To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary, my husband and I decided to take a dream vacation to Africa. A safari sounded so exciting and we were by no means disappointed!
Early last year, my wife and I planned our 30th wedding anniversary present to each other and our family – a safari to Africa. I must have looked through dozens of websites to try to learn as much as I could about where to visit, the best time to visit, and how to visit. It all seemed so complicated, until we came across African Dream Safari’s website. ADS’ website was so helpful and we soon had our trip booked to visit Tanzania’s Serengeti and the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater.
My husband and I just returned from the trip of a lifetime! Through Africa Dream Safaris we traveled from Arusha to the Northern Serengeti, through the Central Serengeti to Ngorogoro Crater and onto Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park. We stayed in tent camps, lodges and hotels. The itinerary unfolded seamlessly.
It is not often when reality surpasses your dreams but from the moment we landed on a dirt runway in the Central Serengeti and a herd of wild Zebras were our welcoming committee to the time that we were surrounded by over 2 million as we were front and center to the Great Migration, I knew we were part of something I could only imagine…up until then!
The short version is that everyone felt the safari exceeded all of our expectations. Our flights were all on time, just very long, and our reserved seats were not changed. We all managed to get by with just carry on luggage, so we don’t know if there would have been any issues with checked baggage. The meet and greet with Mattias went smoothly at both ends. Without ADS’ help to smooth things, the visa process looked like a nightmare for everyone else. The extra day in Arusha was a wise decision. Dinner at Onsea House was wonderful. You should give it a try on your next visit.
My husband John and I have been home barely two weeks and already we have shared with innumerable people our experiences and photos from what can only be described as a trip of a lifetime. After much research (on my husband’s part) we decided on Africa Dream Safari. One selling point for us was the concept of a private, custom safari. After seeing crowded (sometimes with 6 or 8 passengers) vehicles during some game drives we were so happy we opted for a private safari.
December 11th we made the trip of a lifetime to the Serengeti. We were so excited for this trip, and after reading thru all the informative guides from ADS, we felt we were totally prepared and had an idea of what to expect on the trip. After a great night of rest at the hotel the first night, we boarded our flight in Arusha to set out for the Serengeti.
As scared as I was about such a tiny plane, the pilot, Harry immediately put us at ease, and we had an awesome flight. What I was not prepared for, was how awestruck I was when I saw the migration of the wildebeests and zebras from above. It was incredible and I still cannot find the right words for the feelings I had seeing it. I looked at my husband, and we both smiled, knowing this was going to be everything we hoped and more.
What I was impressed with most on the trip, was how perfectly orchestrated everything was. From the second we landed in Africa to our flight home, the staff at ADS was there to help and guide us. This was such a new experience, and quite honestly I was little paranoid about safety. (I can’t help myself, I blame it on 20 years of working in NYC – it’s exhilarating, but leaves you a little twitchy!) I soon realized, we were in good hands, and as long as we listened to our guide, we had nothing to fear! We just had to sit back, and enjoy the ride.
After we landed and said goodbye to Harry, we met Emanuel, who would be our guide for the next 7 days. We quickly began to call him Eagle Eyes, because he did not miss a THING.
We’d be driving along and Emanuel would stop, pull out the binoculars, and boom! Leopards in a tree. Or, boom! Cheetah cubs hiding in some bushes. Or, a rhino mom and her baby! Or, bat eared foxes! The best was when Emanuel stopped as we were driving in the late afternoon on our way to the Ndutu Lodge. Boom! DUNG BEETLE with a ball of dung and his bride riding on top. It does not get better than that!
I think a good guide makes sure you see all the obvious things, but a great guide goes above and beyond to make your trip fascinating! ADS has GREAT guides for sure. The most moving part of the trip for me was the migration – being in the middle of 100,000+ zebras and wildebeests, and watching them was awesome.
The elephants and their strong family structure was a close second. I was truly surprised at how graceful and silent they were. (And, of course as I told Dawn from ADS, the hyenas are my spirit animals! So I loved watching their cunning antics) For my husband, it was the lions. Seeing them, you really do understand why they are named the King of the Beasts. They are majestic, strong, and fearless.
Every day we returned covered in dust, exhausted and with the BIGGEST smiles on our faces possible. We had so much fun, learned so much, and met so many nice people, my heart is still full from all the experiences we had on this trip.
I do want to mention that anyone considering this trip should take the time to read all of the info ADS gives you. We knew what to pack, how to pack, what to wear, what we were going to eat, even what kind of camera lens to bring for the best experience possible. We saw other travelers who were not as prepared as we were, and it affects your experience. I really felt we had a top of the line experience with ADS. My husband is already planning our next trip to come back!
