The Greater Serengeti Migration Area refers to a huge area that incorporates a number of national parks, including Serengeti and the Ndutu region of Ngorongoro. Vast plains, rolling hills, volcanic mountains and forested areas make for breath-taking scenery. Add to that abundant wildlife and the annual circular migration through the region of millions of wildebeest, zebra, antelope and their predators, and you have the perfect safari setting.
- The Great Annual Migration
- Spectacular and varied landscapes and scenery
- Arguably one of the best wildlife viewing areas in Africa
- An abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five
- Calving season on the plains of Ndutu
- Over 500 species of birds
- The vast plains of the Serengeti that look like they go on forever
- Fascinating archaeological site at Olduvai Gorge
- A wide array of accommodation types, including mobile tented camps
The Greater Serengeti Migration Area refers to the area through which millions of wildebeest, zebra, antelope and their predators migrate in a circular route each year. It includes over 30,000 km² of land through numerous game parks including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti, Maswa, Loliondo, Seronera, Grumeti Reserve, Ikorongo and Kenya's Maasai Mara.
The Great Migration
Often referred to as The Greatest Show on Earth, the movement of almost two million wildebeest, 500,000 zebra, hundreds of thousands of antelope, followed closely by the apex predators that hunt them, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The annual migration actually happens all year, as the animals move in a circular route through the area in search of better grazing and water.
In the wet season from November to March, the herds are mainly on the southern plains – northern Ngorongoro Conservation Area and around Ndutu – with all their new-born calves. The predators feast during this period. When the rains stop in March, the herds start moving through the central area to the western corridor (Grumeti River area). Around May, the move north to the northern area and Mara River, the border between Tanzania and Kenya.
The famous Great Migration crossings take place at the Grumeti River in the western corridor around June and July, and at the Mara River in August and September going up, and around October coming down. In November, the herds move south again, arriving back on the southern plains in November and December.
Game in the Greater Serengeti Migration Area
There are many places in the area that have resident game that don’t participate in the migration, making them a wonderful safari option. The Big Five live here, as do large numbers of antelope, giraffe, zebra, monkey and all the wild cats.
While some areas may be quiet animal-wise when the migration has headed off, there are pockets which offer spectacular game viewing opportunities. Speak to one of our consultants to guide you to the best places.
Things to see and do in the Greater Serengeti Migration Area
- Game drives – both day and night
- Witness the Great Migration
- Hot air ballooning at dawn over Serengeti
- Meet local tribes and learn about their customs and traditions
- Walking safaris to get a closer look at the micro-systems of the African bush
- Mobile tented camping – move around in order to get the best game sightings
- Be enchanted by all the baby wildebeest during calving season around Lake Ndutu in February
- Horseback riding safaris
Best time to visit
There is no bad time to visit the Greater Serengeti Migration Area, as many areas have resident game that doesn't follow the migration route.
The short rains usually fall around November and December, and the long rains around March to May. The dry season is between June and October. Some camps close during the wet season.
If seeing the Great Migration is top of your bucket list, please remember that nature works to her own schedule and the movement of the animals is unpredictable and highly dependent on the rains and weather. Safari tour patterns are based on historical experience and our experts can only provide an educated estimate of where the game will be at any given time. Speak to our consultants about the best time to go, and where to go, in order to improve your chances of witnessing this incredible natural phenomenon.
Do remember though, that this area is one of the world's best game viewing parks and even if you miss the Great Migration, the safari experience is second to none!
By road - Ngorongoro is about 185 km from Arusha by road. The trip can take between two and four hours. Serengeti is further on (about 325 km from Arusha). The road passes Lake Manyara, goes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area past Olduvai Gorge, and takes approximately eight hours.
By air - There are daily flights from Arusha to Lake Manyara Airstrip. From there, it's a scenic 1½ hour trip to the Ngorongoro Crater. Flights into Serengeti can land at a number of airstrips, including Seronera or Grumeti and daily scheduled flights run throughout high-season. Charter flights are also available. Arusha is served by two airports; domestic Arusha Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport with daily flights from local, African and international destinations.
You may also want to look at
With sweeping views over the vast plains of the world-renowned Serengeti, rich with wildlife, this relatively large lodge is bright and cheerful. There is resident game all year round and, if you time it right, you may even catch the Great Migration passing through, a once in a lifetime experience.
Perched on a rocky kopje near the Grumeti River in northern Serengeti, this tented camp provides a luxurious camping experience. Time it right and you'll not only get to see the abundant resident game, but you may also catch the once in a lifetime spectacle of the Great Migration passing through.