Often billed as the world’s ultimate wildlife spectacle, the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra takes place annually across the plains of East Africa; Amanda Canning travels to Tanzania to try to catch up with the herds.

A Toyota Land Cruiser with canvas roof and open sides drives along two tyre tracks in short savannah grasses; there is a large acacia tree to the truck's right, along with a distant herd of Thomson’s gazelles.
Amanda’s Land Cruiser bumps along the Namiri Plains in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
First day on safari: slow gnus day

It’s been an excellent night for the predators of the Serengeti. As the sun starts to inch over the horizon and cast a pale light over the acacia-pocked plains, it reveals a scene of nocturnal carnage. There are bones here, bones over there, bones everywhere. White bones picked clean and dazzling, as if fashioned from porcelain; scrappy, dirty bones, bits of unidentifiable flesh still clinging to them; bones that retain the shape of the animal from whence they came.

Above it all, vultures wheel through the sky or sit hunched in acacias, occasionally floating down to earth to better inspect a kill, looking every bit as sinister as one might hope from their villainous, cartoon reputation. A good number of the night’s revellers are still out, enjoying the last bits of the feast before heading home for a day’s solid napping.

Two young hyenas emerge from their den; the one in the front looks to its left, while the smaller one behind stares at the camera.
Often depicted as serial scavengers, hyenas actually kill three quarters of their meals
We’ve not long left our camp on the Namiri Plains before my guide Noel Akyoo spots a flurry of activity in the distance and bumps the Land Cruiser in its direction. A hyena trots past, the back legs of a Thomson’s gazelle dangling from its jaws. Beyond him, a group of around 20 hyenas are gathered around the rapidly disintegrating carcass of a wildebeest, some plastered in blood up to their shoulders. They break into a fight, squabbling over a prime piece of meat, before continuing to feed in a riot of chattering and whooping. A pair of jackals sits nearby in eager anticipation, not brave enough to move in, too hungry to move on. In a tree behind them, a tawny eagle pulls at a rib held in its yellow talons.

Introducing Tanzania

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The Serengeti’s predators don’t always have it this good. I’ve timed my visit to coincide with the Great Migration, the annual 1,200-mile journey of 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra between Tanzania and Kenya, following the rains and the grasses that spring up in their wake. The season is bonanza time for any creature that counts them as dinner – for the lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs here, hunting at this time of year requires as much effort as picking a dish from the conveyor belt at Yo! Sushi. It must be, I assume, fairly easy for a human to track down the migrants too.

Two superb starlings standing on a rock; they have black heads, white eyes, iridescent blue shoulders and wings, and reddish-brown bodies.
Superb starlings are just that, superb 

I am wrong. There is plenty of evidence of deceased wildebeest, and small living clumps of them idling about or plodding to some unseen destination across the plains, but I expected to be overwhelmed by thousands upon thousands of the beasts, thundering past in clouds of dust.

Where you should go on your first safari in Africa

Noel moves the Land Cruiser off and we trundle along rutted tracks. “We will try and find them,” he says, “but the migration was early this year. The herds are already moving south to give birth in the woodlands.” He laughs. “That is the beauty of the Serengeti – you never know what you’re going to come across.” What we do come across on that first day is extraordinary enough. There are the wonders of animals not generally on people’s wildlife checklists: the bright flashes of superb starlings come to investigate what we are; a long-horned beetle slowly eating a yellow fever tree from the inside out; the pointy ears of a caracal hiding (badly) in the long grass. And there are the big-hitters too.

A lioness lays outstretched on a large granite boulder, with her head flopped back and underside of her jaw visible; lying on top of her lower rear legs is a little cub, with eyes wide open. A second, larger cub lays nearby.
A lioness rests with her cubs on a granite boulder, or “kopje”; she and other adults in the pride leave the cubs to hunt at night © Jonathan Gregson / Lonely Planet

The Namiri Plains is known for its cheetahs, having been off-limits to visitors for over 20 years in an effort to increase their numbers, and we spot several through the day, their long, thin bodies stretched out in the dust or pulled upright on termite mounds, alert to the hint of prey. There is an embarrassment of lions too, lolling about in the grass or cooling themselves on the rocks, tiny cubs tumbling about like furry drunks as the pride males consolidate their standing as the rock stars of the savannah, manes billowing in the wind and backlit by the setting sun.

A huge tree trunk dominates the image, rising from the ground and then forking off four directions; at the junction of huge branches rests a lion, with its tail hanging down toward the camera's view.
A young female leopard rests in the crook of a tree after hunting a gazelle 

We have the rare privilege of spotting a leopard, too, an elegant female tucked into the crook of a tree, her long tail twitching against the trunk. Returning to camp, though, I can’t help but be nagged by the somewhat ungrateful thought that the trip represents the only chance in my lifetime to experience one of the world’s greatest wildlife spectacles, and it’s happening somewhere else. Noel is unconcerned. “Every day is different,” he says, clambering out of the vehicle. “There is always tomorrow.”

A balloon rises into the early morning sky above the Serengeti's savannah.
A hot-air balloon ride at sunrise is a stunning way to understand the lay of the land and to see wildlife from above
Second day on safari: hot-air balloon over the Serengeti

The day starts beneath a billion stars. I am standing outside my tent, watching as two shoot across the inky sky when the deep guttural rumble of a lion reverberates through the darkness. It is likely some way off, down by the river bordering the camp, but it is a sound of such primordial resonance, my entire body seems to vibrate to it.

With dawn approaching, the lion’s time to hunt is over: it’s my turn to take on a shift. The day has brought a change in tack: if we can’t find the migration from the ground, perhaps we’ll have better luck from the sky.

The story of lions (and your guide on where to see them on safari)

The last stars are fading as our hot-air balloon slides into the sky. For the first few minutes, we skim across the ground, past trotting warthogs and strutting ostrich, then suddenly we are a hundred metres up, with all of the Serengeti stretched out beneath us. It is a vast beige sea, dotted with acacias and granite outcrops. The Seronera River wiggles through it, the shiny lumps of a hippo pod visible in its shallows.

A rising inferno of flame is seen within the inside of the hot-air balloon.
Up, up and away with Serengeti Balloon Safaris © Jonathan Gregson / Lonely Planet

Pulling on the burner, captain Mohamed Masud studies the ground beneath us. “You can see how busy this area gets in migration time,” he says. “There are so many trails.” The earth looks scratched, there are countless pale lines cut into it, rift into the ground by millions of hooves passing this way for a million years. There is little sign of the herds this morning though. “We don’t really know where they are now,” continues Mohamed. “The rain has not come so the migration is really spread out. Maybe if it rains, it will come.”