Nicole and Raymond V.
Morristown, New Jersey
Safari Dates: December 11, 2016 to December 19, 2016
African Dream Safaris (ADS) was the most awesome, amazing and adventurous vacation experience we have ever done. Those who have not had this opportunity can only imagine a portion of what we saw and the reward we gained from observing the behavior of the African mammals, birds and reptiles in their native habitat. Nothing can Compare, You must see for yourself!
Thank You to the ADS personnel who made this possible and organized all aspects to make the trip such a success.
Ringoes, New Jersey
Safari Dates: May 15, 2015 to May 26, 2015
That’s the only way to describe our safari with African Dream Safaris in May 2015. For over 9 days we travelled approximately 1000 miles seeing and experiencing the Serengeti and didn’t want to leave. Those 1000 miles went so fast as we crossed the Serengeti on game drives watching the animals and birds, learning about the culture and people, and seeing the topography as it changed.
The safari was full of excitement with everything from flying in a 12 seat bush plane to sleeping in tented lodges and hearing the lions roar at night to having lunch in the middle of the Wildebeest gathering for the Mass Migration.
This exceptional trip would not have been possible without Dawn Anderson’s guidance and professionalism. Dawn answered all our questions and planned and delivered a safari beyond all expectations.
Russ, our guide, was the best!!! Russ was a walking encyclopedia of information teaching us about the animals and birds, people and culture, land and topography and so much more in a fun and enjoyable way. Russ made us feel safe and secure and made sure it was “our safari”.
There were so many wonderful experiences made even better by Russ’ deep experience and knowledge including when to “wait” and see what happens. For example, we “waited” and witnessed a herd of 200 to 300 elephants reverse course and cross the road right in front of us: being on an early morning game drive and having a lion walk across the plains right up to our Landover: seeing the Pigmy Falcon catch and devour a grasshopper: watching the Grey Crowned Crane strut itself in a mating dance, and so much more.
Then, of course, there was the fabulous lodging and even more fabulous food. And, lastly, there was the Landrover, so comfortable with plenty of room and all to ourselves.
The best recommendation we can make is “go on safari” with African Dream Safaris and experience the wonders and the serenity of the Serengeti. African Dream Safaris will exceed your expectations and deliver an up close and personal experience customized just for you!!
Elizabeth and Jeff B.
Warren, New Jersey
Safari Dates: May 21, 2015 to May 29, 2015
Three years ago, my brother-in-law went with his father on a safari with ADS. After seeing his pictures and hearing about their incredible experience with ADS, a Tanzania safari became the top item on my father’s bucket list. So in celebration of a milestone birthday for him this year, my father and I planned our own safari with ADS, could not have been happier with the experience!
Dawn Anderson was our safari consultant, and she did a wonderful job working through the details to customize a trip that was perfect for us. Our final itinerary was an eight-day safari starting in the northern Serengeti, with stops in the central Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge and Lake Manyara National Park. Throughout our journey, we had the pleasure of staying in lodges and camps, and loved the different experiences that both provided.
The luxurious accommodations provided by Lemala Kuria Hills and Migration Tented Lodge were a welcome reprieve after a dusty day in the bush; but the peacefulness and prime location for viewing animals provided by the tented camps at Lemala Mara River Camp, Seronera Sametu Camp, and Ngorongoro Lion’s Paw Camp could not be beat.
From hearing the hippos singing in the night at Migration Tented Lodge, to having a lion join us for breakfast at the Seronera Sametu Camp, each location provided a unique and unforgettable experience! The great locations of each camp were further supplemented by the very hospitable staff, which greeted us with huge smiles and accommodated every request to ensure a comfortable stay.
Each day on safari consisted of a game drive in a different part of the park, led by our knowledgeable and friendly driver-guide, Immanuel Kichao (Imma). Simply put, Imma was the reason we had such an incredible experience on our safari. Imma was not only more than capable of giving detailed answers to every question we asked, but he navigated the bumpy Serengeti roads like the professional that he is, ensuring that my father and I were comfortable throughout the trip.
His knowledge and experience in tracking animals translated into some breathtaking moments. Though there were far too many to list succinctly in a blog post, the highlights include watching a seemingly never-ending wildebeest stampede; lion cubs playing with each other and their mothers, then going to eat the buffalo killed for breakfast minutes later; close viewing of a leopard and a black rhino with her cub; two cheetah eating their gazelle kill; and loads of run-ins with zebras, giraffes, hippos and elephants.
