A Serengeti Safari brings peace and wildlife action
The enormous beauty of the Serengeti stars in countless films and shows – Serengeti Rules on PBS is a recent example. The Great Migration itself is on innumerable bucket lists, and the marvelous landscapes, Maasai culture and abundant wildlife make this a year-round destination. Despite its fame, crowds aren’t a given. There’s room for just you and the herds.
Floating above the Big Five
The legendary names associated with the Serengeti themselves raise goosebumps. Masai Mara, Ngorongoro, Grumeti: This is where traditional safaris began, on the vast, biscuit-colored plains in Tanzania and Kenya. It’s pre-dawn, and the hiss of the burner flame cuts through the air. Slowly, slowly, the candy-colored hot air balloon rises, as orange and pink sunlight washes over the grassland below. The horizons stretch out like honeyed toast. Float above these wild lands and see elephants stride along with their floppy-trunked babies that run to keep up, hippos snuggle in a pan; and giraffes wander into the expanse of an open field. This is true luxury: So much space; to see and breathe and be.
Crowds – of wildebeests
The Serengeti has become synonymous with the Great Migration, when some 1.5 million wildebeests – antelope with quizzical expressions and a rocking horse gait – pour over the plains annually. National parks see a lot of tourist action in peak season. But we can plan you an exclusive Serengeti safari, away from the crowds and attuned to nature’s rhythms. The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem spans 12,000 square miles, with many a private concession and tucked-away camp. Over the years, we have found every fine, lantern-lit refuge with crisp linens and smiling staff. We have built relationships with our favorite expert guides who will know exactly where to take you, and we have discovered unique and remote wildlife areas where the crowds disappear. A custom Serengeti safari can be made as private as will suit your needs.
Wildlife knowledge as expansive as the savanna
Bushtracks Serengeti Safari itineraries are carefully designed to put you in the right place, at the right time, no matter the season. The Great Migration itself is a cycle: one can’t expect to fly in and see herds plunge into rivers on demand, and climate change is making such events even less predictable. Bushtracks, however, takes you to two prime locations in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti to ensure you’ll encounter herds of grazing wildebeests, antelopes and zebras and the predators that stalk them. The accommodations will be superior – an intimate camp on the Mara River is an option – and you can have your own driver and guide.
Flow charts: When to go where
The Great Migration is indirectly linked to the sound of thunder: Add water to bone-dry plains, and sweet new grasses shoot up. Wildebeests, in tune with the rains, travel up to 1,000 miles a year seeking out the best grazing. The clockwise cycle usually begins with new life in February, when hundreds of thousands of wildebeests are born in the southern Serengeti in Tanzania, and other baby animals wobble to their feet. This is the green season, a time of plenty stunning landscapes and dramatic thunderstorms. Seasoned safari-goers and avid photographers love February and March for all of these reasons. April and May are rainier, cooler and a good time for discounts as the parks are lovely and quiet. From May, things begin to dry out and the herds start moving into the central areas and to the west. There’s no one route: grazing and wildebeest intelligence drives the herds generally north and west. July to September is when the herds tend to arrive in Grumeti and later, the Masai Mara. This is when you might see an unforgettable river crossing: a snorting stream of animals braving the water. It is dry, so game congregates near waterholes. Dust is part of the experience! Choose community-run or private concession areas for extra exclusivity over the peak tourism months. By October the grass up north is largely eaten, and the herds are swinging south once more. November is good for central areas but rainier; by December the cycle is near complete.
Wildebeest safaris aside, the Serengeti is a great place to experience African culture, learn about Maasai traditions, and hear Maasai knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation. Gaining understanding, appreciation, and context of wild Africa from a Maasai guide is a great privilege, and you might encounter music and dancing on a village visit at any time of the year. The lodges and camps that we handpick often support local communities, and our custom-built safaris can introduce you to some of the initiatives.
Your classic safari destination
Walking excursions with a Maasai guide, exhilarating game drives, and hot air balloon flights can all be part of your Serengeti safari. Tell our Bushtracks expert trip planners what you’d most like to see and experience, and they’ll help you get to the savanna of your dreams.
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If you have safari questions for our expert planners, please give us a call at +1 (800) 995-8689.
The first version of this article was posted on 18 Mar 2020 at 9:00 AM.