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Tanzania Safari Blog

April 14, 2018

Welcome to the Tanzania Odyssey Blog

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 11:26 am

Our blog is a collection of posts and articles written by ourselves as well as some which are sourced externally, but all of which are relevant to Tanzania and Zanzibar. Similarly, our website is a vast resource of knowledge compiled over 20 years of experience, written by ourselves; the Tanzania Experts. We really know our stuff and offer unbiased opinions on the regions of Tanzania as well as the lodges & hotels (all of which we visit on a regular basis!)

We specialise in everything from beach honeymoons to family safaris and even climbing Kilimanjaro, so you can rest assured our website is extremely well equipped to answer everyone’s queries and concerns. Please have a scan of the above button options to find your relevant page! We tailor-make all our trips but our itineraries page is also particularly useful when in the initial planning stages. The best way to get to grips with Tanzania and Zanzibar though is to give us a call so we can give you the low-down in our famous no-flowers Odyssey way…

In the meantime though we hope you find our blog interesting… Happy reading!

December 12, 2018

Awesome Tanzania itinerary ideas

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:51 pm

We love putting together amazing Tanzania itineraries tailored just for you. Depending on what kind of adventure you are after, there are various routes we would suggest you take, but here are our top 3 Tanzania itineraries which we absolutely love after visiting all these locations, and sending people to Tanzania for over 20 years now. There are of course, other lodge options, but these are our top combinations…

Southern Tanzania – Rustic but with a splash of luxury (perfect for a family holiday of a lifetime)

For a chilled out and off the beaten track safari, you cannot go wrong with a combination of the Selous and Ruaha. With walking safaris, night drives, boating and some seriously intimate and charming camps, we absolutely love this combination. Many think you will compromise on wildlife viewing by missing out the northern parks, but we can say from visiting recently, that this simply isn’t true! They compliment each other beautifully, as the Selous is full of giraffe, elephant and beautiful watery scenery, whilst Ruaha has huge herds of buffalo and is big cat galore, as it is home to 10% of the world’s lion population (as well as all the rest!). Southern Tanzania is also one of the last strong holds of wild dogs; the safari enthusiast’s prize sighting. For an extension of relaxing, we can think of no spot better than Ras Kutani on the mainland coast, which is in our opinion the best beach ldoge in East Africa. Ran by a safari company, they really know how to look after their guests.

Here is what we would suggest:

Day 1: Flown from Dar off international flight to the Selous for overnight at Lake Manze

Day 2: Lake Manze

Day 3: Lake Manze

Day 4: Flown to Ruaha for overnight at Ikuka

Day 5: Ikuka

Day 6: Ikuka

Day 7: Ikuka

Day 8: Flown to Dar, connect for 15 minute flight to Ras Kutani. And chill.

Day 9: Ras Kutani

Day 10: Ras Kutani

Day 11: Ras Kutani

Day 12: Flown back to Dar for international flight

Northern Tanzania – Adventure without compromising on luxury

Now for the stars of the north, these are two of our absolute favourite accommodation options. Plantation Lodge is a beautiful and very well priced option in the Ngorongoro Highlands and offers a bit of permanent structure before your mobile safari in the Serengeti. Serengeti Safari Camp is our favourite mobile camp in the Serengeti and is exceptionally well placed to see the Great Migration year round as it has two camps which move 3 times throughout the year (where most only move two times). Then for the beach time, get seriously off the beaten track in Pemba Island for some world class diving and snorkelling, before heading back to Zanzibar for some luxurious relaxation and white sandy beaches.

Day 1: Driven from Kilimanjaro airport to Arusha for overnight at Rivertrees

Day 2: Driven to Ngorongoro Highlands (via game drive in Lake Manyara) for overnight at Plantation

Day 3: Plantation Lodge (Game drive into the Ngorongoro Crater_

Day 4: Flown to Serengeti for overnight at Serengeti Safari Camp

Day 5: Serengeti Safari Camp

Day 6: Serengeti Safari Camp

Day 7: Serengeti Safari Camp

Day 8: Flown to Pemba Island for overnight at Fundu Lagoon

Day 9: Fundu Lagoon

Day 10: Fundu Lagoon

Day 11: Flown to Zanzibar for overnight at Xanadu

Day 12: Xanadu

Day 13: Xanadu

Day 14: Xanadu

Day 15: Flown to Dar es Salaam for onward flight.

Northern & Southern Tanzania combo – Luxury for those who want to get off the beaten tourist track (without compromising on wildlife!)

So this is a pretty luxurious trip! Here, the focus is on luxury camps and lodges, but more importantly in some of the best game viewing areas of Tanzania which everyone else forgets about! Namiri Plains is set apart form any other lodges in the Serengeti and as it is set on an old cheetah conservation site, the big cats are absolutely out of this world here. They are everywhere! Then flit down to Ruaha for serious luxury in a very wild environment. With only a handful of lodges and camps in this (huge) park, and exceptional wildlife, Ruaha is probably the office’s favourite in the whole of Tanzania (and even Africa). Mnemba Island is the crème de la crème of Indian Ocean beach retreats… And is completely private. It is the ultimate destination for those who really want to get away from it all.

