Our 10-day luxury Great Wildebeest Migration safari visits the magnificent Tarangire National Park, and two of the leading contenders for the seven natural wonders of the world - the Ngorongoro Crater and the endless plains of the Serengeti National Park in Northern Tanzania. Along the way you will also take in Lake Manyara National Park, known for its tree-climbing lions. Throughout this safari you will stay at intimate wilderness camps to ensure a quiet and peaceful bush experience in the most unspoilt, hidden corners of these wildlife meccas.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport we will meet and transfer you to your nearby hotel for dinner.
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Tarangire National Park. After entering the park, we will game drive our way to our camp, arriving in time for lunch.
Less well known than the Serengeti, Tarangire feels more ‘raw’ and remote. There are fewer camps here, and much less traffic. It’s concentrations of big game, though, are not far behind that of the Serengeti, with huge herds of elephant and buffalo that congregation around the Tarangire river, particularly in the dry season. There is a large variety of plains game as well – zebra, eland, giraffe and impala, which means that predators are also to be found in abundance.
Our camp is located on the Tarangire River near the Silale Swamp. This being a wildlife corridor, there is plenty to see and do on game walks and game drives through the area. game viewing from the camp itself is easy and rewarding, as it is located in an area with almost no other human traffic.
We enjoy a second day of game viewing in the park.
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Lake Manyara National Park where we enjoy our first game drive. The elephants of Lake Manyara were immortalised by Ian Douglas-Hamilton in his book Amongst the Elephants, and the park still has a reputation for having some pretty large tuskers. It is also known for its tree-climbing lions and excellent birding, with around 400 species recorded in the area.
After our morning game viewing, we enjoy a picnic lunch. Later on, we will continue on our journey through the Rift Valley, enjoying breathtaking views as we climb the escarpment that leads to the Ngorongoro Highlands and our lodge near the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.
Located 180km west of Arusha in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Ngorongoro Crater holds the record as the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and is home to some of the most dense populations of big game in Africa.
Today, we will depart our lodge early, using the nearby access road to descend quickly into the Ngorongoro Crater valley floor some 600m (200ft) below.
Ngorongoro Crater supports the densest concentration of predators in all of Africa, and is an excellent spot to look for some of the continent’s largest old elephant bulls – the natural sanctuary provided by the surrounding crater walls means it is home to some of the longest tusks you will see on safari in Africa. Ngorongoro is also renowned for its population of black rhinos, and sightings are reasonably reliable – a poignant rarity in East Africa these days. It is also an excellent spot for birdwatchers – with large flocks of flamingo and other water birds usually resident or passing through, as well as a significant number of birds of prey.
We return to our lodge for lunch, with the afternoon at leisure.
Following an early breakfast on day 7, we will depart our lodge and drive to our next accommodation in the Serengeti – a semi-nomadic camp that moves several times a year to follow the migration.
From December to April, the Serengeti Safari Camp will be located in the Ndutu area, near the southern Serengeti plains where the herds of wildebeest mass during their calving season. In May and November the camp occupies a spot near Moru, in central Serengeti, as the herds move through this picturesque area typified by rocky outcrops and known for its localised population of black rhinoceros. In June and early July, the camp will move to an idyllic spot in the ‘western corridor’ as the herds start to march northwards and cross the Grumeti River. From July to October, its base will move further north still, near the Mara River. Wherever our destination, our journey will be to a nearby airstrip, where we will be met by our private guide and vehicle and transferred to camp for the next three nights of adventure.
We will enjoy lunch at the camp, followed by our first game drive across the Serengeti plains.
The next two days will be spent exploring the Serengeti for some of the exceptional wildlife viewing this destination offers. After breakfast at camp, we can embark on our game drive. Having a private guide and vehicle allows us the chance to set our own agenda, and we can either make shorter forays away from camp in the morning and afternoon, or spend all day out on the game tracks to enjoy wildlife viewing from dawn until dusk.
We will enjoy more game drives, searching for predators, following the migratory herds, or enjoying some of the world class birding available in the Serengeti – the choice is yours.
Our vehicle will be equipped with anything we may need for our times on the plains – onboard we will find soft drinks, snacks and biscuits, a bush picnic and tea and coffee making equipment. There will also be a selection of wildlife and other reference books, maps and a pair of binoculars for our use while on safari, in addition to the services of our knowledgeable and experienced safari guide.
On our return to camp at the end of each day, we will be welcomed with hot showers and ice-filled sundowners – and we can relax around the campfire swapping tales of the day with other guests, creating some wonderful memories.
This morning, after breakfast at camp, we transfer to the nearby airstrip for a scheduled flight to Arusha. Upon arrival in Arusha, you will be met by our representative and transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport for your international departure flight.
