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June 2014, Tacha Jager (with Tom, Tyler and Sophie)
14 Day-Tanzanian Cultural and Wilderness Safari and Beach Getaway

14 Day Group Lodge Safari and Island Getaway to Tanzania **** SELECT **** **** SELECT ****

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We just returned from our amazing Tanzania journey and want to thank you all for helping make a lifetime dream a reality. It was an incredible trip in all respects and looking back at it there is actually very little I would change.

Guide Experience Rating: Excellent

The cornerstone of our trip was clearly Deo, our Tanzanian guide extraordinaire. Please consider this my nomination to make him Guide of the Year. Not only was his wildlife knowledge encyclopedic (there wasn’t a bird he couldn’t identify just by us describing it), his well-honed ability to predict animal behavior was mind-boggling, thereby always placing us at exactly the right place at the right time for optimal (i.e. 2 feet away) viewing. I felt he was always 3 steps ahead of the other guides around us.

For example, on our first full day on safari in Tarangire we had not yet seen any cats. He received a radio report of a large pride of lions crossing the road, so we sped to the spot (my daughter especially loved to stand in the Land Cruiser with top up going at high speed over the bumpy roads; “let’s go hunt lions” is the new family euphemism for driving fast with windows down). When we arrived there were just 2 male lions to be seen in the distance together with 12 other safari vehicles. Deo got the exact description of the pride and their movements from a colleague, and deduced there must be a kill over the rise. Nobody else shared this thought and all the other vehicles eventually left. Following his hunch, he waited everybody else out and then took us discreetly off-road 100 yards. There we suddenly stood, smack in the middle of 10 lions (including large males, females and cubs), devouring an impala 3 feet away, not another person in sight. What a thrill! And I could give many similar examples - our best cheetah and leopard sightings were amazing Deo finds seen just by us...

Furthermore, Deo was simply excellent company, great with the kids, and so happy to share his country and answer our million questions about culture, politics, food, language etc, although he was unsuccessful at getting us to like unagi. He took unscheduled time on our first “at leisure” day in Arusha to take us around town and was always concerned about our wellbeing. In addition, our local Datoga guide at Lake Eyasi, upon spending a day with us, complimented Deo as being one of the most approachable and respectful safari guides he had met.

So we saw the Big Five, the Ugly Five and most of the Little Five. We saw a zillion cool birds. We saw bat-eared foxes (another miraculous Deo spotting from a mile away). We sort of saw the great migration, although the herds were not giant - we were apparently in the right area at the right time, but the herds were pretty scattered this year, “confused because of the rains” per various reports. We successfully hunted a Dik Dik with the Hadzabe bushmen…We milked a cow with the Datoga who thought it was hysterical when Tyler, my son, couldn’t get any milk out (clearly boys were not meant to do that job). We drank Banana beer. I got sung Happy Birthday to in Swahili. We chatted with 4 teenage Maasai boys on top of Shifting Sands who came over just to say hello, not to sell anything. We witnessed a lioness stalk then attack a wildebeest 10 feet in front of us, then the wildebeest turn, butt and chase the lion successfully away, a turn of events Deo said he had not seen in his 14 years of guiding…We swam in the stunningly turquoise-green waters of the Indian Ocean and ate a lot of tropical fruits for the first and, in the case of durian fruit, most definitely the last time. We peeled cinnamon bark off a tree. We did not get eaten by a lion as was my daughter’s everlasting concern. And so much more. Really, it was amazing.

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…Now we are recovering from jet lag, starting to sort through the more than 1500 photos and video clips and learning (very slowly) not to say Asante to everybody such as the local Vermont gas station attendant this afternoon. My children have learned innumerable lessons about not just wildlife and tribal culture, but also what it means to be a developing country and to not take our riches in the western world for granted.

We will miss many things about Africa including the wonderful and hospitable Tanzanians, including their frequent and endearing but often incorrect use of “you’re welcome”…

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So thanks again, we are so grateful to all of you for putting our trip-of-a lifetime together, and to you, Mark, for roping me in on the phone the first time I called AAC last Fall to inquire about family safaris. Our trip made turning 50 (while at Tarangire) very painless, and hopefully some day we will be back!

All the best,