Day 1: Driven from Kilimanjaro airport to Arusha for overnight at Rivertrees

Day 2: Flown to Serengeti for overnight at Namiri Plains

Day 3: Namiri Plains

Day 4: Namiri Plains

Day 5: Namiri Plains

Day 6: Flown to Ruaha for overnight at Jabali Ridge

Day 7: Jabali Ridge

Day 8: Jabali Ridge

Day 9: Jabali Ridge

Day 10: Flown to Mnemba Island

Day 11: Mnemba Island

Day 12: Mnemba Island

Day 13: Mnemba Island

Day 14: Flown to Dar es Salaam for onward flight.

We hope these itineraries inspire you to explore Tanzania as it really does have so much to offer.

Link to family holidays and activities

December 6, 2018

Money advice guide for US holiday makers heading to Tanzania

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 11:48 am

We get asked a lot about how much money and what kind of money to bring on a Tanzania holiday. We hope this blog clears up the confusion!

So throughout Tanzania in the lodges, hotels and camps you will be staying at, US dollars are widely accepted. No need to even go to the bank if you are coming from the US!

On safari, most of the camps and lodges we work with operate on an all-inclusive basis which means all your game viewing activities are taken care of, as well as food and drinks during your stay. The only thing which is not included is any personal purchases, or premium spirits. It could be that your accommodation is full board, which still means your game viewing activities are included (as in all our itineraries) as well as all your meals, but drinks are excluded.

If you are heading off to Zanzibar pre or post safari, most of the mid-range options and bigger hotels operate on a half board basis. We usually opt for this as it means your breakfast and dinner are included, but lunch is not, which is just as well because we know people like to get out and about during the day. Your activities will not be included, to make sure you bring some extra cash for these (as well as drinks). Some of the higher end little hotels operate on a all-inclusive basis as they are fairly confident that their guests will not want to tear themselves away from the luxury of their private villas for too long!

As a little guide…

Drink prices range from lodge to lodge and hotel to hotel, but as a guide, a beer is usually around $3, a glass of wine around $4 and a G&T is probably going to be around $4 too.

Tipping

When on safari, it is completely up to you how much you decide to tip, but as a rough guide, we would usually say around $10 per person per day for your guide, and $10 per person per day to go into the staff tip box, which is usually located in the main area of your camp.

You may want to also give your transfer drivers in Zanzibar a little tip too (though we would have included the transfer in the cost, some people like to tip too).

Of course though, how much you tip is down to your own discretion and is essentially up to you!

We hope this has been helpful as a guide to how much money to bring on your Tanzania adventure. If you still aren’t sure, give us a call and we can take you through any extra costs on your specific trip.

Happy planning!

December 4, 2018

The best and most luxurious way to see The Great Wildebeest Migration

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:28 pm

Luxury on a Tanzania safari is rather a subjective term depending on exactly what kind of luxury experience you are after. Your different options are either staying in a mobile tented camp, or a permanent lodge in the Serengeti to catch the migration. Both are fabulous options, let us break them down for you so you can decipher which one is for you.

Mobile Tented Camps

@Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp is our favourite mobile camp in the Serengeti. It is exceptionally well positioned to catch the migration, as it moves two camps between 3 locations throughout the year.

The term “mobile camp” can be deceiving when looking at tented options in the Serengeti. These are usually very well placed for the migration , as most move between two locations throughout the year; one in the northern Kogatende/Lamai area for the famous river crossings from July – October, and the other location in the Ndutu area near the south of the park for the calving season from December – March.

These are stand alone and en suite luxury tents. You have an en suite bathroom with a flushing loo and a “bush shower”. A bush shower is perfectly hot, but comes from outside the tent in a bucket which is filled up as you shower by a member of staff. Essentially, you are not compromising on quality when staying in a mobile tented camp, though it does have some quirks such as the shower and being under canvas which you would expect from safari accommodation. These are probably our favourite options in the Serengeti, as they are often very intimate, well ran and with a focus on exceptional guiding and an overall excellent safari experience. Some are slightly more polished than others, and the prices of each of our favourite options reflects this.

Permanent Camps

The step up in terms of luxury is (usually) the permanent camps. These have a similar structure to the mobile camps, often also with bucket showers and canvas, but have one set location year-round. However, they often have wooden floors and raised decks, giving a slightly more permanent structure, which some find comforting. There are some exceptional camps which operate like this, especially in the central Serengeti area. In the Migration’s transitional month’s such as June and November, where the herds are somewhat dispersed around the central Serengeti region, these are great options to combine with a mobile camp to give you the best chance of catching the herds. Saying that these are more luxurious than the mobile camps as a whole is a little bit of a sweeping statement, as many mobile camps offer more luxury than the more mid-range permanent camp options… Something to bear in mind!

Permanent lodges

@Nomad Lamai is an excellent permanent lodge located in the Northern Serengeti region; perfect for a July-October Great Migration safari when the herds are in the area and crossing the Mara River daily.

The most classically luxurious option for a Migration safari is the permanent lodges. The best permanent lodges are located in the Northern Serengeti so you should consider these when the herds are here from July – October (also when the famous river crossings are taking place). We would not suggest placing yourselves in these locations at other times of year though if your priority is to catch the Migration, as they simply won’t be there! You can not get a more luxurious overall Migration safari experience than in one of the Northern Serengeti’s permanent lodges, as when you get back from your game drive you are welcomed by all the creature comforts you could possibly need.

