Bring your binoculars for the Big Five
The Ultimate Serengeti Safari
Serengeti and safari – they’re one and the same thing. And that’s probably why you’ve come to “The Motherland”, as it were. The hair raising roar of a lion, the fashionable stripe of a zebra, the rolling golden plains. It’s the ultimate natural dream world. And it’s all brought to life by its headline stealing act: the Great Wildebeest Migration. Every year, almost one and a half million of these iconic members of the antelope family stampede their way north to the fertile ground of the Maasai Mara, risking life and limb as they cross croc infested waters. And every year Tanzania’s wilderness is transformed as if someone has taken a pepper shaker to it. You literally can’t move for wildebeests. Well, you can, but the sight is quite frankly unreal.
But you know that already. You’ve seen Nature’s Great Event, beautifully narrated by Sir David Attenborough and constantly re-run as one of the BBC’s ultimate faves. But it’s not quite the same as seeing the real thing, is it? You want to be there, see it, feel the immensity of it. Because there really is something in the air when the wildebeest are migrating. For the big predators it means that a good lunch is on the cards, for the wildebeest themselves it means a treacherous journey and for you, well you won’t want to put those binoculars down.
And this yearly event isn’t all there is to see. The Serengeti is a world great when it comes to safari opportunities. Which means the Big Five are abound – obvs – and the scenes are the ones that have been the poster child for Africa travel since Africa travel became a thing. So, jump to it. Khaki wear at the ready, because things are about to get safari heavy on the blog. From the best experiences that the Serengeti offers, to what you’ll need to pack for the adventure, we’ve got you covered.
The Great Migration
Ah, the African Savannah. A rolling expanse of golden grasslands, blessed with an abundance of extraordinary wildlife. And also home to a world wonder that has fascinated onlookers since time began. Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about the Great Migration again. It is “great” after all, so the airtime is well deserved. Part and parcel of East Africa’s makeup, the Great Migration is an epic natural phenomenon, a tale as old as time. Except it’s not a tale, it’s very real. And in a world where authenticity is hard to find, it’s definitely one for the bucket-list.
When it comes to where to see it, Serengeti National Park is the one. Witness wildebeests in their thousands pound the cracked earth to escape the dry season and reach the lush lands of Kenya’s Maasai Mara. This unparalleled event is best witnessed in Tanzania during June, July and August and luckily for you, we’re on hand to give you the lowdown on all things Great Migration.
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer back in blighty, spring turning into summer in the savannah is signalled by the herds of antelope gathering in the Central and Western Serengeti, prepping for the tough journey that lies ahead. Drama and chaos are guaranteed and June is the month where it all begins.
Think savannah storming on mass and river crossings far more frequent than the wildebeests would wish. It’s the crossing of these choppy rapids that make this migration so perilous. And yes, the crocs enjoy the aftermath, but they aren’t actually the cause of so many beasts falling on these crossings. Amidst the frenzy and panic, tramplings, and consequently, drownings are inevitable. But this, as they say, is the circle of life. And it’s this yearly event that actually makes up a vital part of East Africa’s ecosystem – in saying that, we wouldn’t judge if you shed a little tear for those both loved and lost.
By August, the herds have made their way to the Northern Serengeti. But it doesn’t stop there, they have to keep moving. We told you that this was the Great Migration, right? And the rivers aren’t their only hurdles. With more lions in this part of the world than anywhere else, keeping an eye out for hungry predators is pretty crucial too. Out here, in Africa’s wilderness, it really is “survival of the fittest.
By September the wildebeest have reached the final leg of their journey. Many have fallen but the survivors must push on – and this is no mean feat. Large herds break up into small groups and the atmosphere is a lot calmer. Now in the Maasai Mara, the herds have reached the finish line – can we get a woop woop? And just in time for the season of rich vegetation that October brings. See, there is a point to all this hard going journey after all.
So that’s it, a full rundown of what you can expect to see if in East Africa between June and October. Choose any of our Tanzania base itineraries and you’ll get game drives in Serengeti National Park included as part and parcel of your trip. What are you waiting for?
Hot Air Balloon Ride Safari
Fancy floating through the skies at the mercy of the wind? Ok, and an expert guide of course. But if some aerial views of the Serengeti sound like they would do it for you, then you can’t go wrong with a Hot Air Balloon Safari. Choose our ‘Once in a Lifetime’ experience to get yourself under one of those iconic rainbow-coloured canopies overlooking the endless plains. Heading off at the break of dawn, you’ll catch the soft colours of the sunrise and also have the best opportunity of spotting wildlife before they hide away from the midday heat.
The absolute stillness as you float above the plains, forest and the Mara River is something that you simply can’t beat – we have made it a once in a lifetime experience for a reason. Depending on the season, you’ll spot herds of wildebeest stampeding their way across the plains, groups of elephants grazing undisturbed in a remote ravine, lionesses stealthily stalking an unassuming antelope, or zebras stark against the earthy tones in their black and white get-up.
