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12 July 2017

Where to stay to see the Serengeti's Great Migration in January

Firstly – where are the herds? Throughout January the Serengeti’s short grass plains including the northern plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are the place to be. This is the peak of calving season. The herds move around the area following localised rainfall and are often stretched from an area called Maswa in the west to Gol in the east. It’s a vast area but historically the heart of this area - Kusini and Ndutu – has had good rain and historically focuses the herds. These two areas also host reliably brilliant general game throughout the month, including all the cats.  I’ve always believed they are the best locations for the herds in January and that’s backed up by satellite data we have of the herds. However longer trips that also include camps in Moru or Namiri would cover the entire ‘possible’ migration area. For an extended write up of the movement of the Great Migration in January please follow this link, however for information on where to stay please continue reading this page.

THE VIDEO BELOW – an overview of where to stay in January 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


Serengeti Migration   where to stay January to April

The Serengeti Migration's best camps and safari lodges in January

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.

Throughout the calving season (December through to April) mobile camps are the focus of most of the trips I design, because there are very few permanent lodges around Ndutu and Kusini which is where I suggest most clients stay. 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.

‘Value’ Serengeti camps (approximately $500-$650 per person per night)

Mobile camps - The best of the mobile camps in our most economical bracket are Nasikia Migration Mobile, Chaka Camp, and Lemala Ndutu. All three are superb options, and we find it very difficult to pick a ‘winner’. If looking for sheer value then Nasikia Migration Mobile is the stand out winner, an exceptional camp for the price. Nsikia’s honest approach to safaris, where the focus is on the experience as opposed to luxurious hospitality levels seems to go down very well with our clients. Guiding is very good for the money you pay here. Lemala Ndutu also stands out for its guiding and this more luxurious camp will cater well for clients wanting to splash out slightly to get a more personal experience where luxury levels are set a tad higher.

Permanent lodges - Ndutu Safari Lodge is our entrance-level lodge in the area. As it’s somewhat uninspiring in design, albeit with great views over Lake Ndutu itself, I find I rarely sell this lodge due to the fact that I prefer the experience at Nasikia Migration Mobile. I’m always a fan of avoiding the more mass-market options in the park and would urge clients to do the same. If you are set on a lodge then Lake Masek Tented Camp would be the place to stay.

My suggestion for the ‘Value’ price bracket – Nasikia Migration would be my first choice for value, however Lemala Ndutu is the place to go if you can stretch the budget slightly.

‘Classic’ Serengeti camps (approximately $750-$850pppn)

Mobile camps - Step up a level to our Classic bracket, and the likes of Serengeti Safari Camp, Ubuntu, Kimondo and Olakira come into the picture. These camps are either owned by Asilia Safaris or Nomad Tanzania – two excellent companies, but fierce rivals! We are split in the office here, but I’ve personally always been a fan of Serengeti Safari Camp, due to the authentic approach of Nomad Tanzania. Also, they offer four nights for the price of three most years and you can get additional value for money by combining Serengeti Safari Camp with another of Nomad’s excellent properties elsewhere.

Permanent lodges – Focussing on the Ndutu area and Lake Masek Tented Camp is nicer than Ndutu Safari Lodge itself. It tends to be the property we use as our entrance-level permanent lodge at this time of year. In Moru (a little bit too far north in my opinion) Lemala’s Ewanjan is superb whilst Nasikia’s Naona Moru is also very good. The most famous camp in Moru is Asilia’s Dunia Camp, which prices itself in the top end of our classic bracket. At this level, Sanctuary’s Kusini has always been my favourite due to its quieter (and in my opinion better) location, whilst Elewana’s Pioneer Camp is the super luxurious camp in the classic bracket… what a view from the main area!

My suggestion for the ‘Classic’ price bracket – Serengeti Safari Camp, the original Serengeti mobile, is the camp I would always choose! Kimondo however is also superb due to its remote location in Kusini. If you were looking for a more permanent lodge style of property then Lemala’s Ewanjan at the lower end of this price bracket works well and Kusini Camp at the top end to escape the crowds.

‘Luxury’ Serengeti camps (approximately $1,000pppn and over)

Mobile camps - Finally we hit the most expensive of the Serengeti’s mobiles, in our Luxury bracket. Alex Walker’s Serian Kakesio and Serian Kusini are truly outstanding, while &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is a mobile tented camp that focuses on luxury… the honeymoon option, maybe. Meanwhile, there’s a new big hitter in the Serengeti, with Wilderness Usawa joining the elite ranks of mobile outfits that get you closer to the Migration than ever before. The company’s green credentials have also helped it secure wonderful sites that allow for walking safari.

Permanent lodges - I’d always include Kusini and Pioneer at this price bracket, even though they are less than $1,000pppn! The lavish Mwiba however is the standalone luxury property setting the standards. Offering a style of safari very unlike that of the mobiles, Mwiba boasts a very high level of luxury that competes with the very best properties in the country! The only issue with this camp’s location is the reliability of game… I’ve always viewed it something of a risk. What a camp, though.

My suggestion for the ‘Luxury’ price bracket – If you want to go mobile then look no further than the Serian properties. Serian Kakesio is outstanding but I’d always design a trip that splits time between his two properties, Serian Kusini and Kakesio. If permanent lodges are your style then Kusini Camp wins for game viewing but Mwiba wins for comfort, by a country mile.

Are you thinking about 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].

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