We were supposed to arrive at JRO at 1:45AM, but the flight was delayed & we landed at 4:00AM! Some 70 passengers groggily deplaned, but we alone had anyone waiting! Yes, ADS was there cheerfully ready to do whatever needed doing. In minutes we had our visas & were hustling out the door (everyone else was stumbling around bleary-eyed wondering what to do & how to get away from airport in absence of taxis). We’d followed our ADS rep’s advice & had a layover day in Arusha to recover. Next day, at Arusha airport there were dozens of folks milling around looking for planes, boarding passes, destinations, information. ADS whizzed us through & we were effortlessly on our way in less than 30 min.
Our wonderful, delightful driver/guide met us & off we went. Within minutes we were within steps of a pride of lions, followed by herds of zebra, a few giraffes, elephants on the skyline, & antelope everywhere. That entire day we did not encounter another vehicle — the northern corner was ours alone. The 2 nights at Migration Camp were lovely & our first experience of the cold wash cloths & icy drinks on arrival. How do they manage to be standing at the ready as you drive up? We were fortunate enough to witness a few hundred wildebeest gathered on a shingle debating whether to go for it. Eventually a few dozen jumped in & furiously swam. They entered the water at the head of a shallow rapids; in the still water below the rapids the crocs were waiting. Some of the wildebeest were strong enough to prevail, some were swept downstream, & some returned to shore. The crocs grabbed two of the weak swimmers, but one was close enough to our side of the river to scramble out & shake the croc off its leg. Quite a show!
As we moved into the Central Serengeti we began encountering many more vehicles. Our driver/guide has a ‘6th sense’ & quite often we were first on the scene of an ‘event’. One such event involved a pair of lion moms teaching the kids how to dine on a fresh kill — blood & soft parts. Like all children, the kids kept looking at Mom as if to say ‘do I hafta eat this?’ The nearby males hunkered down a few hundred feet away & waited until the family left before feasting on the remainders.
Our 2 nights of private camping were surely a high point of the safari, not least because Gady joined us for dinner both nights. His knowledge of his country, its animals, and people was remarkable as was his informed awareness of the rest of the world.
Ngorongoro Crater lived up to its reputation; one of the fascinating things we saw was 3 lions (one male, two female) stalk a cape buffalo. They circled & circled, eventually cutting their intended prey away from the herd; they slowly closed in, then suddenly the cape buffalo had enough, & charged the lions — who wildly fled in three directions at full speed. They re-gathered near us to discuss their failure & then slunk off.
We almost missed visiting FAME which proved another high point. The folks there are doing a terrific job serving an area of Tanzania that lacks basic medical services. Well worth whatever time & support we can supply.
Of all the tented lodges, Swala most embodied perfection. Some others were more ‘elegant’, but at Swala everything was exactly right. All the furnishings & fittings belonged, the managers genuinely gracious, the food superb, & ambiance sufficient to satisfy anyone’s African Dream. Our 2 nights at Swala were a fitting conclusion to our 2-week safari with ADS.
Dale and Raelyn Cole
A mother elephant and her young calf digging a well to search for clean water on the side of a river in Lake Manyara National Park.
A rare Kudu antelope taken in Tarangire National Park.