Serengeti Migration Area: in detail
Serengeti safari holidays: the full story
The vast and beautiful Serengeti is one of Africa's most awe-inspiring safari areas. The sheer volume of animals here is extraordinary: estimates suggest around one million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebra and Thomson's gazelle, and tens of thousands of impala, Grant's gazelle, topi, hartebeest, eland and other antelopes live here – all hunted by the predators for which these plains are famous.
Some of these animals resides permanently in home areas, which are excellent for safaris all year round. But most of the wildebeest and good numbers of other species are permananently on the move in the 'Great Migration' – a remarkable spectacle that is one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth. If you plan carefully, it's still possible to witness this in wild and remote areas without too many fellow enthusiasts crowding the scene.
For a clear understanding of the Serengeti wildebeest migration, see also:
► Google Serengeti map including camps and lodges
► Reference map of the Serengeti showing park boundaries
► Moving map of the Serengeti wildebeest migration.
To get the best out of a visit to the Serengeti, your trip needs to be planed carefully. On this site we've made some notes about the various areas and camps.
The Greater Serengeti ecosystemThe Serengeti National Park itself covers about 15,000km² of mostly flat or gently rolling grasslands, interspersed with occasional rock outcrops, known as kopjes, from the Afrikaans. But this is just the centre of a whole ecosystem which covers more than double that area, and includes Grumeti Reserve, Ikorongo Game Reserve, Loliondo Controlled Area, Maswa Game Reserve, part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and also Kenya's relatively small Maasai Mara Game Reserve. This combined area is often referred to as the Greater Serengeti area, or the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.
Southern plainsVast short-grass plains cover the south of Serengeti National Park, stretching into the north of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the south-west Loliondo and Maswa Game Reserve. Occasionally there are small kopjes which, like the forests around Lake Ndutu, harbour good populations of resident game. However, around these oases of permanent wildlife, the majority of this area is flat and open. It's alive with grazing wildebeest from around late-November to April, but can be very empty for the rest of the year. Places to stay here include:
Ndutu Safari LodgeSet on the boundary of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park, the owner-run Ndutu Safrai Lodge has 34 comfortable stone cottages, built in a down-to-earth style. (Read more about Ndutu Safari Lodge…)
Olduvai CampOn the southern edge of the Serengeti, Olduvai Camp stands at the base of a kopje, and has 16 very simple walk-in tents. Run by Maasai, it's an ideal place to experience their culture. (Read more about Olduvai Camp…)
Kusini CampStanding atop a kopje, Kusini is a high-quality permanent camp, with 12 luxurious en-suite tents on polished wooden decks, lots of comfort and excellent food. (Read more about Kusini Camp…)
Olakira CampThe smart Olakira Camp has six large, light-coloured walk-in tents, and typically moves between two different areas: Ndutu (December-March) and Kogatende in northern Serengeti (June-November). (Read more about Olakira Camp…)
The Seronera areaIn the heart of the national park, just to the north of the short-grass plains, Seronera has all the best features of the Serengeti and also, sadly, its worst. Scenically, it's a lovely area – with open plains, occasional kopjes and lines of hills to add interest. The resident game here is phenomenal, with high densities of relaxed leopards, cheetah and lion. These live off the resident herbivores, as well as the migrating game. The migration passes through here in April/May, but Seronera is within reach of both the Southern Plains and the Western Corridor – so from about November to June, it can be used as a base to see the migration. Seronera's big drawback is that it is always busy; places to stay include:
Serengeti Serena Safari LodgeNortheast of Seronera, at the end of a winding road into the Kyabatero Hills, the Serengeti Serena enjoys panoramic vistas from many of its 66 en-suite rooms. ( Read more about Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge…)
