Useful information on where to see the wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya and what lodges or tented camps to stay.
Planning a migration safari requires meticulous planning because the wildebeests and other wildlife are always on the move in search of greener pasture. However, with our help you’ll be able figure out where you should be at what time of the year and the best lodges or tented camps to stay following the wildebeest migration from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.
The wildebeest migration covers a huge area of the neighbouring Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem, and despite the varying weather, putting together a migration safari itinerary is not as difficult as one might think at first. Knowing the best location to be for specific times of year is of paramount importance. The exact route of the migrating herbivores depends on the weather and where the grass is greener, be it in Kenya or Tanzania. However, the migration does tend to follow the same, or a similar, pattern year after year, which means that you can have a good idea of where to locate yourself. Each area is good at different times of the year.
The Southern Serengeti's huge grass plains extend into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. From December to March, the wildebeests congregate around Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The herd splits up and spreads out leaving wildebeest herds as far as the eye can see. Ndutu Safari Lodge and Kusini Tented Lodge are the only permanent lodges in the area.
From April to May, the Wildebeest migration moves north into the plains of the Southern Serengeti with front runners stretching out to the Western Corridor and the centre of the park at Seronera. Dunia Camp is a great accommodation option during this time. Other good choices are Serengeti Serena Lodge and Serengeti Sopa Lodge. Early herds may well have reached the Western Corridor and you can witness the wildebeests crossing Grumeti River.
The herds head directly to the North of the Serengeti passing straight up the middle through Seronera, Lobo and up to the Bologonja river area near the Eastern border with the Loliondo reserve at Kleins. Splinter herds will break from the main herds covering huge areas in their search for fresh grasses. We would recommend Grumeti River Camp, Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Singita Sabora Tented Camp and Mbalageti Safari Lodge for your accommodation in the Western corridor. Other herds head as far as Migration camp in the Northern Lobo area. Stay at Lamai Serengeti or Sayari Camp.
Towards the end of July, the different herds have regrouped and they migrate into Masai Mara in Kenya. They remain in Kenya up to October or November and you the Mara River crossing is a spectacle you won’t want to miss. Around November/December, the herds split up crossing North and South over the Mara River. When the rains return to the Southern Serengeti the herds will push down South again with November being the biggest movement month as the entire herd pushes down to Ndutu and the Southern Serengeti.
Follow the full migration safari itinerary below:
Day 1: Kilimanjaro – Arusha
Welcome to for your Tanzania safari! Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and transfer to Arusha for overnight at Arusha Coffee Lodge. Rest and relax in your hotel or explore Arusha town.
Meals: Bed and Breakfast Accommodation: Arusha Coffee Lodge
Day 2: Safari to Arusha National Park
After breakfast, depart from your lodge (carrying packed lunch) and drive to Arusha National Park, where you’ll view herds of buffalo in the spectacular Ngurdoto Crater, the flamingos of the Momela Lakes, and the imposing peak of rugged Mount Meru. Arusha National Park hosts a variety of wildlife, including giraffe, zebra, colobus monkeys, leopards and hyenas in the natural habitats. Enjoy a picnic lunch while gazing at the rolling hills and wooded savannahs of this national treasure. At the end of the day, we return to your hotel in Arusha for overnight.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Arusha Coffee Lodge
Day 3: Arusha – Tarangire
After breakfast, drive to Tarangire National Park for excellent game viewing. Tarangire is a small park which offers some excellent sights. Generally in the dry seasons Tarangire comes alive as wildlife and birdlife congregate on the Tarangire River, which is a permanent source of water. We spend the night in our lodge beautifully set inside the park with stunning views and a unique atmosphere.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Tarangire Sopa Lodge
Day 4: Tarangire – Lake Manyara
After breakfast, drive to Lake Manyara National Park for full day of game drives. This is one of Tanzania’s smaller parks but still offers a rewarding and diverse safari experience. The lakeshore at Manyara teems with birdlife, and while you are looking for the birds, you might spot one of the elusive tree-climbing lions. There are a surprising number of other large mammals and the striking cliffs on the Rift escarpment form a dramatic backdrop.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Kirurumu Tented Lodge
Day 5: Lake Manyara – Serengeti
After breakfast, drive to Serengeti National Park. En route there is an opportunity to visit Olduvai Gorge. It is within this steep sided ravine that Louis and Mary Leakey made some of the world’s most important archaeological discoveries in the 1950s. Here in a small museum we are able to see evidence of our ancestors that have been dated back 2.5 million years. After lunch we drive into the Serengeti itself and the rest of the afternoon is spent game viewing in the vast plains that are broken only by stands of acacia trees and the occasional kopje. In December, January and February we will normally meet the migration with large herds of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle. There are always plenty of resident animals, such as giraffe, buffalo, and elephant, and many large predators such as lion, cheetah, and leopard.
Your accommodation will be Ndutu Safari Lodge, situated in Ngorongoro Crater Conservancy in the southern Serengeti co-system of Tanzania. The safari lodge is set under a canopy of giant acacias overlooking a soda lake, Lake Ndutu. The lodge is a superb base from which to explore the surrounding Crater and Serengeti plains. Ndutu has also been a favourite with professional wildlife photographers and film-makers for the past 4 decades, due to the abundance of wildlife in the immediate area. The lodge has an informal, intimate feeling, and as there are no fences around the lodge, wild animals wander past throughout the day and night.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Ndutu Safari Lodge
Day 6: Serengeti
Full day game drives following the wildebeest migration in Serengeti. Our driver/guide will choose the best spotting locations for the time of year; we can spend time at the Hippo pool watching these majestic animals laze about in the cool water happily living alongside the crocodiles, watch a big pride of lions, be in the middle of the migration, sometimes surrounded by wildebeest, sometimes by zebras, which travel with the wildebeest.
You’ll journey from the wide open plains to the kopjes: these volcanic rocky outcrops provide protection and shelter for a wide variety of animals and from the top we can look out across the vast grasslands of the Serengeti. This diverse and interesting landscape will provide us with the ultimate in game viewing, we will hopefully see all of the plain games; elephants, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, lions and it you are lucky the elusive leopard and cheetah, as well as huge amounts of interesting bird life, from the elegant secretary birds to the flightless ostrich.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Ndutu Safari Lodge
Day 7: Serengeti – Ngorongoro Crater
After breakfast, drive to Ngorongoro Conservation Area (carrying lunch boxes from Ndutu Safari Lodge). Descend into the crater for game drives. Ngorongoro is a special place in that it is a Conservation Area, not a National Park; this means that the whole area is managed for both the animals and the local Masai people who graze their cattle alongside the indigenous wildlife.
Supported by a year round water supply and fodder, the Ngorongoro Crater supports a vast variety of animals, which include herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, eland, warthog, hippo, and giant African elephants. Another big draw card to this picturesque national park is its dense population of predators, which include lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the ever-elusive leopard.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Accommodation: Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge
Day 8: Ngorongoro Crater-Arusha- Kilimanjaro International Airport
After the great northern safari, drive back to Arusha for lunch and transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
NB: We can reconstruct this itinerary to end in Masai Mara in Kenya.