Tanzania Safari from August to December: Serengeti, Grumeti, Namiri

A 10 day trip to Tanzania 
5 out of 5 stars
9 reviews

The focal point of most Serengeti safaris is the great wildebeest migration. But you don't need to visit during the migration to explore the wonders of these evocative grasslands. Travel between August and December, and the Serengeti experience is equally sublime, a chance to connect with nature, avoid the crowds, and still encounter hundreds of thousands of wild animals. With four distinctive experiences, this 10-day safari showcases how the Serengeti teems with life all year around. 

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Northern Serengeti, Mara River, Grumeti Reserve, Namiri Plains

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Kilimanjaro to Northern Serengeti – Luxury Safari in Serengeti's Most Abundant Year-Round Area

An early arrival into Kilimanjaro International Airport is followed by an enchanting flight over the Serengeti plains, a light aircraft cruising the length of the grasslands and descending onto an airstrip in the north. It's the Northern Serengeti that has the greatest concentration of wildlife throughout the entire year, the proximity to the Mara River maintaining food and life throughout the driest of the months. The mammal population swells from May to July as the migration passes through. Many ungulates then make the perilous crossing over the river, although some of the herds prefer to stick to the fresh grazing pastures of the Northern Serengeti. This area is also on the migration route when the wildebeest and zebra return south, usually in scattered clumps of herds, perhaps just half of the number that started the annual journey.

From the airstrip, there's a brief game drive en route to the camp, then a hearty early lunch and time to rest under the canvas. Luxurious and chic, Sayari Camp reflects the quality of accommodation in Northern Serengeti. Expect an uninterrupted connection with nature, the sounds flowing into the opulent tent and the curtains opening each morning to roaming mammals. Later in the afternoon, you head out on a game drive, an exploratory journey that unravels the diversity of the plains. Thompson's gazelle are scattered across one panorama; then turn around to encounter a cackle of a hyena. Giraffes and elephants are easily spotted from afar, then thrillingly encountered amongst the trees. A warthog scurries along as a baboon troop shouts from the bushes; enjoy a serene sunset as the hippos start emerging from the water.

What's Included: accommodation at Sayari Camp, domestic flight, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 2: Northern Serengeti – Game Drives in and Around the Mara River

These northern plains provide flexible itineraries. You could game drive for a few hours in the morning and late afternoon, or spend a full day exploring the enormity of the grasslands. Drive to kopjes, clumps of rock where lions sit with bellies full. Trace prints in the sand and follow a cheetah, watching the spots flicker in and out of the grass. Wind along the southern banks of the Mara River and admire everything that comes to drink, another cluster of animals coming along every ten or so minutes. Sometimes you can cross open areas and not see anything. But look a little closer and there's a caracal hiding in the grass, a leopard lurking beneath a tree, and a whole flurry of exotic birds. Then you cross a ridge and the panorama is suddenly filled with thousands of mammals, including the iconic herds of wildebeest and zebra.

What's Included: accommodation at Sayari Camp, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 3 – 4: Northern Serengeti – Mobile Camping and Walking Safari on the Grasslands

It's always inspiring to see an elephant, the tusks curling, the trunk swinging with playful pride. Giraffes and zebras are equally impressive, huddled together with their adorable mash of colorful tones. The landscape is filled with animals to be savored, such as buffalos, hippos, gazelles, hartebeests. You'll see them all on a game drive. But there's an enhanced thrill to encountering these animals on foot. On a walking safari, you're just another mammal on the plains, one that the other animals are naturally inquisitive about. Many animals hear the noise of a vehicle and move away, yet they aren't perturbed by people traveling almost silently on foot. So you get closer. And the animals appear so much bigger when you're both on ground level.

A walking safari provides this new perspective and is the focus of these two days. For safety reasons, it's an activity that isn't suited to places that are completely packed with wildlife; you wouldn't want to be amongst a 10,000-strong zebra herd when the threat of lions could come from any direction. Instead, the walking safari provides a unique insight into the daily rhythm of the Serengeti, away from the biggest herds and largest predator presence. You're guided by Masai warriors, who pass on their ancient knowledge about how to track animals. From animal dung to broken branches and barely perceptible prints, you'll learn many of the exquisite details that can be missed when the safari program only includes game drives.

Enhancing the experience is the mobile camp, which you travel to on a game drive. Moving location with every guest, this private camp completes the connection with nature. You have the basic comforts, with a bed raised on a wooden platform, a hot bucket shower, Western toilet, and comfortable chairs for watching the procession of life on the plains. But this isn't a time for extras like a swimming pool or artistic works on the walls. It's a time for soaking up the authenticity of the land. Listen to lions roar throughout the evening, smell the scents left by passing herds, feel the goosebumps as a buffalo herd wanders past at dawn, and loose yourself in the remote beauty of the Serengeti. Note that the mobile camp is flexible at heart, so the location will change throughout the year to ensure a private and safe experience on the plains.

