Unbelievable? Unimaginable? INDESCRIBABLE? Actually, the latter of the three is the only real word that can rightfully “capture” the true essence of my safari experience in Tanzania from which my sister, my friends, and I have just returned… In all reality, I am truly at a loss for words – and for those that know me well, that IS saying something!
How can one do justice to such a trip by summarizing in a paragraph or two the genuine warmth and kindness of the Tanzanian people, the amazing beauty of the richly filled woodlands, the expanse of the seemingly endless grassy plain, or the raw beauty of nature as it takes its sometimes cruel, often uplifting, but ever inspiring course in the lives of the animals that thrive there? I knew visiting such a place as Tanzania would be a rich and rewarding experience even before we went, but today I am simply in awe of the amazingly spectacular sights, sounds, and deeply rooted emotions that we experienced.
When we began planning this safari over a year and a half ago through ADS, and after having researched it well, I must say that we did set the bar high and we expected “a lot.” Looking back, I can how say that those expectations were not only met, but were far exceeded throughout each and every aspect of our trip!
From the first moment of our arrival in Arusha, where we were warmly greeted by the cheerful and professional ADS staff on the tarmac, to the final moment of our departure, we could not have been made to feel more cared for, welcomed and relaxed. The accommodations at each and every place we stayed were outstanding and comfortable, and we were exceptionally well fed - whether it was in our semi-permanent tent, our permanent tent, in our private luxury camp, or in a lodge. (We experienced them all!) And our safari guide that met us when we landed in the Serengeti – what can I say about our guide to do him justice? After watching and listening to the many other groups that we saw on safari in the lodges, camps, and on the wildlife circuits, I now truly believe one’s safari is going to be only as good one’s guide…and our ADS guide was absolutely exceptional – truly, he was beyond compare!
Now as I said before, we expected to “see” a lot, but it was the actual experiencing of the raw emotion intertwined within those special sightings and moments that made the trip what it was. Who would have thought we would end up being fortunate enough to actually witness not just one, but FOUR different wildebeest crossings on the Mara River in the Northern Serengeti? Not only were we a witness to it, we were also “in the middle” of it all during the first crossing we experienced, as the seeming endless stream of wildebeest enveloped our vehicle on their way down toward the bank! There was so much energy and excitement within the herd (and within our vehicle!) each and every time we witnessed it!
And then to think that we would be privileged enough to see in person the passionate struggle between life and death as the carnivorous crocodiles of the region attempted to unrelentingly feast on the wildebeest, young and old, as they struggled over the boulders and through the swiftly flowing waters during the perilous crossing. A crossing, though dangerous and (as we witnessed) hesitantly taken by the huge herds as they nervously gathered on the banks of the water’s edge before boldly leaping in, inescapably necessary as a part of their endless annual migratory pattern in an attempt to follow the rains... It really was something to experience such a uniquely natural phenomenon, and an experience none of us will soon forget…
And then, who would have thought we’d be privy to sitting back and quietly watching as five lionesses near our vehicle stealthily stalked a herd of Topi as they nervously attempted to drink from a life-giving watering hole near Lobo - and then later on witness two cheetah quickly devouring their freshly killed reedbuck behind a shrub as they keenly watched three other cheetah, unaware of their presence, stalk their own prey nearby? It was, simply put, amazing, and there we were once again “in the middle of it all!”
And then – my all time favorite - who would have thought we’d actually get to see “up close and personal” the beautiful and graceful, yet ever elusive leopard as she rested on a lofty limb, perfectly camouflaged by the dense auburn/green foliage of the tree? Now – for me - THAT was “a moment!”
Each and every day was uniquely different and a day of surprise. I should also mention that many of our best moments were moments that we had (unbelievably!) to ourselves - with absolutely no one else around! This was in no small part due to our incredibly knowledgeable and patient guide, as well as to our own personal “drive” to get out daily before dawn, stay out all day, and return after dusk. The rewards greatly outweighed any “sacrifice” we might have made, if you can even call it that.
Having now lived overseas as an educator for nearly 20 years, and having traveled extensively in Europe, as well as throughout parts of Asia, Africa (Egypt & Kenya), and New Zealand, I definitely expected this trip to be “pretty great” – but I can now say in all honesty and without any reservation that this trip far exceeded any travel experience I have ever had in the past– bar none! It really was a dream-come-true. Thank you, ADS, for taking all of us on a true “trip of a lifetime!” I, for one, cannot thank you enough!
Doug and Carol M.
Ann E. and Gina M.