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.
Having gathered, milled about, and calved in the central and southern regions neighbouring the Ngorongoro Crater, the massive herds have by now done some serious damage to the available amounts of grass, and it is time to move on. During this period they skirt roughly around the western edge of the ecosystem as they journey northwards, and this brings them head to head with a serious obstacle – the Grumeti River.
River crossings are generally risky in most parts of Africa due to the lurking presence of crocodiles, but in the Serengeti in particular the crocodiles have had generations and generations of migratory wildebeest to practice on (crocs usually live to well beyond half a century). As millions of animals try to cross the Grumeti, an epic battle is waged, with every step into the water potentially being the last, and the wildebeest, gazelle and zebra rely on sheer numbers, speed and adrenaline to make it through.
The Grumeti region is beautiful, with woodlands coming right down to the river, and making for a fantastic scenic contrast to the rolling grasslands on the crater floor. These woodlands also hide large prides of lion, further adding to the intensity of the time the herds take to pass through here.
If your intended dates are for the May - July period, expect to see the unique wonder of the crater, and the forested banks of the Grumeti where an intense life and death battle takes place.
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.
Grumeti River Camp is located in the western corridor area of the Serengeti in the North of Tanzania. With the camp set on the banks of an offshoot of the Grumeti River, it is perfectly situated to view the annual Great Migration. Located deep in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, nestled in an emerald forest on the water’s edge, Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp offers a wild and remote experience in the thick of the animal action.
The Serengeti offers a wildlife experience beyond comparison, both when the milling herds of the Great Migration are passing through, and in the ‘quiet’ period, with the Big 5, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and 35 species of plains game. Even dedicated twitchers will have a hard time ignoring all this non-avian commotion while glassing the wide variety of birdlife. When the herds are present, Grumeti River Camp’s location offers the opportunity to see a river crossing - arguably the most exciting and dangerous thing the herds have to do.
10 luxurious tented rooms make for an intimate camp, and each tent has a private veranda and a selection of exercise equipment. Once the blood is flowing, guests can follow beautiful mosaic walkways to the pool, bar and outdoor pizza oven, Grumeti River camp provides a great experience when guests are not enjoying the thrill of the African landscape.
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