A day on safari in Africa: what you can expect in camp and in the wild

The grazing animals that live in this patch of the Serengeti year-round are out in force. Giraffes bob across the savannah, galloping for cover on gangly legs as we sail overhead, their unexpected arrival into woodland marked by the alarmed calls of ibis and morning doves. As I peer after them, I spy several groups of animals standing unmoving among the trees: wildebeest. Not thousands, not thundering past in clouds of dust – but wildebeest all the same.

As viewed from above, wildebeest snaking through acacia trees on the savannah plains of the Serengeti.
Wildebeest on their way to the Seronera River; they are but a small part of a migrating herd numbering 1.5 million animals © Jonathan Gregson / Lonely Planet

Back on the ground, we head towards the woods, and almost immediately catch up with our target. A long line of several hundred wildebeest is plodding towards the river. They need to cross a road to join the huddles I’d seen from the balloon, but none seems willing to make the first move. “The thing about wildebeest,” says Noel, “is that they don’t have a leader. If the one in front changes direction, they all follow.” We watch as they make slow comedic progress towards their goal. One animal bolts, and a hundred animals bolt. One stops, and they all stop. One starts heading back the way it came, and within minutes, the entire herd has spun round. It takes a good two hours of confused milling before they finally muster up the courage to cross.

As we lurch back to camp, triumphant after the first, small taste of the migration, I turn and take a last look at the herd: behind them, fat, dark clouds are starting to bubble on the horizon. The rains are coming.

One cheetah standing, another lying, in front of a twisted acacia tree; the cats blend in well and are hard to see.
Surveying the scene, a mother cheetah and her cub camouflaged against an acacia tree 

Third day on safari: cheetahs hunting on the Serengeti plains

If the migration is heading south, then so must we. It’s a short bounce in a light aircraft to the next camp in the southern Serengeti. From the air, it’s clear we’re catching up with the wildebeest: far below, innumerable black dots are moving steadily in the same direction as we are.

From the airstrip, my guide Charles Joseph takes us straight off to a herd he’s been following for a few days. Many thousand wildebeest, the odd zebra mingled among them, are ploughing across the plains, a huge billowing cloud of dust rising overhead. The line is so long we can’t see the front or end of it. “This group has been moving back and forth for nearly a week,” says Charles. “They’re looking for water.”

We are not the only ones watching. All around them, predators lurk, waiting for night. There is one creature that needs not the cover of darkness to mount an attack. Across the plains, Charles spies a cheetah and her cub sheltering behind a whistling thorn acacia. The mother is restless and apparently hungry. “Cheetahs are right down the pecking order of predators,” says Charles, as large globs of rain start to splatter into the dust around us. “They can’t compete with a lion or a wild dog, so their only advantage is to hunt in daytime.”

A cheetah chases a Thompson's gazelle through the savannah grasses.
Despite it’s speed, a cheetah still relies on surprise to make its kills 

We spend the next few hours tracking the mother as she locks sight on her prey, readies to attack, and is then spotted and her plan thwarted. Soon the savannah is a vast soggy field, and the cheetah is perfectly camouflaged within it. Still, every gazelle seems wise to her approach. She has travelled several miles before she gets her chance. Hunkering down in long grass, she waits for two gazelles to approach. They walk past her, oblivious, and she does not move. Just as I imagine she’s missed her chance , she is off and after them in an explosion of force. Within 20 seconds, one gazelle is down. The mother and cub take it in turns to feed, one constantly watching out for scavengers. “You can’t relax for a second out here,” says Charles as three vultures land nearby. “The hyenas won’t be long. They’ll have seen the vultures circling and will follow.”

Their luck holds, however; the only creatures come to join the party are dung beetles, which whirr in from all directions and have a marvellous time in the gazelle’s bowel. The cheetahs leave only the head and bladder intact. “The hyenas will have that,” says Charles. “They don’t really care what they eat.” I’ve been so transfixed that it’s only when the pair drop full-bellied into the grass that I become aware of the life now brimming on the plains: there are thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, behind, in front, to the side, trudging ever on.

In the early morning light, a herd of wildebeest run across the savannah in the Serengeti.
A wildebeest herd running toward their winter grazing grounds in the southern Serengeti © Jonathan Gregson / Lonely Planet

Fourth day on safari: wild dogs and death on the Great Migration

Overnight, our camp has become a motorway for the migration. I could spend the day in bed and watch it pass metres away, but we decide to head further south, where they’ve had more rain, to try to catch the rest of the herds.

We drive for a few hours, crest the Maru Hills – and there before us is the Promised Land for grazing creatures. There is not an inch of earth not occupied by one. Gnus and zebra stand grunting, resting in the shade of trees or splashing about in rivers. Baboons sit and pick at each other’s fur. Elephants roam, hosing their hides with water from their trunks. The grass is green and long, the fruit on the trees plentiful and ripe. If I were a wildebeest, I’d walk a thousand miles for this too.

A pack of wild dogs (or 'painted dogs') run toward a herd of wildebeast; the sun is low on the horizon and everything is painted in shades of red, gold and orange.
A pack of wild dogs on the hunt for a wildebeest 

Returning home in the warm glow of the setting sun and the satisfaction of a mission accomplished, we’re drawn to a commotion close to camp. Thousands of wildebeest are stampeding, and we soon see why: wild dogs. A pack is herding the animals into groups, assessing which to target. It’s a world of confusion: dust flying, legs kicking, prey grunting, predators barking, and the rumble of hooves like a drum beat to it all.

And then the Serengeti pulls off the world’s greatest magic trick, and makes the entire scene disappear. We sit in silence in the murk, the dust slowly settling around us. A bark comes in from the left, and off we go. When we rejoin the hunt, it’s apparent the pack has marked its prey: a juvenile is being forced out of the herd. “They’re super hunters, one of the best predators in the world,” says Charles. “Once they have made a decision to hunt, they do not stop until they have their kill.”

The wildebeest is done for. A dog gets hold of its leg and pulls it down. The pack is upon it in a frenzy, wary that a lion might turn up and make off with the spoils. It takes an excruciatingly long time for the animal to die. It’s still alive and trying to get up as one dog runs off with its liver and another its intestines.

I return, queasily, to camp to find the wildebeest and zebra still passing through. It is a steadying sight, the timelessness of the endeavour brought into sharper focus after the macabre events of the last hour. Naturally, the animals are marching solemnly in the opposite direction they had been that morning. They may know where they’re going, but they’re not going to get there any time soon.

