After more than a year of planning and anticipation, our dream of an African safari became a reality when we were joined by our two adult sons and their wives in Tanzania for what can only be described as the trip of our lifetime!
We had a fantastic safari in Tanzania through ADS. The itinerary Sharon put together for our family of four was great and the accommodations and service at each hotel/lodge/camp were excellent. Most importantly, our guide, Immanual (Ima) really made the difference. He was so experienced, knowledgeable, easy to get along with and enthusiastic. He also had an incredible ability to know where to find all the animals. All in all, a great trip. We would highly recommend ADS to anyone interested in this sort of experience!!
Rick, Barbara, Sonia and Alex G.
Saratoga Springs, New York
Safari Dates: January 6, 2017 to January 13, 2017
I recently completed my third safari with Africa Dream Safaris. Two of them were in September and October during the dry season and the last one in January during the short wet season. Friends have asked which season I liked best and which would I pick to return. Good questions.
I have to give this answer. “It all depends.” All of my safaris have been different. Yes, there were some similarities, but each season holds surprises and great beauty. Each season provides experiences you will never forget.
The dry September/October Season is the time to watch the Wildebeests crossings at the Mara River. That frenzy is quite similar to their rushing about in the dusty Hidden Valley during the short wet Season. There are vast numbers of them at both times but during the wet you experience the herds spread out on the plains from horizon to horizon which is quite indescribable.
During the dry, you can see how well the animals are camouflaged in the golden brown grass. You experience the animals’ constant hunt for water and learn how that leaves them vulnerable.
In the wet, the deep grasses hide both the predators and their quarry. The great vulnerability now is that they are giving birth and are trying to protect their babies from danger. The predators were more numerous with us spotting 36 hyenas at one watering hole.
The beauty of the dry for me lies in the harshness and the heat. The beauty of the short wet season is the abundance of birds and flowers. You could easily turn into a “birder” at this time of year. In our lodge at Ndutu many birders were able to set their cameras up on their front porches and photograph birds of all types in comfort.
It’s so hard to choose one over the other. Perhaps I just have to go back a few more times in order to decide. If I do, it will definitely be with ADS because one of the things I have learned is how to take full advantage of the services they provide.
We always use the same guide so we are not always starting out from scratch each trip. Meeting up with Wilfred each time is like getting back together with a friend. He knows how we like to spend our time. Same with the ground staff…we see many of the same faces each time as they stay with ADS for years. I am sure we have asked them all a thousand questions but they always answer with a smile.
We are up and out of camp every morning at dawn and do not return until dusk. The best animal action is usually in the morning and evening because the animals rest in the heat of the day. Staying out also means you get further away from the bulk of the tours and often do not see another vehicle for hours.
Biggest lesson Wilfred taught us was staying put. Yes, waiting…and waiting. If the animal is hungry or has babies to feed waiting pays off. Sooner of later something is going to happen and it is going to happen too fast for you to drive back to it. We have had jeeps wait with us for a few minutes…loaded with expensive camera equipment but short on patience. They drive off and leave the action behind. Relax, grab a snack and wait.
Bottom line is that you will have an amazing experience in any season.
Link to my October 2012 safari: https://blog.africadreamsafaris.com/?p=9981
Link to my January 2015 safari: https://blog.africadreamsafaris.com/?p=25408
Raleigh, North Carolina
I am so happy I ignored my friends’ warnings and stuck with my scheduled safari in Tanzania this January. To address the elephant in the room (so to speak)…there is NO Ebola problem in Tanzania.
My companion for my third ADS safari was my sister-in-law who was looking forward to her first. Our trip with Africa Dream Safaris was perfect. From the moment we stepped off the plane to the hour we were delivered back to the airport we were pampered. We never once felt any need to worry about our surroundings, so always felt totally safe.
We stayed in two tented camps and one lodge. Each had its own unique charms and all were of the highest quality. Beds were comfy and the food was good. Bonus in the camps is that water is heated over a wood fire so smells wonderfully smoky as you shower. We would return again to any of them.
Our driver, Wilfred Foue, is very knowledgeable and cheerfully answered our hundreds of questions even if we had asked them the day before. We stumped him once on the last day, but as we ‘high fived’, we encouraged him to just make something up! His knack for spotting game was impressive.
We were up at dawn every day and stayed out on our game drives until dusk forced us back to our lodgings. Unlike many of the other tour operators, dawn drives are encouraged with ADS. Many folks we met had to wait until after breakfast to set out. There is a lot of action underway in these early hours and it is a shame to miss it. Also, there is nothing as breath taking as watching the mists clear and the dawn break on the Serengeti.
