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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 November

Firstly, where are the herds? November signals the start of Tanzania’s light rains, which triggers the herds to move head to their wet season grazing grounds of the southern Serengeti and northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It is a somewhat unpredictable time of year as the herds will be spread across much of the entire park throughout the month...but the rates are unbelievably good!

I’ve always believed that the key for November depends on exactly when in the month you are travelling. Early November sees the lodges drop their rates significantly and the last of the Great Migration’s river crossings at Kogatende and the Lamai Wedge in the north of the park are still going on. As much as river crossings are not guaranteed over the first two weeks of November the chances are still high; for that reason alone a trip that includes the northern Serengeti is a good idea.

The other area to include is the central Serengeti – due to the fact the mega herds have usually moved off from the north by now. By the middle of the month they are often focused around the central Seronera river valley – and so designing a trip that covers both the north and the central plains is a great idea for early November.

From the 15th November onward and the focus should definitely be the central area of the park. River crossings are usually over by now and the Serengeti’s resident game in the heart of Seronera is nothing short of exceptional. The park is also wonderfully quiet. I’d still include the north in trips, but only to make the most of a very quiet park of the park and camps such as Lamai Serengeti which are a fraction of October pricing.

I therefore split this blog into two sections – travel from the 1st to 15th November and travel from the 15th November to the end of the month.

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

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

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.

November is an interesting time of year to travel due to rates alone. The expensive permanent lodges drop their prices by approximately a third. Many of the famous mobile camps close as they move south for opening again in December, so it is usually the permanent lodges that we recommend this month. For that reason my overviews of the properties we offer are not split between mobile camps and permanent lodges as they have been for others Great Migration blogs.

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 $400-500 per person per night)

1-15 November - In early November, I’d always suggest looking at Lemala’s Kuria Hills as the best-priced option. With private plunge pools on the decks of all the rooms, this is a luxurious camp at a very attractive price. Nasikia’s Kaskaz is also well worth a look, as this luxury camp offers great rates in November. Chaka Camp is open for the first five days of the month, but all other mobiles close and move south.

15 November onward (camps that should also be combined with the 1-15 November camps to cover both areas) - Kiota camp is a camp we tend to use rarely but it remains a good property with very competitive rates at this time of year. The competition in my mind however 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 better location. If you are splitting your time between the north and the central plains, it’s best to combine Lemala Kuria Hills with Ewanjan or Nasikia’s Kaskaz with Naona Moru. Staying with the same company means you get better value.

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

1-15 November - Asilia’s Olakira is a tented camp with a great river location however Lamai Serengeti is nothing short of exceptional – and with a rates drop of over 30 per cent from the 1st November onward, its value is undeniable. Boasting 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… even ahead of Singita! Its sister property Mkombe House is also sublime – a private family house option for small groups and families. Competition to Lamai is Sayari, but the location of Lamai wins for me.  

15 November onward (camps that should also be combined with the 1-15 November camps to cover both areas) - A slight step up from our Value bracket is Asilia’s Ubuntu at Kusini, however the big ‘safari names’ in this price bracket are Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp and Asilia Safaris’ Namiri Plains or Dunia Camp. 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. This camp also has the best views, a stunning location. Namiri and Dunia are great properties, but they tend to be slightly more expensive than Serengeti Safari Camp. 

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

1 - 15 November - If the wow factor of Lamai Serengeti’s location has not already won you then 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 (and the Classic bracket is such good value), but the sheer quality of Singita Mara is undeniable. The place to go if incredibly high service levels are important to you. My pick – Lamai Serengeti must be considered, but Singita Mara for luxury overall.

15 November onward (camps that should also be combined with the 1-15 November camps to cover both areas) - In my mind there is a very good argument to say that the Classic camps – specifically Asilia’s Namiri Plains and Serengeti Safari Camp should be considered at this bracket but Pioneer Camp would be my pick of the bunch for luxury levels alone – it is the most luxurious lodge in the region. &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is the most luxurious of all the mobile properties but a property that carries a heavy surcharge when compared to the camps in our Classic price bracket. I just don’t see the value in this camp.  

Large hotels – the Serena, Sopa, and Four Seasons are all large properties that we tend not to recommend to clients due to their mainstream safaris style and lack of authenticity. Having said that, the Four Seasons is really rather lovely… albeit also rather huge!

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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