Location. Location. Location. The golden rule of real estate is also the golden rule of safari. And ADS put us in the right location.
I am a professional cinematographer/photographer and a lover of Tanzania. With regards to wildlife, the two go hand in hand.
Like everyone leaving their comments here, I recently returned from the Serengeti. And again, it has left a huge impression. The fact that this was my 5th safari with Africa Dream Safaris alone speaks volumes… and writing an ordinary glowing “review” seems redundant. I’ve done that previously. So I’ve decided to include some pictures and address something that my friends often inquire about when I tell them about my trips to Africa… let’s call it “ What do I do next?”
We landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport and were met by African Dream Safari representatives and, from that moment on, they took care of every single detail. After spending two nights in Arusha we flew to the Grameti Airstrip in the Western Serengeti and met Bennett, our driver-guide, who immediately became our friend. He quickly honed in to what we really wanted to see and do over the next eight days. It became obvious that he had an uncanny ability to know where our favorite wildlife were and he took us there. Although we saw thousands of migrating wildebeest and zebras, most of the pictures which follow are of single, or just a few, of a given species. We were amazed at how close Bennett could get our vehicle to the animals and/or get the animals to come to us.
I am not a person who is easily impressed, but simply put, my 10 day solo ADS adventure in late April was the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. I live in Colorado, which is an impressive place in its own right. I’ve traveled to Europe, 47 states and Canada and I’ve seen some terrific sights in my life, but this trip was amazing from the time I stepped off the plane until the time I got back on it.
We recently returned from our Africa Dream Safari vacation and from our first contact with Michael to start the planning process, to the moment we hugged our wonderful driver guide Bennett goodbye at the Kilimanjaro airport, the whole experience was nothing short of AMAZING!
For anyone wondering whether or not the last part of the rainy season is a good time to visit the Serengeti, we can testify that for 2017 it was a great time to go. During our 10 day safari, we saw just a few rain sprinkles and only a couple short-lived downpours. The rain was a non issue for us. It kept down the dust, and everything was green and beautiful.
We have just recently returned from our safari to Tanzania which was arranged by African Dream Safaris. After researching many private safari operators we selected ADS and this was the best travel decision we have ever made. From the time our plane landed in Kilimanjaro until our departure eleven days later everything was handled in a professional, friendly manner by competent ADS personnel.
We came home some weeks ago from the most amazing trip we have ever made. Elizabeth and I went to The Serengeti in Tanzania, and had a wonderful safari. We can only describe it as awesome, amazing, unforgettable! It was certainly the trip of our life!
The entire trip was meticulously planned and handled by Africa Dream Safaris team. Dawn in the US and the staff in Tanzania managed our trip with utmost knowledge as well as friendliness. I was surprised to see that a trip as complex as this was, had not one unexpected surprise or something out of schedule. Every single thing was carefully orchestrated even in our end of the things.
We were so well prepared with all their suggestions! Specially the day bag and the photography! I would recommend ADS change the name of their little handbook to: “Everything you need to know about A PERFECT SAFARI.”
From the moment we landed on the Grumeti airstrip we saw small groups of wildebeest and zebras as well as giraffes. Our guide was waiting for us and our vehicle was ready with cushions on the seats, binoculars for each one of us and cold bottles of water and sodas as well as snacks. Immediately after loading our bags, we went game driving and not even a mile from the strip we ran into the first of many prides of lions we would see throughout the safari.
I have to mention our guide David. His knowledge on tracking, allowed us sightings of animals as elusive as the leopard, and also a tree where 7 lions had climbed in search of cooler breeze. He has an eagle eye spotting far away animals. Also his experience in photography allowed us to get some very good pictures, and he would position the vehicle so we could get better lighting and view of our subjects.
The camps were fantastic. Much more than we had expected. Tents, facilities, food and the attentiveness of the staff was unbelievable. Every time we came back after a game drive they were waiting for us with warm wet towels to wipe our faces and cups of cold juice! We have traveled a lot and the courtesy and service in these camps is comparable or better than a five-star hotel.
I want to mention specially the staff of the Seronera Sametu camp. JJ was always making sure we had the best experience possible and in our first night during the campfire we admired the most beautiful sky, the stars were countless and so bright. We could see the Milky way and so many other constellations. And we watched the most fabulous red full moon rising in the horizon. It was a splendid view.
Getting up early was also a magic experience. Watching the moon and the rising sun in opposite sides of the sky, finding the lions that had just made a kill moving slowly to rest by the edge of the road and the energetic cubs playing around with each other was also fantastic.
In those early hours we witnessed several hyenas moving their cubs to another den. And in another early morning we were elated when our guide followed a group of lions hunting zebras, and yet another early day we watched a family of hyenas hunting and devouring in a fast minute a young wildebeest.
