Our safari couldn’t get any better than this! That’s what we declared at the end of each day only to be delightedly proven wrong. For 12 days, our schedule was filled, either viewing or participating in one amazing adventure after another. We welcomed our beds each night to wake up before dawn with anticipation of what a new day would bring. And, we were never disappointed.
Like many before us that have embarked on a journey to Tanzania, ours started nearly a year-and-a-half ago by sorting through the information provided online from the many safari companies. We were quickly able to cull the list to a select few that seemed to offer what we were looking for in terms of service and lodgings. After communicating through emails and phone conversations with all of these remaining companies on our list, it was clear that African Dream Safaris was the right fit for our needs. It was the responsiveness of Dawn Anderson that sealed the deal, who was nothing less than spectacular with her knowledgeable guidance and timeliness in thoroughly answering all questions, no matter how mundane the subject.
Our first stop was in the Northern Serengeti. After landing, our two families (four adults and three children ages 10, 11, and 13) met our guides Ellson and Russell. Within a few feet from the Kogatende Airstrip, we began our journey, one of seemingly nonstop viewing of animals. Before stopping for our first box lunch, we had already seen impala,Thompson’s gazelle, zebra, hyena, warthog, nile crocodile, hippo, vultures attending to a wildebeest carcass and an abbreviated wildebeest crossing of the Mara River. By the end of the day, we were able to mark down 26 animal species along with a number of different birds. We also gained incredible respect for Ellson and Russell and their depth of knowledge of everything Serengeti.
While in the central Serengeti, we took a balloon excursion recommended by Dawn Anderson. We awoke at 4:15 in the morning with the hopes that the ride would be worth the early rising. And it was. We felt privileged to be able to enjoy a vantage point that most don’t get the chance to see. It was amazing to see the tops of the acacia where vultures were nesting, hippos actually running, the balloon basket scattering a herd of Thompson’s gazelles and Cape buffalo close and personal. We touched down near Moru Kopjes where we enjoyed a champagne toast and an English breakfast under the canopy of a towering acacia tree.
I could not write this without mentioning our visit with the Hadza tribe. We woke up early to hunt down the Hadzabe, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe we understood was living in the Lake Eyasi region, where it is estimated that just 1000-1500 exist. On this morning we visited a group numbering 20-25, bringing them food saved from our collective lunch boxes, nuts and candies. We didn’t know what to expect, but had hoped to see how they hunt and understand their way of living, and maybe find some mutual commonality. Boy, did we get that and more!…It sure wasn’t Disney.
I have to admit I was a little intimated and initially didn’t know whether we were welcome there or not. We learned their greeting and shook their hand. The size and strength of their hands left me hoping even more that they were a friendly bunch. Not to be worried. After a little time around the fire making some arrows, the younger warriors got up and went out to hunt food. They walked fast and we ambled as gracefully as a bunch of city people do amongst the brambles and acacia bushes set out to grab hair and any clothing items that come near enough for them to ensnare.
They found their kill, then proceeded to begin the process of making fire. It was then that their mood lightened as they sat there and cooked their parrots and squirrels over the fire. They offered out to our group with a couple of the more adventurous eaters who sampled. They have made a conscious choice to stay true to customs of their tribe for reasons that only they can understand. It is a hard life that they live and I can’t fathom how they are able to endure the day-to-day, however, for now they continue to do so.
There are so many highlights and I can’t really go into too much detail with ever having the hopes of finishing this letter, so I will simply list some of them here below:
- A lioness moving her 4-5 day old cubs from one hiding spot to another and having to cross the road immediately in front of our truck.
- ‘Cat day’, where we saw a leopard walking across the plains to cross the road directly in front of our car and comfortably sit down on the road next to us, a cheetah kill a Thompson’s gazelle, two serval and plenty of lions.
- Watching a lion and lioness pair prepare to attack an injured wildebeest. Seeing the amusing human-like dynamics play out between the lion and the lioness as he realizes that the lioness is not doing her job of hunting and he is left to unsuccessfully make the attempt.
- Traveling across the open plains then stopping to watch a large herd of elephants and the enjoying baby elephants playing like children.