The hazy morning plains of the Serengeti; acacia trees stand almost silhouetted on the grassy plains.
A moment of solitude on the Serengeti 

When to go on Great Migration safari in the Serengeti

The animals follow the same path each year, traipsing back and forth between the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya. The migration does not follow a strict schedule, however, and its precise location in any one month cannot be guaranteed. Factors such as an early or late rainy season will affect when the 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra start to move. If you’re booking well ahead, it’s wise to go with a tour operator or camp who are able to change your itinerary depending on the herds’ progress. The below is a rough guide only.

January to March:
Grazing and calving in the southern Serengeti
April to May: 
Herds start to move north, passing through the central Serengeti
June to August:
Cross the crocodile- and hippo-infested Mara River and head into the Masai Mara
September to October:
Grazing in the Masai Mara
November to December:
Return south, and the cycle begins again

Need to know

  • You’ll need an up-to-date yellow fever vaccination to enter Tanzania. Don’t forget to bring your certificate – you’ll need to show it at the airport on arrival.
  • You’ll want a course of anti-malarial drugs to cover your stay, and to bring mosquito repellent. If you don’t like DEET-based or other chemical repellents, we’ve found the natural, citronella versions effective (and considerably less stinky).
  • The plains can be dusty, particularly on windy days. Bring a light scarf or Buff to cover your face. You’ll want a jumper or jacket for cooler morning game drives.
  • Your guide will have a pair of binoculars they’ll likely let you borrow, but it’s worth bringing your own. A pair with 8x or 10x magnification will do the trick.
  • Don’t bring bright or patterned clothing that will make you stand out to all animals within a mile radius; plain grey, green or beige clothes are best.

Getting to the Serengeti

It’s a two-stop hop to the Serengeti; you’ll likely fly via Nairobi or Amsterdam on your way to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania; from there, catch a light aircraft to one of the region’s airstrips. Your lodge will advise which one is most convenient.

Getting around the Serengeti

Light aircraft act as buses in the Serengeti, picking people up from one part of the park and depositing them elsewhere, likely with stops on the way for other passengers. Lodges will arrange to collect you from the airstrip

Amanda Canning travelled to Tanzania with support from Audley Travel. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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TANZANIA LUXURY SAFARIS

Tanzania Luxury Safari with Great Image Expedition is irreplaceable, offering a signature look at extraordinary crossroads of history and culture, unmatched wildlife and the paradise islands of Zanzibar and Mafia with white sandy seductive blue beaches.

On Tanzania Luxury Safari when not on the search, enjoy the comforts of some of Tanzania’s best safari lodges and tented camps. Imagine taking in the sunset with sundowners on observation decks or around the fire place and retire to posh private tents, villas and exclusive cottages.

Feel on top of the world when you take to the skies with a hot air balloon adventure over the Serengeti, Tarangire or Ngorongoro Crater. Have fun under the stars in the heart of the African bush.

Our luxury safari jeeps allows enough room for standard seating, photography, all window seats, air conditioning, refrigerator, sockets/charging/usb ports and pop up roof.

TANZANIA LUXURY SAFARI COST

Our Tanzania luxury safaris are not the same. the cost for Tanzania Luxury Safaris are influenced by various factors including

  • Remoteness of The Destination

Some destinations are much expensive than the others depending on the activities offered for example Serengeti game drive is not the same as Tarangire’s national park hence to enjoy game drives it is at least recommended to spend 3 nights into the Serengeti, 2 in Ngorongoro and two in Tarangire.

Other destinations are difficult to access and are not easily reachable therefore requires expertise, professionals and off-road 4×4 vehicles.

  • Season of the Year

During the high season the prices are high due to high number of traffic compared to the low season when the prices go down.

  • Luxury Comfort Level

The kind of accommodation offered also affect pricing be it private tented camp, lodgings or private villas. We recommend our clients to some of the best lodges while on a Tanzania Safari.

  • Activities

The number and kind of activities in a destination offered by Great Image Expedition are exceptional and at a best prices. Enjoy exclusive activities with best balloon safaris, game drives, bird watching, canoeing, hiking and trekking.

 

PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI

Wildlife photography is one of the most challenging and rewarding subjects to explore with your camera. From intimate interactions to majestic migrations, Great Image Expeditions inspires us both technically and creatively to capture meaningful images that tell the stories of animal life in wild places.

The diversity of Tanzania offers a breathtaking variety of wildlife, landscape and cultural photo opportunities that every photographer can appreciate.

Whether we’re snapping photos of Lions in Serengeti, otherworldly landscapes in Ngorongoro, or Elephants in Tarangire, you’ll find something of photographic interest on one of our tours with Great Image Expeditions.

For years Great Image Expeditions has been a recognized leader in photographic Safaris, visiting the world’s top locations for wildlife, landscape and culture.

With us it does not matter about your level of photography knowledge or skill, we are always on hand to help you succeed in taking the perfect shot whether you are an amateur or experienced professional photographer.

Our all-inclusive Tanzania Photographic Safaris are well planned, productive and fun. With accommodations provided at some of Tanzania’s top safari camp.

we create our trips with one goal in mind: to get you safely to the right place at the right time for exceptional photography no compromises.
You’ll always travel with an experienced and knowledgeable professional photographer guide who will help you get the best possible shots.

MORE ABOUT TANZANIA PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARIS

All photographic safaris are not created equal! When you join one of our trips, you’ll not only get our decades of experience knowing exactly what makes a great photo tour,

You’ll also work with our dedicated Great Image Expedition staff who can answer your questions on your trip. All of our energy and expertise is focused on making your trip the best it can be for photography.

Join one of our trips and you’ll soon know why so many of our clients are loyal, repeat travelers!

Photograph in Comfort with Private Special Photographic Vehicles

For the ultimate experience of comfort, amenities, and exceptional access to great photographic opportunities, a specially-designed photographic vehicle may be just what you’re looking for.

Depending on the property, your vehicle features:

  • Space for a maximum of 4-6 photographers and their equipments
  • Drop-down sides for photographers to lie down and get low-angle photographs
  • Three 360º swivel seats, one per “row” – seats also lean right back if required
  • Only front and back bars to hold up the roofless obstruction of view for photography
  • Beanbags and foam camera rest (photographers advised to bring their own tripods)
  • Vehicle kit with a fridge, charging points, roll-down sides for bad weather, etc.
  • Lowered center console with raised lid for quick and easy access to lens changes
  • Lowered snorkel for better forward views
  • Radio aerial at the back of the vehicle for better forward views
  • Specially-designed pop-up roof (choose whether you want it on or off!)
  • Additional leg room

 

WHAT TO BRING?

Passports & visas, light clothes, memory cards, backup device, long lens, hat & sunscreen, power strip/extension and a small notebook.

ABOUT LUGGAGE

We recommend that you pack simply and sensibly keeping extra suitcases to a minimum for your photographic safari. Airlines to Africa have several different ways to accommodate extra luggage depending on the carrier.

