My Second Safari To The Serengeti!

Having the opportunity to go on a second safari my first call was to Sharon at Africa Dream Safaris. We had such an unbelievable safari three years ago there was no need to even think about a different operator.

I told her my only requirement was that my feet were to be on the ground for my birthday and it wasn’t to be the first or last day of the safari. I told her to take it from there and plan it as if she was the one going! (Who better to plan a safari than someone who’s been on over 50 safaris?) She did give us several options for lodging in each location as she had multiple “favorites”. So we did provide some input. All of the accommodations were unique and special in their own way (Arusha Coffee Lodge, Serengeti Serena Lodge, Lake Masek Tented Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Lodge and The Manor).

My only question to Sharon was “Will I feel like I’ve been there, done that”? Her immediate response was “No!” And how right she was!! Our only request was to have “Ally the Awesome” as our guide for the second time. They were able to grant that request and Ally was just as awesome this time as the last, even fulfilling my request to see a rhino standing in a field of flowers!

His ability to see animals while driving, the knowledge he has of each animal/bird, his patience and his laughter…I’m still smiling! Plus, we knew a little bit about him from the last time and we took the opportunity to learn more about him and his life/traditions in Tanzania…and share things with him from our lives. Like the Wizard of Oz…and his new favorite joke; when someone asks….”How did you sleep? You answer “With my eyes closed”!!!

The second time was so different from the first. Yes, the animals and birds didn’t change (tho’ we did see some we didn’t see the first time). The seasons were different allowing us to see babies, the grassland migration and so many things we didn’t witness the first time. Our first safari was in September (the dry season) and this safari was in April (the green season). This year Tanzania was experiencing some drought like conditions during the rainy season but the experience was still different and just as incredible as the first time. We also went to different areas of the Serengeti than the first time.

To think a week ago we were in Tanzania on our last day. Not at all looking forward to leaving (part of that may have something to do with the long ….long flight home.) For the past several days we’ve been going through over 11,000 photos trying to find something different to send in to ADS.

How do you capture a feeling?

-The awe, wonder, the vastness of the migration? Animals as far as you can see in every direction .…which is three miles per google (and that has to do with the horizon).

-The tenderness of the lioness as she tolerates her cubs antics.

-The patience of the mom cheetah going after a small wildebeest for a kill only to watch one of her crazy offsprings take off in a different direction after an adult wildebeest.

-The hilarity of the antics of a troop of baboons and being able to stay and enjoy watching them until we were ready to go.

-The marvel of two male lions sharing a kill with two cubs.

It’s so difficult to put the feelings into words and even if a photo is worth a thousand words it’s still not enough to capture the incredible feelings.

But here are some photos to try and give you an idea how awesome it can be!

Halle and Walter P.
Port Charlotte, Florida
Safari Dates: April 17, 2017 to April 29, 2017

How I Found My Hakuna Matata

Going on a safari was on my mother-in-law Joyce’s bucket list, not mine. Still, we gratefully accepted the invitation to accompany her. (We’re givers, I know.)

For a year we received e-mails from Joyce admonishing us what to do to prepare for the trip to Tanzania (not the least of which was practicing taking a shower with our mouths closed). Care packages of DEET and rain ponchos arrived at our house. I stored them in a drawer and hoped I wouldn’t forget where I’d put them many months later when it came time to pack.

The safari loomed in the future for so long. Now we have been and returned. It is over in time, but not gone.

When you don’t know what to expect in an experience, you allow room for surprises. Sure, I expected that I would enjoy seeing a place on our planet unique in its preservation of land and animals. I expected that I would ooh and aah over elephants and giraffes and lions and baboons. I did not expect, however, that the pace of our journey, slow and in the moment, would linger quite so long when I returned to “real life.” Call it the Hakuna Matata Effect; it lasts.

I’m not speaking of the red dust that still clings to my suitcase. I’m speaking of the less tangible residue, like the first Swahili words we learned as we rushed to get everyone and six suitcases into a jeep on our way to the Arusha airstrip for a propeller flight to the Serengeti. “Pole pole,” he said (poh-lay poh-lay). “Slowly, slowly.” We’ll get there. Just breathe. It takes the same amount of time to move calmly as it does to feel rushed and to rush others.