- After a long journey to Ngorongoro crater, spotting a rhinoceros. Then, waking up early to be the first in the park (staying a Lion’s Paw is the best way to arrive early) and finding another rhinoceros, then watching and appreciating the expertise of Ellson to anticipate the movements of this allusive creature in order to gain the best view.
- Waking up in the morning to the sound of lions calling right outside the tent.
- Russell spotting an impala on the ground in the brush giving birth. A concerned giraffe comes over to help, scaring the impala away and causing her to run away mid-birth.
- That ‘aha’ moment when we understood the carrion animals and their much appreciated job as janitors of the Serengeti while watching a massive group of vultures feeding on a zebra that perished on the side of the road. I remember the immense patience of Russell while he patiently explained the hierarchy of the vultures and their specialized functions so that I can record it in my journal.
I couldn’t imagine a better trip (other than being able to witness a larger wildebeest river crossing) and the time spent in Tanzania will always be remembered as one of the best adventure vacations ever. There is a saying in Tanzania, which is “You come here for the animals, but you come back for the people.” This is the truest of true statements about Tanzania and also of ADS.
Our many thanks to Dawn Anderson who helped us get there; Michael, Kikoti and the other ground team in Arusha; to the men who could write the book on professionalism Russell and Ellson, our drivers and friends for a lifetime; and to Jonas at Seronera Sametu Camp and Edward at Lion’s Paw Camp, who kept us in hot water and fed us some of the most appropriate and delicious meals.
I’ve never been so impressed with a company that are intertwined so prevalently with our travel memories. It is also our first experience where the company continues to stay in contact with us after our return. Asante Sana ADS for a trip of a lifetime!
Peter, Allison and Zachary V.
Boca Raton, Florida
Safari Dates: July 29 – August 9, 2014
As everyone says, “It was a trip of a lifetime”. We readily echo that sentiment. It was beyond our wildest dreams to see this many animals in this wonderful environment. Our traveling foursome enjoyed each and every moment.
Our wonderful ADS Guide by the name of Malaki made the trip even more special. We chose to include him in everything we did, and by the end of the trip – he was family! He had an amazing knowledge of the animals and an incredible instinct for finding them.
We loved our choice of tents and lodges and found each unique and special. The food, the sundowners and sunrises were exceptional. The hot showers and hot water bottles were a great treat at the end of the day. It is a trip we will always remember, and we made memories that will last forever. We are grateful to the staff at ADS for answering all of our questions ahead of time and making us feel 100% secure about everything at all times. We will not forget!
I really appreciate all you did for us and all of the silly questions we had. We truly felt secure the entire time. Everything and everyone was fabulous. 10′s on a scale of 1 to 10. The staff, the accommodations, the food, the game drives…all perfect!
All my best,
Gerald and Melinda J.
Safari Dates: September 1, 2014 to September 8, 2014
An African Safari had been on my bucket list for some time. When I decided to seriously look in to a trip, the internet was the first place to search, since I did not personally know anyone who had been to Tanzania or the Serengeti. After pondering a dozen or so safari companies I narrowed it to three to contact. The most timely and informative response was from Africa Dream Safaris. After the second email and then a phone conversation with Dawn my decision was made to go with Africa Dream Safaris. They offered a private safari, and luxury accommodations, which I knew would make my wife very pleased. The price was not cheap, but was competitive.
Dawn was very helpful in all the planning steps, and there were not any unexpected bad surprises on the trip. Upon arrival in Arusha we were met by ADS representatives who provided all the assistance we needed to get to the Mount Meru Resort and settled in. Since we are of retirement age we made a good decision to stay an extra night to get acclimated to the new time zone before we embarked on the safari. ADS surprised us by providing a private dinner for our 44th wedding anniversary in the gazebo at the resort.
The safari, the guide, the accommodations, and the food were all delivered as promised, and in many cases exceeded our expectations. Our guide, Michael, was very knowledgeable about all the wildlife, their habits and their habitation. The Four Seasons in the Serengeti was simply exquisite in facilities and service. The other camps were marvelously accommodating in facilities and friendly service.
We would very highly recommend Africa Dream Safaris for an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. August 16-24, 2014 will always be remembered as an extraordinary time of our life. If we get an itch yet again for Africa we will certainly embark again with Africa Dream Safaris.
Dick and Diane T.
Safari Dates: August 16, 2014 to August 24, 2014