We saw all of the ‘Big Five’ several times and witnessed two cheetah kills. Over our boxed breakfasts in the jeep, we watched a lioness hunting for her meal one day and a cheetah hunting the next. On another day we spotted a baby leopard waiting for Mom to return with food. Many of our meals were spent this way…quietly waiting for the action to begin. When a Mom is hungry and looking to feed her cubs something is going to happen. It’s only a question of being as patient as the cat is.
At lunch one day, Wilfred spotted what he thought were two female lions lazing under a bush. As we got closer we noticed little heads begin to pop up as a litter of four newborns with their eyes still closed stumbled in and out looking for a meal.
Big animals are exciting of course, but the treat in January is this is the time when about 500,000 Wildebeests are giving birth in the South. On a chill morning after rain in the Ngorongoro Crater, we saw birthing all around us. It seemed like one moment there were no babies then all of a sudden we would see them popping up to their feet. These amazing babies begin to walk immediately and within minutes can run…wobbly sometimes, but moving well. Soon each herd seemed to have thirty or forty new members.
We had an amazing ten-day experience. I would not hesitate to tell anyone I know to go to Tanzania on safari with ADS. Plan it now and enjoy this gorgeous country. It is an unforgettable experience.
Feel free to visit my website to see some more photos from my safari.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Safari Dates: January 18, 2015 to January 28, 2015
For those who have not experienced an ADS safari, you may be asking why ADS (African Dream Safari)? Well after taken a Safari with them I discovered that this is a highly profession company with very competent employees who become your friends while in Tanzania. The experience from the time we arrived in Arusha was truly a once in a life time opportunity. It was obvious that Sharon “Mama Simba” Lyon had done her job by establishing a wonderful itinerary, accommodations, side trips and other details of our stay. Our meet and greet people at the airport took us expertly through the visa and customs process with ease. The next day they handled our flight to the Central Serengeti in the same expeditious manner.
Our guide met us at the airstrip in the Central Serengeti and off we went on what would prove to be the experience of a life time. We soon discovered Claude was not an ordinary guide. He was respectful to the clients’ needs, his vehicle, the animals and other safari companies. This guide anticipated providing the client with exceptional opportunities to take pictures.
Like I have read in the ADS newsletters, our guide like other ADS guides, is very knowledgeable in the birds (even migratory birds), animals, trees, vegetation and the various tribes & people of Tanzania. If he did not know an answer he would say so and look it up so by the end of the day he had the answer.
In the days ahead we experienced many opportunities to view the great migration of wildebeest, the big five and other many other animals. We saw a mother cheetah drinking water with her five cubs, a herd of cape buffalo surrounding two lions as they were attempting to seek a single buffalo as prey, 7 leopards (one “shy one” decided to come to our vehicle providing us with great photo opportunities), four male lions on the hunt, hippos, rhinos, and many other animals.
We also saw hyenas eating a zebra and a cheetah feasting on a small impala. By the end of the trip our vehicle was affectionately known as shake, rattle and roll. While Claude soon became known to us as Claude the Magnificent.
If you go on safari rise and start your day at a 6 AM and stay out late. By doing this you will be rewarded with some of the best photo opportunities. As truly amateur photographers we needed all the help mother nature could provide.
We also enjoyed our side trips to Oldupai Gorge (not Olduvai) where Louis and Mary Leaky, paleoanthropologists, discovered the first fossilized Proconsul skull and made other discoveries, our Maasi walking safari and our visit to the home of an Iraqw family to see a typical underground home of these people that were lost when Tanzania left British rule. Daniel our host brought out a wedding dress made of an cured animal hide and beads. Each bead color had a meaning and each design of beads told a story of the family. This dress is worn at family gatherings and special events
ADS is not only a great safari but an educational experience. Our 14 days in Tanzania will always be a wonderful memory that we can relive through our photographs.
Debi and Bob S.
Safari Dates: January 26, 2014 to February 6, 2014
If you read no further this sentence, remember this: IF A SAFARI IS ON YOUR WISH-LIST, TANZANIA IS THE PLACE TO GO AND ADS ARE THE PEOPLE TO MAKE IT HAPPPEN! We can’t say enough good things about Africa Dream Safaris! We had an exciting, comfortable, and safe trip to Tanzania thanks to ADS – and came away loving its amazing wildlife, beautiful landscape and engaging, high-spirited people. We were totally prepared by Dawn Anderson, the ADS representative in the U.S. – she addressed our every question and need with unending patience. She offers truly expert help because she’s been to EVERY area for safari and place we might stay – she really knows the ground!
