This Africa Dream Safari was a ‘top of the bucket list’ adventure for my daughter and me, as we both celebrate milestone birthdays this year. With the help of Dawn’s expert planning, our dream trip was amazing!
Back in the fall of 2014 my wife and I decided it was time to fulfill our ‘once in a lifetime’ dream trip. We made the wise choice to use ADS for our tour and we were overwhelmed with the experience, which was perfect in every way. Our once in a lifetime trip turned into a ‘we gotta go back again trip’, so we returned to Tanzania in March 2018.
Stunning sunrises, animals galore, star filled night skies, the most welcoming people on earth, beauty and stillness like nowhere else! And this was only day two! Four girlfriends set out for an adventure and had an amazing trip of a lifetime with Africa Dream Safaris in March – April 2018.
We just returned from our Africa Dream Safaris trip in Tanzania. This was the adventure of our lives. We saw the big 5 and more. Every day was something new to see, learn and explore. We visited 3 different camps in the Serengeti and they were all amazing. The people and culture were an experience we will never forget.
After contemplating an African safari for some time, I decided to start seriously looking into such an adventure about 8 months ago. I did a web search and found a handful of tour operators and called several of them and their references. I never really felt comfortable with any of them and then I made the call to Dawn Anderson with Africa Dream Safari and the rest is history.
Is an african safari on your bucket list? When our guests inquire about a trip with Africa Dream Safaris, they receive a custom-tailored itinerary designed to meet their specific needs and travel interests – no two trips are alike.
It may sound rather obvious, but one thing we’ve found from our 20+ years of experience in this industry is that different people are interested in different things. This of course is a simple fact of life, and it doesn’t become a problem until these different interests start competing with one another on a group safari.
You can’t compare Africa to a camping vacation or a wilderness stay in a US national park. Being in the Serengeti National Park was pure and raw.
Departing from Arusha to the Kogatende airstrip set the tone for our entire Safari with Africa Dream Safaris. Other folks were waiting dressed in white jeans and walking shoes, jaunty straw hats and bright colored shirts and jackets- more prepared for a resort than an experience of a lifetime. Well prepared over the previous nine months by Sharon Lyon of ADS, we had come to Tanzania ready to be educated, to push beyond our comfort zones, and to inhale the REAL Africa.
As avid outdoorspeople and nature lovers, my husband and I decided last year that an African safari would be a great adventure. In particular, we wanted to see the wildebeest migration, and that led us to Tanzania. After several hours of research, it became apparent that African Dream Safaris offered just the type of experience we were interested in.
Jambo!! My wife and I celebrated 40 years of marriage in June 2016. To celebrate our milestone, we booked our ADS Safari and looked forward to this great lifetime experience! Our 10 day ADS Safari was April 2nd 2017 to April 12th 2017. We arrived in Arusha where we were met at the airport by Mathias and our wonderful Safari Guide, Russell. We spent two nights at the Mount Meru Hotel for a much needed rest and city tour of Arusha before venturing out into the Serengeti on our Safari!
Our eight-day safari with ADS was the trip of a lifetime for my family and me. I cannot say enough about the company, people and experiences ADS delivered to us for this trip. We did a six-day african safari tour in the Serengeti and two days at the Ngorongoro Crater. The trip was perfect. It surpassed all of our expectations. We made this trip with our family of six, my wife’s parents, and my brother. From the start of the trip to the final hours at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, we had an incredible experience that we will never forget. I am so pleased to be able share some details of our trip with anyone who will listen.
I have dreamed of an African safari since I was a teenager. I am now 48 years old and my dream finally came to fruition in July 2015. After months of planning, we finally arrived in Tanzania, Africa at the Kilimanjaro Airport. We were immediately greeted by Mathias, Precious, and Timmon. We felt comfortable from that moment until we were delivered back to the airport by the same group in addition to one of our Safari guides, Ema.
We flew on a bush plane to the Seronera Airstrip and our Safari began there. On the very first day, we saw a pride of lions, gazelles, leopards, topi, hippos, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, and zebras. We also met our guides, Arnold and Ema, with whom we would spend the next eight days and become fast friends. They were nothing short of incredible. They were knowledgeable, patient, experienced, and of course friendly.
