Useful information on what lodges and camps to use and where to see the wildebeest migration in Tanzania
Planning a migration safari can be tricky; the wildlife is on the move after all! However, with a little help from us, you will hopefully be able figure out where you should be at what time and where it’s best to stay.
Mobile tented safaris are a great way to follow the migration in Tanzania. The tented safaris follow the migration as it moves, and stop at private campsites whilst the migrating herds are still. There are also some fantastic permanent lodges where you can base yourself whilst you head out to explore the Serengeti.
The Great Migration Map – January/February
Throughout January and February, following the rains, the migration moves onto the Serengeti plains in the south, where the newborns graze along with the herds. This is also the time for the predators to fatten up. With thousands of young, it’s easy pickings for cheetahs and lions, and the hyenas make the most of this abundance of food by picking up what remains of the cats’ kills, as well as picking off their own fresh meals. At this time of year, being located in the Ndutu area will give you the best access to the migration. Our favourites would be Olakira, Lake Masek and the Ndutu Safari Lodge.
Olakira is a mobile tented camp which moves through the Serengeti, staying close to the Great Migration. Wildlife viewing from the camp itself can be spectacular, and game drives offer one of the best opportunities to see the migrating herds as well as the ‘Big Five’.
Lake Masek is a relatively well-priced tented camp with a good balance of design and rustic safari ambience. Although often utilised by safari groups, it is run by a team that is adept at looking after individuals, and is spacious enough that there’s no feeling of being side-lined or tucked away in a corner. Named for the lake it overlooks,Lake Masek Tented Camp is located just south of the border of southern Serengeti National Park and northwest Ngorongoro Conservation area.
Ndutu Lodge has to be one of the best bases from which to observe the wildlife in the area. Situated among giant acacia trees next to Lake Ndutu, this simple and comfortable lodge is a great migration safari location, although it can be quite noisy, with herds literally passing through the lodge!
Map of the Great Migration – March/April
March through to April is when the heavy rains set in and the migration begins moving through the Central Serengeti and towards the Western Serengeti, where the long grasses are new and the food is good. This is a beautiful time to travel: flowers cover the Central Serengeti and there are very few people around. However, it being the rainy season, you need to be prepared. Also, the roads get muddy, and therefore access to some of them may be limited. During this time, staying in the Ndutu or Seronera areas will put you in the right place for the migration. Again, Asilia is a great base from which to explore the Central Serengeti, as is Dunia Camp.
Dunia Camp has access to the best that the Southern and Central Serengeti has to offer – the Ndutu area, Southern Plains, Moru Kopjes, and Central Serengeti Valley. The migratory wildebeest and zebra share the land with elephant, giraffe, Thomson gazelle, and a host of other wildlife, including the big cats, with lion prides and cheetah frequently sighted. Staying here during this time will not only give you prime access to the migration, but as this is shoulder season, it will also be quieter in the Serengeti, meaning that there will be relatively few other safari vehicles around.
As the dry season approaches during May and June, the migrating herds begin moving once again, this time towards the Grumeti River, where the crocodiles wait for an easy meal. Seeing the thousands of wildebeest crossing the river is a sight not to be missed, and has to be one of the highlights of a Tanzania Migration Safari. Being located near the Grumeti River is ideal at this time. However, being in the Seronera and Western Serengeti area will also give you fantastic access. Mbalageti Lodge and the Grumeti River Camp are ideal bases for access to the migration at this time.
Mbalageti Tented Lodge, also referred to as Mbalageti Serengeti, is perched on the crest of Mwamnevi Hill and offers panoramic views of the Mbalageti River Valley and Dutwa Plains below. This remote slice of the Serengeti is incredibly isolated, stunningly beautiful, and allows for a unique ‘off the beaten path’ safari experience. The Lodge is named for the seasonal Mbalageti River that winds through a fold of plains and hills that stretches from the Southern Serengeti plains, past the Lodge, and eventually into Lake Victoria. This river forms a natural corridor that the wildebeest and zebra migration follow each year, putting Mbalageti Tented Lodge right in the middle of their thundering path!
The Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp sits in an area of the Serengeti rich in wildlife, and during these months, the great migration passes through the area, meaning you may witness the river crossings.
Map of the Great Migration – July
July is one of the most exciting months of the great migration as the herds move further into the Northern Serengeti and toward the Mara River. At this time of year, you can witness thousands of wildebeest battling their way through the waters and trying to avoid the crocodiles. The best place to be is in the Northern Serengeti or across the river in the western part of the Maasai Mara. Asilia once again is a good option (having moved from the Southern Serengeti), as is Sayari Camp.
Sayari Camp offers undisturbed views towards the Mara River as well as the famed Lamai Wedge where the herds gather at the start of the migration. As the migration begins, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest brave the crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River to reach safety; a dramatic game-viewing experience that is all but on the doorstep of Sayari Camp.
Map of the Great Migration – August/September
After the excitement of the river crossings, the migrating herds settle, for a while, in the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The Mara is an amazing area of rolling savannah hills cut through with dark green riverine forest areas, making this the perfect habitat for a whole host of wildlife. The rich grasslands support the herds throughout August and September.
Map of the Great Migration – October
As the rain clouds start to build, the wildebeest begin their journey south anticipating the rains. They slowly make their way east through the Masai Mara and back down into the Serengeti National Park. The ideal base during October would be in the north-eastern Serengeti and Sayari once again is a great camp at this time.
This area comes into its own during the months of September and October, and is the best place for a safari in Tanzania when the wildebeest migration moves southwards through Lobo and down to the Serengeti plains.
Map of the Great Migration – November
Lobo encompasses the Mara and Grumeti Rivers, which are bordered by acacia woodlands. It is less visited, and therefore less crowded, than other areas of the Serengeti, which means that one can potentially spend a full day in the middle of the migration without seeing another vehicle.
As the short rains begin in November, the migration moves quickly south towards the Loliondo area of the Serengeti. The Loliondo area is part of the much larger Serengeti ecosystem, and is on land owned by the Maasai. The area offers a great mix of resident game, and is excellent walking country, with dramatic scenery of open plains, rock kopjes, and woodlands. Whilst the migration is here, staying at Serengeti Migration Camp will put you in the right place for the huge herds.
Located next to the famous Grumeti River which is home to resident hippos that bark and wallow their days away, Serengeti Migration Camp has become synonymous with low-impact high-action game viewing in a landscape that is untouched since the dawn of time.
Hidden among the rocky outcrops Serengeti Migration Camp is located at the starting point of the Migration. Comprising of 20 luxurious elevated tents, each with spacious and richly furnished bedrooms, Serengeti Migration Camp blends seamlessly into the environment.
Map of the Great Migration – December
As December nears, the migration settles on the short grass plains in the Southern Serengeti. At this time of year, the migration tends to stay around the Seronera and Ndutu area as Seronera provides a constant source of water for the herds. During December you have the privilege of seeing thousands of wildebeest and zebra gathering on the southern plains as the migration gets underway. This is great time to see a huge variety of game as the big cats follow the feast. As with the months or January and February, being based at Dunia, Olakira, Lake Masek and Ndutu Lodge will put you in the right place to see the vast herds. The Ndutu area consists of endless grass plains, which keep going for as far as the eye can see, and the plains are at their best during December as the grass is green and the wildlife is plenty.
Now whilst you may have a better idea of the migration movements, the concentration of game is not always as one may expect. You must bear in mind that the huge herds are spread out over the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem, and they may not always be in close proximity to one another. That said, even if the herds are slightly spread out, to be amongst them is still an incredible experience.
If you are interested in travelling to the Serengeti to witness the great migration, or if you would like some more information on where to stay and what we can offer, do feel free to get in touch, and I would be happy to help.