Notices

Do I really Want to See the Great Migration?

Reply

Jul 15th, 2012, 07:01 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 551
Do I really Want to See the Great Migration?

Resarching a first trip to Africa in 2013 to Tanzania (northern circuit), Kenya or both. We are in our 60s but not retired. I know many say to plan on future trips to Africa but I cannot be so sure considering the enormous cost of this one. Need to keep it to 14 days or less on the ground. I'm also looking for cultural experiences as much as wildlife. My husband and I know we will find the wildlife safaris exciting but we are not 'wildlife' afficionadoes and I'm a bit squeamish with viewing "kills" by the carnivores. (I'd much rather see happy babies with their moms!)

I started out thinking I'd want to go in July - Sept to see the great migration but based on the photos and the crowds, and the dust, I'm now not so sure. It looks like the wildebeast could really dominate the scene to the exclusion of other animals of greater interest to us. When I hear that lions might be sluggish since they are so well fed, or read that others find it exciting to see Wildebeast drown in a river crossing or babies snatched by croccidiles....well, maybe that's not for me? I have no desire to even see croccidiles, frankly.

If we instead travel in February, do you think I'll regret missing the Great Migration? Also airfares (from LAX) seem to be much less in Feb. My hope is to see lions, giraffe, elephants, hippos, rhinos, zebra and chetahs. Anything beyond that will be an extra prize! (We might spluge with Rwanda to see Gorilllas).....
LeslieC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2012, 07:38 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 3,528
In Feb/March, try to pick Southern parts of Serengeti combined with the Central serengeti to hope to try and catch the migration there .......... That's my hope that I find them there next year!

Opt for a private safari - by doing so, you can customize your holiday to suit your needs.
HariS is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 15th, 2012, 08:00 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 11,831
It is rather difficult to comment on whether you will regret seeing the Great Migration.

My answer is Yes.!

Also there is no guarantee that you will see the actually migration over the Mara River, even if you are there.

You have to be at the right place at the right time.

Others at the same Lodge as I was missed the Migration, while I saw it at exactly 12 Noon, the others waited and waited and finally decided to go have lunch.

When I arrive for lunch an hour and a half later and told them I saw and filmed the Migration..... and showed them the filming...

they just groaned and said "Oh No!!!" "and we are leaving tomorrow morning. "

There is so much action going on you might not even see the Crocodiles !

But the final decision is yours.

They call the Migration, The Eight Wonder of the World !

I agree with HariS, get a private tour, you will see more and do more at your own pace.
Percy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 08:56 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 973
You say that your "hope is to see lions, giraffe, elephants, hippos, rhinos, zebra and cheetahs", and you're not wild about the idea of the great migration, so I'm wondering if you'd be happier in South Africa, rather than Kenya and Tanzania. Kruger Park and the surrounding private reserves have all the above. I wonder too if the "enormous cost" would be as much in South Africa as in Kenya-Tanzania. I don't know.

I admit that I have a deep love for southern Africa, and am therefore prejudiced, but I do suggest you at least look into South Africa.
Celia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 10:04 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
If you want to see the big five (but not cheetah) up close, personal, and often go to South Africa. The Greater Kruger Area, specifically the Sabi Sand reserve. As Celia suggests.

As Percy says you are not guaranteed in seeing the great migration and river crossing unless you the BBC or National Geographic and stay for a month.

The biggest difference between South Africa and Kenya/Tanzania is the terrain. Kenya/Tanz has the classic African savannah plains look, SA does not.

As to seeing an actual kill or not, I was just on 19 day safari in SA and did -not- see an actual kill happen. Saw several kills with lion or leopard feeding on the carcass. But not the catch and kill. Also, lions do only two things - eat and sleep. You will see them sleeping more often than eating. Also saw no lion cubs, need a bit of luck for those.

As to cost between the three countries, I'd say it is the same.

regards - tom
ps - I'm also in S. CA flying out of LAX and those two 11 hour flights (LAX-LHR-JNB) about kill me. From time I leave my house (Fullerton) to time I get in Johannesburg at first hotel (at airport) is 32 hours.
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 10:21 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,844
Yes! See the migration in Kenya - a once in a lifetime travel highlight, not dusty or crowded in the authentic Porini camps (organized by Gamewatchers). Yes, there were crocs, cheetah kills and some dead wildebeest (and many other vehicles near the crossing sites), but trust me, the whole experience is magical.