We saw one lion pride on the first day with 17 lions. Naturally, we hoped and expected to see many African animals. What we were not prepared for, however, was the sheer number of animals in the Serengeti. At one point, Ema estimated that we were looking at over six hundred thousand wildebeests in the Massai Mara. Also, the vast space and size of the Serengeti is absolutely spectacular. Words cannot adequately describe the vastness of the space. We could see for miles in many directions with not a power line, telephone pole, cellular tower, or other indication of civilization to spoil the view. This was impressive to say the least.
Over the next seven days, we saw many of the same animals but also impala, warthogs, cheetahs, a rhino, jackals, crocodiles, wildebeests, vultures, storks, a python, a black mamba, and a rare treat, a caracal chasing a rabbit in the crater. The animals were 10, 20, and 30 yards away. Sometimes, they were just outside of our vehicle within an arms length.
Africa Dream Safaris set us up with accommodations that cannot possibly be rivaled. We stayed at the most luxurious lodge I can imagine in the middle of the Serengeti wilderness. We could see wildlife from our showers. The pool overlooked a watering hole at which elephants, zebras, baboons, waterbuck, and various other animals came to drink on our first night there. It seemed like African Disneyland to all of us. We had to laugh out loud because we did not know what else to do.
From that point forward, to our amazement, the lodging seemed to actually improve. It does not seem possible, but that is how we felt. We moved toward the north end of the Serengeti to catch the great migration. Our last night on the rim of the crater was the best night, according to some of my family. This was a tent lodge but we were not “roughing it.” We had hot showers, tent heaters, a four-course dinner, and friendly service. On that note, every single person we met along the way could not have been friendlier and more courteous to my family.
I cannot leave out that one night we sat atop a raised wooden deck while watching hippos below and a rainstorm moving across the hills of the Serengeti. I wish I could have a life-size painting of that scene because it was breathtaking.
Although every part of our trip was excellent, there were some high points that stick out in my mind. Near the Mara River, we watched a black rhino for about 30 minutes. Then, it started to approach one of our vehicles. It raised its tail and charged. Our expert guide, Arnold, immediately started the engine of the Land Cruiser and drove away skillfully. It is something we will never forget.
We also saw the crossing of the wildebeests at the Mara River. Emmanuel, our other expert guide, helped us get into a prime position to observe this spectacular event. The wildebeests were crossing from north to south. A small group of wildebeests came down river and started to cross right in front of us. My 16-year-old son exclaimed “Oh no, a crocodile.” At that point, an 18-foot Nile crocodile took down a 300-pound wildebeest in the middle of the river right before our eyes. The wildebeest never came up. The adrenaline in my family was flowing like I cannot recall. It was a truly unforgettable thing to witness.
What a Difference a Vowel Makes
On a humorous note, we learned the difference (the hard way) between two Swahili words. “Jambo” means hello in Swahili. For the first four or five days, about half of my family was saying “Jumbo” and half was saying “Jamba.” Finally, one of our guides sheepishly informed us that “Jamba” means flatulence. We all had a good laugh and made sure of the correct pronunciation from that point forward.
Final Words of Appreciation
As a father of four children, it was very special for me to take my wife and kids to Africa to experience my dream along with me. My eyes were treated to unbelievable visual displays every day if not every half hour. However, my ears were also treated to sounds that I must mention. I was able to hear my two daughters who are now 21 and 19 gasping with excitement as we saw each new animal. They would actually audibly suck in their breath in amazement. I have not heard that sound from them in over 10 years since they were little girls. I will never forget those sounds.
ADS truly helped me to fulfill my lifelong dream. The only problem for me now is deciding when to go back.
Kelly and Laura C.
Caroline, Courtney, Kyle and Luke
Safari Dates: July 27, 2015 to August 3, 2015
We have worked with ADS for 3 safaris and have never been disappointed. ADS works with you from when you are on the ground until you depart. They will assist with unique needs, and always have safe drivers and the best guides.
Study in advance, learn about the differences between your lodging choices, learn a little language, and ENJOY! And maybe leave your fancy camera at home…just take in everything you see.
Mary Y. and Maury S.
Safari Dates: September 16, 2015 to September 23, 2015
We had a wonderful, memorable, enjoyable trip to Tanzania this summer with Africa Dream Safaris. We went hoping to devote most of our time to observing and taking photos of animals, and this trip fulfilled all our expectations and more. Here are just a few of the thousands of pictures we took, and comments on some of our favorite experiences.
