Tag: Colorado

Whatever You Do, Go With ADS.

It is hard to write about the trip of a life time and the wonderful service of Dawn and ADS without sounding like a commercial. Taking a trip, any trip, takes many hours of exploring all the options, travel companies, timing, locations, etc. Luckily when we decided to travel to Africa, we had a recommendation from a friend. Whatever you do, go with ADS.

With this in mind, we contacted Dawn and from then on all was taken care of. After talking with us and realizing our desire for isolated small camps and our budget, Dawn planned the perfect trip. I would tell anyone who asks us about a safari in Africa, the same thing my friend told us. Whatever you do, go with ADS.

Each lodge or camp was different. It was hard to believe that you spend all day without seeing a building and then arrive at sunset at a wonderful place in the absolute middle of nowhere and be greeted by a welcoming staff with a cold towel and a fruit drink.

While each was wonderful, I would certainly recommend that you include Seronera Sametu Camp. At night we could lie in bed and listen to lions and the Wildebeest. Then in the morning be awakened before sunrise with coffee and tea at the door of our tent. In the evening before a wonderful dinner, we would relax at the campfire with our beer. If you do stay there, say hi to JJ and Primo for me.

The animals are always the first concern; what will we see, how close will we get. Our guide Michael made sure that we saw all the animals and that we got as close as was safe. We had a male lion bump the Land Cruiser as it walked by. A bull elephant herded us for a mile along a dirt track from 20 feet behind the vehicle. We had breakfast on the hood of the Land Cruiser surrounded by unlimited numbers of wildebeest and zebras. We saw all the big ones that you come to Africa to see.

What was the biggest surprise for me were all the animals that I didn’t know we would see. The small Dik-Dik standing so still with its black nose twitching. The serval cat that lives near the camp. The puff adder lying in the road. The mongoose living in in termite mound, sticking out their heads to watch us watching them. Each sighting was exciting and different.

The other surprise was the number of different birds we saw. Michael would stop and point out a bird and tell us a name and then pull out his guide book to show us the picture. The colors were amazing from the Fish Eagle to the Secretary bird to the Superb Starling. The birds alone could be a reason to go to Africa and having a guide who could spot the birds and then identify them was priceless.

Since it was just the four of us and Michael, we could take the time to enjoy each discover at our pace and spend as much time watching and taking over 4000 pictures. Often Michael would say, “let’s wait another 10 minutes and see what happens.” Usually something did.

Oliver and Pam P.
Durango, Colorado
Safari Dates: June 7, 2015 to June 17, 2015

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My Day-By-Day Safari Journal

2/12/15 – Today we landed in Tanzania; Kilimanjaro Airport. No jet way, just down the stairs to an open tarmac and into a building where Machas from ADS greeted us. The immigration line was long and hot. The anticipation of the next 10 days made it bearable.

We loaded our belongings and ourselves into a vehicle driven by Michael and drove about 50 min to Mt Meru resort. Machas remained with us. Stayed the night…room was nice; wood floors, open shower stall on a beautiful campus located up against Mount Meru.

Up before dawn, ate a buffet breakfast that included fresh fruit, omelet bar, muffins, bacon and sausage. Drove to Arusha airport, went through “security” and boarded a small plane (air Excel) and flew to Kogatende airstrip (North Tanzania, on our approach we made a sharp turn directly over the Mara River…you could see crocs in the river), picked up a European couple, and saw an elephant on our landing. Took off and flew about 25 min back south to the central part of the Serengeti and landed at Seronera airstrip… Both runways were short and gravel.

Upon our arrival we met our driver/guide Pokea “Poquer”. Pokea is short for Elipokea and he is from the Meru Tribe. Our safari began within minutes. We left the airport grounds and ran into a convoy of safari vehicles watching a pride of lionesses and several different age cubs devouring a zebra.

We moved right down the road to watch a herd of elephants, to include a ginormous male, and many young still nursing at times.

Our drive continued towards a neat picnic area at the top of a hill overlooking a corridor where the animal migration takes place during two other times of the year. Lunch consisted of a variety of foods in a box (pb&j, quiche, boiled egg, an item that resembled a meatloaf/pizza, apple, pound cake, nestle kit kat, pineapple juice box). The picnic area also had a small trailer selling snacks and cigarettes and a restroom with an attendant.

After lunch we left the hill and on the way down we spotted a leopard in the crotch of a yellow barked acacia tree. Later a troop of vervet monkeys entertained the five of us playing on the ground while others ate flowers at the top of an acacia tree.

Other animals we saw on today’s drive included wildebeest (met a herd outside our camp as we arrived), topi, hartebeest, reedbuck, Grant gazelle, Thomson gazelle, impala, dik dik, hippos, Maasai giraffe (our welcome committee at our camp as well as many others throughout the day), buffalo, warthog, zebra.

Birds were a plenty (too many to list), the largest being an ostrich; several crossed our path a couple of times today. We witnessed an Egyptian goose couple with a hand full of chicks. Red-billed oxpeckers rode on the giraffes to rid them of bugs/mites. A few others we were able to get photos of include: kori bustard, secretary bird, marabou stork, crown crane, Guinea fowl, heron, lilac breasted roller, superb starling, black wing stilt (orange legs), white belly bustard.

Trees rounded out the landscape. Several species of acacia trees provide shade and food for many of the Serengeti animals (umbrella thorn, yellow barked). Speaking of food, on our way to the picnic area we shot photos of a sausage tree.

We arrived at Seronera Sametu Camp around 6pm. Seronera Sametu Camp is located in the east central Serengeti (Serengeti originates from the Maasai word ’Siringit’, meaning ‘endless plains’). Upon our arrival we requested shower water (hot water is placed in a bucket rigged to push water into an en-suite shower).

