You will witness herds of wildebeest and zebras storming the savannah and relax on sun-soaked beaches during your 14-day Kenya and Tanzania safari. Follow more than 2 million mammals as they journey across borders to reveal the intimate secrets of wildlife on your African safari. Connect with Masai warriors, trail leopards, engage in a search for cheetahs, explore the Ngorongoro Crater, and lounge on the pristine shores of Zanzibar.
Nairobi – Welcomed to East Africa by Giraffe
Giraffes will crane their necks through your hotel window, which will prove an unforgettable introduction to East Africa. Endangered Rothschild giraffes will roam the grounds, and they are partial to meeting guests sometimes in the afternoon but most commonly over breakfast. The hotel and conservation project have helped to preserve this rare giraffe subspecies, as well as provide extremely intimate encounters for the guests. You will land in Nairobi where you will be transferred to your hotel, and the afternoon and evening will be at your leisure. You can explore the Giraffe Centre without a guide for your first dose of East African wildlife.
Nairobi – Easing Into It In Nairobi National Park
Your first day on your safari will bring excitement. You will arrive with perceptions of animals and experiences, but it is never quite what you imagine. Safaris are not a checklist exercise, and it is more important to slow down and to really understand that this is the wild. Nairobi National Park may be backdropped by city towers, but it is only partially fenced and offers a diverse safari welcome. You can spot rhinos on the open savanna, watch elephants swing their trunks, and surround yourself with buffalo. You will get to know what it is like on a game drive, including the leisurely pace and how to best take photos. Wildlife is not overly abundant here, but there is a wonderful diversity of life and a very easy introduction to the safari experience.
Mara North – First Impressions of the Grasslands
On a short safari, you will swap Nairobi for the Masai Mara. Your aircraft will touch down directly in Mara North, which is the far north of the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystem. This is a private conservancy that is adjacent to the Masai Mara National Reserve. Access is restricted to guests staying in the conservancy, and the rules are different. Here, you can go on game walks, and most importantly, you can drive off the trails. This is essential for close-up encounters with the big cats, particularly leopards and cheetahs. Having fewer guests also provides exclusivity.
On an afternoon game drive, you will gain more first impressions. Open grasslands will be punctuated by sun-scorched rocks where lions will lazily watch you pass. Thomson’s gazelle will skip cheerily across the plains, and elephants will be conspicuous. There will be a moment where time stands still, and through the grass, you will identify moving spots. Going off the trail, you will get closer, and you will witness a leopard prowling towards the gazelle, moving beautifully with its cloak of camouflage. Every wildlife sighting will be special. Some, like leopards, really make your heart stop, and it is these experiences that make Mara North so unforgettable.
Mara North – Full Day in the Masai Mara National Reserve
Wake early for a full day adventure in the Masai Mara. Entering the main national reserve, you must stick to trails. These grasslands are packed with life every month of the year. Wildebeest cross the river around late July and early August, but this is not the best time to visit. Crowds detract from the experience, and many visitors wait three to four days just to see a crossing. While 2 million mammals make up the migration, these are just wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and spotted hyena. These animals have the stamina to travel, and they are joined by vultures in the air.
The other predators cannot keep up. Furthermore, they must stay at home to protect their territories. Hyenas are unique in that they will allow rivals to pass through but not stop in their territory. Lions trying to follow the wildebeest will be quickly rebuffed by other prides. So, your experience in the Masai Mara always brings many species of animals every month of the year. During today’s full-day game drive, you will trace the Mara River curves, stopping for a picnic beside a pod of rowdy hippos. You will visit waterholes to see intense daily dramas as you search for big cats around the kopjes. Most impressively, you will begin to appreciate the phenomenal scale of the ecosystem and the abundance of the large mammals that live here year-round.
Mara North – Walking With Masai Warriors
Tentative footsteps will take you into lion country. Masai warriors will your guides. If you look up ahead, you will be able to spot an elephant herd on the move. Zebra and wildebeest will also be very close. You will be silent and unthreatening, so these animals will not run. Even buffalo can be encountered from close quarters. It will be frightening at first, but the Masai have coexisted with these animals for many generations. They know how to interpret animal behavior and plot a safe route. So, you will walk, feeling a deep connection with the Masai Mara grasslands and experiencing the thrill of the plains. Walking with Masai is just one exclusive activity at your Mara North camp. Also, today there will be an opportunity for a nighttime game drive and an afternoon drive that will focus on the cheetah.
