Ever since I was young, my favorite animal has always been a cheetah and it has been a lifelong dream of mine to finally see some out in the wild. This sparked the idea of a safari as my graduate school graduation present and I could not be happier with this trip! From the moment we arrived in Africa we felt safe and welcomed by the ADS workers and the transition into new countries could not be easier.
From the moment we met with our driver, Claude, we knew he would be great and able to help us find everything we wanted to see. On our first day in the Serengeti we saw multiple lions and even a cheetah less than 20 feet from our vehicle! These were on top of the wild number of wildebeests we saw taking part in the great migration which is an amazing sight to see. (We saw so many other animals too, it just isn’t possible to name them all!)
Once we entered into the Central Serengeti, it seemed like lions were everywhere! We saw lions hunting, eating, sleeping and even playing with their young cubs. Lion cubs are probably at the top of the list of cutest animals you will ever see. Not only did we see lions but also numerous leopards as well- one walked not even 5 feet away from us (slightly frightening but absolutely amazing!) Our driver Claude knew I wanted to see as many cheetahs as possible so he went out of his way to make sure they were spotted- we saw 4 in one day which is very rare for such an elusive animal!
Although I have always been fascinated by the big cats, we saw so many other amazing animals as well- countless giraffes, elephants, hippos, crocodiles, and any other animal you can imagine seeing in the Serengeti. It was definitely an amazing experience and something i believe everyone should get to do at least once (as for me- I think I may come back!)
Kristin E., Rita R., and Patricia A.
Safari Dates: May 24, 2014 to June 3, 2014
Medord, New Jersey
Exciting news was announced this week in Tanzania with regards to tourist arrivals from the United States. There was a 7 percent increase in tourists arriving into Tanzania from the United States from 2012 (65,110 American tourists) to 2013 (69,671 American tourists). America is now Tanzania’s second largest source of tourism.
Natural Resources and Tourism minister Lazaro S. Nyalandu, noted: “The increase in tourism is due to several factors; the increased flights from the U.S., the greatly improved infrastructure, and Tanzania’s new luxury accommodations which have attracted a growing number of celebrities and Hollywood A-listers like Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.”
Tanzania has showed a steady increase of visitors worldwide over the past five years, having reached its benchmark of 1,000,000 visitors in 2012 for the first time since records have been kept.
Tanzania’s acting Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Devota Mdachi noted that “this is also due to the fact that Tanzania, in addition to having three of Africa’s natural wonders of the world, is viewed as a peaceful and stable destination, rich in history and cultural diversity”
Presently Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa, focused on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism, with approximately 28 percent of the land protected by the government, the largest percentage of any country in the world. It boasts of 16 national parks and 32 game reserves, 50 game controlled areas, one special conservation area (the Ngorongoro) and three marine parks.
It is home to the tallest mountain in Africa, the legendary Mt Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti, home to the “Great Animal Migration” that was named the New 7th Wonder of the World, by US Today and ABC TV’s Good Morning America; the world acclaimed Ngorongoro Crater, often referred to as the “Eden of Africa” and the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, Olduvai Gorge, the cradle of mankind:
Most important for visitors, the Tanzanian people, with a rich history and diverse blend of cultures, are warm and friendly. Tanzania is regarded as an oasis of peace and stability with a democratically elected and stable government.
Now I know what Ernest Hemingway meant when he said, “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” For eleven magical days, we couldn’t wait to see what our expert guide, Godson, had in store for us as he carefully guided our trusty Cruiser along the endless trails of the Tanzanian wilderness.
The sheer abundance of wildlife awakened a childlike wonder within. Lion, leopard, hyena, elephant, giraffe, hippo, baboon, eland, topi, kudu, dik dik, and, of course, wildebeest and zebra appeared suddenly, as if out of no-where, yet they were everywhere. While some encounters were thrillingly illusive (cheetahs hidden away in the high grasses), others were breathtakingly close and even, momentarily pulse-raising, like the time we came face to face with a great bull elephant who had no intention of giving way to our Cruiser. Quickly, Godson diverted our vehicle off-road, giving this very determined giant plenty of room to pass, as well as providing us with a great photo-opportunity!
A much anticipated wildebeest crossing taught us early-on the value of patience and filled us with a deep sense of awe for Nature’s Ways. Nothing can rival such a thunderous mass of ruminants braving dangerous waters for another day of life. That experience moved me to tears.
Another great surprise was the incredible variety of raptors and birds! Ostrich, egret, guinea, stork, flamingo, kingfisher, and songbirds flashed their shimmering colors and amused us with their antics. How do they manage to perch between those claw-like thorns of the acacia trees?
Admittedly, I lived behind my camera for the first couple of days. Then the sheer abundance of life all around me demanded that I come out from behind the view finder and absorb those moments of encounter which no photo could ever do justice. It was a decision I will never regret. While I still brought home a couple of thousand pictures, I think of them as tools to sharpen the memories I’ve tucked away as my real treasure.
The elegantly appointed tented lodges and camps provided a big exclamation point to the end of each day! Smiling, attentive staff greeted us with cool, wet cloths, pleasant drinks, and a sincere welcome (“Karibu”), then whisked us off to our tents for warm, smoke-scented showers with waters heated over open flames. Later, gathered in the crisp coolness by a crackling bonfire, we toasted the sunset then lingered over intimate, candle-lit meals underneath the canvas roof of the dining tent. With the night skies awash in stars and our seclusion broken only by the roar of a lion in the distance, we knew we were having the experience of a lifetime.
Many thanks to ADS’s knowledgeable and cheerful Dawn Anderson who spent the past year indulging every one of our questions with promptness, patience and kindness and helped shape for us a fantastic travel adventure. Asante sana, Dawn!
Elizabeth S., Clark S. and Larry O.
Safari Dates: July 26, 2014 to August 7, 2014