Awaken to Africa—Best custom wildlife safaris to Tanzania: Serengeti, Tarangire, Selous, Mahale
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Aroon Nataraj and Aarthi Subramani

We absolutely loved our safari with Awaken to Africa. It was a phenomenal experience, very well-arranged, and we had the time of our lives.

Our guide Justin was exceptionally good. He was our expert driver, guide, wildlife encyclopedia and our life-line to the outside world throughout the trip. He was friendly and very easy to get along with. He made our trip comfortable and acquiesced to our requests for early morning game drives nearly every day. He made sure the vehicle was cleaned every day. . . . His sense of humor was great.

Importantly, we felt he was always trying to be a responsible guide in terms of balancing the animals' need for space with our need to see them. While many of the other vehicles would literally surround and impede a big cat from hunting, Justin always knew when to stop. We appreciated his sense of respect towards the animals.

 
 



 

Roman Kurywczak (Romain with Roman Photo Tours)

One thing that really impressed me on this tour was the level of luxurious accommodations that Grace arranged for my tour. They have the absolute best drivers/guides and David (part owner), Steven, and Albert did not disappoint! Their spotting ability and knowledge is second to none!

   
 



 
 
 
Kaibin Hu / Jackie Chan

We had such an amazing time... we loved the trip, and couldn't have asked for anything better. David was fabulous, and we feel super lucky to have had him as our tour guide. We saw some incredible animal behavior and captured really nice photos and videos. The accommodations were great, and the staff at each of the camps was extremely professional and helpful. We also enjoyed meeting the other guests who had had such interesting life stories and travels they shared.

 
 



 

Martin & Pam Edel and Richard & Mary Felix

We were very satisfied with the pre-safari information and service. We felt that Grace always was there to answer our questions (which she did with good humor and grace).

We went to Tanzania with lofty expectations for the safari. Our expectations were surpassed by the experience created, principally by David. David was great. For a first safari, the experience was fantastic. I cannot say enough positive things about David. He is incredibly knowledgeable about Tanzania, bird life (which he made surprisingly interesting), animal life and plant life. To make his points, David from time to time went off road to show us particular phenomena. One was the unique stature of the acacia trees with their thorns and how giraffes feed off the plant but other animals do not because the thorns are sharp and taking one results in ants swarming. David also described and then showed us how flora and fauna worked together to create the uniqueness of Tanzania. He also, as I described above, took us off road to find things out of the ordinary - striped hyenas, wild dogs and an incredible view of the wildebeest migration. David also was aware of our needs - he did not push us unduly and always was willing to go out in the late afternoon to see something new and different or to see the same animals, but from a different perspective. David also made sure that the vehicle was well stocked each day with water and cookies. David was a great spotter too. I do not know how he did it, finding lions in the grass, leopards on trees that were seemingly invisible, cheetahs stalking, and so much more. I know that everyone says they had the best guide. I know, however, that we could not have had a better guide and friend on our safari.

Grace, you and David are treasures. Do not change anything you do.

   
 



 
 
 
John and Vernelle Prather

Our safari could not have been better. It was clearly the most enjoyable vacation we have ever had. Unbelievable--David is really an outstanding guide, fun to be with, and a wonderful person.

 
 



 

Janet Makowsky

My safari exceeded all my expectations. I feel so privileged that I had David all to myself as my personal guide. He's a treasure ... truly amazing. I was fascinated by everything I saw - not only the many, many animals, right down to the tiniest caterpillar, but even the flora in its many forms. Candelabra and "Sausage" trees - who knew? David patiently explained everything we saw. I felt like a sponge soaking up all the information with child-like wonderment. I loved the relaxed pace and flexibility of each day ... there was always something new and interesting to see in every direction.

The "Migration"! Did David tell you what we saw? The first day in the Serengeti, we went looking for the wildebeest migration. I was thrilled by what we saw that day ... only to be overwhelmed the next couple of days when we kept being stopped in our tracks and surrounded by thousands and thousands of wildebeest as far as the eye could see. An absolutely incredible sight that I'll never forget. I couldn't believe our luck to be in the right place in the Serengeti, at the right time, to see this amazing migration. Oh - and the mid-May weather couldn't have been better the entire time. Even with a little rain in the Ngorongoro Crater, it was perfect. I would go back to Tanzania in a heartbeat - as long as David could be my guide.

   
 



 
 
 
Kim Hales and Friends

We were kept informed throughout the process and were impressed by how quickly the trip came together. The safari was well-planned and extremely well-executed. We were able to visit 4 parks and saw more animals than we could have hoped and were also able to visit a Maasai village, which we really enjoyed. We loved every minute of the safari experience!!