Dinner was served at 7, which consisted of pumpkin soup, pan-fried fish, rice, a cucumber salad, mixed vegetables (cauliflower, carrot, green bean), and a roll. For desert Jonas (JJ) surprised the four of us with cakes wishing us Happy Anniversary.

After dinner we retreated to our tents to find the “windows” closed and warm water bottles heating our mosquito netted turned down bed.

Early to rise (5am wake up), breakfast at camp…scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, porridge, toast, pancakes (reminded me of a fat crepe), and a variety of fresh fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, watermelon), juice, tea and coffee.

We set out at 6am sharp. The drive started in the dark and off the beaten path. We came across a few hyenas and a couple of bat-eared fox. The sun granted us with its presence about an hour into the drive. The sunrise provided a backdrop for one of the most exciting activities of the morning trek; we witnessed a Hyena (a second one was present but pretty much watched) run down a young Thomson gazelle. The hyena chased the little guy out and back making the kill about 100 yards from our vehicle. As it ate we drove up closer and not only visualized the meal but also heard it.

Gazelles speckled the landscape as far as we could see. Pokea refers to the gazelle as cheetah food. Sure enough, next we came across a mother cheetah and her older cub. Hoping to see a chase we stayed with the pair for a bit. We did get teased when the younger took off after a rabbit; but he/she gave up rather quickly.

Next up was a long, pretty, quiet drive. Pokea had received word of a pair of male lions near our location and with some determination and a U-turn we came upon two male and two female lions resting in the shade of a tree. As part of the same pride, about a quarter of a mile up the road in a make shift den of tree limbs and shrubs, we found a lioness and her three, approx. two month old, cubs. At one point a cub wandered a yard or two out of the den towards our vehicle and the mother made a short, quick grunt and the cub responded immediately by retreating, right back to her side. After nursing the mother and three cubs took a nap.

As lunchtime approached we headed back in the direction of Seronera Sametu Camp. It must have been just past lion lunchtime because we drove up on a male lion resting next to a “skinned” warthog. Two vultures were in close proximity pecking away at scraps.

Further down the road we witnessed three species of vultures (white-back, ruppells griffon and the lappet-faced) finishing off a kill, as we watched a black-backed jackal hurried across the road and jumped right in to the feeding frenzy.

Almost back to camp and getting pretty hungry we spot a newborn Thomson gazelle and become pretty intrigued by how well camouflaged a newborn is once the mother stopped hovering over it. It took us a bit to locate the baby Tommie even in the pretty low vegetation.

Lunch consisted of spaghetti, veggies, and fresh fruit cocktail. After lunch our group spent the next several hours scoping out our camp’s surroundings. Wildebeest, hartebeest, zebra, warthogs, buffalo, elephant and topi grazed the hillside across the valley from our tent.

Kopjes: means little head. Kopjes are rock outcrops. These rock outcrops of the Serengeti are one of the Park’s most delightful habitats. The most visible ones stand out like islands on the plains. They host a variety of vegetation and wildlife.

At 4pm we returned to our vehicle and drove towards the Maasai Kopjes where we were met by a handful of giraffes grazing on small acacia trees. From there we traveled with a plan to explore the Sametu Marsh Kopjes when another driver alerted Pokea of a leopard with a kill high in a nearby umbrella thorn acacia tree. Upon our arrival the leopard moved/leaped higher in the tree leaving two kills lower and viewable by our cameras; we didn’t stay long as it appeared the leopard might be a bit skittish and disturbed by our presence.

Continuing onto the Sametu Marsh Kopjes, thankful we stayed the course, landed us a lengthy visit with about a dozen elephants. We were able to watch them eat, play, nurse, relieve themselves before they sauntered off the kopjes out onto the plains.

Before leaving camp for our afternoon excursion Tami arranged for a group photo in our vehicle and then asked Pokea if he’d assist with setting up a great sunset photo shoot upon our return “home”. Wow, Pokea met Tami’s challenge with a bit of off-roading and good timing; successful photo opportunity of the sunset. As we approached camp we spotted a hyena running through tall grass with a kill.

Shortly after our return to camp just long enough to shower dinner was served, comprised of lentil soup, grilled pork chop, potatoes, mixed veggies (hot and cold) and desert (passion fruit cheesecake).

During dinner the camp staff prepares your tent for sleep by closing the “windows”, dropping mosquito netting and placing warm water bladders into our turned down bed.

Wake up was at 5, breakfast 5:30 (great selection to include Spanish omelets). We were on the road at 6:10. The first animal we came upon, a civet, scurried off too quickly for a photo. A newborn wildebeest tracked us down to see if we were his mother or maybe asking directions. He ran toward a herd of wildebeest angling away from hyenas we spotted nearby. A few jackals crossed our path on our way to see “Steve”, the leopard, in his tree. Next we watched two cheetahs playing around a tree and on and off the road.

Pokea decided we’d eat lunch at Ngon Rock so we took in the scenery and animals on our way. We saw giraffe, dik dik, and elephants (spent a lengthy visit with the elephants). A large male showed us how he could extend his reach by kneeling on one knee.

During our drive Pokea stopped because a handful of guinea fowl were agitated and angry. We spotted the source of their anxiety, a serval creeping up to them. A martial eagle perched atop a tree looking over his territory allowed us a photo op. Next we saw our first baboons, speckling the top of an acacia tree shoveling flowers one at a time into their mouths. We slowly approached a male lion resting in the grass; Pokea was able to get close enough that we were able to smell his breath…not good.

