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Meet Julian, Director, Yellow Zebra Safaris, cropped
By Julian 12 July 2017

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

Firstly, where are the herds? In early July, the herds are tricky to predict as they continue their big push north to the dry season grazing grounds of the northern Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. Mid-July will see the arrival of the mega herds in the northern Serengeti and a week or so later in the Maasai Mara. July always signals the first of the mega crossings of the Mara river.

July is the start of high season and brings an increase in the rates, as game viewing in the Serengeti and in the Maasai Mara is approaching its best. July is when the dry season really starts to affect the vegetation and you start to lose the lush greens. The savannah grasses are not as tall and thick, which makes spotting game much easier.

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

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

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.

1st July to 15th July: The Western Corridor and Lobo in the northern heart of the park.

The rich grasses of the western corridor will keep herds for longer than many people expect, but early July usually sees the Great Migration pushing up through Lobo and into the northern Serengeti. The best trips at this time of year combine both areas whilst combining the central Serengeti with the north is also popular due to the value on offer in combining certain camps. 

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

Chaka Camp is the best of the western corridor mobiles however when splitting your time between two areas, the ideal scenario is to combine camps that are in the western corridor/central Seronera and also Lobo in the north of the Serengeti. This should take away your focus of going for a mobile camp.

The key is to work with a company that will give you a reduced rate for a four-night stay between the two areas. Nasikia Camps run Naona Moru in the heart of the park and Nasikia Migration Mobile in Lobo – the locations are good and the camps well priced.

Competition to the Nasikia camps would be Lemala Ewanjan and Lemala Kuria Hills, where the luxury on offer for the price is undeniable. The only issue however is these camps’ locations in the central Serengeti and the far north at Kogatende (not Lobo), are not quite as good as Nasikia’s locations.

My suggestion for the ‘Value’ price bracket – Nasikia’s Naona Moru and Migration Mobile are the camps I would recommend for the split stays in early July.

‘Classic’ Serengeti camps (approximately $750 per person per night)

Mobile Camps - Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp is the stand-out property in this price bracket. I have always been a fan of Serengeti Safari Camp due to the authentic approach of Nomad Tanzania, but it is their locations that are absolutely perfect for splitting a stay between 15th June and the end of the month. One of Nomad’s Serengeti mobiles is located in the north of the Musabi Plains in the west, while their other mobile property opens up in Lobo.

Permanent Lodges - If mobile camps are a tad too adventurous, then I’d suggest splitting your time between Pioneer Camp (at Moru) and Migration Camp. Both run by Elewana, they offer a good rate when staying in both properties during one trip. I’d also mention Nomad Tanzania’s Lamai Serengeti which, based at Kogatende in the far north, is in low season in June and often sees the first river crossings.

My suggestion for the ‘Classic’ price bracket – Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp is the stand out option for mobiles and a general contender for anyone travelling to the park in June! Adding on a couple of nights at Lamai Serengeti to try and see the river crossings is a superb option for value alone.

‘Luxury’ Serengeti camps (approximately $1000+ per person per night)

Mobile Camps - Again, due to the time of year and lack of high quality mobiles, the focus should be on permanent lodges – choosing mobile camps restricts the quality of a safari in June. The exception to the rule would be &beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas however the permanent lodges at this luxury level are nothing short of superb.

Permanent Lodges - Many people believe the outstanding option in this top bracket is combining the Singita Reserve with their camp – Singita Mara – in the far north of the Serengeti at the Lamai Wedge. However I’ve always believed that Singita is too far north for this time of year, so as much as I believe that Singita’s Faru Faru should always be included, I would suggest swapping Singita Mara for either Lamai Serengeti or Elewana’s Migration Camp.

My suggestion for the ‘Luxury’ price bracket – &Beyond’s Grumeti River Camp is a fantastic western corridor location, however if the Singita collection is open (the owner often shuts the camp around this time) then Singita Faru Faru is the place to stay, a property that is one of my top three in Africa. For opulent luxury its all about Sasakwa.

15th July onwards: The river crossings of the Mara River

From the 15th July onward the river crossings have started in the northern Serengeti around Kogatende and the Lamai Wedge. Herds will have moved into the area earlier than now but every year the mega herd tends to move through in the last two weeks of July...making this area the focus of these two weeks.