We had so many wonderful sightings, elephants, 2 rhinos some 70 lions and countless numbers of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, cape buffalo, Topi, Impala, Hart beast, Grant gazelle, Thompson gazelle, dik dik, hyrax, hippos, baboons and crocodiles among others.
There were many elephants moving lazily thru the savanna and some young elephants were playing in the mud. We were surprised by an adolescent male who got behind the vehicle and trumpeting stomped on the ground and moved his ears as giant fans trying to impress us with his mock fierceness, and I have to confess he did!!
We saw many large groups of wildebeest and zebra following their migration instincts and the rain. They would stop for a short break and then resume their journey north. It was amazing to see so many of them in every corner of the Serengeti, all going in the same direction.
In our way to the Ngorongoro Crater we stopped at a Masai village and had a unique experience visiting their villa. They were very friendly and welcomed us with a dance and Elizabeth had a blast dancing with them. We learned some of their customs and showed us the interior of a hut and we visited the school for the youngest children.
The Ngorongoro crater view from the rim was spectacular. We got to see herds of buffalo, zebras and wildebeest. We couldn’t wait to get down there to explore. As we drove down the winding road we came to a fresh water lake surrounded by green reeds. Some hippos were there, floating in the water. We reached the end of the lake and were allowed to exit the vehicle to stretch our legs and use the facilities that are there.
The next part of our safari took us right across the dry center of the crater where we found herds of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra, along with lots of birds and some hyena. In the distance behind the wildebeest we could see the shimmering surface of Lake Magadi filled with lines of pink. As we got closer we could see that those pink lines were hundreds of flamingos. It was a beautiful sight. As we got closer to the lake we could see a lion relaxing by the shore.
As we were watching a herd of buffalo in the distance we could hear our guide in the front seat getting excited. He spotted a Black Rhino in the distance. We couldn’t see it at first and had to look through our binoculars. It was mixed with some buffalo. We saw our first rhino, and our guide mentioned we had just seen the Big 5. We couldn’t take our eyes off of the huge, majestic, massive figure walking along the other side of the road, slowly coming closer into view. As the buffalo left, the rhino started moving slowly towards our vehicle and he crossed the road right in front of us. We were ecstatic!
That night we stayed on Lion’s Paw camp located inside the Ngorongoro Crater park gate. Next morning, we left after breakfast and we were the first vehicle in the Crater at dawn. We had almost immediate access to the wild animals that live on the Crater floor below. The rim of the Crater was completely immersed in fog that day. Quite beautiful sight.
We were so lucky in our second drive in the Crater, that we saw another rhino. This one was further away but we took some good pictures. We noticed the animals were far fewer as compared to the Serengeti plains, but they are not as skittish which is good to see them close up.
As we drove up the dirt road leading out of Ngorongoro Crater and took the road to Arusha, we looked back at what we had experienced for the last 10 days. The Serengeti and Ngorongoro are special and unique. I’m pleased to see them so well taken care of and protected. These two places in Tanzania are very effectively guarded against poaching, making these animals some of the safest in Africa. We hope that this great conservation effort continues forever, because these amazing places need to be protected for future generations.
We will be back and of course we will do it with Africa Dream Safaris!
Martha D. and Elizabeth H.
Safari Dates: May 18, 2016 to May 29, 2016
We especially wanted to thank you for being so perfect with all the arrangements. No slip ups or problems. We also want to thank you for our wonderful safari guide Emmanuel. He was so smart and so willing to share all of his encyclopedic knowledge of history, geology, and all aspects of biology. He had an amazing eye for creatures that were barely visible until we were right on top of them. Only glowing things to say about Emmanuel.
We loved the Land Cruiser too. I have a 1985 Land Cruiser here in San Diego that I still drive, so the new updated and stretched Land Cruiser was perfect. In every way we felt at home (and of course we were – we came from east Africa the same as all hominids back when).
We were there from May 11 to May 22. I was a little bit worried that it might be repetitious, but was I wrong. Every day was better than the previous one. We are looking forward to coming back, maybe during the rainy season when the babies are being born. The baby mammals were our overall favorite, esp the cheetah cubs, giraffe babies and elephant babies. All of the accommodations were excellent, but we particularly liked the Lake Masek Tented Lodge and the Ngorongoro Manor Lodge.
We knew it was going to be wonderful when we landed at the Grumeti Airstrip and the giraffes were running to get off the landing strip as the plane came down. Then seeing the crocs basking in the river with the hippos. When we got to Seronera Valley there were hundreds of thousands of wildebeests surrounding us.
Other highlights were the leopard carrying a wildebeest up a tree, all the birds, the lions and cheetahs feeding their cubs, the Masai herding, the Oldupai Gorge (there was a picture of Hillary and Chelsea visiting there in the 90s), the very lovely people also traveling with ADS, and the crazy road out of Ngorogoro crater.