We enjoyed the mix of lodges and camps but especially enjoyed the permanent tented camp in the Serengeti. It was amazing to be right in the bush with the animals all around us, and the service there was amazing!

David was amazing! Not only could he spot animals from miles away, but he was able to answer all our questions and kept us entertained with his incredible stories and delightful personality. He clearly had our interests at heart and worked to give us the best experience possible. I will recommend David to everyone I know who is contemplating a trip to Africa!

 
 



 

Kathy and Greg Cox

We had a fabulous time, and David is truly the best. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable but he was funny and engaging in a low-key way. He always had a real smile for us and truly cared. His storytelling was one of the most special parts of the trip. You felt like you made a new friend.

   
 



 
 
 
Tammy and Rob Hammond

David is like part of our family. We will change our dates of travel to have David as our guide (which we did this year). Evarest does a great job of getting us back to the airport in time. David has the ability to get you in perfect position to see the animals and provide information that makes the experience a life-changing event. David is amazing at finding the animals. We can be ½ mile away and he sees the animals no matter the terrain. At "bush TV" each night when travelers compare their experiences, ours was by far 100 times better than anyone else. We also nicknamed David the "Mayor". Everywhere you travel all the guides and lodges know David. You can tell all the other guides look up to David and seek information from him.

 
 



 

Sam, Cathy, Shana and Colin Simon

An experience of a lifetime, to be sure. We left a piece of our family heart in Tanzania--in the warmth and security of David's hands, which we trust will keep it safe for our return one day soon. Our thanks to you and David for leading us on a journey and adventure that so many can only dream of. And even our dreams fell far short of reality.

   
 



 
 
 
Clyde Peeling, Director
Clyde Peeling's Reptiland
An AZA Accredited Specialized Zoo

Over the past 45 years I've led many trips to remote places, and I can say without reservation that traveling with Awaken to Africa is as good as it gets. From the moment we landed at Kilimanjaro Airport until we departed two weeks later every aspect of the safari went smoothly. My group could not have been happier. Your attention to detail is exceptional.

 
 



 

Lisa Martin and Mike Logan

Grace was extremely helpful in planning our trip. Prior to contacting Awaken to Africa, I spent considerable time researching the area and had fairly detailed list of places and activities we wanted to include in our vacation. Grace and I spent several hours on the phone and many emails revising the itinerary until we had the perfect trip. Throughout that process, never once did she make me feel like I was being too particular. Awaken to Africa truly cares about making sure you have the trip you always dreamed of. While there are literally hundreds of tour companies out there, I can't imagine we would ever have received the level of service, quality and expertise that we did with Awaken to Africa.

David was an amazing guide. His knowledge of the wildlife and the area was very impressive. He provided details and behaviors on most animals or birds that we encountered. One of the highlights of our trip was a pride of 23 lions that David spotted due to his understanding of animal behavior. Mike and I would get excited every time David would stop the truck and pick up his binoculars because we knew that he may have just spotted the next animal. David was also very knowledgeable on Tanzanian history and culture. He was consistently pointing out different features or aspects of African life. He was able to answer just about every question we had no matter how trivial or random. We would definitely recommend David and Awaken to Africa to all of our friends and family.

   
 



 
 
Judie Stern

I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed Steven's professionalism, patience, knowledge and friendship while traveling with us. We were truly sad to leave him when we flew off to Zanzibar. He was great company and I feel that he enjoyed our company too.

 
 
 
 
Gael Turk

Absolutely grand! I adore safaris and this was my first, but surely will not be my last. Our guide was Steven, and I think he is the best possible. He was so knowledgeable with the animals and especially the birds.

 
 
 
 
Ben Smith

Grace was extremely responsive and helpful in answering all questions. She also stepped in to directly help book flights as needed and provide additional help not typical of the position. The pre-safari materials were all well written and very helpful.

I think the differentiators of Awaken to Africa were:

  • High degree of personal care: We always felt like you guys were focused on our itinerary rather than being one of many.
  • Flexibility to tailor the safari to our preference: Pre-trip planning was fit to what we wanted to do/see and during the trip our guide was able to adapt the experience to our preferences rather than sticking to a set schedule.
  • Extremely knowledgeable and experienced guides.

 
 
 
 
Laila Shetty and Tim Coppens

We had an unbelievable experience, despite only being there 8 days. We were able to see many different aspects of Tanzania which gave us a very rich impression of the country.

David was a fantastic guide and a wonderful person to travel with. We enjoyed hearing his knowledge about Tanzania, the culture and the animals on our safari. He was also very patient and flexible with us and we truly appreciate him taking us to Lake Manyara. He is a very kind and warm person and obviously has a lot of experience, so we really felt lucky to have had him as our guide.

