Lake Masek in Ndutu played host to the wildebeest passing by. What a spot for sundowners!
This area in Ndutu is dry and dusty, but there is still a small group of migrating wildebeest roaming within the woodlands near Lake Masek. A large herd of zebra and wildebeest were also roaming in the open plains down the big marsh woodland toward the Kusini area and the Hidden Valley.
The wildebeest and zebra migration were seen moving into the Maswa Game Reserve, following the rain storm a few days ago in the southern part of the Serengeti.
This is where they are touted to be at this time of the year because the seasonal rainfall brings the sprout of new green shoots which are rich in essential minerals for lactating mothers and growing calves.
The wildebeest choose Ndutu as their calving ground, because the soil of the Ndutu area is very rich in essential minerals for growing calves and lactating mothers.
But this depends entirely on the rainfall in an area which stimulates the growth of the new grass. Ndutu's soil drains quickly in the absence of rain, which leads to fine dust and dryness. Hence the migration's move south to the woodlands, where the grass is greener.
February is the month to expect scenes of delight with newborns finding their feet and predators arriving to prey on the young.
It is not only the older, more-experienced predators who will have the chance to see through. They too have co-ordinated their birthing times to coincide with the birth of their prey so that their young also have the highest chances of survival.
With thousands of baby wildebeest running around, it is much easier for a mother cheetah, lion or leopard to find a meal for their hungry cubs as well as give them the opportunity to learn how to hunt for themselves by practicing on young calves before they have to go out and fend for themselves. Young cubs learn valuable lessons during this time which is crucial to their success.
Out on the plains, the Loita wildebeest calving is in full swing!
When the moment arrives it happens quickly. The mother looking mildly surprised at the wet bundle which has suddenly appeared. Within minutes the baby is standing on wobbly pins, searching for the first feed of nourishing colostrum to gain strength to be able to keep up with its mother. These magic moments were captured by safari guide Empap Meshack Sayialel.
Last week was rather quiet as the great herds with their calves kicked up their heels and followed the smells of the rains in the Kusini area. However, in the last few days, the guides have seen herds turning once more towards Moru Kopjes.
The herds provided the guides with some lovely entertainment throughout the day coming from the Ndutu area.
On Friday evening, Patrick Reynolds heard a quite a large herd of males crossing the Ngiatiak River coming from the Olare Orok Conservancy into the southeastern reserve. Additionally, a small herd of mainly males, were coming from the North Mara Conservancy.
The Nomad Serengeti guides witnessed a wildebeest female trying to stand up to let gravity help her make a safe delivery to her newly-born calf.
It takes about eight minutes for these calves to be on their feet and in 15 minutes they are ready to run with the herds. However, the only way the calves survive is to get on their feet as soon as they are born in order to run with the rest of the herd and avoid predators.
Tucked within a grassy corridor that links the Lake Ndutu area with the Moru Kopjes and Hidden Valley is the seasonal Woodlands Camp. During the calving season, this area is teaming with wildebeest as hundreds of thousands of pregnant females converge to give birth. While most properties are compacted in a central location, Woodlands Camp is slightly removed from the main tourist venue, allowing for more privacy without sacrificing access to this awe-inspiring event.
Chaka Camp, is a mobile Serengeti safari camp designed to be lightweight enough to move seasonally, is located in the Ndutu area from December through March. The camp relocates to Western Serengeti from May through June, and again to Northern Serengeti from July through November.
From December through March, the wildebeest migration moves in and out of the Ndutu area. Ndutu is located in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, just south of Serengeti National Park. Chaka Camp’s location provides easy access to prime game viewing areas around Lakes Ndutu and Masek. In addition to the almost two million wildebeest and zebra that move through the area each year, Ndutu is home to cheetah, lion, giraffe and hundreds of bird species. During February’s calving season, the wildebeest give birth to 8,000 babies a day.
From May through June, Chaka Camp relocates to Western Serengeti. The wildebeest migration is generally in this area during this time, and crossings over the Grumeti River are sometimes seen in this area. Access to Central Serengeti is also possible from this area as the drive is only two hours.
From July through November, Chaka Camp is located in Northern Serengeti. The camp is close to the Mara River, allowing easy access to several river crossing points in the area. During this time of year, the wildebeest migration is crossing the Mara River back and forth from Tanzania to Kenya. River crossings are common with crocodiles, hippos and large cats scattered throughout the area.
Like the wildebeest that are the stars of the Serengeti Annual Migration, the Olakira camp is a wanderer; a luxurious under-canvas camp that moves with the seasons, forever following the herds to ensure you have a front-row seat to the greatest show on earth.
Fine linens, finer dining and a touch of nomadic romance are the hallmarks of this authentic East African safari camp. Whether it’s at the river crossings of the northern Serengeti, the breath-taking scenery of the Lamai Wedge, or on the great grassy plains of the south, the intimate Olakira camp ensures the best of the Serengeti is always right on your doorstep.
December to March typically coincides with ‘calving season’ in the Serengeti and Ndutu Wilderness Camp is ideally located so visitors can view this spectacle. Nestled under shady trees, on the Ndutu plains, this camp allows guests to enjoy the wealth of wildlife that has made these sun-soaked plains so renowned.
Like the animal it is named after, Camp Zebra follows the wildebeest migration to the northern part of the Serengeti National Park in June, July, August, September, October and November; and to the southern part of the park from December till March. Camp Zebra is closed from the middle of April till the end of May each year.
Camp Zebra consists of six accommodation tents, each of which can be used for single, double (or twin) or triple occupancy. Each sleeping tent consists of a bedroom area, dressing area and ensuite shower and toilet. The dressing area, shower and toilet are all “open air” so as to heighten the experience of living as one with your surroundings. Despite being able to enjoy some breathtaking views as you prepare yourself for the day ahead, privacy is still assured due to the clever design of our tents. As an added convenience, each tent is provided with sufficient electricity for lighting as well as for charging mobile telephones, cameras, tablets, laptop computers or any other electronic devices you may carry with you.
Camp Zebra is Serengeti camping at its finest. The mobile nature of the camp makes it easy to follow the wildebeest herds as they complete their long journey, ensuring the best wildlife sightings during the incredible Great Migration in Tanzania. See our HerdTracker app for the latest migration updates.