Every moment of our 10-day custom safari with Africa Dream Safaris was first class and beyond our expectations. We travelled with close friends from Calgary. Throughout the planning stage, Michael answered all of our many questions with great detail.
Our arrival and departure accompanied by with Faith and Tman were handled with ease. Both were so friendly, well informed and very helpful. Being expedited through customs in Arusha was super.
Words cannot express our gratitude to Anglebert, our guide, with the “eagle” eyes. He is such a kind, enthusiastic and knowledgeable man, who simply made our trip the very best experience imaginable. Every time that we were encouraged to get up early and be out on safari, we would see something exciting and amazing.
Anglebert had the answers to all of our questions about the animals and Tanzania – we simply could not come up with a question that he could not answer. His knowledge of the animals, the history and habitat is simply incredible. We would be driving along the rutted and bumpy roads, when Anglebert would pull over, get out the binoculars and calmly say, “just checking”. We would then head off in the direction that he had been looking to experience yet another breathtaking and amazing sight. Over the course of our trip, we enjoyed several meals together and had lots of laughs and giggles. By the time that our safari was over, we had all developed a very close and wonderful friendship with Anglebert, and all of us shed tears when saying goodbye.
We first met Anglebert at the Northern Serengeti airport after our quick flight from the Arusha airport. Within fifteen minutes of leaving the Serengeti airport, we saw several giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, baboons, impalas and an Agama lizard (brilliant blue and pink color). In the afternoon, we saw a large herd of elephants in the water, grazing on the trees, all within very close proximity to our vehicle. On the way to Lemala Kuria Hills, we saw ostriches, crocodiles and vervet monkies. By the end of Day 1, we thought that we had pretty much seen it all. We had no idea what was to come. Below, is a brief summary of some of the highlights of our days on safari.
An early Day 2 started out with our finding the very elusive serval cat within 5 minutes of our departure from the camp. A short while later, we came across 5 lion cubs resting at the top of a kopje. It looked like they were under strict orders to stay in place until their “moms” returned. We witnessed vultures sitting around a dying wildebeest, waiting for their meal. There were the very aggressive looking Cape buffalo, shy klipspringers, herds of Thomson gazelles, carrion storks and beautiful scenery.
On Day 3, we witnessed over 200,000 wildebeest getting ready to cross the Mara River (after waiting for a long time, we decided to move on to another area where they were building up, and then, of course, they finally started to cross at the first location, but it was a very short lived crossing as one of the wildebeest was taken down by a crocodile). As we moved on, we found a male and female lion sleeping peacefully under a bush. After some time, the female woke up, paced around the male causing him to also wake up. They then proceeded to mate – that was an amazing and very quick event.
Later on, we came across our first sighting of hippos – many of them in the water and on the shore. They are definitely a very smelly, but interesting, creature to watch. On our way to Migration Tented Lodge, we saw a male lion just walking along the side of the road – definitely king of the Serengeti. During the night, when staying at Migration, we could hear hippos bellowing and lions roaring.
Sadly, we saw the skulls of 3 elephants very close together, which would indicate that they were the victims of poaching. Our first spotting of a leopard came after our visit to the Retina hippo pool. Later that day, we had a better viewing of another leopard posed on a kopje rock. She spent some time watching a female lion hunting very close by.
When in the Central Serengeti, we viewed fifteen lions crossing the Central Serengeti at sunrise, with the head female in the lead and the male at the rear. They were heading to water. It was a beautiful sight. We were able to watch them for a long time, drinking water, playing and lazing around.
Shortly after that, we came across another 14 lions feasting on the remains of a freshly killed hartebeest. Several of them we so totally full, that they had virtually passed out, lying on their backs with their feet in the air. Another short drive away, and we found a cheetah posing for us on a large rock. She left the rock and roamed through the grasses, seemingly on the hunt. We managed to see several cheetahs over the entire trip.
Later on that day, we saw 4 lions on the hunt for a zebra. There was a very large herd, but their hunt was not successful. We were interested to learn that cheetahs are successful hunters 80% of the time, whereas leopards have a 50% success rate, and lions are only successful 20% of the time.
We also saw jackals, topis, impalas, banded mongoose, warthogs, dik-diks, kudu, waterbucks, oribi, a monitor lizard, crocodiles, eland, ostriches and many very interesting types of birds.
Another highlight was stopping at a Masai village: seeing the boma, watching their dancing, touring their village, being invited into one of their mud huts, hearing the 4-7 year olds, at their tiny school, reciting their numbers and singing a song, looking at the colorful shukas and seeing the beautiful beaded jewelry that the women and children create.
