A Guide to the Serengeti Great Migration in December

By Julian 10 July 2017

Tanzania's Serengeti Great Migration; a guide to December

The Serengeti is the ‘mother’ of all safari parks and the Great Migration one of the planets most impressive wildlife events; this is a park that epitomises the very essence of safari. Home to the largest herds on earth and with Africa’s Big Five on show, the Serengeti is one of those rare places that exceeds your expectations.

The 1.5 million strong 'Wildebeest Great Migration' is the parks major attraction and the majority of trips to the Serengeti should be designed around it. In this 12-part month by month blog series, I look at each month’s movements of the herds and all the other wildlife caught up in the action. I will also link you to my suggestions for the best places to stay throughout the year, to make sure you’re in the thick of the herds whenever you travel. And there are a few suggestions for how you might like to combine your Great Migration trip with other areas. Intrigued? Read on…

A Guide to the Serengeti Migration in December

December is quite a tricky month, as the herds are still pushing south to their wet season grazing grounds of the southern Serengeti and northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Reliant on the rains across what is an absolutely vast area, their exact location can fool even the best guides. Their movements at the beginning of the month can be notoriously difficult to predict, as they often spread out across the entire southern Serengeti from Kusini to Namiri! In our opinion, you cannot go wrong with focusing around Moru and Kusini at the beginning of the month, while towards the end of December the best game viewing is around Kusini and Ndutu as the Ndutu Plains literally come to life!

Summary – The first rains force the herds to settle down into the southern plains. Come late December, and Ndutu is the place to be as the water in the area focuses the predators and other game. The predator concentrations around Ndutu are immense.

VIDEO OVERVIEW - Below is a 60 second video overview of the movement of the Great Migration in December.

WHERE TO STAY? I've written an accompanying blog and video on where to stay for the herds in December.

WHAT IS THE BEST SAFARI IN DECEMBER? Beneath the video below is more information on the parks I would combine with the Serengeti in November, and also my suggestion for the best safaris.

What parks are best to combine with the Serengeti in December?

  • The Ngorongoro Crater is virtually impossible to turn down. This spectacular game-drive area may be busy, but how often are you going to have the opportunity to drive on the floor of an extinct volcano… and with one of the highest densities of animals anywhere all around you?! The setting is nothing short of exceptional.
  • The Serengeti is vast. In December I’ve always believed the best trips involve two locations in the park so you either a) maximise your chance of seeing the ‘mega’ herds by spitting your time across two locations in the southern plains or b) explore a quiet part of the park (such as the far north or Singita and Grumeti in the west), where you will have luxury lodges at low prices and basically have a game drive area all to yourself!
  • Nearby Lake Manyara is always a nice ‘soft’ introduction to the region. Famous for its tree climbing lions it is a busy park in terms of tourists and a location that splits opinion amongst guides.
  • Only a few people visit Tarangire in December however the game can still be very good. Most travellers prefer to wait until the herds arrive later in the year but December is an interesting addition if you are prepared to work for your sightings and want to avoid the crowds.
  • My secret spot in the north is Lake Natron, for the quality of walking, the sheer beauty of the scenery, and the fact you are off the tourist track – I think it’s well worth a visit. You have to want to be adventurous, though!

The beaches

  • Finally, the beaches of the Zanzibar Archipelago or Tanzania's mainland coast are superb. Mozambique is also excellent but tricky to include due to difficulties with flights. Further afield and the Seychelles or Mauritius are superb. 

The best Serengeti Safaris in December

I’ve always believed the best trips in January start with the Ngorongoro region (potentially with Lake Manyara) before heading into the Serengeti for a stay with the herds in the southern plains of the park.

I’d suggest splitting your location in the park and including another location in the southern plains (to maximise your chance of seeing the mega herds), or choosing a property in the far north or the western corridor where luxury lodges are a fraction of their peak season price (Christmas excluded!). Lamai Serengeti’s reduced rates are very attractive – a stunning property - but for clients looking for the best of it all then Singita’s private Grumeti Reserve in the far west is superb. Budgets go sky high with this option, but combining somewhere like Singita’s Faru Faru with the Ngorongoro and Serengeti mobiles is as good as safari gets. And the low season rates in December make the trip more competitive than peak season…by far!!

Are you looking to go on a safari?

If so, then we would love to help you design it! With all the information on the net today we quite often find clients somewhat confused and flooded with information. The best thing you can do is to speak to someone in the YZ office about your plans. We have three members of staff who have worked in the Serengeti and can talk you through the best options for you, at the right time of year.

Wies ([email protected], pronounced Veece!) is a professional safari guide and camp manager, while Lauren ([email protected]) worked for Legendary Expeditions and Mwiba. They know the Serengeti backwards… and they love to chat about it!

Please feel free to get in touch with either them or myself on [email protected].