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WHAT IS THE WILDEBEEST MIGRATION?
The Wildebeest Migration is an annual migration of wildebeest from the Ndutu region of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in southern Kenya.
The recent rains leave the stunning caldera reserve with an abundance of grass for zebra and wildebeest to feast upon, and it is at this time of year that the wildebeest calving season begins. It is also an opportune time for predators such as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and even hyenas to pick off weak and confused calves.
When the rains end in April/May, the zebra begin the process of heading north towards the Maasai Mara. Where the zebra go, the wildebeest follow.
The vast herd crosses the Grumeti River in June/July and the Mara River between August and November, and it is at this time that some of the most spectacular photographs and video footage can be captured. The swollen rivers sweep away members of the herd, predators harry the stragglers, and the opportunistic Nile crocodiles have a feast as animals venture into the water seeking to cross. It is a bloody, dazzling display of the food chain at work.
Once the crossings are complete, the herd settles in the Maasai Mara in southern Kenya. After remaining in the more fertile Maasai Mara for the duration of the dry season, the migration heads south again in preparation for the calving season in the New Year.
DAY ONE – ARUSHA – LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK OR TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
On this day, you can choose to go to Tarangire National Park or Lake Manyara National Park. Depending on the time of year, each of these parks offers a different safari experience. Your guide can advise you as to which is best to visit during your safari.
IF TARANGIRE NATIONAL PARK
You’ll depart from Arusha after breakfast for the approximately two hour drive to Tarangire National Park. Along the way you’ll pass bustling Masai villages and the vast, open plains that have become synonymous with images of Africa.
Once you’ve entered Tarangire, you’ll begin your game drive across a rich vista of endless golden savannah that surrounds the Tarangire River. The river itself runs throughout the year and is a vital source of water for the animals of the region during the dry season. Lined with acacia and Baobab trees, the river is regularly visited by the park’s large elephant population as well as other herbivores such as zebras and antelopes.
A picnic lunch with a view of the river is a great way to take it all in, but you’ll have to keep on your toes as the local monkey population does its best to separate you from your lunch!
Driving through the park you’ll also have the opportunity to see lions, leopards, cape buffalo, and a huge variety of antelopes. If you’re particularly lucky, you might even see endangered animals such as the Greater Kudu or the Fringe-Eared Oryx.
After your day’s drive is done, you’ll retire to your accommodation for the evening.
IF LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK
You’ll depart from Arusha after breakfast for the drive to Lake Manyara National Park. The journey takes approximately two hours, but we’ll pass through the market town of Mto Wa Mbu along the way. This agricultural and fresh produce market is a melting pot of local cultures and a souvenir hunter’s paradise.
After a brief stop at the village market, you’ll enter Lake Manyara National Park. The park is truly a photographer’s playground and offers some of the best game viewing in the world. You can expect to see many of Africa’s most well-known animals, with the tree-climbing lions a particular treat. These proud predators lounge in acacia trees practically begging to be photographed.
Bird-watchers will find Lake Manyara is an absolute delight, with a huge variety of birds on display in the park. Even the novice can expect to be amazed by large flamingo flocks, circling birds of prey, and the brightly coloured lilac breasted roller.
You’ll then retire to your chosen accommodation for dinner and a good night’s rest.
DAY TWO – TARANGIRE/LAKE MANYARA – SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
Note: Dependent on the time of year and the location of the Wildebeest Migration, your accommodation and precise location within the Serengeti National Park may vary. The itinerary may change slightly to accommodate this.
We’ll take an early breakfast, as we’ve got a big day of exploration and adventure ahead of us!
We’ll begin the day with the scenic drive towards the Serengeti. Along the way we’ll pass through the mist-shrouded rainforests of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where you might be lucky enough to glimpse cape buffalo, baboons, or even elephants and leopards in the dense undergrowth.
It’s a nearly four hour drive to the Serengeti park gates, but you can choose to break up the drive with one or both of the below optional activities:
- Oldupai Gorge Museum: Sometimes known as the Cradle of Mankind, the Oldupai Gorge Museum commemorates some of the oldest evidence of human habitation ever found. Here you can see some of the oldest fossil evidence in the world of human habitation, visit the Oldupai Gorge Museum to learn more about the human journey, and take in the stunning views of this stark gorge country.
- Maasai boma visit: Pay a visit to one of the famous Maasai bomas, where you’ll have the opportunity to witness (and participate in) traditional Maasai dance, tour an authentic Maasai village, and even do a little souvenir shopping at the local market.
Both of the above activities attract an additional cost. Speak with your safari expert about adding them to your itinerary.
After a delicious lunch at the Serengeti National Park picnic area, it’s time to explore the Serengeti itself. Witness Africa’s iconic savannah landscape and be amazed by the sheer number of animals that roam these grassy plains.
Dinner and overnight in the heart of the Serengeti National Park according to the standard and the type of accommodation requested from our options.
DAY THREE – SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK
You’ll wake before dawn to take part in a sunrise game drive. As the sun sets fire to the savannah, you’ll have the best opportunity to see predators in action as they take advantage of the low light and cooler temperatures to look for an early meal. It’s an ideal time to see lions, leopards, and cheetahs in action as well as the early morning movements of the wildebeest, zebra, and other herbivores.
Alternatively, you may wish to take to the skies with a sunrise hot air balloon safari and champagne breakfast. Speak with your safari expert about adding this once in a lifetime experience to your safari.
After your unforgettable morning, you’ll return to your lodge for a late breakfast and to freshen up before hitting the road again with a picnic lunch. Your driver will select the best possible route based upon the time of year and the kind of animals you’d like to see, catering your day so that your opportunities to see the Serengeti’s diverse wildlife are maximized.
DAY FOUR – SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK – NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
After breakfast, we get right on the road back towards the Ngorongoro Crater National Park.
Our drive takes us back through the Serengeti via a different route, offering plenty of opportunities to spot the animals that eluded you on day two. As far as the eye can see, you’ll spot thousands upon thousands of animals in herds; wildebeests and zebras migrating together, tall and graceful giraffes, jumping antelopes and gazelles, the powerful African elephant and the most respected group of animals: the predators.
You will have the chance to spot lean cheetahs and shy leopards, foraging hyenas, and last but not least, the king himself; the lion.
Dinner and overnight on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater or in nearby Karatu Town according to the standard and the type of accommodation requested from our options.
DAY FIVE – NGORONGORO CRATER- ARUSHA
After breakfast, you’ll depart for Ngorongoro Crater; considered by some to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. When you get your first glimpse of this vast, verdant caldera from the panoramic viewpoint, you’ll soon understand why it has earned such a lofty reputation.
Home to over 120 species of mammal including the fabled Big Five, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of the most sought after safari destinations in the world. It’s a particularly good place to see the endangered black rhinoceros enjoying a lonely meal out on the grass plains, as well as a place to see large numbers of hippopotamus enjoying the cool water.
From the comfort of your open-top vehicle, you’ll be able to observe and photograph some of Africa’s most recognisable faces. The crater is home to a large number of predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals, and hyenas, as well as a large population of wildebeest, zebras, antelope, cape buffalo, and more. It is truly one of Africa’s premier safari destinations.
After the thrills and excitement of the day, you will have a picnic lunch by the park’s famous hippo pool. Thereafter, you will drive back to Arusha.