The wildebeest and zebra migration pattern

One of the biggest draw to the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya is the wildebeest and zebra migration. The 1.5 million wildebeest and 0.5 zebra strong herbivore team, and its many herbivore and carnivore co-dependants, are constantly roaming this expansive area. The phenomenon is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. An experience that must be witnessed first hand as words alone can’t justify this wonder.

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The large herds are constantly moving this approximately 7,000 sq. miles area in search of fresh food and water.

They will feast on the nutritious mineral-rich grass of the Southern Serengeti during birthing time. With lots of calves, the cats have easy target. They sustain themselves on the long grass of Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara after rutting in Western Serengeti. And pass through Central and Eastern Serengeti / Loliondo area when heading back to Southern Serengeti. While on the move, you may be lucky and witness the Grumeti River crossing in Western Serengeti  and Mara River crossing in Northern Serengeti. That is bonus.

Quick guidelines ::

– November to December // short rain season.
Sporadic showers will not hinder your Safari. The wildebeest and zebra migration are heading to Southern Serengeti from Northern Serengeti. They are moving down via east of Serengeti in the Loliondo area and the many private concession areas. During this time, it is best to hedge your bets and stay in two regions of Serengeti.

– January to March // hot.
Birthing season for the wildebeest and zebra. The place to be is Southern Serengeti to Loliondo and the many private concessions areas. The herds will also spill over to Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
A good time to enjoy lots of hunts as cats come out to play with lots of young calves around.

– April to May // long rain season.
Showers can last a few hours but when it clears, fresh skies. If you don’t mind being adventurous this is a great time to visit and get some amazing deals on lodges. Central Serengeti to Western Serengeti is the place to be.

– June to July // cooler months.
June is green after the rains. Enjoy the wild flowers. Migratory animals are roaming from Central to Western Serengeti on their way to Northern Serengeti. During this time, the herds may be crossing the Grumeti River to get to Northern Serengeti or may already be in this area. Grumeti River is home to large crocodiles. Areas outside western Serengeti are also prime viewing spots.

– August to October // cool and dry season.
The Wildebeest and Zebra population are usually in the long lush grass of Masai Mara and Northern Serengeti. They are in this region for a few month enjoying vegetation that long rains of April May brought about. The herds are going back and forth between Tanzania and Kenya and increasing the odds of seeing a lovely Mara River crossing.

sunrise_migrationPlanning a Safari to Serengeti?
The wildebeest and zebra herd of a million plus are always moving. The thing to remember is getting to the right place, right lodge at the right time.  

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Get in touch via email – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Call us at 1.877.558.6288 or 713.592.6228.

Together, we can plan your family Safari for the memory books. Life worth Exploring. ™

Safari Client Post – Carlos M

Journey To Africa client Carlos M wrote this lovely blog post. He loves cats! When he and I first started planning his first Safari with his son Jeff to Tanzania in 2011, he told me he has watched every NatGeo show and going on Safari is a dream. As soon as he came back, he told me he is hooked. He took 3 of his friends for his second Safari in 2013 and this time we added Kenya’s Masai Mara.  Asante Carlos for this post.

Carlo M at Oliver's Camp in Tarangire with his cuban cigar.

Carlo M at Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire with his cuban cigar.

Here goes // Carlos’s top 10 //

… Mefi, it’s been less than a year since I returned from my second safari, and I have to admit, I can’t wait to go back. You going brings back so many memories. For some reason, other trips I take leave me with memories, but not great memories as safaris do. It is such a different experience from other things I have done.

I don’t know what people expect to see when they go on a safari. All safaris are different. Below I have captured my favorite memories to give others an idea of what they might experience in a safari to Tanzania and Kenya.

My top 10 Journey to Africa safari wildlife memories (in no specific order) are:

  1. While on the walking safari at Tarangire, about ½ a mile from camp, and about 15 yards in front of us, a young male lion raises his head out of the tall grass, looks at us and runs away. It was so unexpected!!!

    Young male lion.

    Young male lion.