NB: you may be asked to,

  • Book a freight seat for an additional 20kg to 75kg, depending on carrier and route (some carriers charge the child rate, others charge 75% of the full fare)
  • Book an XL seat which allows an extra 15kg (fees vary by route)
  • Pay a weight-based fee for extra luggage
  • Check your bags for transport in the luggage hold under the plane for an additional fee (though with fragile camera equipment, you may want to book a freight seat)

BEST TIME FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARIS IN TANZANIA

Most of Tanzania’s famous destinations are accessible almost all year round. If you prefer a mix of clear sky and fewer tourists, February to May can be the perfect time for taking amazing shots/footage. Again, this depends on your interests and the type of shots that you want to take.

December to April is the heavy rain season but the best parks like Serengeti, Tarangire and Ngorongoro are accessible and they are less visited at this time.

During such times, we recommend the best place for wildlife photographic safari to be Serengeti.

February to April is the best time for Calving season photography in the southern part of Serengeti/Ndutu. A large number of predators gather to this area for easy prey of the migrating animals, Mostly the Wildebeests, Zebra, and Gazelles.

Photographers can get the best shots or footage of the wildebeest giving birth to their new offspring or even the hunting predators.

April and May are more preferable compared to February and March as the area starts to receive less rain, clear sky, and evergreen vegetation that is the best for Photography.

June and July is almost the best time as it is a dry season and the migration is on the way to the north through the central and western part of Serengeti.

But if you prefer fewer crowds, maybe this would your best time as from July to September the park receives many tourists and the traffic is high.

 

ABOUT DRONES & PERMITS

Tanzania national parks (TANAPA) do not allow anyone to enter with and/ use the drone inside the park. However, such permission may be granted if one requests and obtain permit from the following authorities

You need to seek and obtain permit from:

  1. Filming board of Tanzania
  2. Permanent Secretary Ministry of defense
  3. Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA)
  4. Conservation Commissioner-Tanzania National Parks

RULES GOVERN FLY DRONES IN THE PARK

  1. Drone must be flown (operated) not less than 50 meters from the ground
  2. Drone must NOT be flown in the presence of other unrelated tourists
  3. Operator must report to the chief park warden before commencing the activity
  4. Drone must be operated under the supervision of park personnel
  5. Apart from other relevant park fees, the operator must pay the ranger service fee
  6. The operator shall pick and drop the park personnel (ranger) at the authorized point (office/ ranger post/ residential area/ gate)
  7. For Serengeti no drones shall be flown during crossing.
  8. No drones shall be flown in the vicinity of a property (unless owners of the facility approves).

FINAL PRODUCT

The operator must unconditionally provide a copy of the final film to the office of the conservation commissioner for non commercial use.

PENALTY

Breach of park rules and the said conditions herein will lead to a penalty of not less than TZS 100,000 (or 100 US$) per offence and confiscation of the drone.

VALIDITY OF PERMIT

Park management has the right to revoke the permit

 

Ever since our kids were born, I’ve dreamt of this trip. I love Africa; there’s just something magical about it that tugs at my heart and draws me back. It’s always been a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ we’d take the kids on an Africa family holiday so they could experience it too.

Having been on a beautiful trip around neighbouring Rwanda the previous year, I felt it was the right moment with our kids aged 12 and 9. They’re growing up so fast, are increasingly curious and inspired by going to new places, and are old enough to appreciate it. We wanted a mix of culture, wildlife and beach so Tanzania with kids sounded perfect, especially with the lure of turquoise waters in Zanzibar to finish.

First up is the planning, which is an essential part of Africa family holidays. We opted for February half-term (plus an extra week) to escape our winter and ensure good weather for the Zanzibar leg. We always knew this trip would be a financial stretch, but with a sense that life is just too short in recent years, we skipped a big holiday the previous year, saved up and decided to go for it.

Why Tanzania works well for families

Tanzania is a great choice for families as there’s no yellow fever vaccination required. On the other hand, like much of Africa, malaria exists so you’ll need to take appropriate preventative tablets. We opted for ‘Malarone’ tablets as we’ve had them before with no side effects whatsoever. They’re a little more expensive but well worth it. The major supermarkets sell them for half the price of the usual chemists and the kids took their tablets daily without any fuss.

Kilimanjaro

Our first stop was Kilimanjaro. We flew with Kenya Airways via Nairobi (8.5 hours) on their amazing Dreamliner, followed by a short hop (1 hour) into Kilimanjaro with Precision Air. A little tip here is to sit on the left of the plane for a majestic view of Africa’s highest mountain.

On arrival, we felt pretty fresh as there’s no big-time difference between Tanzania and the UK. We were met at the airport by our driver and guide who drove us 1.5 hours in our 4WD Landcruiser to our hotel, the incredible Amini Maasai Lodge project.

Amini Maasai Lodge

The lodge has 14 bungalows and is run by the most welcoming local Maasai, with income from the lodge supporting the local community. It’s remote but much better for it and everybody was so friendly. Everyone made a fuss of the kids and we all felt safe and settled immediately. We flopped into the pool and relaxed for the afternoon with uninterrupted views across the savannah – a dream start to our dream trip!

At the lodge, we stayed in a traditional thatched and solar-powered family earth house. They were beautiful inside with en-suite, hot shower and fresh drinking water in re-usable flasks. With a lovely double bed, two singles for the kids and mozzie nets, they thoughtfully prepared for us each night. At night the Maasai guards keep watch around the bungalows for peace of mind.

During your stay, all home-grown meals are included and they’re cooked by the local Maasai chef – they’re delicious and our kids ate everything!

Activities on offer

There are heaps of activities included in each stay such as spear throwing, Maasai dancing, a local school visit and nature walk in the savannah. The walk was an experience in itself where we learned about Maasai life and came across a 10-year-old local goat herder called Kennedy, who was out all day in the heat overseeing this flock without water. Our son wanted to share his water, and Kennedy downed the entire lot in one! It was little interactions like this all over Tanzania which made our trip so special. We loved seeing everything through our kids’ eyes and knowing they’d appreciate how happy Tanzanian kids are, despite often having very little.

Sunrise views over Kilimanjaro

An early morning wake up at the lodge is highly recommended. On our first morning, they brought a tray of fresh muffins, coffee and hot chocolate to our hut, then opened our doors to the most incredible clear view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Watching sunrise behind the mountain was just bliss, and we knew these were special family memories which we’ll forever cherish. After a wonderful send-off (and yes there were tears – lots of them!) we set off for Karatu, our safari base for the Ngorongoro Crater.

