Maps and illustrations showing the path of the migrating herds should be used as a general guide (see our interactive map opposite) and are a good basis for choosing the location of your hotel, camp or lodge. However, as with anything in nature, the actual day to day pattern is remarkably unpredictable – the wildebeest haven’t checked the maps unfortunately and have their own ideas!
If you would like to safari at the heart of the Great Wildebeest Migration, the best approach is to book one of the Serengeti’s famous mobile camps. Two in particular set themselves apart from the others for their commitment to keeping up with the herds – Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp and &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas. These are the two mobile operations which we consider truly mobile and will be located near or amongst the herds at any time of the year. There are then the mobile camps of Alex Walker’s Serian, Asilia’s Olakira, Ubuntu and Kimondo which offer superb mobile operations from July to November and also from December through to March. For the rest of the year these two fabulous camps are closed.
If going mobile is a little too adventurous for you, then the Serengeti has various permanent lodges that will offer all the creature comforts you need together with a good location to see the herds on your Tanzania safari. Here is an overview of the movement of the herds, and the best permanent lodges to stay at for each each time of year.
A general guide to the Serengeti Wildebeest migration
The Southern Serengeti’s huge grass plains extend into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. From December to March the Serengeti Migration congregates around Lake Ndutu in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. When it reaches the area the herd splits up and spreads out leaving wildebeest herds as far as the eye can see. Ndutu Lodge and Kusini are the only permanent lodges in the area; Kusini is best towards the end of the period whereas Ndutu Lodge works throughout. Asilia’s Dunia Camp is also a good option at the beginning of December and again when the herds push north in March.
However, we must reiterate….wildebeest are not the most predictable of animals! The Migration is also entirely dependent upon rain, with the herds constantly searching for fresh grasses. As a result, it is a challenge to predict with any confidence where the herds will be during any particular week, and therefore to decide where best to stay. Our migration map is a great indicator of what the herds are ‘supposed’ to do throughout the year; choosing a permanent camp for your Tanzania safari that is located in the ‘right’ area for the time of year will clearly increase your chances, but there are no guarantees. Once again, the very best way to catch the herds is to stay in one of the Serengeti’s famous mobile camps, which move with the herds.
While we try and make our website as comprehensive as possible, if you would like some more background information on the Great Migration, or Tanzania in general, have a read through the Cadogan Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar, written by our director Annabel. The most recent edition was published in 2005 so some of it might be slightly dated but generally it’s as comprehensive as they come.