the most wonderfully unique accommodations – tented camps to lodges with the comfort of home, but a bit more excitement when lions are roaring outside and zebra’s grazing on the grounds.

Would we recommend ADS? Absolutely and we already have!  When we show our pictures we inspire another potential customer!

Sincerely,

Deb and Jim Downs and Ron and Doreen Downs
Ontario, Canada
January 2011

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