We began planning our May 2014 African safari over a year in advance. Dawn was extremely helpful in recommending an itinerary that would maximize our opportunities to see the many aspects of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater that we wanted to see. Additionally she did a marvelous job of arranging for us to stay in a variety of lodging facilities from a mobile tented campsite in Sametu to the luxurious Four Seasons Resort in Bilila.
The ultimate success of our safari was largely due to our incredible guide “Rafae”. His knowledge of animals and their behaviors, birds, plants and the Maasi culture made for an outstanding learning experience that each of us will always remember. We had an exceptional experience with African Dream Safaris. We enthusiastically recommend them to anyone considering a safari in Tanzania.
Dennis and Jane T.
Safari dates: May 23, 2014 to June 01, 2014
ADS proudly sponsors The School of St. Jude. Here’s their monthly update:
Prep student Josh has already gone through a rite of passage for a young child, in only a few short months. Josh earned his boyhood stripes when he broke his arm while falling off play equipment at St Jude’s. He has gained the status as the only kid in the playground with a sling and he’s enjoying the attention while he can. Recovery has been quick for Josh, thanks to the caring support of the St Jude’s Health and Welfare team. The day a teacher carried him in with his painful, broken arm, the Lower Primary Medical Officer, Brenda was on hand to provide assistance. She carefully placed Josh’s arm in a bandage, then notified his parents before taking him to the hospital in one of our school buses.
The doctor examined him before numerous x-rays were taken on his arm. Brenda was by his side the entire time, before Josh’s mother, Sia arrived at the hospital. The doctor determined that Josh would have to undergo an operation, to insert metal pins into his arm to realign the bone to its original place. The costs were slowly adding up for the files, x rays, operation and overnight stay at the hospital. As Josh’s mother, made her way there, it greatly worried her about how she could afford to pay for it all on her small income, which she earned selling mandazi (a form of East African fried bread) and tea, on the side of the road. She works hard to take care of her husband, daughter, Josh and also her niece, with all of them living in a small mud home with no electricity. She could barely afford to buy food and essentials for her family, and could not imagine how she would pay for the hospital bills.
Access to quality health care, like education for many Tanzanians, is a privilege that most can’t afford. Additionally, neither area is adequately funded by the Tanzanian government, as they are in many developed countries. The St Jude’s Health and Welfare fund covers all medical emergencies for our students for injuries that happen whilst the student is at school. When an accident occurs, the school’s Health and Welfare team acts instantly by assessing the child and taking them to the hospital or they decide on the next best course of action. If St Jude’s hadn’t have helped Josh and his family, they would have had to go to the hospital by themselves and put on a long waiting list. There is a severe shortage of doctors and specialists in Tanzania so there is a high chance that Josh may not have received proper treatment as local hospitals have a huge backlog of patients to deal with on a daily basis. He would likely have had to miss school because of the ongoing pain in his arm and the long wait at the hospital. However, by St Jude’s looking after Josh and his medical bills, it meant he got immediate treatment and our Health and Welfare staff were on hand to check that he was being well looked after. Josh’s family is very grateful that St Jude’s paid for all of his medical expenses as it would have been out of the reach for the family to afford. “It makes me happy and a big thanks to St Jude’s, which paid for everything,” said his mother, Sia. “I believe Josh will be the one to change the life of our family because of his education at St Jude’s and help us out of poverty. I’m so happy that he is getting a good education at the school.”
Back at home, Josh is like any other little boy who loves his Mum’s cooking, playing with his friends in the neighbourhood and catching up with his mates at St Jude’s. Since his accident, he has taught himself how to write with his other hand so he wouldn’t miss out on any of his lessons. Josh likes reading and learning English and has hopes of someday becoming an engineer so that he can help his Mama. “I like reading and being careful to listen to my teachers when they’re teaching,” said Josh. Recently, he has headed back to the hospital so a doctor can remove his sling and metal pins in his arm. Little Josh couldn’t wait and hopes it’s the last visit to the doctor and hospital for a while.
If you’d like to become a sponsor or donor at St Jude’s and help us fight poverty through education, find more details on our website.
I have been dreaming of going on an African Safari for most of my life. It took me almost 50 years to make that dream into a reality, and now I can hardly believe it is over.
I feel so blessed that this adventure was shared with my husband Lance, and my two daughters Chelsea (15) and Haley (11). We are all crazy animal lovers and all interested in learning about new cultures. This trip could not have been any more ideal for our family. I have to say that Dawn helped us to plan the perfect itinerary and we loved every minute of it!