Seronera Wildlife LodgeIf you're looking for a budget option in this area, then the simple Seronera Wildlife Lodge is probably your best value. It is built around an enormous rock outcrop, and has 75 spacious and comfortable bedrooms. (Read more about Seronera Wildlife Lodge…)
Dunia CampDunia Camp is a lovely luxury tented camp located in the Moru Kopjes area of the southern Serengeti, and has five large, airy tents, each with an en-suite bathroom. (Read more about Dunia Camp…)
Serengeti Sopa LodgeIs a large international-style hotel, which is good value for money and very friendly. The decor is a bit dated but the atmosphere is relaxed and the rooms are really spacious, with modern ensuite bathrooms. ( Read more about the Sopa Lodge…)
Four Seasons Lodge SerengetiSet in the heart of Serengeti National Park, Four Seasons Lodge Serengeti has 74 spacious rooms, decorated with east African artworks, and equipped with a private telescope for game viewing. (Read more about Four Seasons Lodge Serengeti…)
Western CorridorStretching to the west, almost to Lake Victoria, the Serengeti narrows into what's known as the Western Corridor. The key feature of this area is the two rivers, the Grumeti and the Mbalageti, which run almost parallel, each supporting a band of most, evergreen riparian forest. This area sustains a very good permanent game population, including plenty of zebra and wildebeest, all the predators and forest 'specialists' like colobus monkeys. The birdlife is particularly varied. The migration passes through between about May and July – pausing to gather momentum before crossing the crocodile-rich waters of the Grumeti River, into the Grumeti Reserve. Camps in the Serengeti's Western Corridor include:
Grumeti River CampGrumeti River Camp is funky rather than cutting edge, with playful interiors using psychedelic colours. It has 10 large tents with open-air showers and an outdoor swimming pool. (Read more about Grumeti River Camp…)
Mbalageti CampStanding on Mwanyeni Hill, Mbalageti Lodge is a large, high-quality and quite quirky camp, with a total of 40 rooms, and commanding views from its outdoor terrace. (Read more about Mbalageti Camp…)
Kirawira CampKirawira Camp has an imposing hilltop position – on a clear day you can see for miles across the plains of the Western Corridor. Its 25 tents are raised on wooden platforms, each with a private veranda. (Read more about Kirawira Camp)
Stretching from Seronera for about 100km north, to the Kenyan border, the northern Serengeti is gently rolling country, broken by small rivers and occasional hills and kopjes. There are good permanent populations of wildlife in several areas here, including the very beautiful Lobo Kopje. It's interesting, varied country that's far from the park's main entry point in the south – and hence it receives delightfully few visitors.
The further you go north, the fewer vehicles you see. Even when the migration is here, between about August and October, you can still enjoy spectacular crossings of the Mara River. A particularly stunning are is the wild Lamai Wedge – the area of land between the Mara River and the Kenya Border – which includes the picturesque Wogakuria Kopje, and a beautiful series of game-rich valleys and plains. This is the only area of the national park where off-road driving is acceptable. Here, we suggest you stay at:
Migration CampIn the centre of the northern part of the Serengeti, Migration Camp makes the most of its high position on a kopje. It has 20 high-quality canvas, standing on individual polished-wooden decks. (Read more about Migration Camp…)
Lobo Wildlife LodgePerched on a superb position between the huge boulders of the lovely Lobo Kopje, the formerly government-run Lobo Wildlife Lodge has 75 good value rooms. (Read more about Lobo Wildlife Lodge…)
Sayari Mara CampClose to the Mara River, Sayari Mara is the only permanent camp this far north. Its 15 spacious tents have been built with quality, without losing the air of a remote bushcamp. (Read more about Sayari Mara Camp…)
Mbuzi Mawe Tented CampSet amidst the rocky outcrops of central Serengeti, Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp makes a comfortable stop between Seronera and the far north. (Read more about Mbuzi Mawe Tented Camp…)
Grumeti ReservesSingita Grumeti Reserves covers almost 1,500km² of private reserves which run along the north side of the Western Corridor. Within this are three, very different luxury lodges. All offer unrivalled exclusivity for watching the migration as it journeys north, and recycle all of their profits into local conservation and community development initiatives.
