WHO: Liz Freeman, 57, and her husband, Joe Spear, 60, of Wakefield
WHEN: 2½ weeks in August
WHY: ''Since I was 8, I've been fascinated by Africa," said Liz Freeman. ''I don't know why."
FINDING A GUIDE: After researching several outfitters, Freeman heard from a friend about
TraveLearn (www.travelearn.com; 800-235-9114), which stresses educational opportunities.
A TALL ORDER: Before their tour started, Freeman had arranged for a stay at Giraffe Manor, just outside the capital, Nairobi. ''It's the only place in the world where you can feed giraffes from your second-floor bedroom," she said. ''I could have stayed there for days.
ON SAFARI: Their tour started in Nairobi, where guide Steve Kinuthia drove them to Safari Park Hotel. There, they met the California couple who traveled with them. The day included a visit to a boys' orphanage outside the city. The game sightings started with several elephants and a zebra, and the list grew from there. Hyenas with their babies, more elephants, a yellow baboon, wildebeests, gazelles, more elephants, and a multitude of birds.
ELEPHANT COUNTRY: The next day, they headed for the Amboseli Serena Lodge at the Amboseli Game Reserve, on the border of Tanzania and one of the best places in Africa to view elephants. Kinuthia took them to a Masai village. ''Women and men in separate lines sang a song of welcoming and a shaman led us in a welcoming prayer," Freeman said.
A FAMILIAR PLACE: Freeman was thrilled to visit the Amboseli Elephant Research Project's camp. The refuge, run by researcher Cynthia Moss, holds about 1,300 rescued elephants, and 1,000 are identified with names.
CAN'T GET ENOUGH: Another memorable elephant experience, Freeman said, was at the Samburu Game Reserve, the park associated with Elsa, the lion of ''Born Free," and Joy and George Adamson. Kinuthia had arranged for them to have breakfast along a river after their morning game drive, which resulted in many bird sightings, giraffes, a zebra, baboon tribe, impalas, and lions.
ANOTHER WILD PICNIC: Just over the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and onto the Serengeti in Tanzania, they picnicked while thousands of migrating wildebeest went by. ''They were all around you," Freeman said.
SWEET ENDING: At Sweetwaters Sanctuary in Kenya, they visited the chimp sanctuary founded by Jane Goodall. ''You climbed up to a viewing area over a giant enclosure. You could watch the chimps and ask questions. We took a little boat to an island area where they have younger chimps."