Saw everything on your wishlist except rhinos except lots of baby animals (just baby elephants, giraffes and adolescent cheetash). Gamewatchers offers an outstanding cultural experience - non-commercial village visits, school visits and a stellar walking safari at their Amboseli camps. Plus, they keep costs down so you can add gorillas.
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 04:22 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
I have been struggling with the same question for years. We will go and experience it someday, but for now southern Africa calls us. We have been three times and each trip has been spectacular. We've seen it all, except the kill (which doesn't bother me at all). Our first safari was ridiculously expensive, but they have gotten progressively less expensive - we'd rather go more often than stay at the high end camps. We see the same creatures, and many of our experiences have been top notch without the top notch pricetag. Have fun deciding - it is very difficult!!
christabir is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 05:48 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
No matter when you go and no matter which countries, it is likely you'll see herds of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals. Not the size of the herds in the heart of the migration, but still herds.

This is the key point: "My hope is to see lions, giraffe, elephants, hippos, rhinos, zebra and chetahs. Anything beyond that will be an extra prize! (We might spluge with Rwanda to see Gorilllas)....."

WARNING, THIS HAS TURNED INTO A TOME. IT JUST HAPPENED. I DON’T KNOW HOW. MUST BE THE 100 DEGREE HEAT.

Possibilities:
-You could go to Kenya in July-Sept, which is an excellent time to see animals because the grass is short and you could stay at one of the private concessions in the Maasai Mara (Mara Plains, Porini camps, or Kicheche camps) with far fewer guests. You would not have to make the trip to the river to try to see a crossing or drive around to locate the migrating herds. You could play it by ear for the migration, especially if you had a private vehicle. Your question of “Do I really want to see the migration” need not be answered before you leave home. It could be answered once you are in the Maasai Mara, after visiting a few other places, and exploring the park around your camp/lodge. If you encounter a traffic jam while looking for the migration, you can just leave. Complete flexibility.


14 days on the ground, flying, July to Sept, I'd do:

Arrival 1
Samburu 3
Lewa Downs 3
Maasai Mara 6, perhaps 2 camps

-If you wanted to visit gorillas in Rwanda then July-Sept is a great time. Assuming 2 gorilla visits and a Kenya flying safari I'd do:

Arrival 1
Lewa 3
Mara 5
Gorillas (including transit between countries) 4
If visiting gorillas first and not last worked better, that would be good too.

- To save some money, go to Kenya in Feb and do one of the above, obviously with no expectation of the migration. Or to really have a unique cultural experience, (you mentioned that is of high interest to you) which I have researched but not yet done include Sarara Singing Wells, in the northern part Samburu in February. Not year round, but Feb is peak time. http://www.sararacamp.com/activities/singing-wells
The singing wells would not be a money saver.



- If you prefer Tanzania in June-Sept, the crowds for wilde crossing should be less, but the camps where that happens are much more expensive than many places in Kenya. The odds of seeing a river crossing while on the TZ side are less. But, if you are just looking for herds, not necessarily herds crossing a river, then from late July through Sept, northern Serengeti is a great place without many people. I saw 5 vehicles in 4 days in N. Serengeti in Sept. Spent hours watching wildes.

I’d suggest Sept for Tanz, 14 days on the ground, driving and one flight.