What's Included: accommodation at a private mobile camp, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Grumeti Reserve – Exclusive Game Drives in Western Serengeti

Running along the Serengeti's Western Corridor, Grumeti provides an exclusive safari experience. Unlike the national park, the number of visitors to this private reserve are carefully limited and only those staying in the reserve are permitted to enter. This creates an enchanting stretch of grassland that isn't interrupted by other vehicles, one that permits a safari experience straight from the imagination. You'll fly in to Grumeti, then spend the day on a game drive with a difference. Rather than stick to the main trails, the guides will have you bumping across the plains, getting as close as possible to each of the revered safari sights.

You'll have already seen vultures in the Serengeti. But now you watch them circle and drive towards the bloodied remains of a zebra carcass below. Hyenas won't be a new sight, but the guide can lead you towards a ferocious battle between the cackle and three young male lions. Raucous calls alert you to a predator in the trees, the birds warning nearby gazelles of a menacing presence. Rather than peer from a distance, you come within ten meters of a leopard attempting to blend into the grass. Sasakwa Lodge is perhaps the most opulent of all Serengeti accommodations and a flagship of the Grumeti Reserve. After two days of mobile camping, the lodge brings you back into the realm of luxurious extras like spa treatments and a private plunge pool overlooking the hippos in the river below.

What's Included: accommodation at Sasakwa Lodge, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Grumeti Reserve – Horseback Safari and Admiring the Hippos

There's a herd of zebra crossing the plains, a few dozen clustered together as they slowly graze and move. After five days in the Serengeti, it's definitely not a new sight – you've been seeing zebras continuously. Except you're not just watching them, you're riding alongside them. A horseback safari provides another fresh perspective and confident riders can enjoy a very intimate ride with the herds. Beginner riders will only be moving at a walking pace but this is also an inspiring and evocative ride on the plains. Again, it's an activity suited to the non-migration months. When the long rains fall in April, the grass rises to phenomenal heights, making it a haven for stealthy predators. After the herds have chomped their way through, the low open grass makes it easy to spot predators for miles around. So towards the end of the year, more and more areas become safe for walking and horseback safari.

On this flexible itinerary, the ride could just be a short exploratory excursion. Or it could be a full day riding around. Approach the river and admire the hippos, especially when one opens its mouth with a humongous yawn. Stop besides a giraffe and marvel at the size, before admiring the cute baby that still rises higher than the horse. Approach zebra and gazelle, getting close to some but watching others scatter upon your arrival. Guides are always interpreting behavior, knowing where it's safe to turn. For example, a herd of bachelor male buffalo can be one of the most dangerous encounters on the plains, their testosterone-fueled aggression best to avoid even in a vehicle. But a herd of females and calves will be placid if they don't sense any predatory threat. At Sasakwa Lodge, it's also possible to spend today on a game drive or walking safari, dependent on your mood.

What's Included: accommodation at Sasakwa Lodge, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Days 7 – 9: Namiri Plains – The Serengeti's Private Big Cat Safari Destination

The eastern plains are the most unexplored of all the Serengeti's regions. As they're not on the northbound migration route, they don't see a surge in visitors at any point during the year. In fact, there's a widely held misconception that the Eastern Serengeti has a relative scarcity of wildlife. Which means there aren't many visitors. Furthermore, most visitors are exploring large private conservancies, with often an hour's drive between any two camps. The Namiri Plains is one of these and it's one of Africa's most exhilarating up-and-coming destinations. Opened to visitors in 2014, it's a special haven for big cat encounters and a fascinating place to end a Serengeti safari.

For over 20 years, the Namiri Plains have been a specially protected research concession. Access to the land and animals was restricted, so the big cats behave as authentically and unchanged as anywhere in Africa. It's still a research area and some game drives are accompanied by scientists and researchers, adding another layer of insight into the safari. Namiri Plains is the only camp in this vast private conservancy and it only caters for 12 visitors. It's rare you see another vehicle or person on the drives. As you would expect from an exclusive camp, there's an excellent level of comfort and service, plus a seamless immersion into nature. You'll fly into the eastern plains from the Western Serengeti, and then take a 90-minute game drive transfer to the camp.

Find a leopard nursing her cub in the highest branches, spending an hour savoring the interaction. Find two male lions fighting for supremacy, one of them bloodied and scarred. Watch a cheetah stalk a gazelle, exceptional camouflage enabling it to pounce from close range. Feel the tension as three hyenas snap away at a wildebeest herd, predicting that an old male will soon collapse from exhaustion. Namiri Plains is all about these exceptional encounters and three days gives you a good opportunity to see all the revered hunters out exploring. Sometimes the proximity is both thrilling and heartbreaking, a carcass being torn apart by a pride or a limp body being carried off between the jaws.

What's Included: accommodation at Namiri Plains, domestic flight, transfer, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10: Namiri Plains to Kilimanjaro – Departure

The last few hours in the Serengeti are always special, a chance to wave farewell to a landscape that's become a part of you for the last ten days. It's a 90-minute drive to the airstrip, although that could also be a five-hour drive if you leave early and enjoy all the animal encounters en route. You fly back to Kilimanjaro International where you connect onto your departure flight and scroll through a camera roll of beautiful Serengeti images.

What's Included: transfer, domestic flight, breakfast


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.