ADS helps you understand your wide range of options, and is ultimately flexible: you select everything from early planning through helping direct the action each day: drive or fly, areas to visit, and level of luxury in your lodgings and food, and the daily agenda on the ground. While we chose to stay in some lodges too, our favorite place to stay was the Lake Masek Tented Camp – a small luxury camp that was personal and lovely. And where Hippos visited at night! Staying in luxury tented camps is a wonderful experience – they are intimate and close to nature, but in a very comfortable way.
Our trip arriving January 30 and departing February 13 2014 was a perfect time of year – Tanzania was lush and green – but before the long rainy season. The weather was pleasant, and we NEVER SAW INSECTS. ADS took care of us from the minute we landed in Tanzania and in every way after that. We started our odyssey with 2 nights in Arusha where two ADS guides, Faith and Immanuel, instantly helped us start to understand Tanzania, its people, its beauties and challenges.
Once on safari, it was just we two with Immanuel our guide/driver for all 8 days of our safari. He was extremely knowledgeable and got us up close to more wildlife than we could ever have imagined – explaining the animals, birds reptiles – and everything about them- behaviors, life cycles, habitats and of course the Serengeti ecosystem.
The beauty of going with ADS is you aren’t locked into the pre-set, well-trodden paths of larger tour groups – our guide Immanuel was free to decide the best areas to explore each day, within our larger trip outline. We spent lots of time alone and off road, tracking animals as they stalked their prey, for example! Immanuel stopped at any moment when we wanted a photo: no problem, just stop when you want as long as you’d like. He made it clear he was there for OUR experience.
And NOT TO BE MISSED – we stayed for 6 days after our safari on Zanzibar at the all-inclusive luxury resort The Palms – which can only be described as heaven on earth. The Palms had the best service we’ve ever experienced and while there we dined on ambrosia –prepared by a French-trained chef using local ingredients, often directly from the sea (lobster every day!!).
By getting to know guides personally, seeing Arusha and cities and towns on Zanzibar, and visiting markets, a coffee estate, spice farm, and a Masai BOMA, we gained an appreciation for Tanzania, and East-central Africa, that the safari alone would never have given us. This fantastic journey gave us a whole new feeling for Africa – and was all arranged for us, along with the transfers, guides, drivers and an unending amount of personal care and attention by ADS – both in the U.S. and on the ground in Tanzania. REMEMBER – DON’T TAKE A FIXED GROUP TOUR SAFARI, LET ADS TAKE YOU ON A SAFARI MADE-FOR-YOU!
Christine F. and Oscar G.
Safari Dates: January 30, 2014 to February 13, 2014
What A Trip!!! The safari and all the staff, both in the field and off, exceeded our expectations. When we arrived in Kilimanjaro, we were met at the doors by Faith. She was terrific in expediting our entry into Tanzania.
Then we met our safaris guide, Simon. He was THE BEST!!!! Simon introduced Sally and me to the Serengeti and all the animals, birds and lore that it holds. I attached several of my favorite photos. My personal favorite is the cheetah chasing the wildebeest and zebra looking for the day’s meal. We were able to watch the chase, the kill and the skill the cheetah’s displayed in getting their dinner.
I took over 1000 pictures with many favorites including all the major animals and birds. The tented camps including Sametu Camp and Lion’s Paw Camp were wonderful with Jonas and DC two of our camp staff favorites. I would highly recommend the tent camping for anyone taking a safari. After a day out in the field, it was such a pleasure to be in one of the camps. Sitting outside around the fire or in the tented room enjoying a drink and sharing the day’s adventures, was the perfect way to end the day.
I would recommend ADS to anyone going to Africa. Sharon was very helpful in planning the trip and coordinating the schedule. The Manor of Ngorongoro was the PERFECT place to end the trip. Don’t miss that final place to stay!!!!!
Feel free to contact us for any referrals for future safaris adventurers. We would be glad to help.
Ted and Sally B.
Safari Dates: January 29, 2014 to February 4, 2014
We have been back in the states for just over a week with Tanzania withdrawal happening big time for Bob and me. Flying into LAX at rush hour was a jolt of a homecoming after our weeks on safari where the biggest traffic jam was the million wildebeest descending on our safari camp our last days in the Serengeti.