Serengeti – Tracking the Wildebeest Herds
You will travel by land to the Serengeti, which will prove to be an adventurous journey that showcases how the landscape changes. There are more kopjes and undulations in the Masai Mara, which means more hiding places for predators. South of the Mara River, it is very flat. It is so flat that there is sometimes a mirage that appears along the horizon. When driving south, it will seem like there are no animals. For an hour, there may be nothing, just lush, high-rising grass and the occasional elephant. Soon, you will cross a ridge, and you will suddenly be confronted by hundreds of thousands of wild mammals.
This is where your camp is: in the midst of the great wildebeest migration. By moving with the migration, the seasonal camp ensures visitors are always in the heart of the action. So, it will not matter the time of year. Most of the herds are in the Serengeti from November until July, so if you visit from August to October this entire safari excursion will be the same. During these months, the Serengeti camp sets up around the southern bank of the Mara River. Not every wildebeest makes the river crossing. Often the weak and sick are left behind, which become easy prey for resident cats. You will arrive at your camp today, and the experience will all be about abundance with such a profusion of life spilling out all around you.
Serengeti – Predator Versus Prey on the Open Plains
Hyenas will move through the grass at dawn. They are quick as they scamper across open grasslands on the trail of wildebeest. While some wildebeest gallop and run enthusiastically, others struggle to keep up. The weak will be left behind, and this is why spotted hyenas follow the migration. Later on your drive, you may find a lion pride with a zebra carcass. The great wildebeest migration is defined by predator and prey battles, so it is impossible to predict what you will encounter. Staying amid the herds ensures that you are alert to the most evocative animal encounters possible.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area – Completing the Journey Across the Serengeti Ecosystem
You will complete your journey as you drive south across the grasslands. Giraffes and elephants will watch you pass, cheetahs will hide in the grass, buffalo herds will huff as you stop beside them, and warthogs will scurry away from the water as hippos barrel into the water. You will now be accustomed to the key players of the landscape. Wildebeest will stretch out as hundreds of thousands of them cover an immense distance while zebra cluster together in tight herds, so their black and white stripes appear as a blur to predators. You will exit by crossing the Ndutu Plains and ascending into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area where your lodge will be perched on the crater rim.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area – Dramatic Encounters in Ngorongoro Crater
Descending into the world’s largest volcanic caldera, you will find a wildlife Mecca. Giant elephant bulls will roam past you with horns so long they curl skywards. One lake has been painted pink by flamingos while another is dominated by hippo antics. Lions will be up to their usual tricks, chomping into zebra after using the morning mist as a hunting veil. Some 30,000 animals live in this crater, and as the mist clears, you will appreciate the grandeur. In one glance, you can view the entire caldera floor with perhaps ten different animal species in your 360-degree panorama. After ascending to the lodge for lunch, the afternoon will be left free with views into the crater being ideal for some tranquil safari reflections.
Stone Town – Alluring Culture on Zanzibar Island
You will fly directly to Zanzibar and spend the day in Stone Town where a thousand years of history and culture play out on its mazy streets. Sounds will echo down lanes of coral houses, and smells entice with everything from stone-baked bread to small barbecues and intoxicating spices. At the Old Fort, you will hear tales of Zanzibar’s history from Omani rulers to Chinese traders and Arabian influence. The House of Wonders will share more modern stories, mostly from the 16th to 19th centuries. There is a majestic beauty at the Sultan’s Palace, which is a beautiful Zanzibari style. You will finish your alluring day at Darajani Market, which is the main bazaar that proves to be a hive of activity late in the day with everything from slabs of meat to sandals and spices.
Jozani Forest to Pingwe – Culture, Colobus Monkeys and the Beach
You will continue your cultural exploration this morning, focusing on Zanzibar’s role in the slave trade. It can be tough viewing, especially when hearing the stories or visiting Tippu Tip’s House. These stories are balanced by the Zanzibar of today, which is an exotic and enchanting maze that will be a delight to explore on foot. After lunch, you will drive to Jozani Forest and Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park where endangered red colobus monkeys will swing through the trees. They are plentiful on the island and are quite a sight with strange white faces that peer curiously to their human visitors down. Jozani is on route to your beach villa in Pingwe, which is where the culture and safari will fade away into white sand escapism.