  2. Rhinoceros are getting increasingly hard to find. Beside a dwindling number, they are very shy animals. My son and I were very fortunate to see a mother and calf within about 40 yards. We had seen rhinos in the distance, but watching them this close was special. A few weeks before, one had been poached.
  3. While staying at Olakira in the northern Serengeti, we saw 4 or 5 wildebeest Mara River crossings. There were wildebeest everywhere, running in a single file in every direction. We saved the best crossing for last. On the last game drive before heading for the air strip, we saw a great crossing. Our vehicle was right in the middle of the herd as we inched our way along. They were grunting (I can still hear them) and kicking up dust. They got to the river and stopped. They left and returned several times. By this time we had left the herd and positioned ourselves at a high point to see the crossing. All of a sudden, a lone zebra starts across. When it got to the other side, it was pandemonium. The crossing started in masses. We watched for about 40 minutes and headed for the airstrip. WOW!! What a way to end the trip.

    Wildebeest in Northern Serengeti.

    Wildebeest in Northern Serengeti.

  4. The Central Serengeti is loaded with cats. We saw more cats here than any place else. While on a game drive, we saw a very well fed lioness on a tree. We watched for a while and also noticed several lionesses beginning to congregate to our left about 50-75 yards away. They showed up one by one until there were 6. All of a sudden, the lioness in the tree climbs down, runs right in front of our vehicle, grabs one of the lioness, and they run to the left. In the meantime, we see a lone zebra coming to a nearby stream. The remaining 5 lioness get in crouch attack mode and start crawling forward. By this time, the 2 lioness circled behind the zebra. We see the zebra’s ears perk up, she starts to run, and in seconds all we see are 7 lions and 4 zebra legs sticking up in the air. It was perfectly orchestrated. It was spell binding and breathtaking. (By the way, this is my top memory)

    A young lion couple.

    A young lion couple.

  5. Late one afternoon, while in the Central Serengeti, a female leopard went on her evening hunt. We were able to watch her for about 15-20 minutes. She came within 10 feet of our vehicle. We found out that night in camp from a fellow guest that she had 2 cubs. They actually stayed near her den for 6 hours earlier that day hoping to see and photograph the cubs, and they did.
  6. Tarangire National Park is loaded with elephants. One of my favorite memories has to be watching 3 young elephants playing in the swamp. You could tell they were having a great time. The herd, consisting of several cows and babies was nearby. It was a beautiful sight. That same day, a lone bull in musk started chasing our vehicle. The guide said he probably wanted to mate with the Land Rover.

    Elephants playing at Silale Swamp near Oliver's Camp in Tarangire National Park

    Elephants playing at Silale Swamp near Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire National Park

  7. Shortly after landing at the Masai Mara on the way to Sekenani Camp, in the span of 1 hour we saw 4 of the Big Five. WOW!! We saw a large male leopard on a tree, several lions enjoying a Cape buffalo they had killed the night before, a herd of elephants, and a herd of Cape buffalo. Does not get any better than that.
  8. While on a game drive in the Masai Mara, we came across a large pride of lions which included several cubs. After a waiting for a while, all 4 cubs finally lined up, looked at the camera, and gave me the opportunity to take one of my favorite safari pictures.
  9. On nature shows, I have seen many cheetahs climb on a vehicle to get a better observation point for prey. Actually got to see it in person. We found 2 cheetah brothers lying under a tree. There were about 10-15 vehicles nearby. All of a sudden one of the cats jumped on the hood and onto the roof of one of the vehicles. Those of us in the other vehicles had the show of a lifetime. The occupants of the vehicle could not see a thing. We all thanked them for providing us a great show. The cheetah stayed on the roof for about 15 minutes then left. He did not even look at the occupants.

    Leopard on top of a Safari vehicle in Masai Mara.

    Leopard on top of a Safari vehicle in Masai Mara.

  10. On the afternoon of the last day, our Masai guide in the Masai Mara asked us if there was anything else we wanted to see. I told him I wanted to see a male lion, a friend wanted to see a large herd of giraffe, and another friend wanted to see one last cheetah. Within 15 minutes, we were parked near a large male lion, 10 minutes after that a herd of 17 giraffe was in front of us, and on the way back to camp we had our cheetah. I don’t know if he could smell them, but he found them rather quickly!!
  11. While these are my top ten memories, the list would not be complete without #11. While parked on a low hill, whether at the Serengeti or the Masai Mara, I found myself looking at the expanse of savannah below, and seeing wildlife in every possible direction as far as the eye could see. This was absolutely breathtaking and indescribable. This scene was repeated over and over.