I have attached a few favorite pictures out of the 2,000 or so that we ended up taking.
Alan A. and Karen G.
San Diego, Calfornia
Safari Dates: May 11, 2016 to May 22, 2016
My wife, our 20 year old granddaughter, our 17 year old grandson and I went on a ten day safari to the Serengeti in Tanzania May 19 to May 28, 2016. This was a private safari with just the four of us and Peter, our driver guide. The first three days we spent in the Central Serengeti and stayed at the Serengeti Serena Lodge.
The first day we flew from Arusha to the Central Serengeti Airport and our guide met us for a game drive for the rest of the day. We had a good box lunch and saw lots of animals that first day including elephant, hippo, leopard and cape buffalo for 4 of the big 5. We told the guide that we wanted to spend most of the day on game drives with a box lunch and go to the more remote places.
We spent 8 to 9 hours the next three days on game drives and part of the time rarely saw other people. We left the lodge each day about 7 am after an excellent breakfast and finished the day with an excellent dinner. A highlight of our stay at Serengeti Serena Lodge was a bush dinner the third night. This was an interesting buffet dinner with white table cloth and china and Maasai singers and dancers and a huge bonfire. We were the only people at the bush dinner which was in the bush.
The fourth day we had an all-day game drive to the Western Serengeti to the Mbalageti Tented Lodge. This was our favorite lodge since it was on a hill overlooking the valley in all directions. The staff were extra friendly and helpful and there were less people there than the Serena Lodges since it had fewer cabins. Here we went out the first day with a breakfast picnic at 6 am to see early morning animals including a pride of lions.
We came back for lunch at the lodge and then back out at 4 pm to see the evening animals. The second day we went on a walking safari to the river at midmorning which was not very interesting and then at 4 pm we went for another game drive until 6 pm. During the day we visited with staff and had an excellent lunch.
After the third night, after a good breakfast we had a long game drive to the Southern Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge. This was a very large lodge with an excellent view from our rooms of the Ngorongoro Crater. The next day we took picnic breakfast and lunch to spend the day on a game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater. Again we saw lots of animals including 4 rhinos to complete the big 5.
The next day we left after breakfast and went to Lake Manyara National Park where we say elephants and 15 giraffes at one time several monkeys and at least 100 baboons in one location. We also saw lots of beautiful birds. At the end of the day we drove to Arusha to spend the night at the Mount Meru Resort.
Overall the safari was excellent and much better than smaller ones that my wife and I had been on previous in other parts of Africa. We saw the huge numbers of wildebeest and zebra in migration as well as tree climbing lions, leopards and cheetahs. The wide variety of country side was surprising.
Peter our driver-guide was superb with his knowledge of animals, birds and plants. He was able to spot some animals at some distance and then take us to see them up close. He was a very safe and capable driver as well as concerned about our need and what we liked to see.
We would highly recommend the private Africa Dream Safari. The contact with Michael Wishner was excellent as we inquired about the safari and finalized it. The fact that ADS takes care of everything from the visa, all accommodations and meals from arrival to departure is excellent and assures that there are no mistakes.
James and Judy W. and Abby and Daniel A.
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Safari Dates: May 19, 2016 to May 28, 2016
We were so blessed to go on our first safari and could not have been more thrilled that we chose Africa Dream Safaris. We researched several companies prior to making our decision and never once had any regrets. It all started with our discussions with Dawn Anderson. Once we spoke to her, we were sold that ADS was the right company for us. Dawn answered all of our questions, no matter how trivial. She provided suggestions and insight that ensured every detail of our trip was handled. Dawn is the best ambassador for ADS with her exemplary customer service and desire to make our trip memorable.
This was our third trip to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Carter with Africa Dream Safaris and it was as exciting as ever. We took friends along as it was their dream vacation. We told them we were going to be staying in tents and how luxurious that would be and they were pleasantly surprised at the upgraded accommodations.
Our guide Russell was simply outstanding. How he could see a leopard in a tree from a half mile away still amazes my husband and I. Africa Dream Safaris has the best guides in the business.
We started out two nights in the Western Serengeti. The Zebras were leading the way for the Wildebeest. We saw thousands of Zebras and Topis, as far as you could see. Our friends were amazed what they saw the first two days and I told them it was just the tip of the iceberg!
Next was the Central Serengeti for three nights. We saw lions in the tree relaxing in the heat of the day. Later that day we came upon a small herd of elephants, but nearby on some tree branches were some lions resting. Our guide Russell said “let’s follow those elephants and see if they go towards the lions in the tree.” Oh my gosh…the elephants surrounded the tree with the lion up in it! The lion was frightened and just froze until the elephants wandered off.
Next day we came upon a herd of elephants that numbered around 150. Russell said he had never seen so many elephants in one group. Ten minutes later we saw the main group of the migration. As far as the eye could see in all directions there were wildebeests and zebras…possibly 200,000. What an amazing site!