Our drive took us past a kopje with a set of Maasai Paintings and a cave where ten warriors lived up until about 100 years ago. We enjoyed a box lunch at Ngon Rock (a conference area for Maasai Warrior Chief). A large orange slice shaped rock and a small stone hit together provided the Chief a bell to summons his people. After eating we drove approx. a quarter mile up the road and found 3 female and a very young male lion resting on the rocks. Up a bit further we past a second set of lions resting on rocks.

Pokea educated us to impala behaviors as we approached a large herd of impalas; one male gets to be patriarch of ALL of the females while all other mature males form a bachelor herd. We arrived to our final destination, Retima Hippo Pool; in a downpour…brief visit but entertaining.

We refueled and used the facilities at the Park’s Visitor Center. The grounds are home to many hyraxes. Heading back to camp Pokea spotted another leopard about 150 yards out lounging in a sausage tree; to be sure Steve wasn’t jealous we checked on him as well on our way back to camp.

Dinner was leek soup, steak, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and a roll, and banana custard for desert. We ate with Fran, Mark and Wilfred, the only other residents.

Packed up and said goodbye to Seronera Sametu Camp staff after eating a made to order breakfast. We passed by Steve’s tree to wish him well. He was still there along with his two day old kills. Took a few photos of a pretty new zebra before we met up with a herd of elephants two of which were in a “heated discussion”; obtained footage of their water break and their return to action.

The start of rainy season, February, is a time for many births in the Serengeti. Today we drove by a mother and newborn giraffe (still had umbilical cord) and hartebeest and their babies. Another newborn wildebeest approached our vehicle looking for its mother. The wildebeest calf “talked” to Pokea for a bit before we drove off leaving it to find its mother.

Two young male lions made it difficult for us to get to the Sometu Kopjes because they were lounging in the middle of the “road”. Pokea wanted to have lunch upon arriving to the Sometu Kopjes but every kopje had either lions or hyenas occupying our planned rest stop. By the fifth formation and tons of photos of lions, hyenas (mating pair), jackals, agama lizards (male, two colored orange/red and blue) we couldn’t wait any longer. With hyenas on one side we drove to the other and had a “standing” picnic lunch.

After lunch we continued our journey towards the Ndutu area of the park passing a kopje with an owl in the crack; the “Devil Tree” which accommodated a large lappet-faced vulture nest; and a herd of Thomson gazelle (two of which were clashing). Warthogs grazing and marabou storks kept us entertained on the way to Ndutu Lake to watch the flamingos feed. The water in Ndutu Lake is alkaline and very salty providing less pink food for the flamingos, hence their white color. We did see one spread its wings and saw a brilliant pink under layer.

It rained the last bit of today’s trip; our approach to our new home for the next three nights – Camp Masek. Camp Masek sits high, elevation: 5070 ft., overlooking Lake Masek. This was our first chance for Wi-Fi (slow but a nice perk). Camp Masek is eco-friendly. All power is supplied by solar electricity. Rainwater is harvested and collected for use. Ndutu Lake Woodlands reside in the southern plains of the Serengeti. Camp Masek employs several Maasai Warriors to guard and escort safari guests around campus. Hippos and buffalo are known to roam the grounds at night.

We arrived and were warmly greeted with a snack and a short briefing about our stay and introduction to our tent in preparation for dinner. Our group joined Mark, Fran and Wilfred (their driver/guide) in the large lodge for dinner. We enjoyed a buffet dinner with an open bar. Franreynolds@comcast.net

First night proved to be adrenaline filled; shower time in particular (outside shower). We heard several lion growls/roars and hippo yells as we showered and prepared for sleep. While at dinner our tent was prepared by an attendant for sleep…mosquito netting and window closures. No warm water bladders.

Wake up call at 5:30; got a late start this morning because we were busy chatting with Mark and Fran at the lodge. We left for our drive shortly before 7. Stopped to watch the flamingoes at Ndutu Lake on our way to the migration. Prior to reaching our destination we came upon a cheetah just passing through. We saw more lions today, three females, two of which were resting and one was grazing on grass to aid her upset stomach.

Just off the road we spotted a mother hyena and three 6-7 month old pups laying on their den, eventually two wandered off and we left to move on to our next amazing sight…millions of zebras and wildebeest migrating to the rain. As far as we could see in all directions and for several kilometers of driving zebras and wildebeest speckled the horizon. At times it seemed like every third wildebeest was a newborn, many young zebras as well. Pokea told the group that 30-35% of the wildebeest die each migration due to three reasons: natural causes, predators, water. During the drive we spotted several hyenas and a jackal or two, none of which were interested in feeding. Elands (Serengeti’s largest antelope), gazelles, impalas and lots of birds rounded out our morning drive.

As we drove you could look down on the ground and watch balls of dung being rolled by dung beetles. While stopped to video this crazy creature in action a newborn wildebeest, still wet from birth, wandered up to us calling out for its mother. It attached itself to our vehicle. Pokea lead it by driving towards a herd of wildebeest to encourage it to find an adoptive mother. Speaking of wildebeest we had the pleasure of watching about two-dozen or so vultures “pick apart” a dead wildebeest on our way back to camp for lunch. The couple hour break was nice as Camp Masek is on a hill with steep and rocky terrain that makes for bumpy rides in out of camp each drive.

After lunch we drove to the Large Marsh, an area known to host lion and cheetah breeding. No such luck for our group, all was quiet in the marsh. On our way there we were lucky enough to catch a mother Cheetah and her two cubs (approx. 4 mos.) lounging in the short grass just outside of the migration area. Also on our way we came across a grounded tawny eagle that had caught herself a stork. Many of the usual animals showed up on our drive home: zebras, giraffes, elephants, and impalas.

We arrived back to camp around 6:30 (Conservation area as well as Serengeti National Park close at 6pm). Cleaned up for a 7:30 dinner. Mark, Fran, and Wilfred, their driver/guide joined us for a three-course buffet with open bar, could easily get use to this.

