We loved the trip! It seemed that we saw every animal we had hoped to see (and then some). Different family members had different favorites. Burt loved the big cats (on two fabulous days we spent hours observing a large pride, starting while the male was still eating a zebra carcass, near the Grumeti River in the Western Serengeti). I loved the zebras (most photogenic animal I've ever seen) and the giraffes. Max was thrilled to see a black mamba snake.
We all were amazed by the elephants, particularly watching a lone male devour whole trees. Cory and I got the special treat of seeing a serval cat catch its prey in the Ngorongoro Crater. The Serengeti, however, was absolutely the highlight -- both for the variety of animals and the scenery. While we preferred the Northern and Western Serengeti areas, which had more greenery and animals and fewer other people, the private luxury camp stay and the balloon ride in the Central Serengeti were really special parts of our trip.
Our guide Alex was fabulous. He had the perfect balance between urging us to get up early to see the most and letting us make the decisions about having a little down time. (And when our sons had a few days under the weather with travelers' diarrhea he was particularly sympathetic and understanding.) His knowledge of the animals -- and particularly the bird life (which was astonishing) greatly added to our enjoyment of the trip. It was notable how other guides respected him. We also very much enjoyed learning from him (as well as your staff who met us in Arusha) about life in Tanzania.
Every place we stayed except for the Serena at the Crater was truly first-rate. The Presidential Suite at Mbalageti was everything you said and then some. I thought the Plantation Lodge was beautiful (and the food was excellent) and really enjoyed the walk with the master gardener. In hindsight, it may have been better to skip staying at the Crater to stay there.
The Private Luxury Camp was great, especially the impromptu cake and singing for our anniversary! Our sons loved this private camp best of all (though we thought the mix with the comfort of the lodges worked best). Being able to take a walk at Tarangire as well as go on the night drive made for excellent variety -- and it was a lovely lodge. Our only regret in most of the places was that we had so little time to enjoy them as we were so busy on safari!
We were VERY pleased with the ADS experience and would be happy to be a reference. We continue to relive our memories of the trip through the fabulous photographs we were able to get. Maybe some day we'll be able to return to the Serengeti to see it in another season!
Barbara S. Family