Arrival 1
Fly to N. Serengeti 4 (possible to do 3 instead of 4 nights)
Drive to Seronera part of Serengeti, central 2
Drive to Ngorongoro crater 2 (possible to do just 1 night)
Something cultural in city of Mto wa Mbu, maybe also Lake Manyara 2 (maybe just 1 night)
Drive to Tarangire 3 (most itineraries have 2 nts, but especially in Sept, a 3-nt stay is good, in fact the wildes migrate to/from the river in Tarangire by the thousands and I’ve had to share the wildes with no one)

-If you wanted to visit gorillas in Rwanda, assuming 2 gorilla visits and a Tanzania safari, take advantage of the fairly new flight right from the Serengeti to Kigali, capital of Rwanda

Arrival 1
Drive to Tarangire 3
Drive to Ngorongoro Crater 2
Drive to Northern Serengeti 3-4
Fly to Kigali from Serengeti 1
Gorillas 3



-Feb in Tanzania is a very popular time because the migration is in southern Serengeti and calving occurs late Jan through mid-March. You might wish to delay to March, which is what I’m doing to avoid some of the crowds. Calving and herds have been unpredictable the last couple of years.

If you went to Tanz in Feb,

Arrival 1
Drive to Tarangire 2 (only 2 nts in Feb/Mar, not 3 like in Sept)
Drive to Lake Manyara and something cultural in Mto wa Mbu 2 (maybe just 1 night)
Drive to Crater 1-2
South-Central Serengeti 2
Ndutu (south of Serengeti) 3

If you throw in the gorillas to a Feb Tanz itinerary, I’m not sure if the flight from Serengeti to Kigali runs in Feb. But I’d cut out Tarangire and Manyara from the above and go straight to the crater, then the Serengeti, followed by gorillas.



“If you want to see the big five (but not cheetah) up close, personal, and often go to South Africa.” From above. If you include Phinda in South Africa—the Phinda package includes transport from Johannesburg--you can also see cheetah with far better odds than in the Sabi Sands alone. But getting to the gorillas would require a cross continent flight and probably take more than 14 days on the ground to fit everything in.

Since you were hesitant about even seeing the migration, I did not mention a Mara, Serengeti, gorilla trip, using the relatively new flight between the Mara and Serengeti. From July to Sept, you could witness the migration in both locations.

You'll have a great trip, whenever and wherever!
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 07:03 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 551
Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I was figuring that a February schedule meant I had ruled out the great migration so that's why I thought I'd need to decide about that before choosing dates:

As to Southern Africa vs. East Africa - I had already struggled with that decision. Now struggling with Kenya vs. Tanzania, though I think we could do northern Tanzania + Amboselli + Mara in Kenya. One factor is my impression of landscapes being more classic African savannahs in EA. Also, I have a soft spot in my heart for Rwandan people ever since the movie Hotel Rwanda (oh yes, and Gorillas, too), so I have a hankering to fit that in timewise and budgetwise.

Tom - I am still hoping to use my American Airlines miles to get from LAX to Nairobi, at least, but then got wise to the ridiculous British Airways fuel surcharges ($760 - $944) I'd rather not use my miles if it costs me that much. So, I'm holding out for Royal Jordanian to restart their JFK-AMM-NBO service but don't know yet.

My best friend told me about the crazy trip length to get LA to Joberg via London, plus there is no American Airlines partner line that goes via Atlanta or Dulles. Surprised you don't Fly Delta or SAA for that. But, if we have to break down and buy tickets I'm finding we can fly LAX to Istanbul non-stop on Turkish Airlines, force a one day layover and get a free city tour from the Airline and then carry on next day to NBO for only $1184 in Feb. I'm aware of the KLM option too. I can't yet see what fares will be in July + but for June, add $1,000 per ticket for the same routing. That's why I'm favoring Feb.

Atravellynn - I really appreciate your TOME and somewhere in there is an itinerary that will work for us. Can you tell me what airline flies from the Mara to Kigali and what airstrip they leave from?

Can you elaborate on Samburu and Lewa Downs since those are father afield? Will we need to go that far north to improve our chances of seeing rhino. My husband loved the scene in Out of Africa with the pink flamingos from the biplane so I dare I tell him about riding the Waco?
LeslieC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 08:28 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
I have NOT tried the Delta ATL to JNB route. It might be better. But I doubt if much better considering we are starting at LAX. Have flown the New York JFK to JNB route (SAA I think) but again requires first flying LAX to JFK. The photographers I went to Tanz in 2011 like to stay overnight Amsterdam, continue flight next day.