We could not believe how many different types of animals we saw including lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo, ostrich, hyenas, cheetah, black back jackals, topi, impala, grant gazelles, Thomson gazelles…the list is long. A for the birds, we lost count on all the different types we saw.
After the Serengeti we visited the Ngorongoro Crater. We watched early one morning as lions were stalking a cape buffalo, but unsuccessfully. Later we watched a female lion sneak up to a single wildebeest, chase it but fall short of a kill. It was fun however to watch the chess game being played out in front of us in both situations. Finally we saw our first black rhino…only to see 4 more that afternoon. That finished out our Big Five.
Several lion prides, lion cubs, several leopards, hyena families, the rare serval, several black rhinos, lots of hippos and their babies, giraffe families, angry cape buffalos, and a cast of tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebras. And don’t forget the breathtaking sunsets with deep orange and blue streaks. Tanzania is truly a safari paradise!
Steve and Jody J.
Safari Dates: May 15, 2016 to May 23, 2016
Our gang of four from Albuquerque, New Mexico have certainly appreciated and witnessed the circle of life described in the below song during the safari vacation of our life in the Serengeti from May 11 to May 20, 2016.
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give.
by Tim Rice
We had been prepared and coached quite extensively before arriving Arusha by our dear friends, Marsha and Howard Seltzer (ADS Serengeti alumni of 2009 and 2010) and the very wonderful and ever-so-helpful Dawn Anderson of ADS (through telephone calls, several emails and printed materials). Many thanks to Dawn for her knowledge and kindness.
Our trip was every thing we had hoped for and beyond. All the ADS staff were very helpful, courteous, professional and polite. The lodgings were universally unique, well appointed and surrounded by raw nature. We were escorted for safety reason to and from the common/dining areas at every dawn and darkness.
We heard several wild creatures at late nights and early mornings including lion roars and movements just outside our tent lodges. We heard buffalo foot steps and spotted them close by one early morning. The meals were excellent and with extensive menu to choose from.
We fondly thank Anglebert, our wonderful guide, for the “stories” he told us everyday through spotting, tracking the animals and narrating while and before things happened. We saw a cheetah chasing a baby wildebeest. It narrowly escaped the danger when the mother and perhaps relatives and friends chased the hunter away.
We saw one of several very beautiful grey crowned crane ferociously chasing a nearby perhaps threatening duck away, for coming too close to his lifelong mate. They both then romantically danced and kissed. We saw a whole pride of lions happily marching back to the kopjes from their morning hunt with full and bulging stomachs. They then spread out and situated themselves beautifully on the rocks.
We saw the honeymooners on the rock. Also two lionesses attentively and affectionately nursing their six cubs. One mother accommodated and nursed as many of the cubs simultaneously as possible. We anxiously watched a mother lion tormentedly and frantically searching and calling out to her lost cubs. She had evidently left them in the bush for some time while she went hunting for food for the family. After a long while, they happy reunited. We witnessed a leopard mightily and with great effort dragging a young and good sized wildebeest she had just killed up a large acacia tree to feast on.
The great migration mesmerized us to no end when we found ourselves in the middle of the sea of wildebeests. The sheer number was unimaginable and mind boggling. The fascinating stories and sceneries went on and on everyday.
In one early afternoon, while our Landcruiser was stuck in the deep mud, we heard deep breathing in the tall grass immediately next to us. We almost had to hold our breath. That was a rather uncomfortable experience for the four newbys. We were eventually rescued out of the mud by another vehicle with no difficulty.
Our Ngorongoro Crater adventure started with a visit to the Olduvai gorge where we learned about our oldest ancestors. Homo habilis, probably the first early human species, occupying that part of the rift valley area about 1.9 million years ago.
We made an early foggy morning and still dark descent into the Ngorongoro crater. Besides seeing lots of animals including the four massively looking rhinoceroses, the crater itself was a wonderfully beautiful vast meadow of wild flowers and green grassland. The sunrise was spectacular when the beam emerging through the fog and the low cloud and exposing the beautiful meadows and lakes that morning. We left the crater that evening after an unexpected and almost a spiritual experience.
Our ADS safari trip was far beyond our expectation and description. We witnessed many things for the first time in our lives. We appreciate the great efforts and energy by many people and organizations trying to preserve this beautiful planet that we live on for others and younger generations to witness and enjoy. We hope to be able to share this Africa Dream Safari experience with our family in the near future.
Nara and Kris C.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Safari Dates: May 12, 2016 to May 20, 2016
I am a professional photographer and cinematographer here in the States. I have been to Tanzania three times previously, all three times with Africa Dreams. Most recently, I actually went to help with some of the videos that appear on this website. I am, to say the least, a fan of Africa Dreams Safaris.