Serengeti migration Feb-Mar

Sep 26th, 2006, 11:42 AM
  #1  
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Serengeti migration Feb-Mar

I know it is hard to time this. If you book a mobile camp that moves every few weeks, then aren't you going to be where the migration is? Does the mobile camp take away the guess work?
plaid_dude is offline  
Sep 26th, 2006, 01:01 PM
  #2  
 
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Well, I don't know that they move every few weeks. I'd contact whatever operator you're considering and determine what their strategy is. I stayed with Exclusive Mobile Camping (EMC) last June, and they mentioned that they only move about 3 times a year. Still, the mobile camps are your best bet since they do monitor the herds and try to get the best position.

When I stayed with EMC, I sort of expected them to be near the Central Serengeti for late June. However, the herds had moved north, so their camp was located near Lobo - much further north than I had anticipated.
lifelist is offline  
Sep 26th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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plaid dude,

I had my best wildlife experience yet (out of 5 safaris) during my early March 2006 safari to the Serengeti. I chose to spend 4 nights at Nomad Tanzania's semi-mobile Serengeti camp in the Ndutu area and it was an absolutely incredible experience.

Prior to the Serengeti, I visited Tarangire Treetops, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge. Following Nomad Ndutu, I spent a couple nights at Mbuzi Mawe (a Serena luxury camp in the central part of the Serengeti) and 5 nights in Zanzibar split between The Palms and the Serena Inn. Although my wife very much enjoyed Zanzibar, for me both Mbuzi Mawe and Zanzibar was a bit of a letdown after Nomad Ndutu. If I could do it over again, I would have probably visited Uganda or Rwanda for a week. However, all in all, it was a great safari but the highlight was truly my time with Nomad.

www.nomad-tanzania.com

Here is my trip report and photo album from this safari:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34775997

http://www.kodakgallery.com/rocco/main/tanzania

I have never seen as many lions, especially full grown maned (male) lions in their prime, as I saw in the Serengeti.

Nomad is highly recommended because you will have your own vehicle and guide. Nomad's guides are all excellent. They are cross-trained between Nomad's different properties (various parts of the Serengeti where there semi-mobile camps are setup, Selous, Tarangire plus they also do ground handling for Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara).
Roccco is offline  
Sep 26th, 2006, 08:35 PM
  #4  
santharamhari
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Rocco,

If i was to go to the Serengeti, Nomad would be my pick simply because of the inclusive private vehicle....clear edge in my book....

Hari
 
Sep 26th, 2006, 11:09 PM
  #5  
aby
 
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Hi
Maybe the main trend of this forum's community is locked within a pre-concept ?

U wanna see migration? there is a very good option seldom discussed

e.g. two friends of mine are operating a small & qualitative company in Arusha, which does different kinds of Safaris many of which r based on LUXURY CAMPING. And they r not alone

This is the most FLEXIBLE system with the best chance of putting you up right in the midst of migration !!

The camp can move every 3 nights and not 3 times a year {don't mistake the term 'camping' - We r talking about actual beds in walk-in tents etc')

aby

PS i've 'discovered' this forum only this year. at the end of the year i thought of giving my views of this forum. One major issue which astonishes me is that so many informative persons, ignore a good option for sth they consider highly important - migration & calving.
Guess i ought to open a new thread (?)
aby is offline  
Sep 26th, 2006, 11:11 PM
  #6  
aby
 
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Roccco my Dear

is the missionary for Zambia (& Southern Africa) re-evaluating his own religion? ;-)
aby is offline  
Sep 26th, 2006, 11:22 PM
  #7  
santharamhari
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Aby,

I recommend making your comments right away. Don't wait till the end of the year. Any opinions/comments could help travellers making their plans at the current time......

I for one, dont know enough about Tanzania or other locations and would like more comments that allows me to do more research for future travels.....

Hari
 
Sep 27th, 2006, 02:44 AM
  #8  
aby
 
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Hi Hari

it is not about comments on safaris, but a rather 'trip report' of a trip inside Fodor's Africa forum - some insights, angles & points of view & apologies etc'
aby is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 03:33 AM
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Hi Aby,

Now you got me curios? Could you please let us know more about your "trip report of trip inside Fodors". And also pls more info about luxury camping and other ways of enjoying the migration.

