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12 July 2017

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

Firstly – where are the herds? April is similar to the previous three months with the Serengeti’s short grass plains including the northern plains of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area still the place to be. Calving season is nearly always over now and the herds will at some point towards the end of the month look to head north. Historically the heart of the southern short grass plains - Kusini and Ndutu – has had good rain and still focuses the herds (arguably more than it has done for the last three months!). I’d go as far as to say that this is the very best month to be in Ndutu itself, mainly because the crowds of tourists have left the country due to the light rains, which focus the herds on the short grass around Ndutu. It’s such a clever time of year to travel, if you don’t mind a little rain! The problem however is which camps are open, and so I’ll often design trips that include Moru (just north of Ndutu) in April as well as Ndutu itself.

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

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. Also, April 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)

Mobile camps - The great April rates mean that our value properties were more expensive Classic camps only a couple of weeks earlier! 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.

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 camps like Ewanjan. 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 –Lemala Ewanjan is the stand out option but Naona Moru runs a very close second. It’s also worth mentioning the fact that Nomad Tanzania’s Serengeti Safari Camp offers great rates at this time of year. This property is in the classic bracket, but considering the value it offers and its location in Ndutu itself, clients do sometimes upgrade.

‘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 early 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 are located further north, but their 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 If Alex Walker’s mobile Serian camps in Kakesio or Kusini are still open then look no further; they are exceptional. However Alex does not always stay open throughout April…it’s important to check first! &Beyond’s Serengeti Under Canvas is a mobile that focuses on luxury – the honeymoon option, maybe!

Permanent Lodges - Pioneer Camp in the central Serengeti is a superb permanent luxury lodge that’s surprisingly good value at this time of year. The pick of the bunch however is the Singita Reserve – although it’s located above the western corridor and therefore often too far north for April it can get a few herds early. Singita’s Faru Faru is nothing short of exceptional, but you do take a slight risk with the herds’ location. I often combine this camp with one of the properties around Ndutu or Moru.

My suggestion for the ‘Luxury’ price bracket – Alex Walker’s Serian without a doubt, however Pioneer is the luxury lodge option. End a stay in either of these with three nights at Faru Faru and you have one of the best trips around.

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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