While seeing the animals was certainly the highlight of the trip, I also enjoyed driving through the villages on the way back to Arusha, which included a stop at the Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME). FAME is a hospital in the village of Karatu that provides high quality, low cost medical care to the local villagers and members of the Masai tribe. It was both inspiring and humbling to see the tireless efforts of the staff and volunteers to increase access to quality medical care for those living outside of the large cities. I am really glad we took the time to visit FAME, and appreciate that ADS provides exposure to the local culture and community efforts.
We cannot thank Dawn, Imma and ADS enough for putting together such a memorable safari. We will be talking about this trip for years to come!
Joseph and Lindsay V.
Montgomery, New Jersey
Travel dates: July 26-August 5, 2014
Ever since I was young, my favorite animal has always been a cheetah and it has been a lifelong dream of mine to finally see some out in the wild. This sparked the idea of a safari as my graduate school graduation present and I could not be happier with this trip! From the moment we arrived in Africa we felt safe and welcomed by the ADS workers and the transition into new countries could not be easier.
From the moment we met with our driver, Claude, we knew he would be great and able to help us find everything we wanted to see. On our first day in the Serengeti we saw multiple lions and even a cheetah less than 20 feet from our vehicle! These were on top of the wild number of wildebeests we saw taking part in the great migration which is an amazing sight to see. (We saw so many other animals too, it just isn’t possible to name them all!)
Once we entered into the Central Serengeti, it seemed like lions were everywhere! We saw lions hunting, eating, sleeping and even playing with their young cubs. Lion cubs are probably at the top of the list of cutest animals you will ever see. Not only did we see lions but also numerous leopards as well- one walked not even 5 feet away from us (slightly frightening but absolutely amazing!) Our driver Claude knew I wanted to see as many cheetahs as possible so he went out of his way to make sure they were spotted- we saw 4 in one day which is very rare for such an elusive animal!
Although I have always been fascinated by the big cats, we saw so many other amazing animals as well- countless giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and any other animal you can imagine seeing in the Serengeti. It was definitely an amazing experience and something i believe everyone should get to do at least once (as for me- I think I may come back!)
Kristin E., Rita R., and Patricia A.
Safari Dates: May 24, 2014 to June 3, 2014
Medord, New Jersey
Our Africa Dream Safari was a home run for our family of four! From our initial inquiry to the farewell at the Kilimanjaro airport our experience was exceptional. Sharon Lyon crafted a fabulous 8 day safari for us and sent us a comprehensive pre-safari folder that included our detailed itinerary, a DVD, maps of Tanzania and the ADS Handbook which is an invaluable resource for everything you need to know about a safari in Tanzania.
Tanzania is a place of breathtaking beauty and we struggle to find the words to adequately describe our experience. You will know what we mean when you take in the view from the open air dining room at the Mbalageti tented lodge, drive over the rim of the Ngorongoro crater for the first time, or experience the never ending plains of the Central Serengeti from a private safari Land Cruiser nick named ”Air Force One.”
Highlights of our safari include being greeted by three giraffes (my favorite) as we entered the Seronera Sametu tented camp, seeing a lioness chase off a cheetah to protect her cubs and a 15 minute “up-close and personal” stand off with a bull elephant who wanted our shady spot under an acacia tree.
Any safari is mostly about the animals and we saw plenty, but we would be remiss if we did not mention the efforts of the Africa Dream Safari family who provided more than we ever expected in service and hospitality. Mattias and Timon met us at the Kilimanjaro Airport and expedited the Tanzania visa process for us (one of the perks of booking with ADS). Claude, our driver- guide, was personable and extremely knowledgeable about all creatures great and small, including the termites!
Jonas at Sametu camp and Edward at Lion’s Paw camp were our gracious hosts who greeted us with warm wash cloths and refreshing juice after each game drive and made sure that we had hot water bottles under our covers each night. Kudos to ADS for the most amazing trip ever!
Ted, Gretchen, Emily & Nicholas J.
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Safari Dates: June 19-27, 2014
Did you ever, in all your travels, have a trip from leaving the house to returning to the house without a single hitch? Well, we did, even including air transportation. Now who ever heard of perfect on time flights?
Sharon, your itinerary sold me on the deal and after dreaming about this for around 50 years, I had some pretty high expectations. Well, ADS met them all. Unfortunately for ADS, in terms of its evaluation form (which frankly was silly), it was impossible to exceed my expectations. How can anyone exceed an expectation of perfection? After all if we stay at a five star hotel it should be perfect, and it was. But why quibble about a form?
