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
Our safari was the adventure of a lifetime!! Everything about our trip was perfect – from Dawn’s assistance in creating our itinerary, to being greeted at the airport by Faith and being delivered to the airport on our departure. The safari was expertly designed to make sure the four of us had the best possible experience.
We began our adventure with three nights at the Mount Meru Resort. This allowed us time to visit the Cultural Center in Arusha and to recover somewhat from our 20 plus hour plane rides from California. Our actual safari began with a short flight from Arusha to the Grumeti airstrip where we were met by our guide Russell. He brought box lunches for us and we were off on our first game drive. We saw lions, giraffes and of course wildebeests during our first hour!
We spent two nights at the Kirawira Tented Lodge where the facilities and service were wonderful. It was the perfect way to ease into tent camps with our tiled shower, beautiful hard wood floors and of course the flush toilet. During the days we went on game drives and saw all of the “big five” except rhinos which we did see toward the end of our trip.
We also took a balloon ride and were able to see herds of wildebeests as well as gazelles and elephants. Russell suggested that we change the day and location of our balloon trip so we would see more animals and he made all the arrangements. This was one advantage of a private safari!
We spent a total of five nights between two ADS tented camps – Seronera Sametu Camp and Lion’s Paw Tented Camp. Again the service and facilities were excellent. We did have to request hot water for our shower but is was hot and there was plenty of it. There was no hair dryer at these camps so my hair had to air dry – at least it was clean and my husband said I looked fine! It was much cooler at Lion’s Paw and I had to borrow a jacket from the other couple.
In addition to wildlife, we saw the Kopjes (large rocks), Maasai paintings and climbed up Gong Rock for a beautiful panorama of the Serengeti. We also visited Olduvai Gorge and museum and had a short lecture by a museum guide. Before we left to go to the Ngorongoro Crater, we decided to add on a visit to a Maasai village. Once again, Russell made the arrangements for us. The village was very interesting and worth the visit. However, it was commercialized and the Maasai really wanted to sell us expensive beaded items. We visited their school and the children sang the ABC song in English for us.
We spent our last two nights at The Manor at Ngorongoro. This was absolutely beautiful. The rooms were like duplexes and had fabulous views of the grounds. One afternoon the maid drew a bubble bath for two with flower petals on top and she also started our fireplace each night. However, we did not relax as planned. Instead, we chose to visit FAME which is a rural medical clinic and to visit the Hadzabe people and the Datonga tribe.
We paid a fee for a local guide and he accompanied us to Hadzabe and Datonga living areas. These groups of people have agreed to have tourists visit them and to share some of their culture with us. In exchange, they receive some help from the government based on their needs. The Hadzabe really seemed to enjoy watching us try to start a fire with sticks and to shoot with a bow and arrow. They also shared some tubers with us and even offered to share smoking their pipe with marijuana in it. It was quite an experience!!
This was a wonderful experience for the four of us. Our guide Russell was the best. He taught us a lot about the animals and their habits and ensured that we had the best views for picture taking. He also arranged to minimize the need to use “the bushes” and we were often able to use regular bathrooms that were cleaner than a lot of our rest stops.
All the tented facilities were outstanding and provided excellent service. We were even surprised by hot water bottles in our bed at Lion’s Paw Camp. One night we had buffalos outside our tent hitting against the supports and chewing grass. That added some excitement to our night! We were careful about the water but did not worry about the food at the camps. None of us got major diarrhea and we only got a few bites by mosquitoes or tsetse flies.
We would definitely recommend African Dream Safaris to anyone wanting the adventure of a lifetime!!!
Barbara and Ralph Handly
Safari Dates: May 26, 2014 to June 6, 2014
Two year before our African vacation my wife Jenny and two granddaughters, Haley and Morgan, were watching an episode of “The Amazing Race”. The Maasai warriors were performing their traditional dance. Mesmerized by this performance Haley, 15 years old, and Morgan,12 years old, asked, “Can we go and see them?” With Grandpa wrapped around their little fingers, I said “Yes, we can!”
This commitment, without any understanding of what I was getting us into, led to several months of fact-finding and research. Having never been outside of the United States or ever attempted travel this complex, I was completely lost.
My research uncovered many choices that had to be made: safari tour (8-12 people) or a private custom safari with just our family; location in Africa; time of the year; financial constraints; and children considerations. I finally chose a private, custom safari that gave us total control of our agenda and timing that could be altered if we needed to address the girls’ needs…or ours. Later I found that this was a crucial decision that made all the difference to us.
Having decided on a private tour, I needed to find an outfitter that offered them, and as luck would have it, I came across Africa Dream Safaris and Dawn Anderson. From my first phone call to our return home, she was with us the entire year and a half. Dawn answered all our questions…and there were hundreds; offered many options; made schedule changes at the spur of the moment; and gave advice throughout the process on every aspect of the trip. She was the catalyst for our successful adventure.
Our trip was in June, a wonderful time of the year for seeing wildlife and babies. Oh, the babies! The weather was fantastic and the Serengeti was still green and alive. The food was delicious. Jenny, a vegetarian, was accommodated throughout the trip. With the personal touches we received, you would have thought we owned the Company! At every stop we received cool drinks to quench our thirst, wet towels to wash the trail dust from our faces, and personal notes, hoping we were having a good time.
Our adventures were numerous and memorable. We ate lunch one day six feet from two cheetahs and their three cubs. Another day we saw a complete lion hunt from beginning to end.
My greatest experience was our visit to the Maasai village. This process involved a meeting of the elders prior to entering the village. As we crossed a muddy field the chief and several warriors with spears approached. Haley elbowed me and whispered that these people have nothing, are wild and dirty, and have flies all over them. She asked if we were safe. We spent several hours in the village. The chief explained community life in the village and how they all pitched in to help each other. We danced with them, visited inside their huts, and had an altogether insightful day into their lives, so different from ours. As we left across that same muddy field, Haley said to me, “Grandpa, I have never seen people so happy. I think I could live here.”
This was a life changing experience for us, particularly my granddaughters. Haley wants to have her honeymoon here and Morgan said she can’t wait to return. God willing, we will all return in 2015.
Our experience is etched into our hearts and souls, a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation, thanks to the wonderful guides and people at Africa Dream Safaris.
Bill, Jennie, Haley and Morgan C.
Safari Dates: June 14, 2014 to June 24, 2014