We hope this helps you decide on which Great Migration accommodation is more for you. The Migration’s movements can be a tricky thing to work out, so if you are unsure about whether the camp you like is in the right location to catch the migration then please do give us a ring and we can guide you in the right direction.

December 3, 2018

How to choose where to go for a Tanzania beach holiday

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 4:42 pm

So when most people think of a beach spot in Tanzania, the main Zanzibar Island springs straight to mind. However, for the intrepid beach lover, there are other islands in the archipelago which may suit you even more, or as a combination with the Indian Ocean paradise that is Zanzibar.

Let’s break each Tanzania beach destination down so you can see which suits you the most…

Zanzibar Island

Beaches: Zanzibar is tidal, so you have to be careful about where you choose to stay to ensure you have the sweeping white sands forever feeling throughout the day… See our Zanzibar beaches page for in depth information on the best beaches. As a rule of thumb though, the best beaches are in the north at Nungwi (see Zuri Zanzibar – see this video taken earlier this year of it’s beautiful beach), but also there are little pockets of beachy paradise peppered along the east coast (see Pongwe)

Privacy: If you want a completely secluded private island experience, Zanzibar is not for you! Some beaches bustle with local life whilst others are relatively private (not officially private, but as private as non-official private can get!).

Accommodation and cost: This is where Zanzibar comes into it’s own – there is such a huge array of accommodation from stylish boutique hotels, to 5 star big builds and even to an almost private villa experience at seriously reasonable prices.

Snorkelling and diving: The snorkelling and diving of Zanzibar is very good. Many head to the Mnemba Atoll for some spectacular diving.

Best for: Pretty much everyone!

Zuri Zanzibar’s beach… It is phenomenal.

Pemba Island

Beaches: The beaches on Pemba are not as good as Zanzibar, and are all very tidal. However, there is the little Misali Island just off the west coast and near our favourite honeymoon spot, Fundu Lagoon, which offers white sands forever for that slice of Indian Ocean paradise which is missing from the mainland island.

Privacy: Pemba is very off the beaten track though and offers an authentic slice of Tanzanian island life. It is not only a beach destination but a fascinating place to visit in itself. On your activities you really do get a sense you have the Indian Ocean all to yourself, which you just can’t get in Zanzibar.

Accommodation and cost: There are only 3 main lodges we like to recommend on Pemba. They are not for budget travellers but suit mid to high end travellers.

Snorkelling and diving: The diving from Pemba island is among the best in the world. For divers, there is nowhere better than here and Mafia Island.

Best for: Divers and honeymooners looking to get off the beaten track.

Mafia Island

Beaches: Similarly to Pemba, the beaches on Mafia tend to be quite mangrovey and tidal, so as such we would recommend looking at Zanziabr for your Indian Ocean white sands forever experience.

Privacy: Mafia is only home to 2 lodges which we like to recommend, and as such if you are looking for uninterrupted Indian Ocean adventures, it is fantastic.

Accommodation and cost: The accommodation on Mafia is reasonably priced and you get a certain amount of luxury, however, it is pretty rustic when compared to options on both Pemba and Zanzibar.

Snorkelling and diving: Where Mafia shines above the rest is in it’s excellent whale shark populations. You can enjoy a snorkelling excursion to go see these huge and fascinating creatures. The diving is also tremendous. Most visit Mafia simply to get a glimpse of the whale sharks.

Best for: Very keen divers and for those who want to see Whale Sharks.

Mnemba Private Island

@&Beyond Mnemba Island Lodge

Beaches: Pristine, white, sweeping – everything you could wish for from an Indian Ocean hideaway.

Privacy: Mnemba is completely exclusive as it is owned by &Beyond and is the only lodge on the island. You have the whole place to yourselves with the other guests staying at the lodge. In our eyes, it is probably one of the best and more sought after honeymoon destinations in the world.

Accommodation and cost: But… This comes at a price! The bandas at nMnemba are luxurious yet still rustic and wooden without a glossy 5* type finish. We absolutely love them. Staying in such exclusivity though does come at a cost as staying here can cost you up to a staggering $1,500 per person per night.

Snorkelling and diving: The diving and snorkelling (and deep sea fishing) from Mnemba is absolutely magnificent. It seems to have it all…

Best for: Honeymooners, a holiday of a life time and those seeking absolute Indian Ocean perfection.

Fanjove Private Island

Beaches: Fanjove Island, alike with Mnemba, has absolutely beautiful beaches. It is set apart from the other islands and is situated in the southern waters off the mainland coast near Songo Songo.

Privacy: Alike with Mnemba again, Fanjove is owned by a safari company who have the whole island and so this is a completely exclusive experience.

Accommodation and cost: Unlike Mnemba, Fanjove is extremely reasonably priced. However, if you are looking for luxury, this is not for you. It’s bandas are very basic and are the epitome of what we like to call “beach shack chic”. The perk here is that if you are not bothered about luxury, you can have one of the more pristine Indian Ocean locations all to yourself for an extremely reasonable cost.

Snorkelling and diving: Snorkelling and diving off Fanjove is also excellent.

Best for: Honeymooners, families or those just seeking seclusion and authenticity on their African adventure.

Mainland Tanzania

Beaches: So the lodge we think reigns absolute supreme on the mainland coast is Ras Kutani. This is in our view probably the best beach lodge in East Africa. With a spectacular beach which is also absolutely secluded, you can’t get much better.

