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Jeri Crews, Tanzania

Crews Family Safari to Tanzania: What Every Grandparent Wants to Hear...

Matthew, our 17-year-old grandson, wrote after our trip to Tanzania, ''I can't say how thankful I am for you guys making the trip to Africa possible for me. I loved and enjoyed every single moment we spent in Tanzania and I can honestly say that it was a life changing experience.''

When Bill and I were deciding how to celebrate our special anniversary, I found that I had waited too late to book a scheduled safari for fourteen members of our family for this summer. But then I discovered Wildland Adventures who offered to design a trip for us in our time frame with our family. What great good luck! The accomodations were wonderful and the food was delicious -- we quickly got used to omelets to order for breakfast! Who would believe turn down service for our king-sized bed in the wilds of Africa!

The first morning in Tarangire, Henley, our 10-year-old granddaughter, ran next door to our tent and whispered ''Papa Bill, there are elephants in our front yard!'' Indeed, there were four and when they were startled, they ran behind our tent and started trumpeting. Welcome to Africa!

That afternoon on our first game drive we saw three lionesses plotting their hunting strategy. They sniffed the wind and one sat down, the second started walking through the grass to her right, and the third walked down the road on our left. Amazing!

We visited a Maasai school and learned that some of the students walk two hours to school in the morning through land occupied by wildlife and then walk home that afternoon. If they are lucky, and if there is enough money, the teachers prepare porridge for them on a wood campfire for their breakfast and lunch. There is no electricity or running water and when we asked what they needed, the principal replied, ''everything.''One of our granddaughters, Abby wrote, ''I am really grateful for all of the supplies that are available to me at school. You really take that stuff for granted when you always expect it.''

We agreed that our most exciting adventure was being able to hunt with the WaHadzabe tribe -- better known as the Bushmen. All fourteen of us followed the young hunters through rough terrain and around thorn bushes. We saw one of them shoot a kudo with his bow and arrow and then climb a tree to get some honey from a hive while he was being bitten by the bees. Later some of us received lessons in how to shoot a bow and arrow and how to start a fire with two sticks. Finally, we danced in a circle with them while they sang -- just an amazing afternoon.

Patience, our city girl wrote, ''I've been telling everyone they need to go to Africa. Nobody can believe that is coming out of my mouth! This was a life changing experience in a positive way. I really have a greater appreciation for this earth we live on.''

Bill and I agree that it was one of the best investments we've ever made. The bottom line was the wonder and excitement and joy in our grandchildren's eyes.

Our lead guide, Dominic Maji, was amazing. Charles and Felix were great, too, but Dominic just made the trip come alive. He said, ''The little dik-dik wakes up in the morning, shakes himself, says 'I'm still alive, nothing ate me last night, so let's go.''