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January 2014, Scott and Adelaide Wallinger
10 Day-AAC’s Signature Private Safari to Tanzania

Safaris
10 Day AAC Group Lodge Safari to Tanzania **** SELECT **** **** SELECT ****

Overall Trip Experience Rating: 

Countries Visited: 

All arrangements were flawless, the vehicle was in excellent shape, the guide was outstanding and the preliminary planning assistance was excellent.

Arusha: Your representative met us at the airport walked us through visas and passport control quickly and the trip to the lodge went just as well. Mountain Village Serena Lodge was an excellent choice — comfortable, well managed, excellent food. The decision to stay at the lodge for two nights was good. It allowed an extra day and night to recover from the trip to Arusha and the half-day in Arusha National Park was excellent. We went there with Mkenda and saw the crater, Momella lakes and colobus monkeys we’d only glimpsed before in Kenya .

Lake Manyara: You were absolutely right to encourage us to go to the south end of the park for two days. The Lake Manyara Tree Lodge was comfortable and a good base. One day our butler set a lunch table for us at poolside because an elephant was feeding perhaps 50 feet away; but by the time we got there the elephant had moved on, still a nice gesture on his part. The game viewing alongside the lake was excellent with good diversity and huge numbers of flamingos. We’re glad we went there.

Guide Experience Rating: Excellent
Guides: 

Tarangire: …At Tarangire we got our first exposure to Mkenda’s exceptional ability and experience. One morning, we and others observed a leopard cub in a tree near the road and the mother perhaps 100 yards away in a tree by the marsh. We went back in the afternoon and saw the cub sleeping on the ground near the marsh but the mother was not in sight. Other vehicles stopped for brief photos and left. Mkenda said, “I’m going to find the leopard, I know she’s nearby.”

We drove up and down the road, scanning the marsh edge with binoculars. Suddenly, there was an outbreak of guinea fowl alarm calls. Mkenda spotted the leopard moving through the marsh toward the cub. The cub joined her and they picked up a second cub behind some bushes. The three leopards angled toward the road while we kept pace.

A dead tree snag beside the road was perhaps 20 feet tall with a horizontal branch about 10 feet up. The mother leopard climbed it and lay down on the branch stub. The two cubs played, climbed up and lay on top of her…15 feet from us in the vehicle. We watched them for 45 minutes until sunset in perfect light with no other vehicles present.

Mkenda was as thrilled as we were…in 18 years of guiding he hadn’t had an experience like that! Just the leopards and us. At Tarangire we also watched three cheetah cubs wait while their mother went through the bush to make a kill, then we followed them as they caught up with her and the four of them began to feast on the kill.

Accommodation Experience Rating: 

Accomodation: 

Gibb’s Farm: This was a pleasant break mid-way with lovely rooms, beautiful gardens, and excellent food. I took the walk with Mkenda and a local ranger to the elephant cave and waterfall and it was an interesting 4-5 mile round trip on the ground. With my forestry background we had a lot of good conversation about the trees along the way. While I did that, Adelaide was with the artist in residence.

Ngorongoro: We spent 10 hours in the crater the first day, arriving at 7 am and leaving in late afternoon. It wasn’t overly crowded and vehicle roads were in good shape. We saw a diversity of animals and birds and were reminded of the uniqueness of the crater and its habitat. Often we were alone except when lions were found. In late afternoon we had an experience with lions reminiscent of our first time there in 2000 when lions lay alongside our vehicle and cubs lay under another vehicle in its shade. This time we found a group of lions beside the road doing what lions do best: sleeping. A large male got up and walked to our vehicle and lay down against the rear wheel for a snooze. Then, he got up and walked around the other vehicles lie down in the road under the front bumper of the vehicle next to us and went to sleep again.

Explorean is a beautiful lodge facility — elegant, huge bedroom/living room/deck, excellent staff and food. The first night a German tour group of 20 people and their leader made the dining room lively. The second night there were only three tables of guests.

Ndutu: Lamala Camp: The drive from the main road SW to the lake was across a dry, dusty. When we arrived at the camp, guides had discovered a leopard in a tree 100 yards from the camp just as a rain began. So, we took more good photos of a leopard and saw her call her cub, climb down and the two of them walk off. Buffalo and wildebeest and zebras grazed through the camp at night while lions roared in the distance. The open acacia forest by the lake had lots of giraffes. The camp facilities were fine, food was very good, and staff was outgoing and friendly. It wasn’t crowded…only three tents were in use, and two were single ladies on safaris. It rained during the nights we were there which made the grass green up immediately.

Serengeti Shared Safari Camp: The mobile camp was fine; very basic but good beds and good food served “home style”. We were the only guests in camp so we got full staff attention. The game drives were outstanding. We were in the midst of the migration, so on the plain we were surrounded by wildebeests and zebras and gazelles with lots of new babies as far as the eye could see. We saw long columns of them crossing the lake bed or wading across the shallow parts of the lake. We went NW across the plain completely alone to the Hidden Valley water hole where we found lions. On the plain we also saw warthogs, jackals, hyenas, bat eared foxes and vultures of all kinds.

In the Serengeti we saw numerous cheetahs, including one with five cubs that we watched for perhaps an hour. We followed a cheetah across the plain where she was hunting — the prey animals were some distance off and after an hour we broke off. We saw another cheetah catch and eat a scrub hare and another stalked a dikdik that got away in the bush. We saw lions eating a zebra that was freshly killed.

On the morning drive north from Ndutu to Seronera airstrip, we saw a cheetah lying beside the road just east of the Naabi Gate and another on the plain north of Naabi Hill. When we passed the Simba koepies, a lioness was lying atop the tallest rock. The Regional Air plane was on time. Ironically, after we took off the plane flew to Ndutu to pick up two passengers a mile from our camp, then on to Arusha!

AAC Experience Rating:
AAC Trip Planning and Organisation: 
Dear Kyle:

We were delighted with our safari as planned and managed by Africa Adventure Company, your ground operator and guided by Emmanuel Mkenda.

This was Scott’s sixth safari in Africa and Adelaide’s seventh, including a group tour in Kenya , a private safari in Tanzania , and visits to camps in Botswana and to several private game parks in South Africa . AAC and your ground operator don’t take a back seat to any safari company based on our Tanzania experience.

Overall, an excellent safari experience!