After 18 months of planning and anticipation, our safari time finally arrived. This family trip, grandparents, parents and grandchildren, was planned to be a time of enjoyment, education and memories to last a lifetime. We were not disappointed in any aspect of expectation!
The 20+ hour plane ride was grueling but the anticipation easily trumped the non-eventful con-nections at airports starting in San Francisco winding through Washington DC and Addis Abba, Ethiopia. We were all tired and ready for the resort at Mount Meru in Arusha as T-mon and Mat-tias whisked us through the airport, taking care of our bags, visas and insuring us that we would soon have a hot meal and a bed to rest in, we began to sense how smoothly the ADS operation would run.
These guys were professional and had only our needs on their agenda. Our extra day spent in Mount Meru, before departing to the Serengeti, was well spent and just what we needed to get over the jet lag. Thank you Mama Simba for paving the way for us at the Heritage Cultural Center where we were able to purchase good, quality tanzanite at great prices along with getting an education about the area and the mining of the stones.
Our 1 hour plane ride out to the Western Serengeti was an amazing view of the land and a small introduction of what was to come. Once we arrived at the Grumeti Airstrip and met Ellson , our ADS guide, the 6 of us loaded up in our Land Cruiser. Within 5 minutes of leaving the airstrip we were already seeing animals in their own environments! The elephants, giraffe, gazelle, hyena, birds, warthogs, jackals and others were right there, within reach, and we had multiple cameras ready to document it all. Needless to say, the excitement and anticipation levels were off the hook!!
Our game drive through the West Serengeti to our first camp, Mbalageti Tented Lodge, was complete as Ellson shared all his knowledge of the animals and their way of life. I can’t imagine that there is a more qualified and knowledgeable guide than Ellson on your staff. He was truly a walking encyclopedia on all subjects and readily shared all information with us. He even carried reference books in the vehicle so that we could see pictures of the birds and other animals that we saw. He quickly became not just our guide but a genuine friend and part of our family.
The Mbalageti Tented Lodge was an amazing oasis in the middle of this open wildlife environ-ment. Our private veranda was an amazing place to watch the wildlife and sunset and just one of the many luxury parts of this lodge. The food was amazing, the people so accommodating and focused on making our trip the best and the chalets were so comfortable. The designer rates an A+ for luxury in the wild! Our early morning game drives allowed us to encounter all the native residents and much more. We saw it all! Ellson made sure we didn’t miss a beat as he had this remarkable knack for spotting the animals in the far distance.
On to the central Serengeti and 3 nights at the Seronera Sametu Camp which was a tented camp that was camping at it’s finest! We were pretty much the only residents for the time we were there which meant that Primo, our top chef, devoted all his attention to us. The rest of the staff was amazing too. They anticipated & catered to our every need. The wildlife was amazing and, OMG, we even had a Cape Water Buffalo in arms reach as he grazed outside our tent one night. We were up early every morning for game drives and managed to see lions & cubs, cheetah & cubs, leopard & cubs along with the rarely seen Serval and her cub along with a Steenbok during our 8 night stay.
The Lion’s Paw, on the rim of the Crater, was another fabulous location chocked full of luxury! I wonder if this is what they call “Glamping”? The Flamingos were amazing, a concentration of pink spread across the water as we descended down into the base and of course we were able to see not 1 but 2 rhinos. The staff was as attentive as ever at camp and really made our stay so wonderful. Groovy, our chef, made some of the best soup that I have ever eaten and it was amazing to see his kitchen and realize that everything was cooked using charcoal! The hot water bottles in bed…who would think of these little things that make such a huge difference! All of the staff did an amazing job and catered to us to insure we were comfortable and felt welcome.
What an amazing journey…words just can’t do it justice. We will remember this for years to come and definitely remember that ADS has the best of the best when it comes to staff, guides, loca-tions and itineraries. Thank you ADS for this once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list experience!!!
Alice and Barry B.
Kim and George A.
Nicole and Jessica A.
Safari Dates: June 1, 2014 to June 12, 2014
Those ten days of our ADS safari were the most exciting days of my life! That’s really saying something big! I have traveled to a number of countries during my 73 years, and I’ve seen things that really amazed me. This adventure topped them all!
For one thing, it is rare that we have an opportunity to just submerge into focusing exclusively on nature for ten days. From early in the morning until early evening, we could sit in that Land Cruiser and watch it all happening right before our eyes….wildebeests, zebras, cheetahs, warthogs, hippos, gazelles, giraffes, leopards, baboons, and so many more animals. Every view was breathtaking!
Patrick, our guide/driver, was a critical part of making this such an incredible trip for us! His experience (10 years with ADS) was evidenced every day. Not only could he spot animals very far away, he knew their behavior enough to know where to move the vehicle so that we could get the best photographs. He was constantly telling us about the animals’ behaviors, habits, and movements. It was like getting a crash coarse in the whole ecosystem in Tanzania. A totally fascinating experience!!
May was a perfect time to go, because it wasn’t crowded. ADS, with their expert advance planning, made this company the best choice! ADS is the only company I would ever use to go on safari in Tanzania!
Videography is my hobby, so I made a 34 minute video that I put online on Vimeo. You don’t need to be a member of Vimeo to see it, and there is no cost to see it. Just click the link below, and it will take you to my Vimeo page. (In the last two weeks, the video on Vimeo has had: 358 downloads and 219 plays in 12 countries.)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Safari Dates: May 20, 2014 to May 30, 2014
The plains of the Serengeti have always been one of the images of Africa embedded in our minds. What a dream come true to be able to see and experience the Serengeti firsthand. As our plane descended into Grumeti airstrip we could see hippos in the river and herds of zebra, wildebeest, and buffalo grazing on the grass. Our guide Claude and our Toyota Land Cruiser were waiting there for us.
After a brief check in with the park officials, we were on our way for a half-day game drive in the Grumeti area. After viewing the zebras, wildebeest, cape buffalo, and impala up close, Claude spotted some lions in a distant tree. We were never able to reach his level of game spotting over the next six days. Lions are rarely found in trees in the Serengeti or most other places for that matter. After shooting some photos from a distance, Claude thought he would try getting the vehicle in closer.
While he maneuvered the vehicle through the grass I fiddled with my camera changing lens. When I looked up we were parked just outside the foliage of a tree, the tree with the lions! There were five lions resting comfortably in the branches and another laying on the ground near-by. All this within the first 90 minutes of arriving, any doubts or skepticism we had about the Serengeti’s game-viewing reputation was permanently removed from our minds.
The lodging arranged by Africa Dream Safaris was top notch. The food was good, well-prepared, and plentiful. You could dine with American-like cuisine or explore African dishes as you chose. The staff were attentive, polite, and truly interested in your enjoyment of the experience. We slept well and enjoyed some fantastic sunset views from our rooms. Usually, internet service was available in select areas, like the lobby, for those needing to stay connected to the outside world.
It’s really the game drives that define your safari experience and Africa Dream Safaris does it right. Our knowledgeable and friendly guide was great at sensing what we wanted to see, or really should see, and when we had had enough. He always asked of course, but you felt he already knew the answer.
Being able to customize the day’s itinerary was a real plus over shared game driving. The Land Cruiser is design to accommodate 8, so there is plenty of room to spread your stuff and get up when you want for a photo from the open roof. We could sit in the shade and yet had ready access to the rolled back roof. A cooler and snacks in the vehicle get you through the longer drives without growing hungry or thirsty.
Overall, a great experience we would definitely do again and certainly recommend.
Walt and Sheila M.
Redondo Beach, California
Safari Dates: May 2, 2014 to May 10, 2014