Mto Wa Mbu village visit

On the way, we passed through Arusha and stopped at Mto Wa Mbu village, the gateway to Lake Manyara National Park. I highly recommend a walking tour through Mto Wa Mbu, so you can meet locals going about their daily lives and you’ll be welcomed into their homes.

Rhotia Valley ‘glamping’

In Karatu we stayed at Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge, a charming lodge which again does so much good locally. Profits support the neighbouring children’s home and two local schools. This time we were staying in a safari tent (definitely glamping standard) with comfy beds and en-suite home comforts. Again the food here is all included and home-grown with freshly baked bread that everyone loved.

2 Days safari Tarangire - Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater safari

We included just one day at Ngorongoro Crater as the National Park fees are fairly steep (almost $500 per day for the family including the driver and vehicle). This was another bucket list experience for all of us so it had to be done. Described by some as the best place in East Africa for safari, this World Heritage Site has a stunning backdrop and the density of wildlife you can experience here is second to none.

We got up well before sunrise and set off for the crater. Our excellent guide opened up the roof in our Landcruiser once we descended from the crater rim and off we went on safari.

What an experience of nature in action! We saw pretty much everything, from a Zebra giving birth, to gazelles rutting and lions mating. Under the lifted roof in our vehicle, it stayed pretty cool and the kids were able to stand on the seats with us and see elephants, rhinos, zebras, hyenas, wildebeests, flamingos, buffalo and hippos. For a thrilling half-hour, we witnessed lions on the prowl with wildlife fleeing in all directions.

From Ngorongoro, we headed back to our lodge. Another popular option is to continue from here on safari via the Serengeti (a more traditional and quieter safari experience). As this was our first Africa family holiday, we decided to make our way to Arusha and fly on to Zanzibar for some beach time to round off our trip.

Zanzibar beach break

The mere mention of Zanzibar conjures images of paradise, white sands and exotic palm-fringed beaches. We settled on a 10-night stay on the island, with plenty of time to explore on a self-drive in a 4WD jeep.

The most striking thing upon leaving the airport (apart from no road signs) around the outskirts of Stone Town was it was far less touristy than I’d imagined. On our drive to Matemwe (North East), we saw only locals, with faded buildings rubbing shoulders with locals markets, donkeys and chickens! We loved it.

Matemwe

We spent five nights at the new Zanzibar Magic Boutique Hotel, a superb small hotel in sleepy Matemwe with an amazing beachfront bar, restaurant and lovely pool. Again we were warmly welcomed and the staff made efforts to learn the kids’ names, so they felt at home straight away. They even taught us how to play local board game ‘Bao’, which was a lot of fun. The beach here is lovely, but the water is shallow so better for paddling than swimming.

Kendwa and Nungwe

Next, we had five nights up north in Kendwa and Nungwe where we stayed at Natural Kendwa Villa. This is a much busier and more touristy area, but with good reason, as the water here is stunning. Calm turquoise waters, ideal for the kids and deeper so perfect for swimming.

Having a jeep in Zanzibar was handy though it was parked during most days. It gave us freedom to venture out to eat, plus take a trip to Stone Town’s quirky narrow streets one afternoon. It’s worth noting that there were no working ATM’s outside of Stone Town, so take plenty of cash if you fancy eating locally. Our favourite meal was in a locally-run place called ‘Badolinas’ in Nungwe (if only for the local cows poking their heads in the window), which offers superb fresh fish and salads.

Tanzania Zanzibar
Tanzania Zanzibar

Mnemba Island boat tour

The highlight of our Zanzibar stay was a private boat trip to Mnemba Island. We saw wild dolphins along the way, then jumped in the water to find dolphins swimming all around us. Then we went reef snorkelling in turquoise waters off a pristine white sandbank – the idyllic paradise I’d always imagined Zanzibar would be!

On our final night, we headed back to Magic Zanzibar in Matemwe for dinner as we’d love it there so much. An enormous red moon rose across the Indian Ocean as we enjoyed a lovely meal before flying home, a magical finish to a truly amazing and unforgettable family holiday.

Looking for ideas to do Tanzania with kids?

If you’re interested in Africa family holidays or in Tanzania for kids – we can help you put together an itinerary that’s perfectly suited to all of you. We can recommend accommodation, tours, safaris and beach stays and tailor-make all your arrangements with the minimum of fuss. Have a look at our Tanzania travel guide and tailor-made Tanzania holidays for ideas, then call us on 01273 032517 or request a quote by email.