First and foremost we want to thank you Dawn for being our cheerleader, our ear to listen with pre trip questions and trepidations, plus our coach in helping us decide the best trip for our group of eight Californians. You were always available with informative answers by phone and email, even in the middle of that freak UK snowstorm where many of us were trying to make our connections. Dawn you were always pleasant and so patient. Bob and I know we asked the same questions several times with detailed informative answers at all times. So huge kudos to you and your staff as our African Dream Safaris adventure ranks in the top trips of our life and Bob and I have been to Africa many times and on safari many times.
JP and Ellson were fantastic guides, funny, kind, always had great anecdotal stories and were so knowledgeable about Tanzanian flora and fauna. Ultimate getlemen and ultimate breakfast and lunch destination planners…oh the views and the spots we stopped for JP’s great coffee and Ellson’s table or should I say hood setting of the gourmet box lodge lunches (we did not lose weight) with panoramas that rival the seven wonders of the world. Both guides made our trip the most special.. Please thank them for us, especially for their patience with my always wanting one more shot to the point we always drove away from wildlife viewings with my camera clicking. Please convey to Ellson and JP if they ever visit the states they are welcome at our house where we we will be ready Alibabas (an inside joke) to guide them through the streets of San Diego and surrounding areas.
I asked Bob about his favorite moment of our 17 day trip. He readily recounted a trek late one afternoon in JP’s truck when we discovered a just fallen zebra near the Lake Masek Lodge. Our truck came upon the zebra moments after its demise and its body was already surrounded by a vociferous hyena and many vultures. With this being our first kill observation in all of our many safaris we were both horrified but interested in seeing “the circle of life” play out. Unsure if the zebra died of natural causes or was brought down by a predator, maybe the hyena, as we missed its death by moments, we watched as the hyena tore into the underbelly of this seeming healthy viral zebra with the vultures creeping in from the other sides of the body.
As we observed the hyena rip the zebra apart we heard a solitary zebra braying (if thats the right noise for frantic zebra speak) and witnessed the same zebra galloping madly from area to area searching for its fallen zebra companion. Oh the sadness and despair this zebra was communicating both in its body language and its brays were heart breaking. Coincidentally as the hyena stole a piece of the zebras innards away from the carcass and began to slink away, either to bury it for future consumption or for its cubs, the desolate zebra spied its dead friend with the hyena sneaking away.
That upset zebra spun around, ears back, lips curled and teeth clenched, gave chase to that hyena and delivered a beating of its lifetime, not just once but twice. We witnessed clouds of dust with hyena fur flying. Afterwards we found grace with what looked liked the good guy,the zebra, getting a bit of justice. As part of our image submissions I have sent an image of the hyena,vultures and the fallen zebra as well as an image (blown up and grainy it was at a distance by the time I got my wits about me to take the picture) of the zebra chasing the hyena.
As for me, it was all wonderful. Every day my brain was on overload of the unbelievable sightings which came fast and furious. As an avid photographer I honestly did not know which side of the vehicle to watch as picture moments collided with each other with my taking over 8,000 images. Whew!!!
Great moments for me included, but were not-limited to: baby elephants playing dunk and spray with each other-for over an hour in a water pool; a lioness climbing a tree after a big breakfast of cape buffalo her swollen overfed belly hanging from a limb as a handsome suitor from her pride roared and scratched at the base of her tree, where she ignored his amorous pleas; seeing 11 Cheetahs in one day, ranging from a solitary family unit, to the two brothers-Espresso and Cappuccino and mothers with cubs, including a female with three cubs. These Cheetah sightings concluded with one gazelle kill and two missed kills, wow wild times on the Serengeti.
Other sighting favorites included those quiet moments of a zebra drinking water, its reflection as beautiful as the early morning light; a pride of 25 lions most of them youngsters, some still nursing, playing tag and rivaling any hilarious wrestling match especially when the item of interest and covet being a half dead bush; a raft of hippos that covered part of a river with so many hippos and their babies and hippo antics that we couldn’t stop laughing.
And I can’t forget the migration. OMG…so many wildebeest, so many zebra, so little time. And it all happened around our safari camp with wildebeest as far as the eye could see. But, I think my favorite moments were observing the pure size, raw beauty and great landscapes coupled with the beautiful light and angry magnificent storms that raced through the plains plus the myriads of other animals, birds, reptiles and bugs. Even the dung beetle with its comedic march and its pending presentation of perfect balls of round dung to its mate found a place in my heart!!!