Privacy: Unlike some of the busier beaches in Zanzibar, Ras Kutani is on the mainland coast and as such is well away from tourism and any kind of bustle whatsoever. It is a hidden gem, and we hope it stays this way for a long time to come.

Accommodation and cost: What’s more, Ras Kutani is exceptional value for money. The style of the lodge is the ultimate “barefoot luxury” experience, meaning it is extremely comfortable with very attentive staff, excellent food, comfortable beds, a glorious setting but without glitzy frills.

Snorkelling and diving: Ras Kutani does not have good snorkelling and diving and is a place for relaxation.

Best for: Any kind of traveller/group/couple or honeymooner who is looking for a place away from it all to relax in absolute Indian ocean paradise.

November 29, 2018

A Guide to Diving and Snorkelling in Zanzibar

Filed under: Zanzibar — Tags: , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 4:48 pm

Along with being dazzled by the azure ocean, pristine beach forest and silky white sand, there is so much underwater fun to be had in the warm waters of Zanzibar.

Zanzibar is one of those magical destinations that perfectly combines equal doses of exhilarating sea adventures with peaceful, feet-up relaxation. If you’re in the mood to get more than your feet wet, you can dive down to encounter the diverse, colourful marine-life that glides over the coral reefs they call home.

Zanzibar pretty much has all the great diving and snorkelling spots so if your dream holiday includes ocean exploration and adventure, read on to find out more of what you can expect on this special island off the coast of Tanzania.

Diving

Zanzibar is, quite simply, a diver’s paradise. With an average water temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and visibility between 20 and 60 metres, it is a great diving destination throughout the year.

Diving and snorkelling in Zanzibar, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, beach and bush holiday, Zanzibar honeymoon

© Zawadi Hotel

Leven Bank is only for advanced divers as drops can descend as deep as 55 meters and strong currents call for serious endurance. Once you reach the underwater landscape of rocky, coral-laden outcrops that teem with a variety of fish species, you’ll realise the hard work was completely worth it. Possible sightings at Leven Bank include whitetip reef sharks, dolphins, rays, honeycomb moray eels, barracudas, tunas, bluefin trevallies, guitarfish, triggerfish, and groupers.

Diving and snorkelling in Zanzibar, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, beach and bush holiday, Zanzibar honeymoon

© Xanadu Villas

Nankivell and Hunga Reef are both great for beginner divers as their deepest drops range between 12 and 16 meters. Although not very deep, these dive sites still make for spectacular visits into the world of interesting coral formations that are the playgrounds of diverse marine-life. There are opportunities to see reef sharks, dolphins, barracudas, snappers, silver sweetlips, Napoleon wrasse, groupers, parrotfish, surgeonfish, and lobsters.

Also check out: Boribu Reef, Kendwa Reef, Renco Bommi, Shane’s Reef, Chakatuni, Coral Garden, Mbwangawa, Turtle Gap, Haji, Kichafi, Misoli, and Leon’s Wall.

Snorkelling

As with diving, Zanzibar and its surrounds have an impressive list of snorkelling spots. Conditions and visibility in these areas are top-notch almost year-round, making Zanzibar a haven for snorkelers.

Mnemba Atoll is a well-known conservation area in Zanzibar and at the top of most people’s ‘must-snorkel’ list. Average visibility is good year-round and ranges between 10 and 30 meters. Snorkelling along the coast of Mnemba Island will get you up close to beautiful coral reefs, assorted fish species and other marine-life like dolphins, green turtles, and sea stars.

Diving and snorkelling in Zanzibar, Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, beach and bush holiday, Zanzibar honeymoon

© Zawadi Hotel

Tumbatu Island offers a prime snorkelling spot away from the maddening crowds and closer to local people that live more traditionally than those found in the touristy areas. Since Tumbatu is less frequented by human visitors, the marine-life here is curious. Expect to swim near to bat fish, rare cute whip, ribbon eels, and leaf fish.

Also check out: Kendwa Reef, Chumbe Island, Stone Town Reef, and Prison Island.

Chat to us about planning an exciting island getaway to Zanzibar.

November 27, 2018

Mauritius vs Zanzibar – Which should I choose?

Filed under: Tanzania Odyssey News — Tags: , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:32 pm

For every type of traveller, we would recommend Zanzibar over Mauritius as a beach destination for a few reasons which we will expand on below. Ok, so Mauritius is classically the family destination for families. However, we think you can have just as much of a family adventure without spending a premium on lengthy flights in Zanzibar. Here’s why!

Accommodation

Mauritius hotels are classically rather big, and can be soulless if you don’t choose carefully.

Mauritius accommodation options, although with glamour and all the amenities you could wish for, are generally pretty soulless. Mauritius is a place of big hotels and we really prefer the little boutique options which Zanzibar does so very well. If big hotels are what you are after though, then Zanzibar has this too! Although there is a lot of bad accommodation on Zanzibar which can trick tourists, we often visit and re-visit, so have a handful of our favourite beach hotels in a huge array of different styles.