8 Essentials Tips For Planning A Family Safari In Tanzania

When we planning a safari trip to spend our holiday vacation — Lots of things come to our minds like when and where to go, where to stay, what’s the best place for kids, health and safety, and some recommended tour operators.
family safari to Tanzania should be the journey of a lifetime. Many parents decide to wait till their children are above 12 years old, but those who’ve traveled with younger children claim it is a wonderful experience, too. As you begin to enjoy your trip, keep something in your mind:
— The ages of your children
— Their abilities and interests in animal
— The training of the various tour operators, guides, and safari leaders to work with children.
Unlike many other family love adventures that we encourage, a safari trip to Tanzania should definitely be organized by a reputable tour operator, either from Africa or within Tanzania. When you begin your safari plan, you’ll find safari tour operators who promise sightings of the “Big Five” – Cape buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, lion, leopard – and level the game reserves by how much wildlife can be seen there. But for you, traveling with family is like how you explore all within a short period of time.
What should you know before planning a trip?
Before we plan a safari trip, 1st you read about the country’s history, the places you will visit, the wildlife, latest news of that region, climate and other things you expect to see. It makes it much more interesting while you’re there. Adults and children should take photos, keep a family diary, and collect photo album so that when you return home you can all make an album together. You’ll keep family memories alive and create a valuable at the same time.
Best Time to Go
The best time to explore wild animals in many parts of Tanzania is during the warm, the dry season, when the grass is short, visibility is good, and the weather is usually dry, approximately December to April. Tanzania specialists recommend February, March, September, and October as the best months for maximum game-viewing. But they also stress that anytime other than April and May, the rainiest months, are fine.
Where to Go For A Tanzania Safari
Most first-timers to Tanzania choose to visit the best-known game parks — Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tarangire National Park, Arusha National Park, Ruaha National Park or Mikumi National Park
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti NationalPark is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequaled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa
The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was established in 1952. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth – the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds is also impressive. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available, from luxury lodges to mobile camps. The park covers 5,700 sq miles, (14,763 sq km), it’s larger than Connecticut, with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The extraordinary feature in Ngorongoro is a deep, volcanic crater and the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq. km in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder. The Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s most famous sites and has the highest density of wildlife in Africa. Sometimes described as one of the ‘eighth wonders of the world’. This guarantees a great wildlife viewing in a genuinely mind-blowing environment. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera; there is nowhere else in Africa quite like Ngorongoro!
The crater floor consists of a number of different habitats that include grassland, swamps, forests and Lake Makat (Maasai for ‘salt’) – a central soda lake filled by the Munge River. It is the most likely area in Tanzania to see the endangered Black Rhino, as a small population is thriving in this idyllic and protected environment. It is currently one of the few areas where they continue to breed in the wild. Your chances of encountering leopard here are also good and fabulous black-maned lions. Many flamingos are also attracted to the soda waters of Lake Magadi.
Tarangire National Park
 Tarangire National Park
Tarangire NationalPark has some of the highest population density of elephants as compared to anywhere in Tanzania, and its sparse vegetation, strewn with baobab and acacia trees, makes it a beautiful and distinctive location to visit. Located just a few hours’ drives from the town of Arusha, Tarangire is a popular stop for people traveling through the northern safari circuit on their way to Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.
Before the rains, droves of gazelles, wildebeests, zebras, and giraffes migrate to Tarangire National Park’s scrub plains where the last grazing land remains. Breathtaking views of the Maasai Steppe and the mountains in the south makes a stopover at Tarangire a memorable experience.
Arusha National Park
 Arusha National Park
Arusha National Park(ANAPA) is a gem of varied ecosystems and spectacular views of Mt. Meru, the crater that gives the region its name
It is a popular destination for day trip visitors who are about to embark from the town of Arusha on longer northern circuit safaris. The small national the park includes the slopes, summit, and ash cone of Mt. Meru, the Momela Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and the lush highland forests that blanket its lower slopes. Game viewing around the Momela Lakes is at a laid-back and quiet pace, and while passing through the forest many visitors stop to search for troupes of rare colobus monkeys playing in the canopy.
Climbing Mt. Meru or enjoying the smaller trails that criss-cross its lower slopes is a popular activity for visitors to Arusha National Park. The three-day trek to reach the crater’s summit is a quieter, and some say more challenging alternative than the famous peak of nearby Mount Kilimanjaro. Along the lower slopes, the paths to rivers and waterfalls create a relaxing day hike for visitors who don’t want to attempt the rather arduous climb. Ancient fig tree forests, crystal clear waters cascading from mountain streams, and a chance to spot colobus monkeys are the attractions and pleasures of Arusha National Park.
Ruaha National Park
 Ruaha National Park
Ruaha national park is one of the few of Tanzania’s famous wilderness areas where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape. The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) which can not be found in any other national park. The park boasts of her almost untouched and unexplored ecosystem, making visitors’ safari experience very unique.
The Great Ruaha River as other rivers like Mwagusi, Jongomero, and Mzombe save as the lifeline of the park. During the dry season, these rivers become mostly the main source of water for wildlife. There are few natural springs saving the same purpose.
In the pick of the dry season, elephants obtain water from dry sand rivers using their front feet and trunks. The remaining waterfalls along the Great Ruaha The river is also an important habitat for hippopotamus, fish, and crocodiles.
Mikumi National Park
 Mikumi National Park
Mikumi National Park is Tanzania’s fourth-largest national park. It’s also the most accessible from Dar es Salaam. With almost guaranteed wildlife sightings, it makes an ideal safari destination for those without much time.
Since the completion of the paved road connecting the park gate with Dar es Salaam, Mikumi National Park has been slated to become a hotspot for tourism in Tanzania. Located between the Uluguru Mountains and the Luongo range, Mikumi is the fourth largest national park in Tanzania and only a few hour’s drives from Tanzania’s largest city. The park has a wide variety of wildlife that can be easily spotted and also well acclimatized to game viewing. Its proximity to Dar es Salaam and the amount of wildlife that lives within its borders makes Mikumi National Parka popular option for weekend visitors from the city, or for business visitors who don’t have to spend a long time on an extended safari itinerary.
Where To Stay On Your Safari
Our Experienced tour guides recommend you smaller tented safari camps, which are often quite luxurious. Families often look back on their contact with camp staff, rangers, and guides as well as other guests, at meals and on the daily safaris, as one of the best parts of the trip.
Now finally you found the dream location for a perfect Tanzania Family Safari and us all reached the end of the blog so there are also some tips that you should follow for safety purpose:
Choose a good operator and have a proper conversation with before the plan.
Query about the food, lodges and self-drive price and details.
One of the best itineraries for your family is “2 DAYS/ 1 NIGHT SAFARI
Don’t feel shy to share any problem that you have.
Take vaccination of different diseases before you leave
As we have said before please check the age limit of the kids.
Finally, we informed everything but haven’t said about us. “Great Image Expedition” is our name and we are one of the best native tour operators of Tanzania. There are several tour operators in the market offering Tanzania Safari but what makes us different, you can read out what travelers experienced with us@ https://bit.ly/38gZ81E
For more info:-https://gie.co.tz/

FIVE UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN ZANZIBAR

When you hear the name “Zanzibar“, what immediately dives to your mind?

Your mind immediately conjures up image of pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, hammocks rocking gently in the sea breeze, and gorgeous resorts serving up ice-cold drinks and delicious food from around the world.

Zanzibar’s reputation as Africa’s premier beach playground is entirely justified, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending your entire trip simply soaking in the sun, lazing by the pool, and enjoying the resort lifestyle on one of the many Zanzibar beaches.

If you’ve got a little more time on your hands or if you’re simply one of those people who can’t stand to sit still for two consecutive days, however, there is a wealth of things to do on Zanzibar.

From steaming jungles to fragrant spice plantations to heart-wrenching sites of historic significance, there is no shortage of Zanzibar activities on offer.

Five Things to do in Zanzibar

There are so much more than just the below five things to do on Zanzibar, but we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites to get you inspired.

When planning your Zanzibar trip, be sure to let your Great Image Expedition expert know what kind of activities you like. They’re sure to have some great ideas!

 #1 – Spot Red Colobus Monkeys in Jozani Forest

The endangered red colobus monkey happens to call the 2,512-hectare Jozani Chwaka National Park at the heart of Zanzibar home. One of the few remaining sanctuaries for this rare primate, Jozani Forest is an easy day trip from almost anywhere on the island.

While the red colobus monkeys are wild animals, they’ve become used to seeing tourists in the park, so you’ll have a good chance to snap some photos as you learn more about the ecosystem. You’ll also have the chance to spot a huge variety of birds and butterflies and if you’re lucky, shy bushbabies.

Taking just half a day, a visit to Jozani Forest can be combined with the Spice Plantation Tour or enjoyed in isolation.

#2- Spice Plantation Tour

 Zanzibar is sometimes known as ‘Spice Island’ and with good reason! For much of the region’s history, its primary industry has been the export of flavorful spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pepper.