BA fuel charges, yep, I paid them on my last May safari, LAX-LHR-JNB. $1,100 in charges plus of course the FF miles. I give up on the airlines, airports. JNB and LAX immigration/customs was a disaster. I'm going to try real hard to NEVER flying again, anywhere. You know that now there are many -cruises- from Long Beach/LA harbor. Thirty minute drive and I'm there, then on the boat looking for a buffet!!!

regards - tom
ps - you're in your 60s, am a bit ahead of you. GO NOW. Travel and all its aggravations only gets worse with senior years (for me). Plus you start feeling a physical vulnerability. Which reminds me, make sure you have medical insurance outside of USA. Medicare does not cover you.
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 08:34 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
“Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I was figuring that a February schedule meant I had ruled out the great migration so that's why I thought I'd need to decide about that before choosing dates#8221;

But not ruling it out in Tanzania! Feb is THE TIME to go in Southern Serengeti in TZ for migration.

“As to Southern Africa vs. East Africa - I had already struggled with that decision. Now struggling with Kenya vs. Tanzania, though I think we could do northern Tanzania + Amboselli + Mara in Kenya. One factor is my impression of landscapes being more classic African savannahs in EA. Also, I have a soft spot in my heart for Rwandan people ever since the movie Hotel Rwanda (oh yes, and Gorillas, too), so I have a hankering to fit that in timewise and budgetwise.”

Let’s do the math

N. Tanz (1 day arrival, 1 crater, 3 days Serengeti) = 5 at the bare minimum

Transit between countries = 1

Amboseli = 2

Mara = 3

Rwanda, assuming 2 gorilla visits, a visit to Hotel Rwanda, a visit to the Never Again Memorial = 4

That totals 15 days

"Atravellynn - I really appreciate your TOME and somewhere in there is an itinerary that will work for us. Can you tell me what airline flies from the Mara to Kigali and what airstrip they leave from?"

I got this last week from Volcanoes Safaris:

In Rwanda, Coastal Aviation now offers a connection between Rwanda and the savannah plains of Kenya and Tanzania! Coastal will connect daily from the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara to Mwanza where flights depart at 17:00 to Kigali. Return flights from Kigali to Mwanza leave at 6:00 in the morning, ensuring guests have the opportunity to maximise their time in Kenya and Tanzania.

Not sure if that answers your question. The Coastal Aviation people may have better info. Your Africa agent will know.

“Can you elaborate on Samburu and Lewa Downs since those are father afield? Will we need to go that far north to improve our chances of seeing rhino. My husband loved the scene in Out of Africa with the pink flamingos from the biplane so I dare I tell him about riding the Waco?”

Riding the Waco is a mystery to me. Horse trails in Texas?

Samburu is an hour flight or 6-ish hour drive from NBO. Known for eles. Good for lions, very good for leopards. People even see cheetah there. There are unique species in Samburu not found in the more southern parks: Grevy Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk (stand on hind legs to browse), Somali Ostrich. Second to Mara in wildlife viewing.

Lewa Downs is a private reserve and probably the best place in Africa to see white and black rhino. Some of the northern species from Samburu are at Lewa too, but I never saw a gerenuk there. You can do night drives in Lewa and walks. Lions, leopard are present. I think cheetah too. If you add an extra day, there are great cultural visits possible. About a 45 minute flight. People usually fly there and use one of Lewa's guides.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 08:42 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
For those flamingos your husband likes. Lake Nakuru or maybe Lake Naivasha in Kenya can have flamingos.

Lake Manyara, if you can get close to the lake, Momella Lakes in Arusha National Park, lake in the crater can have flamingos in Tanzania.

Those would be the lakes that would most likely appear in your itineraries.
atravelynn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 01:44 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 60
Hi Leslie,

We have just returned from a trip similar to what you are considering-Keny, Tanzania and Rwanda. We traveled June 3rd until June 19th, and yes, we packed in as much as we could!
Like you, I was not interested in witnessing a "kill". I just wanted to see as many types of animals as possible. The weather was perfect the entire time.