Early breakfast again today, left by 645. Pokea took us by a temporary Maasai camp. A small clearing with a few mud and stick huts as well as a makeshift pen to put their cattle at night. Dogs protect the cattle from predators during the night.

We drove towards the migration at sun up to maximize the chance of a “hunt”. Not to disappoint the cheetahs blessed us with their presence. I think we saw a total of 5 but it was hard to keep count. We witnessed one attempt to chase down a gazelle, a second ran far in the distance after what we think was a gazelle as well. We followed several more as they strolled through the migration. As we searched for more action we noticed a group of safari vehicles and drove by to catch a glimpse of a cheetah that had a kill (baby wildebeest).

We departed just as she started to eat to allow her space and privacy. We saw more hyenas today…a group of seven at one home range (a den with several openings to accommodate a pack of females with their cubs). 2 female lions sleeping, neither moved even when we drove up to check them out.

Birds captured our attention today as well. We briefly saw an African Grass Owl (flew off before photo); a Verreaux owl; an adolescent Bateleur Eagle as well as a male Kori Bustard (largest flying bird in Africa) with a swollen neck, hoping to attract a female partner. We found several small birds (love birds) bathing in a puddle.

A mid size leopard turtle missing his left front foot scooted across the road in front of us. Just one occasion Pokea’s amazing eyesight prevailed; they blend in to their surroundings quite well.

Back to camp for lunch, where we dined on amazing fried tilapia and beans/rice on the back deck overlooking Lake Masek. A nice restful afternoon and back out for a drive around Lake Masek. Met up with a few of the hippos who swam close to the shore; several of which we photographed out of the water at lunch from the lodge deck. A mother hippo and her very young calf relaxed just off shore, pretty far for a decent photo, though. Vervet monkeys showed up around the second bend of the lake where we searched for a leopard spotted earlier in the day by others, no luck. On the opposite side of the lake Pokea drove us into the wildebeest graveyard, bones and skulls with antlers piled on the lakeshore indicative of the risk animals take to cross water in search of grass and following the rains. We returned to camp to enjoy another 3-course meal before retiring to our tent, rested well until 430am when the roar of lions awoke us.

Slept in today and enjoyed a quiet breakfast in the lodge prior to packing all of our bags to leave Camp Masek. We picked out items from a smorgasbord of fixing’s for our lunch we planned to eat on our way to the Ngorogoro Mountains.

Each group must register and pay a fee to enter a National Park or Conservation area; groups sign in/out at the ranger post. Both entering and leaving the Ndutu area the Ranger was not at the post because he was registering arriving and departing guests at the airport; we found him there and signed out. Thinking we were finished seeing all the migration had to offer Pokea made a quick detour when he spotted the passage of zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes across Lake Ndutu. Quite an amazing image, it looked almost like a parade of marching bands.

The middle part of the day we spent driving towards the Ngorogoro Mountains on a “highway”. It was flat, rocky and vehicles drove very fast; it didn’t help that the wind blew hard today. Along the way we came upon a young couple and the vehicle they drove, apparently on a self guided tour and unprepared for the road conditions. They had wrecked, flipped a complete turn but were uninjured awaiting the police and a tow when we stopped to ask if they needed any assistance.

Maasai Village: paid $40 to hear and see the village. The Chief’s son met us at our vehicle, accepted our monetary offering and facilitated the dances. Men and women danced separately. After dancing we joined the tribe inside their meeting place (also used to corral their animals at night) to witness the tribe’s “jumping” ritual. We received a lecture about their culture during our tour of the village.

This village practices polygamy, not all do. Each husband’s wives had their own home. Each home has four rooms: wife/husband bedroom, children bedroom, a kitchen and a living room. They were made of sticks, bushes branches, cardboard and mud. Women have five jobs: build homes, child rearing, laundry, preparing food (consists of milk, blood and meat), and making crafts for the market. The village obtains blood from their cows without killing them. They tourniquet their neck, poke it with an arrow and drain out about a liter. Men have two jobs: protecting the village and shepherding the animals to and from water/grass to graze.

About 120 people live in this village, all one family. The grandfather rules the village while the grandmother acts as a midwife and assists the women with childbirth. As men of the village find women from other villages and marry they bring them to the man’s village, exchange animals (dowry: cows, goats, donkey and sheep). We joined the school-aged children in their schoolhouse. Ages 3-10 attend school in the village schoolhouse while the older children attend secondary school in Ngorogoro or Arusha (boarding school). The primary source of income is the village market: crafts made by the women and sold to the tourist to help pay for food, water, clothing and school supplies.

Returned to the road and made our way to Ngorogoro Crater. We passed several more villages and grazing animals with Maasai “shepherds”. The landscape was eye-catching but we were unable to stop for photos along this stretch. We even saw a handful of camel.

We arrived at the crater rim around 1:25 pm (elev. 6700 ft), signed in at the ranger station, used the facilities and proceeded down the steep and rocky one-way road into the west (Serena) side of the crater. This area is referred to as a crater but it is actually a caldera (the sunken or collapsed cone of a volcano). It is the largest inactive and unbroken caldera in the world. The crater is 100 square miles, ten miles across and speckled with animals. The animals had to wait while we ate lunch in the LeRai forest. A troop of baboons crossed our path as we approached the picnic site.

After lunch we drove the crater roads looking for action. The crater is a microcosm of the Serengeti: open grasslands, streams, lakes, forests, and hills, all of the habitats that allow many animals to live in such a small area. On our first day within a few hours of our arrival we spotted 2 rhinos, pretty far from the road but still able to be seen.

While cruising the crater roads Pokea introduced us to his favorite bird, the crown crane, they travel in pairs and mate for life. Lions lying in the bushes brought on a convoy of safari vehicles, we took a quick peek but didn’t stay long allowing others to get a glimpse.

