Witness the Great Migration where millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle brave lion and crocodile to find fresh grass on a long and perilous journey.
The Serengeti plains are among the most revered on the planet by wildlife enthusiasts, for they play host to one of the most untouched and unimaginable spectacles in the animal kingdom. This is the home of the Great Migration, when millions of wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles follow an ancient clockwise route around the greater Serengeti ecosystem, hopelessly at the mercy or prides of lions, stalking leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, crocodiles and more. Triumphantly, the herds calve, and the cycle repeats every year.
This safari begins at the Ngorongoro Crater, a very deserved UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, in the gigantic caldera of an ancient volcano, the milling herds draw together before setting out on their perilous journey each year. The crater floor is a fertile eden of well-watered grasslands, and holds a large amount of wildlife throughout the year. This, combined with the unique landscape, makes it worth seeing on any trip, and serves as a great introduction to the Serengeti.
Bear in mind that the precise movements of the Great Migration each year depends on the rain cycle, so in order to ensure the best possible trip, please do Enquire for our up-to-date advice on which camps would be best for your potential dates.
At the beginning of this period, the herds gather in and around the Ngorongoro Crater conservancy, and over time they slowly spread out into the central and southern areas of the Serengeti itself. The herds are looking for the safety that wide open grasslands offer due to the limited cover for predators, as they are about to calve. The nutritional value of these lush green grasses are at their best just after the November rains, and so the timing is perfect. The spectacle as millions of animals calve is incredible, and inevitably predators find a way to take advantage, and intense struggles ensue.
The herds gather at the crater, but their numbers are vast and so they spread quickly into the main Serengeti area. Thus, to ensure that you see as much of the action as possible, the second stop on this safari is in the southwestern part of the Serengeti. This also provides you with a better appreciation for the variety of scenery that this vast ecosystem offers, and you now have access to woodlands and rocky outcrops that offer breathtaking views.
If your intended dates are for the December - April period, expect to see the Crater at its fullest, the beauty of new life as the herds calve, and the dramatic struggle for survival as the herds try to keep their young safe while predators swoop in.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania. Occupying approximately 8 300 square kilometres, it extends over parts of the Rift Valley of eastern Africa and contains a diversity of habitats and landscapes, including grassland plains, savannah woodlands, forests, mountains, a volcanic crater, lakes, rivers and swampland. Also located in the Crater are the major archaeological sites of Olduvai Gorge and Laetolil. The area is part of the Serengeti ecosystem and, to the northwest, adjoins the Serengeti National Park and is contiguous with the southern Serengeti Plains. The Serengeti is Tanzania’s largest and most highly-recognised national park, with the ecosystem extending beyond the park to include several conservation areas and reserves, including the Maasai Mara in Kenya. A recently proclaimed seventh world-wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual great migration, when millions of hooves pound the open plains as zebra and Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest in search of fresh grazing.
In the Maasai language, Serengeti means “endless plains”, and is an apt description of Tanzania’s largest and most highly recognised national park. This massive ecosystem actually extends beyond the park to include several conservation areas and reserves, including the Ngorongoro conservation area and the Maasai Mara in Kenya. A recently proclaimed seventh world-wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual great migration, when millions of hooves pound the open plains as zebra and Thomson’s gazelle join the wildebeest in search of fresh grazing. The herds are stalked by prides of lion, spotted hyena, striped hyena, golden jackal, side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal. The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the world’s most complex and least-disturbed ecosystems, and with the climate alternating between dusty summer droughts to green winters and lush springs, with open plains transformed into endless green carpets splashed with wildflowers, there is always something new waiting around the next corner.
Located on the Ngorongoro Crater rim in the Ngorongoro National Park, the Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp provides the best setting for a nature lover’s dream with its spectacular views of the unique landscape and a diversity of wildlife leading from the Crater rim to its floor. The Ngorongoro National Park indulges guests with invigorating game drives to the Crater floor, combining special scenery with diverse wildlife. With approximately 30 000 animals roaming around the park’s vast landscapes, it is a game viewing gem. The area in which the camp is situated is home to a large variety of wildlife including zebra, wildebeest, hippo, buffalo, elephant and an amazing population of predators including lion, hyena, jackal, cheetah and leopard.