While we enjoyed the comfort and safety of our Land Cruiser, more than once we parked very close to a pride of lions, and they seemed unconcerned about our presence. What a treat to see them just going on about their normal activities: lion cubs nursing, lions dining on a recent kill, daddy lions allowing cubs to playfully cuff them on the chin, or just napping in the shade or sun.
We came across a herd of 30 or more elephants, ranging from large bull elephants to babies, as they snacked on tree limbs and tall grass, and then we waited quietly as the entire herd passed behind our parked vehicle while we snapped pictures.
We saw thousands of wildebeest and zebra in migration while we enjoyed a picnic lunch under an acacia tree. The wildebeests serenaded us with a rhythmic marching chant as they moved in almost a single file across the plains, with zebras occasionally interjecting their dog-like barking sounds.
We saw giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, and monkeys… Troops of baboons entertained us with their antics, especially the baby baboons.
We sat for quite a while watching a mother cheetah and her five cubs, who eventually paraded across the road right in front of us!
We were amused as we watched a hyena casually strolling through a gathering of wildebeest, zebras, and topi, pretending he was not checking for possible prey.
It was an eye-opening and smelly experience at Retima Pool, which was filled with hippos. Never thought of this before, but when hippos need to “do their business,” they just let it rip right there in the water. Get a hundred or more hippos together in the same little lake, and — well you can imagine the smell.
But it was an impressive sight to see that many hippos lolling side by side in the water, lifting their heads from time to time for a breath of “fresh” air. We often saw hippos elsewhere on the trip, both in and out of the water. Also usually near the water were crocodiles, and a host of different birds such as storks, herons, ducks, and egrets.
The leopard napping in the crotch of a tree caught the attention of our guide, David, otherwise we would never have spotted her. The leopard had pulled several “kills” up into the tree, which were hanging at various places among the limbs, ready for the next meal. Then David directed our attention to a nearby tree, where the leopard’s young cub was sleeping. How he ever picked out that cub among all the leafy branches was incredible.
The adorable little African Dik Dik, the smallest antelope in the Serengeti, captivated us with those big brown eyes and delicate legs.
We were rewarded with an up-close view of a herd of Eland, the largest antelope, who are normally shy enough to run when anyone gets near. We laughed watching a zebra having a do-it-yourself massage against a large rock. Picture backing up to a doorway to scratch your back – zebra was doing this on every part of his neck and back he could get near the rock.
And the birds! So many beautiful, unusual, elegant, colorful, or just interesting – both large (ostrich) and small (Bee Eater Birds, aka Love Birds). The Crowned Cranes often cooperated well by posing for the camera.
All in all, we kept track of and recorded seeing 66 different species of animals, birds, and reptiles, and at least a dozen exotic trees and plants, which you’ll be relieved to know we won’t individually name here.
We highly recommend a photo safari to Tanzania with Africa Dream Safaris to anyone who will listen!
Bob and Mary S.
Safari Dates: July 9, 2015 to July 21, 2015
After a lifetime of dreaming, a year of planning and months of eager anticipation I embarked on my safari adventure on June 29, 2015. I had convinced my family, ranging in age from 3 to 67, to accompany me on this journey.
As our plane winged across the Atlantic a sense of fear and panic overtook me as I thought what is this if a complete disaster. What was I doing taking five children ages 3, 5, 6, 10 and 13 and assorted adults on a safari? The anxiety and panic was completely unnecessary, because as soon as we touched down at Kilimanjaro and were greeted by Mathias and Precious I knew that a splendid adventure lay ahead.
Dawn had planned a magnificent itinerary for us. We had elected to have a rest day in Arusha and we used that day to visit St. Jude’s School and downtown Arusha. St Jude’s School is an inspiring experience and I as so glad that I got to personally visit and see the wonderful work being done there. We got to see all three stop lights in Arusha, the city activity, the Tanzanian torch monument and the mid-continent marker.
Early the next morning we flew out to the Serengeti. As we approached the Kogatende air strip all of us were transformed to children as we exclaimed: “Do you see that giraffe?; There’s an elephant; I see zebras” We excitedly deplaned and were met by our new best friends Wilfred and Ally.