We would highly recommend him to any of our friends/family when they would ever decide to do a safari in Tanzania.

 
 
 
 
 
Tiffani McCoy

I'd done a great deal of research and made a number of calls and inquiries about what kind of safari I wanted. I've never been more frustrated, and I was about to put the thought of going on safari on hold until next year. That's when I found Awaken to Africa, and my whole outlook changed. Grace talked to me for an hour without ever knowing if I would use Awaken to Africa. She heard what I wanted and talked extensively and knowledgeably about what kind of trip I would most enjoy!

David was awesome… knowledgeable, friendly and very sweet. He was the perfect match for me and the experience that I wanted. He could tell me everything about the animals, and could spot even the smallest wildlife. I have the most amazing photos of a chameleon. Also, as a woman traveling alone, I felt as though I were in great hands.

 
 



 

Brian and Heather Carroll

We really want to say thank you to both you and David for making the trip a once in a lifetime experience. We can't possibly say enough about how great David was as a guide. Our first day driving from Arusha into Oliver's camp in Tarangire was so unbelievable that he almost spoiled us for the rest of the trip. We literally saw so many leopards and cheetah (four of each) that we didn't realize how special it was to see one. We haven't stopped talking about David's ability to spot a leopard in a tree from 300 yards at 30 miles an hour. I still don't understand how he does that.

In addition to being a great guide on our drives, we really enjoyed being able to hear stories from David around the campfire and at dinner, and have him teach us a little Swahili. We were really entertained by how many people David knew along the way, and impressed with how well respected he was everywhere we stopped. The other guests we met were also excited to talk to David at dinners. It always feels a little bit good when other safari-goers are jealous of your guide.

Everything else was perfect.

   
 



 
 
Kathy Madden

Every aspect of the trip surpassed my expectations. We could not have found a better trip anywhere. Like everyone else who travels with David we could not have had a better guide. He is so knowledgeable as well as hospitable.

You seem to be doing things right. Personal detail, customized trips, value for money. Don't change anything.

 
 
 
 
Diane McEntee

Our trip couldn't have been better. We have memories that will last a lifetime (or until we book our next safari with Awaken to Africa).

 
 
 
 
 
Betty Ann and Art Lee

David was the best!! He was extremely knowledgeable about the animals & spotted animals in the wild that we would have NEVER seen. He has a tremendous personality & was ever mindful of our desires on this safari. We had many days of wondrous viewing of all the animals in their habitats & all of the side trips with the local tribes were truly memorable. On our last day, David arranged for us to go to a Maasai Wedding Ceremony!! Quite an adventure. Art and I became immersed in their culture and really became a part of their day/traditions. David was truly intuitive about what each of us would like to experience on a safari…. capturing memorable photos to herding goats/cattle with the young boys along the road.

Our lodgings were extremely comfortable and the rooms were like something out of a decorating magazine. The food was great & we even gained a few pounds due to the lavish meals.

I was worried that it would be hard to please a dedicated photographer with a non-photographer, but the extra activities that were provided proved to be unforgettable experiences for both of us.

 
 



 

Grace and David,

I just wanted to thank you for the excellent job you did in putting together my 2010 Tanzania tour. Your attention to detail was evident throughout the safari as all the accommodations put us in breathtaking locations and exceeded my expectations. The meals were also very good with plenty of choices for the different palettes.

My clients and I were also thrilled with the professionalism and knowledge of David and the other drivers and their ability to spot wildlife and get us into the best possible position to photograph them.

I can't say enough about your efforts and I look forward to planning my next photo safari with you both for many years to come!

   
 



 
 
 
Jim and Nancy Beha

Everyone told us that the skills of your driver guide make or break the trip. David did make our trip a wonderful experience! He was a most informative and likeable guide, with eyes that spotted animals with amazing skill. We not only appreciated his skills but were pleased to become his friends.

All of the airport transfers, hotel arrangements and internal flights were managed very well, with someone there at every step to walk us through.

The opportunity to observe wildlife was everything we hoped for, and more. You expect to "see" these animals of course, but there is an added element of wonder in watching large numbers of them, the young and the old, going about their lives, grazing, washing, mating, and migrating, without feeling that the observers are disrupting their routine. We were often within twenty or thirty feet of giraffe, elephant, zebras, lions, and many other animals—once even that close to lion cubs!

The camp experience was a great adventure. It's a long way from "roughing it" when you are served cocktails and all your meals in high style and in your spacious "tent" you sleep in a queen-size bed, but it is great fun and a unique window on the surrounding country, particularly when you hear the not-so-distant animal cries at night.