10 luxury tented suites offer en-suite bathrooms with an indoor bucket shower and stunning views of the surrounds. The main common area includes a dining area, bar and lounge area as well as comfortable sofas carefully situated in prime locations around the camp.
Twice-daily game drives are led by highly-trained and knowledgeable guides in an open 4x4 game viewing vehicle. The guides will take you to the Crater floor to witness the massive variety of animals, including its impressive population of predators. Guests can also enjoy guided walking safaris and cultural interactions by visiting the nearby Maasai villages.
The main feature of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority is the Ngorongoro Crater. Situated within the plains of south-east Serengeti, this breathtaking natural wonder is approximately 20km across, 600 meters deep and has a surface area of about 300 square kilometres.
The Crater floor is mostly open grassland, home to lush green, rain-watered vegetation, as well as desert plants. The Crater bush is covered by open short-grass plains with fresh and brackish-water lakes, marshes, swamps, and two patches of Acacia woodland. The rolling plains to the west are grass-covered with occasional Umbrella Acacia and Commiphora Africana trees.
The Crater, once a gigantic volcano, is the largest intact caldera in the world. A number of highly-endangered black rhino are protected within its rim, elephants wander its forest, black-maned lions track its grasslands, and flamingos crowd its salty lakes. An estimated 25 000 large mammals are resident in this bowl, including a population of approximately 6 000 resident wildebeest, and 70 lions. Cheetah move in and out of the Crater, while leopard are most often encountered in the picturesque Lerai Forest.
The Crater is the starting point for the annual migration when wildebeest, zebra and gazelle gather here in their thousands before setting off on the first leg of their journey around the Greater Mara Ecosystem early in the year, only to end back here at the end of the journey at year end.
Kusini Camp is perfectly situated atop a Kopje in a remote corner of southwest Serengeti. Surrounded by woodlands, the views from this rocky outcrop are spectacular, and it overlooks the plains where spotting wildlife is easy all year round. This eco-conscious camp is ideal for seeing the cheetah and the wildebeest that congregate on the grassy plain in the calving season from mid-December to March. When guests head out on their game drives they are likely to see zebra, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and various plains game, as well as cheetah and other predators.
The camp consists of 12 luxurious open-plan tents, spaced out to provide absolute privacy and exceptional views. Each tent has its own personal butler, en-suite bathrooms and a large private wooden veranda to take in the beauty of the vast plains. The camp’s communal areas include a dining area, lounge and library, as well as a campfire.
From bush breakfasts and private picnics, to sundowners on a kopje and three-course dinners, Kusini Camp offers an experience in true seclusion. Daily game drives are conducted by professional and knowledgeable guides who know every inch of the territory around the camp. This remote corner of this vast ecosystem never disappoints. At the end of your day, sundowners are a classic end to any day’s safari. At Kusini Camp they are truly spectacular as you climb the main Kopje to view the breathtaking sunsets with signature cocktails and snacks.
During the annual migration, over a million wildebeest, two hundred thousand zebra and four hundred thousand gazelle move throughout the southern and eastern plains of the Serengeti in an indistinct clockwise direction following the fresh green grass germinated by the rains.
It can be difficult to foretell the exactly path and timing of the migration, but if the rains had been on time, the broad pattern is reasonably predictable: From December to April, at the end of the short rains, the great herds gather and commence their journey from the Ngorongoro Plains to southern Serengeti in Tanzania (January to March in the southern Serengeti is calving season). May to June see the restless herds journey north through the central Serengeti and the western corridor, between the Grumeti and Mbalageti Rivers, where they commence their mating season. In June or July, the herds split up. Some continue west, other head north, and hundreds of thousands move steadily north-west towards the long golden grass of the Maasai Mara. September sees the herds spread out across the northern Serengeti, where the Mara River provides the migration with its most momentous obstacle. It is here that the iconic images of the herds crossing the Mara River are taken. With the onset of the short rainy season in October and November, the herds begin their move back to the south in wait of the onset of the next migration cycle.
Apart from the migrations, some area of the Serengeti provide exceptional year-round game viewing: some of the largest buffalo herds and elephants are to be found in the unspoiled woodlands to the north, the Seronera valley in the centre of the park has plentiful grazing and abundant animals, Lake Ndutu attracts huge flocks of flamingos, and in the west the Grumeti River contains some of the largest Nile crocodiles you will ever see.
This safari commences in Arusha, Tanzania and ends in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania