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Trip Report Father/Daughter Trip to Tanzania May 2012 with Proud African Safaris

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When my father and I began researching and planning our much anticipated father/daughter safari, we started with Google. We chose to contact a few of the companies we found that interested us. Only one company immediately got back to us at the time that we said we were available to talk. It was, of course, Proud African Safaris. From the beginning, Nandi provided EXCEPTIONAL customer service. Always returning emails and phone calls and addressing questions and concerns immediately. It is such a large investment that we were worried about all of the unknowns. Nandi made us feel very comfortable and certain that our decision to go with PAS was the right one.

My father and I knew we were in for something special and that we had chosen the perfect company to organize our safari when we were greeted at Kilimanjaro by Zubeda and her incredible smile, not to mention the three dozen roses she had for me. She bypassed everyone and took care of our Visa right away. Once again, when we reached Arumera River Lodge, where we would stay the night before heading into the bush, Zubeda flashed her smile, and the owners immediately came over and took care of us moving ahead of another group that had just arrived as well.

Tanzania is magical...the people, the wildlife, landscape and food. I woke up each day thinking it could not get any better than the day before and yet it was just as good or better due in large part to the team of Proud African Safaris, and especially Adam Meshallu. I felt like I had been dropped in the middle of a National Geographic special. One of the things I love best about PAS is the fact that it is owned and operated by Adam, a native Tanzanian, a Maasai. His pride in his country and his business shine through in everything he does and says.

Adam subscribes to the road less traveled philosophy, and it serves him and his clients well. We would always notice most of the crowds around the gates of each park, but very few if any trucks in the areas we would explore. Case in point was Ndutu. We arrived to the park on Thursday evening and did some game driving. Adam was not happy with what we saw. Meanwhile, my father and I were just fine. We saw African wild cats, hyenas, jackals, etc. Adam decided we needed to wake up extra early Friday morning to head deeper into the park to explore. As we were driving in, other guides were saying they were leaving because no animals were there. Adam just shook his head, laughed, and we proceeded. Proceeded to have one of our best days, deep in Ndutu including seeing a mother cheetah with five cubs, another with three cubs, a pride of lions fresh from a wildebeest kill with blood covering their faces. Adam caught sight of vultures, and we tracked them down and found the wildebeest which was being feasted on by jackal and hyena with vultures waiting not-so-patiently for their turn. We never once saw another truck while we were in Ndutu! An unbelievable day!

My goal the entire trip became to spot an animal before Adam did. Never happened! You know you are somewhere special when by the end of your trip you have seen so many elephants, giraffes, antelopes that they barely elicit an "Oh, there are some elephants, etc.!" I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of animals we saw. I did not realize how much we would be able to see, in no particular order: banded mongoose, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, elephants, baboons, vervet monkeys, dik dik, Thomson's gazelle, Grant's gazelle, vultures, kingfishers, love birds, lilac breasted rollers, hornbills, kori bustard, many types of eagles, ostrich, secretary birds, owls, starlings, monitor lizard, hippos, storks, flamingos, cheetahs and cubs, lions/lionesses and cubs (including mating lions), black rhinos (6!), buffalo, jackals, serval cats, hyenas, gennets, bat eared foxes, hydrax, crocodile, at least 4 leopards (I don't know how Adam spotted the one in the grass!), black-and-white colobus monkeys, and I am sure I am forgetting some, especially birds of which Adam knew every single one.

The accommodations chosen for us were perfect, a nice mix of tented and lodges. I have tried to pick a favorite, but each had something that made it special whether the room itself, the food (all of it amazing), the service, the view or a combination. They were all unique.

Unfortunately for me, my battery charger stopped working near the beginning of our trip. Needless to say, it is impossible to buy a camera or charger when in the bush. I could not believe the extent to which Adam and the lodge staff worked to find a solution. I had resigned myself to having the memories but no photos. They would have none of that. Maria, an amazing electrician at Ngorongoro Serena, worked overnight to rig up a charger made out of an electrical plug, extra wires and tape. It was amazing! After a couple of days, that one also stopped working and once again Adam and the staff at the Serengeti Serena lodge scrambled to figure out a solution. They rigged up another charger for us, this one involving rubber bands. It carried me through the end of the trip.

Since I have returned, my friends have asked what my favorite part was. Once again, I can not choose. The animals certainly stand out big, but our cultural experiences were once-in-a-lifetime encounters. We visited the Hadzabe, the Dagoda and the Maassai. When we were planning the trip, I worried that the visits could be exploitative on our part. I did not want to visit the tribes, stick a camera in their faces and leave. I really worried about that. I was so thankful that my worries were unfounded. Adam ensured that this was not the case. We interacted and spent quality time with the tribes with no time schedules. It felt very comfortable (I thought we were going to lose my dad to the Hadza. I think he would have joined them!). If we had chosen not to do the visits, we would have missed out on a huge part of our experience.

This was truly one of the most special moments in my life and my father's too. He said that if he died tomorrow, he will have seen everything he wanted to see.

If anyone has questions for me, I would love to answer. I could go on and on about our experience. I am running out of people to tell it to! HA!

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