We left the crater on the opposite side we entered, heading east (Sopa) we ascended the crater wall and found Lion’s Paw Tented Camp hidden within a misty forest of acacia trees and ferns. Lion’s Paw resembles Seronera Sametu Camp, small and private. Tonight we joined the other residents of the camp at a bon fire. We visited with Fran and Mark as well as Luxpe and M.P. (Ann Arbor, MI – from India); Heidi and Dan (San Francisco Bay Area); Julie and Bob (Big Island, HI). Julie and Heidi are sisters. We had dinner in the main lodge and said our good byes and good nights.

Up early, breakfast at 5:30 and we were on the road at 6:15. Checked in at the ranger station to obtain entry permits. Shot a few photos of the sunrise and misted crater wall on our descent into the crater. On our way to Ngoitokitok Springs, our destination, we filmed zebras playing, jackals sleeping, elephants grazing and spotted 5 Black Rhinos, two on one side of the road and three on the other.

After taking many photos of the rhinos we moved up the road a bit where we watched hippos play. Speaking of hippos or should I say hippos speaking – Ngoitokitok Springs home to many hippos; we heard lots of hippo “noise”. We were able to record their grunts and howls. Many safari vehicles enjoyed breakfast at the springs while we were able to utilize the facilities. Hyenas roamed just off the hills in close proximity to dining guests. Back to the drive…hyenas and lions, the hyenas were close to the road, female lions in the bushes and two beautiful male lions lying next to a tree.

The late morning proved to be a delight. First, we witnessed a newborn wildebeest (learning to stand/walk, nurse and hop around). The mother wildebeest remained quite still for most of the ten minutes we observed the two getting acquainted. Secondly, we watched black rhinos mate; almost certain this is not an activity one sees very often since there are only approx. 115 black rhinos left in the world.

We returned to Ngoitokitok Springs for lunch, wow many vehicles had the same program for today (although we were told that the safari business is not doing well and this is considered a low census for lunch). Pokea asked us to eat in the car and get out after we complete our meal because of a dangerous bird, the Kite, which will attack people to get their food. While eating, the view out of the car windows (our “flat screen”) provided several humorous short clips: First, two hippos chasing each other emerged from the spring and ran towards people enjoying the view. People scattered and one dude even climbed the tree. Secondly, a French safari customer dining out of his car next to us attempted “ninja” moves in defending his lunch…he was not successful. It took two kites to strip his sandwich from him. Our group had plenty of laughs during today’s lunch.

After lunch our main goal was to see a “baby” buffalo and to travel the Rumbe Hills (or the Ang’ata Kit translated Women’s belt in Swahili), which is where many buffalo roam because of the longer grass. This area is also home to the resident lion pride. On our way to the hills we found a wildebeest stuck and or possibly injured in a shallow water hole containing a half dozen or so hippos. We hung out for a bit because we spotted a hyena anticipating the wildebeests doomed outcome. At one point a hippo chased off the hyena but the hippos did not seem to mind the wildebeest in their space.

On the backside of the Hills, eastern section of the crater, we found a large herd of buffalo, males, females and their young. The quick ascent to camp was briefly hampered by two large groups of Maasai cattle herds and their young men shepherds. Early return to camp gave us plenty of time to relax and get to know camp staff, shower and plan for dinner. Edward served us fresh roasted cashews with drinks before dinner. Tonight was broccoli soup (cinnamon roll), beef, sautéed potatoes and green beans. For desert Edward presented us with a going away cake.

Wake up at 530; breakfast at 6 and said good-bye to Lion’s Paw and off to Lake Manyara. We drove the rim road for about a third of the way around the crater and then headed down through farm country and the town of Karatu. We arrived at Lake Manyara National Conservatory and waited in the car for Pokea to check in and obtain entry permits.

Last game drive of our trip introduced us to the blue monkey and the monitor lizard. We have already crossed paths with the other animals residing in this area: baboons (lots of baboons, this park is sometimes referred to as Baboon Park), vervet monkey, hippo, elephant, wildebeest, gazelle, buffalo, and warthog. The park’s trees and foliage made it difficult to find the resident lion pride or see a leopard but it diversified our safari experience and was worth the quick trip in and out. We enjoyed our last meal/box lunch in the bush at a nice picnic area just inside the park exit.

After lunch we returned to the road, black top, yay. Pokea received a call to inform us that Mt Meru Resort was too busy and our day room was changed to The African Tulip (not African Toilet). Nice place, dinner was ok, shower refreshing but we were ready to be home. Machas and Timon met us at the hotel and drove us to Kilimanjaro Airport, pulling over on the crazy highway so we could photograph Mt Kilimanjaro, which is usually difficult to see due to fog/smoke/clouds.

The airport stay went by surprisingly quick. Our KLM flight to Amsterdam was smooth, with a quick stop in Rwanda (Kigali airport). Trip home went well, no issues. Arrived in Denver on time to a good 6 to 10 inches of snow. Our wonderful neighbors had already shoveled our drives and sidewalks.

Wendy and John M.
Thonton, Colorado
Safari Dates: February 12, 2015 to February 21, 2015

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Babies, Babies and More Babies – My February 2015 Safari

Tanzania in February – what a trip! Africa Dream Safaris you nailed it. From our initial email inquiring about our trip, our planning emails and phone calls with Dawn, our trip itself and our welcome home, the entire ADS experience was amazing and beyond words. You have to be there in the moment and experience it yourself to understand.

It is difficult to pinpoint or describe what made this trip one of a lifetime. Our Driver/Guide worked with us to plan each day’s drive. He made sure we experienced all Tanzania has to offer in a safe, professional and authentic manner. Our safari vehicle was comfortable and accommodated the four of us nicely. Thanks ADS, Dawn, Pokea we enjoyed our trip.