Accessibility

If you are looking to safari as well as stay on a beautiful beach, then Zanzibar is a mere 45 minute flight from it’s nearest park, the Selous Game Reserve. It is also easy to connect with the rest of Tanzania, including the stars of the country, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, as well as Kenya’s famous Masai Mara. Even if you are not looking for safari time, if you are looking to go to Mauritius, you will be inundated with “dead” nights in between lengthy flights. If you go to Zanzibar however, you can arrive into Dar es Salaam off your international flight, and be lazing on a Zanzibar beach within only a few hours…

Authenticity

Ok, so Zanzibar is not quiet in regards to tourists, but Mauritius is BUSY. There are some good stretches of beach in Mauritius, but if they are good, they will be seriously busy! Mauritius even has some artificial beaches, which really demonstrates how it is not home to the Indian Ocean stretches of paradise which many imagine it as. Zanzibar, although tidal, has some pockets of seriously beautiful beaches which are not saturated with tourists.

A beautiful undisturbed Zanzibar beach.

Diving

Off Zanzibar there are some incredible diving spots – some of the best diving in the world happens of Zanzibar’s neighbour, Pemba Island. The snorkelling is also incredible with it’s beautiful coral reefs which surround it. Mauritius isn’t really a diving destination, so if this is your primary interest then definitely head to Zanzibar for some relaxation and either stay there for great diving, or head to the surrounding islands for some world class underwater scenes.

Cost

Mauritius is an array of 5* hotels, and when you look at flights too, this can add up to a very costly holiday. Although there are cheaper options in Mauritius, these options are nothing in comparison to what you can get for your money in Zanzibar; our favourite little boutique hotel haven. The flights are so cheap and easy, we even get some clients tempted by a beach-safari-beach combination.

November 19, 2018

The Great Migration – An Overview

Filed under: Migration month by month — Tags: , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 2:22 pm

Introducing our Month-By-Month Guide to The Serengeti’s Wildebeest Migration

Please see the links below for our month-by-month detailed blog posts:

January; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains

February; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains.

March; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains and later in the month combine with Seronera (central Serengeti)

April; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains and combine with Seronera (central Serengeti)

May; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains and combine with Seronera (central Serengeti)

June; Seronera (central Serengeti) and combine with western corridor (Grumeti)

July; Kogatende and Lamai (Northern Serengeti)

August; Kogatende and Lamai (Northern Serengeti)

September; Kogatende and Lamai (Northern Serengeti)

October; Kogatende and Lamai (Northern Serengeti)

November; Kogatende and Lamai (Northern Serengeti) and combine with Seronera (central Serengeti) later in the month

December; Southern Serengeti & Ndutu Plains and later in the month combine with Seronera (central Serengeti)

We hope you find our month-by-month Migration blogs useful. For more information please do give us a call! Another useful tool to understand the wildebeest migration is this blog, written by one of our team members which clears up common misconceptions surrounding the Great Migration.

The movement of the Great Wildebeest Migration can be a really difficult thing to wrap your head around, but once you have a map in front of you, and an explanation by one of the experts, it all becomes a lot clearer! Therefore, we always recommend calling up and asking one of our consultants for advice on where to stay at any given time of year (as contrary to popular belief, the wildebeest can be seen in the Serengeti all year round).

Of course though, in some months the herds are more concentrated and therefore especially spectacular to see, and only from July – October/November do you have the chance of witnessing the dramatic Mara River crossings; so all in all, some months are better to catch the Migration in than others. In these series of 12 blog posts, we are going to share all our Great Migration combined knowledge and recommendations of where to be, where to stay and how to maximise your chances of seeing the mega herds in each month of the year.

As a general rule of thumb, it is never guaranteed that if we send you to a certain area that you will definitely see the migration, as their route can be notoriously unreliable. However, using 20 years experience in planning Great Migration safaris, and keeping track of satellite predictions, we think that we have a pretty good idea of where to send you at any given time of year. Follow our guidelines, and the chances are you will see the migration. The question is whether you will be lucky enough to catch a mega herd…

Accommodation options on a Great Migration safari

The name “mobile camp” can be misleading, as these camps have set locations throughout the year and usually move every few months. So don’t worry, no dismantling your tent after breakfast… They are luxurious with en suite toilets and showers, as well as comfortable double beds. Most of the office would agree that the mobile camps give a seriously authentic and special Serengeti safari experience. The beauty of these is that whenever you are venturing to the Serengeti, the mobile camps will be in phenomenal locations to catch the migration from. Our favourite is Serengeti Safari Camp.

The next “step up” in luxury is the permanent camps. These are not mobile, so do not move locations depending on where the migration will be. However, if they are set up in the right position at the time of your safari, then they can be a fantastic option. You feel under canvas, which really does add to the safari experience, but also often with raised platforms and decks for you to chill out on in between game drives. These outwardly can appear more luxurious than the mobile camps, but often they aren’t! Staying at a non-mobile camp doesn’t mean you will have an overall more quality experience, as many of the mobile camps are still seriously luxurious, whilst some of the permanent camps may be mid-range. What it essentially comes down to is your preferred style, and the camps which are best positioned for you to catch the migration from in the month that you are travelling in. A great example of this is Namiri Plains.

The most luxurious options in the Serengeti are the permanent lodges. These lodges have solid structures and a few more creature comforts such as pools, big spacious and often open planned rooms. Some of the permanent lodges in the Serengeti can be huge, and rather soulless such as Four Seasons Serengeti. We think if you want real luxury and still an authentic safari experience, you are better to look to the more safari-centric companies and their more intimate, yet no less luxurious permanent lodges such as Asilia’s Sayari or Nomad’s Lamai Serengeti.