    Lion looking at the open savannah. What a view!

    Lion looking at the open savannah. What a view!

May God bless the Serengeti, the Masai Mara, and all its inhabitants. This is a treasure to be preserved and enjoyed

Photo of the week

A family affair

A family affair

When you are around Lake Manyara area or at the gate of Ngorongoro Crater, you tend to see large groups of congregated baboons. They are usually grooming each other or camping right in the middle of the road having a conference of some sort.

And sometimes, you see a family going on their own Safari.

Let us help you plan your family’s Safari to Tanzania + Kenya and beyond. We use lodges and camps like Mara Bush House in Mara North Conservancy or Rhotia Valley inKaratu. Kids not only learn about wildlife but also get to interact with children or have activities that are geared to have then enjoy their time on Safari.

 

Best time to go on Safari in Northern Tanzania

Taken by our elite guide Paul Oliver in Western Serengeti from Sabora Tented Camp

Taken by our elite guide Paul Oliver in Western Serengeti from Sabora Tented Camp in May 2014

One question we get a lot is what is the best time to go on Safari in Northern Tanzania?
Really, anytime you can make it, is good time for Safari. The wildlife is always present. If you are interested in the Great Wildebeest and Zebra Migration, a natural wonder of the world where 1.5 million Wildebeest and 0.5 million Zebra roam the Serengeti and Masai Mara eco-system, then we move you in the right place, right lodge for the right month.

Having said that, some people are extremely sensitive to heat.  If that is the case, stay away from December to March as Serengeti can be dry, dusty and hot [90Fs during the day with cooler 70Fs during the evening]. Our camps + vehicles do not have air condition which can be an issue.

If you are up for an adventure, pack your bags.

  • November to December // short rain season. Sporadic showers will not hinder your Safari. Wildebeest and Zebra migration heading to Southern to Eastern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
  • January to March // hot. Birthing season for the Wildebeest and Zebra. Still in Southern to Eastern Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Tarangire National Park with its resident wildlife and its rivers and swamps will make you fall in love with this park.
  • April to May // long rain season. Showers can last a few hours but when it clears, fresh skies. If you don’t mind being adventurous [plans may change but we always have a Plan B] this is a great time to visit and get some amazing deals on lodges.  Paul Oliver calls this the secret season – less crowd but awesome wildlife – see his picture above. Tarangire National Park has black cotton soil which is tricky to drive on when it has rained hard but as we mentioned, get ready for an adventure.
  • June to July // cooler months. June is green after the rains. Enjoy the wild flowers. Migratory animals are roaming from Central to Western Serengeti on their way to Northern Serengeti. Wildlife from the surrounding areas are about to enter Tarangire National Park.
  • August to October // cool and dry season. The Wildebeest and Zebra population is dispersed in Masai Mara to Northern Serengeti. Mara River crossing is a site to witness. Tarangire National Park is alive with wildlife thanks to its permanent Silale Swamp and Tarangire River.

Twende [Let’s go] Safari!

Maasai and Ngorongoro Crater

Walking is not allowed inside Ngorongoro Crater, unless you are a Maasai tribe member.  They are the only people currently [they were once again allowed in the 90s after restrictions] who are allowed to bring their cows [cattle] into this wildlife-dense eco-system. The number of cows a person owns displays the patriach’s wealth.  Its their currency. They depend on it for meat, milk and blood.  Yes, blood. Maasai tribe members fill their gourds with milk and blood.

Maasai have coexisted with wildlife for generations.  They used to live in the now Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation, and Masai Mara and its wider area in Kenya area until these areas were designated National Parks or conservation.

Today, in Tanzania,  they continue to live in Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  You can stop at one of the boma [homestead] for a quick visit – a tourist stop – or you can go to a private conservation in areas like Longido [east of Serengeti] such as Alamana Reserve.  Here, you can spend time understanding and learning about the unique, fascinating, and changing Maasai tribe.

Maasai tribe members walking their cows to Lake Magadi

Maasai tribe members walking their cows to Lake Magadi

Specialist Guides on Safari

Our Safari guides are fantastic! We feel incredibly lucky to have some of the best trained guides working with us.