I’m speaking of the melodious sound of Swahili, embodied in this ear worm of a song taught to us by our very patient driver/guide Ellison (and which essentially translates to, “What’s up, dude? Everything’s cool; no worries in Tanzania.”):

I’m speaking of my continued longing for the sound of only birds and animals and wind, instead of the sounds that fill my habitat: houses striving for perfection with incessant remodels; hammers and power saws; lawnmowers and leaf blowers; fire engine sirens; airplanes droning; electronic devices buzzing and dinging.

Mostly, I’m speaking of the perspective gained by traveling outside of my culture, which all-too-quickly fades upon reentry. For a week I was not constantly connected to cable “news.” For a week I watched animals who knew nothing of North Korea or Russia or the United States, who cared nothing about SAT Prep classes or Bar Mitzvah caterers or glitchy WiFi at the office. I am not saying I wish I were Maasai, or that I would like my world to constrict to hunting and gathering. I am saying I needed the reminder that some of my concerns are cuckoo creations of my cultural bubble. They have no intrinsic universal value, and I can choose which to ascribe to, and which to let go. I cling to the residue of Tanzania. For a week, I was with my family, away from the push/pulls that animate our lives at home.

For a week we lived a starkly different pace — on the go at 6 am, eating breakfast and lunch in the quiet of the bush, in bed at dark, falling asleep to those sounds of nature. For a week our eyes set upon the unfamiliar beauty of flat-topped acacias and rocky outcroppings that shelter lion cubs. And for a week we spent 8-10 hours bumping around in a jeep looking for glimpses of animal action, and peeing outside when Ellison decided the threat of lion or leopard attack was low. Joyce said it was the trip of a lifetime, and that she will never do it again. Me? I’m ready to plan my return.

P.S. Bonus video: Watch an elephant multi-task, and listen to our amazed commentary. And finally, the words to “Jambo buana” song, written out for us by Ellison.  

Laura Nicole Diamond

Our Best Vacation Ever!

On the 30th of March 2017, my wife and I left the United States on a Bucket List trip to Africa. Our Guide and Guardian Angel of our Dream was Africa Dream Safaris. This proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Throughout our trip, we had occasion to talk with many people on safari and compare what we had vs what they had and by far, ADS is the best.

From the moment we landed in Africa until the moment when we got back on the airplane to leave, everything was first class. The food, the lodging, the people, the handling of every detail, was nothing but the best. Our guide, Emmanuel, well…it was like it was his life’s mission to make this our best vacation ever and he did just that.

All of that said, the real reason we went to Africa was to see animals in their natural environment. This is where the real magic began. We looked at books, watched videos, looked at pictures and talked to others about their trips to Africa and thus, had established some pretty high expectations. I was told by a friend, that nothing would prepare us for what we were about to see. WOW, was she ever right.

I will never forget the look on my wife’s face as we started our approach and decent to land at the Ndutu Airstrip out in the Southern Serengeti. As we came closer to the earth, in the bush and along the runway, we could see the giraffe’s feeding on the trees, the zebras, wildebeest, and a variety of gazelles grazing along the tree line at the edge of the runway. They were all mixed together and they were all roaming FREE to go wherever they wanted. I have never seen my wife so excited and so happy.

Emmanuel, our guide, picked us up and whisked us away to see some of the most beautiful places on the earth. The Great Migration can never really be explained with words or in pictures. You just have to see it. The view that will live in my mind forever is the first time we rolled onto the edge of a great plains and there, before our eyes were animals, of all kinds and standing only a few feet apart, for as far as the eye could see in any direction you looked.

Thousands and thousands of animals; lions under the trees at the edge of the wood line, giraffes feeding on the trees along the edge of the plane, elephants towering over the zebras, wildebeest, and every kind of gazelle you can think of and all mixed together. We just put down our camera and just tried to take it all in. This was truly a work of God.

We saw all of the Big Five and so much more. While I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures, when I go back and look at them now, I realize that they show only a very small piece of the real thing we were viewing. This was our best vacation ever. Thank you ADS for making all of our dreams come true.

Rick and Jan H.
Winter Garden, Florida
Safari Dates: March 31, 2017 to April 8, 2017