A guide to the Serengeti’s Great Wildebeest Migration in December

Filed under: Migration month by month — Tags: , , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 12:07 pm

Where are the herds in December?

December is a notoriously tricky month to predict. The November short rains disperse the wildebeest herds across the Serengeti as they head south in preparation for calving season, which kicks of towards the end of the month and lasts through until March. Generally, the main herds may linger in Namiri Plains (just south east of the central Serengeti region, Seronera) or in Kusini which is towards the south west of the central area. Some as early as December may have already made it to the fertile Ndutu plains in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in preparation for calving season.

Is December a good time to see the Great Migration?

December is a very popular time to be in Tanzania, due to the beginning of the calving season, but also because East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) is by far the best place to be in Africa over the festive period as it is mainly dry and the wildlife is excellent. This means that although December is a somewhat transitional month for the migration, the park is still going to be busy with tourists seeking an adventurous Christmas period (but only towards the end of the month)! If you want to avoid the crowds and peak season prices, go before the 20th December.

Because of the November rains, the wildebeest disperse as they have plentiful grass to eat so you are less likely to get those huge condensed herds which are so fabulous in the dry season. If your dates are slightly more flexible look at early December to avoid peak, peak season prices which you get from around 20th December up until the 7th of January and also to avoid the Christmas crowds. If The Great Migration herds are your absolute priority and you are looking for a wintery break but have flexible dates, to get the most dramatic condensed Migration scenes, you should look to February. February is the only month when the herds are ALWAYS where we think they will be, in the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

So, where should I stay to get the best chance of catching the herds in December?

We would say that from 1st – 15th December you should be looking at the areas in the central Serengeti region. You could look at either Moru (just south of the centre), Kusini (further south west of the centre) or in the Seronera region itself (the centre!) where the more permanent camps are located (ones which stay here throughout the year, and do not move locations to follow the migration). As December is a more transitional month and the herds tend to be scattered across central and into the southern Serengeti, it is important not only to consider where the migration may or may not be, but also what style of camp suits you the most. For the later dates in December, we would urge you to consider two locations – one in the central Serengeti area (as above) and another in the Ndutu area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (very south of the park), for a chance of catching the start of calving season. Here are our picks for the best camps to stay in for the Migration in December…

Which camps to stay in for an early December central Serengeti Safari ?

Kiota ($325 pppn until 19th Dec, where rates increase to $515 pppn!). As you can see, this is an exceptional value property and going in early December means a seriously good value safari. Located in Seronera, with amazing views of the surrounding plains, it is exceptionally well positioned for the migration in the transitional months, as well as benefitting from the excellent central Serengeti resident wildlife. It is very comfortable with lovely staff and a very welcoming atmosphere.

Namiri Plains ($893 pppn until 19th Dec, where rates increase to $1208 pppn). Namiri Plains is one of the best locations in the whole of the Serengeti in our view. It is set in the eastern area of the park and with only one other camp in its vicinity, hardly any vehicles venture here. This does not mean its wildlife is less prominent by any means, but quite the opposite. As a former cheetah conservation area the big cats here are extremely good. Fine food, luxury tented accommodation in a magical area; you can’t get much better than this.

Dunia ($804 pppn until 19th Dec, where rates increase to $914 pppn). Another Asilia property, and one which we love to send couples and families alike to – it suits everyone, and the all-female staff create an incredibly welcoming and warm environment. Exceptionally well positioned in a quieter area of the Seronera region, with it’s excellent resident wildlife, it is a fantastic choice.

Which camps to stay in for a late December Serengeti safari in Ndutu?

Combine one of the above camps with a mobile camp. It is a nice idea to combine a more permanent camp in the central areas (of which there are a few excellent ones), with a mobile camp in the south to give variety in accommodation. Uniquely to the south, there are not any permanent camps, so to stay here you must go mobile, which we would urge you to do anyway, as there is nothing quite like a piece of canvas between you are the wild Serengeti plains.

Mid range mobile camps

Chaka ($330 pppn until 19th Dec, where rates increase to $457). Sister camp to Kiota and with the same ethos of very comfortable accommodation and an excellent overall experience in great locations, at an amazing price; you can’t go wrong with Chaka.

Barefoot luxury mobile camps

Serengeti Safari Camp ($725 pppn until 20th Dec, where rates increase to $900 pppn, as well as 7 for 5 and 5 for 4 deals throughout the month). An office favourite. Moving between 3 locations throughout the year and with 2 mobile camps, Nomad Tanzania’s passion of exceptional safaris shines through in everything they do… Safari mad but without compromising on quality one little bit, Serengeti Safari Camp is unbeatable for an authentic Serengeti safari.

Ubuntu ($664 pppn throughout the whole of December). Asilia’s best value mobile camp, Ubuntu is similar in style to Serengeti Safari Camp and in an equally excellent location at this time of year. A fabulous choice for a barefoort luxury tented Serengeti safari.