This was a totally new experience for us. Grace answered every question (and we had many), and she very helpfully guided us through the planning process with patience and care. She, in consultation with David, made sure we booked in exactly the right location in the Serengeti to catch the "migration" at this time of year.

Zanzibar is an intriguing way to finish the trip. Even though it is only a very short plane ride away, the Moslem culture and architecture is a complete change. The Bungalows up near the northeastern end of the island were charming and serene.

 
 



 
The Ho Family—Dr. David, Susan, Jaclyn, and Jonathan

Fantastic experience, which was truly once in a lifetime.

   
 



 
 
 
Joe and Gen Martino

We had a trip of a lifetime. Thank you and David for all your time and efforts to make it so special!

 
 



 
Stuart and Norma Nicholson

We have had the most magical, fantastic experience on our safari and we can't speak highly enough of your organisation. From the moment we were met at Arusha airport it went like clockwork.

Our guide/driver/mentor, and now we'd like to think friend, Bill was excellent. His knowledge of wildlife was unsurpassed and his ability to spot birds and animals was unbelievable. He always seemed to have us in the right place at the right time. As a result we saw some awe inspiring sights incuding a cheetah teaching her 4 young how to achieve a kill (she was successful) to births of wildebeest and zebra. We could bore you for weeks with our stories, as we are already doing to our friends.

We give Awaken to Africa 10 out of 10 and shall certainly recommend you to anyone thinking of going on safari.

   
 



 
 
William Hallmark

Elaine and I want to express our profound gratitude for the marvelous trip you organized so beautifully for us. David, you could not have been more perfect for our group. Your willingness to meet our every request and your incredible knowledge of the flora and fauna were off the charts. Nuru was equally well informed and customer oriented. We grew very fond of both David and Nuru during the course of the trip. And the variety and quality of the camps and lodges you selected for us was outstanding. We can actually say that we saw up close every animal that we imagined we might see as well as many others we did not even know existed. The close up observation of the 7 lionesses and 5 cubs hunting a herd of zebras, and the cheetah hunt and kill were fascinating. All the while we enjoyed sumptuous meals and friendly service no matter how primitive the surrounding environs.

 
 
 
 
 
Terry Carter

For so many reasons this trip ranks as the best trip I have ever taken. Surrounded by one's children, guided by the likes of David and Nuru, observing a little part of Africa in action I was in a trance. Your flexibility and help in personalizing this safari were invaluable. Should we be fortunate enough to return, we will ask only for Awaken to Africa and David. David is a special person. He respects his land and nature. He doesn't take you from the lion to the hippo to the elephant, but he lingers, pauses and shows you the details along the way. He shows you the special places, the little details that many guides either miss or don't think people would be interested. I have often told others that guides cannot guarantee weather nor the animals nor the animal behavior nor the fishing. But, what a guide like David and Nuru can guarantee is that they will do their very best to take you, put you in places for opportunity. And do their best they did and their best is as good as it gets.

 
 



 

Susan Poole

Our safari was everything we asked for and dreamed of—and then more! David is the consummate tour guide. He was thoughtful and considerate of our needs and what a wealth of knowledge. And his sense of humor is great—he had us in stitches on more than one occasion. I don't think anyone else on safari got as much of an education as we did!! We saw so much more than just the animals (what can I say about the animals—INCREDIBLE), but also stopping along the way for birds, bugs and trees. And Grace, when we asked to see "real people" of Tanzania—wow. We truly were honored and very humbled by our time spent in Usa River with Joseph Kitia and his tour of the schools. No words can really describe spending time in the classrooms with the darling children. And everyone we met along the way was so friendly and welcoming. And the topper, what can I say about meeting Mama Anna and the women and men of the Agape group. We had such a fun time with them and learned so much.

Grace—what a great job in selecting places for us to stay. Each one had such a unique feel to it and of course, our hosts and hostess were so friendly and welcoming.

   
 



 
 
Paul Reckwerdt

David—we had a great time with you. You will be a successful man and your many guests will go home with a great love of your country and the people of Tanzania. Keep up the great work.