Our adventure started in Arusha where we had the incredible opportunity to visit the St. Jude school. We spent the day visiting classes, eating lunch with the children, playing games, and learning all about this wonderful school which provides an opportunity for the most impoverished students to get a superior education. At the end of the day, we rode the bus home with a young student- Jennifa and visited her home.
We were overwhelmed as all of her friends, family and neighbors greeted us with songs and cheering. We were invited into her humble home for tea and snacks and talked with her parents (through and English translator). We were almost in tears when we left and we all hugged and cried as we told them we would like to sponsor their daughter in school this year.
The next day we flew off into the Serengeti on a small plane. We landed in the Grumeti air strip and were greeted by Petro our cheerful Safari Guide. He gave both my girls the biggest hug and said that we would have a great time together. Immediately upon leaving the airstrip we saw hundreds of wildebeasts and dozens of baboons. We were so excited to start our journey deep into the Serengeti.
On the ride to our first lodge- we saw giraffes, zebras and dozens of other animals. It felt like a dream. We arrived at the Mbalageti Tented lodge and were greeted with fresh juice and cold cloths to wipe our faces. We could not get over our luxury accommodations. Our family tent was like a small palace with an expansive deck looking out into the wilderness. We cooled off in the pool and took a nap before dinner. The buffets were all fabulous and it was fun to chat with other guests about their safari experiences.
The next day we got to see our first lion pride and spotted a beautiful leopard and even a cheetah. We spent time watching the hippos at the Retina pool. It was mating season so we saw two male hippos fighting, we even saw some pink babies and watched the hippos wallowing and grunting in the mud.
The Four Seasons Lodge, our next stop was like stepping into a travel magazine. We had fun at the beautiful pool where we could watch the elephants come drink at the watering hole. At one point- there were 37 elephants surrounding the area and even a one week old elephant baby that had been born on the property the week before. The staff there (and in all the lodges) were so kind and helpful. One morning a baboon visited us on our balcony. Haley thought that was so funny!
We continued our game drives and could not wait to see what the day would bring. The great migration of wildebeests and zebras was amazing to watch throughout. Petro, of course was so knowledgeable about the animals and we admired his respect and love for them. Lance and I chatted with him about Tanzanian culture, history and life. We all became great friends. He called Haley, my youngest the Safari boss and he teased Chelsea about her music. We learned about his family as well and I even got to speak with his wife on the phone.
We headed off to the Ngorongoro Crater and stopped at a Masaai village for a couple of hours which was truly a highlight for me. We were greeted by a the chief’s son (who spoke English.) We danced together, toured the village and got to see the boma huts where they live. We learned about their life and even visit the small school made of sticks. The children were so interested in us and we showed them pictures on our camera. We sang to them and gave each one a high five. It was AMAZING! I think it gave Chelsea and Haley a new appreciation of our life in the States.
We headed down into the crater and were hoping to see the elusive rhino. We lucked out and were able to find one (a bit in the distance) and watched him for some time. The Lion’s Paw tented camp on top of the crater was magical. We felt like we were in Avatar with all the lush trees. There were only 6 tents and we happened to be the only ones staying there that night. We were treated like royalty. We got to eat dinner together with Petro and visited with the staff at Lion’s Paw.
The next morning, as we headed into the crater we were fortunate to come upon a male lion lying in the road. We were in awe of this majestic creature. A few hundred yards away- his harem of 6 lionesses were planning their attack on a small herd of zebra. We watched them spread out and slowly, slowly creep along in the tall grass until they were close enough to charge. It was so exciting to watch!! The zebra were faster than we imagined and got away! Phew…
After a few more hours surveying the crater, seeing hyenas, mammoth elephants, hundreds of flamingos in the salty lake and dozens of other birds. We decided to make our way to Gibbs Farm. This was our last stop and it was a wonderful retreat for 3 nights after a week of game drives. We spent our time in Gibbs Farm sitting out on the lawn chairs, picking vegetables in the 9 acre garden, drinking coffee and relaxing. We also had a chance to tour the small nearby town and visit an orphanage. It was a great way to end our Safari experience. The last night the staff brought us a cake and sang to us in Swahili.
I feel so sad that it’s all over now, But these memories will last a lifetime. Thank you so much to African Dream Safari especially to Dawn for planning this fabulous trip for us to Petro for guiding us through the Serengeti with care and fun, to all the fabulous staff at the lodges who made us feel like special guests and the Tanzanian people for sharing your beautiful country with us and especially for your warm smiles!
Stephanie, Lance, Chelsea and Haley E.
May 27, 2014 to June 5, 2014