A safari across the endless plains of the Serengeti is an unforgettable experience. It touches something deep within us, creating experiences that will be never be forgotten. A trip through the Serengeti in Northern Tanzania is both intriguing and exciting, shaped by the fascinating balance between the wildlife, the landscapes and its people.
The Great Migration is a year-round migration – sometimes the migration is scattered over a large area, other times the animals are concentrated into a huge mass of over a million animals. It is the last remaining big migration left on our planet and as such many people want to witness this great event.
The rains are the key to this never-ending migratory cycle; and as the weather is unpredictable, so is the migration. Many people try to predict the whereabouts of the animals. If the rains are on time and last long enough then on past experience the predictions are accurate. However, in recent years the rains have not been on time or they have even failed, leaving some safari-makers with clients in the wrong area of the Serengeti.
Solving this problem involves a little work on your part. You will need to research your subject and book with care; below are a few simple steps to act as a basic guideline.
If you book your safari from late July through to the end of September then it is necessary to book well in advance. This time of year is madness. If ever you hear stories of overcrowding in the Serengeti the chances are that the safari took place between these months; and most probably the safari was in the Seronera Valley in the central Serengeti. This area of the Serengeti has a good reliable concentration of animals all year round.
Many safari companies are lazy and send their clients to this part of the Serengeti only. Ensure your safari includes two areas of the Serengeti – one should be the south or the north of this huge park, depending on the time of year.
Any other time of year I would leave the actual booking of the safari until a few weeks before your departure. If it is low season, March to end of June, then the safaris (accommodation and to a lesser extent transport) are at bargain basement rates. Keep checking on the whereabouts of the migration and then book your accommodation accordingly.
Keeping a check on the whereabouts of the migration may be easier said than done. There are many sites that claim to have regular updates but they can be two years since the last update. CC Africa has the best site for updates on the migration, but at the time of writing their page was three months out of date. I would suggest keeping in touch with two or three “boutique” tour operators in Tanzania – they have vehicles with drivers who are returning from the Serengeti every week and so know the movements of the animals. Most safari companies will keep you informed as it is their job to do so; the more helpful they are the more likely you are to book through them.
To make life easier there are now several semi-permanent tented camps in the Serengeti. Do not let the tent bit put you off; they are huge tents with double beds and furniture and even en-suite bathrooms. Some boast private butlers for each tent. They are small camps and have an intimate feel about them. They are semi-permanent because they move several times per year so as to be close to the migration. Booking with one of these camps ensures that your safari will be both special and close to the migration.
Take care and put some thought into your safari – the planning is a part of the expedition. Research a little and make sure your ground operator in Tanzania is willing to make your safari special. Some are, rather sadly, only bothered about money, treating each client as a number only, and they are not willing to make changes to itineraries. Beware of such companies, as Tanzania and the Serengeti are amazing; make sure your safari experience is as amazing.