Trip of a Lifetime and Celebrating 200 🎉

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community!  Believe it or not, this newsletter is number 200!!  I enjoy writing each issue and put in consistent effort as I think they are a valuable source of travel information and inspiration.  I hope you do as well.  

All my newsletters are posted on the ‘blog’ section of the website in case you ever want to search on a destination or past issue. And feel free to share the sign up link with anyone you think would enjoy receiving them: 

In honor of the milestone, I thought back on what I most wanted to reshare with you, and that’s my incredible safari experience in Tanzania, Africa in November 2022.  It’s a trip I think about regularly and am so grateful I had the experience.  It was life-changing on multiple levels.

When I plan safaris, for both first-timers and repeat trips, they are customized to fit your vision and interests.  While I went to Tanzania, you might enjoy South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, or even Madagascar.  My go-to partner with deep local ties works across the African continent.  You’re in good hands with us wherever you choose to go. 

If you have a safari on your travel bucket list, don’t hesitate to contact me. And in the meantime, read on for the scoop about my experience on safari in Tanzania…

Up, Up and Away

It was well worth the pre-sunrise wake-up call to be able to take a hot air balloon ride. Before takeoff, I saw the sunrise, a large hippo walking toward the water, and the process of blowing up an enormous hot air balloon.

Once airborne, the sensation of floating and peace is surreal, and viewing the Serengeti from above was truly breathtaking. I saw many animals traversing the plains but without a serious camera, I was unable to get quality photos. My memory will have to suffice. Luckily, I had binoculars which are essential on safari.

A glass of champagne is customary at the end of a hot air balloon ride – cheers!

Tanzania’s Border with Kenya

After the balloon ride, we drove to the Kenya border in the northern Serengeti of Tanzania. The wide-open, golden plains truly spoke to me. It was easy to see incredible wildlife, including a lion resting after a kill, a large group of elephants together under a lone acacia tree, and a leopard hiding in the brush.

To cap off this unforgettable day, the sundowner sunset gathering was majestic. The view from a large, flat rock was incredibly poignant as I sipped my drink and watched the sunset spread a rainbow of colors across the plains.  A sundowner is cocktail hour at sunset in Africa.

💎Hidden Gem Tip: If you have a quality camera or can borrow one, be sure to bring it on safari. The same recommendation applies to good binoculars so you can see wildlife in the distance.

Unique Rock Formations

On the drive to the airport the next morning to catch my second small charter flight to the eastern side of the Serengeti, I was not only impressed by the abundant wildlife but also the rock formations. The rocky landscape was created after a volcano eruption thousands of years ago and is beautiful. I saw a Lion King-type “pride rock” and a tree that had grown out of a rock. This tree’s roots were visible cascading down the side of the rock and had been bleached white by the sun.

Wildlife Bonanza

I kept a running list of the African wildlife I saw on this day (much of it up close to the 4×4):

  • Stalking leopard (looking for his next meal)
  • Superman lizard (he’s red and blue!)
  • Giraffes (eating, walking, resting)
  • Zebras (running in packs)
  • Wildebeests (literally thousands)
  • Wart Hogs (just like Pumba)
  • Cape Buffalo (gorgeous creatures)
  • Ostrich (the males are colorful and the females plain hues of brown)
  • Lilac-breasted rollers (stunning, colorful bird)
  • Fish Eagle (with a creature in its talons)
  • Hippos in the water (they are incredible when they open their mouths)
  • Crocodiles (between the hippos and the crocs, the water is extremely dangerous)
  • Hyena (they aren’t as ugly as you think)

Inspired? Reach out to me now for 2024-2025 and schedule a chat here:

Wishing you and your family amazing and unforgettable travel adventures,


NEW Section: Travel News You Can Use

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Safaris are best booked a year in advance but at least 6 months out for the best availability.  Camps and lodges aren’t huge and so have limited space.  

Fun Facts – the food at my favorite places is incredibly delicious, and the staff wil provide a level of care and service that you will never forget!  I fondly remember the Massai warriors who escorted me around the property ready to protect me from lions, elephants and all manner of creatures.

Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Make your own Wanderlist for 2024! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you. Check it out here:

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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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