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

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Jul 4th, 2012, 12:30 PM
  #1
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Father/Daughter Trip to Tanzania May 2012 with Proud African Safaris

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!
stephanienfb is offline  
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Jul 4th, 2012, 02:20 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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How nice to read about a father/daughter trip and the excitement expressed.

Like you, on one visit I blew my charger the first night and though I had back-up batteries, knew I'd need a fix or new charger somewhere along the way. Couldn't find one in Nairobi, but at one camp along the way, the owner went into his 'skunks rooms' and whatever he did worked sufficiently to recharge my batteries that lasted the balance of my safari.

While you mentioned a combo of lodges and tent camps, specifically indicating Arumeru in Arusha, the Serena at Ngo, and another Serena elsewhere... could you please list your itinerary - where visited (park), how many days in each area, where stayed (lodge/camp)... helpful for other planning routing and places to lay their heads!

Next question? Are you planning a return visit?

Welcome home in the meantime!
sandi is offline  
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Jul 4th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Hi over here too. The planning thread was on safaritalk.
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Jul 4th, 2012, 04:41 PM
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stephanie, I too would be interested in your itinerary and dates if not being too forward. I think my wife and I spoke to you and your dad a couple of times but I can not recall which lodge or camp. May have been a couple. We were on the northern circuit May 18 thru May 27.
Dick
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Jul 5th, 2012, 12:44 AM
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Thanks for a great perspective on your trip. You sound so happy
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Jul 5th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Love the enthusiasm that comes through in your trip report. I felt just the same after my first trip to Africa - also Tanzania. If you're like the rest of us, you are already dreaming and planning of the next trip to Africa
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Jul 5th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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Not too forward at all, Dick. We were there May 19-28th. We arrived in Arusha on the 7:45p flight into Kilimanjaro and went directly to the Arumeru River Lodge. My father wanted to eat first and then head to the room. Our first meal in Africa was delicious. I had red bean soup and sweet potato gnocchi. I was not sure what to expect in the way of food, but this set the bar high. Our room was comfortable, the lodge very accommodating.

Day 2: Tarangire. We had thought about skipping Tarangire because it was a bit out of the way, but I am so glad we did not. What a beautiful park! Nandi at PAS had said it is her husband's favorite park, so we figured we should do it not knowing if we would ever get a chance to return. We wanted to cover as much ground as possible, and I nor my dad regret this at all. That night we stayed at Kikoti Tented Lodge, another beautiful setting with great food (especially the potatoes! I skipped dessert for the potatoes!) and hospitality. Adam is not one to sleep in, so we were up almost every day and ready to go before sunrise and stayed out until just before sunset. I am sure he would have let us do so if we wanted, but my father is an early riser and so am I, so why not get the most out of each day, right??

Day 3: Game drove further into Tarangire. Headed to Lake Manyara and stayed at the Ngorongoro Farmhouse which as our other accommodations was lovely.

Day 4: Woke up very early to head to Lake Eyasi to visit the Hadza and the Dagota. It was a long drive but very worth it, and the drive itself was an adventure as we saw many sights along the way. Headed into the Ngorongoro Conservation area and stayed at the Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge. Excellent customer service by Maria the electrician as she stayed up much of the night trying to create a makeshift charger for me. The only thing I did not like here was the charge for Adam our guide to eat with us; however, he spoke with the staff, and they did take the charges off which made us happy.

Day 5: Sunrise in Ngorongoro crater, game driving and breakfast at the hippo pool. We were the only ones there which was amazing. As we were leaving more groups were coming. Adam had a knack for avoiding the crowds. Once again stayed at Serena.

Day 6: Did sleep in a little this day and headed out of Ngorongoro to Oldupai Gorge. We also visited a Maasai village. Adam went out of his way to visit a village that does not get as many tourists. It was a great experience. We headed to Ndutu, checked into Ndutu Lodge and headed out for an evening game drive. Ndutu Lodge was great. Love the gennets who hang out in the rafters of the restaurant/lounge area. Felt very far from reality. The sky was incredible.

Day 7: Adam was not happy with our game drive in Ndutu the evening before, so we woke up early to try again. I described this in my first post above. It was an awesome day, and we were the only ones out that we ever saw once past the immediate vicinity of the entrance. Headed from Ndutu to Seronera. Beautiful drive. Stayed at the Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge. Nice lodging. Beautiful pool, amazing food.

Day 8: Game drove Seronera. Stayed at Serena for a second night. These two nighters were when we had our laundry done.

Day 9: Headed to the western corridor. Stayed at the Mbalageti Tented camp, one of my favorites. The sky was indescribable. The atmosphere of the lodge as well. I loved our tent, and the animal sounds at night!

Day 10: The air strip in the west was closed so we headed back to the central area and caught a flight back to Arusha. Spent the day with Zubeda (PAS office manager who is one of the most amazing women I have ever met) doing some shopping at the market and having lunch at her home with her family. Finally, a sad farewell to Tanzania as we headed to the airport and back home.

And yes, I will be going back!! Already thinking of my next trip! It is the most special place I have ever been.
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Jul 6th, 2012, 04:41 AM
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Stephanie, thanks for the itinerary. Checked against ours and seems we spoke to another twosome. But, like others above you had a great one especially with Dad.
Dick
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Jul 6th, 2012, 02:51 PM
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Thanks for the balance of your itinerary. And again, great to read about a Father-and-Daughter 'on the road' trip!
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