Lynn: OMG! That is all I can say about our experience with ADS. The service was impeccable! This was our first trip together let alone to Africa. Julie and I went to college together 20+ years ago. She was from Colorado and I was from Rhode Island. We became friends and stayed in touch. Thanks to Facebook Julie and I reconnected and I saw a post about her starting to plan her "dream trip". I sent her an email and asked if she needed a travel partner. Originally, she was going to travel with family but one thing led to another and low and behold just Julie and I were going. What an amazing backdrop for our reunion.
We met up in Detroit for the beginning of our trip. After a long couple of flights we were in Tanzania. We were met at the airport and had NO trouble with our Visa etc.. Then we were entrusted into the care of Mathius and Charles. These two were fabulous! They were very knowledgeable and helpful. Our first full day was fabulous! We were able to tour a local school and toured the Usariba township. We were able to experience the true Arusha on our extended day. The Mount Meru Hotel was wonderful and it was a very pleasant surprise to sit under a canopy in the middle of the gardens for dinner!
Ok, on to our Safari!! Charles and Mathias drove us to the airport the next morning for our flight into Grumeti. Unfortunately, Wilfred was unable to pick us up at the airport as he was unable to cross the Grumeti River which was over it's banks. No worries he had a plan in place. A nice gentleman met us and drove us to meet Wilfred. The adventure was under way! We had to cross over the Grumeti river on a suspension foot bridge. Ok, the adrenaline was pumping! Once at the car, Wilfred gave us a quick briefing and we were off.
Our very first game drive! We saw Wildebeest, Zebra, Giraffe, Kopi, Impala, bat eared foxes, Warthogs, Banded and slender mongoose, Black backed jackals, Baboons, Tawny eagle, Eland, Topi, Waterbuck, Cape buffalo, Ostrich to name a few. Wanting to visit local culture, Wilford suggested we head to Lake Victoria. We were able to tour the area, meet the locals and distribute some US goodies to the children! A heart warming experience I must admit!
We arrived at the Soroi and were met by pleasant smiling faces. We were taken to our room and shown around. The rooms and lodge was exceptional. While at dinner that evening we noticed that dining near us was the manager and owner. Both personally came up and greeted us. Wow! Talk about personal attention.
We opted for box breakfast and lunch as we did at every hotel. We wanted to make the most of our trip and Wilfred was more than accommodating and even encouraged this. We left early the next morning and headed out into the Western Corridor. Our drive was pleasant and educational. Wiflred is a wealth of knowledge. Seeing your videos and preparing for our trip I was hoping to get Wilfred and to my pleasant surprise we DID!! Yay!! On our way back, I don't know how he spotted them but he did... our first Lions! He was able to get close and we sat and watched and studied them.
The next morning we were heading to our private luxury camping in the Seronera Valley. After driving all day we were headed to our camp and came across a pride of Lionesses, a kill and 5 cubs. Talk about adrenaline. Wilfred is AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME... I must admit I aged a little but what an adrenaline rush!!!! Julie and I talked all nite about that. Our Camping experience was wonderful, that coming from a non camper. It was incredible to hear a Lion roar, a hyena and a jackal. Luckily nothing was too close by.. I think... Our crew was pleasant, friendly and I can tell enjoyed their work. The chef was marvelous and our "African Dinner" was superb. Yum is all I can say.
A nice feature of planning was going to the Bilila Lodge. A wonderful place. Not being the camper in the group I cherished the surroundings, gorgeous room and amenities!!! The grounds were immaculate as were all of the hotels/lodges. The food fantastic and the scenery superb. It was very nice to have internet and be able to share with Wilfred some of the videos on your site, as well as pics from the previous days! We loved spending time with Wilfred and hearing about culture and learning about the animals. He was very open to answer every question we asked him. Hopefully, we taught him a thing or two about our states. Dinner the second night was a BBQ that was set in a round room. The surroundings were very intimate and we were able to meet other guests, our chef came to our table to talk with us as he made his rounds in the room. Service and the food as usual was outstanding!
We did spring a radiator leak but not to worry! Wilfred had back up plans. The office was prepared to send out a replacement car. There was no worry or concern. Julie and I knew we were in the hands of a 10 yr veteran.. although he finally admitted that this was his first radiator leak... On our way to Ngorongoro Crater we stopped at the Oldupai Gorge, toured the museum and had a native explain/ provide history on the gorge. We then went off the beaten path and Wilfred brought us to a Maasai Village where I was invited to dance with the tribe. What a wonderful experience! We were generously welcomed and given a tour of the village. On to the crater.
Arriving at the last lodge, Julie and I wondered where the time had gone. We were a little sad because we knew that our trip was coming to an end. We enjoyed dinner and our view from our room.
The Crater was amazing... there we were on the edge of the wildest spot in Tanzania, on the wildest continent left on earth. To stand there on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater beside the Serengeti plain. Somehow the wind, the sun, the sky, the clouds ..they are unique. Only in Africa.. Greens looked greener, pinks pinker, yellows more yellow.
We hit the sack pretty early that night as we wanted to be the first in the Crater and we were!!! Being the first was awesome until we ran into an elephant who would not allow us to pass and held us up for 30 mins or so. Apparently every other car behind us saw the road block and envied us! Julie and I learned early on.. that Wilfred started and ended the days with something wonderful!!! Never were we disappointed. We completed the Big 5 finally!
Our last day came too fast. We enjoyed our drive back to Arusha for our day room. On our way we were able to go visit FAME. This was very interesting as Julie and I are both in the Medical field. We were able to meet and interact with both the staff and doctors. What an impressive facility! Once back at the Mount Meru resort we were able to shower quickly, repack and then headed to the airport. Once at the airport Wilfred waited until we were through immigration and security before he left. We were on our way back home.....
I must commend you and the entire staff both locally and in Tanzania on the level of customer service that you provide! I thank you for fully preparing us for what to expect every step of the way. The handbook and all your emails were awesome. You and ADS made this a trip of a lifetime!! Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!!
Cranston, Rhone Island