I have been eager to write to you about the trip. Chris is better at details, so I made sure she sent an overview. As she mentioned, the trip was amazing and our guide was amazing.
We saw so many animals! Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions, Elephants, Giraffe, Zebra, Impala, Gazelle, Wildebeest, Kiki, Tope, Hyena (my personal favorite), warthogs, monkey, baboons, hippo and the famous black rhino. We also saw many amazing birds. We saw the animals in action [hunting , eating, sleeping, playing, nursing] all at close range. I saw a Hyena chase and take down a baby Impala (I didn't really want to see this, but know that people identify this as exciting).
We went out to the Barafu Kopjes as you suggested. Our guide laughed when we told him that you had recommended this. We saw several cats and beautiful landscape. The drive to Nasera Rock was definitely "off the beaten path" and our guide was determined to get us there. We are glad we took the trip out, as the landscape was beautiful and it was great seeing the volcanoes in the distance. The plains were filled with Impala, Gazelle and zebra. At that point in the trip, we were also excited to have the opportunity to stretch our legs on a long hike. Our guide was eager to try out his new walkie talkies on this trip and they worked well. He was like an overprotective father, he kept checking in to see if we were ok as it was a particularly hot day.
The migration was a highlight for us as well. We drove once again "off the beaten path," through mud that resembled quick sand. It was very exciting. Land rovers can do some pretty impressive things.
I truly believe that we would still be out there looking if our guide had not eventually spotted the herd. It was quite apparent through the entire trip that he wanted us to see everything and have an exceptional experience. He drove us directly through the migration. Chris and I felt like we were on a movie set. The view was surreal. The Wildebeest just went on forever.
The lodging accommodations were great. I am very durable when it comes to physical activity, long days, sweat, dirt, rain, etc, however I seem to turn into a princess at night and like to be clean, warm and dry. Therefore, two days of camping was fine for me. The tented lodges felt like luxury accommodations to me and I was fine. I am glad we did the two days camping as it was cool to fall asleep to the sound of hyenas and wake up in the middle of the night with something sniffing outside the tent.
The majority of the Tanzanians we met were extremely friendly, hardworking, polite and smart. We were impressed about how much several new about the American government and they asked some hard questions. It was a rude awakening returning to the U.S., as we received harsh treatment from several NYC cab drivers and an employee at budget rental.
The reality is that everything was a highlight. I really enjoyed Olduvai and meeting the Massai. It once again felt like we were on a movie set when we would see the Massai walking out in the plains with their red capes. Our guide provided us with much valuable info about the Massai and their customs.
When we were at the coffee plantation there was a traditional celebration at the lodge due to the fact that one of Tanzania's prime ministers was staying at the lodge. Chris and I had breakfast the same time with her the next morning and she provided some interesting info about Tanzania. I think her name was Marie Nguu.
Your recommendations about how long to stay in each area, when to push ourselves and when to rest were right on target. Several times Chris and I would say, this is what Michael was talking about. I remember being all eager about camping at Nasera Rock, and that would have been too much for me.
The gorilla trip was just as spectacular. The Gorilla camp is very nice and the people there work hard to please you. The weather is more humid but still very nice. The trekking was hard but very reasonable for us. The first day of trekking, we got hooked up with a medical student who was working at the hospital in town. He was a great source of information and he later gave us a tour of the hospital.  ;We were able to hike quickly and we found the gorillas in 1 1/2 hours.
As we look at our pictures and tell our friends about the trip, we still cannot believe that we were in Africa and how special the trip was. We were impressed with how smoothly the trip unfolded and that is because of your hard work, our guides amazing work ethic and the generosity of the people of Tanzania. I have never been in a country where it was so easy to be an American. Everyone spoke English, everyone was incredibly nice and we were able to use American money.
We want to thank you so much for planning our trip. We feel very lucky to have found you and your expertise showed through every day on our trip. We will be telling all our friends about Africa Dream Safaris.
Chris and Devon M.