Wendy and John M.
Thonton, Colorado
Safari Dates: February 12, 2015 to February 21, 2015

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Serengeti Safari – February 2015

We had an amazing time in Tanzania! Every member of the Africa Dream Safaris staff that we spoke with was helpful, informative and very pleasant. The food was good, the service was excellent and the animals were extraordinary! Here are a few pictures from my safari with the cheetah photo being our favorite.

Tami and Dan R.
Thornton, Colorado
Safari Dates: February 12, 2015 to February 21, 2015

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We Would Highly Recommend ADS To Any Family

Our family booked the 9-day package with Africa Dream Safaris and arrived in Tanzania in late July, 2013. Prior to booking with Africa Dream Safaris, we researched many safari outfitters and chose ADS and we were SO glad we did. What a great experience!

Our main concern from the beginning was safety since we were taking our children (ages 18, 14, 11). It truly was one of the best experiences we ever had and it far exceeded our expectations. We met so many people from around the world. Highlights included seeing the Big 5, visiting the Masasi tribe, taking the night drive from the Buffalo Luxury Camp, and taking the hot air balloon over Central Serengeti.

We would highly recommend Africa Dream Safaris to any family. It was safe, dependable, professional, and truly amazing and we loved our guide.

Kevin & Lynn M. & Family
Westminster, Colorado
Safari Dates: July 24, 2013 to August 2, 2013

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This Was An Adventure I’ll Never Forget

Well, no words I can come up with can describe how amazing my whole safari experience was! It was definitely one of the most remarkable experiences of my life, every day was a new adventure, full of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. Although it was nice to sleep in my own bed last night, I definitely missed the sounds of Serengeti streaming through my tent, lulling me to sleep each night. As well, the people we interacted with in various capacities were the most helpful, welcoming, patient, and most gracious and accommodating I’ve ever met. From our guide, Francis, to all the people at the various lodges, to our Masai hosts, everybody was amazing! This was an adventure I’ll never forget, and hope to experience again someday. Thanks for putting it together for us!

Thanks (Asante Sana) Dawn. This was the trip of a lifetime!
Todd M.
Keystone, Colorado
June 12, 2013 to June 19, 2013

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Our Dream Safari…..And it Was

We have been back about 2 weeks now and are still talking daily about some aspect of the trip and still going through the thousands of photos that we took. We have thought and thought about what we might say that would be different than what others have said about their experiences with ADS and have come to the conclusion that there is NOTHING BETTER anyone CAN say.

ADS is an outstanding, first class company to work with in every sense of the word. From our very first contact with Sharon, who actually helped us pull our trip together in about 3 weeks…YES 3 weeks!! We were planning on an October trip, but due to some extenuating circumstances the opportunity for a trip fell in our laps and with Sharon’s expert help we got it together–seamlessly. Of course that was just the beginning.

From the moment we stepped off of the plane ADS delivered on their promises. Everything you are told, you can rest assured will happen..above and beyond your greatest expectations! Our guide, Emmanuel was excellent, knowledgeable, and personable. We so enjoyed spending each day with him and learning from him. What a wealth of knowledge about the animals, the land and the people! He answered literally everything we asked and more. He knew where to find the animals and was willing to get us to them.

If all day game drives is what you want—you get them. If you want to chase cheetahs—you chase cheetahs. If you want to see a kill, you will see a kill. If you want to see a giraffe drinking water, believe me, Emmanual even found me one of those! I guess what I am saying, is that he literally did everything in his power to make this the perfect safari for us.

We ran into another ADS group and Emmanual and their guide, Reggie, would use their radios to talk to each other and let one another know what game they were seeing. This was an added bonus, as it maximized game viewing for us..GREAT TEAMWORK ADS! It was also fun meeting some other ADS clients and exchanging stories about our adventures.

We stayed at 3 different camps all of which were impeccable. The staffs were friendly and very accommodating and we really did not have a favorite place. They all were outstanding. At the 2 ADS camps the personal touch of being met each evening with a warm towel to wash your face and a glass of juice made you feel like you were coming home. Such a special “extra” they do for clients!

We must say that the Seronera Sametu Camp with Jonas and his staff was a wonderful place! We were the only people there for 3 of the 4 four nights, and were treated like royalty. The sunsets from here were unforgettable. Lake Masek Tented Lodge was our second camp. It too was amazing. Their chef, Veronica, is reason in and of itself to want to go to this beautiful camp. She is a character and an absolutely amazing chef! Our last camp was at Lion’s Paw tented camp and it was probably the most beautiful with its lush green surroundings. D.C. and his staff had a nice surprise for us on our last night, making it very special. I can’t imagine any of the other lodgings being any less wonderful…makes me want to visit all of them.

As far as the safari itself goes, we saw more in the first two days than we hoped to see in the entire trip, so we were thrilled with the outcome. There were so many highlights that it is hard to choose one or two. My husband is a passionate photographer and for him the thrill of photographing several chase/kills was a dream come true. He got some outstanding shots that we will treasure.

For me, to be in the midst of the great migration was phenomenal. I cannot think of another thing in nature that I have witnessed that has been quite so amazing. It was truly remarkable. We even witnessed a baby Wildebeest being born and timed from birth until it was up and running alongside of its mother to be about 17 minutes. Absolutely incredible–as Emmanual told us, it is Life on the move.

I could go on and on about elephants and baboons, and zebras, warthogs rolling in the mud, hyenas, jackals, hartebeests, vultures waiting to clean up a kill, lions mating, cheetahs hunting, leopards in trees, rhinos, hippos, birds, and oh so much more…..absolutely everything we dreamed about.

