Serengeti Migration - where to stay in May

By Julian 12 July 2017

A guide to where to stay to see the Serengeti's Great Migration in May

Firstly, where are the herds? May is a major moving month as the herds leave the short grass plains and move north. It is rutting season and very good prices in the camps due to low season offers. For early May the focus should be the central Serengeti plains, from the Moru Kopjes and further north into central Seronera (the heart of the park). I’ve always believed that Moru comes into its own in May. At the end of the month however the herds are focussing on the Western corridor and so splitting your time between these two areas is a great way to maximise your chance of viewing the mega herds.

There are two different styles of property to choose from. The first is the famous ‘Serengeti mobiles’ that follow the herds, and the second is the ‘permanent lodges’ (or camps). The Serengeti mobiles tend to cater for the more adventurous traveller, however I would always encourage people to consider the idea of the mobile camps; they are much more comfortable than people expect and are often the highlight of a safari.

To help you understand what you get for your money, we split the Serengeti’s properties into three different price brackets – Value, Classic, and Luxury. It's worth mentioning that the prices below do NOT include any long stay deals etc. Therefore our safaris can often be less expensive than this nightly rate. Also, May is very much LOW season, so rates in camps and therefore our price categories are different from previous months.

THE VIDEO BELOW – an overview of where to stay in May to maximise your chance of seeing the herds.

BENEATH THE VIDEO - a write up of my favourite lodges and recommendations for where to stay that covers all price points

The Great Migration's best camps and safari lodges in May

There are two different styles of property to choose from. The first is the famous ‘Serengeti mobiles’ that follow the herds, and the second is the ‘permanent lodges’ (or camps). The Serengeti mobiles tend to cater for the more adventurous traveller, however I would always encourage people to consider the idea of the mobile camps; they are much more comfortable than people expect and are often the highlight of a safari.

To help you understand what you get for your money, we split the Serengeti’s properties into three different price brackets – Value, Classic, and Luxury. It's worth mentioning that the prices below do NOT include any long stay deals etc. Therefore our safaris can often be less expensive than this nightly rate. Also, May is very much LOW season, so rates in camps and therefore our price categories are different from previous months.

‘Value’ Serengeti camps (approximately $400 to $500 per person per night)

The great May rates mean that our Value properties see huge jumps in their rates from the 1st June onward. May is a great time to travel for value alone; our value properties in May are usually our classic camps at other times of the year!

Mobile camps – Asilia’s Ubuntu Camp and Chaka Camp are both located in the Serengeti’s western corridor and therefore perfect towards the end of the month. (Chaka only opens from the 15th May every year). If booking either of these it’s important to combine these camps with properties around Moru to cover the area the herds will move between.

Permanent Lodges - The competition here is between Nasikia’s Naona Moru and Lemala’s Ewanjan. Finding a favourite between these two is very hard indeed – they are both superb and similarly styled properties. I’d probably go for Ewanjan, due to its location slightly further east and across the river system here….which opens up the eastern Serengeti and the roads north. There are also less Tsetse fly in this area.

My suggestion for the ‘Value’ price bracket - If travelling at the beginning of the month then Moru is the place to be, so Lemala Ewanjan gets my vote. Travel from the 15th onward however and I’d combine Lemala Ewanjan with Ubuntu so you cover Moru and the west.

‘Classic’ Serengeti camps (approximately $650 per person per night)

Mobile Camps – Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp is my stand out mobile for this time of year, mainly because there are so few others open! The reality however is I’ve always been a big fan of this camp due to the authentic approach of the company that runs it. This property was the original mobile camp and with some of the best guides in the Serengeti remains an office favourite.

Permanent Lodges - The big ‘safari name’ in the permanent lodges is Asilia Safaris with their Namiri Plains and Dunia Camp covering the area around Namiri and Moru respectively. Combining these two camps is a great option for traversing the areas the herds will be moving through in late April and May, especially as they are literally half price from their peak-season rates. 

My suggestion for the ‘Classic’ price bracket  - Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp epitomises everything about safari and the location is perfect. Dunia and Namiri’s rates are undeniably brilliant. A tough choice, but I’d go with Nomad.

‘Luxury’ Serengeti camps (approximately $800-$1,000 per person per night)

Mobile Camps - &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is a mobile that focuses on luxury – the honeymoon option maybe but overall I’m a great believer in the fact you get better value at Serengeti Safari Camp in our classic bracket if you want a mobile for this time of year.

Permanent Lodges - Pioneer Camp in the central Serengeti is a superb permanent luxury lodge that’s surprisingly good value at this time of year. &Beyond’s permanent lodge option in the Western Corridor however – Grumeti River Camp – i9s superb towards the end of May…and has very attractive rates for a property that is the best part of $1,500pppn in June! The pick of the bunch however is the Singita Reserve. Singita’s Faru Faru is nothing short of exceptional and a great camp to do after Pioneer as I often combine this camp with one of the properties around Ndutu or Moru.

My suggestion for the ‘Luxury’ price bracket – Pioneer is a superb camp for stays around Moru however the value on offer at Grumeti River Camp and Faru Faru is undeniable…with my pick being Faru Faru.

A final mention on the large hotels –The Serena and Sopa are the most popular large hotels at this time of year; their locations are good, albeit a little too far north for most of the month. Of the two I have always preferred the Serena. The Four Seasons however, located much further north is a super-luxurious large hotel just north of the central Serengeti. I shudder at its size and its commercial approach to safaris if I’m honest, but the property certainly caters towards clients looking for luxury and that re-assurance of a large hotel as opposed to an adventurous smaller property.

Are you considering going on 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].