Day 12 - 13
Pingwe – Lazy Days on the White Sand
Pingwe is located on Zanzibar’s less developed southeastern coast. At low tide the beach will appear to be endless, stretching some 30 miles towards the island’s tip. Coral cliffs backdrop the sand and are beautifully carved by Indian Ocean waves. High tide brings water against these cliffs, dividing the beach into a series of coves. Your hotel will have one of these, and it is rare that anyone else will be on the sand. With so much space and so few people, this side of Zanzibar is just like the Indian Ocean island promise.
These two days will be at your leisure, and the main highlight will be just relaxing. After some busy days on your safari, it is nice to have downtime before your journey home. The safari will have relaxed you and helped you connect to the natural world and leave your modern stresses behind. Zanzibar will complete your feeling of personal serenity with little but the Indian Ocean and white sand to keep you company. So, laze beneath the palms, sip cocktails on the sand, and reflect on your safari that took you across Tanzania and Kenya.
Zanzibar Town – Departure
From Pingwe, it will be a one-hour transfer to Zanzibar’s airport and your outbound flight.
- Explore the secrets of the great wildebeest migration as you cover the Masai Mara and Serengeti ecosystems from north to south
- Escape to one of Zanzibar’s tranquil white beaches where there is little but the Indian Ocean for company
- Get intimate with big cats during a three-day stay in the Mara North private conservancy
- Venture with game drives on the endless Serengeti grasslands and camp close to large wildebeest and zebra herds
- Marvel at the wildlife in Ngorongoro Crater, which is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera
- Connect with culture for 24 hours in Zanzibar’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town
- Walk the Mara plains with a Masai warrior guide, which will be a very personal connection with the wilderness
- Search for endemic and endangered red colobus monkeys in Jozani Forest
- Ease into the safari in the superb Nairobi National Park and then watch giraffes poke their heads through your hotel room
- Track battles between predator and prey as you come to understand Africa’s most precocious ecosystem
The great wildebeest migration is Africa’s most expressive spectacle. This is the surreal journey of 2 million animals around the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystem. It is a world wonder that is vastly misunderstood. Most people only hear about the famous Mara River crossing, but there is so much to discover every month of the year. This two-week safari focuses on different elements of the great wildebeest migration with three days in the Masai Mara and three in the Serengeti. It is complemented by a day in Ngorongoro Crater and followed by four relaxed days on Zanzibar island. Also, as a part of this Kenya and Tanzania safari, you will experience treats like Jozani Forest and the Giraffe Centre, which help to offer a rounded East Africa vacation.
Through the canvas, you can hear the hooves. Wildebeest are on the move as hundreds of thousands create a percussion sound across the grasslands. Zebras are grazing around the camp with their black and white stripes in a blur. Ungulates are everywhere, and it seems like the great wildebeest migration has no end. Elsewhere in the Serengeti and Masai Mara, there is another safari story. The herds are yet to arrive, and the cats appear scrawny. Tetchy and tense scenes unfold around a waterhole with lionesses harassing young elephants. The entire ecosystem is defined by rains and change, and you need time to explore and appreciate all these nuances, which is something that is provided on this great migration safari.
This great wildebeest migration safari can be taken at any month of the year. You travel the length of the Masai Mara and Serengeti ecosystem and will spend some days with the largest herds. Exploring areas where the wildebeest have been or are yet to go is all part of your excursion. There are fewer animals, but a contrasting landscape and atmosphere will prove worthwhile. Although spotted hyenas can follow the herds, other predators cannot. So, you will truly witness how the migration brings seasonal abundance and dictates annual struggle on the grasslands. Exclusive experiences enhance your connection. Walk with Masai warrior guides, go off trail to find leopard cubs, and stay in a mobile camp that attracts the herds.
Unfortunately, there is not much more to Kenya and Tanzania than the great wildebeest migration. Start in Nairobi and ease into the safari with a day in Nairobi National Park. Giraffes will poke their heads through your hotel window, and there will be plenty of time to relax after your flight. From the Serengeti, you will travel into Ngorongoro Conservation Area, spending day nine on a game drive inside the crater. Fly to Zanzibar on day ten with 24 hours in Stone Town to connect you with the history and culture. Then you will finish on a white beach, gazing across the Indian Ocean and reflecting on your spectacular safari journey. Consider learning more about our travelers’ best African Safari travel experiences by reading their travel reviews.
$12,595 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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