ADS is superb, flawless and reliable. Every member of the team in every way is there for the client. Their strength in my opinion is their customer service and attention to detail. Thank you ADS for helping us make memories that will last a lifetime. We will come back and without a doubt we will use ADS.

Richard and Toni O.
Rifle, Colorado
Safari dates: February 19-March 3, 2013

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Our Top 7 African Safari Highlights

We’ve been home from Tanzania for a few weeks now and we’re still talking about our experiences and continue to find ourselves “in the bush” watching the animals in our dreams at night. Our time in the Serengeti was amazing!

We had spent months thinking about this trip, reading reviews of different tour operators and considering various options. We are so glad we chose ADS. Lynn Newby-Fraser listened to our wish list and gave us good advice in the planning phase. Other ADS employees in Tanzania who were friendly, helpful and a pleasure to work with: Martias and Emanuel (Meet & Greet in Arusha), Jonas at Sametu Camp, Kidevu and all the private camp staff at Naabi Hill who did a wonderful job of taking care of us.

Our driver-guide, Arnold Mushi was truly outstanding. His knowledge of the Serengeti and his uncanny ability to spot animals (or predict where they would be) made all the difference. We were there in January, the green season, and the big herds of the migration were not where they would have been expected to be. But, Arnold was able to track them down for us. With all his experience in the Serengeti, he still hasn’t lost his fresh enthusiasm for each game drive.

We are also glad Lynn suggested adding the Grumeti Reserve to our itinerary. Our stay at Sabora Tented Camp was another unique experience. The choice to spend a few days in historic StoneTown instead of a beach resort on Zanzibar worked well for us also. We did a walking tour of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learned a lot about its varied history. We topped off our Zanzibar sight-seeing with a spice plantation tour, which was also interesting and fun.

While on safari, we especially enjoyed the pre-dawn and early evening game drives. Along with the increased animal activity, we got to enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets in some very different landscapes – the lush river valleys and lakes, wide-open plains dotted with kopjes, the magnificent mountains and Ngorongoro Crater. All beautiful. The morning and evening views of flat-top acacia trees silhouetted against the reddening sky were some of our favorite sights.

Choosing favorite experiences and favorite photos from our safari has been difficult – there are so many! But, here’s some of what we would consider highlights of the trip:

1. Watching a very large pride of lions in the Seronera Valley who were spooked by a couple of hot-air balloons coming in quite low. The lionesses were herding ten very small cubs away from this danger in the air with a lot of worried looks back and anxious noises to the cubs until the balloons were out of sight.

2. Driving slowly through the migration near the Simiyu River with the vehicle parting the tide of wildebeest and zebra. We will always remember the sounds they made – a sort of low-key grunting from the wildebeest and braying from the zebra.

3. Watching another large pride of lions climbing a sausage tree near the Moru kopjes. We counted five in the tree when we arrived. All lionesses and nearly adult-sized cubs. Then watched as more arrived and climbed up – two big males, another lioness and eight small cubs. The cubs piled on top of the last lioness, sometimes falling off, but usually climbing back up. One independent-minded little cub gave up on the crowd in the tree and settled under a nearby bush.

4. Watching beautiful birds: flamingoes on Lake Ndutu and Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater, yellow weaver birds at work in many places, lilac-breasted rollers, superb starlings, gray crowned cranes, Fisher’s lovebirds and many, many more.

5. Chasing after a couple of fast-moving honey badgers near the Barafu Kopjes and watching them dive into burrows in the ground.

6. Watching two hungry cheetah brothers in the Grumeti take off after a group of warthogs. One managed to bring down the last in the line of warthogs, but it got away from him and faced off with the cheetah. Face-to-face, those horns on the little warthog are pretty intimidating. All of the warthogs turned on the cheetahs and managed to chase them off. The predators became the prey.

7. Touring a Maasai boma and learning about their culture. They were gracious hosts who sang and danced for us and invited us into one of their dwellings. We also enjoyed visiting the children in their classroom.

This was a trip of a lifetime for us and we have Africa Dream Safaris to thank for making it a smooth, seamless experience. If anyone reading this is still debating a safari with ADS, we would say DO IT! It was absolutely worth all the planning, expense and long hours of travel. We will treasure our memories of the Serengeti.

Asante Sana!

Will & Beth S.
Salida, Colorado
Safari Dates: January 20, 2013 to February 4, 2013

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The Perfect Way To Celebrate Our 45th Anniversary

We decided a safari was the perfect way to celebrate our 45th anniversary. We have wanted to go to Africa for years but for a variety of reasons never got around to it. We quickly found out that deciding to go was the easy part – choosing a company to travel with was an almost overwhelming problem. We are avid photographers – amateur, but serious. We are also experienced travelers – but Africa was an entirely different concept for us. We wanted a tour company that would handle a lot of things for us but give us flexibility, allow us go where we wanted to safely, but more than anything, go at our own pace. After a lot of research, we chose Africa Dream Safaris. After spending 11 days in Africa and watching other tour operators, we clearly made the right choice.

The first step was determining where and when to go. After several discussions with Sharon Lyon, we learned that where we went depended on when – and vice versa. She did an incredible job of helping us match up what we wanted to experience and when we could go with where to schedule our trip. So we booked it and then waited for the big adventure to start.

When we arrived in Tanzania, we were met by an ADS representative and for the rest of our time in Africa we were never without someone to help us. After a brief stay in Arusha, we flew into a camp by the Mara River and our adventure began. We met our driver/guide for the next 10 days, Omary. He turned out to be an amazing match for us and was a significant reason for our trip’s phenomenal success. Not only did he have incredible knowledge of the Serengeti, the wildlife and the plants but he had a great feel for lighting, backdrops, scenery, etc. He even had a good sense of humor – by the second day we had established our “missions” for the trip – including giving him one of a “mature male lion on a rock”. This became our quest – but by day 8 he had delivered! He told us on day one we were family – by the end of the trip we knew he really meant it.