Everything went as smoothly as promised–from arrival at Arusha to final departure from Arusha. And in between: Wow. Our guide, Ally, was fantastic. He seems to have binocular vision: he spotted animals at five hundred yards while driving along on twisty, incredibly rutted roads. He really took good care of us. He was very knowledgeable, very solicitous and an easy conversationalist. And topping all that, he understood and laughed at my dry sense of humor. What a pleasure!
We saw all of the so-called “big five” and everything else to boot. We saw a bunch of lions feasting on a freshly killed cape buffalo (we might have missed the kill by less than an hour). Most interesting experience? We were twenty feet away from a new born gazelle, maybe five minutes old, struggling with its first few steps and learning how to suckle; unfortunately, something went wrong with those shots, we’ll see. All lodges were great and food was fine, even the picnic packs.
We’ll follow with selected photos. Have no doubt, everyone we talk to will know how great Sharon Lyons and ADS are. By the way, my granddaughter Alix did her own blog, meant more for her college friends but very interesting (http://alixinafrica.wordpress.com/). She had the same fantastic time that we did.
Somerset, New Jersey
Safari Dates: January 8, 2013 to January 16, 2013
I have been back from my trip to Africa for about a month now, but I left my heart in Tanzania. My dream has always been to go on safari, and ADS made my dream a reality. The entire trip far exceeded my expectations, and was definitely the trip of a lifetime. I haven’t stopped talking about it since I got back, and am already starting to plan my next visit.
I was fortunate to work with Sharon from ADS to set up the trip. She provided great advice on the time of year to go in order to see the great migration and also some suggestions regarding the itinerary. My safari was with two girlfriends, one of whom took some persuading to join us. Having read the brochure and information that Sharon sent to me, my friend commented that if it lived up to the description she had read it would be an amazing adventure. And she was right! It was everything ADS said it would be.
Special thanks and gratitude has to go to our guide Arnold. We very quickly became friends and he is the reason the trip was so enjoyable and unforgettable. He knew all the habits of the wildlife and was able to find incredible sights for us to enjoy. From the first day when we saw the wilder beast migration river crossing to the last day finding a final pride of lions. He quickly got to know us and we were soon joking and chatting like old friends. He understood that we wanted to see as many cats as possible especially leopards and lions.
Not only did we see 108 lions and 9 leopards, but he made it possible for us to have unique and special sightings. We had breakfast one morning while watching three lionesses and their cubs play and then lunch under a tree with a leopard.
We trusted him implicitly, so if he said we are going to wait for ten minutes in order to see elephants bathing, or a leopard jump down from a tree, we waited. And he was always right. Our safety was always his first concern and then making sure we took amazing pictures. His culinary skills were also appreciated for our breakfasts and lunches in the bush.
The tented camp accommodations also exceeded our expectations. The staff in all the camps were friendly and made sure that we needed nothing, from the wake up calls with fresh coffee, cookies and pastries to delicious dinners and hot showers. Our favorite camp was Seronera Sametu Camp. This was the true Africa experience, only four tents in the middle of the Serengeti. We went to sleep to the sounds of hyenas and lions hunting. Jonus, our host at the camp, made us feel so welcome and comfortable.
I could go on and on about how wonderful the whole experience in Africa was, but you must experience it for yourself. I highly recommend ADS when planning your safari, they are very professional, and will ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime.
Morristown, New Jersey
Let me start by saying, thank you very much for a FABULOUS time! This was my second safari and by far it was so much better than my first trip. My first trip was to Kenya with another company and I loved it so much that when my friends wanted to go to Tanzania, I said sign me up. My expectations were set very high to start with, but I have to say ADS surpassed my expectations!
Our guide was great! His spotting abilities were outstanding. He spotted the smallest leopard tortoise while driving down a paved road at highway speeds, now that is talent! I truly believe we would not have seen as much as we did without him. We saw over a hundred lions, nine leopards, thirteen cheetahs, four rhinos and many wilder beasts, zebras, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, hippos, etc
Day 1 we saw thousands of wilder beasts stampeding and crossing the Mara river, a wilder beast getting attacked by a crocodile along with seeing many other animals. At the end of day 1, I didn’t think it could get any better. Boy was I wrong, every day got better and better! The only thing I didn’t see was a baboon holding a little simba on a large rock formation, but this was not a Disney movie it was better.
My favorite place that we stayed at was the Seronera Sametu camp. The location was secluded and the scenery was outrageous! While at that camp, we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of all the animals around us including the lions! It was great and an experience I will never forget! The staff at all the camps was friendly and extremely accommodating.
Thanks again ADS for an experience I will always treasure!
Waldwick, New Jersey