 
 
 
 
 

Ken Fields and Alice Preston

We recently returned from an eight-day safari organized for us by Grace Evans and led by David Mshana and wish to thank them both for an unforgettable experience. Each place we visited had its own unique charm, as did each accommodation. We spent three nights in the Serengeti at an excellent tented camp (hot showers, exceptional food, comfortable beds) being serenaded by the lions and hyenas while we slept. On the way out of the Serengeti we visited several kopjes to see the Maasai painting on the entrance to a cave in one them, and then stopped at the Olduvai Gorge of Mary Leakey fame. We then spent two nights of luxury on the rim of Ngorongoro, spending one day inside the crater and the other hiking down into the extraordinary Empakaai, and then a night at an equally luxurious resort near Lake Manyara that was staffed by local Maasai, two of whom accompanied us on a terrific two hour hike to a large waterfall. Night seven was in Tarangire in another comfortable tent with an incredible view of the river and the families of elephants passing to and fro, and finally we spent our last night at a beautiful lodge on a hilltop in Arusha that has possibly the finest French restaurant in all of Africa.

 
 



Having a safari as good as this one depends crucially on the organizer (thank you Grace) and your guide, and we cannot say enough about the extraordinary abilities of Mr. David Mshana. His ability to spot cats in particular seems nothing short of extrasensory. We wouldn't have believed it possible for someone to spot animals as he did, time and time again, had we not witnessed it ourselves. He also has a keen insight into animal behavior. We watched a cheetah for half an hour before it finally leaped out of the grass and chased down a gazelle. We were ready to give up on it twenty minutes earlier, but David kept assuring us that it really was going to hunt. He also knows the names of all the birds, and will see them before you do. We might also add that David is an intelligent and thoughtful man. If we return to Tanzania, he will be our choice to guide us again.

   
 
 
 

Susan and Vits Vitums

Our safari in Tanzania was the trip of a lifetime, exceeding all expectations. David Mshana was an extraordinary guide, with vast knowledge of the national parks and the animals and birds living there.

In addition, he was extremely personable, which made it difficult to say goodbye at the end of the trip. We feel so very fortunate to have had him as our guide! There are not enough superlatives to describe our experience with him.


Jan-Georg Hoffmann

David Mshana made our trip in 2000 through Tanzania a wonderful experience! His good humour and extensive knowledge of the animals and nature was the key to a successful vacation and terrific safari. Personally I have been on many safaris in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. David Mshana is amongst the best.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Charles Johnson

Patsy and I met David Mshana in November 2005. He was our driver and guide on a 10 day safari around Tanzania. He did such an excellent job for us; it was our best trip ever. With his eagle eyes we didn't miss a thing, seeing the Big Five several times. His understanding of the country and animals made for a great holiday.

I can heartily recommend any tour David is the guide on as there is absolutely no one better. He approached his work as a professional, and communicated well and with enthusiasm. It is more than a job for him, it is in his heart.

I have told lots of people about how beautiful Tanzania is and to try to get David as their guide. When I return to Tanzania I want David as my guide.

 
 
 
 

I took my first trip to Africa in 2005 on a tour with Boyd Norton. On our first day in the Ngorongoro Crater, I quickly realized how important a good guide is to the success of a photo expedition.

David Mshana was my guide and his knowledge of the region and wildlife and his ability to spot creatures hidden from the rest of us was key to capturing great photos and learning about life in Tanzania's natural world.

   
 
 
 
 
Eileen Doll and Frank Morel

It has been over a year since we returned from our first Tanzanian safari. But the memory of David Mshana and his contribution to our adventure remain vivid. In reviewing daily journals, I recorded the sighting and photography of MORE ANIMALS AND MORE BIRDS when David "led" the group vehicle. (On one of our last "treks", I pleaded with 2 vehicle occupants to let us ride with David… to log and photograph "just one more new bird"—fortunately, it worked!!)

Of course, no birds are "new" to David…this is his expertise…Information about the sighting of lions, elephants, leopards and cheetahs is communicated "real time" via radio amongst safari guides (so that all tourists can share in the experience)…but sightings of particular birds are not…this is where David excels—in finding and identifying the more gentle and subtle species.

We experienced Africa through the eyes of a kind, quietly humorous, sensitive, caring and knowledgeable Tanzanian native…and cannot wait to go again!

 
 
 
 
 
Caroline Melberg

One of the best things about our safari was being with guides like David who understood all of the animal's behaviors—as a seriously obsessed amateur photographer this was invaluable to me and was the only reason my husband and I were able to take great shots like these.

It's one thing to understand our equipment and know how to use it (every amateur photographer does that). It's quite another thing to have an experienced guide who can put us in the situations like David did to capture these types of photos. Since I was 7 years old I've looked at photos from Africa in National Geographic and dreamed of someday going there. The problem is—National Geographic photographers spend months and years getting familiar with the continent and the animals. I only had a couple of weeks, so having an experienced guide like David who could explain the behaviors we were seeing and position us for great photos made all the difference.

My dream of taking photos in Africa that I could be proud to frame and give as gifts to friends and family came true because of it!

 
 
 
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