Alex Walker’s Serian (1,110 pppn) – Luxurious food, service and tents but with a really classic safari style. A huge perk of Serian is that your price includes a private vehicle and guide for your whole stay. Serian has two camps at this time of year, one in the Kusini region of southern Serengeti (Serian Kusini, to the slightly north and west of Ndutu) and another even south of this, deep into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area called Serian South. One thing to consider is that Serian South is not in the national park which means you can enjoy walking, cultural visits as well as fly camping…

Very luxurious mobile camps

Serengeti Under Canvas ($885 pppn until 20th Dec, where rates increase to $1,240). &beyond’s Serengeti mobile camp, this is a very luxurious tented option and for those who don’t mind splashing out on a premium experience. (It doesn’t have to be splashing out a huge amount if you go in early December!).

Olakira ($789 pppn until 19th Dec, where rates increase to $971pppn). Asilia’s most luxurious mobile camp, it is not quite as glitzy as Serengeti Under Canvas but by no means is a less desirable option as it’s price tag is a bit less!

Great, thanks for the options… What would you do in December though?

Early December – I would spend a good 4/5 nights in Namiri Plains for explosive predator action, and also be in with a good chance of catching the migration. For lower budgets, Kiota is the one. Dunia is beautiful, but Namiri’s location means you really do escape the crowds of central Serengeti and also benefit from the ASTONISHING amount of resident cats.

Late December – I would begin my Serengeti time in Serengeti Safari Camp for an unbeatable overall safari experience, and an exceptionally well ran camp. I would spend 3 nights here then hop over to Namiri for the same reasons as stated above. If I was on more of a budget, I would have absolutely no problems with doing a Chaka and Kiota combination for exceptional locations for half the price of SSC and Namiri.

A guide to the Serengeti’s Great Wildebeest Migration in November

Filed under: Migration month by month — Tags: , , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 12:06 pm

Where are the herds in November?

The likelihood is that at the beginning of November, the herds are still lingering in the northern Serengeti regions of Kogatende and Lamai and you can still catch river crossings at this time. Towards the end of the month, by the time the light rains have begun, the wildebeest begin to descend south in their second big migration of the year. On their descent south the splinter off into different parts of the Serengeti, so at this time it can become tricky to predict where the “mega herds” will be.

Is November a good time to see the Great Migration?

Especially early November is still an excellent time to catch the river crossings and some mega herds, as much of the time even when some are pushing south, many are still around the Mara River in Kogatende and Lamai. However, October is probably a little better, as they do begin to disperse when the rains fall so the more you go into November, the more the herds spread out.

Towards the end of the month, river crossings are much less frequent as most have begun to disperse south. However, because of the light rains, the camps and lodges are exceptional value for money… We cannot stress this enough! You can stay at some of the continent’s most luxurious permanent lodges in November at half the price they would be in July and August, and still be in with the chance of catching scenes such as this (shot by a member of our team in November a few years ago). As well as this, the parks are a lot quieter so you get a little slice of Serengeti wilderness all to yourself. All in all, if you don’t mind getting a bit wet and love value for money, then early November in particular is a fantastic time to see the migration.

So, where should I stay to get the best chance of catching the herds in November?

In early November, we would suggest basing yourself in the Kogatende and Lamai areas of the northern Serengeti to give yourself a chance of witnessing a late river crossing. In the second half of the month, it can be a good idea to split your time between the northern Serengeti and the central Seronera region of the park. As the herds disperse, many will head down towards the centre of the park so if you are set on catching the herds, this would be a good combination of locations. This way, even if the herds haven’t quite made it down to central Serengeti, you would have most likely caught them in the north. Aside from the migration, November is an excellent time to make the most of low rates and have an exceptional value Serengeti safari, with no other vehicles. Seronera is usually really busy in the peak months, so visiting here in November gives you a seriously spoiling more private stay in an area that in peak months is so popular (due to it’s phenomenal resident game).

Which permanent camps to stay at in the northern Serengeti (Kogatende/Lamai) for a November safari?

Sayari ($784 pppn) – Sayari is serious luxury under canvas. Its permanent wooden base structure offers a really nice contrast to the purely tented mobile camps. The main area is fitted with comfortable sofas and there is also a lovely pool to chill out by in between your game drives. It’s location is close to the Mara River making it a great place to stay to catch the crossings.

Nomad Lamai Serengeti ($760 pppn) – In a similar position to Sayari, Nomad Lamai is an excellent lodge to stay at if you are hoping to catch the river crossings. It’s rooms are wound between a set of Kjopes, and each one has fabulous sweeping views of the plains below. Lamai offers the ultimate barefoot luxury Serengeti experience, yet without losing any authenticity.

Which mobile camps to stay at in the northern Serengeti (Kogatende/Lamai) for a November safari?

Serengeti Safari Camp ($725 pppn). Our favourite barefoot luxury authentic Serengeti mobile camp. As there are two camps which move independently throughout the year, there is no in-between period where the camp is moving locations and thus not open. Our pick for a November safari.

Olakira ($789 pppn, until closes on 15th Nov) – Asilia’s most luxurious mobile camp, it is not quite as glitzy as Serengeti Under Canvas but by no means is a less desirable option as it doesn’t come with quite such a hefty price tag. Though it certainly is not cheap!

Which central Serengeti camps to potentially combine with a northern one for a late November safari?

Kiota ($325 pppn). This is an exceptional value property. Located in Seronera, with amazing views of the surrounding plains, it is exceptionally well positioned for the excellent central Serengeti resident wildlife. It is very comfortable with lovely staff and a very welcoming atmosphere.