Both Wilfred and Ally deserve an award for putting up with our crew. They were always cheerful, catered to the children and never seemed to tire of out endless questions. Our first stop was Mara River Camp. We absolutely loved the camp and our dear host, Gilbert.
The wildlife were ready to greet and entertain us. We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, wildebeests, gazelles, topis, beautiful birds, lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and hippos! We were all completely satisfied and thought no need to go anywhere else but Mara River.
However, our itinerary called for us to move on to Buffalo Luxury Camp. Again we were treated as special guests and more special adventures awaited us. The camp is located on the side of a hill and enjoys superb views. We enjoyed watching frolicking elephants, elands, cape buffalo and impalas.
Our visit to the Maasai village was an unforgettable experience. Our Maasai hosts were so welcoming and they seemed to be genuinely happy that we had come to visit. The highlights for the children at Buffalo Luxury Camp were roasting marshmellows by the fire, the baby cobra on the terrace, the game of bows, arrows and spears that the staff prepared for the children to enjoy and the night time game drive. Nowhere have we ever seen more beautiful stars!
While again we would have been perfectly satisfied to stay at Buffalo Luxury Camo and enjoy the breath taking views, we had to again move on. This time our destination was the Serengeti Serena Lodge. The views at the lodge are also unbelievable. We encountered a buffalo roaming through the grounds at night and it was during our stay here that we found the leopard that totally mesmerized us.
Our final stop was Serena Ngorongoro Lodge at the crater. The Lodge is beautiful and the fireplaces throughout the lodge are a welcome place to warm up from the cool air and winds. The crater is magnificent and we did succeed in being among the first few cars into the crater the next morning. We were so delighted to see the flamingoes and yes- we did see a black rhino!
I had anticipated that the travel day back to Arusha would be non-eventful, but I was wrong. Wilfred and Ally had planned souvenir shopping, which thoroughly pleased the children. We also came across a group of young Maasai dressed in their ceremonial garb and we visited Lake Manyara Park.
Lake Maynara Park was a wonderful surprise. Situated just outside Arusha, the park provides wonderful viewing of monkeys, baboons, elephants, hippos and magnificent birds. This is really a very small but beautiful park and I am so glad Wilfred and Ally treated us to this stop.
On arrival back at the Mount Meru Hotel late in the afternoon of our departure date we wondered how we could get some dinner before we had to head to the airport. Hakuna matata – Mathias had arranged for the kitchen to prepare an early dinner for us. On the way to the airport we got to see the “Shy Lady” – Mount Kilimanjaro – as she peaked out from her veil of clouds.
I cannot adequately express the thought, care and graciousness that was constant throughout our stay. Travelling with children is a real plus! Everyone went above and beyond to accommodate the children and to make sure that the adults were having a wonderful time too.
Our every need was anticipated and met. None of us were ready to leave Tanzania but all of us left with wonderful memories and a desire to return. We can’t thank everyone at ADS enough for providing us with such a magnificent adventure!
Linda H. and Family
Safari Dates: June 30, 2015 to July 10, 2015
Highlight of the day was seeing a mother cheetah and her five cubs. Since not everyone is fortunate enough to see even one cheetah on safari, it was quite a treat to see them – and to see them so close was added bonus.
Our guests watch as a cheetah crosses in front of their safari vehicle with her 5 cubs.
We are so impressed with our guide’s ability to accurately determine where some of these animals should be, taking us to the right spot, and then locating them. Like today. We were driving along and suddenly he turned around and said, “I think there is a cheetah in the grass over here today.” We drove a little bit and saw another safari vehicle parked at the edge of a field, and our driver took us to another side of the same field, and directed our attention to the top of a termite mound near the center of the field.
The cheetah was sitting on top of the mound. We took out binoculars and watched a bit, and then David (guide) said, “This is a mother, and she has cubs. See? See the cubs?” I had to really ‘tune up’ the binoculars to see even one of the cubs, as they were so tiny and we were so far away. Then momma cheetah stood up, and we began to see tiny little tails wagging around near her feet.
Next thing we know, David says, “Hold on!” and he started the vehicle, moving us around to another side of the field, parking just in the spot where momma cheetah was leading her family. Thus, we were in the ideal spot to watch them cross the road right in front of us.
Bob and Mary S.
Safari Dates: July 9, 2015 to July 20, 2015