Dawn, thank you and all the African Dream Safari staff for our memorable, fun and soul touching adventures. It was a trip of a lifetime.
Bob and Maggie B.
Safari Dates: January 22, 2013 to February 3, 2013
We just returned from 13 days (Jan 21-Feb 3) on a clockwise trip by land from Arusha to Tarangire (Swala), Ngorongoro (Crater Lodge), Lake Masek, then to Serengeti staying at the Four Seasons and finally Kusini Tented Lodge.
We were four couples with two great driver-guides: JP and Ellson. We experienced the amazing wildlife diversity (lions, cheetahs, leopards, hippos, giraffes—to name a few). And we were delighted with the abundance and variety of the birds (Tawny Eagle, Grey-crowned Crane, Secretary Bird, African Spoonbill, Kori Bustard, Golden-breasted Starling, Grey-headed Kingfisher, and Northern Masked Weaver).
Pictures were taken with a Nikon D600/28-300mm Nikkor and a Nikon D300S/18-300mm Nikkor lens. We found in most instances these zooms met our needs. We recommend bringing a GPS camera adaptor (we used Nikon GP1) because it identifies photo locations (see last picture).
We enjoyed the variety of lodging with various overnight visitors (buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and competing lions), the good food, and attentive service. One of our high points was seeing the migration both from our vehicles as well as flying out on our final day. Zebra and Wildebeest as far as the eye could see.
Dawn Anderson’s planning and pre-trip suggestions and answers to our many questions helped make this a wonderful life-time experience.
Mark D. and John O.
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.
Will & Beth S.
Safari Dates: January 20, 2013 to February 4, 2013
After trying to “lay low” on my 65th birthday last July, you can imagine how excited I was when my husband surprised me with a trip to Africa. Africa….that’s a trip you only dream of. And, yes, it turned out to be just that!
ADS went beyond our expectations. From whisking us through the Kilimanjaro airport on day one until they dropped us off on our last day, they were there. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide, either. Francis was wonderful! He had telescopic eyes and was very knowledgeable. He soon became our friend.
Francis picked us up after our 1 1/2 hour flight on a little bush plane and we immediately began seeing animals. We saw gazelles, elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, impalas, baboons, ostriches and monkeys all within a few hours of arriving. And this was our first day!
We observed a mother lion with 2 half-grown cubs try to take down a young buffalo. The next thing we knew, the whole herd of buffalo chased the lions back. We stayed 3 nights at Mbuzi Mawe tented camp. This was our favorite camp. We sat by our tent and observed a giraffe, gazelles and deer in our backyard. The highlights came at night, though, when we’d lay awake listening to the lions roaring and elephants walking around outside.
It’s hard to point out specific events since they were all great. We enjoyed the hot air balloon ride; watching the migration; being welcome into a Masai village; observing the elusive Serval cat; seeing 5 black rhinos; and I could go on forever.
Thanks again to Sharon who answered hundreds of our questions and especially to Francis, who made us feel welcome and opened our eyes to a new world. We have made many new memories of a beautiful country filled with wonderful people and amazing animals.
Bill and Sandy F.
The Villages, FL
Safari Dates: January 20, 2013 to January 29, 2013
It was a tremendous experience. Well planned and I thought ending the trip at the Crater was a good choice. Having the Day Room was wonderful. We really appreciated the welcome gifts and the cake on the last night. Anglebert worked tirelessly to make the trip perfect. He wanted to tell you about seeing the Aardwolf fighting with the family of cheetahs. It was late at night (if it was up to Anglebert, he would never go back to the camp) so the pictures are not great but I am sending the best one we took. We would normally be the first around an animal and in minutes the vultures would show up. It was great when we could get out away from everyone like at the Gol Kopjes and the open plains around Ndutu.
I awoke with a start this morning. I wondered what all the noise was. I realized it was sounds of the city. A couple of nights before my wife and I were kept awake by the roar of lions and the alarm “barking” of baboons seemingly from our front porch. It was a week of quiet nights with beautiful stars.
The days were filled with game drives that surpassed our expectations. We are used to open spaces in Texas but it is interrupted by fences, gates, and cattle guards. To be able to travel miles and see no one and not to have to get out and open gates is a grand experience. We viewed massive herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles. All set to backdrop of vast plains and far away mountains. There were lions and tigers and…no, not bears, but cheetahs, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and cape buffalo. A couple of unexpected sightings were the Ardwolf and the honey badger (look up the video on Youtube).