Tom
basto is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 03:39 AM
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aby,

Let there be no mistake about it...Zambia is still my favorite destination. While Tanzania, undoubtedly, has unrivaled lions, wildebeest & zebras, I prefer the diversity of Zambia where I am sure to come across not only lions, but leopards, many more elephants, hippos, nile crocodiles, more varieties of birds and FAR, FAR, FAR less tourists.

Plus, in my opinion, the Zambian people are the warmest people that I have come across in all of my travels, the guiding in Zambia is stronger than in Tanzania and the open vehicles of Zambia are preferred over the closed vehicles of Tanzania.

What I did with my Tanzanian safari is I essentially tried to make it as Southern African in design as possible...choosing the smallest and most exclusive lodges (Tarangire Treetops, which by the way STILL had 20 rooms, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Nomad Ndutu and Mbuzi Mawe) rather than any regular Serena or Sopa 50 room lodges.

Although it may take a couple years, I do look forward to returning to Serengeti to explore Selous and Ruaha.
Roccco is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 04:24 AM
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I agree with aby that there are excellent mobile options in Tanzania other than the few always pushed on this board! More exclusive and better guides for sure!

The mobile business is rather complex because there are many styles of camping. Some camps are semi-permanent (Sayari), some are seasonal (EMC, Olakira), some are completely mobile (Firelight at least for now, and plenty of others) and some cannot be defined yet (Lions of Lobo for example)!

Even completely mobile camps will stay in one place for a month or more if they have the bookings to do so and the wildlife is good - it is cheaper than moving around!

Mobile camping in Tanzania is a wonderful way to experience the wild.

But it is a complex business to understand, and to figure out who the players are and the availability!

climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 05:33 AM
  #12  
santharamhari
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Aby,

Sorry...i misunderstood your post.

Hari
 
Sep 27th, 2006, 12:04 PM
  #13  
 
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Please aby, eben, and anyone else, help us figure out who the players are and what the best options are.

For example this past season the migration in Tanzania was atypical. Did all of the mobiles (the highly touted and the lesser known) place their clients in a good spot?
atravelynn is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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I guess one thing I don't understand is how far in advance an operator must book a campsite in the national parks. It seems to me that they'd need to book at least 2-3 months in advance, and in doing so, they would have to take their best guess as to what the herds would be doing within that time period.

It strikes me that the issue here isn't being able to break down camp and set it up someplace else every few days. It doesn't really matter if you can do that if you can't get into a campsite that's at a location you want. So, being able to break camp every 3 days isn't as important as being able to move to a campsite that's in the right location.

So, can mobile camp operators really be that flexible in terms of moving around and following the migrating herds? Can the operators discover the herds had moved on one day, and simply decide to move their camp to another campsite closer to the animals without having to book the sites well in advance?

I always thought for private mobile camping, the operator would book into a campsite a few months ahead of time - taking into account their best guess as to the migration. If they guessed wrong, then they'd have to scramble to get another campsite at a better location. If things got booked up, they'd be out of luck. Or, are things much more flexible than that?
lifelist is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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"For example this past season the migration in Tanzania was atypical. Did all of the mobiles (the highly touted and the lesser known) place their clients in a good spot?"

I can't see how they possibly could. Getting "the right" special campsites at the right time is educated guessing plus luck, isn't it? Eben? Aby?

By the way, aby, I'm looking forward to your report. Remember to change names to spare us all too much humiliation.
Leely is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 01:39 PM
  #16  
bat
 
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eben: "I agree with aby that there are excellent mobile options in Tanzania other than the few always pushed on this board! More exclusive and better guides for sure!"

By all means please share their names--we have always relied on you to expand our knowlege about this aspect of TZ travel (and grateful for the info I might add.)
bat is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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Lifelist,

Good point about booking the site well in advance.

atravelynn is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 06:56 PM
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These mobile camping threads are my favorites!