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

Mobile Camps - The pick of the mobile camps in our most economical bracket are Nasikia Migration Mobile in Lobo and Chaka and Lemala Mara in Kogatende. All three are superb options, and we find it very difficult to pick a ‘winner’! The majority of our clients tend to choose either Nasikia Migration Mobile due to price alone, or Lemala Mara.

Permanent Lodges – At this time of year it is very difficult to get a good permanent lodge in the far north for anything less than $650pppn. Kaskaz is the best option and although slightly more expensive than the two mobiles in this price bracket their special offers can bring the price down. It’s a wonderful camp with a superb location away from the crowds.

My suggestion for the ‘Value’ price bracket - Nasikia Migration Mobile is the best place for clients looking for the best value, with Lemala Mara being the splash out option. 

‘Classic’ Serengeti camps (approximately $750 per person per night)

Mobile Camps - The big ‘safari names’ in this price bracket are the likes of Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp and Asilia’s Ubuntu and Olakira. The two companies are fierce enemies! Out of these, I have always been a fan of Serengeti Safari Camp due to the authentic approach of the company that runs it, and the fact that they offer great value when combined with their sister properties elsewhere – in Tarangire or the Ngorongoro, for example. Ubuntu and Olakira are good properties (Olakia especially due to its amazing riverfront location), but we believe their value in July is debatable.

Permanent Lodges - Kaskaz is the first property to mention. This luxury camp can often release great deals, making it very affordable compared with its competition. With a quite location away from the river many clients choose Kaskaz to avoid the somewhat busy river area of the north. Fierce competition to Kaskaz is Kuria Hills – a well-priced and genuinely luxurious property with private plunge pools on the decks of all the rooms.

My suggestion for the ‘Classic’ price bracketI have always believed that Nomad’s Serengeti Safari Camp is the best mobile camp option. However, the fact they do not offer a long-stay deal in July makes the camp more expensive than at other times of year. You have to include their other camps to make Serengeti Safari Camp a good-value property in July. For lodges, the best value is either Lemala’s Kuria Hills or Serengeti Kaskaz… and I’m sorry to say I’m going to sit on the fence here – both camps are superb.

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

Mobile Camps - At the top end of the mobile camp market sit Alex Walker’s two Serian properties (Serian Serengeti and Serian Lamai) and the new Wilderness Usawa, which fits effortlessly into the Luxury bracket with its great locations and walking safari. Wilderness is renowned for being one of the finest operators in Africa, creating some of the most famous camps in Botswana. This is their first foray into the Serengeti – and Usawa certainly doesn’t disappoint! The Serian camps on either side of the Mara river are also outstanding, with Lamai being significantly quieter and often home to owner Alex Walker himself. &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is another mobile option here, but it’s slightly more focused on luxury. Wilderness Usawa offers the best of both worlds, combining boutique luxury with authenticity.

Permanent LodgesLamai Serengeti is nothing short of exceptional. With the best views of the entire area and a well-tuned team, this permanent lodge is usually my go-to place for top-end safaris. Its sister property Mkombe House is also sublime – a private family house option for small groups and families. Competition to Lamai is Asilia’s Sayari, but the location and sheer character of Serengeti Lamai wins for me.

Across the river from Lamai is Singita’s Mara River. This is an exceptionally finely tuned property where luxury levels skyrocket, albeit in a fairly ‘light’ camp. I find the price quite eye-watering considering the camp has no pool, for example, but the sheer quality of Singita Mara is undeniable. It’s the place to go if incredibly high service levels are important to you.

The final place to mention is the Singita Reserve in the western Serengeti. This is a great option to end for a few nights of sheer luxury but not an area to get the river crossings even if they do still have good migration herds. The best of these is Faru Faru, while Sasakwa deserves its own special mention for being a genuinely 5-star luxury hotel option in the bush, the likes of which I have not seen elsewhere in Africa.

My suggestion for the ‘Luxury’ price bracketIf you are looking for a mobile camp and want a genuine ‘bush’ experience then go and stay with Alex Walker at Serian, as there are very few companies that epitomise the essence of safari in this way. For something a little more luxurious, Wilderness Usawa is the stunning new arrival, with great locations and activities. For a more permanent type lodge, I can’t get enough of Lamai Serengeti – there is a character about this property that few camps can match. However, if truly 5-star luxury is your focus then start with either Usawa or Serengeti Lamai and move down to Singita Faru Faru (one of my Top 3 camps anywhere) or Singita Sasakwa, a destination in itself.

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].

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