Sometimes, some clients want something different. They want to dig a lot deeper as they crave more knowledge of the animals and the land. They want in-depth answers to the what, why, how, when, why not, what if, what now, what more. Specialist guides will have your in-depth knowledge soar.

What makes them specialist guides?

  • Guides that have been guiding for more than 20-25 + years.
  • They train other guides.
  • They are friends/mentors with other specialist guides.
  • They cater to clients who already know a lot about the land, its people and wildlife.
  • Guides who are in the news as they have done research or have been part of research teams or organizations.
  • They are into photography and have articles published or are mentioned in articles.
  • They care about conservation and are our public voice. They have access to a larger platform.

But above all, they want you to come and enjoy being on Safari. They will have you love our country as much as they do. Twende [let’s go] Safari. There are fantastic memories to be made.

Stunning capture of zebras fighting.

Stunning capture of zebras fighting.

Paul Kirui.
We were first introduced to him in 2005 when we were on Safari in Masai Mara. Our luck we crossed paths with him. Paul, who has a gold standard certification, has been a source of information. He was involved with BBC’s Big Cat production as well as Disney’s African Cats.  He has been on many top Safari guide list. A Safari with him would be equal to winning a lottery.

Paul Oliver.
You have head of him many times on our blog. He has been our mentor when we first started Journey To Africa. At that time he operated Oliver’s Camp in Tarangire. Today he divided time between Tanzania and Australia. His passion for guiding is unwavering. He is an avid birder. He and his trusty land-rover can take you from Northern to Southern Tanzania. Get ready for a witty time.

Paul Oliver birding in Southern Tanzania's Katavi National Park

Birding in Southern Tanzania’s Katavi National Park. Taken by our friend Paul Oliver.

Jo Anderson and Mark Baker. 
Jo and his business partner Marc, started an organization in Tanzania called Carbon Tanzania. They have teamed up with local community and together with lodges and Safari companies, off-seat your carbon footprints.  They are deeply involved in conservation and going on a Safari with them will want you doing more for Mother Earth.

Why so many elephants in Ngorongoro? Poaching in other regions have them taking refuge here.

On his May Safari, Jo counted 350 + elephants in Ngorongoro? Not normal. Poaching in other regions have them taking refuge here.

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Life worth Exploring. ™
Make memories on your Journey To Africa Safari.

Get in Touch //
Email us – Safari@JourneyToAfrica.com
Toll Free – 1.877.558.6288 
Outside of US – 1.713.592.6228
Form – Request Information

Tanzania, here we come

Part of what makes our clients trust using Journey To Africa for their Safari is that we know Tanzania and Masai Mara.

You ask. Why two nights in Oliver’s Camp? Because we know that the distance from the park gate to the lodge deep inside Tarangire National Park is about 3-4 hours and you are sure to make lots of stops along the way for wildlife viewing. Two night will give you time to enjoy Silale Swamps and the surronding areas. 

You say. Why should I spend extra money and head to Northern Serengeti in August and enjoy Lamai Serengeti or Sayari Camp? Because we know you will enjoy the Mara River crossing that may happen, the off-roading, the sundowners close to Masai Mara. And wait until you see the showers and the views from these beautiful camps.

You inquire. What is special about your Safari vehicles? We find out if they have added any new variety of cookies and drinks. No, really. We want to know besides what we already offer [charging outlet, open or pop-up roof, blankets, ice cooler with drinks, snacks, thermos coffee maybe], what extra will you get.

You decide. Our guides is a big reason you are going on a Journey To Africa Safari! We catch up over coffee and hear advise, stories, suggestions, and learn more about them. We will be leaving you in very capable hands.

And so much more. So much fun heading back to Tanzania and on Safari again.

IMG_4189Our friend professional guide Paul Oliver who has been leading Safaris for over 20+ years

This is where we will be visiting on this Safari. Some new lodges + camps and resorts and some just because we can’t wait to go back.

~ Chem Chem ~ Gibbs Farm ~ Rhotia Valley ~ Lemala Ngorongoro ~Lamai Serengeti ~ Olakira Mara ~ Dunia Camp ~ Kati Kati Tented Camp ~ Mobile Camp when walking in the Serengeti ~ Jafferji House ~ Matemwe Lodge ~ Ras Nungwi.
Maybe a few more will be added along the way.

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Sayari Camp bathroom

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