Sasakwa LodgeSet atop Sasakwa Hill, with stupendous panoramic views of the plains below, Sasakwa Lodge is the grandest of the reserves' three properties. It has seven stylish cottages, each with a private plunge pool and decorated with objects d'art. (Read more about Sasakwa Lodge…)
Faru Faru River LodgeFaru Faru is the newest place to stay in Grumeti. Its six river-stone, canvas and glass suites overlook a permantent waterhole, whilst Grumeti River passes very close by. (Read more about Faru Faru River Lodge…)
Sabora Plains Tented CampSabora Plains is a beautiful tented camp, with six air-conditioned tents. When the migration passes through, it's surrounded by wildebeest and zebra – both a marvellous wildlife sight and phenomenally noisy affair! (Read more about Sabora Plains Tented Camp…)
Loliondo ReserveWest of the Serengeti National Park, between the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Kenyan border, lies Loliondo game Controlled Area – an area belonging to the Maasai tribes that live there. The western side of this, beside the park, is very much part of the Serengeti's ecosystem; it has much resident game and the migration passes through here as well.
There are a few camps here which have the flexibility to offer night drives and walks, often using Maasai guides – and visits to local Maasai villages. Around about October and November, there's a good chance to see part of the migration here, as it returns south.
Klein's CampOverlooking the national park from a perch on the rocky Kuka Hills, Klein's Camp is a permanent luxury lodge, with 10 high-quality rock and thatch cottages, each with a private veranda. (Read more about Klein's Camp…)
Nduara Loliondo CampNduara Loliondo Camp moves within the Loliondo Game Controlled Area. Its six tents were redesigned in 2007 to incorporate elements of a traditional Maasai boma and Mongolian 'yurt'. (Read more about Nduara Loliondo Camp…)
Mobile Tented CampsThere are several semi-permanent mobile tented camps in the Serengeti. Most move seasonally, trying to anticipate the great migration's movements; they spend several months in one place before moving on with the game. Their creature comforts vary from basic tents with adequate food, to very comfortable camps that feel almost permanent. Such tented camps can be included as part of private guided safaris.
Nomad Serengeti Safari CampFollowing the wildebeest migration, Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp changes its position every 10-14 days. As a result, it's quite simple, but good quality, with six spacious and comfortable tents. (Read more about Nomad Serengeti Safari Camp…)
Serengeti under CanvasSerengeti under Canvas, an operation run by CC Africa, consists of several semi-permanent safari camps, aiming to provide a traditional safari experience – a night under canvas, without waiving luxuries. (Read more about Serengeti under Canvas…)
Olakira CampAs mentioned earlier, Olakira Camp is a smart and contemporary tented camp with six large, light-coloured walk-in tents. It moves between two different areas: Ndutu (December-March) and Kogatende in northern Serengeti (June-November). (Read more about Olakira Camp…)
For a premium, we can arrange for a private mobile fly-camp to be set up, just for you. You'll sleep in a simple, mosquito-gauze tent and eat around the camp fire with your own guide. These can be set up anywhere, although Loliondo is perfect if you want to use them as a base for walking safaris.
Trips to the SerengetiSadly, the Serengeti doesn't always live up to its potential. It's easy to end up with a herd of vehicles around you, destroying any sense of wilderness. It's tempting to opt to rush around on dusty, corrugated roads with little time to stop. It's also easy to simply miss the migration, which isn't nearly as predictable these days as many will tell you.
Because of this, planning a safari here can be complicated; we need to guide you to choose the right camps at the right time of year, and get the best experience possible – especially when the wildebeest migration does vary every year.
Some of our trips include a private guide and vehicle, others fly in and out of the lodges, and many are a combination of the two. For ideas of possible combinations
► See our trip ideas to the Serengeti
Where to stay in Serengeti
Our suggestions for safari camps in Serengeti Migration Area
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings in Serengeti
This is their success for sightings in Serengeti Migration Area.
Click on a species for more detail. How we work this out.