We began our trip in Amboselli (wonderful, varied, cool climate), then traveled to Tarangire, the Ng Crater, and then Serengeti. We saw the huge herds of WIldebeeste and Zebra in Seronera as we traveled to the Serengeti. From the Serengeti, we flew to Kigali on Coastal (via Mwanza) and spent 2 days with the gorillas. We flew back to Nairobi (Kenya Air) where we enjoyed our last day at Giraffe Manor, then home.

We flew business class with Ethiopian Air from Washington, DC. It was reasonably priced for business class and we arrived fairly well rested since we could sleep on the plane.

We saw the offspring of cheetah, lion, eles, giraffe, zebra, hippo, wildebeeste, warthogs, gorilla, and birds of all kind. The flamingos were in the lake at the crater.

I am sure each season allows for a different and wonderful experience in Africa. We chose June because we did not want to go when it is too hot and we did not want to hike the mountains of Rwanda in the rain. As a bonus, it was a little less expensive time to go than "high" season and not overrun with tourists.

I hope this helps.
I am happy to answer any other questions you may have.
pollydill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 06:58 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 11,831
There is NO Malaria vaccine. !
Percy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 07:12 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 345
Pollydill,

Where did you stay in Ambosel and could you provide some details of what you thought of the park. We were there two years ago and loved it. Amboseli is on my mind because of this recent thread:
http://safaritalk.net/topic/6999-let...al-park-kenya/

Any plans to post a trip report with your full itinerary?
AKR1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 07:40 PM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 551
Atravelynn - Funny, I don't know what a gerenuk is, but the Waco is an open cockpit replica of a 1930s biplane piloted by Will Craig who owns the Lewa Wilderness Safari Lodge. I read about it on another travel website that starts with the letter "F"

Tom B - off topic, but you are right about original Medicare not covering medical emergencies overseas. I'm 60 so not Medicare eligible, but now you are up my alley professionally as I'm in healthcare mgmt. If you want out of country coverage for emergency medical care, emergency medical transport, and "urgently needed services" find an HMO-style Medicare Advantage plan or by a Medigap policy that includes this! Or, yes, medical travel insurance is an alternative. Definitely the reason we are looking to finally go to Africa is the fear that 10 years from now we won't be physically or financially up to it.

I'll check out Coastal Aviation and Ethiopian Airways...

Pollydill - your trip sounded great! I now need to check the rainy season in Rwanda!
LeslieC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 07:51 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 60
AKR1: Amboselli was wonderful. We stayed at Tortilis Camp for 2 nights with Ali as our guide. It was great.
(Your pictures in Amboselli were amazing, btw!)

A trip report is in the works....
pollydill is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 08:38 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 279
I would say YES. We stayed at Sayari in Tanzania in August 2010 and were lucky to see multiple river crossings. The last was the most unforgettable as we watched a young wildebeest struggle to survive under a pile of other wildebeest and then instead of getting up and getting out the same side of the river he decided to swim back. As he is swimming the crocodile almost got him. It was our last day and I could barely watch, but the wildebeest made it and as he got out there was a rainbow as he ran off to join the rest of the herd. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience. There are no guarantees as we all know but it is really incredible. We are from LA as well and I can't believe it but we seem be to getting used to the flight. Our last trip in October was to Madagascar which added an extra 3 1/2 hours from South Africa. Zimbabwe in September is almost the same amount of hours as we have to fly from South Africa to Victoria Falls. I think when we go to Costa Rica in February, I will feel like we barely boarded before we land.
lhgreenacres is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 09:03 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,844
Wow - there are quite a few of us from LA. FYI - we loved Amboseli as well. A great start to the safari and a good contrast to the Mara. Had stunning Kili views the entire time, plus there were hundreds of elephant families and lots of flamingos. We stayed in Amboseli Porini at the adjacent reserve and did a 15k walking safari with the Masai...that and the village visit, plus glorious sundowner locations were trip highlights. We also liked the road trip there from Nairobi, which allowed us to see some local color, and saved some money on internal flights.
crosscheck is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 10:09 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 166
I'm not from LA but I'm from San Francisco, so almost the same! I'm enjoying this thread - you all have such good experience to draw from that it makes thinking of planning a trip so much easier. Lynn, I enjoyed your "tome."
Jane62 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:21 PM.