The scenery at the Ngorongoro crater was so varied – from a desert landscape to a tropical oasis. It also was beautiful at sunrise and sunset. We found two female lions with their very tiny cubs (3-4 months old) wandering down the road, with the babies playing in the grasses. The very hard part of that day was seeing a pack of hyenas hunt and kill a wildebeest. It is the cycle of nature, but so very hard to view. The pink flamingos reflecting in the water that they were standing in, was also an awesome sight. We saw a very rare caracal cat that day too.
Later on, we finally found our black rhinos, chomping on the crater grasses. They were still quite a way from the road, but finding them did complete our list of the “Big 7”. Our cameras had 200X zooms, where Greg’s camera had a 600X zoom – he was kind enough to share some of his super rhino photos with us.
On our second day at Tarangire Tented Lodge, Anglebert asked what we still wanted to see. Debbie, my dear friend, stated that she wanted to find a leopard in a tree. Well, after about 15 minute from the camp, we found a beautiful leopard posing on a termite mound (not in a tree, but close). After taking many photos of her, she decided to move to a grass mound, where we took many more photos of her.
On her route to the grass mound, she walked around our vehicle and right under another Africa Dream Safaris’ vehicle beside us (we got to know Dawn and Greg from Boston and their guide, Peter, while staying at Migration and Seronara Sametu). Then she headed off to scout out a tree – no success, she did not climb it.
We decided to go have our breakfast at a nearby picnic sight, and then go back to see if we could again find her. We did find her, and within minutes, she had picked her tree, circled it, sprayed it and climbed it with great ease – it was one of those “goose bump” moments. She took her time getting comfortable in the boughs of the tree (again many more photos taken), and finally laid her head down to take a nap. After a long time watching her, we headed down the road, and big surprise, saw a lion in the boughs of a tree, looking for something to hunt. Another short while later, we came across a fresh zebra carcass across the boughs of a tree (the leopard that had hunted the zebra was nowhere in sight).
Our last day of safari started with a wonderful breakfast at Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge and ended with a very nice lunch with Anglebert at the Arusha Coffee Plantation. Lunch was a very special treat and great way to wrap up our memorable time on safari.
Our accommodations over the complete trip were excellent:
Lemala Kuria Hills was a 10/10 with respect to the beautiful location, luxury accommodations, the wonderful staff (Tabi, Diana and Moses), who were so friendly and accommodating, with fabulous meals and a very special “sunset” with cocktails, hor d’oeuvres and colorful cushions set up on a large kopje close to the main lodge.
Migration Tented Lodge was again a beautiful location, luxury accommodations and great staff. The meals were delicious. There were lots of hyrax running around the grounds – very interesting creatures.
Seronara Sametu Camp was a delightful “glamping” experience, where we thoroughly enjoyed DJ and JJ (JJ spent some time teaching us a few words of Swahili, which was a big surpise for Anglebert the next day). Sametu Camp felt like being surrounded by nature and gave us true sense of the Serengeti. The food was excellent. At night, we could hear the Cape buffalo munching the grasses right outside our tent. At sunrise, one definitely had to step carefully around the “buffalo patties” left on the pathway to the main lodge
Ngorongoro Lion’s Paw Tented Camp was a very similar experience to the Seronera Sametu Camp. We really enjoyed Edward at that camp, the sunset fire, great food and loved the great proximity of the Camp to the floor of the Crater.
Tarangire Tree Tops Tented Lodge was a tied favorite with Lemala Kuria Hills, with again a 10/10. Jonathon, the Manager, and John, our Server, looked after us all so well. All of the staff were very friendly and helpful. The luxury tents were beautiful with lovely decks to sit out on. The watering hole where zebra, elephants, waterbuck and baboons came daily to drink from was very entertaining. Dining out under the stars in a boma with a roaring fire and white linens and crystal was great. Dining out by the pool, again with white linens and crystal and great food were very much enjoyed.
The special last night, with “Karibu” (welcome) spelled out with red beads, and the African song and dance done by the lodge staff was wonderful. They also served us a delicious cake with “Goodbye” spelled out in the icing. At the end of dinner, we were treated to a night safari – there are lots of different and interesting creatures out at night – we especially liked the African kangaroo. Another big treat, at the end of each day, was being greeted by staff at the various camps with cold cloths and glasses of refreshing juice.
The experience with African Dreams was truly the “trip of a lifetime” made so wonderful by firstly and mostly by Anglebert, a guide who could not be more dedicated, knowledgeable and personable. Anglebert is truly an incredible guide and a very special person. We also thoroughly appreciated the Africa Dream Safaris attention to detail, the little things provided, such as binoculars for each person, photo bean bags and a cooler stocked with beverages and snacks, the wonderful staff at each of our locations, the excellent cuisine, included and optional laundry service and just great overall service.
We would definitely recommend Africa Dream Safaris to anyone thinking of going on safari.
Patti and Rob D.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Safari Dates: September 11, 2014 to September 20, 2014