Taking a spice tour might not sound like everybody’s cup of tea, but believe us when we say it is a truly fascinating, fragrant, and flavorsome experience!

You’ll be doing far more than simply visiting a spice plantation and learning about the spices, you’ll also be tasting, smelling, and touching the spices that help to flavor cuisine from around the world.

Along the way, you’ll also learn about the medicinal uses of some of these spices, sample tropical fruits, and enjoy a locally prepared lunch. It’s a treat for foodies and the culturally curious alike!

 #3 – Safari Blue

 Zanzibar is a paradise for people who love water. From scuba diving to water sports to snorkeling, there’s no shortage of ways to experience Zanzibar’s warm waters.

For those who want to experience a little of everything that makes Zanzibar so special, the popular Safari Blue is a perfect choice.

This full-day experience takes you on a day of sailing, sunbathing, snorkeling, and feasting as you explore the fabulous Zanzibar coast. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to sunbathe on isolated sandbanks, spot dolphins playing in the waves, and dinner on delicious seafood.

You’ll also have the chance to trade the comfort of your sailboat for a traditional dhow and/or outrigger canoe along the way, so you can experience how the locals have plied their trade for centuries.

#4 – Top Class Luxury Hotels at Your Service

Apart from that, you will also get the opportunity of selecting from dozens of Zanzibar Accommodations that have been integrated into three different categories such as budget, midrange, and luxury depending on your lifestyle, status & purchasing power.

Now here is an open secret that you can take advantage of and that is to book for Tanzania Tours & Safaris during an ‘off-season’ period when the prices will be slashed hugely paving way for you to stay even in a luxurious hotel at a budgeted price.

#5 – Historic Sites

Zanzibar has a long and fascinating history, and it would be a shame to visit the Spice Island without experiencing a little of that often dark story.

There are a variety of ways to learn more about Zanzibar’s history as a slave port, British protectorate, and former independent nation.

There are a lot of cultural sites in Zanzibar & most of them are in Stone Town. This town is known for hosting several historical sensations such as House of Wonders, Forodhani Gardens, and Old Fort, etc. Even the beaches of Zanzibar are also one of the best ways to connect with the local people. Besides all that, the entire town is a blend of aesthetics and military fortification showing its ancient architectural miracles to watch throughout the Zanzibar Cultural Tours.

 

 For those with a little more time, the Zanzibar Prison Island tour combines history with a little leisure. You’ll not only visit the prison island to observe its new turtle inhabitants, but also enjoy some time snorkeling around the gorgeous former prison island.

It is up to you now on how to go for Zanzibar Holidays. You can directly apply for the Zanzibar Tour Package or add it in the itinerary of the Tanzania Safari Tours that you want to book with us.

Visit us @https://gie.co.tz/ come for talking with our safari experts directly to make a well-informed decision. Moreover, our blogs will help you a lot during the process of booking. So you can also go through all of them to take a reference. Please email us @info@gie.co.tz

10 EXCLUSIVE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES YOU’LL ONLY FIND IN YOUR TANZANIA SAFARI TOUR

Tanzania is a popular point on world map where you can find exceptional bursts of adventures; this is a prime location of tourism of the African continent where you can find the wilderness of the rarest. Feel the thrill of big 5 while on your favorites Tanzania Safari, watch the nature and wildlife in a way you never have seen or imagined before in your life. Discover the real rainforest, jungle, wild animals and birds and sense the Tanzania Safari difference between their various species.

Tanzania is having more than 20 national parks and conservation areas, every park is having some exclusive specifications. Tanzania is not the only land of wildlife but you can also find 120 different traditional tribes who believe in their fore father’s culture and tradition. Here you explore with learning, you can live back in time, and you can feel your life to be different than before. This East African country has so much more to offer beyond the game drives: undeveloped beaches, the fascinating Maasai tribe, and the world’s tallest free-standing mountain—Mount Kilimanjaro

Here are some of the unique things which you can experience in Tanzania SafariTours.

1)  HORSERIDING IN ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK

Arusha National Park encompasses Mt. Meru, which is the 2nd highest mountain in Tanzania and the 3rd highest freestanding mountain in Africa. There are dramatic variations in the scenery, open Savannah, dense forest and thick bush, impressive craters and many lakes. Furthermore, there are 5 distinct vegetation zones that host a wealth of flora and fauna.

2)  Sleep in a TreeHouse in Tarangire National Park

Outside of the Serengeti, Tarangire National Park holds the greatest attentiveness of wildlife. The landscape is full of ancient baobab trees that offer refuge for herds of elephants and the park’s legendary tree-climbing lions and pythons. Bird enthusiasts will also be fascinated with more than 550 species that call the park home.

 

3)   Swim And Sunbathe On Zanzibar Beaches

Zanzibar Beach is one of the magnificent sea beaches of Tanzania Destinations which you will love to encounter year-round year. This is the place where fun and excitement becomes double, you get more than you expected. Beautiful blue water with the bluish sky with sunshine and the white sand of the beach feels you with energy and refreshment. This attractive beach offers sea diving in which you can explore hundreds of new aqua species. Take sunbath on the beautiful beaches Zanzibar and get the extreme power of vitamin D.

 

4)  Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro, the topmost edge of Africa is located in Tanzania having a total height of about 19,200 feet The name itself “Kilimanjaro” is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Above the gently rolling hills and plateaus of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, its slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi. You will feel like heaven after reaching its top because the peak is full of snow, creating a cool climatic view.

5)   Camp In The Serengeti During The Annual Migration

Serengeti comes from a word meaning “endless plains” in the traditional Maasai language, and with more than 12,000 square feet of wilderness, its never-ending landscape is just as awe-inspiring as the plentiful animals that call it home. The yearly the crossing of giant herds—more than 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras—to greener pastures are one of the most spectacular wildlife wonders to witness. This is a furious natural drama that you can see with your naked eyes while camping to a distant part of the area to remain safe. This migration usually takes place during rainy seasons so you have to visit during this time to experience the best of Tanzania Safari.

 

6)  WORLD HERITAGE SITE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

When people plan for their bucket-list adventure in Tanzania, Serengeti National Park always comes to mind first. Sure, there’s the Great Migration and the Lion King setting — both fantastic reasons that make ditching the Serengeti impossible. But Tanzania has so much more to offer and it would be a total bummer to miss out on them. Particularly the renowned Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

7)  Walk Through History In Stone Town

The stone town of Zanzibar is the place where you will find beautiful buildings made of stone having some stone carving on it. This stone town is made during ancient time making you feel like back in time. Zanzibar’s Stone Town is one of the historic places of Tanzania to get the best knowledge about the stone edge by doing researches on it during your Tanzania Safari.