1. Camping in the midst of the migration is very exciting indeed. One night in May 2005 we were surrounded by hundreds of thousands wildebeests and zebra at Nyani public camp site at Seronera. The noise was incredible - I was actually nervous about a stampede that night. What if they decided to run over my little tent? To make matters worse lions made a kill next to camp that night after a noisy hunt!

2. The next day? Hardly a wildebeest in sight for 20km! That's how fast they move. So it's highly unlikely to be surrounded or close to the migration for any extended period of time regardless of your mobility.

3. In my opinion any camp that's within a couple of hours' drive from the big herds when clients arrive are in a great location. Each day will bring longer or shorter game drives to see the fast moving herds.

4. Instead of trying to chase/predict the herds and move camp every few days, I think it is more important to:
a) choose scenic camp sites with good views of the plains,
b) possible lion action at night,
c) few tsetses,
d) driveable access tracks (wet black cotton soil can quickly turn a game drive into a messy struggle), and
d) within reasonable driving distance of good wildlife areas (and the big herds during local migration times).

The more serious outfitters have similar criteria when booking the camp sites and the best camp sites are booked many months (if not a year or more) in advance.

As a result these camp sites are rather impossible to claim at the last minute so following the herds from camp site to camp site is fiction IMO! Unless one can negotiate deals with TANAPA and the outfitters holding the sites!

For example, it is nearly impossible to get one of the sites at Naabi Hill from Feb-May in 2007.

But in East Africa it's hakuna matata and TANAPA does have some unmarked/backup/reserve camp sites that can be assigned during really busy periods! In theory it is therefor possible to get a good camp site even at the last moment but one can hardly count on this!

5. To most people interested in luxury camping I will say this: Don't sweat it. Pick an agent who can book the camps of one or more of the established mobile/seasonal outfitters and relax! These outfitters will take good care of you in the wild regardless of whether or not you are at one of the better camp sites at the time of your visit.
I stayed at a very expensive camp earlier this year. The camp was infested with tsetses, it was quite a drive from the wildlife areas and we heard very little at night. Yet, I had a great time despite my disappointment with the camp location!

6. For a minority of people who want the very best experiences during their camping safaris, I suggest a different approach. Talk to someone who knows the different mobile outfitters, who has seen all the better camp sites, who knows which outfitters have booked these camps and who can make judgement calls about timing your visits to these camp sites for the optimum safari! It is now perfectly acceptable to stay at camps from more than one outfitter during a single Serengeti safari - but not if the camps are only a few miles apart!

7. IMO the growth of the mobile safari (in Tanzania in particular) calls for a new kind of expertise when selling this kind of trip.

It would be rather silly of me to try and list the names of the top players, the best camp sites and the upcoming camp bookings on a public forum! Having this knowledge is obviously a big competitive advantage for agents who are willing to focus on mobile safaris! Besides, some of the info (such as best camp sites) are based on personal opinion.

I am trying to provide up-to-date maps with the locations of special camp sites on go-safari. The rest of the information such as camp outfitters, camp movements and camp site descriptions will have to remain propietary!
climbhighsleeplow is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 06:59 PM
  #19  
santharamhari
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Thanks, Eben. Lots of information to consider while planning a Serengeti trip....

Hari
 
Sep 28th, 2006, 07:34 PM
  #20  
 
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Definitely camping is the way to go if you want the ultimate safari experience. I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about the specific location of mobile camps, as there are many aspects that are way beyond your control. The job of your safari agent is to know what you want, and they are responsible for making your desires translate into a wonderful safari experience.

I have been camping for a while, and I think I know just about every special camp site out there, but I am always amazed when I don't get a place that I want and everything turns out better than expected. There are huge fluctuations with the migration every year, and there is no single optimal place to stay for a specific time way in advance. You just never know.

I just got back from extreme northern Serengeti, a place we call the Lemai wedge, Kogatende or Kogakuria. Simply amazing, and I always say that the area is great from early July until late October. Never that specific, because there are so many resident animals there to observe and photograph.

I hope this helps!

Andy
andybiggs is offline  

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