The Serengeti Safari Camp is semi-nomadic – it won’t move whilst you’re there – but it’s actually on a wide orbit shadowing the migration; so you, your Tanzanian driver-guide and private 4×4 vehicle are as close to a million wildebeest as possible.
While you can head off from dawn till dusk on your own adventures, the small wandering camp is sociable because its shared – with guests staying in classic bush style safari tents. Each tent is comfortably furnished – with everything an adventurer could wish for. The bathrooms are en-suite with traditional safari style bucket showers, new eco-flush toilets and hot and cold water available on demand. All you have to do is arrive in camp at the end of every dramatic day – dusty but happy – to hot showers, ice filled gin & tonics, and a roaring campfire. The days end with dinner in the candlelit canvas mess tent for safari bonhomie under the stars.
The camp travels through the Serengeti National Park where the densities of animals and predators are high. The camp will have been positioned before arrival in likely proximity to the predicted path of the annual migration, from the majesty of the wildebeest calving season on the southern plains, to the drama and excitement of the great river crossings 800km further north. The beauty of a mobile camp like this one is that you will get a front row seat to the action, whatever the time of year. Furthermore, each couple, or group of guests has total flexibility to plan daily activities according to their own interests with a private guide and vehicle as standard.
Kuro is in the quieter central part of Tarangire National Park, in easy reach of the Tarangire River and Silale and Gursi Swamps, as well as other excellent game areas.
The camp is set in a grove of acacia trees, on the main game routes near the banks of the Tarangire River.
With just six large, light safari tents with verandahs and en-suite bucket showers and flush eco-toilets, this is a quintessential bush camp. The camp is lit by solar, and hot water is provided on demand. Once out of your tent, you spend time in the open-sided, airy grass thatched lounge and dining room furnished with hides, canvas and touches of colourful textiles.
The camp is within easy reach of excellent wildlife areas particularly well known for big herds of buffalo and elephant, excellent general game and exceptional birdlife. Here, we will enjoy game drives and night drives in open 4×4 vehicles, walking safaris, sundowners and bush picnics. Tarangire National Park is known for having the greatest concentration of wildlife outside of the Serengeti eco-system. During the dry season, the river is the only source of water for many animals, with thousands migrating to it. The landscape here is diverse, with a mix of habitats that are unique to the area: hilly landscapes are dotted with vast numbers of baobab trees, dense bush and high grasses.
Located in Karatu, in the heart of the Ngorongoro highlands, Plantation Lodge is a charming owner-run establishment very close to the Ngorongoro Crater.
The main building and 16 cottages offer individuality, with each one boasting its own unique setting and style, but all offering the allure of being able to spend your time here in complete luxury and privacy. Outside, the terraced flower gardens provide a wonderful sanctuary for afternoon tea or a quiet walk to impart a sense of contentment and well-being.
Beyond the lodge, coffee farms and the local villages beckon. Experience a sense of place as you bicycle the back roads of Karatu, learn about Iraqw culture while visiting a local family or explore centuries-old waterfalls and elephant caves. To calm and restore, the lodge offers massages in the privacy of your own room. After a full day of adventure, sample a delicious organic cuisine — fresh from the lodge’s own gardens.
Game drives from the lodge may start as early as 6.15am and there is no time wasting at the gate as you can drive straight down to the floor within 20 to 30 minutes. 2,000 feet deep and 100 square miles in area, the crater is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been called one of Africa’s seven natural wonders. Its floor is still more than a mile above sea level. The crater harbours a population of some 25,000 animals, comprised mainly of large herbivores, including black rhino, buffalo, hippo, wildebeeste, zebra, eland and smaller antelopes. It also hosts 62 lions, one of the densest per square mile in Africa. Other predators are rarely seen, although servals are often seen.
Onsea House Country Inn and Guest Cottage is a true oasis only 30 minutes from Kilimanjaro Airport and just a few minutes from the heart of Arusha.
This boutique hotel situated on Namasi Hill will leave you feeling relaxed and at home. Onsea is owned and managed by delightful Belgian couple Dirk and Inneke. Fine french brasserie style dining awaits you from Michelin trained chef Axel Janssens. At Onsea you really are spoilt for choice; laze by the pool in the African sun, enjoy the lawn bar and banda, or unwind in the hippo pool jacuzzi. Relaxing massages and aromatherapy can be arranged for an additional cost.
The manicured palm garden provides unparalleled views across the Maasai steppe, the Monduli Mountains and the unrivalled spectacle of Mount Meru. If you are staying for a longer period of time you can indulge in the many activities that Onsea has to offer, including hiking, bird watching, ballooning, mountain biking, canoeing and horse riding.