Namiri Plains ($893 pppn). Namiri Plains is one of the best locations in the whole of the Serengeti in our view, migration or no migration. It is set in the eastern area of the park and with only one other camp in its vicinity, hardly any vehicles venture here. This does not mean its wildlife is less prominent by any means, but quite the opposite. As a former cheetah conservation area the big cats here are extremely good. Fine food, luxury tented accommodation in a magical area; you can’t get much better than this.

Dunia ($804 pppn). Another Asilia property, and one which we love to send couples and families alike to – it suits everyone, and the all-female staff create an incredibly welcoming and warm environment. Exceptionally well positioned in a quieter area of the Seronera region, with it’s excellent resident wildlife, it is a fantastic choice.

A guide to the Serengeti’s Great Wildebeest Migration in October

Filed under: Migration month by month — Tags: , , , , , — Tanzania Odyssey @ 12:04 pm

Where are the herds in October?

As with August and September, the herds are yet again in a pretty identical position in the northern Serengeti areas of Kogatende and Lamai, and in the Masai Mara. There is a chance in late October that the light rains will come a bit early and therefore push the herds south, however, this takes a long time as there are so many of them! The chances are even if you are visiting the north in late October, that a good few of the herds will still be lingering in the north.

Is October a good time to see the Great Migration?

Contrary to popular belief, early – mid October is still a phenomenal time to see the river crossings and so is even late October. Even if the light rains do come a bit early in late October and the herds do begin to push south, this takes a long time as there are so many of them. The chances are even if you are visiting the north in late October that a good few of the herds will still be lingering in the north and crossing the Mara River in between Kogatende and Lamai. October is an even quieter time of year than September and August to see the crossings and there are some seriously good deals in our favourite camps. In the office, we are forever torn, but many of us will say that October is our favourite time to see the migration. Aside from the park being quieter, it is desperately dry at this time of year, so the game viewing throughout the Serengeti is phenomenal as the animals congregate to the water areas. October is also a great time to catch some unbelievable predator action.

So, where should I stay to get the best chance of catching the herds in October?

In the northern Serengeti in Kogatende or the Lamai Wedge if you are looking to catch some river crossings. You should not anticipate their move south in your choice of camp, as river crossings are still happening and should not be missed if you are in the Serengeti at this time of year. The Masai Mara is still busy at this time of year, as it is a smaller area with a lot of camps, so we would always recommend sticking to the Serengeti in between July and November if you are looking to catch the migration. It is worth noting too that the wildebeest are always in the northern Serengeti from when they arrive up in the north until they leave for south again, whereas they are only sometimes in the Masai Mara at this time. Visiting Kenya is not integral to their route, but more of an offshoot from their main Serengeti path. They don’t see the country border and think “we must go to Kenya!” – it is just an extension of their circular route which essentially revolves around the Serengeti.

Which permanent camps to stay at in the northern Serengeti (Kogatende/Lamai) for an October safari?

Sayari ($1,376 pppn) – Sayari is serious luxury under canvas. It’s permanent wooden base structure offers a really nice contrast to the purely tented mobile camps. The main area is fitted with comfortable sofas and there is also a lovely pool to chill out by in between your game drives. It’s location is close to the Mara River making it a great place to stay to catch the crossings.

Nomad Lamai Serengeti ($1,315 pppn) – In a similar position to Sayari, Nomad Lamai is an excellent lodge to stay at for a July – October Serengeti safari if you are hoping to catch the river crossings. It’s rooms are wound between a set of Kjopes, and each one has fabulous sweeping views of the plains below. Lamai offers the ultimate barefoot luxury Serengeti experience, yet without losing any authenticity.

Which mobile camps to stay at in the northern Serengeti (Kogatende/Lamai) for an October safari?

Chaka ($435 pppn) – Very comfortable accommodation and an excellent overall experience in great locations and importantly, at an amazing price. You can’t go wrong with Chaka for a basic yet authentic Serengeti safari.

Serengeti Safari Camp ($900 pppn). Our favourite barefoot luxury authentic Serengeti mobile camp, for an early July safari there is nowhere better. As there are two camps which move independently throughout the year, there is no in-between period where the camp is moving location and thus not open. The rates do not change from high season, but there are come incredible deals with other Nomad properties in the country… Ask us for more info!

Ubuntu ($768pppn) – Asilia’s best value mobile camp, Ubuntu is similar in style to Serengeti Safari Camp but is a little further away from the Mara River.

Serengeti Under Canvas ($885) – The premium option if you are looking at staying under canvas in a tented camp and with great mid season rates in October.

Olakira ($971 pppn) – Asilia’s most luxurious mobile camp, it is not quite as glitzy as Serengeti Under Canvas but by no means is a less desirable option as it doesn’t come with quite such a hefty price tag. Though it certainly is not cheap!

Kimondo ($914 pppn) Kimondo is in Lamai Wedge which benefits from being somewhat cut off from the rest of the Serengeti, only with a few other camps in the region, of which, it is the most reasonably priced option.

Alex Walker’s Serian ($1,110 pppn) – Luxurious food, service and tents but with a really classic safari style. A huge perk of Serian is that your price includes a private vehicle and guide for your whole stay.

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