The guides in all the letters are fondly remembered. Everyone believes he must have lucked out and got the best one from ADS. Unless they got Anglebert, they couldn’t have gotten the best. His ability to not only spot the animals but anticipation of what the animal would do next or where the animals next move would be is extraordinary. We saw some cheetahs late one night (Englebert will stay out from six in the morning to dark thirty), the next morning Englebert said “I think I know where they will be this morning”.
We drove out and as the sun made visibility possible, the three cheetahs were right beside us. Not only did he spot the animals, get the best viewing possible, but also put us where the sun would provide the best lighting for the camera. He was, as was everyone we met, unfailingly polite and patient. He truly became our rafiki yangu.
We stayed in three camps. Each was unique having its own architecture, style and views. All the camps were perfectly suited to the surrounding environment with as little intrusions as possible. What didn’t change from camp to camp was the quality of the meals. Each was served on white table cloths, complete complement of dinner ware and wonderful variety of food. The service was outstanding at each location at each meal. We were amazed that such dining could be found in the remotest of areas.
Lastly, I humbly suggest you learn a little Swahili. Your host will appreciate the effort and it will make the trip more fun. Also, stop by the FAME hospital. See the great work they are doing. They don’t have their hands out, they are just proud of what they are doing and want to share their excitement.
Richard and Mary Morgan
Safari Dates: January 3, 2013 to January 9, 2013
Lunch with a lion, breakfast with a baboon, and dinner with a genet…those are just a few of the memorable moments from our totally amazing trip with Arica Dream Safaris. We are so glad that we chose Africa Dream Safaris for this “bucket list” trip. ADS came highly recommended by a co-worker who did a similar trip last year. To be honest, I thought his effusive praise for ADS and the wonders of the Serengeti were a little over the top. But I can happily admit to being wrong, from our first contact with Dawn (the most patient and responsive trip planner ever) to the final goodbyes at the airport, Africa Dream Safaris was absolutely the best!
I can’t thank ADS and our guide, Wilfred, enough for making this truly the trip of a lifetime. They delivered all of the things you’d expect – first rate accommodations, comfortable and reliable vehicle, flexible itinerary, but also the little touches that made the trip special – the lovely Maasai bracelets, gifts and champagne to celebrate our anniversary and the good-bye cake! We always felt safe and cared for – having Wilfred was like having an encyclopedia of the Serengeti at our disposal. Not only was he great at locating animals and getting us into position for great photographs, he would also share the most interesting facts about the animals, plants, and ecosystem. By the time we left, he was “Uncle Wilfred” to the girls and we truly hated to say goodbye.
From the first day in Seronera when we ate our lunch in the vehicle just a few feet from a huge male lion, we had one amazing experience after another. We took over 6000 photos and videos, but no images or words can convey the sense of wonder that the Serengeti evokes. I’ve wanted to write a review since we returned, but have been dragging my feet because I just don’t feel like I can do it justice. One of my favorite memories couldn’t be captured digitally. (I tried!) Our second night in the private camp (which should not be missed) I was snuggled in the incredibly comfortable bed watching a spectacular lightning storm that lasted for hours, listening to lions roaring just yards away from our tent. I had this huge grin on my face that just wouldn’t quit.
We saw so much more than we expected and yet you can never see it all. We’ll have to make a return trip to find the elusive honey badger, python, and pangolin! We saw a clan herd of over a hundred elephants, many incredible cheetah sightings (16 in all, including two hunts!), hyenas and lions with their kills, herds of wildebeest as far as the eye could see, and so many other amazing animals and birds I can’t begin to list them all.
While the “Big Five” were awesome, many of the highlights of the trip were smaller things – spotting the rare African wildcat, the yellow-winged bats, a double rainbow with an elephant at the end of it, and delicious fresh mango for breakfast. The animals are amazing and the reason we planned the trip, but we found the Tanzanian people to be equally wonderful. The stop at a Maasai village and a visit to an elementary school class in Arusha brought home both the differences and similarities of our cultures and lives.
The grin returns whenever I think of all the delightful people and places we visited. I’ve had a wonderful time sharing stories and pictures from the trip, here’s a link to some more of our favorites: http://www.pbase.com/teddi_and_roger/africatrip2013. Needless to say, Africa Dream Safaris has another huge fan!
Teddi and Roger, Randi and Rian Edington
Safari Dates: January 1, 2013 to January 9, 2013