We elected to stay in “bush camps”, preferring that to being in a lodge. In every camp, we were met on arrival by the staff with warm facecloths and drinks. In each camp we had comfortable accommodations – whether part of a permanent camp or a tent on the ground. The service we received rivaled many 5 star European destinations we have experienced. And every person we met seemed genuinely interested in our comfort, safety and ensuring we enjoyed the trip and the accommodations.

And last, but not least, was the Serengeti. We were totally unprepared for the experience. By the second day, we decided that if we had to end the trip, our expectations would have been exceeded. The enormous variety and quantity of wildlife was astounding. We saw dozens of lions, numerous cheetahs, hundreds of elephants and giraffes – the list goes on. We saw the wildebeest crossing the Mara River (one of Omary’s missions). We had lunch on a Kopje overlooking a migration of zebra a mile wide stretching from one horizon to the other. We had a whole pride of lions walk within feet of our truck. We watched a leopard descend from a tree and disappear in the grass only to reappear right by our truck. The flexibility we had allowed us to do this; other tour operators had left when the leopard didn’t move. The list goes on and on.

This was a truly memorable experience. We wanted to make it memorable since we would only be able to do this once and already we are figuring out how to do it “one moretime” .

Gary and Nancy Prade
Castle Rock, Colorado
Safari Dates: November 6, 2012 to November 16, 2012

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We Were Treated Like VIP’s

What can we say that has not been said by other ADS guests? From the moment we arrived until our sad goodbyes at the airport, we were treated like VIP’s.

One can see many animals on safari but it’s the guide that makes the trip. Our guide, Elson, was wonderful. His ability to spot the animals, lying under the tree or hiding in grass, was incredible. One member of our family was interested in birds and Elson knew the names of all of them. During the 9 days she was able to spot almost 100 different species. He had a great sense of humor as well, especially when we pointed out our favorite animal, the Serengeti Stickebeest! We saw them everywhere.

We saw several crossings at the Mara River. The wildebeests came down to the water and back up the bank, again and again, before they finally crossed. One person described their bellowing as “yes”, “no”, “yes”, “no”! It seemed as if the entire migration was outside our tent the night we spent at Lemala Mara River Camp. What a great way to start our safari.

Lions and cubs, elephants and babies, cheetahs, leopards, you name it we saw them, the big 5 and our own “small 5”. We were also lucky enough to spot a pack of 10 African Hunting Dogs, 2 Serval cats and a Bush Baby.

We also visited the FAME hospital and saw what wonderful work Dr. Frank and Susan are doing there. We were so impressed we are considering going back to volunteer there.

When we planned our safari we thought it would be a once in a lifetime event, but it was so fabulous that we can’t wait to go back again. Tanzania is truly a magical place.

Charles and Debbie Pitman
Safari Dates: October 1st to October 11th, 2012
Silverthorne, Colorado

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New Years on Safari

WOW – what an amazing experience!

I can honestly say that each day I daydream about being back on our amazing adventure, I so did not want it to end. Wilfred was incredible. What a kind, funny man and an absolute wealth of information! We even tried to ask him questions that he would have to look into his library of books for to no avail, he was well versed on everything from weather, animals, history, insects, and plantlife, he did not miss a beat.

Of course, I should add that my travel partners were great as well. We laughed (full on belly laughs), learned and certainly shared experiences that will last us a lifetime.

I personally found the simplicity of nature in its purest state to be much needed food for my soul. I felt that I arrived in Tanzania, looking forward to an adventure, but returned with so much more than that. My experience could be classified as nothing less than simply amazing, and nourished my soul in ways I never anticipated.

Take care Dawn and again thanks for all your assistance to us!

Denise and Fred Hansen
Loveland, Colorado
December 2011

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I Took Over 3,000 Safari Photos

I want to take the time to thank you so much for developing such a great itinerary. We loved the Northern Serengeti. If we were to only do one area it would be the Northern Serengeti. And as you mentioned having some rain was fabulous.

Our favorite lodgings were the Serengeti Bushtop and the Camp in the Central Serengeti called Seronera Sametu Camp (not to be missed). Seronera Sametu Camp was located right in the middle of the migration (just an unbelievable experience). The friendly Buffalo Springs camp provided the unique night game drive which allowed us to see a lot of the night critters. They also had a daytime game drive where our guide could go wherever he wanted and we found lots of critters up close.

Swala Camp had a unique setting and a group of unique animals. They had excellent service and we enjoyed it also. I can’t say enough about our guide. We got to meet some other ADS travelers on the way and of course the conversation eventually gets around to how great your guide is. I’m happy to say we didn’t meet anyone with ADS that didn’t think they had the greatest guide. Thank goodness we chose a company who has extremely knowledgeable guides. Ours was a ranger for 17 years college educated, worked on the rhino project and knew the area like the back of his hand.

I also want to thank you for such a descriptive itinerary that was so accurate. We had talked to many people who had gone to Africa and each of them said to bring books to read in the camp during the middle of the day. We soon learned that African Dream Safari provided a much different experience. We usually went from 6am to 6pm. We got to see Africa.

Being a photographer I got to take over 3,000 photos. Now I’m hard at work at selecting the best. Having only four in the vehicle was great. When we looked at some of the other crammed vehicles I was so happy we were not with them. They would have made taking photos very difficult.

In summary we thank you and thank you some more. Your knowledge and wisdom in putting an itinerary together gave us an unforgettable trip.


Jim and Pat Whitticom
Montrose, Colorado
November 2011

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