With your eyes suitable feasted, you’ll return to the ground to satisfy your stomach. And not just any old grub, this fancy breakfast comes with bubbles. You’ll even be awarded with a balloon flight certificate. You know, just in case your Facebook status update and Instagram uploads weren’t proof enough for your friends and family back home.
To embark on this incredible safari experience, simply opt to add a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ pack to your tour of Tanzania.
Where to stay in Serengeti
After a dusty safari, you’ll definitely want to relax and unwind in your own cosy sanctuary. Which is exactly why we’ve handpicked the best stays for you to choose from:
ThornTree Camp - Standard hotel
ThornTree Camp is a classic tented safari camp located in the Seronera Valley, home to year-round wildlife. Views from the campsite look out across Banagi Hill and and the Serengeti Plains where you have a good chance of spotting lions, leopards and herds of elephants going about their day. The en-suite tents have a distinct safari feel and are spacious with a shaded veranda, completely powered by solar power. The bar and dining area are also housed in tents and you can warm up in the evenings by the campfire. A traditional Tanzanian experience.
Kubu Kubu Tented Camp - Character Hotel
The Kubu Kubu Tented Camp is situated on a gentle hillside with stunning views of the Central Serengeti area where you can explore the endless plains. The spacious tents include en-suite bathrooms with giant tubs and outdoor showers, balconies built high up on wooden platforms, and the modern African decorative style creates a fresh and bright ambience. Views can be enjoyed from your room, the dining areas and the fabulous swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers to relax. A real safari stay in the Serengeti.
Ole Serai Luxury Camp - Turner Springs - Premium Hotel
The Ole Serai Luxury Camp is a charming hotel found in the heart of the vast Serengeti National Park. Year-round game can be viewed from the hotel due to its secluded location. The 20 luxury tents give a real African ambience with authentic furnishings, leather, the occasional leopard print and 180 degree view of the endless plains – creating the feeling of being out in the open whilst still providing a sense of privacy and comfort. Meals are included during your stay here, a real fine dining experience. Later, try star-gazing under a warm blanket.
Ole Serai Luxury Camp - Moru Kopjes - Luxury Hotel
One Nature Nyaruswiga is an ultra lux safari camp, surrounded by breathtaking views of endless plains and embraced by the majestic Nyaruswiga Hills - a popular spot for resident wildlife. The 12 luxury tents are propped up with solid African Eucalyptus wood, and decked out in brass fittings, a free-standing bathtub, four-poster bed, and even an indoor fireplace, just in case you get chilly. They’ve been designed to incorporate luxury into an exciting African safari camping experience, using only eco-friendly materials. Drinks and meals are included in your stay, from mouth-watering meals to delicate desserts and sumptuous snacks, your stay here will be filled with breathtaking sights and mouth-watering gastronomic delights. Pair dinner with a glass of wine or try the One Nature signature cocktail. For ultimate indulgence, treat yourself to one of the hotel’s wellness therapy treatments.
Things to pack
From safari gear to the best camera to get those Instagrammable photos – listen up, because here’s a quick tick-list of what you’ll need when safari-ing in the Serengeti.
Clothes & Footwear
Casual but comfortable is the rule here. You’ll need trousers and a windproof jacket for cooler mornings. Cotton is best for t-shirts, shirts and blouses as it dries quickly. And, of course, the all-important explorer's hat. Layering is key. Keep clothes neutral-toned as bright colours will make the animals shy away.
The African Savannah is a diverse landscape so pack the correct footwear. Think walking/hiking boots or a really good pair of comfy trainers. Bring sandals with you when lounging around the hotel.
If you opt for our Flying Safari, make sure to pack light. The small aircrafts have a baggage allowance of up to 15kg in soft bags only.
Toiletries and Meds
Okay, clothes – checked. Now toiletries. Sun cream with the highest SPF rating is always a good idea, as you’ll be spending a lot of time out under the blaring African sun. A handy pack of tissues and wet wipes will go a long way. And the basics – toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush and deodorant.
You want to be prepared out in the wild. Pack things you need for: diarrhoea, headaches, insect repellent, sore throat, eye drops and anti-malaria tablets.
Don’t forget to take your travel vaccination 6 weeks before you jet off.
Camera and Binoculars
You’ll be clicking away at anything that moves here. Serengeti National Park is a photographers dream. To get the perfect shots, we recommend a point and shoot, or a DSLR to capture cheetahs racing in high definition.
Binoculars are a must-have and will make such a difference to your safari experiences. Don’t forget them!
So there you go, from the Great Migration circuit to luxurious stays in Serengeti’s best lodges and camps. We want you to get the best out of your African adventure, so you can have Hakuna Matata (no worries)!