Around the beginning of the year, the animals who sign up for the Great Migration can be found gathering in Ndutu. Around mid-March to the beginning of April, the herds move into the Southern Plains to calve. Then, from the middle of July onwards, they will move towards the Masai Mara, crossing the Mara river… before they start pushing South again from late October.
This year early heavy rains have been sustaining the herds in Tanzania for longer than is usual which meant that the animals delayed the start of their great exodus for longer than expected.
The wildebeest also run on a schedule that they do not share with mere humans.
Bearing all these facts in mind, it does not take a foreign policy expert to know that engineering a meeting with the migration will be significantly easier if you are mobile.
IMPORTANT NOTE: EVEN A MOBILE SAFARI CAN NEVER GUARANTEE GOOD SIGHTINGS OF THE MIGRATION.
You might also suspect that all migration camps have not been created equally… and once again you would be entirely correct.
The differences between luxury and budget migration camps:
Location, location, location
The luxury camp won’t use traditional campsites and so, privacy and exclusivity will be maintained. At budget camps there is a good chance of other budget camps setting up shop right next door and these campers, as well as private Safari-goers will be frequenting the area
The difference is that guests will be hands-on involved in erecting the budget camps while luxury mobile camp guests will arrive at their camp having been entirely moved and completely set up for them to move into when they return from their last Safari of the day.
Budget camps often rely on the showers/ other amenities available at campsites. These will be shared and very basic.
At a luxury camp, your bush experience will include hot showers, three-course meals, and high-quality bedding
Dedicated Safari time
At a budget camp the guests will have to assist in breaking down and erecting the camps and often also take on other necessities such as cooking meals etc.. As many of these tasks will happen at sunrise and sunset the best Safari drive period will be impacted.
The semi-permanent luxury camps are only moved a couple of times during the year, generally from Ndutu in the far South and Kogatende in the North and guests are not involved in the move, the setup or the running of the camp at all.
The mobile luxury camps will move around 4 times a year moving into the Western Serengeti corridor early on and then late in the migration into the Seronera area.
At the moment there are around 50 luxury mobile camps in the Serengeti.
Is a mobile safari for you?
Do you prefer an immersive experience?
Are you more likely to count linen threads or wildlife sightings?
Will you sacrifice other activities for the chance of incredible game drives every day?
Here are some of the best in the business:
Legendary Serengeti Mobile Camp
This privately owned camp is run by Tanzanians and set up in 3 locations during different times of the year: North Serengeti (JUL to NOV) – West Serengeti (MAY to JUL) & South Serengeti/ Maswa (DEC to APR). It has made its name as a traditional, classic tented camp… with the Legendary touch. Both exclusive and intimate, six or more guests can book the camp privately.
Serengeti Safari Camp
The entire purpose of this camp was to be in the best possible location for viewing the wildebeest migration. The camp casts off from Lamai Serengeti as the herds take off on their odyssey. Effortless comfort will ensure you do not want for anything while enjoying a superlative wildlife experience from the most environmentally conscious base possible.
Small and intimate with only 6 open plan walk-in Meru tents and en-suite bathrooms. One tent has two bedrooms and a sitting area for families. Loos are eco-flushed with safari-style bucket showers and hot water on call.
The guiding is incomparable and every client has their own vehicle. If you wish to be a little more social you can choose to share with other travelers… having the choice may make all the difference to your Great Migration experience.
Serengeti Under Canvas
Superbly situated, the six tents are beautifully appointed in this very mobile camp. Bucket showers live happily with chandeliers and finest cotton sheets. The camp also boasts very comfortable communal areas.
The quality of both the guiding and the food is exceptional and the vehicles with roll back roofs are great for viewing although private safaris are only available for a fee.
Moving twice a year Olakira stands in the north of the Serengeti in the Karatu region at the confluence of the Mara and Bolongonja rivers between July and November. This is perfect for views of the Great Migration river crossings over breakfast. In December it moves back down to the Ndutu plains, in close proximity to the calving herds until March. The small camp has 9 incredibly spacious tents and the atmosphere is luxurious and personalized. Fully open sided vehicles make for great game viewing.
Alex Walker’s Serian Camp
The smallest Serengeti camp and the only owner run property in all of the Serengeti has only 6 rooms but usually runs with 4 occupied.
Private vehicles with dedicated spotters and guides make for incredible viewing. Alex and the majority of the Serian guides are ex-hunters and many hale from the local area and are from tribes he works with. This results in very real characters around camp.
Lemala Mara & Ndutu Tented Camps
Two locations ensure a ringside seat to the migration year round. Lemala Ndutu and Lemala Mara is one authentic mobile tented camp that offers excellent guiding. When the camp is in the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area close to the Southern Serengeti border in December to March the wildebeest arrive to graze and eventually give birth to the new season’s calves. Nine tents are perched on the edge of a permanent marsh for the perfect view of the migration drama.
When the camp moves, 12 tents are set up under large Euclea trees in the Northern Serengeti between July and October. Lemala Mara stands close to the Mara River but maintains a discreet distance to ensure that the migration is not interrupted.
All tents are furnished with two queen-size beds and have all the little luxuries seasoned luxury safari goers will appreciate. En-suite bathrooms have flush toilets and hot safari-style showers.