It is incredibly hard to put into words a trip that was planned over the course of a year and a half and encompassed 14 days in Tanzania. We had an idea of where we wanted to go, but simply looked at reviews for the best safari companies. We contacted several, including companies rated the best in the world and no one came close to the personal service Dawn offered our group. No question was too menial. Every response was under 12 hours from when we hit send. The comfort that afforded us was huge.
Two families (4 adults and 3 children ages 10, 11, and 13) were traveling to a continent that 6 of us had never been on before. We expected everything to be perfect. ADS delivered. From the touchdown in Arusha to the takeoff back home no detail was missed.
We expected the animals to be incredible and they were. Unimaginable! So close to so many beautiful animals and birds. Everyday out on safari we added new animals we hadn’t seen yet to our list. Animals were being added to our list that I had never even heard of.
The highlights: We had a leopard walk next to the car. He was too close to capture with my camera. We watched a cheetah stalk, attack, kill and eat and impala. We witnessed a cheetah miss his impala. The impala jumped over an acacia bush and the cheetah slammed full speed into the thorny bush. He limped away, bruised and hungry.
First day into the bush, our incredible guides Russel and Ellison found the right spot to see a Mara river crossing of Wildebeest and zebra. The lions! Multiple sightings, the last of which was of a mating pair. And I can not forget the all too cute bush baby.
We planned our trip for the animals, but the people of Tanzania created a life changing experience for us as a family. From our Tanzanian guides, to the hosts and employees at the camps, to the children we met along the roads and at the school, everyone was happy and kind. It gives you perspective about the important aspects of life.
We saw children, younger than ours, herding cattle along the roads with no food or water. We visited schools set up to improve the potential these children have. Yet, they have no water to drink and minimal food for a whole day of education. It seemed so unfair. Our son took it upon himself to start feeding the children. We would diligently stop when he felt there was a child who appeared hungry and give out granola bars and juice. Our daughter tried to trouble shoot how to get drinkable water to the area.
This is not something you can get from a book. You have to experience it. Despite the tremendous differences between “our world” and theirs, none of these children seemed unhappy. There was never a time we didn’t see smiling faces, waving to us just because we were passing.
I can not fail to mention our morning with the Hadzabe tribe. We were without a doubt in a National Geographic film. We had an opportunity to meet a tribe of fewer than 1000 people total and follow them on a hunt for their daily food. Running through acacia trees and bushes following 6 men and young boys with bows and arrows as they looked for their meal was slightly scary. We had a special guide to help communicate with them. They don’t speak English. They don’t even speak Swahili. It wasn’t scary as in being dangerous. It was just so incredibly real. This wasn’t a tourist attraction. This was their life and we were granted a glimpse into their day. Definitely a highlight of the vacation.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, was our guides. I diligently read the testimonials each week. The guides are always mentioned for their knowledge and respect for the land. Russell and Ellison blew us away. They were talking encyclopedias. If they didn’t know the answer, they found it for us. They felt like family by the end of our 12 days. The patience they showed with the 3 kids was incredible. Each child was so different, yet they had a great grip on how to keep them engaged and hungry to learn more.
There is no question in my mind, they completed our safari. I would absolutely recommend ADS for anyone traveling on safari, but if you are going with children, ADS is the way to go.
Thank you so much to Dawn, Russell, and Ellison.
Melissa, Brad, Della (age 11), and Joah (age10) L.
Boca Raton, Florida
Safari Dates: July 28, 2014 to August 9, 2014
This was one of our most memorable vacations ever. We would like to thank Dawn first for custom planning this wonderful safari for us. It was great dealing with her because she has basically first-hand experience of all the places that we eventually visited. The entire tour was perfectly organized and every place we stayed was very comfortable and unique with picturesque surroundings, pleasant staff and sumptuous food.
Obviously the highlight of the trip was seeing the animals, and we were not disappointed at all. We pretty much saw all the animals in the first 2 days, and the credit goes to our great guide/driver named Malaki who had this knack of ‘finding’ animals. Malaki was a gem – very pleasant and extremely knowledgeable and as a matter of fact, we started calling him “Professor”!
We could see all the BIG 5 – lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino! It wasn’t just seeing the animals, we had the opportunity to study their behavior and to see how beautifully they co-exist. It is so much fun seeing them so happy, healthy and playful in their OWN natural surroundings. No more going to the zoo for me!
Furthermore we were fortunate to witness the incredible and magnificent migration – truly a once in a lifetime experience! This is a vacation every one of us should take and I would highly recommend African Dream Safaris without any hesitation! Special thanks to Dawn who made this happen!
Go with ADS and you will be saying – “Hakuna Matata” throughout your trip!
Arvind and Rekha P.
Safari Dates: July 23, 2014 to July 31, 2014
PS. Here are our shots of the BIG 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo in respective order!
We have been back from our 15 days in Tanzania for just over a week now. Our daughter is off to grad school and in less than 2 weeks, our son heads off for his graduate program. The safari trip was a terrific time together and the source of many great shared memories we can all take with us as these new stages begin.
We were fortunate enough to see three river crossings, enumerable wildebeests and zebras, the ‘big-5′ supplemented by cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, hippos, and many birds (our favorite was the lilac breasted roller pictured here).
In looking back on all the things we saw and did, the people and the baby animals stand out. A big thanks to Dawn for her help in planning the ultimate trip and to David for his expert driving, game spotting, bird identifying and for his friendship forged over our days together. He really made the trip special and every day was kila kitu sawa sawa (swahili for everything is perfect).
We also met so many other Tanzanians whose good humor and helpful way made the travel that much more enjoyable, including Faith and Simon in Arusha, Jonas at Sametu Camp, Edward at Lion’s Paw, and Raymond at Swala. Assante sana!
As for animal babies, some big stand-outs were elephants still learning to use their trunks and mimicking the actions of their older siblings. One of the youngest we saw resorted to dunking half of her face in the pool to get a drink the old-fashioned way (pictured below)!
At one of the kopjes we came upon 3 very young lion cubs without any baby sitter present. We could have watched for hours as they already started showing the ‘king of the beasts’ attitude while staring out at us from the rocks.
While we had hoped to see a black rhino in the Serengeti, the chance to see both mom and baby was really special. To get back to them required some expert 4-wheeling from David. We were rewarded with close-up views of these endangered animals which included curious youngster who walked around and watched while mom napped.
On our way toward Sametu Camp, we saw our first jackals. The pair seemed to be heading off to hunt as evening was approaching. Up the road a bit was a termite mount with 5 jackal puppies playing outside. As we approached they made for home, though their curiosity overcame fear as they watched us and then started playing as though we weren’t there. Big ears and wide eyes overwhelm little bodies at this age.
As we headed out from Tarangire for the drive back to Arusha, we saw our 7th and 8th cheetah, a mom and cub. They looked very regal laying across their rock vantage point ignoring us as they hung out.
On a final note about the babies, we were impressed by how young some of the Maasai boys are who are out watching over the family herds of cattle, sheep and/or goats. Some of them look to be about 5 or 6 as they follow in their father’s footsteps surrounded by the wild.
There are so many memories and animal anecdotes from the trip and too many to share here. Thanks again to Africa Dream Safaris and particularly to Dawn and David for making the plan and executing the plan out on safari.
Scott, Audri, Nicole and Jackson H.
Safari Dates: August 2, 2014 to August 14, 2014