 

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8) Diverse Ecosystems Lake Manyara National Park

 Lake Manyara National Park is unique because of the myriad ecosystems that are present within the national park. These range from the basic arid lands to the soda lake, from the dense woodlands to the groundwater forests. All-in-all, there are 11 ecosystems that can be found within this small national park – one of those places that have it all in the same place. What this diversity in relief and habitat does is attract a host of animals that range from 400 species of birds including thousands of flamingos in the wet season to buffalo, cheetah, and girffe.

https://gie.co.tz/lake-manyara-national-park/

 

9) Visit a Traditional Maasai Village

A visit to Tanzania wouldn’t be complete without meeting its traditional people—the Maasai tribe. Predominately known as a warrior tribe, the Maasai’s lives are centered on driving cattle. Today, you’ll often see a Maasai carrying a traditional herding spear in one hand and a cell phone (most often used for making cattle sales) on the other hand, symbolizing the struggle tribes go through in modern times.

 

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10) Tour A Spice Plantation On Spice Island

One of the delicious tourism of Tanzania Safari Tours is during a spice tour on Spice Island. Tanzania is also having a rich history about the spices, as those spices were used to make a difference in the taste of their food from other parts of Africa. During this spice tour, you will taste many spices as well as the cookeries made of those spices.

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Tanzania is a land of exploration where you will explore the thing which you never wondered. We Great Image Expedition is one of the instinctive and grownup operators of this land, we can help you to experience the Tanzania Tour a step better. There are many other things which you can view during the Tanzania Safari, but you need to follow some precautions before that. To know, what is the precaution you should take; so that you can enjoy Tanzania Safari without any obstacle please visit our website 
@https://gie.co.tz/

The world’s greatest wildlife migration, featuring up to 1.5 million wildebeest and thousands of zebra and gazelle happens every year in East Africa. One of the most sought-after travel experiences, viewing the great migration is a truly unique opportunity to see the power of nature at work, plus get a firsthand look at some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth.
https://gie.co.tz/serengeti-national-park/
Watching this incredible display unfold is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience, but a little planning goes a long way in making sure you see these animals on their great reverse.
But what is the best time to see the Wildebeest Migration?
Whether you witness its beginnings during calving season in Serengeti, the spectacular river crossings on the Mara River, or the return journey from Kenya’s Maasai Mara, you are witnessing one of the wonders of the natural world – a migration that covers a huge distance and sees almost 250,000 wildebeest perish each year.
What is the Wildebeest Migration?
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The Wildebeest Migration is an annual migration of wildebeest from the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area/southern Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in southern Kenya.
It is the migration for which Serengeti National Park is perhaps most famous. Over a million wildebeest and about 200,000 zebras flow south from the northern hills to the southern plains for the short rains every October and November, and then swirl west and north after the long rains in April, May and June. So strong is the ancient instinct to move that no drought, gorge or crocodile infested river can hold them back.
Where to see the Wildebeest Migration
The exact timing of the Wildebeest Migration is completely dependent upon rainfall patterns, making it a difficult thing to predict with any certainty. Particularly heavy or light rainfall might completely alter the movement of the massive herd.
This can make planning your safari an occasionally complicated affair, so it pays to spend as much time as possible in the Serengeti so that you can adjust to the sometimes mercurial movements of the herd.
As unpredictable as the herd can be, there is a rough calendar that gives the Shadows of Africa team an idea of where the action will be at any given time of the year.
The beauty of our private safaris are being able to adjust on the fly, and our experienced guides will go above and beyond to give you every chance of seeing the herd in motion.
January to March: The Calving Season (Ndutu Region, Tanzania)
Each year, life begins for a huge number of animals on the fertile plains surrounding Lake Ndutu and Lake Masek. On any given day, more than 10,000 wildebeest come into the world and take their first awkward steps on the long road north.
Over the course of a few short months, more than 1,000,000 wildebeest will join the already vast herd and feast on the lush grass that springs up from volcanic soil well-watered by the rainy season.
The Calving Season is best spent in the Ndutu region of the southern Serengeti, and a number of tented camps and lodges spring up each year from December through until March to accommodate the demand for a front-row seat.
The calving season isn’t as dynamic as later months, as the herd has ample food and the relative safety of wide-open plains to help them spot would-be predators.
April to May: The Green Season (Central Serengeti, Tanzania)
As food becomes more scarce in the south due to the drier weather and the growing number of mouths to feed, the first zebra begin to make their way north.
And where the zebra go, the wildebeest inevitably follow,
The Wildebeest Migration begins with some 1.7 million wildebeest, almost 500,000 antelope, and a quarter of a million zebra.
Their first stop? Seronera in the very heart of the Serengeti.
The Seronera region offers excellent game-viewing throughout the year, but at this time of year, the big cats and wandering elephants are complemented by the passing herd.
Green Season is the perfect time to plan your safari if you’re on a budget. With the evening rains keeping the tourist crowds away, luxury lodges lower their rates to a level that makes them as cheap as camping out on the plains.
May to mid-July: The Western Corridor (Grumeti, Tanzania)
The Mara River crossing may be the most well-known highlight of the Wildebeest Migration, but the Grumeti River crossing in the Western Serengeti is no less spectacular.
Drawn towards the shores of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria by the promise of rain and better grazing, the herd deviates into the west.
The only thing standing between the herd and the large freshwater lake? The Grumeti River.
Some of the most spectacular images of the predator-prey dynamic are captured in and around the river, with both the big cats and the Nile crocodiles seizing upon this opportunity to strike at the increasingly desperate members of the herd. The Grumeti is home to the largest Nile crocodile population in the region, and these opportunistic predators make the most of things.
July to September: River-Crossing Season (Northern Serengeti, Tanzania and Maasai Mara, Kenya)
During this period, the herd continues its movement north towards the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya. There is no tight schedule that these animals follow, so tracking the herd’s movements becomes a day today prospect as the meander slowly but inexorably towards the next big the obstacle in their path: the Mara River.
The Mara River poses another deadly barrier for the herd, who must again brave swollen waters and the opportunistic predators if they are to find relative safety on the far side.
Photographers and documentarians from around the world gather to witness the death-defying crossing, but the surrounding landscapes are every bit as memorable as the life and death struggle taking place at the Kogatende crossing.
November – December: Low Season (Northern and Central Serengeti, Tanzania)
Things calm down considerably once the Wildebeest Migration has crossed back over the Mara River into Tanzania, with the herd able to be spotted in Kogatende, Lobo, or the Central Serengeti as it makes its way back south.
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November is a great time to visit and take advantage of low-season pricing, while December segues nicely into the calving season.