FIrst trip to Africa - want to see migration

Aug 20th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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FIrst trip to Africa - want to see migration

Trying to plan first trip to Africa and have my heart set on seeing "Great Migration" in Tanzania. However, I cannot really get a handle on what months are best to see it. I realize different months mean different areas. I am thinking about March/April (because it's the best time for me in terms of someone watching my kids, who don't want to go!!), but I would change everything around if that's a bad time of year to go.

Thanks for any and all advice.
jparis is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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This website (well, at least the slidehow-map) will give you an idea of where the migration is supposed to be:

BUT! Understand that the migration differs from year to year. It depends on rainfall etc.

The year I was there the migration was scattered. A small part remained in central serengeti, Another part was at the western boundaries of the park, and some were already back in the Mara! (this was mid july)

pixelpower is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 11:56 AM
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Eben's site ( has a map showing you the general location of the migration every month of the year. It of course varies from year to year because the animals' movements are in response to rain, which make grass grow and provides water for them to drink. So if you are planning a trip to see the migration, it is best to visit two different locations to maximize your chance of seeing it. So, for example, I am going in late June next year, splitting my time between the Western Corridor and the Northern Serengeti.
Check Eben's maps, but I suspect in March/April the herds are down south near Lake Ndutu or in the Seronera Valley.

Chris_GA_Atl is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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March and April is the "long rains" season. I don't think you'd want to go then, as it's your first trip. I've found June to be a good time to see the Migration in the Serengeti, and is (usually) after the rains have ended. Also, it's cool then, which is nice. The herds are usually moving from the Central Serengeti into the Western Corridor and the northern portions of the park. February is also a good time to see the Migration in the southern Serengeti and is usually between the short rains and the long rains. It's summer, though, and can get quite warm. With the changes in climate, the rains are not as predictible, so neither is the location of the herds.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 12:01 PM
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My understanding is that March to May is the rainy season in Tanzania. While the rain itself may not affect you that much, it'll make the roads very muddy and impassable in certain situations. One advantage is that you'll get good prices on lodging.

The best time is end of January - February when the wildebeest are calving in the Southern Serengeti - NCA area. This is when the herds are concentrated to give birth. Most shots you see of a landrover driving through a herd of wildebeest stretching out to the horizon were probably taken during this time.

However, as noted, the wildebeest may have different ideas, so it's difficult to predict.
lifelist is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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We entered Serengeti Park, coming from Ngorongoro, at the very tail end of April this year and were surroudned by thousands of wildebeest, organizing and slowly making their tracks north. Two days later they were all over Central Serengeti, just south of Serengeti Serena. We had a great Migration experience. On our way out again, there were fewer numbers, so the conclusion is, at least for end of April and early May of 2007 - be there at that time next year! We head zero rain.
bushperson is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Jparis, if March/April is when you can go then you should be able to see the migration in the Serengeti, given normal rains. As others noted it's also the season of "long rains" so you might get hung up in a place a day extra, or you might find that some areas are off-limits because of wet roads, but generally you'll be OK.

We've been there twice in late January, one year was very dry and the herds were scattered, the next year (2007) was wet, green and beautiful and we were in herds of 500,000 wildebeests a couple of times (plus 170 lion sightings, 20 cheetahs etc).

We also went the first 10 days of April 2006 and had a lot of rain and dark skies, but again saw the "black tides" of wildebeests ... you can see pics from these trips at this link:

Personally I prefer January after a wet December because the light is better for photography, but April is fine for gameviewing and you'll get lower rates and see many fewer people, at the added risk of getting rained in somewhere an extra day.

Bill_H is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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Your kids don't want to go? They are nuts.

Early March could be good but of course it all depends on the rains the year you go. I've been in late June (Western Corridor and Seronera) and once in July. Missed the migration in July but still had a fabulous time. Whenever you go, you won't regret it.

Congrats on making such a brilliant travel decision.
Leely is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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wow - I have been posting on Fodors for years and I have NEVER had so many responses so quickly. You guys are amazing!!!
Yes, I think my kids are crazy too, but I really don't want to drag teenagers on such a long (and expensive) trip.
Sounds like Feb or early March would be ok. I realize one can't count on anything because this is not "Disney" (thank goodness!!). I am sure it will be an amazing trip whenever we go.

Ok, since you did soooo well with my first question, let me ask my second one. I have been looking (and drooling) over the CC Africa brochure which has the most luxurious places in Africa, which for Tanzania, would be Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Grumeti River Camp and Klein's camp (which I think will be too far northwest for us for the time we are thinking about going).

I mean, these are amazing places, and the costs are commensurate. So, the question is, what other camps would you recommend that would bring us to the same areas but not cost as much?
jparis is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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While you're waiting for the pricing experts, have a look at the following invaluable resources:

The New East Africa Trip Report Index

Here you might want to graze reports of people who've traveled to TZ in Feb/March to familiarize yourself with itineraries, camps and lodges. Sometimes costs (there are no secrets on the Africa board).

And don't miss Eben's other fantastic website:

Leely is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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jparis, on the rim of the crater you have 4 choices...the Crater Lodge, the Serena, the Sopa and the Wildlife (decending order of $$). We stayed at the Serena last year and liked it well enough for a return there next year, but we plan to have a meal at the Sopa to check it out.

In Manyara, we stayed at Kirurumu last year and are staying at the Farmhouse next year. Other options in that area include Gibbs Farm and Plantation Lodge.

In the western Serenegeti you have 3 options...Kirawira where we stayed last year, Grumeti, and Mbalageti where we're staying next year. But if you plan to go in Feb or March, you really don't need to be heading to the western corridor. You'll likely want to stay where the action is in the southern Serengeti. Lots of folks stay at Ndutu, but my choice would be to stay at one of the mobile tented camps such as Olakira, Simiyu, EMC or Savannah Camp.

You're right about Kleins being a bit too far north for Feb or March. You probably want to focus on the Southern Serengeti at that time of year.
Calo is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 05:00 PM
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We went in early July and thought we might be too late for the migration this year. But, turns out we were a bit early. So, you can never tell.

We stayed in some very nice places for a lot less than you'll get through CC Africa. Migration Camp, Kirawira, Serena at the Crater. We picked Good Earth Tours and were very impressed.

We put together a luxury Safari for a lot less than some most of the luxury agents. My limited advice is to pick an agent then put together a private luxury safari based on where you want to go and stay.
Duane is offline  
Aug 20th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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I've used Kibo Guides 3 times and have been quite happy with them. They are affiliated with Tanganyika Wilderness Camps, but could book you into other properties, as well. In Tanzania, you are visiting national parks or the Crater, no matter where you stay. Therefore, the cost of a safari there can vary quite a bit, depending on your lodging choices. You should be able to book directly with a safari outfitter there and get a good price.
ShayTay is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 01:11 PM
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Keep in mind that if you're thinking about Feb/early March of 2008, many places may already be full, so have some back ups in mind and flexibility with your plans. Good luck!
Patty is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 07:45 PM
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If you're going late February/early March, then this is your opportunity for staying at the Crater Lodge at a good rate. According to the CC Africa website, March 1st is the beginning of their shoulder season rates at the Crater Lodge and Lake Manyara, though this time of year, you should concentrate on the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

A couple of nights in the central Serengeti, a few nights in the southern serengeti with CC Africa Under Canvas, and then a couple of nights at the Crater Lodge would be a fantastic safari.
lifelist is offline  
Aug 21st, 2007, 07:53 PM
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We really enjoyed the small (4 tents) Nomad seasonal camp. There are a number of other companies that do the same thing. Highly recommend that as part of your trip.
bat is offline  

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